Essential Weapons

The weapons mentioned here are the ones that every player should equip in my opinion.

Special Carbine

  • Category: assault rifles
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 1
  • Price: $14,750

Special Carbine in Weapon Wheel

The Special Carbine is the best gun for new players. As an automatic gun, it has higher fire rate than the Pistol, so you don’t have to wait for that brief moment to fire another bullet after a missed shot. It has the drum magazine accessory whose capacity is a staggering 100 rounds, neither of which is commonly seen on other guns. Last but not least, it is unlocked at Rank 1, so you can buy it immediately after joining GTA Online for the first time.

Players new to GTA Online and the Story Mode who don’t have proficient shooting skills might choose to install the 100-round drum magazine for bigger ammo capacity, so they don’t need to reload frequently after a lot of missed shots. This is fine as long as you accept the trade-off of slower reloading speed. Otherwise, you can use the 60-round extended clip accessory for faster reloads.

In addition, in GTA Online, if your character dies while holding a weapon, all loaded ammo in the weapon will be lost, so you can potentially lose 100 rounds of ammo due to a death if you use the drum magazine; for the extended clip, however, you will only drop at most 60 rounds. This is more important for beginners whose character’s low shooting stat dictates that they can only carry hundreds of rounds for each category of weapons.

Marksman Rifle

  • Category: sniper rifles
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 1
  • Price: $15,750, or free with the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack

Marksman Rifle in Weapon Wheel

Marksman Rifle works similarly as other sniper rifles: it has a Scope that offers magnification, but only at a single fixed degree only suitable for mid-range sniping. However, the most remarkable feature of this weapon is its higher fire rate, which is significantly faster than other sniper rifles and comparable to the Pistol.

This makes Marksman Rifle the better weapon for stealth kills on NPCs than any other sniper rifle, given that the suppressor accessory is installed. If your shot missed the target, you can immediately make another shot in shorter time so you still take out the enemy before they raise the alarm, reducing the likelihood of being discovered.

Homing Launcher

  • Category: heavy weapons
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 1
  • Price: $75,000

Homing Launcher in Weapon Wheel

The Homing Launcher and the RPG are the two shoulder-fired rocket launchers in GTA Online, but you can purchase the Homing Launcher since day 1, whereas the RPG is not available for purchase until Rank 100. Thus, in the early stage of your GTA Online career, you might rely on the Homing Launcher as your major explosive weapon.

The missiles launched from the Homing Launcher can lock onto a target. The lock-on feature works fine on land vehicles during most of the time, but the homing accuracy on aircraft is really low: enemy pilots can dodge the missiles easily. Therefore, don’t depend on the lock-on too much when you are targeting aircraft.

The Homing Launcher has another advantage over the RPG: Homing Launcher’s rockets travel faster. This makes the Homing Launcher still a little bit useful even after RPG is unlocked. Some players favor this weapon in on-foot PvP activities for this reason.

Tear Gas

  • Category: throwables
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 13
  • Price: $150 each

Tear Gas in Weapon Wheel

The Tear Gas is probably not suitable for PvP, but it can be very useful in Missions like The Pacific Standard Job finale and The Doomsday Scenario finale. In these Missions enemy NPCs can constantly spawn at fixed spawn points, so you can drop a can of Tear Gas near each spawn point to kill enemies immediately after they spawn.

Using Tear Gas in The Pacific Standard
Job

Sticky Bomb

  • Category: throwables
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 19
  • Price: $600 each

Sticky Bomb in Weapon Wheel

The explosion made by a Sticky Bomb is similar to the one made by a Grenade. However, Sticky Bombs allow you to control the detonation whereas Grenades don’t. This widely extends the use cases of Sticky Bombs and also helps prevent harms caused by accidentally-thrown Sticky Bombs. Thus, there is no need to purchase Grenades at all.

AP Pistol

  • Category: pistols and handguns
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 33
  • Price: $5,000

AP Pistol in the Weapon Wheel

AP Pistol is like the assault rifle in pistols. Its fire rate is similar to assault rifles and is thus the highest among all pistols, and as a handgun, it can be used in most vehicles, so this is the best weapon for drive-by kills. Nevertheless, you can also use it on foot, and it offers performance comparable to assault rifles. As a challenge for myself, I sometimes use AP Pistol to replace Special Carbine in Missions, and the AP Pistol has been working like a charm.

Many people compare this weapon to the Micro SMG, another automatic gun that can be used in vehicles. I will definitely say that AP Pistol outperforms Micro SMG in any aspect, including damage per shot and maximum ammo capacity. Although you can purchase the Micro SMG as early as Rank 5, I strongly suggest you wait until you unlock the AP Pistol and then buy it as your drive-by weapon. The wait is worth it, as you don’t need to worry about weapon switching if you don’t have Micro SMG.

Assault Shotgun

  • Category: shotguns
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 37
  • Price: $10,000

Assault Shotgun in Weapon Wheel

The Assault Shotgun features the highest fire rate and largest ammo capacity in all shotguns, so it is definitely the best choice of weapon in this category. Shotguns are very effective in short-range and indoor fightings because you typically need only 2-3 shots on an enemy’s body to take the enemy out; in contrast, if you use an assault rifle, it usually requires about 6-7 shots.

This weapon is extremely helpful in Missions that involve indoor combats, like The Humane Labs Raid finale and The Bogdan Problem finale.

Combat MG

Combat MG in Weapon Wheel

Combat MG is a very powerful weapon in GTA V and GTA Online. Its fire rate and damage per shot are better than the assault rifles, although it sacrifices recoil and accuracy. I feel like it is not a replacement of assault rifles but rather a companion: you can use the Special Carbine for precise headshots on typical enemies and the Combat MG on tougher NPCs, like the NOOSE called after the hostages are killed in The Pacific Standard Job and the Cliffford Mercenaries that appear in The Doomsday Heists.

Heavy Sniper

Heavy Sniper in Weapon Wheel

As a sniper rifle, the Heavy Sniper can be used for long-range shooting. Its bullet causes very high damage that can kill an NPC even if it only hits the chest. But the most important aspect of this weapon is that its Mk II variant has unique accessories, such as the Thermal Scope.

RPG

  • Category: heavy weapons
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 100
  • Price: $26,250

RPG in Weapon Wheel

The RPG does not have lock-on ability that is seen on the Homing Launcher, but it is still worth the purchase. First and foremost, you can carry 20 rockets for the RPG but only 10 for the Homing Launcher, and RPG rockets ($500 each) are cheaper than Homing Launcher rockets ($750 each). Then, the RPG works better against aircraft than the Homing Launcher. You cannot turn homing off when using the Homing Launcher, meaning that the weapon will always lock onto aircraft automatically, so it is not possible to even make a free aim on aircraft with that weapon. Because the RPG does not have homing ability at all, it is the perfect explosive weapon for free aim, hence a better choice for the weapon against aircraft.

Minigun

  • Category: heavy weapons
  • Unlocked by: reaching Rank 120
  • Price: $50,000

Minigun in Weapon Wheel

The Minigun is basically a machine gun with very high fire rate. When you are dealing with NPC pilots who can dodge the rockets you launched with the RPG, then the Minigun might be the most effective weapon for taking it down (except the Heavy Sniper Mk II with Explosive Rounds). Within very short time, a lot of bullets can hit the enemies’ aircraft and thus destroy it. The Minigun is also a good weapon for killing Juggernauts that appear in The Doomsday Heists because they can withstand dozens of headshots before they die.

In situations where your other weapons can already do an adequate job of clearing enemies, the Minigun would be an overkill. As a negative effect, when you select it as the active weapon, it makes you move slower and prevents you from taking cover. Thus, it is wise to try using Minigun only when the toughness of enemies you are facing requires it.