Ballistics is an essential part of Escape From Tarkov. As of the 0.12.2 update, there are over 100 different types of rounds in Tarkov, not including ammo for mounted weapons. Every round has unique stats, including Damage, Penetration, Velocity, Recoil, and Armor Damage. Armor can absorb damage, but even if it completely stops a round, you will still receive a percentage of the round’s damage depending on what kind of armor you are wearing. Some rounds are also tracers or subsonic. Subsonic rounds are very quiet, which are great for stealth, but they are more expensive and have a lower velocity. The lower velocity means that subsonic rounds tend to have lower armor penetration, take longer to travel to the target and drop sooner, lowering their range a bit. Tracer rounds can help you see where exactly your bullets are going. They emit bright light allowing you to track them to the target and see precisely how you adjust your aim. They also can help teammates figure out exactly what you are firing at by tracking your shots. The big problem with tracer rounds is that they work both ways; anyone in the area, including whoever you are shooting at, can track the rounds back to you. They are about as stealthy as a loud signal flare.
Choosing your ammo can mean the difference between having a good raid and a complete disaster. Luckily players like NoFoodAfterMidnight have done a lot of work to break down the ballistics making them easier to understand. Here is a breakdown of the different types of ammo highlighting the best options for players to use based on NoFoodAfterMidnight’s ammo charts.
If you are going to run around with a shotgun, it is generally a good idea to aim for the limbs, particularly the legs and the stomach. Shotguns typically don’t have a huge amount of penetration but can do a ton of damage if used right. Shotguns originally only had two options for ammo, but those options were expanded in the latest update. The shotguns currently have the largest variety of rounds, but most of them are pretty similar.
Shotguns do damage per pellet, so a shell with 32 damage isn’t going to spread it out among all eight pellets, and instead, each pellet will do 32 damage individually. Due to this mechanic, the shotguns can do a good amount of damage, and slugs can do an insane amount of damage with some of the highest numbers in the game. The downside is that shotguns generally do not have great penetration and armor damage across the board. The RIP slug, for instance, does 235 damage, the highest in the game at the moment, but has 0 penetration and will only do 11 damage to armor.
For buckshot, there is no best or worst round; it will depend primarily on personal preference and playstyle. The 8.5MM Magnum does the most damage with 44 damage per pellet.
Flechette rounds are the best for armor penetration. Flechette uses darts instead of pellets with 19 damage and 28 penetration per dart.
Slugs are devastating to unarmored targets. The AP20 has the best balance among all of the different slugs with 32 Armor Penetration and 164 Damage per shot. The problem is that these slugs require you to get Jaeger to Level 4 to purchase them, so getting them can be a bit grindy. Devastator slugs have higher damage at 188 but only 4AP. The RIP slug has the highest damage in the game with 235dmg but 0AP. Poleva 6U slugs have a good balance at 120dmg and 17AP and are a bit cheaper than the better AP20
This round is widespread but should probably be left for the scavs and scav players. The rounds have high damage, but the velocity, range, and penetration are negligible. These rounds are useless in PVP except against new or completely unarmored players. They are only used in VPO rifles.
The GEKSA round does 80dmg but only does 14AP.
The FMJ rounds do 73dmg and 20AP, but the other stats aren’t great.
The EKO has the best balance overall with 65dmg and 30AP. Eko is also the best on a budget as it can be purchased from level 2 Jaeger for around 87 rubles.
This type of ammo is only used with the MP7 SMG. This type of ammo has high accuracy, velocity, and AP but relatively low overall damage. It makes up for the low damage by the MP7 having a high rate of fire and by being one of the only types of non-rifle ammo that penetrate class 5 ammo.
The Action SX variant has low AP but does the highest damage for this type of round at 65dmg and 13AP.
The best-balanced round is the AP SX with 35dmg and 47AP.
The MP7’s high rate of fire means that it eats up this ammo very quickly. The best rounds, the AP SX, cost around 557 rubles per round while the others cost around 200 per round, making it a rather expensive type of ammo overall. The weapon itself isn’t available until level 40, and the mechanic needs to be at level 4 to buy ammo for it.
The FN Five-seven and the P90 use this type of ammo.
This type of ammo has good velocity, damage, and AP but can be a bit costly, especially with the higher rate of fire of the P90.
The R37F variant has the highest damage with 90dmg but only 8AP.
SS190, L191, and SB193 all have a nice balance between damage and AP. The SS190 has 49dmg and 37AP, the L191 has 58dmg and 33AP, and the SB193 has 54dmg and 35AP. SB193 is subsonic, and a bit expensive and the L191 is a tracer round. The best round of this type of ammo overall is the SS190 as it is well balanced, not a tracer or subsonic, and relatively inexpensive at $2 per round from Peacekeeper, but most rounds of this type cost about the same from Peacekeeper and Mechanic.
As of now, these rounds are used almost exclusively by the TT pistol. They have decent velocity, but that’s about the only outstanding feature about them. Scavs and new players mainly use these rounds.
The LRN and LRNPC have the highest damage at 64dmg and 66dmg, respectively, but low penetration at 6AP and 5AP each.
The PST GZH is the best option for this type of ammo against armored targets. This round has the highest penetration at 24AP and only costs about 80 rubles. This type of ammunition is best used for headshots and lightly armored targets.
This is a great armor-piercing round only used by the SR1MP pistol. This ammo is best used for accurate headshots providing heavy hits through light armor. There are only four variations of this ammo.
The SP12 and SP11 variants do 75 and 70 damage respectively but have the lowest AP at 14 and 16. The SP10 has 49dmg and 32AP, and the SP13 does 62dmg and 36AP making it the best balance of all four variations.
The SP13 is the best version of this ammo to go for and is relatively cheap at 140-250 rubles per round.
This type of ammo is mainly used in Russian pistols and SMGs. There are a lot of hollow point versions of this type of ammo, but not a lot of good rounds for penetration.
The SP7 has the highest damage at 77 but only 2AP, a slight improvement on the SP8 that only does 67dmg and 1AP.
The PMM and PBM rounds are the best balanced of this type of ammo. The PBM round does 44dmg with 22AP, and the PMM round does 56dmg with 25AP. The PBM and PMM rounds can be purchased for about 120 rubles each, but all of the other rounds would be good on a budget as this is pretty cheap ammo.
This is the most common type of ammo in the game. Most pistols and SMGs use it. This ammo does a decent amount of damage with good velocity and accuracy but has low penetration. The ammo tends to have a low recoil making it good for popping off quick follow-up shots. This ammo is great when targeting soft spots but not so great against armor.
The RIP rounds do the most damage at 102 but have no real AP.
The AP 6.3 has the highest penetration with 25AP. It is also a bit more expensive than the other rounds for this type of ammo at $4/round.
The best-balanced round of this type is the PST GZH. This round does 54dmg with 18AP and is very cheap. The mechanic sells these rounds for about 65 rubles per round.
This is a newer type of ammo used exclusively by the ASH-12. Overall this ammo does an insane amount of damage for an assault rifle with each type doing over 100 damage per shot. The downside is that the rounds generally have low penetration, range, accuracy, and velocity with really high recoil.
The PS12A does the highest damage overall at 165dmg but has very low penetration at 10AP.
The PS12B has the highest AP of the group at 46 with 102dmg.
The standard PS12 rounds are the most “balanced” of the group with 115dmg and 28AP, but the high overall damage of this ammo type makes the PS12B the better option due to its higher AP.
The standard PS12 round is the cheapest at 300 rubles per round, with the other variations being a bit more expensive. The ammo can be purchased from Prapor once he is at level 4, meaning you need to grind a bit before getting access to these rounds.
This is Russian specialty ammo used exclusively by the VSS and ASVAL rifles. The rifles are great for stealth due to integrated suppressors. The rounds provide a low recoil and a low velocity with high damage and AP making the rifles feel a little like SMGs.
The SP-5 rounds do the highest damage at 68dmg with 35AP.
The BP and SPP rounds have the best balance with 60dmg with 50 AP and 67dmg and 45AP, respectively, but these rounds are hard to get in large quantities. Typically getting large numbers of these rounds requires farming or spending an obscene amount of money on the flea market.
The SP-5 is the best round to use on a budget. Each round can be purchased from Prapor once he is at level 2 for about 140 rubles each.
This is a long-range, high power, and very accurate round for Russian sniper rifles. Every variant does at least 70dmg with a minimum of 40AP.
The 7N1, LPS GZH, and T-46M all have damage over 80, making these rounds one-shot-kills if you hit the target in the chest.
The 7N37 has the highest AP in the game at 70 but is very expensive. Each round costs about 1000 rubles.
The LPS GZH has 81dmg and 42AP and can is probably the cheapest out of all of these rounds. It can be purchased from Prapor once he is at level 2, but it is also fairly common in raids.
This is a larger caliber round used in western rifles. Several weapons use this ammo and are most commonly used in sniper rifles, DMRs, and other similar marksman rifles. This ammo type provides high damage, penetration, velocity, and is effective at long range but has high recoil.
The Ultra Nosler round has the highest damage at 102 but has the lowest penetration of this type of ammo at 15AP.
The M61 is the best for sniper players as it has the highest AP at 68 and can pierce any armor in the game. However, it is expensive, with each round costing about 1000 rubles.
The M62 is a good alternative for the M61 with 79dmg and 54AP. It is a tracer round but only 400 rubles per round.
The cheapest option of these rounds is the M80 with 80dmg, 40AP, and only 200 rubles per round.
This type of ammo is mostly used in western assault rifles. It does slightly less damage than the Russian counterpart but has higher velocity, accuracy, and penetration. There are several different rounds for this ammo type, but they can only be bought in small quantities.
The Warmage round has the highest damage at 85 but a negligible 3AP.
The M995 has the highest AP at 53 and does 41dmg but is expensive at $11 or 1000 rubles per round with a limit on how many can be purchased per reset. Luckily it can be crafted with one green gunpowder and a cannon shell at the workbench in the hideout.
The M855A1 has the best balance between damage and AP without costing an arm and a leg. 44dmg and 40AP at around $2 or 200 rubles per round.
This type of ammo is used in the AKM series of rifles in the game. This ammo tends to be less accurate and has a lower velocity but higher damage and penetration than other common rounds. This type of ammo is also easy to craft at the hideout.
The HP round has the highest damage at 83 but has fairly low penetration for an assault rifle round at 15AP.
The most balanced round for this type of ammo is the BP round. It has the best penetration at 47AP and does relatively high damage at 58.
The rounds can be purchased from Prapor for 470 rubles once he reaches level 3, and the Punisher questline is completed. You can also craft 120 rounds at a level 3 workbench in the hideout for just one green gunpowder.
This is one of the most common types of ammo in the game, a good all-around type used in the AK and RPK series of rifles. These rounds typically have a low recoil with high velocity and a good balance between damage and penetration. This ammo is also easily found in large quantities on raids, particularly on reserve. Pricing for this ammo ranges from dime-a-dozen to arm-and-leg.
HP has the highest damage at 54 but only has 11AP. 7N39 has the best penetration with 62AP but only does 37dmg.
The most balanced round of this type is the BS round with 40dmg and 51AP. BS rounds are sold by Prapor once he reaches level 4 for about 770 rubles.