As you play Borderlands 2, you'll come across thousands upon thousands out of potentially millions of weapons with an equal number of varying statistics.
This will require you to make frequent and detailed evaluations to determine which weapons are the best to keep for combat and which you should discard or keep for resale at vending machines.
Hence, if you want to fully enjoy playing this game, you should have a clear understanding of how to read weapon statistics. Hovering over any weapon in your inventory or in a Guns vending machine will show a 'weapon card' displaying the following statistics:
- Fire Rate
- Reload Speed
- Magazine Size
- Elemental Dmg/Sec (if applicable)
- Elemental Chance (if applicable)
And here are the details behind each of these statistics:
- Damage — This is how much damage each shot from a weapon inflicts on the enemy. You can see the actual damage a weapon is doing by firing your weapon on the test dummy in Marcus's Gun Shop in Sanctuary. It is very important to not rely solely on the Damage stat of a weapon to see how good it is. Rather, you should always take at least the Fire Rate of the weapon into account as well. Multiplying the Damage x the Fire Rate will provide a 'damage over time' statistic which will give you a much better idea of how well a weapon will perform in combat situations. This Damage x Fire Rate statistic is what I refer to as the Slack Rating in the commentary throughout my Borderlands 2 video walkthrough.
- Accuracy — This is how much bullets spread out from the muzzle of the weapon upon firing and may also determine how much a weapon sways while scoping or aiming down the sights. A tighter spread means a larger percentage of bullets will be on target. A wider spread means bullets spray all over the place. What can be considered as 'good' accuracy varies according to the weapon type. In sniper rifles, you're looking for an accuracy stat of 90 or better. In shotguns, on the other hand, a much lower accuracy stat is acceptable (50 accuracy for a shotgun is actually pretty good).
- Fire Rate — Approximately how many bullets per second can be fired from a weapon. This is a very important statistic to take into account along with the Damage statistic.
An example of this would be to compare the following two SMGs:
SMG 1 does 100 Damage and has a Fire Rate of 7 (Slack Rating = 700).
SMG 2 does 150 Damage and has a Fire Rate of 4 (Slack Rating = 600).
Taking only the Damage statistic into consideration, many players will immediately think SMG 2 is a better weapon but this only holds true on a bullet-per-bullet basis. The bottom line is SMG 1 can pump out more bullets per second than SMG 2 despite having a lower Damage rating. Hence SMG 1 is actually doing MORE DAMAGE over time than SMG 2 and will, in effect, kill enemies quicker. (This is good, right?)
- Reload Speed — Approximately how many seconds it takes to reload a weapon. For SMGs, pistols and assault rifles, you're looking for a reload speed from 2-3. Good sniper rifles will be about 4 while rocket launchers will have reload speeds between 5 and 8. This is a particularly important stat to consider for slower loading weapons such as sniper rifles or rocket launchers or any weapon with a small magazine size.
- Magazine Size — This is how many bullets you can fire from a fully loaded weapon before having to stop and reload. This is an important stat to consider in conjunction with Reload Speed and will determine how effective a weapon is in a sustained firefight. Until you become adept at taking cover or dodging while reloading, weapons with large magazines will be very useful and may even be preferable to more powerful weapons with smaller mags. Bandit brand weapons have notoriously large magazine sizes and are especially useful early on in the game.
- Elemental Damage / Sec & Elemental Chance — If a weapon has elemental properties (fire, shock, corrosive, etc) its elemental stats will be displayed at the bottom of the weapon card. Elemental Chance refers to the percentage of bullets hitting an enemy that can apply extra elemental damage after the initial hit. So if, for example, a bullet from a weapon with burn damage manages to apply elemental damage, the enemy will immediately catch on fire and will remain on fire for a few seconds after the bullet hits. How much burn damage per second the enemy will suffer in this situation is indicated by the Burn Damage/Sec stat on the weapon card. How many bullets that have a chance of setting an enemy on fire is indicated by the Chance to Ignite statistic. Once an enemy begins suffering elemental damage, you may wish to cease firing on that enemy to see if the elemental damage is enough to finish him off. This will save you time and ammunition.