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TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

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  • TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

    TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

    I. A Different Approach

    I’ve primarily focused on the sniper and thus the bolt action rifle and the pairs implementation and usage in a squad in Battlefield 4. However, the sniper is not the only viable build of the Recon kit. The Spec-Ops of BF2, the Lambert Recon of 2142, and the Shotgun-Wookie of BC2 all come up when the Recon kit is discussed, so in order for us to utilize the kit effectively we need to understand the closer range applications of the Recon.

    II. Fighting the Assault kit on its own Terms

    The major disadvantage I have seen to playing a Spec-Ops Recon brings us back full circle to Part 1 of this series. The basic concept to the Spec-Ops Recon is that we are trading our long range killing power away in exchange for close range killing power. By equipping anything other than a bolt action, we are trading away the Recon’s main advantage, the insta-death headshot potential. The Spec-Ops Recon wants to fight the assault kit & friends at their preferred range of engagement, close range. On paper the assault can kill faster with an assault rifle than a Recon with a DMR or bolt action rifle. The assault can heal itself with med kits / med box, (including heal while taking damage if near a med box) revive fallen teammates, and depending on loadout can bring any number of nasty 40mm or M26 MASS payloads to bear on us. While we are still far from useless as a Spec-Ops Recon, there are certain nuances to each other class of weapons available to us which can help level the playing field that we must be aware of.

    As in part 1, think of the Recon kit as a burst-dps class in an MMORPG like World of Warcraft or like an assassin in a MOBA like League of Legends or Dota 2. We don’t want to take hits. We don’t want to stand our ground. We want to deal the maximum amount of damage in the shortest amount of time on every engagement, and to facilitate this we must not get killed. In order to live up to the full potential of the Recon kit, we have to embrace our role as burst dps class. We want to pick a range and be as lethal as possible when engaging at that range. We can apply this to each category of weapons. For the Sniper, this unequivocally means packing a bolt action rifle and landing headshots as often as possible. For the the Spec-Ops build, however, we are faced with a few more choices.

    III. Carbines

    The carbine all-kit class of weapons gives us a flexible close/medium range option that puts us at almost equal footing with the assault kit. We have not had this good of an alternative weapon choice in past titles. The Lambert was usable in 2142 but was strictly inferior against a Krylov or Voss. The battle rifles, the Thompson, and the VSS of BC2 either couldn’t match an AR’s rate of fire, had smaller magazines, or had serious accuracy problems when fired full auto. BF3s PDWs made steps in the right direction, with weapons like the MP7 and ASVAL giving a close range high-RoF option to the Recon, though they still lacked power beyond point blank range.

    In BF4, the carbines are treated like and designed as an alternative to the primary weapon of any kit. While they deal reduced minimum damage (15.4 min, 20 min for .308) compared to an assault kit primary, (18 min, 25 min for .308) carbines have the same max damage values as their counterparts and many carbines sport a higher rate of fire than a comparable assault rifle, although there are exceptions. Check for accuracy plots of the assault primaries and carbines. In general, carbines have higher recoil values and are less accurate than a full size assault rifle. While slightly inferior to the assault rifles, they more than suit our needs as a full auto weapon with good damage output.’s carbine accuracy plots can be found HERE also has weapon graphs for all carbines HERE

    When selecting a carbine, we will typically want one that sports a high rate of fire. Since the Recon is arguably the least self-sustaining kit, and given that we cannot heal or resupply ourselves, we have to kill quickly to minimize our chance of being killed by our target. Thus, the MTAR, ACW-R, SG-553, A-91, and perhaps the ACE 21 CQB are desirable choices. The carbine you choose is mostly a matter of personal taste, as each one has different recoil and spread values.

    What we generally don’t want on the Recon is a low rate of fire carbine like the 650rpm G36C or Type 95B1. These are intended to provide a stable, controllable alternative primary weapon that has decent reach at medium range without completely sacrificing close range efficiency for the engineer and support kits. The problem faced by a Recon with one of these low RoF carbines is that he kills slower than most other kits, and this is not desirable. The assault and support kits will outdo the spec-ops recon in damage and accuracy at medium range. We have already traded away our medium / long range strength (the bolt action rifle) to carry a carbine, so by picking a carbine that focuses on the medium range engagements we have become inferior at both close and medium range in addition to being useless at long range. If you are concerned about medium range engagements, note that you can change the fire mode of your weapon. I have had some luck reaching out to medium ranges with the ACW-R on semi-auto and with controlled bursts. The high RoF carbines can still participate at medium range with some intelligent positioning and ammo conservation.

    The point is that we want to be superior to the other kits in the close range matchup, and this means putting multiple shots on target, quickly. Hence the emphasis on high rate of fire.

    IV. Shotguns

    Shotguns have played an interesting role to say the least over the past several Battlefield titles. In 2142 the Clark 15B was available on the support kit and saw common use on close range infantry-heavy maps such as Belgrade, Tunis, and Carebear. On these maps, the potential to one-shot-kill an enemy within 5m and two-shot out a little further with the Clark was considered by many to be worth the trade of losing the medium range effectiveness of an LMG. When Clark support was used it typically was played by an aggressive squad leader, though in any case the Clark wielder would function as the squads point man. The Clark swung surprise close range encounters with enemy players heavily in the Clark wielders favor, and if he went down his assault/medic squad mates could engage the remaining enemies and revive with ease.
    In BC2, the shotgun saw something of a revolution with the choice of semi-auto or pump action shotguns and the option to equip shotgun slugs. (12 gauge solid projectiles) Some players used pump action shotguns with slugs to great effect, to the point where an 870MCS with slugs was an alternative to the sniper rifles. The BC2 implementation of slugs was admittedly slightly overpowered, giving the Recon a strong primary weapon that enabled the kit to engage at long range and play aggressively at close range. Others favored semi-autos such as the Saiga 12K, which when paired with the Motion Balls introduced on that title turned the Recon into a close range fiend. A shotgun-wookie could track targets on the minimap and engage them on his terms: sudden, aggressive attack at close range.
    BF3 didn’t see heavy shotgun use, in part due to the tweaks to slugs and the heavy post-launch nerfs to frag ammo, (slugs that explode) however pump-actions with slugs did see occasional competitive play on the Recon and heavy usage on hardcore servers where a pump action slug could generate one shot torso kills.

    In BF4 we have as many options available as ever in the shotgun category, but ultimately they can be divided up based on fire mode: semi-auto or pump action. Additionally, all shotguns can equip one of four ammo types: buckshot, flechettes, slugs, and frags.
    Buckshot is the standard load that all shotguns in BF4 have equipped by default, (except the special case USAS-12) but deal reduced damage to players with the body armor field upgrade. Flechettes spread like buckshot, but penetrate better and deal their normal damage to players with body armor, with the downside of dealing less damage per pellet than buckshot. Both buckshot and flechettes / darts deal their normal damage on headshots, so there is no benefit to aiming for the head with them, aim for center mass instead. Slugs are solid projectiles, and deal 100 maximum damage when fired from a pump action, 75 maximum when fired from a semi-auto, and 38 damage minimum in both cases. The damage curve begins to fall off at 12m and ends at 50m. Slugs use the same damage multipliers as a bolt action rifle. Frag rounds are similar to slugs, but explode on impact, deal splash damage, and cause suppression. On a direct hit, pump action frags deal 37.5 max and 10 min, and semi-autos deal 20 max and 8 min. The damage falloff in both cases begins at 8m and ends at 40m. Splash damage is dealt in a 2.5m radius.’s shotgun ammo stats can be found HERE also has weapon graphs for all shotguns HERE

    There are several details that are worth taking into consideration, as shotguns have several factors that make them fundamentally different than the other weapon categories.
    Pump actions in general sport a higher pellet count per shot, however this is roughly proportional to magazine size. (Wheeeeeee game logic!) For example, the UTS-15 has a 15 round magazine, but fires 9 pellets per shot. The Hawk 12G has a 6 round magazine, and fires 14 pellets per shot. Damage is calculated on a per pellet basis for buckshot and flechette / dart loads.
    Pump actions (with the exception of the Hawk) and the semi-auto QBS-09 and M1014 reload one shell at a time, and can cancel their reload animation by firing at any time. If you aren’t aiming or shooting, you need to be reloading. Keeping these weapons topped off is completely necessary to be most effective.
    The UTS-15 has slightly better hipfire accuracy than all other shotguns, similar to the bullpup hipfire bonus of other weapons. Paired with a laser sight this could be well leveraged, but the low pellet count is a bit of a turn off for me.
    Semi-auto shotguns have a higher rate of fire, around 200rpm overall. Surprisingly, the QBS-09, the first shotgun unlocked (by playing the support kit) has the highest rate of fire at of all equippable shotguns at 230rpm, however it is balanced by having the smallest magazine. Only the pickup-only USAS-12 fires faster at 300rpm. Pump actions fire slower, around 100rpm, and are balanced out by having a (usually) higher pellet count and a better damage model.

    It should be noted, while we are on the subject, that the Shorty 12G is available in the sidearms category. Overall it is a great choice for the aggressive Recon player regardless of primary weapon choice. It can hold three shells, with one round in the chamber and two in the magazine and fires 8 pellets per shot. (the lowest pellet count of all shotguns, again game balance logic is silly) The Shorty is incapable of equipping different ammo types, so you’re going to be stuck with buckshot and like it. With a modified or full choke it can reach out decently to ~20m. It is a good close range option for an otherwise close quarters impaired kit and can serve as a great finisher if you torso hit someone for non-lethal with a bolt action rifle. I can’t count the number of times I’ve surprised people who’ve rushed me expecting to beat my bolt actions reload time and met three rounds of buckshot instead.

    The shotgun can still see very effective use on the support kit. For example, a support with a shotgun, XM25, and ammo box can shred enemies at close range, focus down medium/long range targets and light vehicles with the XM25, and resupply himself and his squad. That being said, the XM25 DART exists which would allow for the support to bring his normal LMG or another primary with the XM25 DART for close quarters, the obvious tradeoff of course becomes the loss of the normal airburst grenades.

    In general a shotgun can be exceptionally useful on the recon when played as a point man, especially given as the recon has motion balls and spotting gadgets to know what he’s getting into. Since the recon is typically the “disposable” kit in a squad anyway, it makes sense to have us eat lead first when entering a room instead of an assault/medic. Slugs give us flexibility of range and a bolt-action-like damage model at a superior rate of fire, buckshot and flechette rounds are nasty on close quarters maps like C and D flags of Zavod 311, and barrel chokes can milk enough extra range out of the buckshot/flechette loads to make a shotgun perfectly viable on mixed close/medium range maps.

    V. Designated Marksman Rifles

    I should note first of all that this section is written specifically for the 100% health value. DMRs are less effective here for various reasons which will be covered, but absolutely devastating on 60% hardcore health, which should be evident by the stats which will be covered.

    There isn’t much I can cover about semi-automatic snipers in past Battlefield titles, as the DMRs as implemented in BF4 are slightly different. The key differences lie in damage model and whether a headshot is lethal. In BF2 the SVD and Type 88 did 45 damage to the chest, close to their BF4 counterparts, but had a 3x headshot multiplier making a headshot lethal. In Bad Company 2, headshots were not lethal by default from the SVU and Type 88, but with magnum ammo equipped they were. The three shot torso kill model remained. In BF3 semi-auto snipers were slightly reduced in power, becoming capable of two-shot torso kills at close ranges but three shot at a distance, and lethal headshots out to ~50m. Unfortunately, the characteristics of BF4s DMRs make them far less desirable than their cousins from past titles.

    DMRs are semi-automatic, precision weapons. They have an above average damage model but are balanced out by high first shot recoil and absolutely horrid rapid fire deviation and spread. There are two different damage models for DMRs. Most of them use 43 maximum and 30 minimum with the falloff beginning at 15m and ending at 80m, and the SKS and QBU-88 use 40 maximum and 28 minimum with the falloff beginning at 8m and ending at 65m. DMRs are not capable of dealing lethal damage from full health with a headshot at any range.’s DMR accuracy plots can be found HERE also has weapon graphs for all DMRs HERE

    My main issue with the DMRs is their high deviation. Even if you can control the recoil, if you fire shots in quick succession they spread out heavily, to the point where your third shot and anything beyond are very unlikely to be on target. A typical engagement at 20-40m means you must land 3 or 4 shots to kill your opponent. Against full auto weapons, with a DMR that has high deviation at its maximum rate of fire, this is a losing situation. Unfortunately, this is also the most common situation.

    I do not think you should ever equip a DMR on the Recon. Remember, we are looking for a weapon with which to engage and beat assault players at close and medium range. The shotguns and carbines respectively are both superior to the DMRs in this regard. Comparing the DMRs to the bolt actions is a joke, as the DMRs have an inferior damage model, inferior accuracy, and are not capable of insta-kill headshots at any range. Even the lower minimum damage Scout and FY-JS bolt actions can kill with a headshot within a certain range, the DMRs cannot. The DMRs are intended to give a medium to long range option to the other kits. Using it on the Recon is frankly a mistake as it basically constitutes trading a superior medium/long range weapon in the form of the bolt actions for a generally worse weapon system in the form of the DMR.

    If you choose to run a DMR or are using one on another kit, I strongly urge you to use the SCAR-H SV, as I find it easiest to consistently land shots with, or to use a DMR with a 300rpm rate of fire or more such as the M39 or the SKS. While the temptation will exist with any DMR to spray shots, don’t. Take your time and let your recoil settle before taking your next shot. Only spray if an enemy is within 10m of you. DMRs can certainly be effective, but I generally disagree with employing them on the Recon kit.

    VI. Be Adaptive

    The key to playing the recon kit effectively is to bring the right tools for the situation at hand. This is made all the more true when playing a spec-ops or non-sniper variation of the recon kit. Because these spec-ops builds typically avoid use of a bolt-action primary, it falls to our selection of gadgets to differentiate us from any other kit on the battlefield.

    For example, say you’re playing on Flood Zone and fighting over Bravo and Charlie. If we apply the concept of being adaptive to your primary weapon, you might start the round with a carbine or shotgun, but as more and more cover is destroyed you may want to switch to a bolt action or shotgun slugs as you will have longer sight lines and there will be fewer places to hide. Likewise with your gadgets, a spawn beacon and claymores could be useful to secure a foothold in the multi-floor buildings under Charlie at the start, but if the fighting shifts onto Echo flag you may need to bring a PLD to laze helicopters, C4 to counteract enemy armor and transports, or a minimap spotting gadget to help root out any defending infantry.

    As the round progresses, you may find that your initial setup no longer performs well. Perhaps your carbine or shotgun doesn’t have enough range to deal with snipers on the Echo flag or Bravo<->Echo rooftops. Perhaps an enemy squad got wise to your beacon placement. Perhaps you’ve lost Charlie completely but are holding tight on Bravo. In each case adaptation is necessary. You can drop the carbine for a slug-shotty or a bolt action to counter-snipe. If the beacon plan doesn’t pan out, find a different hiding place for it or compensate by replacing the beacon with a spotting gadget. If you are having better luck holding Bravo, adjust your primary choice according to the cover and sightlines available.

    VII. In Conclusion

    In general, the spec-ops recon build is viable on most maps, but places more emphasis on the recon kit gadgets and their intelligent use. If you take anything from this guide, let it be that your primary weapon is a situational choice and you should adapt your loadout before spawning in. This is truly the key to effective use of the Recon, adaptation.

    Going forward, I’m going back through my work so far and compiling guides into one work. I will be gradually adjusting and reformatting, and ultimately turning them into a single, sharable Google Document which I can keep up to date with minimal effort.

    Also, you requested it [MENTION=20555]Ven[/MENTION], so here it is ;)

    "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist

  • #2
    Re: TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

    Cool, informative guide. I'd like to see some discussion on what/when/how to use the entire Recon-Spec Ops kit within a squad environment. It seems to me that its primary raison d'etre is minimap use, specifically through TUGS and motion balls but also with an ability to EVADE the minimap. The Recon has C4, but so does the Support. Anyway, with no minimap, I have a hard time figuring out when to use a Recon spec ops except maybe when coordinating with an engineer's guided weapons, but that gets away from the close quarters nature.

    Question: do you think the ACE 52 CQB is a viable option? Its burst DPS is the highest for Carbines, especially with current TG settings (3 bullets at 20 meters for 0.185 theoretical time to kill compared to the MTAR's .200). It has a slow rate of fire, but that extra damage per bullet seems to make it worthwhile.

    Personally, I'm an AEK/MTAR kind of guy, but the ACE 52 seems a solid option.


    • #3
      Re: TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

      In practice I find the Recon to be an awkward choice in a squad, considering as on most maps at least one engineer is necessary. There's no doubt about how powerful the Recon can be, but the cost of not having a support or engineer can be wipe-inducing. The recon is even less desirable without the minimap because the motion balls and TUGS become near useless. While spots can still be seen on the full screen map, using the full map is a hassle and can impact a players situational awareness at best, and in some glaringly bad cases can remove a much needed squad member from the fight if they sit and act as a relay.

      I think the .308 round fired by the ACE 52 is its redeeming quality in much the same way as the SCAR-H CQB was in Battlefield 3. While it has a low rate of fire in its class, it is exceptionally lethal on hardcore settings and can certainly hold its own on normal preset. That being said, I would rather have a high rate of fire carbine most of the time but I cannot bring myself to call the ACE 52 bad. If you consistently win firefights with it, use it.

      "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist


      • #4
        Re: TLM's BF4 Sniper Treatise Thing - Part 3, Spec Ops Recon

        Update, I will no longer be maintaining this series of guides at TG. Instead, I am compiling them into a single work, which can viewed on Google Drive.

        "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist




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