The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 can be savage and without mercy, but Red Dead Online can be a whole 'nother story all together, as you will be dealing with skilled players that can make short work of you in the game's competitive modes if you are not adequately prepared. So how does one prepare for such an experience?
By getting the best weapons available.
All of the weapons seen in the Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Mode are available in Red Dead Online, but they handle somewhat differently. This is mostly due to how Dead Eye works in the online experience (it doesn't slow down time + ability cards). As such, a weapon that was particularly effective in the single-player campaign may be significantly less so while playing online. Since money is hard to come by in Red Dead Online, you may want to save it up to get only the best weapons available.
Unlike in the single-player Story Mode, weapons in Red Dead Online cannot currently be upgraded. You can still make them more effective by purchasing different ammo types, however. Also, you are still required to take care of them, cleaning them your guns as required to keep their performance up.
Unlike Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Mode, where weapons available for purchase in shops are locked behind story progression, the weapons in Red Dead Online are locked behind Rank progression. So to get a specific weapon you need to reach a certain Rank and then purchase it. As we've mentioned previously, money is hard to gain in Red Dead Online, so knowing when a weapon unlocks is quite useful.
Listed below are all of the Red Dead Online weapons, when they unlock and how much they cost to purchase.
Rank 5 - Pump Action Shotgun $444
Rank 7 - Bolt Action Rifle - $216
Rank 8 - Throwing Knife - $2.50, Varmint Rifle - $72
Rank 9 - Schofield Revolver - $192
Rank 10 - Bow - $124
Rank 11 - Repeating Shotgun - $434
Rank 12 - Lancaster Repeater - $243
Rank 13 - Rolling Block Rifle - $411
Rank 15 - Cleaver - $8
Rank 16 - Dynamite - $1
Rank 17 - Double Action Revolver - $127
Rank 18 - Litchfield Repeater $384
Rank 19 - Sawed-Off Shotgun - $111
Rank 21 - Volcanic Pistol - $270
Rank 22 - Semi-Automatic Pistol - $537
Rank 24 - Fire Bottle - $0.75
Rank 28 - Hatchet - $4.25
Rank 30 - Double-Barreled Shotgun – $185
Rank 32 - Machete - $40
Rank 34 - Mauser Pistol - $600
Rank 36 - Tomahawk - $4
Rank 38 - Springfield Rifle - $156
Rank 42 - Semi-Auto Shotgun - $540
Rank 50 - Carcano Rifle - $456
The above list makes it pretty clear that purchasing most weapons in Red Dead Online is a large investment, and if you make the mistake of simply thinking the best weapons in story mode are also the best online, you might also be wasting your money.
The best weapons to use online are the Bow, Litchfield Repeater, Repeating Shotgun, Schofield Revolver, Semi-Automatic Pistol, and Springfield Rifle. Let's get into more detail why...
Incredibly enough, the Bow is one of the best weapons in Red Dead Online and it can be acquired fairly easily, as it is unlocked at Rank 10 and costs very little compared to the others. Thanks to the changes in Dead Eye for Red Dead Online, the Bow is extremely effective in a variety of situations and even in some competitive multiplayer modes, as it can be used to kill from a distance with headshots, without revealing your position to opponents.
The Litchfield Repeater is undoubtedly the first, and potentially only, Repeater you should buy in Red Dead Online. It's the best weapon to use in many of the game's competitive multiplayer modes as it has an extremely high fire rate, making it perfect to kill large groups of opponents. It can also be obtained fairly early in the game, unlocked at Rank 18, so save you money until you can purchase it, especially if you're planning to play against other players alot.
The Repeating Shotgun is probably the best weapon that can be acquired in Red Dead Online full stop, surpassing the Litchfield Repeater thanks to its stats. Packing extremely high firepower and acceptable accuracy, the Repeating Shotgun is more than decent at mid-range and devastating at short range: a single shot is often enough to take down an enemy. Fire rate is also not bad at all for a shotgun, making the Repeating Shotgun even deadlier while in Dead Eye. Sadly, it may not be so easy to purchase, as it's among one of the priciest weapons of the game, at $724.
The Schofield Revolver is the best Revolver that can be used in Red Dead Online. It's extremely reliable for headshots, thanks to its stability and accuracy. If your shooting skills aren't particularly good, however, the Schofield Revolver is just an average revolver, so you may want to invest your money in weapons that are easier for you to use (like the shotgun or semi-auto pistol).
The Semi-Automatic Pistol is a very reliable weapon to use in Red Dead Online if you're not a good enough shot to take advantage of the Schofield Revolver. Due to how Dead Eye works online, you can easily get a lot of shots in a single use, so you don't even have to be all that accurate. The main issue with the Semi-Automatic Pistol, however, that it takes some time to unlock, as it becomes available for purchase at Rank 22. The weapon is also one of the priciest weapons of the game, costing $895.
The Springfield Rifle is another highly recommended weapon to use in Red Dead Online due to its excellent firepower, which allows players to take down enemies with a couple of shots. Accuracy and fire rate are also very high, making it the perfect weapon for those who aren't particularly good at shooting. While it takes some time to unlock the weapon, as it becomes available for purchase only after reaching Rank 38, the Springfield Rifle costs only $240, making the weapon even better if you're low on money but still need a reliable gun.
High Roller Double Action Revolver
If you're currently playing the game on PlayStation 4 (it will be available 30 days later on Xbox One), there's another good weapon that you can get as soon as you have the chance to roam the map, the High Roller Double Action Revolver. The weapon, which can be obtained for free from any Fence, is a very good revolver with the best fire rate of the weapon category, becoming an even better weapon while in Dead Eye.
New Weapons ( 1.06 Update)
The Rare Shotgun has been added to Red Dead Online with the February 26th, 2018 update. The weapon, which can be purchased for $258 or 11 Gold Bars from any gunsmith, is identical to the Rare Shotgun seen in the story mode, as it is an aesthetic variant of the Double-Barrelled Shotgun. This weapon has a very low ammo capacity, low range, and accuracy but very high firepower, which makes it a very good choice for short-range confrontations. The Rare Shotgun can also use Slug ammo, which grants increased firepower.
While useful in situations where you are forced to confront enemies at short range, the Rare Shotgun may not be all that worth it: its price is high, and it's not as versatile as some of the other weapons in the game.
The Jawbone Knife is available exclusively to PlayStation 4 owners. This melee weapon can be purchased from any fence for $105. There are no rank requirements, so it can be purchased as soon as Free Roam mode is available.
Like all the other melee weapons, the Jawbone Knife is not a good weapon at all in any situation, as you must be very close to enemies to even hit them, something that's very hard to do in pretty much all situations. Save your money for something else.