Tarkov has many different guns and many different calibers of ammunition. On top of that, most calibers have a number of different options for you to choose from. Sure an MP5 takes 9x19mm Parabellum, but do you use RIP? Pst gzh? PSO gzh?
This in depth Escape From Tarkov ammo chart guide will explain everything from ammunition for each weapon type to how to understand ammo charts.
What is the best ammo in Escape from tarkov?
As with seemingly all things in Tarkov, this has both a very simple answer and a very complicated one. I’m going to provide the list of ammo up-front. I’ve listed each caliber with what I believe to be the best performing cartridge, and the ones I believe to be the best value for your money. Minimum Viable has been attributed to ammunition that can be used when looted but shouldn’t really be bought. There’s a lot of caveats that went into this list, and if you’d like to understand it further please read on after it.
If you’re just here for the quick grab, here’s a list of each caliber with their Minimum Viable, Best Value, and Best Performing variants. Just CTRL+F to search for your gun or caliber. The list assumes chest shots.
EFT Ammo Chart
5.45x39mm: used in all variants of the AK-74, the AK105, and RPK16
Best Performance: 5.45×39 mm 7N39 “Igolnik” (Can only be looted or crafted)
Best Value: 5.45×39 mm BT (or) 5.45×39 mm BP
Minimum Viable : 5.45×39 mm PP
(Note: currently the BS variant performs much better than BT, but it sells on the flea market for basically the same price as 7N39. If you can find BS, use it, but do not purchase it in the current market.)
5.56x45mm NATO: used in the ADAR, AK-101, AK-102, DT MDR, HK 416A5, and TX-15DML
Best Performance: 5.56×45 mm M995
Best Value: 5.56×45 mm M855A1 (or) 5.56×45 mm M856A1
Minimum Viable: 5.56×45 mm M855
7.62x39mm: Used in the SKS, OP-SKS, AK-103, AK-104, and all variants of the AKM
Best Performance: 7.62×39 mm BP
Best Value: 7.62×39 mm PS
(Note: both the US and HP variants are viable when exclusively going for the legs. HP is dirt cheap and has the highest raw damage of all 7.62×39, but US reduces recoil by a massive 30%, which makes it much easier to hold on someone’s leg. US however has a much lower muzzle velocity, and that means it falls much faster)
7.62x51mm NATO: Used in the Vepr Hunter, SA-58, DT MDR .308, M1A, SR-25, M700, T-500, DVL-10, and RSASS
Best Performance: 7.62×51 mm M61
Best Value: 7.62×51 mm M80
Minimum Viable: 7.62×51 mm TPZ SP
7.62x54mmR: used in all variants of the AK-74, the AK105, and RPK16
Best Performance:7.62x54R 7N37
Best Value:7.62x54R LPS Gzh
(Note: Here the LPS Gzh variant is the ammunition relevant to most players, as it can kill in one shot to the chest and will reliably penetrate most armors. 7N37 has much higher penetration, and can penetrate all armors very reliably, but will not kill in one shot to the chest.)
9x39mm: used in the AS VAL and VSS Vintorez
Best Performance: 9×39 mm 7N12 BP
Best Value: 9×39 mm SP-5
(Note: While BP has “better” stats overall, it costs around 2000 Roubles per bullet, and in a demonstration against level 6 armor it really only takes off about ⅕ of second on time-to-kill compared to SP-5 when used in the AS Val.
.366 TKM: Only used in the Vepr AKM/VPO-209 and the VPO-215
.366 TKM can’t be described in terms of “Best Performance” and “Best Value”. All versions of it are dirt cheap and have terrible performance. I mentioned that I try to be objective with how I present information and avoid letting my opinion or the general “meta” of the game to take precedent and that I’ll give more commentary for this article. .366 TKM is a big part of that. Don’t buy it, I don’t even think you should shoot it if you find it unless it’s very early into a wipe. If you must, use whichever you have, and find unarmored targets.
12.7x55mm STs-130: used only in the ASh-12
Best Performance: 12.7×55 mm PS12B
Minimum Viable: 12.7×55 mm PS12
SMG & Pistol Ammo
9x19mm Parabellum: Pistols – Glock 17, Glock 18C, MP-443 “Grach”, and P226R.
SMGs – MP5, MP5K-N, MPX, PP-19-01, Vityaz-SN, Saiga-9,
Best Performance: 9x19mm RIP if going for legs, 9x19mm AP 6.3 if going for headshots
Best Value: 9x19mm PSO gzh
9x18mm Makarov: Pistols – APB, APS, PB pistol, PM (t) pistol, PM pistol
SMGs – PP-9 “Klin”, PP-91 “Kedr”, PP-91-01 “Kedr-B”
Best Performance: 9×18 mm PM PMM for all pistols and the Klin SMG, or 9×18 mm PM PBM if using the Kedr or Kedr-B
Minimum Viable: 9×18 mm PM 9 BZT gzh
(Note: the Klin, Kedr, and Kedr-B all share magazines, but the Kedr and Kedr-B can’t fire PM PMM. This means you can load a Kedr’s magazine with PMM, and load the magazine into the gun, but it will not fire)
7.62x25mm Tokarev: Used in the TT pistol, and the gold TT pistol
Best Performance: 7.62x25mm TT Pst gzh
Minimum Viable: 7.62x25mm TT PT gzh
(Note: use Pst gzh if you have access to it, basically all 7.62×25 is the same price on the flea market)
9x21mm Gyurza: used in the SR-1MP Gyurza
Best Performance: 9×21 mm SP13
Best Value: 9×21 mm SP10
12x70mm (12 gauge): used in the M870, MP-133, MP-153, & Saiga-12
Best Slugs: 12/70 Flechette against armor, 12×70 RIP against legs and soft targets
Best Value: 12/70 8.5 mm “Magnum” Buckshot (limited range because it’s buckshot, but two shots to the legs will kill)
20x70mm: used in the TOZ-106
Best Performance: 20/70 5.6mm Buckshot / 20/70 Slug Star Slug
(Note: 20/70 isn’t very useful right now since the only weapon that uses it is the 106, and that means it’s rarely sold on the flea market. But if you can, the Star Slug can allow the 106 accurate enough for reliable headshots)
Like all things in Tarkov, ammo is not as simple as in most games. Here I’ll be giving you a quick little breakdown in how ammo actually works, so you can reference the numbers on the EFT wiki or NoFoodAfterMidnight’s Ammo and Armor Chart and understand them yourself.
Effectively all cartridges have 3 major stats and 1 stat that would be important but is currently bugged.
How Exactly Does Damage Work?
Damage is the amount of health that gets subtracted from any limbs you strike. Damage is reduced as the bullet passes through walls/doors/armor/people but only enough to matter in some exceptional circumstances (such as shooting someone through a door and his buddy).
How does penetration work in tarkov?
This value determines how likely a projectile is to penetrate armor. A bullet has a 90% chance to penetrate if its penetration value is 10x the level of the armor.
- ⦁ 40 penetration is 96% likely to pen level 3
- ⦁ 30 penetration is 90% likely to pen level 3
- ⦁ 20 penetration is 10% likely to pen level 3
- (Note: as you can see here, this is not a linear relationship. Increased penetration is extremely valuable up to around 3 or 4 points under the 90% mark, and where armor degradation will quickly round it off)
If the projectile penetrates the armor, it will continue through, but can still be intercepted by additional layers of armor. This is relevant for preventing SMGs or shotguns from degrading your high-level armor by wearing a rig over it that can catch weak projectiles.
This penetration value is also relevant for determining object and player penetration. It’s difficult to say how penetration interacts with doors and walls, but if a projectile has less than 20 penetration, it won’t penetrate a player.
How does Armor Damage work?
This is a percentage value used when calculating how much damage armor will take from a projectile both if penetrated and if stopped.
That calculation involves quite a number of variables including what material the armor is made of, the angle of impact, and the distance you shot over, but overall just know the armor damage stat is better if it’s higher. Finally, armor is damaged much more if it actually stops a projectile, but is still damaged slightly by projectiles that pass through it.
This can be an extremely relevant factor in determining your choice of ammo since 9x19mm AP 6.3 only has an armor penetration of 25, but an armor damage stat of 48, so it will quickly degrade even fairly resistant armors.
What is fragmentation chance in escape from tarkov?
(Note: As of writing this, fragmentation chance is currently bugged, and the cartridges that would get the most value from it are not able to. If a projectile has less than 20 penetration, it will never fragment regardless of the stated fragmentation chance)
Fragmentation chance is, in simple terms, the percentage chance that any individual hit will deal an additional 50% damage.
In slightly longer terms, fragmentation is literally the projectile breaking off into multiple pieces each of which carries a portion of the initial projectile that overall increases damage by 50%, and each travels on their own separate path. This can lead to fragments damaging additional parts of the body, increases the odds of causing a bleed/fracture, and can also increase damage done to armor while reducing the penetration value of the fragments.
So far I’ve tried to remain as objective as I can be when presenting information, and I’ve tried to avoid giving too much of my opinion or mentions of the meta. I feel that a lot of guides out there tell you what to do more than they tell you what you can do, and I don’t want to do that. But here I’ve had to make a few side notes because there’s a lot of easy ways to come to the wrong conclusion about ammo.