Starfield weapons, damage types, and mods explained

Starfield weapons
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield weapons come in several types and you'll find loads of them in any man-made areas in the Settled Systems. Since there are so many types of weapons and enemies to fight in Starfield, it's good to have a personal armory of guns in your backpack to rely upon when things get loud. But knowing which ones are best and worth using can be tricky, especially when some ammo types can also be very rare. So, whether you're looking to get up close and personal with your enemies, pick them off from afar, or even take them down non-lethally, here's what you need to know about weapons in Starfield.

What are the best Starfield weapons?

Coachman, one of the Starfield Ballistic weapons

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The best Starfield weapons can vary from player to player, as this will, to an extent, depend on your particular approach to combat, and you're also reliant on the RNG nature of weapon drops until you're able to delve into weapon mods. However, there are certain types of weapons we can recommend, based on our experiences so far.

For close-quarters combat you should be looking to get your hands on a shotgun, as we've found those to be particularly overpowered at short range. You can find a standard Coachman shotgun in the basement of the Constellation Lodge, though keep your eyes open for modified versions with a higher magazine capacity and/or a faster fire rate, and if you can find a Pacifier then that's even better with a base mag size of 7 shots. Get close to an enemy and then unload into them, which should be enough to significantly damage them and may also knock them down, making a follow up attack after reloading much easier.

For ranged combat you can't go wrong with a laser rifle, as they have an impressive effective range and decent accuracy as there's less spray or drop-off with energy beams. The Equinox has been my personal go-to weapon for taking on enemies at a distance, and I've found it to be much more effective in ranged encounters than ballistic rifles with similar damage stats. If you can find one with a scope attached then that will improve things further, as zeroing in on headshot will significantly increase the critical damage you deal to enemies.

Starfield weapon types and damage

There are three main damage types that your weapons in Starfield can deliver:

  • Physical
  • Energy
  • Electromagnetic

Ballistic weapons deal Physical damage, while Laser weapons produce Energy damage. EM weapons zap enemies with Electromagnetic pulses, while Particle Beam weapons combine Physical and Energy damage. You can switch weapons in Starfield at any time, and there are more details on each of these types below:

Starfield Ballistic weapons

Pacifier, one of the Starfield Ballistic weapons

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Ballistic weapons deal physical damage by firing actual bullets or other projectiles and represent your classic guns, so shoot an enemy enough times to fully deplete their HP and they die. The range with Ballistic weapons tends to be fairly short, unless they've been modified with a new barrel and scope to extend it, and some of the basic ammo types are ubiquitous so you shouldn't find it hard to keep the standard weapons topped up. Ballistic weapons you're likely to encounter include:

  • Coachman shotgun - caseless shell ammo
  • Drum Beat rifle - 11mm ammo
  • Eon pistol - 7.77mm ammo
  • Grendel rifle - 7.77mm ammo
  • Kraken pistol - 6.5mm ammo
  • Lawgiver rifle - .50 caliber ammo
  • Maelstrom rifle - 6.5mm ammo
  • Pacifier shotgun - 15x25 CLL shell ammo
  • Rattler pistol - .27 caliber ammo
  • Regulator pistol - .43 ultramag ammo
  • Sidestar pistol - .27 caliber ammo
  • Urban Eagle pistol - .43 ultramag ammo

Starfield Laser weapons

Equinox, one of the Starfield Laser weapons

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Laser weapons deal energy damage by shooting out high-voltage laser beams and represent the futuristic side of gun tech, but ultimately this has the same effect as bullets of lowering your enemies' HP until they expire. Laser weapons tend to have longer range and greater accuracy, and if you regularly hoover up those bright yellow laser ammo packs then you can blast away to your heart's content. It seems there are fewer types of Laser weapons than their Ballistic counterparts, but you should regularly come across the following:

  • Arc Welder heavy - 3kV LZR ammo
  • Equinox laser rifle - 3kV LZR ammo
  • Solstice laser pistol - 1.5kV Lzr ammo

Starfield EM weapons

Novablast Disrupter, one of the Starfield EM weapons

(Image credit: Bethesda)

EM weapons work completely differently in Starfield, as they're designed to stun enemies with electromagnetic pulses and provide a non-lethal option. When you start shooting them with EM weapons, a separate stun bar will appear above their HP and they'll be incapacitated for a time once this fills up – though it then starts gradually draining and they'll spring back into action once it completely empties. You can talk to a stunned enemy and pickpocket them, but if they catch you or you otherwise physically damage them then they'll immediately revive and resume their attack. EM weapons appear to be very rare, as we've only come across one of them so far:

  • Novablast Disruptor electromagnetic rifle - Heavy Fuse ammo

Starfield weapon mods

Starfield weapon workbench for mods

(Image credit: Bethesda)

By accessing a Weapon Workbench, you can apply various Starfield weapon mods to your guns to alter their stats. Depending on they type of weapon you're looking at, some or all of the following categories will be available:

  • Barrel
  • Laser
  • Optic
  • Muzzle
  • Grip and Stock
  • Magazine and Battery
  • Internal
  • Receiver
  • Skin

Barrel mods change the type of barrel attached, affecting things such as accuracy, recoil, range, and aim down sight speed, while Laser mods can add a laser sight for targeting and Optic mods determine the type of sight or scope attached.

With Muzzle mods you can add components for improved stability, and either increase long-range accuracy or hip-fire accuracy at the cost of the other, and there's also a suppressor option if you want to silence the weapon. With Grip and Stock mods you can upgrade to a tactical grip, which increases aim down sight speed, reload speed, and stability.

Magazine and Battery mods let you switch out standard ammo for a custom version, such as armor-piercing or whitehot rounds, or convert energy weapons to non-leathal EM versions, while Internal mods add an extra internal component to increase fire rate, damage, or accuracy and range.

Receiver mods switch up the fire rate for the weapon, whether that's fully automatic (continuous fire), burst fire (set number of rounds per trigger pull), or semi-automatic (fires once per trigger pull). Finally, Skin mods let you change the appearance of the weapon, if you've discovered other skins for it.

As mentioned before, the number and type of mods available will depend on the specific weapon you're applying them to, and some of them will need specific Starfield crafting and research milestones before you can produce them, so if there's a particular upgrade that's taken your fancy then look at the requirements and plan your next steps accordingly.

Can I assign Starfield weapons to my companion?

Companion Sarah carrying a Starfield weapon

(Image credit: Bethesda)

If you have a Starfield companion accompanying you on your current mission, then you can provide them with any weapon of your choosing and assign them to use it. To do this, speak to the companion and say you need to trade gear, then place the weapon in their inventory before highlighting it and following the Equip prompt at the bottom of the screen. You also need to ensure that they have at least one of the required ammo type in their inventory so they can use the weapon, but this doesn't get depleted so they can continue firing the weapon indefinitely. This is particularly useful for weapons that use rare ammo, so consider a handoff to your companion if you're about to completely deplete your ammunition supply for a powerful gun.

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Iain Wilson
Guides Editor

Iain originally joined Future in 2012 to write guides for CVG, PSM3, and Xbox World, before moving on to join GamesRadar in 2013 as Guides Editor. His words have also appeared in OPM, OXM, PC Gamer, GamesMaster, and SFX. He is better known to many as ‘Mr Trophy’, due to his slightly unhealthy obsession with amassing intangible PlayStation silverware, and he now has over 550 Platinum pots weighing down the shelves of his virtual award cabinet. He does not care for Xbox Achievements.

With contributions from