Weapon degradation is one of the more unique mechanics seen in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online, adding an additional layer of depth to the experience. Over time, all of the game's weapons will deteriorate, and their performance worsens considerably.
To avoid this from happening, players need to maintain their weapons, which can either be carried out with the help of gunsmiths that are located all over the world map or on the fly - provided that you have some gun oil (more on that below). Players can also take additional steps to slow down degradation and cause weapons to require maintenance less often.
In this guide, we will review how the degradation system works, how to slow it down and how maintenance is performed.
Weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online degrade over time. The most common cause of weapon degradation is repeated usage, which causes soot to appear on the weapon, but there are also other causes, such as rust and dirt. These last two causes are related to the environment.
Weapons will start rusting when they are submerged in water and snow. Degradation by rust is the worst possible type of weapon damage that can occur in the game, as it takes an incredibly short amount of time for any weapon to reach the worst possible condition. Dirt is just as damaging as rust for weapons, with it taking a very short time of mud submersion to impact performance in a critical way.
Soot is the only degradation type that is not dependant on the environment as it starts appearing on a weapon when it is used repeatedly, without getting cleaned every now and then. All weapon types come with different resistance to soot: guns and revolvers are the most resistant, while weapons with high firepower like shotguns and rifles are the least resistant, and require constant cleaning for their performance to be maintained at optimal levels.
No matter the type of degradation, you can check out how much it affects any weapon's performance by viewing its stats on the weapon wheel. If the bars are white, the weapon is in perfect condition.
Red Dead Redemption 2 offers ways to slow weapon degradation, even in bad environmental conditions, with certain special items, but there are also ways to prevent degradation altogether.
While soot cannot be prevented, it's possible to avoid getting your weapons rusted and dirty by keeping them in your horse bag while traveling the world, and taking them out only when strictly necessary: sidearms are often more than enough to deal with enemies.
If you are going through water, mud, and snow, there's another effective trick you can use to prevent the degradation of weapons stored in your holsters. If you can dual-wield sidearms, you just need to take the weapons out while wading through water, mud, and snow, so that Arthur (or your Red Dead Online character) can keep them high enough to not let the environment affect them.
Preventing degradation may not be all that important in later parts of the game if you have a lot of money, but it will help you save plenty of cash in the first few chapters, as maintenance has its costs.
As already mentioned, there are select items which slow down weapon degradation. The best thing about the bonuses associated with these items is that they stack, so weapons will degrade much slower when all of them have been found. The downside is that most of these items are not obtained easily and some are not available in Red Dead Online at all.
There are two holsters that will slow down weapon degradation. The first one is the Reinforced Off-Hand Holster, which can be crafted by any trapper once all required items are obtained. This item slows down weapon degradation by 10%. The second is the Upgraded Holster, which can be either crafted by any trapper or purchased by a gunsmith. This item slows degradation by 20%.
Select weapons can also be upgraded with the Weapon Wrap, which slows their degradation by 10%. This upgrade is only available for repeaters, rifles, and shotguns.
There is also one talisman and one trinket that come with degradation slowing bonuses. The Raven Claw Talisman, which is obtained after completing the "Geology for Beginners" stranger mission, slows down degradation by 10%. The Beaver Tooth Trinket, which requires a Legendary Beaver Pelt to craft by any fence, slows down degradation by an additional 10%.
There's a final item that brings another 10% degradation slowing bonus, but it's the most difficult to obtain and it's not really worth the effort, considering you will be probably done with the game by the time you can acquire it. The Legend of the East outfit becomes available when you complete all of the story mode challenges, a daunting task that requires a lot of time.
No matter the actions you will take to prevent and slow down degradation, your weapons will eventually require maintenance. This is done in two, very simple ways.
The first one is to let any gunsmith in the game clean your weapon.
The second is to clean the weapon yourself, which can be done on the fly at any moment during the game. You will need Gun Oil, however, so make sure to purchase them from shops as often as possible. Plenty of enemies carry Gun Oil as well, so looting their corpses will help you in keeping stock of the item at all times.
Once a weapon has been cleaned, its stats bars will become white again and performance will go back being the best possible.