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Submachine Guns, also known as SMGs, are a class of light fully automatic weapons. They tend to have high fire rates, low damage, easily exhausted magazines, and quick reload times. While they can be useful to all four character classes, they are a trademark weapon for Lilith, who has a Class Mod dedicated to their mastery.
Usage and Selection
Submachine guns have the slowest bullet velocity of any class of firearm in the game, and so are best suited for close combat. (Only cold-accessory machine pistols and Stomper combat rifles are slower.) Weapons with an accurate barrel and a scope can be employed at midrange with proper target leading. They are effective against most unarmored human enemies and wildlife. Human targets may be stun-locked from successive hits at a high rate of fire, though this effect will only last until the magazine empties.
Submachine guns typically suffer from very poor recoil handling when fired from the hip; short, controlled bursts of fire tend to yield better results than a sustained spray. Weapons with sufficient recoil reduction such as stocked Stingers can better control sustained fire. Aiming down the sight is always recommended.
Submachine gun elemental procs are relatively weak, and their tech pools drain quickly. Maliwan SMGs make for some of the better elemental weapons in the game, with their enlarged tech pool. Other brands of SMGs are less effective elementally. To get the most out of an elemental SMG, the first burst fired must hit the target, and the weapon must have enough cooldown time between bursts to recharge its tech pool. Spray and pray tactics are generally ineffective.
Thumpers have a very slow fire rate and a shallow magazine that reloads quickly, dealing greatly increased damage. This low rate of fire makes burst fire both less important and less effective. Effective Thumpers will have an accurate barrel, an effective stock, and a scope, allowing careful placement of their sparse shots from midrange in a continuous slow stream. A Thumper with a sufficient rate of fire can stun lock its target through repeated critical hits.
Anarchy SMGs fire a spray of four projectiles per shot cycle at the expense of two rounds from the magazine, with greatly reduced accuracy to offset the increased number of shots. This effect essentially generates a "wall of flak," and at point blank range it is highly effective. Like all SMGs, an Anarchy benefits from short, controlled bursts and sighting the weapon, concentrating the spread and thus increasing the likelihood of critical hits. Because of the short bursts, an Anarchy should be treated like a Shotgun in terms of what to use it against. Even a relatively weak Anarchy can tear apart enemy defenses at close range and is a reliable gun in extended combat if used with some source of ammo regeneration. Reload speed, as prioritized by Tediore weapons, is an extremely important aspect for this ammo-hungry weapon.
Maliwan Hellfires are arguably the most effective incendiary weapons in the game, yet are relatively common for a Legendary weapon. They can quickly stack levels of ignition on the target, effectively hosing down the enemy with fire, since unlike most elemental SMGs they can burn an enemy even with an empty tech pool. They are effective against Skags, every form of bandit (including all Badass Bandits), every stripe of Crimson Lance (other than Lance Pyro), and Rakk. Hellfires should not be used against an enemy with heavy shields such as Guardians and Gatling Turrets, or enemies that are resistant to Incendiary damage such as Spiderants, Scythid, or any fire elemental Badass (Skag or Lance).
Parts and naming
- Main article: Submachine Gun/parts
- Anarchy - 4 bullets per shot, uses 2 ammo, low accuracy.
- Bruiser - Increased damage at the cost of slightly slower fire rate.
- SMG - Balanced.
- Stinger - Increased fire rate.
- Thumper - Greatly increased damage but a very slow fire rate.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Bone Shredder The lead wind blows – Unique weapon used by Bone Head and Chaz. Double, scoped.
- The Spy I spy with my little eye... – Unique quest reward from King Tossing. Large zoom and +35% Critical Hit damage.
- Typhoon Phooon! – Unique drop from Typhon. Bullets travel in waves and split into two at a set distance and ricochet. The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC only.
- Dahl Wildcat The ultimate close quarters feline. – Very large magazine, low accuracy.
- Hyperion Bitch Smack 'em. – Increased accuracy during sustained fire.
- Maliwan Hellfire We don't need no water... – High tech Incendiary.
- Tediore Savior Hallelujah – Ammo regeneration.
- Torgue Gasher Tear it up – 300% Burst Fire.
- Maliwan Tsunami Flee the wave – Bullets travel in waves, ricochet and deal either Shock or Corrosive damage.
- All SMGs in Borderlands have a Bullpup design.
With their large ammunition capacity, low recoil, solid damage output, and reasonable reload time, SMGs make a fine workhorse weapon in Borderlands 2 at most ranges. When their rate of fire is taken into account, they are also probably the best weapons at applying elemental effects, particularly Maliwan models.
Like all common Borderlands 2 weapons, SMGs are named by body and barrel manufacturer. However, Maliwan barrels are further named by element.
|Body Manufacturer||Barrel Manufacturer|
| Heavy (Bandit)|
|Stable (Dahl)||Accurate (Hyperion)||Corrosive (Maliwan)||Fire (Maliwan)||Shock (Maliwan)||Slag (Maliwan)|
Only SMGs of at least Green rarity can be elemental or have a non-generic title (except for Maliwan Whites with the Maliwan barrel, as Maliwan weapons are always elemental).
- Bandit SMGs have large magazine sizes, but typically fall short in other areas.
- Dahl SMGs are decent at sustained fire with their low recoil, but lack the raw damage output of other manufacturers. Their burst-fire capability allows them to be aimed for critical spots in a pinch.
- Hyperion SMGs are excellent for sustained mobile combat due to their negative recoil and high damage output, but can require wasting some ammo to achieve their trademark accuracy.
- Maliwan SMGs are spectacular at applying elemental effects, but tend to have mediocre accuracy and often reload relatively slowly.
- Tediore SMGs can't compete directly with most other SMGs, but their quick reloads, large magazines, and high throw speed make for very effective reload grenades.