Field Manual: Weapons

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Conventional Weapons Overview

X-COM article by FullAuto:

Human weapons as deployed by X-Com. Tactical Brief-113, by order of Agent J.P. and Agent G.G. Classified EYES ONLY.

By Fyodor Dzhersinky, Training Sgt.

Welcome, trainees. I am here to induct you into the use of X-Com weaponry. You will address me with respect. You will not eyeball me. You will pay attention. You will learn not to ignore the best weapons humanity has to offer. You will learn to use them to good effect. Follow my rules and we will all leave this class happy capitalists, da? Let us begin.


  • Magazine: 12 bullets, 26 Armour Piercing damage each.
  • Snap shot: 60% accuracy, 18% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 78% accuracy, 30% TUs.

The Pistol is the weakest weapon in the armoury. However, it is versatile and quick to use. As you can see, you can fire off 5 snap shots in one turn, or 3 aimed shots, giving you a good chance of hitting the target. Best used in conjunction with a grenade or laser pistol, the pistol also serves well as a backup gun for heavy weapon troopers. Its stopping power is not to be underestimated, dealing out only 4 points less than the rifle. This means the pistol can remain useful for much of the game against Sectoids, Floaters, and Snakemen. (on easier difficulty settings)


  • Magazine: 20 bullets, 30 AP.
  • Snap shot: 60% accuracy, 25% TUs.
  • Auto shot: 35% accuracy, 35% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 110% accuracy, 80% TUs.

The Rifle is the default main weapon for any X-Com trooper. It offers auto shots (for close encounters) and accurate single shots (for sniping). All good capitalists know their rifle is more than enough to cope with Sectoids and Floaters. Make sure to carry at least one spare magazine, as auto shots eat up ammo. Again, do not underestimate its power, concerted fire from supporting units can take down fearsome enemies such as the Chryssalid with a little effort. A versatile weapon that can be used by snipers to pick off targets from a good vantage point, like at Stalingrad, or to storm the enemy and crush them under a hail of bullets. Like at Stalingrad.

Heavy cannon

  • Magazine: 6 rounds, 56 Armour Piercing/52 High Explosive/60 Incendiary.
  • Snap shot: 60% accuracy, 33% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 90% accuracy, 80% TUs.

The Heavy Cannon is a weighty but useful weapon. The magazine size is small, necessitating at least two reloads (usually carried on the belt). I know troopers who prefer one magazine of each ammo type, Armour Piercing for interior clearance, High Explosive for clearing obstructions and tougher enemies, and Incendiary for burning cover and boiling the aliens in their own fluids! The Heavy Cannon can be useful, but it needs a strong trooper to carry it, and its small magazine means sustained fire is impossible. Added to its high rate of TU use, it relegates the Heavy Cannon to a supporting role.


  • Magazine: 14 rounds, 42 AP/44 HE/48 I.
  • Snap shot: 56 % accuracy, 33% TUs.
  • Auto shot: 32% accuracy, 40% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 82% accuracy, 80% TUs.

The Auto-Cannon is the most versatile of the heavy weapons. Relatively light, with a large magazine and a choice of ammo, it also has auto shot capability, meaning it can be reliably used while clearing out UFOs. When using HE, an auto shot can clear a whole field, revealing the alien scum as they cower. When using Incendiary, an auto shot can light up half the battlefield if in a night mission, or quickly burn away any cover, as well as setting fire to enemies. It causes slightly less damage than the Heavy Cannon, but has more than twice the magazine capacity and can fire three times as fast. Truly, a mighty weapon with which to smite the enemy.

Rocket Launcher

  • Magazine: 1 rocket, 75 HE Small/100 HE Large/90 Incendiary.
  • Snap shot: 55% accuracy, 45% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 115% accuracy, 75% TUs.

In the early stages of the war, the Rocket Launcher is X-Com’s only knockout punch. Usually reserved for use against tough enemies like the Cyberdisc, or groups of weaker enemies, the Rocket Launcher is very accurate when aimed, and should NOT be used otherwise unless absolutely necessary. The size of the ammo severely limits profligacy, a unit can carry a maximum of 5 rockets (3 in backpack, one in hand, one in the launcher) and unless more ammo is spread amongst the rest of the squad, that is all you will have. I advise carrying a pistol for close protection. The nature of the weapon means it is usually deployed at the rear of a squad, so bear in mind when firing that there may be friendly units between the launcher and target. Weigh the risks carefully. Best fired from elevated positions, as nearby shots will hit the ground even if they miss, making snap shots feasible, even for not-so-accurate soldiers. Also, feel free to use snap if target has a wall or other large obstacles at their back. (this paragraph also applies for all Heavy Cannon and Auto-cannon with Explosive Ammo)

Laser Pistol

  • Magazine: Unlimited, 46 Laser Beam.
  • Snap shot: 40% accuracy, 20% TUs.
  • Auto shot: 28% accuracy, 25% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 68% accuracy, 55% TUs.

Collectively, the laser weapons are a step down in accuracy from the ballistic weapons, but a step up in power and the nature of their ammo is a big advantage. The Laser Pistol is best used in conjunction with grenades, or another weapon entirely, or merely as a backup. Bear in mind you can fire off a maximum of 12 shots a turn, each one doing almost twice the damage of a normal pistol round.

Laser Rifle

  • Magazine: Unlimited, 60 LB.
  • Snap shot: 65% accuracy, 25% TUs.
  • Auto shot: 46% accuracy, 34% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 100% accuracy, 50% TUs.

The Laser Rifle deals out twice the damage of the normal rifle, at a decreased TU cost. It also serves as a decent sniper weapon on account of the massively decrease TU cost compared with that of the conventional rifle; a stationary sniper can put out 2 aimed shots. It hits hard enough to be useful against pretty much every enemy in the game, and it’s unlimited magazine eliminates ammo problems. In a pinch it can be used to storm UFOs, although the Laser Pistol is generally better-suited for this role.

Heavy Laser

  • Magazine: Unlimited, 85 LB.
  • Snap shot: 50% accuracy, 33% TUs.
  • Aimed shot: 84% accuracy, 75% TUs.

Perhaps the only defective in the armoury, the Heavy Laser is powerful and accurate, but uses up too many TUs, it’s power and accuracy is never quite enough and it’s lack of auto shot is a mystery. What were those commie eggheads at the X-Com labs thinking? Scientists? Pah! This weapon has seen little use, and is best deployed to a sniper who has a laser pistol for backup. I have found no niche for it, it’s usurped by other weapons which are either faster or more accurate. Maybe one of these days the propellerheads will build a better laser, more accurate and more damaging but until then I spit upon this weapon! If you ever really need some serious laser support, see if you can requisition a Lasertank..

That will be all, trainees.

There are unconfirmed reports that X-Com labs are working on a new prototype version of this weapon. It is still not yet approved for the field though ; rumor says it lacks proper balance.