A build using the much-maligned battle rifle.
This is a loud build using battle rifles (~99 base damage), for heists up to and including Death Sentence One Down difficulty. No DLC is required.
It is assumed that the player is at level 100, has unlocked all cards in the perk deck, and has all Infamy skill reductions.
- AMR-16: Long Barrel, The Bigger The Better Suppressor, Accuracy boost, Tactical Handguard, LED Combo, Pro Grip, Milspec Mag, any sight, Exotique Receiver.
- Krinkov: The Bigger The Better Suppressor, any boost, Moscow Special Rail, LED Combo, any sight, Wooden Sniper Stock.
Melee is El Verdugo, but you can use any other melee weapon with 70 (450) damage.
The AMR-16 should have 96/96 accuracy/stability if you used a +4 stability sight, and the Krinkov 100/100.
About the Build
Players who have used 99 damage ARs (aka battle rifles)/SMGs on Mayhem or above would have noticed one glaring flaw: due to low pickup of approximately 2.73 rounds per ammo box, they run out of ammo quickly. This results in those players frantically trying to dominate or melee kill enemies for precious ammo boxes, or have their teammates kill enemies and leave ammo boxes for them, swearing off battle rifles after the game has concluded.
This build seeks to correct that flaw in battle rifles and make using them enjoyable again.
What the hell? Battle rifles suck and your answer is to equip two of them?
Yes. Think of this as, instead of having two battle rifles, we have one battle rifle with double the ammo count and pickup rate, and no secondary.
But that means you only have one weapon.
The beauty of this is that the one weapon can handle almost everything. The battle rifle has the damage to dispatch lights and heavies in one or two headshots, the stability to ensure full-auto volleys against tougher specials stay on target, the magazine size to take down Bulldozers without pausing to reload, and the accuracy and range to hit faraway snipers.
The battle rifle does not have shield piercing or explosive capabilities, but Shock and Awe aced gives us an alternative answer to shields.
Hm, still sounds worse than LMGs or 58 damage ARs.
No objections there. However, the purpose of this guide is not to create a meta/0-aim-room-clearing/most-kills-at-end-of-heist build, but to explore an underplayed class of weapons and end up with a competent build that isn't miserable to play.
Inspire, movement skills, and Swan Song are stock.
As we're using Armorer, we get Iron Man aced for the ICTV, building up to it by acing Shock and Awe instead of Transporter so that we can deal with shields.
The rest of the skills are used to improve the weapons. Accuracy and stability skills are taken to get each stat as close to 100 as possible. Surefire increases magazine size, reducing reload frequency. Frenzy sets the floor on Berserker's damage boost at *1.4, giving the weapons enough power to kill heavies in two headshots. It also has the side-effect of allowing us to take a combination of light/shield + heavy/sniper bullets with a tiny bit of armor left to stop one additional attack. Jack of All Trades gives us an ammo bag for extra insurance against running dry.
The final skill point goes into Hardware Expert. This reduces drill repair time to 7.5s, so we can force a repair under enemy fire with Armorer's 2s invulnerability and Swan Song's 6s delay before down.
Cycle between weapons to maximize pickup
Remember I said having two identical weapons is like having one weapon with double the pickup? That's true only if both weapons are receiving ammo from pickups. If one weapon's ammo is maxed, your pickup rate is effectively still 2.73, since the max ammo weapon doesn't pick up anything. Switch to the max ammo weapon and start using it, so both weapons will pick up their expected 2.73 as much as possible.
Use invulnerability to pick up ammo boxes
The Armorer perk deck comes with 2s of invulnerability upon armor breaking. This can be used to rush into the open safely, picking up ammo boxes, before retreating to cover. Try not to get tased, as the stun will eat up your invulnerability time and leave you a sitting duck in the open with 0 armor.
Dealing with shields
Shock and Awe aced lets you knock back shields with melee. This can be a temporary measure (running past them afterward) or a permanent one (running past them, then turning around to put one in their heads). Again, the invulnerability of Armorer is useful, as it lets you get into otherwise vulnerable positions in order to kill shields.
Do not use bullets to try to knock back shields. Ammo is precious.
Don't get shocked by Tasers
Getting tased causes you to fire your weapon uncontrollably. Surefire works against you in this situation, forcing you to go through more bullets before the wastage of ammo stops.
Spam during Swan Song
Swan Song gives you infinite ammo for 6 seconds. Against tough enemies like turrets or multiple Bulldozers at once, it can be strategically valid to deliberately enter Swan, spray bullets at the enemy, and have a teammate revive you afterward.
If you're in the midst of reloading and you get hit into Swan, cancel the reload by deploying or sprinting briefly, and fire on the enemies. If your weapon's magazine is completely empty, switch to your other weapon and fire instead.
Melee can kill enemies too
With Berserker and Bloodthirst, you can kill enemies with melee attacks, provided you've racked up enough bullet kills beforehand. Doing so conserves ammo and lets you reload faster.
With enough Bloodthirst, you can even beat Bulldozers 1-on-1 with melee. Simply melee them from the side, and when they turn to face you, circle-strafe and repeat.
That's the end of the guide. Battle rifles have excellent stats in every aspect except pickup rate. By taking an SMG that performs identically as the secondary, we can effectively double the pickup rate and ammo count, at the cost of having only one weapon. This is less of a drawback than it seems, given how well it matches up against most enemies.