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I am not the type of selfish hoarder and would actually prefer to share with other settlers in our small communities rather than sell those 10mm for 30 caps or run around with thousands of bullets.

What I am really asking is: Is there a simple and convenient way to distribute unwanted weapons, ammo and armor to settlers for their better ability to defend the settlement? I would prefer not to equip each of them individually in each settlement as this seems too much of micromanagement. And I hear settlers tend to help themselves to your stuff anyway so I would like to encourage some distribution on excess stuff. Maybe that was the intention of their behaviour in the first place?

4

You can talk to them and use the conversation option to trade and then simply transfer the items into their inventory, but you don't want to do that. Without the micro management you're unable to designate specific items for specific individuals.

Since you don't want to do this you can leave the items lying around on the ground by dropping them or put them into a container (cupboards or drawers etc) and settlers will eventually get around to taking them.

There is no direct option to say "here, all of this stuff over here is yours to take".

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    Hmmm... didn't know they would pick stuff off the ground (kinda obvious now that I think about it). Are they likely to pick stuff up before it despawns? (if things despawn from a settlement?) – Broots Waymb Dec 16 '15 at 19:18
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    I had a bobble head out on a counter around my "house" and had settlers wander in and steal them and had weapons in boxes/cabinets stolen also - since you visit your settlement frequently it doesn't reset, you'd need to not visit that region for it to reset – kalina Dec 16 '15 at 19:20
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There actually are certain circumstances or parameters to be met for settlers to better arm themselves. For starters, I can verify(in all my experiences) that the settlement does, in fact, need to be under attack. Settlers will most often go for easily accessible melee weapons, especially legendaries. They're also very quick to loot fallen enemies of any and all better equipment. Another requirement is ammunition. A settler will only pick up a ranged weapon if a.) they have at least one round of ammunition that the weapon requires in their inventory already or b.) the weapon and ammo said weapon requires can be obtained together in one transfer, i.e. from the same container, or off of the same fallen ally/enemy. Same applies for power armor and fusion cores. Also, I've noticed that if there is a better variant of a weapon nearby but is inaccessible to settlers, they won't pick up any lesser variants, even if a lesser variant is better than what they currently have equipped. For instance, I keep all my legendaries in a secured room on the fourth floor of a structure I built. The only way a settler could get access to those containers is if they spawned inside that room upon the player character fast traveling into that settlement. So, if a raider drops an advanced assault rifle with 5.56 rounds and all my settlers still have boards and pipe rifles, they still won't grab the assault rifle as long as I have my two shot variant 20 feet away. I noticed this when I had a set of raider power armor with a fusion core left in it for settlers to use during an attack but they would never use it. Leave the fusion core in my x01 model with shark paint, and they hop into that thing to chase radroaches down. Again, this is what I can verify via personal experiences.

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You could encourage an attack by keeping defenses to a minimum and resources high, then leave weapons in conveniently located containers and hopefully the settlers decide to grab the equipment for the fight.

However, this is far from a guarantee and obviously encouraging an attack on your settlement isn't optimal. But as kalina also stated in their answer, there is no way to "equip all settler with this stuff I don't want". Unfortunately, it's a very micromanagement "need" with no non-micromanagement solution. (a micromanaged solution is obviously to talk and manually trade/equip, which you already seem to know about).

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