Borderlands Wiki

Example of an explosive elemental weapon

Explosive weapons' bullets have a chance to explode when they impact, dealing extra damage and creating a splash damage effect allowing them to damage multiple enemies within the blast radius.

Unlike other elemental attacks, explosive weapons never deal damage over time. All damage is inflicted immediately.



Explosive weapons are equally effective against any and all enemy types: flesh, shielded, and armored (although armored targets will still enjoy damage reduction, just as they would against any regular attack), but are particularly effective against vehicles, especially Outrunners.


  • Rocket launchers use explosive damage as their default damage type for non-elemental launchers, rather than normal physical damage.
  • Enemies that are killed by explosive weapons are blown to pieces. Sometimes accompanied by an overkill event where their body becomes a meat fountain that rises up high.
  • Brick has skills and class mods that are specifically tuned to enhancing explosive damage and resistance to it.
  • Explosives are very effective against cars and turrets.
  • No enemies are specifically resistant to explosive damage.
  • No shield types offer resistance against explosive damage.
  • All of the undead creatures in The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned are highly susceptible to explosive damage.
  • The Torgue Cobra (see list of unique weapons below) is a particularly potent explosive weapon in that it detonates on every shot, much like a rocket launcher, but unlike a rocket launcher it won't always create a large blast radius.

Borderlands 2

Explosive weapons have been somewhat limited as an element, with most other manufacturers not producing Explosive weapons as standard (with exception to weapons using the Torgue barrel or any Non-Elemental Rocket launcher), however, all Torgue munitions will carry explosive elemental tech as standard.

Splash damage

A certain percentage of the weapon card damage is dealt in a small area around the impact point, depending on the weapon type:

  • Assault rifles: 90%
  • Pistols: 100%
  • Shotguns: 100% (patched: was 85% at game release)

A direct hit with an explosive round will inflict both impact damage and splash damage on the target. However, the splash damage is never multiplied on a critical hit.

Certain weapons, notably assault rifles with the Torgue barrel, only inflict splash damage.


Explosive damage is fully effective against flesh and armor, but is less effective against shielded targets, dealing only 80% of the total damage to the shield.

Splash explosive damage has the same effectiveness on flesh, shields and armor as the impact damage.

Splash Damage only (cannot crit):

  • 100% total damage against flesh and armor
  • 80% total damage against shields

Direct Hit Damage (Impact + Splash) in non-critical spot:

  • 200% (pistols & shotguns) / 190% (assault rifles) - damage against flesh and armor
  • 160% (pistols & shotguns) / 152% (assault rifles) - damage against shields

Critical Direct Hit Damage can be calculated as following:

Total Damage = ((impact damage * crit multiplier) + weapon-specific splash damage) * (1 - target specific damage reduction)

Example: An assault rifle listed as doing 200 damage will deal 200 explosive damage on impact and 180 explosive splash damage. If the round hits a critical location, only the 200 damage is multiplied. If the target is shielded, both the impact damage and splash damage are reduced to 80% effectiveness (160 and 144, respectively).

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Explosive damage remains unchanged from Borderlands 2, but has new synergies with the Cryo element:

  • All frozen enemies take +200% explosive damage and +200% critical hit damage from non-cryo weapons.
    • An explosive weapon will inflict effectively 500% of its normal critical damage on a critical hit to a frozen enemy.

Borderlands 3

Explosive no longer counts as a separate element and is never stated on item cards, being replaceable by splash damage modifiers that could be of any other element. Explosive damage is referred to as "kinetic" by the game and deals non-elemental splash damage.