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This question already has an answer here:

So I have this weird problem - guards in my settlement don't equip the items I give them. I've given my guards some armor and laser rifles but whenever I go back to the settlement they still walk around in t-shirts, wielding a pistol. I've read that you can equip your guards but it doesn't seem to be working. Do I need to do something more than just give them the items or am I encountering a weird bug? Companions do equip everything I give them that's better than what they have, but settlement guards don't.

marked as duplicate by Jonathan Drapeau, Community Dec 11 '15 at 20:56

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When you're in the trade window, you can select the item in the settler's inventory and make them to equip it by pressing T on PC, Y on Xbox, or Δ on PS4. Note that you must provide ammunition if you want them to use weapons other than their default.

As DCShannon indicates in comments, this is a change from previous games.

  • +1, but I almost wrote a new answer just to acknowledge that this is a change from previous games, where NPCs would automatically equip the best weapons and armor you gave them, which is what the asker appears to be expecting. – DCShannon Dec 10 '15 at 20:06
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    FYI, since you have the PC/Xbox button to equip, it is triangle on PS4. – king14nyr Dec 10 '15 at 20:09
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    I see! So it's a clunky interface thing again, thanks. – DGarvanski Dec 10 '15 at 21:42
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As with the companions, you need to talk to your settler, go in the trade menu and make them equip the item with the proper button (shown at the bottom of your screen). For xBox players, this button is Y.

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