The Target Range: Borderlands 2 Weapons Damage Theory And Testing

Borderlands 2 Target Range

In short, there are two targets of this post. It will provide a shallow overview of Borderlands 2 weapon information for users who just want an introduction. It will also include more advanced number crunching and the like in separate sections.  The end goal is to get a better understanding of Borderlands 2 (by Gearbox Software)”Gun Math” to make informed decisions about weapon choices to optimize damage output.

DPS – Damage Per Second. Generally, higher DPS is best, but it is hard to measure actual DPS in BL2 in many cases.
FFYL – Fight For Your Life.
FIA – Firing Increases Accuracy. Commonly seen on Hyperion weaponry. Can be very useful in FFYL.
RoF – Rate of Fire, or, how fast does my gun spew bullets.
SMG – SubMachine Gun.
TPFR – Trigger Pull Fire Rate, or fires as fast as you can spaz-click the mouse (limited by the Fire Rate stat, however). Commonly seen on Jakobs weaponry.

Weapon Types

  • Assault Rifles: Generally high accuracy, high damage, medium magazine size, medium RoF, high recoil weapons.
  • Launchers: Generally high accuracy, very high damage, very low magazine size, low RoF, medium recoil weapons.
  • Pistols: These have three distinct variations – Repeaters (low damage, high magazine size, high RoF), Revolvers (high damage, low magazine size, TPFR) and “Sluggers” (high damage, medium magazine size, low RoF). Generally they all have medium accuracy and medium recoil.
  • Shotguns: Generally low accuracy, high damage, low magazine size, low RoF, high recoil weapons.
  • Sniper Rifles: Generally very high accuracy, high damage, low magazine size, low RoF, high recoil weapons.
  • Submachine guns: Generally medium accuracy, low damage, high magazine size, high RoF, low recoil weapons.

Weapon Manufacturers

  • Bandit: Bandit tends to have high RoF, high magazine size weaponry, often at the expense of accuracy and/or damage. Makes assault rifles, launchers, pistols, shotguns and SMGs.
  • Dahl: Dahl’s special ability is almost always burst fire while zoomed in. Makes assault rifles, pistols, snipers and submachine guns.
  • Jakobs: Jakobs often have TPFR, and their trademark is high damage, at the expense of magazine size. Many also consume multiple ammunition per shot, even if it is not noted in the description. Some Jakobs weapons lack TPFR. Makes assault rifles, pistols, shotguns and snipers.
  • Hyperion: Almost all Hyperion guns have FIA and average stats besides. Not noted in the description, however, is that most have very unstable sway while zoomed in, until FIA kicks in. Makes pistols, shotguns, snipers and SMGs.
  • Maliwan: Maliwan weapons seem to have average stats besides their heavy focus on elemental damage types. Makes launchers, snipers, SMGs and pistols.
  • Tediore: Tediore weapons explode on reload, and tend to have fast reload speeds as well. Many times this fast reload combined with explosive damage brings their sustained DPS over the top, making them exceptional weapons for longer fights, such as versus badasses or bosses. Makes launchers, pistols, shotguns and SMGs.
  • Torgue: Torgue weapons usually (always?) fire rocket gyros instead of traditional ammunition, which requires the Vault Hunter to lead the target. However, they usually have increased damage as well as bonus explosive damage for those willing to adjust their firing style. Makes assault rifles, launchers, pistols and shotguns.
  • Vladof: Vladof weapons seem to have no unique special ability, but generally have high RoF and solid stats besides. Makes assault rifles, pistols and snipers.

Here’s my beginning numbers, and where I could use help.…lpMS0FzcUU4d1E

Elemental Types vs Targets Damage Multiplier

Shields Flesh Armor
Non-Elemental 1.00 1.00 1.00
Corrosive 0.40 0.60 1.75
Fire 0.40 1.75 0.40
Shock 2.50 1.00 1.00


  • It is very common for weapons to NOT have all of their traits listed in their description. I highly recommend taking a weapon to the firing range to test it out.
  • Hyperion weapons tend to have an awful sway initially, that makes their effective accuracy much lower than their accuracy stat would indicate until their FIA trait kicks in.
  • The explodes-on-reload trait of Tediore weapons is affected by both weapon damage and grenade damage improvements.
  • Different weapon types have drastically different critical multipliers, even on the same target. Sniper Rifles benefit the most from critical hits, while Assault Rifles/SMGs benefit the least.
  • Even amongst weapons of the same type, critical damage multipliers can vary significantly.
  • Damage scaling based on level is different from BL1, if it exists at all. Due to level difference, my initial testing would have had a damage multiplier of 1.2 if playing BL1, but instead experienced no damage multiplier at all.
  • Elemental damage seem to last for different durations based on weapon type.
  • Cannon style weapons cannot seem to crit.
  • Jakobs snipers have an innate bonus to crit damage that is not always listed on the gun card.
  • Some weapons (e-tech or unique rewards only so far) have “beam” and “aura” characteristics. The damage listed on the card is the damage of the “beam” and only applies if you get a direct hit. The “aura” damage is roughly half of that, but has a large radius around the shot. A direct hit gives not only “beam” + “aura” hits, but also adds aura damage to the beam damage. These guns essentially do double the damage on their card with a direct hit. Further, both the “beam” and “aura” can proc elemental effects.

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