If you’ve an appetite for destruction, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is happy to provide a near-infinite supply of guns which you can customize to an absurdly delightful degree. Seriously, this is almost as fun as sorting my nail polish colors.
But it’s not about making all the other soldier guys, gals, and non-binary pals envious of your brutal styles; there are a ton of stats you’ll want to wrap your head around too. For every attachment you slap on a gun, there are clear pros and cons. And once you hit max level with any given firearm, you unlock weapon tuning, allowing you to tweak how guns feel and perform even further.
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Modern Warfare II gives you a lot of room for freedom, style, and min/maxing, so while time will tell what the god-tier meta ends up being, don’t be afraid to jump in and experiment with a setup that helps you climb the scoreboard while looking cool and fitting your style of play.
This guide solely focuses on firearms you point and shoot, meaning your primary and secondary weapons. Let’s dig in.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Guns 101
As soon as you load into the game you’ll see a set of tabs at the top: Play, Weapons, Operators, Battle Pass, and Store.
Selecting Weapons will take you to where you can sort your Loadouts, Killstreaks, and Vehicle Customization. In Loadouts, you’ll notice you can have up to 10 custom configurations, so don’t worry about needing to commit to a narrow selection. A loadout is made up of six items: You’ve a choice of a Primary and Secondary weapon, as well as your Tactical and Lethal Equipment, your Perks, and a Field Upgrade.
Your loadout is laid out in a horizontal bar on the “Edit Loadouts” screen. Selecting a specific loadout will let you configure each of the six types. Some of your available weapons are dictated by what Perks you have active for that loadout. Primary weapons have the following types:
Primary Weapon Types
- Assault Rifles
- Battle Rifles
- Marksman Rifles
- Sniper Rifles
There are only three types of Secondary weapons.
Secondary Weapon Types
Weapons further break down into Platforms, which lay out much like a skill tree in an RPG, indicating attachments you can unlock for any given weapon. When looking at a weapon in either the loadout or weapon menu screen, you can view the Platform progression by pressing V on keyboard (touchpad on PlayStation, view button on Xbox).
The M4 Platform, for example, is a family of weapons that consists of the M4 assault rifle, 556 Icarus LMG, FTAC Recon battle rifle, M16 assault rifle, and the FSS Hurricane SMG.
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You level up each gun by getting out there and scoring kills. Some guns from a specific Platform are locked behind a weapon level. For example, to get the Bryson 890 shotgun, you need to build your Bryson 800 to level 16. You can also level up each individual weapon for even more attachment customization.
Customizing weapons and attachments with the Gunsmith
When viewing a specific loadout in the menus some guns will have a “Gunsmith” option. Here you can change up how your gun is built.
In Gunsmith’s “Build Weapon” tab you can install numerous different “Modifications” to the weapon’s optics, muzzles, magazines, stocks, and ammunition types. You can select up to five modifications at any time and can also swap out the gun’s receiver—essentially its core that everything else attaches to—for others in the weapon’s Platform family. (Note that not all weapon modifications within the same platform are intercompatible.)
After making Gunsmith changes, you can jump directly into the Firing Range to test out the look and feel of the new modifications. It loads in pretty quick too, so while you can’t directly A/B compare certain mods, you can still get a nice feel for each selection without spending forever trapped behind a loading screen.
Each modification affects stats in unique ways, and there are specific pros and cons to each. The 419MM EXF Barrel, for example, will boost your Damage Range, Hip Fire Accuracy, and Bullet Velocity (Pros), but at the cost of Aim Down Sight Speed and Hip Recoil Control (Cons).
The second tab in the Gunsmith interface is “Customize.” This is where you can apply different weapon charms, skins, stickers, and more such things. Each camo skin will have different requirements, but it’s very similar to unlocking attachments: Just earn weapon XP by scoring kills and completing specific challenges noted under each camo skin. There are also Weapon Mastery challenges for you to complete once you’ve unlocked Gold, Platinum, Polyatomic, and Orion skins.
The higher you level up a specific weapon, the more attachments you’ll gain access to. Once you hit max level with a specific weapon, you can start tuning those attachments to take even greater control over its performance.
Weapon tuning in Modern Warfare II
Weapon tuning lets you further tweak the pros and cons of each attachment. Remember, you need to hit level 20 with a specific weapon in order to tune the modifications.
You can’t tune every attachment, but ones you can will offer two sets of sliders that let you go all in on a weapon’s strengths, or walk back the cons a bit. Keep in mind that these are all fine-tuning adjustments. If you want to max out your Aim Down Sights Speed, for example, you’re better off going with modifications that prioritize that as opposed to trying to make up for slower ADS speeds via Weapon Tuning. That said, the high TTK rate of Modern Warfare II means that even the finest adjustments can make a difference in the heat of the moment.
Weapon tuning is really best taken advantage of once you’ve gotten a good sense of the guns and modifications you like. This stage of weapon customization is more an art than a science, so expect to take your time figuring out what works best for you.
Weapon leveling in Modern Warfare II
Maxing out your weapons is one of the game’s major goals, and you’ll make the most progress on guns you actively use. Keeping a gun holstered or slung over your shoulder won’t cut it; to level up a gun you need to be out there using it to put lead into your enemies.
With so many weapon choices, it’s not a bad idea to stick to a couple of guns, two or three at most, when starting out. Playing with the Overkill Perk equipped (available with the Assault preset package) is a good way to see how it feels to wield two primary guns at once.
Don’t forget to take advantage of Weapon XP boosts as well. You can select these in the multiplayer matchmaking screen. Be careful though, as your XP boosts count down in real-time outside of matches. That in mind, it’s best to save XP boosts for use in playlists which aren’t as heavy in wait times.
Quick Play and Ground War typically have quicker queues. However, keep in mind that the 32v32 modes such as Ground War might have you engaging in gunfights less frequently as you’ll often spend time moving between objectives. On the other hand, that can be a good opportunity to level up a sniper or marksman rifle as you’ll have more distance to work with. If you’re looking to level up close-range weapons like shotguns, smaller 6v6 games might be your best bet, but your mileage may vary.
One thing I like to do is set aside a loadout specifically for weapon leveling. Label it “Leveling” and just use that to swap in whatever guns you want to progress, leaving your main loadouts untouched and free to select when you wish to change up your playing style in a match.
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If you swap out a gun in a loadout you plan to use regularly, all modifications will reset, which isn’t ideal. A dedicated “Leveling” loadout will let you prioritize your remaining nine loadout selections with the guns, modifications, and tunings you prefer. You may also wish to prioritize certain Perks that can make leveling a bit easier. Overkill, for example, will let you have two Primary weapons on the field, so you can make progress with two at once (though again, you need to be actively using a given gun to earn Weapon XP on it.) I also like to have Fast Hands equipped for a leveling loadout, as it allows for quicker swaps between guns, helpful when you’re trying to give both a workout. Scavenger is another good Perk to have for leveling guns, since you’ll be able to source more ammo during a game.
Modern Warfare II did not disappoint when it comes to delivering a ton of fun weaponry to shoot and blow shit up. Spend a bit of time kitting out your guns, and you’ll likely play better and look cooler while out there on the field. And once you have a feel for the weapons and modifications you prefer, don’t forget to give weapon tuning a shot to further tweak how the game feels for you.