In Battlefield 3, just choosing your primary weapon isn’t enough. If you want to compete, you’ll have to carefully choose from the plethora of attachment combinations for your gun.
And while it might be fun to use certain sub-optimal setups, there is a handful of options that are significantly better than all the others available.
Today, we’ll cover optic, barrel, and rail attachments for general play. Although my picks are geared more towards Conquest maps and play styles, these attachments are a strong choice for any gametype.
With optics, the general rule of thumb is to use what you are comfortable with. However, you should keep in mind that the red dot sight and kobra do not apply any magnification to your aim-down sights. It’s not just a drawback, though: this natural perspective allows you to see more on your screen and turn faster than sights with 1.5x magnification do (i.e. the holographic and PKA-S).
Besides, the major issue with anything 1.5x zoom or higher is not just the reduced visibility of your screen when aiming, but the fact that you will have a significantly harder time getting more shots on your target due to how much your gun kicks upwards with each shot. It’s best to get accustomed to the RDS/kobra sights, even for maps with long range engagements.
The heavy barrel is the only barrel attachment used by competitive players, and for good reason.
- It gives you better ADS accuracy, making you more effective at all ranges.
- It reduces bullet drop, making your shots easier to aim.
- Perhaps more importantly, the heavy barrel increases the damage drop off range for weapons (from 50m to 65m) which means it will let the weapon keep up high damage output to longer ranges.
- The slightly reduced hipfire accuracy is hardly a drawback when considering the heavy barrel’s tremendous benefits.
The laser comes in handy for close range encounters, but outside of the Close Quarters DLC maps it is a waste of your barrel slot. It shines a bright red light at your enemies, completely giving away your location and that of your friendlies as well. If you decide to turn it off temporarily in order to avoid being seen, then you are essentially playing without anything in that slot. Use the heavy barrel.
The suppressor has various problems, all making it a poor choice. Perhaps the worst thing about it is the decrease in bullet velocity, which makes it an absolute pain in the ass to kill targets outside of close quarters. It also suffers from a decrease in ranged damage. The damage falloff range goes from the standard of 50m, down to 35m, which is an absurd 30m less than having the heavy barrel equipped! It’s safe to say that the stealth function of the suppressor is not sufficient enough to make it worth using.
The flash suppressor reduces vertical recoil (the easiest part of recoil to control). This comes at the cost of significantly worst bullet spread and reduction in hipfire accuracy.
The flashlight…well… is terrible. It’s banned from most (if not all) competitive leagues anyways.
Seriously, just use the heavy barrel. It’s the most powerful, most accurate option in most situations, with tons of upsides and one fairly negligible downside.
Rail attachments – M320
Although the M320 is technically more of a weapon than attachment, I’m choosing to cover it anyways. (I should note that most competitive guys agree it is best to use the M320 freely rather than underslung, as you can be more precise with its ironsight.)
In a competitive environment, the only version of the M320 worth using is the smoke. It should be used temporarily to push an absolutely crucial location, but switching back to medical kits afterwards is important so as to give you more sustainable health in fights. The base m320 isn’t bad, but without the presence of a support player (which I have personally seen a whomping one time in a competitive scrimmage) it has very limited use. You will hold off a lane much more efficiently with quick health regeneration than having only 4 grenades to use towards your enemies.
The M320 Buck, Slug and Dart have their obvious strengths at close quarters, but as we all know Battlefield 3 is not a game with a focus on CQC. Even with such an attachment, a skilled player using a strong AR/Carbine will most likely outshoot someone with an M320 shotgun of any kind outside of point blank range.
The M26 Frag and LVG suffer so much from their inconsistencies that I won’t bother going over why you should avoid them.
Rail attachments – Foregrip
The foregrip is the hardest of all attachments to analyze. Some guns like the FAMAS seem to require the foregrip, while its benefits are less obvious on the M16A3, M416, and AEK.
From what I have discussed and observed of fellow competitive players, the foregrip will help with weapon control when microbursting (essentially many quick bursts of roughly three or so shots). However, shooting in longer bursts/sustained fire over long ranges will result in an increased spread when using the foregrip.* Although the foregrip is supposed to reduce your weapon’s long range capabilities, it is pretty evident that the reduction in side-to-side recoil is quite good.
My suggestion is to try the foregrip on your favorite ARs and carbines to see what you perform best with. Use websites like BF3stats (or use a plugin like Better Battlelog) in order to see detailed stats like accuracy and headshot percentages in recent games to see how you’re actually doing.
More weapon resources
If you want a very detailed look on what exactly weapon attachments do specifically for each gun, check out websites like Symthic. Like I mentioned before, bf3stats will be your best friend in seeing how you improve in recent games. Additionally, I recommend the Better Battlelog plugin because it pretty much combines both of these resources and puts them right onto your Battlelog. Once you try out Better Battlelog, you’ll never go without it.
* On a personal note I use it on the M16A3 in competition because I find that it helps me keep my shot over an enemy’s head much easier at just about any range.