Below I have described in detail all of the UNSC, covenant, and Promethean weapons, including when and how to use these weapons. For the covenant and Promethean weapons, I have also provided the best strategies to overcome enemies with these weapons. The x/y after each gun name refers to the ammo per magazine/maximum extra ammo. Notice that the strategies are intended for use against AI in Spartan Ops and Campaign. These strategies do not necessarily apply when playing against human players in War Games.
“Headshot weapons” are a group of weapons with unique properties. A single headshot to an unshielded enemy from a headshot weapon deals infinite damage, allowing you to easily kill any rank of enemy on any difficultly. Headshot weapons are the most accurate weapons in Halo 4 and they all have scopes. This allows you to pick off enemies from a distance, which is usually the safest tactic on higher difficulties. You can also use headshot weapons up close, including against shielded enemies. Remove the enemies shields (preferably with an overcharged plasma pistol), and you then can finish them with a single headshot from a headshot weapon.
Assault rifle – 32/128: The assault rifle is the most accurate fully automatic weapon in Halo 4. Not only is it accurate, it also has very low recoil, so you can fire an entire magazine at once and still retain accuracy. When you do not have stronger weapons (such as the incinerator cannon or SAW), you can use the assault rifle to kill Promethean knights. Whenever possible, use either grenades or an auto sentry in combination with your assault rifle to more easily kill knights.
Battle rifle – 36/108: The battle rifle is an accurate headshot weapon with a 2x scope. It fires a 3-shot-burst each time you pull the trigger. These 3 bullets travel in a tight spread, increasing the area that you hit and allowing you to get a headshot even if your aim is a bit off. Because it fires 3 shots, the battle rifle is one of the highest damaging headshot weapons, so it is one of the best weapons for fighting Promethean watchers. Because watchers do not have heads, you must kill them with repeated body shots, so the higher damage of the battle rifle allows you to kill them in fewer shots. The downside to the battle rifle is that it consumes ammo very quickly.
DMR – 14/42: The DMR is an incredibly accurate semi-automatic headshot weapon with a 3x scope. It has practically no recoil and is just as accurate as any of the sniper rifles. Therefore, the DMR is great for picking off enemies from a distance. Using the DMR, you can easily kill light infantry from so far away that they cannot return fire. There DMR is also very effective up close if you do not use the scope.
Magnum – 8/32: The magnum is a secondary headshot weapon with a 2x scope. While it fires only one shot per trigger pull, the magnum has an incredibly high fire rate. However, I suggest that you instead fire slowly and carefully to conserve ammo and more easily get headshots. The magnum is not as accurate as the other headshot weapons, so you will need to get closer to your target when using it.
Railgun – 1/5: The railgun is a charge up weapon similar to the UNSC Spartan laser. It deals less damage than the Spartan laser, but it takes less than half the time to charge up. The railgun does not produce a targeting laser (unlike the Spartan laser), so enemy AI do not know when you are charging up a shot. Though railgun rounds do not travel instantly, they travel very quickly and home slightly on infantry, so it is easy to use the railgun at close or medium range. A single shot from a railgun can remove the shields of any knight, allowing you to finish them with a headshot. This combination allows you to quickly kill knights from a distance and up close, so it is one of my favorite methods.
Rocket launcher – 2/8: The rocket launcher, as implied by its name, fires powerful, explosive rockets. These rockets travel relatively quickly and accurately, so you can successfully use the rocket launcher from a fair distance. It deals enough damage to kill a knight or an elite in a single shot, though you rarely have access to the it during the campaign. In general, you should fire the rocket launcher at the feet of your enemies so that they cannot side step it. The rocket launcher has a 2x scope and it can lock onto enemy aircraft.
SAW – 72/216: The SAW is a powerful light machinegun great for killing Promethean knights. It deals the highest damage per second of all of the fully automatic weapons due to its incredible fire rate. It also has a huge magazine, which more than compensates for the high fire rate. The saw is great for killing knights; you can easily kill any rank with less than a single magazine of SAW ammunition. The downside of the SAW is that is fairly inaccurate, so you need to get up close when using it.
Shotgun – 6/18: The shotgun deal a large amount of damage at point blank range, but it loses damage the farther away you get. If you are more than 2 meters away from your target, the shotgun deals no damage at all. I do not suggest that you use the shotgun during the campaign because it requires you to charge enemies. On higher difficulties, charging puts you at great risk. Furthermore, at point blank range, the shotgun still does not deal enough damage to kill either an elite or a knight in a single shot. Therefore, it is much safer and more efficient to use other weapons.
Sniper rifle – 4/12: The sniper rifle is the most accurate UNSC weapon, and it allows you to pick off enemies from very far away with its variable 5 – 10x scope. Even on legendary, the sniper rifle is useful against elites because it can kill them in only 2 headshots. (Elite generals require 4 headshots to kill, so you should use other methods to kill them). Because of its pinpoint accuracy, you can kill elites from so far away that they cannot return fire. The sniper rifle is especially useful for sniping enemies out of turrets because they cannot move to avoid your shots. Whenever possible, I suggest that you snipe elites operating a wraith’s plasma turret so that you can more easily destroy or hijack the wraith.
Spartan laser – plasma/25% per shot: The Spartan laser is one of the highest damaging weapons in the game, but it is also one of the hardest weapons to use. In order to fire the Spartan laser, you must first charge it up by holding down the trigger. After you charge it up for roughly 2 seconds, it fires a powerful, accurate laser. You can use the Spartan laser from a distance because it has a 2x scope and the laser travels infinitely. However, as you charge up the Spartan laser, it creates a smaller targeting laser visible to all enemies. Therefore, infantry can easily avoid the laser, so it is only useful for destroying vehicles. During the campaign, you only have access to the Spartan laser when you also have access to powerful vehicles (such as a Scorpion or Mantis), so I suggest that you use the vehicles instead.
Sticky detonator – 1/5: The sticky detonator is an evolved version of the grenade launcher from Halo Reach. As implied by the name, the sticky detonator fires grenades that stick to any surface. Once you fire a grenade, press the trigger again to detonate it. The explosion deals a large amount of damage and has a high blast radius (roughly equivalent to 2 frag grenades,) though it has no EMP capabilities like the grenade launcher from Halo Reach. You will have access to the sticky launcher during much of the 7th mission, and I suggest that you use it to combat the hunters you encounter. Step out of cover to fire at the hunters face or back, then return to cover to detonate the grenade. It will take 4 – 5 direct hits to kill a hunter. I do not suggest that you use the sticky detonator when combating any other infantry because a headshot weapon and a plasma pistol provide a much more reliable loadout for fighting covenant. You will never have access to a sticky detonator when fighting Prometheans.
Beam rifle – plasma/10% per shot: The beam rifle is the covenant sniper rifle, and it is by far the most accurate covenant weapon. It deals as much damage as the UNSC sniper rifle, so you can kill most elites with 2 headshots. Just like the sniper rifle, it has a variable 5 – 10x scope, so it allows you to snipe enemies from very far away. I suggest that you use the beam rifle for sniping enemies out of turrets. The beam rifle has much less recoil than the sniper rifle, so it is a lot easier to snap shot enemies (this is when you fire without looking down the scope.)
Jackal snipers are the only infantry that use beam rifles. They can kill you with two body shots or one headshot, though they rarely get headshots. As soon as a sniper hits you once, immediately take cover before he can finish you with a second shot. To kill a jackal sniper wielding a beam rifle, stand in cover so that you are barely exposed but can see his head. Kill him with a headshot with your headshot weapon.
Carbine – 18/72: The carbine is a fast firing, accurate headshot weapon commonly found in covenant areas. The carbine is the fastest firing semi-automatic weapon in the game, though I suggest you fire slowly and carefully to conserve ammo and more easily get headshots. It also has the most spare ammo and ammo per magazine of all of the headshot weapons. For these reasons, the carbine is my favorite headshot weapon for fighting covenant. However, the carbine deals very little damage per shot, so it is terrible against Promethean watchers (though it is great against crawlers.)
Jackal snipers and elites both wield carbines. These enemies usually cannot get a headshot, so they pose little threat. Kill carbine wielding jackal snipers with a headshot. They may shoot you a few times before you can kill them, but your shields can easily absorb this fire. Kill carbine wielding elites up close with a plasma pistol and headshot combination. These elites pose less threat then elites with storm rifles because the carbine deals less damage per second than the storm rifle.
Concussion rifle – 6/18: The concussion rifle is a rapid fire grenade launcher that fires concussion rounds. These rounds detonate on impact, and they deal much less damage and splash damage than the sticky detonator or any type of rocket launcher. When the concussion rounds explode, they knock their target back considerably, so you can stop a charging enemy by bombarding them with concussion rounds. On legendary, the concussion rifle does not deal enough damage to be an effective weapon against any type of enemy.
In the hands of the enemies, the concussion rifle poses a large threat. Only high ranking elites wield the concussion rifle, and they can kill you with 3 – 4 shots. Since concussion rifle rounds travel slowly, it is best to engage these enemies with from a distance. As soon as you come within plasma pistol range of the elite, remove his shields with an overcharged plasma pistol blast and kill him with a headshot before he can approach you. Avoid concussion rifle fire by moving perpendicular to your enemy and jumping often.
Energy sword – plasma/10% per swing: The energy sword is a melee weapon that greatly increases the damage of your melee attack. Not only does it deal enough damage to kill most infantry in 1 or 2 slashes, the energy sword also allows you to lunge at your enemies from over a meter away. I do not suggest that you use the energy sword because it requires you to get very close to your enemies. This leaves you very exposed and can often lead to your death on higher difficulties. Furthermore, it requires 2 slashes to kill most elites, leaving you vulnerable for even longer.
When combating enemies with energy swords, it is vital that you do not allow them to reach you. Elite spec ops most commonly use energy swords, though you may see elite generals, zealots, or even majors using energy swords as well. These elites are always very aggressive and they will charge you nearly as soon as they see you. When you see a charging elite with an energy sword, it is your top priority to kill him before he reaches you. Begin by backing up while you overcharge your plasma pistol. As soon as you overcharge it, immediately fire the EMP blast to remove the elite’s shields. This will usually cause him to stumble or shake his fist, buying you more time. Immediately finish him with a headshot before he reaches you.
Fuel rod gun – 5/15: The fuel rod gun is the covenant rocket launcher. It deals much less damage and less splash damage than the UNSC or Promethean rocket launchers, but it makes up for this with a dramatically higher fire rate and magazine size. The fuel rods travel much slower than the UNSC rockets or incinerator cannon rockets, so they are much easier to dodge or jump over. Whenever you can, use the fuel rod gun against knights or hunters. Be sure that you get close to your target and/or fire at its feet so that it cannot dodge your fire. Because the fuel rod gun is weaker than the other rocket launchers, it will take 3 – 6 shots to kill knights or hunters on legendary. I do not suggest that you use fuel rod guns to fight elites because the plasma pistol and headshot combination is faster, safer, and more reliable.
When fighting enemies with fuel rod guns, it is vital that you fight them from a distance so that you have the most time to dodge their fire. When fighting grunt heavies, simply pick them off from a distance with a single headshot. Fighting elites wielding fuel rod guns is much more difficult. Wait in cover with your plasma pistol ready a little ways away from the elite. When he is just at the edge of your plasma pistol’s range, charge up a shot from cover, then step out of cover to fire your EMP blast. The blast will remove the elite’s shields and cause him to flinch, providing you with a split second to kill him with a headshot before he begins to attack. If the elite returns fire, either take cover or jump around while moving perpendicular to him to avoid his shots.
Gravity hammer – plasma/5% per swing: The gravity hammer is a melee weapon similar to the energy sword. Instead of slicing enemies, the gravity hammer creates an explosion with every swing. This explosion has a very small blast radius, so you need to be at nearly point blank range to deal any damage. The gravity hammer deals just as much damage as the energy sword, but it does not allow you to lunge, making it an inferior weapon. I do not suggest using the gravity hammer because it forces you to charge the enemies, which is very dangerous.
Because there are no brutes in Halo 4, you will never encounter enemies wielding a gravity hammer. You only ever see the gravity hammer in the Promethean armory in the last mission.
Needler – 22/44: The needler is a fast firing machine pistol commonly used by light infantry. The needles it fires deal very little damage on their own, but if a target is hit with around 10 needles, they detonate in a super-combine explosion. This explosion deals enough damage to kill most infantry, and two explosions will kill any infantry except hunters. Although needles travel slowly, they home on infantry targets, so the needler is a very easy weapon to use at close range. If you have access to a needler when fighting promethean knights, I highly suggest that you use it. If you hit a knight with just under a magazine of ammo, it will cause two super-combine explosions, killing the knight. This is much faster and easier than using other assault weapons like the suppressor or assault rifle. I do not suggest that you use the needler to kill covenant infantry because it is much faster, easier, and safer to kill them with headshots.
When fighting enemies with needlers, it is vital that you avoid their fire because a single super-combine explosion will kill you. If more than a few needles start hitting you, immediately take cover and wait for them to dissolve, even if your shields are high. You will mostly see needlers in the hands of grunts and jackals, so it is easy to kill them from a distance with a headshot weapon. Try to engage them from as far away as possible so that you will have more time to get into cover after you see them fire. If you are far enough away, they will be unable to hit you at all.
Plasma pistol – plasma/2% per shot: The plasma pistol is a specialized pistol use used by many covenant light infantry. While it deals practically no health damage, the plasma pistol deals high damage against shields. If you hold down the trigger, you can charge up an EMP blast capable of stunning vehicles and instantly removing an enemy’s shields. If your reticule is red when your fire the blast, it will home onto the target. The plasma pistol is great for fighting elites or knights because you can remove their shields with a single EMP blast. This allows you to then finish them with a single headshot from a headshot weapon. If you hit a vehicle with an overcharged blast, it temporarily stuns the vehicle, removing its ability to shoot or move for roughly 3 seconds. This allows you to hijack the vehicle safely. Because of its many abilities, I suggest that you use the plasma pistol as your secondary weapon whenever fighting covenant forces.
While enemies with plasma pistols will rarely kill you, they can easily remove your shields, leaving you vulnerable to other enemies. If you see an enemy overcharging their plasma pistol, kill them quickly before they fire at you. Only grunts and jackals wield plasma pistols, so you can stay out of their range and pick them off from a distance with a headshot weapon. If you are in a vehicle, immediately kill any enemies overcharging a plasma pistol before they can stun you.
Storm Rifle – plasma/0.5% per shot: The Storm rifle is the only covenant assault rifle. It is very similar to the plasma rifle and the plasma repeater from Halo Reach. The storm rifle is a very accurate assault rifle but it has very high recoil. If you hold down the trigger, it becomes very inaccurate after the 3rd or 4th shot. Fire in short, controlled bursts to overcome the recoil. I do not suggest that you use the storm rifle when fighting the covenant, and when fighting Promethean knights, I suggest you use the suppressor instead because it is more available and deals higher damage per second.
The storm rifle is the most common weapon used among the elites, especially the lower ranking ones. When the elites use the storm rifle, it has a lot less recoil than when you use it, so they can hit you from much farther away. Engage elites one at a time from cover, using a combination of an overcharged plasma pistol to remove their shields and a headshot to kill them.
Binary rifle – 2/6: The binary rifle is the most powerful sniper rifle in Halo 4. It is just as accurate and has the same 5 – 10x scope as the UNSC sniper rifle, but it deals much more damage. Prometheans can kill you with a single body shot from the binary rifle, and you can kill any rank of knight with only two binary rifle headshots. Therefore, the binary rifle is a great weapon for killing knights because it allows you to quickly kill them from a safe distance. Try to snipe knights from as far away as possible so that they cannot return fire while you snipe them. Be sure to pause between each shot to take time to re-aim; the binary rifle has very high recoil. If you are unable to get two headshots, two body shots will remove a knight’s shields, allowing you to kill him with a headshot from a headshot weapon.
You must be very careful when engaging enemies with binary rifles. Both crawler snipers and knights wield binary rifles. When either of these enemies are about to fire, a red halo appears over their head, providing you with a warning. As soon as you see this, immediately take cover and wait for the enemy to shoot. When fighting crawler snipers, simply kill them with a headshot when they are not about to shoot (when they do not have a red halo over their head). Fighting knight snipers is much harder. If you have a binary rifle, kill them from a distance with two headshots right after they fire, before they have time to fire another shot. However, if you have any other weapon, you will need to fight them up close. Move between pieces of cover to approach the knight until you come within a few meters of the knight. Engage the knight with an assault weapon while staying at nearly point blank range. If you stay close and jump around a lot, the knight will be unable to hit you.
Boltshot- 10/30: The boltshot is the Promethean pistol. Depending on how long you hold the trigger, you can use the boltshot as a headshot weapon or a shotgun. If you pull the trigger quickly, it fires a single headshot bolt. While you can fire these bolts at a fast rate, they travel slowly and are very inaccurate, so the boltshot is a very poor headshot weapon. In every situation throughout the campaign, you will have access to at least one other headshot weapon, so use the other option instead. If you hold down the trigger, you can charge up the boltshot so that it fires a shotgun blast. This blast deals less damage than the shotgun or scattershot, so it is absolutely useless on legendary.
All watchers and many crawlers use the boltshot, though they neither use the shotgun mode nor get headshots. The boltshot deals very little damage, so these enemies pose little threat alone. However, when you encounter an entire pack of crawlers, their combined fire can kill you quickly. Therefore, engage packs of crawlers with headshots from a distance or from cover to avoid being overwhelmed. If necessary, you can drive them back by launching your auto sentry (if you have one).
Incinerator cannon – 1/5: The Incinerator cannon is the most powerful rocket launcher in the game. It deals immense damage and splash damage on impact, enough to kill any infantry or vehicle (except a wraith) on legendary with a direct hit. On impact, the incinerator cannon launches several smaller explosives that detonate less than a second later. These further increase the damage and blast radius of the explosion. Whenever available, I highly suggest that you use the incinerator cannon as you secondary weapon. You can use it to quickly kill knights, elites, or hunters. Make sure that you shoot at your enemies feet so that they cannot dodge your shot. The incinerator cannon only has one rocket per magazine, so if you miss, you must reload before you can fire again.
Only Promethean commanders wield the incinerator cannon. It is imperative that you engage these enemies from a distance because they can easily kill you with a single rocket, even if they hit over a meter away. If you stay far away, you will have more time to dodge their shots and they will be more likely to miss. Unless you have a binary rifle, bombard the commander with a multitude of body shots with your headshot weapon. After roughly a magazine or more of ammo, their shields will break, allowing you to finish them with a headshot (or more body shots). It is vital that you keep shooting the knight so that their shields do not regenerate. If you have a binary rifle, simply kill them with 2 headshots.
Light rifle – 36/108: The light rifle is the primary Promethean headshot weapon. It fires a 3-shot-burst when not zoomed in, which increases spread and makes it easier to get headshots. When you zoom in with the 2x scope, the light rifle fires single shots (that still consume 3 ammo,) increasing the accuracy so that it is roughly as accurate as the carbine. A single shot in this mode deals more damage than all 3 shots when not zoomed in, so you should always zoom in when fighting watchers in order to kill them faster. When you are fighting Prometheans, you will often need to use the light rifle as your headshot weapon because it is usually the only one readily available.
Many Promethean knights wield the light rifle, though they only use the 3-shot-burst mode. The light rifle deals little damage per second, so it is easy to kill these knights if you get up close and use a suppressor. The suppressor is much less accurate than the light rifle, so you should get as close as possible to negate the knight’s advantage. If you have access to stronger weapons, use these to kill the knights even faster. Once again, you should get as close as possible (unless you are using the binary rifle.)
Scattershot – 5/15: The scattershot is the Promethean version of the UNSC shotgun. It fires faster and has a longer range than the shotgun, though it deals less damage and has a smaller magazine. To use the scattershot effectively, you need to fight the enemies at point blank range, and this leaves you very exposed. On higher difficulties, this exposure will greatly increase your chances of dying. Therefore, I suggest that you instead use the suppressor when combating knights; it is more available, has a longer range, and deals a higher damage per second.
Promethean battle wagons are the only enemies that wield scattershots. In their hands, a single shot from a scattershot can kill you on legendary from up to 2 meters away. Furthermore, battle wagons will use their teleportation and lunging abilities to come within range, giving you little time to react. You should always engage battlewagons from a distance; if you stay more than 10 meters away from them, they pose no threat at all. If you do not have any power weapons, I suggest you use a suppressor or a light rifle to kill them. If you use a light rifle, shoot them many times in the body to remove their shields, then once in the head to finish them.
Suppressor – 48/288: The suppressor is the only Promethean assault weapon. It is very inaccurate and it has high recoil, but up close, it deals very high damage. You can find the suppressor in many Promethean crates and from dead alpha crawlers. When you do not have access to powerful weapons like the binary rifle or incinerator cannon, the suppressor is a reliable weapon for combatting Promethean knights because it deals high damage per second. I highly suggest that you launch an auto sentry in addition to your suppressor fire in order to kill your target faster and draw their fire. Get as close as possible to deal the most damage.
Alpha crawlers and some knights wield suppressors. Kill alpha crawlers with headshots from as far away as possible to take advantage of their low accuracy. If they get close to you, retreat to cover or launch an auto sentry to drive them back. Fight suppressor wielding knights with any of the following weapons if they are available; any type of rocket launcher, a binary rifle, a railgun, a SAW, a needler, or a plasma pistol. If none of these are available, fight them with a suppressor using the tactics described above.