Fortnite’s V7.30 Patch Notes delivered a stunning change to the SMG roster, vaulting the standard Submachine Gun and bringing back from the depths of history the Suppressed SMG. This weapon was considered by many to be one of the best guns in Fortnite prior to its removal back in Season 6, but how does it compare now to the Compact SMG and other weapons on offer?
Our Fortnite SMG guide looks to answer this and many other questions. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about SMGs and their cousins the LMGs, where they stand compared to each other and other classes of weapon, and how to use the different types of SMG to the best of their – and your – ability.
If you’re looking for some more general tips relating to Fortnite Battle Royale as a whole, your best bet is to check out our Fortnite guide, inside which we’ve crammed all our considerable knowledge of the game, including Fortnite weapons stats, advanced guides on Fortnite building and editing, landing at different Fortnite locations, tips for each of the Fortnite week 6 challenges, and so much more.
The SMG is a weapon that, for the most part, excels at close-range confrontations. Don’t be fooled by its low damage-per-shot; the SMG’s rate of fire allows it to shred nearby enemies in the space of a second. But its fire rate means the gun’s bloom very quickly spirals out of control, making it wildly inaccurate and ineffective at anything except short range.
SMG vs Assault Rifle
This differentiates the SMG from its cousin the Assault Rifle in some very important ways. Technically the guns’ stats place the SMG’s damage-per-second (DPS) much higher than the Assault Rifle due to its rate of fire; but you’re only actually going to reach that DPS if all your shots hit, which is very unlikely unless you’re at very close range. So the slower, more accurate Assault Rifle is always going to be better at medium ranges or longer. But when it comes to shredding close-range targets such as players or structures, the SMG beats out the Assault Rifle every time.
The only exception to this is the Suppressed SMG, which has first-shot accuracy and therefore can be used to good effect at longer ranges. But even the Suppressed SMG can’t match its Assault Rifle equivalent in damage or accuracy at that range.
SMG vs Shotgun
The SMG’s main rival in Fortnite is the Shotgun. Both are close-range shredders, but while the SMG deals tiny damage at incredible speed, the shotgun deals massive damage in single slow bursts. So which should you use?
The answer is both. If you want to become a true magician of close quarters combat, you’ll need to keep both a shotgun and an SMG on your hotbar, and learn to quickly switch between the two. The shotgun is primarily for damaging players themselves, because all you need is a single shot to possibly end the fight there and then with a decent shotgun; but the SMG is far, far superior in terms of breaking down structures. If the enemy has walled themselves off from you in order to heal, you should use the SMG to tear through their defences, then switch to the shotgun to deliver the killing blow.
Both these weapon classes occupy very different niches, despite the fact that they’re both close-range weapons. If you must only take one, then pick the shotgun. But the SMG’s unparalleled power for tearing through walls makes it a very hot commodity in Fortnite combat.
Types of SMG (& LMG)
That’s right, we’re gonna lump in the one and only Light Machine Gun, the Minigun, in with our SMGs page – because otherwise we’d never end up talking about it. So, let’s go through all the SMGs (and the Minigun) one by one, and see how they all perform against one another. For more detail on each gun’s individual stats, check our Fortnite weapons page.
Available in Common, Uncommon and Rare colours, this gun has gone through quite a journey to get where it is. When I first started playing, no one used the Suppressed SMG if they could help it, but after it was buffed it became a startlingly accurate and versatile killer at any range. Indeed, it arguably shared more traits with an Assault Rifle than the other SMGs – not least of which is its first-shot accuracy.
Now it’s back, and dealing a few more damage-per-shot than the Compact, though at a slightly slower rate of fire. But don’t let that put you off; this is a gun that can quickly adapt to different situations, able to deliver accurate damage over long range like an Assault Rifle, yet also able to shred walls and players at close range. In a one-on-one close range fight, it will prove inferior to the Compact SMG (let alone a Shotgun) but it’s an all-round excellent weapon with decent damage, a good rate of fire, first-shot accuracy and a suppressor. Don’t be surprised if you find players starting to use the Suppressed SMG over the Compact over the next few weeks.
Compact SMG (P90)
The Compact SMG is an SMG in the more traditional sense: fast-firing and incredibly dangerous at close range. It lacks the first-shot accuracy of the Suppressed SMG, which means you really shouldn’t try to engage an opponent at medium or long range with the Compact, but its large clip size and very high DPS (if you can hit your shots) makes it a fantastic backup weapon to switch to between shotgun blasts.
It’s still a trade-off which SMG is better. It depends entirely on your situation. The Compact is probably better for close-range encounters and tearing through turbo-built structures, but it can’t hope to hit an enemy over longer distances. The Suppressed SMG is good at any range, and far quieter, but with a smaller clip size. Of course, factoring in the increased reload time of the Compact SMG, you can start to see why many players will start flocking to the Suppressed SMG.
The Light Machine Gun has always been a seldom-used and relatively ineffective class of weapon, and now that the eponymous Light Machine Gun weapon has been vaulted, the Minigun is left all alone in this category. On the surface, it actually looks pretty great – kinda like a Submachine Gun without the need to ever reload.
The problem is twofold. First, it has an awful lot of recoil, which makes it hard to control. Second: its wind-up time. The SMGs all fire the moment you pull the trigger, whereas the Minigun has about half a second of barrel-spinning before it unleashes its payload. And that’s bad, because you’re generally going to be using these kinds of guns at a moment’s notice, and half a second is too long to wait against a decent player.
Epic actually decreased the Minigun’s wind-up time in the v7.20 Patch Notes by 37%… but, you know, it still has a wind-up time, which isn’t great. Plus, they also added an overheating mechanic in the same patch, which utterly stamps on the Minigun’s only useful feature, which was the ability to fire continuously until you run out of ammo. Now you can unleash 60 bullets before the gun jams and you can’t fire again for another 2-3 seconds.
I’m not saying it can’t be used to great effect. But my advice would be to pick an SMG over an LMG every time. Sorry, Minigun.
Fortnite SMG tips and tricks
Now, let’s take a look at some more focused tips and tricks on how to wield SMGs effectively, and some things to bear in mind when playing with and against them.
Use SMGs alongside your other weapons. Your SMG cannot be relied upon to keep you alive through every situation. It can’t even be relied upon to get you through a single situation unless you’re using it in tandem with other weapons, such as your Shotgun, or your Assault Rifle. Get into the habit of switching quickly from weapon to weapon without letting up the pressure on your opponent.
Keep your SMG tracked on the enemy even through walls. Through half-built and/or wooden structures, you can see where your enemy is on the other side. So as you’re tearing through to them with your SMG, keep your reticule trained on them, for two reasons: first, any shots that break through will likely hit them; and second, they might be readying themselves for a quick counterattack once the structure is destroyed, so keep an eye on what they’re doing to prepare yourself.
Jumping decreases accuracy, but increases survival odds. Every time you jump, the bloom on your SMG – as with all other weapons – will increase, making your gun less accurate. Bear this in mind in moments where you have to be accurate. But also bear in mind that not jumping makes you a much easier target for enemies. So if you’re in a situation where accuracy matters less (for instance if you’re right next to a wall that you’re breaking down) then keep jumping to make yourself a less predictable target.
A well-timed Shotgun blast will counter most SMG/LMG spam. SMGs are usually used by the aggressor while they have the upper hand. But decent players know that if they deliver a truckload of damage to the SMG spammer, they’ll suddenly no longer have the upper hand in the fight, and they’re likely to halt the spam and opt for another tactic. Shotguns are excellent in these situations. Observe this gif where I (rather sloppily) demonstrate turning a fight around against a SMG spammer with a 135 damage shotgun blast just as they break through the metal floor separating us. Notice how they immediately panic and go on the defensive after taking such damage.
That concludes our tour of the SMG; we hope you’ve enjoyed your stay. We’ll be working hard to keep this and all our other pages up to date as of the latest Fortnite patches, so check back here whenever new updates or adjustments take place for the most practical and relevant tips and strategies on Submachine gun use in Fortnite.