With a total of 59 weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 for you to find and of course use, there's no risk of Arthur staying anything less than well armed.
However, some guns are markedly better than others. While a good gunslinger can turn any gun into an effective weapon, stats can be important, and a good piece may mean the difference between life and death. So we've put together a list of the best weapons in the game and how you can acquire them. First though, a couple of quick tips.
Keep in mind that Red Dead Redemption 2 features a weapon degradation system, so you need to clean and maintain your guns if you want them to perform to par. Upgraded Holsters decrease weapon wear by 20% and buying/looting gun oil will let you do a quick fix out in the field. Ammo capacity upgrades are also available as the Bandolier and Gunbelt.
Upgrading weapons can make them stronger as well. Five components - Stock, Barrel, Sights, Scope and Wrap - can be upgraded. The Wrap is just the weapon's skin, how it looks and doesn't affect stats. The others can improve reload speed, range, handling and accuracy, so investing in them is definitely a good way to spend your hard-stolen cash.
Now, the game's unique weapons aren't necessarily the best. We'll take a look at how you can get each unique weapon first, then move on to a breakdown of best weapons by category.
Midnight's Pistol, Flaco's Revolver, Granger's Revolver - A series of side missions called the Gunslinger missions send Arthur after a few of the West's most famed duelists. If you defeat them in a gunfight, your reward will be their signature weapon.
Stat-wise, none of the three are winners, but they are unique keepsakes and are designed with looks, not performance, in mind. After all, a good gunslinger is good with any gun, but needs to be stylish.
Rare Rolling Back Rifle - Rare Sniper Rifle eared when completing the "Magicians for Sport" story mission.
Rare Shotgun - Dropped by a hermit in a cave northwest of Big Valley. Identical stats to normal Shotgun, but it has a special Wrap.
Rare Double-Barrel Shotgun - Dropped by a settler in a house right under the 'a' on the map's Manito Glade inscription. Again, this is a weapon with a different Wrap but stat-wise the same as its regular counterpart.
Ancient Tomahawk - This weapon is sticking out of a broken target north-east of the Calumet Ravine.
Hunter Hatchet - Whacked into a stump and left there next to a house you find north of the trail running through the Grizzlies.
Viking Hatchet - Found in some ruins at the bend of the river north of Annesburg, the hybrid melee-throwing weapon rests on an altar.
Weapon stats cover various different aspects, meaning that there isn't any one specific "best weapon" in every category. Ultimately, some stat differences are so minimal that you can just pick whatever gun suits your playstyle the best and stick to that instead of our suggestions. Nonetheless, here are those guns that are numerically a cut above the rest.
Revolver: Schofield - The Schofield offers good balance in terms of stats, and is fairly cheap at $84. Some of the other revolvers surpass the Schofield in one stat or another, but none are this well off in all of them at once.
Pistols: Volcanic - Pistols are the hardest category, since many weapons are good for different situations. The Volcanic's sheer damage output might make it the winner, but fire rate and reload speeds put others above it. The Semi-Automatic is another solid choice.
Rifles: Springfield - The Springfield rifle offers a good balance of damage and accuracy, only slightly outperforming the Bolt-Action. While repeater rifles don't have their own slot in the weapon wheel, their gameplay is distinct enough that we should mention the best, which would be the Lichefield.
Shotguns: Repeating - The Repeating Shotgun does immense damage.
Snipers: Carcano Rifle - This category is much easier to pick a winner in. The Carcano excels in every regard.
Melee: Tomahawk - This melee/throwing hybrid is great for stealth kills.
If you want to learn more about fast travel in Red Dead Redemption 2, check out our guide.