Combat Rifles are a family of heavy, high-velocity weapons, comprising both burst-fire combat rifles proper and fully-automatic machine guns. While they can be useful to all four character classes, they are a trademark weapon for Roland, who has a singular skill and a class mod dedicated to their mastery.
True Combat Rifles are either semi-automatic or more commonly burst-fire, firing a sequential series of shots with each discrete pull of the trigger (i.e. each "Fire" command from the player). They always have either a scope or a peep sight with magnification, for precision shooting at a distance. Magazines are small, and reload speeds are moderate, ranging from 0.75 seconds to as much as 1.75 seconds. Dahl, Hyperion and Tediore all make combat rifles.
Machine Guns are fully automatic, firing continuously for the duration of the "Fire" command until either the character releases the trigger or else the weapon exhausts its magazine. Some can have very large magazines, with correspondingly long reload times, as much as 3.5 seconds for certain models. Many machine guns lack a sight entirely, and sighted models never offer high magnification. Atlas, S&S Munitions, Torgue and Vladof all make machine guns.
Usage and Selection
Most true combat rifles are best employed at medium-long range against targets that don't take full advantage of cover. They excel against scythids, skags, all breeds of spiderant, and Crimson Lance of any variety. With their specific weak spots, Lance should be tackled at close to medium-long range. Spiderants should be burst-sniped at medium-long range from a raised position. Scythids and skags can be taken effectively with an assault rifle at any range.
A combat rifle's rate of fire is significant for long-range work, as slower bursts will allow weapon recoil to increase the spread between each bullet in the burst. Similarly, poorly stocked weapons with negative recoil reduction are also unsuitable for distance work. Because of combat rifles' low magazine sizes, reload time can be an important consideration for the weapon. In particular, Tediore combat rifles, while having lower damage and accuracy, reload faster, often making the final weapon more reliable.
Accurate Cobras are the archetypical combat rifle, best at medium-long range, where their improved recoil handling will put more shots per burst on a target.
Semiautomatic Pounders with extremely good accuracy are a rare and valuable find, but the small magazine capacity and low fire rate limit their use to protracted engagements at a distance.
Stompers can have very high damage output, and can make ideal short range weapons for cover based play, much like shotguns. Rate of fire and recoil reduction are less important on such weapons.
Combat rifles make mediocre elemental weapons, so elemental ability shouldn't take precedence over firepower or accuracy.
Machine guns are best employed at medium to close range, either firing short bursts from the hip in a run-and-gun style, given sufficient recoil reduction, or else laying down sustained fire while sighted (even down iron sights) to control the weapon spread. Sustained precise fire from there can stun-lock an enemy with repeated hits, ideally immobilizing the foe until they fall. Once the magazine is empty however, reload may take a while, so either the fight needs to be over by then or else some evasive action may become necessary.
The primary attributes to observe when selecting a machine gun are the weapon's damage, rate of fire, and magazine size, as these constrain the total amount of injury that it can inflict before incurring the overhead of reloading. The importance of accuracy and recoil handling will depend on the distance of engagement. Weapons with the Glorious prefix receive a (hidden) bonus to accuracy recovery that makes them very effective in hit-and-run engagements.
Locating a good machine gun can be challenging, as they are relatively rare, appearing in neither white weapon chests nor weapon vending machines. Many of the same character skills that support effective machine gun use will also work well with submachine guns, so cross-training proficiency between the two weapon classes may be useful.
Machine guns can make effective elemental weapons due to elemental effects stacking with subsequent hits on a specific target. They drain their tech pools quickly, so ideally the first burst fired will hit the target, and the weapon should receive enough time between bursts to allow it to recharge its tech pool. Spray and pray tactics are generally ineffective.
Parts and naming
- Main article: Combat Rifle/parts
- Rifle - Baseline.
- Cobra - High accuracy, reduced recoil.
- Stomper - High damage, slow bullet velocity.
- Pounder - Small magazine, high damage, semiautomatic.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Dahl Raven "2 More Bullets Make All The Difference" - Five round bursts instead of three.
- Tediore Guardian "Hold your ground... Forever." - Ammo regeneration.
- Hyperion Destroyer "The destructor has come" - While zoomed, empties the magazine with a single trigger pull.
- Tediore Avenger "Uncommon Power" - High zoom, +50% Critical Hit Damage, single shot, slow ammo regeneration.
- Machine Gun - Baseline.
- Mauler - Very high damage per bullet.
- Havoc - High rate of fire, increased magazine size.
- Massacre - High accuracy, moderate rate of fire.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- The Meat Grinder "War is in your blood" - Unique weapon used by Jaynis Kobb. Large magazine, low accuracy. Erroneously said to have increased firerate after killing an enemy.
- Ajax's Spear "Useful for kicking Hector's bitch ass." - Unique weapon used by Ajax in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. Increased damage and recoil reduction.
- The Chopper "RAR! BRAR BRAR!" - Occasionally found from Motorhead in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. Fires 4 bullets per cycle at the cost of 6 ammo. Empties the magazine with a single trigger pull. Huge magazine, high rate of fire, low accuracy.
- S&S Draco "Dragon Fire!" - High tech Incendiary, large magazine, high accuracy.
- Atlas Ogre "Ogre SMASH!" - High tech Explosive.
- Torgue Bastard "TORGUE! Bastard Guns for Bastard People!" - High damage.
- Vladof Revolution "Guns of the Revolution will never fall silent!" - Large magazine.
- S&S Serpens "Poison in your veins" - High tech Corrosive, bullets travel in waves.
- Combat rifles were replaced with assault rifles in Borderlands 2.
- Roland's starter weapon, CR20 Rusty Machine Gun, is the only combat rifle made by Vladof. It is also the only one that is automatic. Proof of this is the CR that is in the name of the gun, which is normally on a Dahl, Hyperion, and Tediore. This is also the only combat rifle that does not have a scope.