I Call Shotgun (Optimal PvE/PvP Build) [ – Big Two-Shot Explosive Nerf]

A Fallout 76 Build by nulldesu.


Author: nulldesu
Votes: +10 (100% positiv)
Created: December 4, 2018 at 5:06 pm
Updated: January 29, 2019 at 10:08 pm
Planner: ⚙ Open in Build Planner

I used to be of the opinion that explosive shotgun builds were the best combat build in Fallout 76, but lately I feel that many other weapons can compete just fine (as long as they’re bloodied/junkie’s/furious explosives…). Still, shotguns are an incredibly powerful weapon and I feel this build can bring out their greatest potential. I’ll go through each perk choice and explain my reasoning before going on to equipment, and by the way.. thanks for reading~

Blocker is a top tier defensive perk in both PvE, where many of the strongest enemies don’t have guns, and PvP, where melee players will come swinging at you with huge damage numbers and armor penetration from 75-100%. It should be considered standard. Additionally we’re taking ALL of the shotgun damage perks. The 1st rank are obviously the most important, but we’ve got the extra points so we might as well upgrade our shotguns from destroying planets to destroying galaxies.

The only thing we take here is concentrated fire. Get to shoot the head (or cripple those wings) and get a scaling damage bonus, pure gold.

Despite being heavily nerfed, explosive is still a best in slot legendary effect, and has the best damage increasing perk tied to it. This means that in PvP situations Fireproof will be mandatory against anyone who comes to fight with an explosive weapon.

Lone Wanderer is an exceptional perk that pretty much everyone will want to take, and can be swapped for team perks when you aren’t flying solo. Tenderizer won’t help on the first hit, but after that it pulls a little more weight than the increased weapon damage ranks because it stacks multiplicatively with them. We leave it at rank 1 though, since the upgraded increases in damage are pitiful. Field Surgeon tries to make sure your stimpacks can do anything before you get downed, but can be swapped out for team perks during teamplay. I leave Suppressor out because it doesn’t work in PvP, and PvE content is much easier to survive in.

Snoresville standard. Gets you all the crafting perks. Demolition Expert turns explosive shotguns into the best weapons in the game (this is a lie, they were probably already the best weapons in the game),and this will also affect any other explosives you might be carrying around.

This also gives room for nice swaps like Power Patcher and Licensed Plumber (if you’re cheap) for repairing, and Chemist for doubling our chems.

You want as much of this stat as you can, not only for the nice perks but also for the increased action points. AP is king in this game. AP gives life (dodges) and AP gives death (crits). The more you have of it the better. Action Boy/Action Girl is standard on every character because of this. First rank of adrenaline gives you a wonderful stacking damage boost. First rank of Born Survivor gets you the nice no-animation stim effect, the extra points aren’t really needed since you’ll be healed the same amount anyway, we’re just here so we don’t have to stop shooting to heal. Dodgy is MANDATORY for PvP. It competes with your crits but get over it, if that other guy has a good weapon (like an explosive shotgun…) he has more than enough damage to one-shot you, so you’re going to stack every single % resist in the game until he’s doing as close to a single-digit percentage of his original damage as possible because fuck him we want to win and we can’t do that if we’re dead. For PvE it can be dropped, however, if wanted as it competes with your crits and gets countered hard by multiple enemies and automatic weapons, which are both abundant in PvE. Enforcer is disgustingly good, and probably more mandatory on shotgun builds than the shotgun damage perks. It seems like each pellet gets a chance to cripple, because this will go off incredibly reliably, and is the best way to bring a Scorchbeast to the ground. Mister Sandman is a situational perk, but seeing as you can silence pump and combat shotguns it can be a HUGE increase to your damage. Escape Artist and Sneak are used to help you get more use out of Mister Sandman. If you really don’t care for the sneaking perks, you can take them off to make room for rank 5 Adrenaline.

Make sure to swap Ammosmith for crafting your precious ammo, and White Knight for repairs.

Class Freak is pretty MANDATORY on any build making use of mutations. They’re already good, but with Class Freak they’re downright overpowered. Serendipity is one of the best defensive perks out there, and stacks nicely with all your other % resist, especially in PvP, but this DOES NOT WORK IN POWER ARMOR. So like, swap in more damage perks or something when you put on the tin can, and PvP without the tin can (I’ll explain later in the gear section). Starched Genes is pretty standard, to keep all those sweet mutations on so you don’t accidentally cure them with radaway or a decontamination arch, and it also keeps away any mutations you might not want. Bloody Mess increases our damage a little more than 2nd/3rd ranks of the Shotgunner perks since it applies separately from them. Additionally, affecting every weapon type is a nice little cherry on top.

Also remember to swap Super Duper for all your crafting/cooking needs!

GEAR (and stuff):

  • Explosive Shotgun (when available): Ideally this will also be a bloodied or junkie’s combat shotgun with reduced VATs cost or DR while aiming. Honestly any explosive shotgun will do though. This should be modded out with a an armor penetrating magazine, a reflex sight, and a silencer if you’re using Mister Sandman.
  • Sidearm/s: Stuff to clear weak mobs, and kill/build your crit from afar.
  • ASSASSIN’S ARMOR (PvP): Mandatory for PvP, 40% from this, 30% from Dodgy,  25% from Med-X by my calculations brings an enemy player’s damage down to about 32% without accounting for ANY damage/energy resistance. Throw in 45% from Blocker against those melee users and you have them hitting you for about JUST 17% OF THEIR FULL DAMAGE. Ideally this will be Heavy Combat Armor with BoS Paint, and also have the increased AP regeneration and damage reduction while standing still effects. PvE alternatives can swap Assassin’s effect for Unyielding, Life Saving, or Chameleon.
  • Shielded Underarmor: Ideally this will be a Raider underarmor. Agility is the best stat+, but you could settle for Luck (Vault Suit).
  • Stimpacks/Super Stims: H button on PC saves you a hotkey. Try not to need to use these yourself, if you can just let Born Survivor do its thing.
  • Radaway: Hotkey this (if you need it). Mainly for us losers who can’t even get a buddy to share Rad Sponge with in nuke zones. Feels bad.
  • Med-X/Overdrive: Hotkey these. Med-X is great for both PvP and PvE. Overdrive for PvE.
  • Sweet Roll: Hotkey this. Pop this when all hell is about to break loose, the HP isn’t much but the extra AP might just determine a fight. (especially in PvP).
  • Mirelurk Softshell Cakes: More agility means more AP. Also look for +Max AP and AP Regen food.
  • Small Guns Bobblehead: If you have them and can stand the emotional turmoil of parting with one.

So there you go. Thanks for reading. Congratulations, Bethesda finally had to balance their game. Are the nerfs enough? We’ll have to see.

Also check out my build guide at https://www.falloutbuilds.com/builds/thebuildguide/ (I mean if you feel like it or something…)

December 4, 2018 at 5:06 pm

46 +42 2B+38

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22 Replies


For your pvp set you can get racial reduction armor with 15% reduction while standing still on a single armor piece, altho it seems to be very rare. So on five pieces you could possibly get 40% player reduction+70% reduction while standing still. Another option against players with explosive weapons is dense armor mod


Both good suggestions, the 75% damage reduction while standing still is obviously a huge boost too, and probably the strongest choice for the 3rd legendary slot, but sometimes you gotta move. Assassin’s on the other hand I mentioned because it’s always active no matter what. Also, I’m not sure if you can still get dense/padded mods on limbs, but by getting padded and dense on a chest and a limb you can greatly reduce explosive damage.


Why not use Scattershot (10/20/30% faster reload, 30/60/90% lighter)

Not that weight is the issue, but the reload if you have a pump or double barrel is nice, no?


This would be best on the pump but still isn’t going to make a big change in your DPS. Outside of the scorchbeast queen fight you’re probably going to get enough time to reload anyway, and even against SBQ it won’t negatively impact your damage by a large margin, and speed demon helps with this already anyway. If you wanted to make room for it anyway I’d suggest lowering perception for the room, or taking fewer points in the shotgun damage perks, but I definitely would say don’t even bother unless it’s for a pump shotgun.


Ah okay, makes sense. Either way I am loving the build so far (only level 28 so far) and was curious if it is worth grabbing. Was lucky to find a level 35 explosive double barrel, and can’t wait to use it (until i get a Combat shotgun with it).

Thank you for the response 🙂


I’m glad the build is working out for you, but remember you don’t have to copy it exactly. If there are perks you want, like scattershot, feel free to find the room to fit them in. You don’t have to take the 100% optimal choices to do well in this game, so if there’s something that you’d have more fun with don’t let my guide stop you.


No worries about that, i have deviated a bit from the guide to fit my playstyle 🙂

Just glad to see some people have taken the time to make builds and help others enjoy the game as it is right now, and keep it interesting. This is by far the most fun of the 4 styles i have played so far, with Melee not far behind!

Happy New Years to you!


I really like the build. I personally use nonvats shotgun build (because of my melee centric SPECIAL stat distribution).

There are some major bugs, that can affect your gameplay (I don’t know if they will by fixed today or… ever:) ). Explosive legendaries are bugged and sometimes just stops doing dmg.
Class freak is bugged and blocks any benefit of having barbarian or evasive perks.
Herd mentality won’t give you any drawback with Class freak.
I’m not sure if carnivore gives any bonus to food apart from better healing/feedin. When I eat glowing meat steak or mutant hound chops, pipboy says it gives me only +10% dmg bonus
Grenadier affects explosive legendaries! Just avoid shooting enemies in melee range:) (I hope assassin’s armor works on your own explosions:D )

Does enforcer work with m79 btw?


Thanks for reading and commenting!

I’m not sure what all was fixed today, so I’m going to respond to everything assuming none of it is fixed. It isn’t specifically explosive legendaries that cause the damage bug, this seems to be a problem with extremely high damage weapons in general, when this bug occurs the enemy can only be killed with melee. The class freak bug I knew about and it slipped my mind, I’ll switch out the one point of evasive really quick. I also didn’t know about the Herd Mentality bug but that’s beneficial to us assuming that is being calculated that way. It also seems you’re right about carnivore/herbivore so I’ll have to fix that real quick too, I hope this is changed in the future or at least clarified in the description. Grenadier working on the explosive effect is funny, but I’m not sure that makes it good enough to take, I think the main reason to have it is to give grenades that little extra range they always seem to need (also I imagine assassin’s armor would work on your own damage but I have no clue because bethesda).

Enforcer SHOULDwork just fine with the m79. It is tagged as a shotgun in the game code, which means that when the perks (and any other effects) check to see if the weapon you’re using is a shotgun the m79 says ‘yes’ it is. That said I can’t confirm this right now, if I get the chance I’ll try to test it in the future but it might be a bit tricky.

Thanks for pointing all these out to me, I’ll fix up the build real quick!


What can I swap the 4 points invested into Endurance with? Where can I flex some points otherwise besides the cola perk?


The best swaps for Endurance would be Ghoulish (nuke zones and high level ghouls) and Radicool (to try to salvage the low strength score). Worse options but still sometimes useful are Revenant, Photosynthetic and Sun Kissed (obviously during the day). If all else fails, Lifegiver will always be functioning, but the effect is especially weak for the perk point cost.

If you want to cut Endurance, the stats that I’d recommend raising are Strength for more shotgun perks, Charisma for more team perks and/or Field Surgeon, or Agility for more Action Points.

I DO NOT recommend raising Perception (unless you’re using rifles instead), Intelligence or Endurance any higher than they are in this build.


nulldesu, can you please explain why do not use Bloody mess?


I think the other luck perks (the ones I take) are better. Not to say Bloody Mess is bad, it’s a good perk. Thing is, Luck has a ton of great perks.


Suppressor doesn’t work in PVP according to that Reddit post which talk about misunderstood perks. Would that affect the build.somehow?


Didn’t know this, I’ll have to address this in my guides in my next update. There’s a couple of ways to address this as a player, firstly if you don’t care about sharing perks you could drop charisma to 4 since you should still be able to survive PvE without suppressor. It’s still a great perk in PvE, but the damage you take from npcs is much lower. Alternatively if you don’t want to drop your charisma, I would suggest swapping it to tenderizer/field surgeon or more team perks during PvP.


Hi man

Great build, thanks for the explanations.

What mutations do you use (if any) ? Why no power armor ?


SERENDIPITY does not work with PA, the description is bugged and have not been updated to reflect this.


Hey there, I’m loving this guide and your thought process. I’m switching over from a 15 per 15 agi 15 luck rifle build myself. That being said, I’ve noticed you really have to get in the thick of things for the shotgun to shine.

What are your thoughts on taking 3 from per to add to str for barbarian as well as investing 3 from agi into evasive? Together they would add a lot of lasting power alongside serendipity when you are out of pa.

I still plan on keeping 3 in per for glow sight / skeet shooter swaps and maybe 1 more in there for concentrated fire since it doesn’t add damage anyways. I’m also tempted to throw a few points into endurance for the newly changed fireproof perk to negate explosive damage. Any input from you would be awesome.


Barbarian and Evasive are some of the better sources of flat resistances, but I’m unsure if they’ve fixed the bug that prevents them from working while using Class Freak. As for the new Fireproof buff, it looks very strong but I’m not sure exactly how well it works as I haven’t been playing recently. If it applies to all the damage done by explosive weapons, for instance, then it is one of the strongest perks in the game because it’d save you from explosive guns in PvP, and your own explosive guns anywhere.


Latest patch relabeled m79 grenade launcher as not being a shotgun, so I’ve removed all references to it, and it benefiting from shotgun perks like skeet shooter, from the guide.


Thanks for the great guide. I’ve made a few small changes to my build that work for me but for the most part follow this. I don’t know if you are able to answer this but you seem to have a fair bit of experience with shotguns in the game. I have never come across a good shotgun despite hours and hours of farming so I decided to go down the trading route and now have a selection of explosive shotguns and rifles to play with.
I have acquired the following
1 Furious hardened Pump action 1shot explosive, faster reload, damage increase
2 Quad hardened pump action 1 shot explosive, 50 damage resistance while aiming
3 Two shot hardened piercing combat shotgun (explosive)
4 Two shot hardened pump Acton (explosive)

These are all great guns however noticed a huge variation in the accuracy. Gun 1 and 2 both have an accuracy of 61 making them my favourites to use in game. I’ll sell gun 1 soon and stick with 2. Gun 3 has an accuracy of 24 and gun 4 which has the potential to be my favourite as it has damage of 1184 has a vary poor 7 for accuracy. I find this really matters when trying to take down scorch beasts when they are still in the air. I have not found any mod that has allowed me to increase the accuracy past 11 so how have the first two guns managed to get that figure of 61? Does anyone know how these figures are achieved?

March 9, 2019 at 2:39 pm

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