I am level 25, on Hard mode, and have found that I have a very hard time killing most bad guys of similar level. I have a rare shotgun w/ exploding ammo that does 70 base dmg and it's my best weapon, but even still takes a good 10 shots to kill most robots or super mutants.

Last night I stumbled upon a .50 Cal Hunting Rifle, which I decided to pick up as I hadn't seen one before. It does 90 damage and has some mods for scope, fast reload, etc. I figured shotgun up close for 70 dmg + 15 dmg per exploding bullet would surely be comparable to the 90 damage .50 Cal, but to my surprise the Hunting Rifle does almost 5-6x the damage of any of my other 70 damage shotguns or 70 damage rare rifles (.308, .38, .45, laser). It kills most super mutants in 2 hits, raiders in 1-2, even level 30-35 enemies die in 3-4 shots.

Why does it do so much more damage? It isn't rare and has no special stats. I would think that going from 70 to 90 damage would be just over a 28% increase, but it seems more like 500%. I just want to understand why.

  • Fixed your math (if I think you were calculating what I think you meant...Feel free to revert the change otherwise!). It was just bugging me :P Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 22:16
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    Need to invest me some money in a .50 cal rifle me thinks!! Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:58
  • Two-shot fifty cal hunting rifle is my go-to rifle. It rivals my Deliverer, even with three points into Gunslinger.
    – Dpeif
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 18:01
  • 5~6 times the damage of a .308 is spot on with reality. 50's should do about 370 damage if .308's do 70. A mod I'm using puts it at 583 and still it isn't a sure shot of one and done.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


Because it's a bullet, not a spread.

Your shotgun does it's damage divided evenly among some (currently unknown) number of pellets. If every pellet hits, it'll add up to 70 damage (as far as exploding ammo goes, I'm not sure if we know if it applies to every shot or every pellet, but either way, we'll get into it). But if you miss with any pellets, your damage suffers. Additionally, the DR system in F4 is weighted against shotguns in general. Each pellet is DR'd separately, resulting in far less damage getting through.

Lets pretend your enemies have an average DR of 70. That means if your shotgun was loaded with slug rounds (which you can't do in the baseline game or any mods that I know of), you would deal ~35 damage per hit, because a 1:1 DR to Damage ratio reduces the damage by 50%. Now lets pretend your shotgun fires 5 pellets, for 14 damage each. The DR is now up to a ~5:1 ratio, which will be much less than 40% damage (~6 per pellet or ~ 30 damage if every one hits). Even if explosive ammo applies to each pellet, you're still around 29 damage, so a 5:2 ratio, still around ~61% reduction (~11 per pellet, ~ 55 if they all hit). You're also playing on hard, so each attack does 75% of the damage it should have when you're attacking enemies, dragging your damage down further. If it's more pellets than my pulled-from-thin-air-5, you're at an even greater disadvantage.

Whereas this sniper rifle, with it's 90 damage, somewhere around 45% of the damage is blocked, leaving you with ~50 damage, which is going to average MUCH higher than your partial hits with your shotgun.

  • However, the 50 cal also does much more damage than a 45 cal hunting rifle, shot for shot. About 5x the damage there as well. Why?
    – Haney
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 1:43
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    @Haney What's the listed damage on the hunting rifle versus the listed damage on the .50 cal.? Also, is this against the same target? The target's physical DR is going to have a huge impact on the final damage.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 7:31
  • 50 cal listed 90. 308 and 45 listed 70. Same target. 90 damage gun doing about 5x the damage of 70 damage gun.
    – Haney
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 14:52
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    @Haney either your game is glitched or your experimentation is flawed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should cause that drastic of a difference over that damage change. The only think that would come close is if the .50 has a silencer and you have all the sandman perks and McCready's perk. It's also possible it's headshot vs body shot, but I'm assuming you know the difference there and that's not it.
    – Dallium
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 16:18
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    @Dallium it's definitely weird. No affix or special mods. I'll maybe take some screenshots tonight and update question. Same target w/ reload of save and 2 guns with specs. It's super odd.
    – Haney
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:04

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