The Halo rifle debate is dead, long live the Halo Infinite battle rifle

Halo Infinite battle rifle
(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite has answered the question that has plagued us since 2004: What's the best rifle in Halo? Since Halo 2, three rifles have vied for the top spot: the assault rifle, the battle rifle, and the DMR. Since rifles are the primary weapons given to players in multiplayer matches, the conversation around which rifle reigns supreme is a passionate one, with proponents on all three sides vehemently believing their rifle is the chosen one. 

But with Halo Infinite, it seems as if 343 Industries is taking a side in the rifle debate. Sure, the assault rifle is the strongest it's ever been, but the complete erasure of the DMR and the centering of the BR in ranked play says a lot about how the developers see the future of Halo matchmaking. The BR is stronger at a distance than the AR, and with no other weapon comparable to it in the current Halo Infinite meta, I formally declare it the best Halo rifle of all time. As far as Halo Infinite weapons go, the battle rifle is god tier. 

The rifle in Halo history 

Halo 3

(Image credit: Bungie)

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite Season 1 first impressions

Halo: Combat Evolved had the assault rifle, a close-range weapon with a high rate of fire that would melt the Covenant, Flood, and enemy Spartans up close. But Bungie flipped the script when it introduced the battle rifle in Halo 2, opening up the floodgates (hehe) when it came to player’s opinions. The three-round burst precision weapon was incredibly powerful at medium and long range, and worked as the perfect pairing when used alongside the SMG ( which replaced the assault rifle). The BR/SMG combo was like the weapon equivalent of a charcuterie board, offering the best gun flavors on a single plate.

Then things got complicated. Halo 3 offered both the AR and the BR, effectively splitting Halo players into two camps. The competing rifles caused a rift between players, with some preferring the AR's high rate of fire, while others lauding the BR for its surgical precision – a three-round burst to the head could be especially lethal. But Bungie wasn't satisfied with the chasm Halo 3 caused, and decided to add another weapon into the mix to further complicate things: the DMR.  

The DMR, or Designated Marksman Rifle, replaced the BR in Halo: Reach. The DMR sits somewhere between the BR and a sniper rifle when it comes to fire rate and accuracy – it has a single round rate of fire that can be accelerated with a quick trigger finger and impressive accuracy at a distance. Its distance from the AR made Reach's rifle options feel a lot more distinct, effectively ending the debate over AR vs BR supremacy. 

Then came Halo 4, the first game made by new developer 343 Industries. It felt like an attempt to tick all the boxes of what made Halo multiplayer so attractive, but unfortunately, a lot of ticked boxes resulted in a convoluted mess. Halo 4 included the AR, the BR, and the DMR, all of which were primary weapon options, expanding the rift between rifles. As fair as performance goes, all three rifles existed in a kind of murky middle area, where using one rarely felt substantially different than using another.

That's why Halo 5 kept all three, but attempted to adjust them slightly so that the BR felt more decidedly like an option halfway between the AR and the DMR. Here is where BR supremacy started to take shape, as players found the retooled rifle to be universally useful in multiple situations. Unlike the AR, it could hit targets at a distance of more than a few meters, and unlike the DMR, it could hold its own in close-up firefights. And Halo Infinite makes it very clear where it stands on the rifle debate: it deleted the DMR from existence. 

Battle rifle supremacy 

halo infinite multiplayer test flight team slayer battle rifle

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Halo Infinite replaces the DMR with the VK78 Commando, an automatic rifle that is unwieldy at a distance thanks to a fairly heavy recoil that includes substantial muzzle climb. The Commando is by no means an actual swap for the DMR, as it feels more like a weapon sitting somewhere between the AR and the BR. Interestingly enough, removing the DMR from the equation, and upping the quality of the AR (which absolutely shreds in this game), means that Halo Infinite effectively clears the floor for the BR. It's in the spotlight, exactly where it needs to be. 

As far as the Halo rifle debate goes, I chose a side back in my Halo 3 days, when I was a religious player of Team SWAT. SWAT is a game mode where you have no shields, no motion tracker, and just a precision weapon like the BR or a handgun at your disposal. Headshots are extra-lethal, so SWAT players became surgeons with the three-round burst weapon, and I became chief surgeon on call. 

I love the BR so much that when Halo 4 offered the DMR as a loadout option for SWAT matches, I scrolled over it to equip my trusty battle rifle. You can imagine how excited I was when I dropped into my first Halo Infinite ranked match and saw my only weapon was the BR. I quickly fell back into old habits,  jumping off a ledge just to let the reticle drift over an enemy's head while I unload a few bursts, or chucking a grenade at someone's feet and timing a BR headshot right when it explodes. The Halo Infinite BR sits somewhere between the BR of Halo 3 and the BR of Halo 5 in terms of time to kill (TTK), as pointed out by YouTuber Aozolai. It is slightly slower to get a kill than the Halo 5 BR, but I firmly believe this is purposeful.

With a stronger AR shredding people at close range and a handful of new long range weapons like the Stalker Rifle and Shock Rifle, the BR slots perfectly into the space carved out for it by Halo 5. It is the perfect mid to long-range weapon that will kill an enemy with four bursts – and they don't even need to be all to the head, thanks to Halo's shielding system. Since headshots are more lethal after a Spartan's shield has cracked, you can hit three body shots with the BR, crack a shield, and fire the last burst at their head. Instant rag doll. 

The battle rifle remains the supreme Halo weapon, offering face-melting accuracy and a fairly fast TTK that makes it lethal across any game mode. If you aren't all that great at accuracy, two bursts and a melee will fell your opponent, or seven bursts to the body. If you're a surgeon with the damn thing, cracking a shield and delivering a single burst to the head will get you through many a match. The battle rifle is the multi-tool of the Halo universe, and Halo infinite treats it with the reverence it deserves. Long live the BR, I will pray at its altar for the rest of my days. 

The Fracture Tenrai event says more about the early state of Halo Infinite than I expected it to.

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.