Mass Effect 3 has two main types of Sniper Rifle, the 1-shot clip heavy damage (Ala Mantis, Widow, Javelin), and then the Semi-Automatic multi-shot clip where each individual shot does much less damage (Viper, Incisor, Raptor).

I know how to use the 1-shot sniper rifles (Find head in crosshair, shoot, rinse, repeat), but what's the ideal way to use the faster rifles?

Honestly, I'm not seeing a huge difference between them and the Mattock, a non-automatic assault rifle.

Is there any way to get comparable DPS to the slower rifles? Maybe I'm just bad at sniping with them, but I can't ever seem to land consecutive headshots with the fast rifles.

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    I've found the Carnifex pistol to be more useful in all situations than all semi-autos snipers, but I haven't gotten to try the Black Widow yet. – Ben Brocka Mar 29 '12 at 21:20
  • @BenBrocka the carnifex shoots too slow and has such a low ammo capacity to be worth it for the weight :/ The only time I'd consider it is for a class with -30% pistol weight – l I Mar 30 '12 at 2:40
  • Yup. Asari Adept + Carnifex (including stasis!) is real nice. – Raven Dreamer Mar 30 '12 at 2:40
  • That's pretty much all I use on my asari adept – l I Mar 30 '12 at 2:41
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    @yx. what weight? It's super light, at least at high levels. Like 1/3rd that of a sniper. – Ben Brocka Mar 30 '12 at 3:07

Honestly, I'm not seeing a huge difference between them and the Mattock, a non-automatic assault rifle.

Is there any way to get comparable DPS to the slower rifles? Maybe I'm just bad at sniping with them, but I can't ever seem to land consecutive headshots with the fast rifles.

You don't. There's a reason why they are semi automatic and not 1 shot. Whenever you land the first shot, you will cause the target to stagger, not only that you'll get a little kick back so there's no way you can consistently land head shots in smaller targets. The whole point of those babies is the fact that they have a built in scope. This frees up your two mod slots for something nicer, such as damage and piercing. Or in the case of single player, the time slowdown and damage mods.

The M-13 Raptor is what I like to use when going semi automatic, it has a huge ammo capacity and a decent clip size. Use this to unload on big targets with no shields (brutes, atlas with shields stripped, etc) and watch them die really really fast. Also, with the infiltrator, you can get off several shots with this before your cloak wears off, getting the sniper rifle bonus for all the shots. Generally though, I still prefer the 1 shot 1 kill rifles such as the M98 Widow for the infiltrator.

One last tip, you can do a 'speed reload' for the 1 shot 1 kill rifles like mantis and m-98 widow by using a skill about half a second after you chamber the round. This way you don't have to wait for the entire pull back motion to complete before you can fire. This works great when teamed up with a spammy engineer as a fully upgraded Mantis is actually quite light (Salarian engineers get an awesome -30% sniper rifle weight to boot). This improves their DPS just a tad to bring them more even with the 3 clip Black Widow.

  • when your sniper rifle recoils it will return to where you were orginially aiming. I find that 1 shot rifles are great for learning the patience to line up a headshot and how to lead your target. But no sniper rifle can keep up with the black widow damage output. – Paralytic Mar 30 '12 at 6:16

You don't land consecutive head shots.

Most of the time the enemy is on the move and the second you shoot them they'll try to move away into an angle you can't hit them from. This means you only get one good chance at a head shot. However this is where the semi-automatic part comes in handy. Because you don't need to reload after every shot you can track your target and put another round into him.

The head is a small target but vital which is why head shots are so dangerous. The body may not offer as much damage but is a bigger target, therefore easier to hit with consecutive shots. The semi-automatics, especially on the higher difficulties, do not offer enough power per shot to one hit kill many enemies when you head shot them. This is where the Army mantra, "Two in the chest, one in the head" comes into play. Especially since some enemies body shapes make it difficult to get a head shot when they take cover. Your first shot should go into the body. Body shots rarely make enemies flinch so you're not frantically trying to retarget when the first shot goes off. Watch what direction they start moving after they've been shot. Track them and hit them with a second body shot. If they don't die they'll be weak enough and you're tracking them in the direction they're moving so acquiring the head should be easy. At this time is when you crack their skull open.

As you can probably tell, Semi-automatics require a different line of thinking then bolt action snipers. If you're quick on the trigger (which is the point of semi-auto) this entire action should only take a few seconds longer then lining up a bolt action and offer the same result. On top of that, semi-autos have next to no reload time compared to their bolt action brothers so they can get back into the action faster.

Just remember, two in the chest, one in the head.


Yes, the Black Widow can get you the DPS you're looking for. The Black Widow has a 3 round clip, and because of that, does slightly less damage than the Widow per shot, but comes close (or possibly even beats it) when it comes to DPS including reloads. Additionally, it has double the spare ammo capacity.

The Black Widow also has a slow enough fire rate, and a long enough settling time that you're going to want to line up consecutive head shots anyway for tougher enemies, but is powerful enough to kill some of the weaker ones with a single body shot. You get a very good compromise between the single shot riffles and the semi-auto riffles. In most cases, you'd be using the Black Widow much like you would one of the single shot riffles by looking through the scope, taking the shot and then going back into cover. However, you then immediately start looking through the scope again. This helps to negate the long settling time associated with the Black Widow that isn't as prevalent in something like the Viper.

As a personal note, I feel your pain with missing consecutive headshots using one of other semi-auto riffles. Personally, I would only try to line up the first shot, maybe the second, and then settle for torso hits for the next few shots. For many enemies, that would get them to a point where incinerate or a squad power would finish them off.

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    Unfortunately, an endorsement of a weapon you like has little bearing on what I actually asked. :/ – Raven Dreamer Mar 30 '12 at 2:29
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    I was specifically answering your question posed in the last paragraph. It is the solution for high DPS and high damage per shot while not sacrificing as much for missed shots. I'll expand later when I have some time. – MBraedley Mar 30 '12 at 10:53

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