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Sniper Rifles are accurate, often scoped, heavy weapons with an extreme damage-per-bullet rate balanced by a low fire rate and small magazine. They tend to have high accuracy when sighted, and low accuracy when not sighted. All sniper rifles have boosted critical hit damage, with pump-action Snipers having a +200% boost, and Semi-Automatic Snipers having a +180% boost. Reload speed is not increased with a higher weapon proficiency level.
Sniper rifles are the predominant weapon of choice for long range precision shooting. With extremely high damage rates, a player can snipe at a group of enemies at a safe distance, methodically picking one enemy off after the other, however due to possible variations in the weapon and its capabilities (most notably accuracy), successfully hitting targets may be difficult to do from a safe distance.
Sniper rifles are very good against most enemies, although a few may present some problems. Skags can be difficult because they are armored and fast enough to avoid shots by sniper rifles, yet a marksman can still score a critical hit on one if the target stops to roar. Any enemies getting into melee range can also be troublesome and are generally eliminated more easily with closer ranged weapons.
When looking for a good long-range sniper rifle, several things should be taken into consideration:
- Accuracy: A vital attribute for scoring critical hits, accuracy determines the firing cone of a sniper's bullet. High accuracy numbers are valued for their ability to assist with precision targeting. Be aware that the sniper rifle weapon proficiency does not add accuracy. The base accuracy of the weapon is thus very important.
- Damage: The higher the damage output of a weapon, the faster the health of a target falls.
- Magazine Size: Sniper rifles generally don't have a high magazine capacity, although this is usually a minor issue if the target can be eliminated quickly. Large magazines are useful in protracted engagements if targets are proving to be difficult to hit or tough enough to withstand multiple hits.
- Weapon Zoom: Sniper rifles may have low number values for their scope magnification, however their base magnification that the multiplier is applied to is the highest of all of the weapon types. High zoom scopes will reduce any accuracy problems and allow for long distance sniping.
Another important thing to take into account when choosing what sniper rifle is going to serve the best is an invisible quality known as stability. Stability only becomes a factor when sighting a sniper rifle, and it is measured in how fast the weapon stops swaying when first sighted, between shots, and when the user takes damage. Unfortunately, this quality isn't displayed on the item card and must actually be experienced before it is determined, so be careful when purchasing a sniper rifle from a vending machine and be prepared to sell it back. Negative Recoil Reduction values affect stability so avoid them even if the magazine is ample, the accuracy rate is high, and the damage/elemental ability is superior.
Elemental sniper rifles can add a mixed bag of tricks to a sniper's arsenal, however the different classes and different styles of play have a significant impact on optimal choices. The Trespass skill in particular gives a Hunter a strong reason to avoid elemental damage altogether seeing as the elemental damage will have to deplete the shield, whereas a regular bullet will apply all of its damage to the target without the shield's impediment.
- Corrosive sniper rifles make a passable weapon, with the downside that many targets would otherwise die to a single well-placed head shot, rendering the sustained corrosive damage effect somewhat pointless. This type of weapon does become useful against high numbers of Crimson Lance in open areas however. They are also effective against Turrets and vehicles.
- Explosive sniper rifles are very effective all-round weapons. The visual blast effect is far less obtrusive than the other elemental damage forms, allowing for easier targeting, and the immediate blast works well in conjunction with the one-shot philosophy of sniping. Explosive elemental sniper rifles cannot proc below x1, even when their tech pool is empty.
- Incendiary sniper rifles do extremely high damage to non-shielded targets with the drawback that the fire effect can obscure critical hit locations, making precision targeting difficult. Powerful incendiary sniper rifles can be very effective for a Siren thanks to the her skills and class mods, even for non-critical body shots.
- Shock is helpful to whittle down enemy shields at long ranges, however in the hands of a Hunter, the Trespass skill decisively trumps a Shock sniper rifle's advantages, leaving Shock as a poor damage choice for this class.
As a general rule of thumb, if a one-shot kill is desired at great range, then an Accuracy figure of at least 98%, high damage, and a good level of zoom, on a pump-action rifle is desired. Semi-automatic models tend to be a poor choice due to their lower accuracy and 50% less critical hit damage.
If, on the other hand, it's more desirable to use a Sniper Rifle at medium range, within enemy range, then all three of the aforementioned stats become a lot less important. At these ranges, the damage stat is outweighed by rate of fire, and the magazine capacity/reload speed suddenly matter. Stability is critical at shorter ranges, and lower zoom is desirable. For this type of combat, semiautomatic models are far more viable due to high rate of fire. An S&S model with their 9-round magazines can be useful.
- Mordecai has an entire branch of his skill tree devoted to the effective use of sniper rifles, increasing accuracy and stability, damage, reload speed, magazine size, and critical strike damage. Hunters also have a class mod specifically for the use of sniper rifles that augment critical strike damage, stability and accuracy, damage, and even provide sniper ammo regeneration. Hunters with the Trespass skill will frequently eschew (avoid) elemental snipers.
- Roland is the general gun specialist, and as such can make almost as much use of sniper rifles as Mordecai; with skills and class mods that can increase damage, magazine size, rate of fire and recoil reduction.
- Brick, despite being a close-combat specialist, is also the explosives expert, so equip an explosive sniper rifle in his enormous hands and watch the chunks fly. The Berserker has skills and class mods that increase explosion damage, explosion chance, and area-of-blast damage. Additionally, there are skills and class mods that can increase general stats like damage, reload speed and recoil reduction.
- Lilith, with her affinity for all weapons elemental can make great use out of Maliwan snipers. In addition to the general boosts to critical strike damage, accuracy and damage, rate of fire, and bullet velocity the Siren can also increase elemental effect chance, and elemental effect damage. The Specter COM from the third DLC further improves Lilith's Sniper Rifle use by increasing critical damage and accuracy, and can give ammo regeneration.
Pump Action and Semi-Automatic
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Whitting's Elephant Gun "Why don't you go shoot yourself an elephant?" - Mission reward for Big Game Hunter. Greatly increased damage but has iron sights.
- Kyros' Power "Good Touch" - Unique weapon drop from Kyros in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. Explosive, Bullets release Transfusion trails if they hit an enemy, healing Vault Hunters. However, Transfusion trails can also heal enemies if they are closer to the trail than a Vault Hunter.
- Atlas Cyclops "I have you in my eye, sir." - 5.2X zoom and double bullet velocity
- Vladof Surkov "For the Motherland." - Extremely fast reload speed.
- Maliwan Volcano "Pele demands a sacrifice!" - Always ignites target, causes larger Fire procs.
- Jakobs Skullmasher "Makes their brain hurt" - Reduced Damage & accuracy, but fires 6 projectiles.
- Jakobs Bessie "That's my girl..." - +500% Critical Hit Damage, 2.8x Weapon Zoom, 100% accuracy when zoomed.
- Wrath - Boosts damage and Elemental tech level, can extremely rarely spawn as non-elemental.
- Lance - Increased accuracy & recoil reduction.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Nailer "Thwack!" - Unique weapon mission reward from House Hunting.
- Reaver's Edge "The cutting edge" - Unique weapon that drops from Reaver. 3.2x zoom.
- Rider "Careful... you might put someone's eye out." - Unique weapon found in the Hidden basement in New Haven. Increased fire rate (3.6) and 20 magazine size but has iron sights and reduced damage and accuracy.
- S&S Orion "A hunter lives among the stars..." - Shock bullets which ricochet into three projectiles if the main projectile does not impact an enemy.
- Dahl Penetrator "Sniper killer, qu'est que c'est?" - Fully Automatic.
- Torgue Cobra "I LIKE IT!" - Large explosive procs, splash damage.
- Hyperion Invader "BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM" - 500% Burst Fire when zoomed in.
Parts and naming
- Main article: Sniper Rifle/parts
- There are two models of sniper rifle without a scope: Whitting's Elephant Gun and the Rider.
- Stability can be affected by inventory management. If a sniper rifle is removed from a weapon slot and then re-equipped, the weapon will sway for an extended period of time. Entering and exiting an Outrunner, or simply switching to another equipped gun and back, will undo this.
- The ammo pickups for sniper rifles bear a strong resemblance to the "en bloc" clip, used with the M1936 M1 Garand rifle (due to it having an internal fixed magazine). Though none of the sniper rifles in the game load this way, as they have detachable magazine or a revolving cylinder.
Sniper rifles return as the premier long-range weapon in Borderlands 2. Although scope sway no longer decays to nothing, all sniper rifles in Borderlands 2 have perfect accuracy when scoped (barring any effects that decrease accuracy). The accuracy is moved to scope sway, which is generally negligible for sniper rifles other than those of Hyperion manufacture. The bullet travel time can still take account, especially with high connection ping.
Some character skills can influence the effectiveness of sniping tactics. Zer0's action skill Decepti0n offers a decoy to detract incoming fire, while his Sniping is dedicated to precision shooting. In contrast, Salvador and Krieg are less effective with sniper rifles, as Salvador cannot use a scope while Gunzerking, and Krieg's skill set is well suited to combat at close range. Gaige's Ordered Chaos skill tree provides an effective way to earn Anarchy stacks when having zero or low stacks, but the accuracy reduction with increasing Anarchy stacks becomes prohibitive to sniping.
|Body Manufacturer||Barrel Manufacturer|
| Stable (Dahl)|
|Light (Hyperion)||Heavy (Jakobs)||Rapid-fire (Vladof)|
- Dahl sniper rifles fire bursts when zoomed, drastically increasing ammunition consumption. At closer ranges its burst nature allows successive critical hits on strong targets, although they are still inferior to Vladof sniper rifles due to low magazine size. At longer ranges this feature can spoil the aim of subsequent shots in each burst. It is also less effective against enemies who either died within a single shot or have destroyable critical hit spots.
- Hyperion sniper rifles have a different drawback compared to other Hyperion weapons. Hyperion sniper rifles start with low initial accuracy which increases while aiming and resets when players stop aiming. This makes them poor weapons for hipshooting or quick-scoping. Otherwise Hyperion sniper rifles have excellent accuracy and almost no recoil while aiming.
- Jakobs sniper rifles epitomise the role of a sniper, with excellent damage, critical bonus, and accuracy. Compared to the standard 400% damage on critical hit for other sniper rifles, Jakobs snipers do a minimum of 520% damage on critical hit. Their non-elemental nature makes them perfect to deal with bandits as they are often shielded in harder difficulty, but become inferior to Maliwan and Hyperion sniper rifles when used against elemental targets. They are unique in that Blue Rarity Rifles will easily out-damage Purple Rarity Rifles of the same level, but have a drastically lower fire rate due to being bolt action as opposed to semi-automatic.
- Maliwan sniper rifles have the lowest listed damage of any sniper rifle brand, but are also the only sniper rifles which deal bonus splash damage over a small area. Splash damage is an extra 50% damage without possibility of critical hit, meaning Maliwan snipers do 150% damage for non-critical hits and 450% damage on critical hit. When used against elemental targets with matching element, Maliwan snipers have a higher critical damage-per-shot than even most Jakobs sniper rifles. Elemental projectiles travel more slowly than conventional ones however, and may make moving targets harder to hit. Maliwan Slag sniper rifles are also a very effective way to apply Slag effect at range.
- Vladof sniper rifles are capable of delivering massive damage quickly due to their larger magazines and automatic fire. However, this naturally comes at the cost of rapidly exhausting the weapon's limited supply of ammunition.