ESCAPE FROM TARKOV UNOFFICIAL HANDBOOK

written by AngryCentrifuge Jan 2020 - last updated: 11.01.2020

Hey folks. I’m aware there are multiple excellent guides out there. My goal is to provide a comprehensive guide covering both general advice as well as details. This won’t be as easy to digest as a short 15min video from one of the well known content creators, but this way I can go deeper into details. My goal is to help beginners as well as veterans.

The guide itself is segmented in three chapters covering gameplay mechanics, modding guides and ingame economics. The last Chapter IV is a reference book.

If you enjoyed my guide or you just don’t like to read, please consider visiting my Fiverr profile. I do have a Paypal account, but there is no requirement to pay anything, of course.

Credits and useful links:

  1. For this guide I used the EfT Gamepedia extensively, especially for pictures of items / gear. They are quite fast, which is awesome when a new patch / wipe hits and their data is basically always correct. All credits go to the editors.
    Link to the Escape from Tarkov Gamepedia
  2. I very often use NoFoodAfterMidnights EfT Ammo and Armor charts. All links are the same, they’re just backups due to high traffic. Link #1 Link #2 Link #3
    There’s also a Ballistics page on the EfT wiki with a similar layout.
  3. For a less in-depth ammo chart use the “noob friendly” one by Runemaster
  4. Two websites helping you with looting and quest item collection:
    eft-loot.com and tarkov.sheiddy.com
  5. the Escape from Tarkov reddit to get infos about many important updates etc
  6. Escape from Tarkov FPS boost guide 
  7. Twitter EfT Beta announcer with important updates and entertaining content.
  8. Virion’s Modding guide is up-to-date and 99% accurate for best in slot attachments.

Preamble

Since first starting EfT in Summer 2018, I have been playing over 1750 hours. I have competitive experience in other FPS games like BF3, BF4 and Rainbow 6.

Important Disclaimer: There are multiple ways to have fun and be profitable in Tarkov!

My way isn’t necessarily for everybody and I will try to write as neutral as possible. Some personal preferences, so experienced players are better able to interpret my thoughts:

Gameplay, gear and map advice is my own, with the great and invaluable help of my long standing gaming buddies. Special thanks to:

Another Disclaimer: Many aspects of the game are subject to change. Especially flea market values tend to change often, please take my ruble values as rough estimates. As soon as any large patch hits, I will update this guide.

Table of contents:

Chapter I: Introduction

  1. Why is Tarkov different in many ways?
  2. First steps: Before the first raid
  1. Starting the game and learning the characters
  2. Gameplay Basics: Movement, Gunplay and Health
  3. Accessing higher trader loyalty levels (LL)
  4. Loot items worth noting

Chapter II: Beginner guide

  1. First quests on customs and how exits work
  2. Managing your stash early on
  3. Things to keep in mind
  1. Hodge-podge of early game tips and tricks
  2. Insurance and its benefits
  3. A short evaluation of the “hatchling topic”
  1. A general perspective on infantry tactics in EfT
  2. How to modify a gun for dummies - early game gun modding
  1. modding an AK
  2. modding an SKS
  3. modding an ADAR
  4. modding a Mosin
  1. Using and abusing the flea market
  1. basics about the FM        
  2. the FM and hideout / quest items
  3. leveling up the FM

Chapter III: Tips for intermediate and veteran players

  1. Entering the midgame: How to compete
  1. defining your goal - composing your gear
  2. learning the other maps
  1. Woods
  2. Factory
  3. Interchange
  4. Shoreline
  1. Lone Wolf gameplay: Playing solo
  2. Playing with a squad
  3. Investing in the hideout… or not?
  1. A general perspective at efficient looting
  1. Value per slot approach
  2. Showcase of excessive min-maxing
  1. Managing your stash efficiently
  1. Weapon storage
  2. Attachment storage
  3. Backpack storage
  4. Cases overview
  1. Weapon modding - designing your rifle
  1. Effects of Recoil and Ergonomics
  2. Regarding front grips
  3. Guidelines to different builds
  1. Mastering the lategame
  1. How I set up my loadout
  2. How to still make profit
  3. find your most efficient map and playstyle
  4. The high risk map: Terragroup Labs

Chapter IV: Reference book

  1. Calibre List with preferable ammo choices
  1. Pistol cartridges
  2. PDW cartridges
  3. Rifle cartridges
  4. Shotgun cartridges
  1. Weapon list with a few modding guidelines
  1. pistols
  2. machine pistols & PDWs
  3. shotguns
  4. assault rifles
  5. DMRs
  6. sniper rifles
  1. Body armor
  1. class 2 armor
  2. class 3 armor
  3. class 4 armor
  4. class 5 armor
  5. class 6 armor
  1. Tactical rigs
  1. small rigs
  2. medium rigs
  3. large rigs
  4. small armored rigs
  5. large armored rigs
  1. Helmets
  2. A specific look at the loot containers

Chapter I: INTRODUCTION

1. Why is Tarkov unique in many ways?

You wrecked whole servers in Battlefield? You’re a demigod in Battle Royal games? You’re carrying your bronze mates against Diamond players in R6 Siege? Welcome to Escape from Tarkov. The learning curve in EfT is incredibly steep. You are going to suffer. A lot.

No ingame maps, no spotting aid even for team mates, huge gun customization options, very distinct gunplay with pretty in-depth armor and ammo system. You will need to keep a cool head, even if we all fail at that sometimes.

Gear fear is very popular amongst many players, which leads them to play objectively worse. It describes the fear of trying out more expensive gear or playing super intimidated when having it equipped. The moment you take a piece of gear out of your stash and put it on your character, it’s basically lost. The only question is when! :)

What keeps many of us playing Tarkov are the extreme emotions this game creates. Laughter, fear, arrogance, stress and relief - they’re all on another level compared to any FPS game I’ve played before.

2. First steps: Before the first raid

a) Starting the game and learning the characters

The first time starting EfT, you’ll need to choose a Nickname and decide to be either a BEAR or USEC. Besides customization options, the only difference is the language your character’s going to speak. BEAR = Russian, USEC = American English. Depending on your Edition (Standard, EOD etc) you have received some starting gear and money. Before you take anything into the raid, visit the traders. Examine every single item available!



Prapor:
 Soviet / CIS-Country weapons and ammo.Prapor Portrait.png


Therapist:
 Medicine and later in the game, cases as well.Therapist Portrait.png

Fence Portrait.png

Fence: Pretty much useless most of the time, buys everything but at the worst rate.Skier Portrait.png

Skier: Attachments and some western import gear. Also trades Euros.

Peacekeeper Portrait.png

Peacekeeper: Provides western weapons, their ammo and some of their attachments.

Mechanic Portrait.png

Mechanic: Attachments, weapon mods and rare magazines etc.

Ragman Portrait.png

Ragman: Everything you can dress yourself in. Armor, Rigs, Backpacks, Helmets.Jaeger Portrait.png

Jaeger: Hunting equipment, Shotgun stuff, some optics. He also sells fuel for your hideout.


When visiting each of the traders (Jaeger and Peacekeeper will be locked for a while), make sure you
accept the first missions from Prapor and Therapist.

Before jumping into the action, some general clarifications: You can either play as your PMC main character or a scavenger = Scav. Scavs have random gear, spawn at a mostly random time into the raid and when you extract or die, there is a cooldown. If you extract with your scav, you can keep everything and transfer to your stash. If you die, it’s all lost, but you have no risk at all. The only downside is: You could have played a PMC raid and done some quest and XP progress.

Therefore I advice you to use scavs primarily for…

  1. Getting to know the map better. If you get a new quest on a completely unknown map (Woods for instance), play a scav or two over there to get to know the place better.
  2. If you need money / gear pretty badly, play some scavs in between your PMC raids.





b) Gameplay basics

Bildergebnis für escape from tarkov

I. Movement

I want to mention some key bindings you might not be used to in other FPS games. There are several useful key bindings (standard) to remember:

  1. alt+d / alt+a                smooth leaning right/left
  2. alt+e / alt+q                sidestep right / left
  3. mouse scroll                change movement speed
  4. mouse scroll+alt        change pose
  5. double tap “o”                check time and exits
  6. free look                mouse wheel button
  7. double tap “r”                quick reload a mag, the previous one gets dropped
  8. “b”                        fire mode
  9. alt+t                        check ammo count in currently loaded mag
  10. ctrl+t                        switch tactical device mode (when using lasers etc)
  11. ctrl+RMB                switch scopes
  12. alt+RMB                switch magnification / optic aimpoint style


II. Gunplay

  1. In other games, a weapon (and their respective calibre) determines the ballistics and the damage. In EfT, almost only the ammo matters. You can use the very same weapon with the same attachments either with hollow point ammo = very high flesh damage or high penetration ammo = low flesh damage.
  2. Generally speaking, flesh damage and penetration chances are inversely proportional within different ammo for the same calibre.
  3. Magazine checks need to be performed manually, there is no counter on the bottom right like in CoD or Battlefield. You need to fill them manually to, preferably in your stash but sometimes in raid, too.
  4. Taking damage, even if your armor absorbs it, drains your stamina.
  5. Aiming down sights with bulky and/or heavy weapons drains your stamina. Your aim will start to shake a lot if you run out of stamina.
  6. If you are too close to a wall / another person with a long and bulky weapon, it can throw you out of aiming down your sights, forcing you to hip fire. Sometimes it even prevents you from hitting the enemy when extremely close (below 1 meter), making you hit the ceiling instead.

HealthOverview.png

III. Health

  1. You have 435 max health in total. This is divided in between the seven body parts as displayed above. Healing each limb requires a separate healing animation.
  2. Bleeding causes you to slowly lose health. You will need a bandage for each bleeding or at least 30HP left on a CarMedkit/Salewa/IFAK.
  3. If you lose your head or thorax, you’re dead. There are rare situations where these body parts can bleed out, causing any further damage to be fatal.
  4. If you lose one/both arms, you will be significantly (50%+) slower when aiming, reloading and searching containers.
  5. If you lose your stomach, you will lose energy and hydration at a highly increased rate.
  6. If you lose one/both of your legs, it decreases your speed causing you to only be able to limp around. A pain removing medicine can temporarily remove this problem. Sprinting will cause further damage distributed around all remaining body parts.
  7. A CMS / surgery kit can restore a blacked out limb (except thorax/head) to 50-70% of its original HP pool. This removes any negative effects.
  8. If you get shot in a blacked out limb, all incoming damage gets distributed evenly to all remaining body parts. If your head or thorax reach zero this way, you die. Arms and legs distribute at a 70% rate, while hits in the stomach hurt a lot more with 150% damage distribution.
  9. Only considering health points, each HP of a medkit heals one HP on your body (1:1 ratio).
  10. You can interrupt all healing animations by clicking the left mouse button.

Quick overview on the Medkits by Rainlyte. The AI-2 only heals, but can’t stop bleeds.


c) Accessing higher trader loyalty levels (LL)

When first starting the game, you have lvl1 access to all traders except Jaeger, who’s unlocked through a seperate questline from Mechanic. Access to higher loyalty levels is dependant on three factors:

  1. Player level
  2. reputation with said trader
  3. required sales (buy or sell counts towards these thresholds)

Each trader has different LL requirements, but LL4 is the maximum. You can check this by hovering your mouse over the small question mark next to their faces.

Please forgive me, but I’m unable to show you a non-maxed trader below LL4...

Reputation is gained by completing quests from each trader individually. Some quests make you lose reputation with another trader, especially if you can complete a certain quest with multiple traders. It is possible to have all traders maxed out at player level 40.

If you bought the Edge of Darkness edition, your starting trader reputation will be 0.2 instead of 0. This makes leveling up traders a bit easier, since you can delay some annoying quests and level up to lvl40 more freely.





d) Loot items worth noting

At its core, this section should go to looting. But considering how often I have found valuable loot in the pockets of low-level players, I want to include this part at the beginning of my guide. There are many items which aren’t worth that much in real life, but are pretty valuable in Tarkov. If possible in any way, you should put them into your safe container.


Some of these seemingly unremarkable items are:




CHAPTER II: THE BEGINNER GUIDE

1. First quests on Customs and how exits work

The first two quests are:

I. “Debut” from Prapor                         kill 5 scavs on customs, hand over 2x MP133

II.“Shortage” from Therapist                hand over 5 Salewa Medkits

The first map is Customs. Customs can be pretty hard for many reasons. In the early wipe everybody rushes the same hot spots while later into the wipe cycle many players enjoy the balanced layout, the scav boss and the PvP focus. The EfT-Gamepedia is your best friend if you want more information about each map: Customs
I’d suggest this map made by marvelin
(Link):

Post imageYou will either spawn on the west side (left) or the east side (right). The small blue arrows indicate where possible PMC spawn points are. There usually are 12 players on customs, roughly 6 on each side of the map. You need to extract on the opposite end.
These exits are always available = open: Crossroads+
Trailerpark for the east spawn, ZB-1011 for the west spawn.


These exits are just sometimes open, you’ll need to check them: Smuggler’s Boat and RUAF Roadblock for east spawn, Old Gas Station and ZB-1012 for west spawn.
Most optional exits on all maps have a distinct sign, telling you whether the exit is open. In case of Smuggler’s boat it’s a campfire, in case of Old Gas it’s green smoke or simply a large floodlight that’s switched on in case of ZB012 and RUAF Roadblock.

V-Exit at the dorms: If you have 7k Roubles on your inraid character, you can take the V-Exit. You’ll need to wait 60 seconds. Useful for some quest items in the dorms.


If you die, all gear and loot items will be lost except your safe container and its contents. You also lose all the quest items you might have found this raid.

If you have a second monitor, you should have a picture of the map you’re playing open while playing. This is possible with a tablet or smartphone of course, too.

Let’s get started: Don't equip your finest gear or something that just looks cool. Take a MP443 Grach / P226 (depending on your character choice), a magazine or two and some ammo to fill up the mags if needed (9x19 PSO or PST). You’ll also need 2x bandages, 2x AI2 medkit, 1x Painkillers. Our Mission is to kill 5 Scavs and get some budget gear. That’s all you need for now, no body armor, no helmets etc.

When you spawn, try to orientate yourself. Good positions to kill scavs are: Customs and Storage (Garages) on the west side; Silos, Checkpoint and gas station on the east side. There usually are some scavs at the dorms nowadays, too, but it’s a high traffic area you might want to visit later on. Stay below the radar and take the scavs seriously. You might not be able to distinguish AI from players, which is totally normal in the beginning. Scavs yell in Russian and have certain preset paths. After they’ve spotted you, you usually have 0,5-0,8sec before they open fire. If you have cover nearby, hunker down and let them reset their “aggro”, which usually takes about 3 seconds. Re-peek them, now knowing where the scav is, and kill them with headshots if possible.

When looting scavs, laying on the ground while searching a body usually is preferable. Don’t be picky, a semi-auto shotgun = MP153 can be a deadly weapon. Put on their gear and fight your way to the exit. Take the largest backpack and rig you find. A somewhat safe route through this map is one that avoids dorms and the approaching pathways to and from the dorms area. Go through the Construction site, head over to the train bridge. If there were many gunshots near the (new) gas station, don't cross the rails and follow them to the north. It’s a detour, for sure, but most of times it’s much safer.

Possible “safe route”:

If you extracted successfully, take a deep breath. Time to play tetris = filling up your stash. In the first levels, basically everything is valuable. The only weapons / gear which isn’t worth extracting with or using at all, are: Vepr 209 TKM, Saiga 9, MP133 (unless needed for quest) and the TOZ. I know some people like to meme with these guns, but you rookies need something more reliable.

If you died, evaluate your experience. What went well? Which aspects could I have improved on? Only pick one or two things on which you’ll be focusing the next raid, don’t overburden yourself. Keep a level head, dying is a core experience when playing Escape from Tarkov.

2. Managing your stash early on

After every raid, your character’s stats are carried over. You might need to heal, drink water or eat some delicious beef stew… Most efficient for out-of-raid healing are Grizzly or Car-medkits. Almost empty medkits are useful, too.

Proceed on using the gamepedia-wiki for your quests. After reaching lvl5, you can use the flea market for quest items that are not required to be found in raid. Each time you extract = survive a raid, you receive bonus XP. This is very valuable and you should focus on completing your quests instead of running to every gunfire you hear.

You will not have access to cases in the early game. Tactical rigs like the AVS and Blackrock actually generate space and are excellent to store many smaller items. You’ll be storing many cheap weapons (like ADARs and AKSUs or Mosins). Always remember to remove the pistol grip and the magazine. They are very cheap to replace at LL1 Prapor and the money loss is so little you don’t need to care about it at all.

If you extracted with the gear of another player, always check their magazines. If you looted a few 60rounders with expensive high-tier ammo like M995, 5.45BS or Igolnik, you really should sell them at the flea market. Buy more cost effective ammo instead like M856A1 or 5.45BT.

Remember to keep important quest items. In theory, you could just get every item needed for quests on the flea market… but some key quests have the “found in raid” condition.

You have to find these items yourself, either as a PMC, as a scav or by crafting them in your hideout. Items with the little white checkmark are found in raid. Most important in-raid items required at the 0.12 patch are:

Full list of quest items (thanks to the gamepedia editors!) Link

3. Things to keep in mind

a) Hodge-podge of early game tips and tricks

Keep your loadout balanced. It’s not logical to carry a PM pistol with your only tier4 armor and a PACA might not be enough to keep you alive while carrying your freshly looted and highly modded AK. Check the picture above for an example of a cheap and balanced, low-gear loadout.

Tarkov isn’t a Battle Royal game! Although some gameplay mechanics are similar, you can disengage many fights with a bit of map knowledge and still “win”. Avoiding a gunfight with a quest item in your pockets, already good loot or against superior enemies means no shame at all.

Offline raids provide the ability to test out the gunplay and have a look at a certain map without the fear of losing gear. Feel free to check out certain spots in offline mode.

Audio and locating distinct sounds are one of the most important things in Tarkov! The most distinct sounds are:

  1. Steps on metal, glass or wood        map knowledge enables very precise guessing
  2. going prone and crawling                tells you where to aim when fighting
  3. jumping                                map knowledge enables very precise guessing
  4. barbed wire                                map knowledge enables very precise guessing
  5. using medkits / reloading                enables to catch an enemy at a good moment

With the help of these sound signals, you can be better prepared for any incoming enemies, win more gunfights and avoid many engagements.

Good budget guns early on are: AKM series + 7.62 Vepr, SKS, Vepr Hunter and Mosin. This is because…

  1. you have access to cheap and reliable ammo against most targets.
  2. They do not require extensive modding to be effective.
  3. the weapon itself is pretty cheap or bulky, which means you will often get it back via insurance.

Do not use one of the AKs looted from scavs without a stock! The stock is very cheap from Prapor LL1 and the recoil without stock is absolutely crazy.

b) Insurance and its benefits

Speaking of insurance: If you can spend the few roubles, insure everything! Even if just a MBSS backpack, or a few Mosins come back by dubious means (Prapor, I’m looking at you…), it already has payed off. Remember though, that medicine, ammo and grenades can’t be insured and will never come back.

To make sure you’ll never forget to insure something, click on the insure all button right before heading into a raid. Don’t forget to click insure at the bottom to confirm it, too!

You can either insure with Prapor or Therapist. Prapor is cheaper and the better option, if you’re playing regularly (every 2nd day or more often). Otherwise, If you have the funds consider insuring via Therapist, because she keeps the items for three days after recovering them. This means you have 72 hours time to collect your insured items with Therapist, but only 24 hours with Prapor. Remember she costs 2.5x more than Prapor.

Insurance fraud is an excellent way to make money / prevent gear loss. If a body has a better body armor, just throw your insured one into the bushes and equip the looted one. Same goes for Helmets, Rigs, backpacks. Sometimes when playing low / budget weapons, you can even throw away your Mosin to finish the raid with the wonderful HK416 you just acquired. Only make sure you have enough ammo to fight your way to the extract.

c) A short evaluation of the “hatchling topic”

Many people play as hatchlings, which is Tarkov slang for PMC players playing only with their (unlootable) melee weapon equipped. To each his own... from rags to riches can surely be fun. But forgoing the realistic ability to compete even against AI scavs is idiotic in my opinion. You need to get a feel for the gunplay and every cheap pistol can kill with a headshot. Additionally, BSG just added a penalty for players entering the raid without a weapon: If they die, they need to heal up all HP instead of only 60%. Short conclusion is: Bring a gun and do yourself as well as every other player in the same instance a favor.

4. A general perspective on infantry tactics in EfT

This section was heavily inspired by 1AmTh3Brut3Squad’s reddit post, 08.01.2020. “Direct Quotations” are indicated as such.

  1. Every noise you make is a piece to the puzzle of your location. Not just shooting, but also walking.” If you’ve been fighting Reshala and his goons and there was massive gunfire and grenades for minutes, many curious player will investigate this, often leading in your death. Same thing applies, when you’re passing the dorms area near the map border, triggering all of the nearby bushes and sprinting. Any player inside the dorms will take a look out of the window and probably kill you.
  2. Full auto is good in CQB, precise semi-auto shots are good for gunfights over 50m. This also depends on the weapon you’re using, its muzzle velocity and whether you’re prone (reduced recoil) or not. Use it as a general guideline.
  3. “Violence of action: When you push, push hard. In for a penny, in for a pound.” This means fully commit to any action you decided to do. Don’t half arse two things.
  4. If any sudden engagement happens, always know the nearest cover. Shoot at the enemy and try to kill him, but don’t just stand there in a mexican standoff. Retreat while backing off towards cover. This way, in theory, both outcomes are positive for you: Either you killed him, or you’re in cover. In short: Don’t overcommit to gunfights unnecessarily.
  5. “It’s said the infantry can survive on just beans and bullets. It’s all we need. Implied is water, as you can’t make beans without water… [...] Nothing sucks more than viewing the rising sun over the bodies of your enemies on an empty stomach”. Don’t save expenses when it comes to provisions (water+food). Same goes for ammo, two 30round magazines for an unmodded AKSU-74 are not even enough to do some scav kills on customs, I can assure you that. Every good loadout, even budget ones, have a tactical reserve of provisions, medkits and ammo.
  6. “Cover vs concealment: This is a simple concept that’s often misunderstood. Cover means the object will, in theory, stop whatever's coming my way. Concealment just means it will block line of sight and obscure my position. Hiding in concealment does NOT mean you can't be shot, it's just harder. Hiding on cover will generally also be concealment but don't trust in that. Your duck walk may lead to a rifle barrel poking out. You're covered, not concealed.”
  7. “For the cardinal rule: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” Handle decisions and actions with care and be thoughtful. In the end, you’ll be faster than acting hastily. This also helps to keep a cool head in any dangerous situation.

5. How to modify a gun for dummies - early game gun modding

I’m generalizing, but the most common low level player weapons are AK74s, AKMs, SKS, ADARs and Mosins. If you’re unsure, which attachment can fit where, double click it before buying. You’ll see a drop down menu looking like this:


The essential modding slots, which most weapons share, are:

  1. stock                                important “source” of recoil reduction
  2. dust cover                         because it may have rails on it for optics
  3. pistol grip                        semi-important “source” of ergo
  4. front and rear sights                 used for aiming, without usually impossible
  5. handguard                        provides slots for front grips, lasers and possibly optics
  6. muzzle brake                        important “source” of recoil reduction

Especially early on, recoil reduction is the most important. An optic is a very useful attachment as well. Your problem is, you don’t have the necessary trader levels and want it cheap and easily accessible. You want to loot every optic from scavs/players and might even put them into your safe container.

a) modding an AK

There are several difficulties when trying to attach an optic to an AK. You have essentially three options:

  1. adding a dust cover with a top rail (somewhat common on scavs) like the “Akademia Bastion” dust cover. Alternatively, you can add a small rail with the TT01 rearsight adapter (sold by Prapor LL2 or somewhat cheap on the flea market).
  2. adding an optic with dovetail mount, either integrated (EKP-8-02 from Prapor LL1) or via dovetail rail mount (Axion Cobra mount from Jaeger LL1). This will only work with AK-100 series, AK74M and AK(S)74N or AKM(S)N! The other variants do not have the dovetail adapter!
  3. adding a handguard with a top rail (like the B10M) and attaching an optic there. This is the worst possibility, because placing an optic this far away from your eyes feels weird and you have no reliable way to get these handguards.

After that, you’re good to go. If you can get one cheap from Prapor LL2 or the flea market, buy a GP-25 Recoil Pad and slap it onto the standard stock.

But how do I know whether my AKMSN or my AKS-74 can fit a dovetail mount or not?

Following variants can equip a dovetail optic: Everything with a “N” in its designation as well as the AK-100 series and the AK74M.

Here’s a short overview of the many different AK variants in the game.

AKM

in 7.62x39 calibre

AK-74

in 5.45x39 calibre

letter S like in AKMS or AKS-74

equipped with a non-replaceable folding stock. Higher recoil and no options to attach high-tier stocks. GP-25 Recoil pad fits, though.

letter N like in AKMN or AK-74N

can fit dovetail optics and scopes

letter U like in AKS-74U

shortened version with significantly more recoil. Same pattern applies to the other shortened versions like AK-105, AK-102 and AK-104.

AK-74M

includes folding buttstock (AKS) without any penalties and dovetail mount (AK-74N), “m” stands for modernized

AK-105

5.45x39, short version of AK-74M

AK-101

5.56x45NATO, needs special magazines (6l29 or Arsenal CWP).

AK-102

5.56x45NATO, shortened version, needs special magazines (6l29 or Arsenal CWP).

AK-103

7.62x39, modernized in AK-74M style

AK-104

7.62x39, shortened version, modernized in AK-74M style

A problem with AKM series is, that Prapor LL1 only sells you pretty useless 10round mags. Loot the 30rounders from scavs or buy them on the flea market (like the cheap AK55 7.62x39 mag).

Have a closer look at the screenshots below, showing you the several options when trying to equip a non-dovetail optic on an AK pattern assault rifle.

TT01 rear sight weaver base sold by Prapor LL2

Akademia Bastion dust cover, often found on scavs. Remember to remove the rearsight!

B10m handguard, sold by Skier LL3, sometimes found on scavs or scav guards. Probably the worst option considering price, availability and the weird position of the optic.

Very effective budget AK74M/N build. I love my lasers, you can even just go with the default handguard and skip the laser+frontgrip.

b) modding an SKS

The brighter colored SKS are called OP-SKS and have a dovetail mount. Either use an optic with integrated dovetail (EKP-8-02 from Prapor LL1) or a dovetail rail mount (Axion Cobra from Jaeger LL1). The standard brown SKS dont have the option to mount dovetail rails/optics. It is way harder (not practical and not cheap) to mount an optic on these.

SKS usually have an integrated 10round magazine. It is loaded from loose ammo in your rig/pockets and can not be removed in raid. If you can loot / buy some cheap ProMag 20round mags, absolutely use them. If you only have one 20round mag, you can still load single cartridges from the top! Remember to remove the internal 10round mag in this case.

Otherwise, no modding is reasonable without spending a small fortune on it.

c) modding an ADAR

In theory, all M4A1 attachments can fit on an ADAR. But honestly, leave everything as is except the scope and maybe the gas block. The upper receiver has a rail for optics from the get go, and scavs often already use a cheap optic on it.

If you have trouble using a sight because of the annoying front sights, you’ll need to use the flea market. The front sights are part of the gas block in this case. Buy either a “Windham weaponry gas block” or a “MK12 low profile gas block”. Another option is the “La Rue Tactical picatinny riser QD LT-101 mount” sold by Mechanic LL2 without the need to remove the cheap standard gas block. Your optic will be slightly higher though, which can be annoying for some players.

d) modding a Mosin

Until you want to snipe above 100-120m, you don’t attach anything. Just make sure your Mosin has front- and rearsights. Mosins from scavs often lack one of them.

If you want to add a scope, you need three items, all sold by Prapor LL2, but regularly found on players and scavs. It only fits on a Mosin bolt action sniper (!) rifle, not the infantry/carbine variants.

  1. Kochetov mount for Mosin rifle
  2. PU 3.5x ring mount
  3. PU 3.5x riflescope

If you can get your hands on a Bramit Silencer, use it. It’s especially good for killing scavs and not alerting the whole map to your position. The Silencer always fits without any other attachments needed.

6. Using and abusing the flea market

a) basics about the FM

The flea market is a great addition to the Tarkov experience. I personally use it a lot to get the most money out of my looted barter items. It can also be a great source of money if you’re one of the first people to unlock a certain trader level: You buy the items from the trader and resell them on the flea market for raw profit. Almost all ammo and most important items and attachments have individual limits per trader restock though. This is a very good thing since monopoly only is a fun game, if you’re the one that makes the money.

Always sort by price ascending, so you get to see the lowest offers first. I’m going to risk some hostile reactions, but always exclude bartering offers since 99,9% of them are only there to scam other players. These scam offers often appear to be the cheapest, but the flea market uses the trader value of the required items instead of the flea market value. Check the rough value of the required items first, before accepting any barter trade!

You add requirements for the potential buyer by clicking on the small plus icon. You then have to choose a currency or one / several items you’ve already examined. For every offer you place, you will need to pay a tax / commission in rubles. It is automatically withdrawn from your stashed money and basically disappears. The money you get from the flea market is received by Ragman, accessible via the messenger menu ingame.

If you want to buy a documents case for instance, and a poor soul forgot a zero (15k instead of 150k) and you see the countdown ticking down… relax. You absolutely can try to snag the extremely cheap offer, but I guarantee you, you’re one of thousands. The chance you receive it is just pure luck, because everyone will be spam-clicking on it. I personally do not try to camp extreme undercut offers, because statistically it’s simply a waste of time. The only case I buy and resell items on the flea market is with low-medium demand items or rarely used attachments and I wanted to sell one initially myself.

b) flea market and hideout / quest items

It’s also a great way to get hold of some quest items that don't have to be found “in-raid”. Example: Since I’m not a fan of the labs gameplay, I played normally to generate some money and bought the LedX needed for a quest on the flea market. Not a single labs raid needed. Suddenly need 12x wires and 10x light bulbs for your hideout? Just buy them on the flea market.

The thing is, looting items - especially rare ones, is RNG based. Making money in Tarkov isn’t. Unless I need something special to be found in-raid, I won’t adjust my proven playstyle, just to rush to certain loot spots like a maniac. If you enjoy the roleplaying aspect and want to feel a sense of accomplishment by finding all wires yourself, absolutely do so! But from a pure pragmatic point of view, playing economically efficient on a map your confident on and just buying what you need on the flea market is the way to go. Same goes for the gunsmith tasks, where you basically have to use the flea market unless you get LL4 with all the traders.

Especially in the early wipe cycle, keep an eye out for the items you’ll be needing next. Maybe the demand and therefore the prices are yet pretty low. Buy them in advance. Example: Realising I would need 50 graphic cards for the bitcoin farm lvl3, I bought them in advance as soon I had the financial backing to do so. I paid 100-120k per GPU, while I would have been paying the double price at a later point in time.

c) leveling up the flea market

At first you only have two offers available at the same time. This is because your trader reputation is 0. You gain reputation by actually selling stuff on the flea market. 0.1 increase on your reputation equals to 100k rubles gained from deals. You lose reputation if your offer runs out without being sold or you remove it after the countdown. Withdrawing an offer before the countdown ends, does not result in reputation loss.

Reputation from

to

Number of offers

 <-2

-2

1

-2

0,2

2

0,2

10

3

10

30

4

30

50

5

50

70

7

70

100

10

100

150

15

150

250

20

250

500

30

500

750

50

750

1000

75

1000

>1000

1000

Without regular re-selling trader items (mostly ammo, usually) on the flea market you can easily get to the fourth or maybe fifth offer. Everything else requires highly speculative economical transactions, where a large financial reserve, stash space and a high knowledge of the game mechanics and wipe cycle behavior is needed.


Just to clarify, I’m usually a more standard flea market user. But since many players received 6x fierce hatchling moonshine at the same time through the twitch drop event new year 2020, the flea market price plummeted drastically to 60k-100k. Usually it’s around 200-250k. So I bought myself 220 bottles of schnapps, waited a few days for the prices to normalise and made myself about 20.000.000 rubles of raw profit.

Chapter III: TIPS FOR INTERMEDIATE AND VETERAN PLAYERS

1. Entering the midgame: How to compete

a) defining your goal - composing your gear

As mentioned before, loadouts need to be balanced. They also need to be reasonable for your goal. Adjust your gear to your goal. I will divide the level of gear into four categories. Please note that general purpose assault rifles like the AK or the DT MDR basically can fit any level of gear, depending on how modded they are and the ammo loaded.

very low gear - you probably can defend yourself...

Suits these goals:

learning the map,

killing scavs,

fast loot runs / quest item runs.

Body-Armor & Helmet:

none, maybe a PACA

Weapon:

pistol, SKS, Mosin

Backpack:

none, Slingbag / T-Bag, duffle bag.

budget gear - you can defend yourself, but be wary.

Suits these goals:

loot runs,

safer quest item runs,

scav kills,

opportunistic PvP engagements.

Body-Armor & Helmet:

Class 3 armor + army helmet,

cheap class 3/4 armored rig.

Weapon:

slightly modded AK, any 9x19MP, SKS, ADAR, Vepr.

Backpack:

MBSS, Scav BP or Berkut

effective high gear - you can fight anyone, but may have problems with juggernauts

Suits these goals:

everything above, playing for fun

Body-Armor & Helmet:

large class 4 armored rig, 6b47 helmet or class 4 helmet without faceshield 

Weapon:

modded AK and mid-tier ammo, P90, SVD or slightly modded M1A.
Depending on your playstyle, you can also upgrade your 5.45 / 5.56 ammo choice to be a more cost efficient juggernaut killer.

Backpack:

Trizip, Beta or Mechanism.

full juggernaut gear - you can challenge anyone, but may not be profitable!

Suits these goals:

everything above, playing labs, actively looking for PvP engagements

Body-Armor & Helmet:

class 5-6 body armor in good condition

Weapon:

M4/HK416, modded AK with high tier ammo, AS Val / VSS, MP7, any 7.63x51Nato DMR.

Backpack:

Pilgrim, Attack2, Paratus, Blackjack50

b) Learning the other maps

Depending on your progress at the different quest lines, you have to visit some other maps. This means you will need to leave your comfort zone, which customs may have already provided. I will give a short overview regarding the map layout, hot spots, looting and general strategy. Reserve still is new and the map optimization is pretty poor, which is why I haven’t played it more than 80-100 raids. It will be added later on at an unknown date. Labs is covered in the late game section.

Woods-Showcase-14.pngI. Woods

Fac5.pngII. Factory

Interchange.jpg

III. Interchange

InterchangeMapLorathor.jpg

LINK to the map (credits to Lorathor / Gamepedia)

IV. Shoreline

Shoreline Image 1.jpg

In general, most shoreline raids have two key player engagements:

c) Lone wolf gameplay: Playing solo

Playing solo can be difficult until you realise you have distinct advantages, too. There is no need to coordinate with anybody, you’re faster both while moving and when making split second decisions. When playing lone wolf, you’ll need to be both faster and slower compared to playing with squad mates, depending on the situation. Silenced weapons, if available, are important. If you have a good and pretty secured position and scored a juicy kill, wait until you loot. Either scan the surroundings and keep the body in sight or circle carefully around the body, clearing out any possible squad mates he might have had.

Summarizing, you need to use the following tactics when playing solo:

  1. Ambushing, opportunistic ones as well as planned ones.
  2. Quick and efficient looting techniques because nobody can cover you.
  3. Using audio queues as de facto cover. You are not only more mobile, but more silent compared to squads, too.
  4. Seemingly erratic movements when being chased or when trying to evade a gunfight, possibly re-engaging shortly after. Remember not to leave easy-to-spot traces behind, closing previously locked doors for instance (factory shortcut on customs, for instance)
  5. Always be self-sufficient. A CMS kit, 1-4 grenades, enough ammo+mags to fight squads+approaching scavengers and enough medkits to heal 500-600 HP are a must in my opinion.

d) Playing with a squad

Playing with often changing squad mates can be problematic. Try to find a common ground between the different play styles. If one has more experience or is a better player on a certain map, appoint him the leader. He decides whether to engage distant gunfights etc. When playing as a duo, this is not necessary.

If you decide to split up to make pincer movements, always communicate clearly and never take fair fights in 1v1 situations, unless impossible to avoid. Always try to enforce 2v1 engagements on your enemy. When playing with 3+ persons, it can be beneficial to assign a pre-determined order. The second player being the Squad leader, while the last is the designated flank runner in possible need of one.

Within my group it has established itself that the player who kills another PMC has the right to loot him first, unless communicated otherwise. This makes looting easier, clears the communication channel and prevents bad blood because of unfair loot share. Golden rule is also that only one person loots one body at the same time while the other person covers. The covering person mustn’t expose themselves, because there is no benefit wasting his virtual life and gear.

Summarizing, you need to use the following techniques and tactics to be a well coordinated squad in Escape from Tarkov:

  1. Make sure you have the same callouts. Always treat your squadmate’s callouts as they were yours = take everything seriously, you have to trust each other.
  2. Use a similar level of gear, if possible. This is necessary to have a realistic chance to recover your fallen comrade’s gear.
  3. If playing in a group of 3+, assign a squad leader and probably even some pre-determined roles for quicker pincer movements.
  4. Never take a fair fight, use your manpower advantage.
  5. Don’t cluster yourselves up in a single hallway. If two guns can’t kill it, you should work on your positioning or your aim.
  6. Communicate accurately and efficient. Stop any friendly banter or chitter-chatter when the action starts.
  7. Insure everything. If you die, your squadmates can hide your stuff and your only loss will be the missed opportunity to make profit.

e) Investing in the hideout… or not?

The hideout can be a large money sink. But the sooner you upgrade it, the sooner you’ll get your money back via scav case runs, the bitcoin farm or clever crafting. Basically, it depends greatly where in the wipe cycle the game currently is. At the start of the wipe, either try to be the first before the main bulk of players all want the same items (with skyrocketing prices) or the last one forgoing the benefits for raw cash.

You may ask if it’s worth to upgrade the hideout, or which upgrades are very useful. It is worth to upgrade, but you’ll need some spare cash for necessary items. Most upgrades are interdependent, which means you’ll need to upgrade everything anyway. Take a closer look at the benefits and costs of the hidout here.

Noteworthy upgrades with a rather high impact:

  1. All stash upgrades for non-EOD-players. First upgrade increases stash size by 38% compared to standard edition, second one +77% and last one (EOD level) +153%. Taking the prices for the upgrades into consideration, the first one is very efficient, while the last two upgrades are only necessary late game. This also depends on your financial reserve and your level of hoarding. With the first upgrade done, you can survive with some item cases for a long time.
  2. Lvl3 Intelligence Center: Flea market commission -30% results in remarkably more profit, adding up over time.
  3. Lvl2 Lavatory: Ability to craft corrugated hoses and magazine cases
  4. Library: XP Boost +15% is nice to have when rushing to lvl40.
  5. Lvl1 Medstation: Ability to craft Salewa Medkits for the Therapist quest early in the wipe
  6. Scav case: A camouflaged way to roll the dice. Invest either 100, 6k, 70k or one Moonshine (rough value 200-250k) to get a roll on random items. Especially the 6k option is basically always profitable, making you a nice rouble on the side without lifting a finger.
  7. Bitcoin farm: Very expensive, but the sooner you get a stacked bitcoin farm with 50GPU, the sooner you will get your money back. This is the reason Graphic cards are worth 200k+ at the moment.

2. A general perspective at efficient looting

a) Value per slot approach

Easy rule of thumb: Ideally each of your loot-assigned slots has a value of at least 10k rubles. When looting in a rather empty raid, I’ll be content with 6-7k per slot. Everything above is premium.

This means that looting weapons isn’t that effective most of the time. Let’s say you love playing SKS, and you have 2 of them in your Backpack since they’re easy to store. But let's be honest, you assigned those two weapons 10 slots in your backpack. With each (OP-) SKS having a rough value of 30k, you’re just making 6k per slot. Most of the time it’s better to loot barter items, ammo, meds and helmets. If you filled these slots with a circuit board, 2 HDDs, 3x Screw nuts, 1x Iskra Lunch box you’d make roughly 90k selling them on the flea market. That’s way more efficient, since you can buy yourself 2 OP SKS after the raid and still keep 30k.

This results in good and reliable profit per extract, you can make 150k+ with the contents of your scav Backpack alone (20slots) by following these simple rules.

There are gear items that generate space (most notably the AVS and most other large armored rigs, Blackrock tactical rigs and the Beta2 Backpack). If possible, use them to enlarge your storage capacity in raid. Some more commonly found tactical rigs also “create” slots, but are less efficient at it (like the Commando or Triton rig).

b) Showcase of excessive min-maxing

This is how my loot looked after killing the scav boss and some PMCs on customs solo late Dec 2019. I don’t take any weapons except the 2nd main weapon slot with me. I remove the high value attachments like optics and lasers. Additionally, if I have the time I remove the 5.45BT ammo which sells for 300-350+ rubles each round, making a full 60x stack about 20k.

Sometimes, I even bring a 1x1 handguard like the B10-M or Aggressor handguard in my safe to attach 1x frontgrip, one small optic and 2x laser devices effectively adding up to 40k+ on one slot.

A good indicator is the comparison between total turnover with Skier VS Mechanic, since Skier pays the most but only takes some attachments (optics, lasers, silencers).

As you can see, my money spent with skier is over 3x compared to mechanic… looting laser devices and red-dot-sights may sound stupid, but is pretty simple and effective. This is the reason why I always put all the possible rails necessary for laser attachments onto my weapons, although I’ll only use one from the start. When I find a X400 or Klesch, I can simply attach it without taking up any inventory space.

3. Managing your stash efficiently

a) Weapon storage

Remove the Pistol grip and the magazine on most weapons to make them easier to get into storage containers.

b) Attachment storage

If you have the funds / trader levels, you can use some handguards (B-10M etc) to store front grips, 2x lasers and 1x small optic all in one slot. Sprut shotgun mounts come in handy for laser/flashlight storage, too.

Although a little bit excessive, this picture illustrates how much space you can generate by clever attachment storage:

c) Backpack storage

Put all your Backpacks in a sweet little Matryoshka, since this way they won't need any space at all. Inside of this terrifying frankenstein you can put quest items you’ll need later, so you don’t waste any space.

Some Backpacks like the Beta, the Blackjack50 or the 6SH118 Raid BP actually create space, because they take less space than they create inside. This can be used for smaller items or weapons you won’t need very often.

d) Cases Overview

If you have the funds, invest in cases. Here’s a quick overview which items fit in which of the cases and how many you usually “need”. Early on, the most important are a Scav Junkbox, an Ammo case, a Medcase and a Keytool/Documents case or even a SICC case.

Items case icon.png

Items cases: Anything, even most other smaller cases fits inside.

How many? = As many as possible

DogtagCaseIcon.png

Dogtag case: Saves time, you can just sell them / trade them when it’s full.

1x is sufficient, either in your stash or in your secure container when you don’t have a SICC caseDocument-Case.png

Document case: Keys&Keycards, Currency, Flash drives.

it’s like a wallet and a keytool combined. If you’re looting many safes, use this instead of a keytool. Otherwise, a keytool usually is better.

SmallSICCIcon.png

SICC case: Keys&Keycards, Currency, Dogtags, Flash drives, GP Coin / Bitcoin / Skull Ring

1x should be enough, they usually cost around 2,8-3,3Mio Rubles. An excellent lategame item though…Keybar icon.png

Keytool: Keys. Only Keys.

either 1x or straight up a SICC case. I like to use them as storage for my different map keysets

Medscaseicon.png

Medcase: Meds. Only meds.

1-3 Meds cases depending on your level of hoarding

Ammocaseicon.png

Ammo case: Ammo. Only ammo.

2-4x to hoard ammo if people decide to buy all the traders stock out of a sudden and demand the double price, just because some content creator played with a previously rare weapon (AS Val example).

Mr. Holodilnick thermobag icon.png

Holodilnick Thermobag: Stores Provisions = Drinks and food.

1-2x to store barter-provision items or just to conveniently store water/food.

Magbox icon.png

Magazine case: Magazines. Only Mags. As many as you want to organize your stash and get geared faster for the next raid, especially when playing with friends.

Money case icon.png

Money case: Currency, GP coins, Bitcoins.

1x or 2x are usually sufficient.

Junkbox.png

Scav Junkboxes: All loot. This means all things you can’t shoot with, can’t use, wear, eat or drink.

How many? 1x or 2x to store barter items needed for the hideout/quests or for some good trades for armor or armored rigs. I usually have 2x at the beginning of the wipe to keep quest items and sell one after a while.

4. Weapon modding - designing your rifle

a) Effects of Recoil and Ergonomics

First of all, recoil reduction via stocks, muzzle brakes or front grips is percentage based. Ergo isn’t, it just adds up all the provided ergo points. This means when the base weapon (without any attachments) already has a comparably low recoil (MP9 for instance), an RK-2’s 5% recoil reduction are barely noticeable. The other extreme applies to high recoil base weapons like the SA-58 (FAL).

Ergo affects three things: (good example clips are displayed on the Gamepedia here)

  1. the speed to complete the “aim down sight” animation.
  2. the speed that stamina drains at while aiming down sights.
  3. the volume of the character aiming down their sights.

Recoil affects the vertical and horizontal visible kickback when firing. Lower recoil makes it easier to hit follow up shots and to hit targets at longer ranges when using full auto

.

b) Regarding front grips

Most front grips balance between Ergo and Recoil improvement. The more a grip favors recoil, the worse it gets ergo-wise. The most balanced grips are the RVG and the RK-1 (on b25U mount). Ergo King is the Fortis shift and its cheaper cousin, the SE-5. Recoil King is the RK-2. Overall the most points are provided by the Hera Arms CQR grip, but it only fits on long rails (6inch+) and is incompatible with AKs.

Front grips often times are your main customization option to tailor a weapon to your desires. Keep the provided informations in mind when looking for a front grip.

The following spreadsheet gives you an overview of every viable front grip in the lategame, stats-wise. In the early game, use what’s cheap and available.

Icon

Name

Recoil reduction %

Ergonomics

ZenitRK2icon.png

Zenit RK-2 Foregrip

-5

-2

Heraarmsgripicon.png

Hera Arms CQR tactical grip
(doesn’t fit anywhere)

-4

+11

ZenitRK1B-25Uicon.png

Zenit RK-1 Foregrip on B-25U mount

(very expensive)

-4

+4

ZenitRK-1Icon.png

Zenit RK-1 Foregrip

-4

+3

Rvggripicon.png

Magpul RVG grip

-3

+7

Fortisshifticon.png

Fortis Shift tactical grip

-2

+11

c) Guidelines to different builds

When speaking of Recoil values, I’m only looking at vertical recoil. Since I don’t want to cluster everything with pictures, take a minute and have a look at the preset modding preview. Even at player level 1, you can test out various builds and get a feel for the different Ergo/Recoil balances. You can also check out Virion’s modding guide.

Generally speaking, you can mod almost any weapon to be an Ergo-build, a balanced / allround build or a recoil build. And honestly, everything in between. But there are some limitations of efficiency, created by the modding mechanics themselves. I want to give you a veteran’s perspective on reasonable weapon modding, especially the highly subjective Ergo VS Recoil discussion.


Example 1: AS Val

The AS Val unmodified version only has 44 Recoil. The version without any attachments (even the silencer) has 110 recoil. Usually when you’re going for an extreme Recoil / extreme Ergo build, your total points gained by attachments is reduced, as it gets more and more specialised. The two extremes and a general build for comparison are:

  1. If you modify it for lowest Recoil, 37 is the lowest minimum while having 40 Ergo. I used the RK-2, an EKP8-18 on dovetail mount and the standard stock.
  2. a full ergo build with 48 recoil and 70 ergo: Fortis shift, Rotor 43 buffer tube and PRS Gen3 stock.
  3. or a more balanced build with 42 recoil and 59 ergo: Fortis shift, standard stock, B13 rail platform with PK-06.

So my conclusion is: Either use an allround grip like the RVG or go with the Fortis shift. RK-2 doesn’t make any sense. Either use the standard stock for balanced builds or the PRS Gen3 Stock for extreme ergo builds. The recoil reduction isn’t even needed with the AS Val because of the low muzzle velocity limiting its effective range to 80-100m maximum.

The tendency for full recoil builds to not be worth it points wise also applies to the following:

  1. MP7 (also MP9): The difference between two identical silenced MP7A2 with RK-2 or Fortis Shift are only one (!) recoil point (46 vs 47). The Ergo difference is 13 points, though (58 vs 71).
  2. DT MDR 5.56x45, but also the DT MDR .308 to a lesser extent
  3. VSS
  4. MP5 non-silenced with Noveske muzzle brake
  5. any MPX build

Example 2: AK-74N and AKM

The unmodified version has 91 recoil, the base without any attachments 157. This means, going for a full recoil build is way more efficient than before. The lowest recoil build offers 47 recoil and 67 ergo. 47 Recoil for an assault rifle while still maintaining solid ergo values is excellent! I used the following attachments: PWS CQB muzzle brake, CMRD handguard with a laser device and RK-2, Fab Defence PDC dust cover with PK-06, RK-3 pistol grip and Zhukov-S Stock.

The same attachments fit on a AKM offering 65 recoil and 63 ergo. Which is a deadly combination, considering the extra punch the 7.62x39mm ammo packs compared to 5.45x39mm.

My conclusion: It’s very worthwhile to fully max recoil reduction almost or fully to the extreme with these weapons. This is because each percent of recoil reduction actually changes the absolute recoil numbers way more than on an AS Val or MP7.

These weapons have comparably high base recoil that can be reduced drastically by full recoil builds and attachments:

  1. all AK series
  2. M4 / HK416: Always reduce the recoil the 50 at least, then either go further into recoil reduction or invest some points into ergo.
  3. SA-58 (FAL): Go full recoil, reducing it to 70 vertical recoil.
  4. SKS with Tapco stock
  5. M1a with SASS stock: Either use it as an DMR where 90-100 recoil are totally acceptable, or use it as an assault rifle in disguise with 50 or even less recoil. Up to you.

Example 3: SR-25 (almost same attachments with the more expensive RSASS)

The unmodified vanilla weapon has 154 Recoil and 53 Ergo, while the naked body has 290 recoil. Firstly I want to talk about barrel length. For many weapons with different barrel lengths, the short barrel is a better balanced option than the long barrel. This also applies to the SR-25, which is why I personally only use the short 16 inch barrel instead of the 20 inch one.

Nonetheless, a fully recoil modded SR-25 has 81 recoil and 55 ergo. I used the Lantac Dragon Triple muzzle combo, a 20 inch barrel, RK-2, MBUS front and rearsights, PSG-1 Style pistol grip and an SI advanced buffer tube with an HK E1 Stock.

Sure thing, 81 Recoil on a 7.62Nato Rifle is very nice. But please take into consideration what the SR-25 is: A (designated) marksman rifle. You might want to engage on longer ranges or provide spotting / cover for your team mates. Do the few recoil points really matter, when you can’t stay in your 4x or 8x scope all day because of low ergo?

This is why I use this build with 96 Recoil and 71 Ergo: Short barrel with Lantac triple combo, RVG grip, Eotech Vudu with Deltapoint Reflex on JP 30mm mount and a MOE Stock with Rubberpad instead of the HKE1 Stock. I want to improve, what my weapon already is good in: Medium to long distance engagements. Let me tell you, the few recoil points more on a single shot weapon don’t really matter if an engagement is close and it gets messy.

The tendency for allround builds with a medium but not extreme recoil focus to be very viable applies to basically all single shot high calibre rifles like the RSASS, SVDs, SKS etc.

5. Mastering the lategame: Being fully geared and still making profit

You just hit level 40, got most of the quests done and wonder what to do. Well, the fun has just begun. You can play however you want, as long as you have the funds. I highly encourage you to only use high end gear when playing in a group (insurance!) or nighttime raids on a map you’re pretty experienced on. Soloing high end gear in other circumstances is completely viable too, but harder to still make profit reliably.

a) How I set up my loadout

A full set of high end equipment can get pretty costly (example setups which I ran a lot lately):

Example 1)

Example 2)

Example 3)

Additionally there will be maintenance costs. Even if you extract you might have to buy new meds, grenades, ammo and repair your armor.

If you manage to survive / die in a 2:1 ratio, you need to extract with gear/loot worth 450-500k just to break even. If you don’t feel confident in doing so, but have the financial backup, go and try these loadouts! It’s not the easy mode you may expect, but it has its own challenges and benefits.

Body armor: Since one month into the wipe, I’ve been using class 4 to 5 armored rigs and class 5-6 body armor exclusively. Depending on the repair ratio, I only repair my armor once with Mechanic. If it takes a significant amount of damage afterwards, I sell it on the flea market and buy a new one. This way I ensure maximum protection even against high tier ammo. Always remember to do the good ol’ insurance fraud when looting a good condition Redut-M, Gen4 or Zhuk6. A single Scav player with a mosin can turn a perfect raid into a financial disaster by damaging your armor badly. Roughly speaking, an armor with half of its max durability is as good as an armor of the lower class. A 30/32 Redut-M is about the same level of initial protection as a 55/55 level 4 armor. If an armor is a financial write-off, sell it on the flea market and get a new one. Do not use any armor with a durability like 7/10 or similar, you’re using garbage!

Weapon: Most high tier weapons either have a high base price or need expensive modding to use them to their full capabilities. All my weapons either have a XPS3-0 holo / PK06 or HAMR/ Vudu+Deltapoint and a laser device.

Helmet: 90% of the non-factory / non-labs raids I use the ULACH lvl4 helmet. Alternatives are the TC2002 with SLAAP lvl5 plate, Airframe w/ chops+faceshield or Wendy w/ ear covers+faceshield. Usually, I don’t bring faceshields because the loss of clear vision and lvl3 not being a good enough protection to leave my trusty and way more cost efficient ULACH in the stash. I never repair faceshields, if they are damaged, they go straight to the flea market. Most helmets get repaired once or twice, depending on the repair ratio, with Mechanic only.

Magazines: Since I’m not an avid user of 5.45x39 AKs, I only use extra large magazines with M4/HK416 due to its high fire rate and the low flesh damage of M995. 30round mags with the VSS/Val are a must in my eyes. Drum magazines for the M1A and the FAL are completely optional in my opinion, maybe except for labs or factory.

Ammo: Depending on the map / level of gear in my group, I either run M856A1 or M995. M62 is my only .308 choice, while SPP is my ammo of choice in 9x39mm. I usually have 1½  to 2 Stacks of spare Ammo in my safe container to fill up magazines.

b) How to still make profit

That’s all very well, but breaking down all the matter of expenses doesn’t make it profitable. Here’s some general advice which will aid you in making more profit, reducing maintenance costs and increasing survival chances:

  1. Watch your health: Even when wearing lvl5+ armor, blunt damage by non-penetrating rounds can be significant. Always heal your thorax and head to the maximum of 80HP and 35HP respectively.
  2. Fill up your mags while looting and healing. This ensures you’ll always be ready for the next enemy. Use half-used medkits you find in raid (AI2, CarMedkits etc), which you usually don’t loot because of the poor per slot value.
  3. Learn the hidden caches on Shoreline, Woods and Customs. Especially important on customs, because customs doesn’t have the greatest loot on its own.
  4. Wearing high tier gear doesn’t make you invincible! Take every AI scav and scav player very seriously. Never engage in a fair fight unless inevitable. This way you’re ensuring that your armor stays in good shape for the important PMC fights.
  5. Play determined, but not overly greedy. Be confident in your skills, not in your gear. There is no benefit trying to loot your fallen comrade in the middle of the road when there’s the high possibility of an ambushing player nearby.
  6. Fight the Scav bosses with extreme caution, especially their airburst grenades don’t care so much about your armor…
  7. Invest in a large temporary store to stockpile barter items in your stash. Alyonka or screw nuts are all great value per slot items, but you need to sell them on the flea market. This way you spend less time on the flea market because you can cluster / stack your offers. Example: I always have 2-3 item cases named sales depot and sell their contents at the end of a sequence of raids.
  8. Make deliberate use of the V-Exits and the RedRebel+Paracord exits and prepare yourself accordingly.
  9. Always know the current flee market value of most items. This will ensure you always loot efficiently when it comes to barter items. It is a huge difference whether you fill up your Attack2 with medium modded AKs providing poor value per slot or with silencers, scopes, bolts and other high value per slot items.
  10. Be a hoarder. Ammo and magazine cases are comparably cheap. Stockpile them for your favourite weapons. Stockpile some of the modded weapons and the attachments to modify them as well. Why? Because the flea market is crazy sometimes. It can easily happen that many people buy all the RK-2 grips or even some guides to put lasers / sights on your weapons. Since the trader is empty, they try to force you to buy these highly sought after items at a way higher price. An ammo box of 9x39 SPP, M62 or M995 ensures you can play the gear you want. Check the traders in between each raid and keep the restock timers in mind to fill up your own storage.

c) Find your most efficient map and playstyle

You can play basically every map for late game PvP and honestly, for your own pleasure. Especially when playing in a group, it’s a very cool feature to be that one guy that’s just a badass with the 6th sense on a certain map, knowing every nook and cranny. I have buddies who are total beasts on Interchange, Labs or Shoreline for instance… while I’d consider myself a Customs geek.

Get a feel for how other PMCs move through the map, keep an eye on the raid timer and take educated guesses when and where most people are going to be. You have to adjust your path through the map accordingly to either avoid engagements or be in favorable positions. Play in a preemptive way, you want to be the one acting in advance instead of reacting only to the occuring circumstances.

Labs-Showcase-3.pngd) The high risk map: Terragroup Labs

Insurance will not work on Labs. There are no scav players, and all AI scavs are raiders with mid- to high-tier gear and scav boss aim. You will need to activate most of the exits before using them, usually causing scav raiders to spawn.

You need an access card, costing about 190k+. This is your entry fee. You can pretty easily make it back on labs, given you survive the slaughter.

Labs is a great source of grenades, medkits and high-tier weapons and magazines.

Some general ideas:

  1. Learn the valuable loot spawns and the exits + their activation method as well.
  2. Audio intel is very, very important.
  3. Raiders can always interrupt an ongoing PMC fight. Be very careful not to get sandwiched and play proactive and thoughtful.
  4. If you try to budget run Labs without high tier ammo, try to farm raiders only. Keep yourself below the radar, avoiding the LedX spawns and security arsenal area and therefore avoiding PvP fights against juggernauts.
  5. Watch streamers who regularly play Labs and copy some of their tactics. Most notably, QuattroAce almost exclusively plays labs. I’m fully aware that “copy a streamer” is a rather stupid advice, but you can take parts of his style to complement your own.

Chapter IV: REFERENCE BOOK

1. Calibre list with preferable ammo choices

Ammo not listed is so bad / niche, there’s no point in mentioning it. Don’t use high flesh damage+low penetration ammo if you’re a beginner, unless you consider yourself a memelord using legmeta. Generally speaking, the more penetration a round has, the smaller the flesh damage. Legmeta means shooting for the legs first in any encounter, since these are the only body parts that are always unarmored. It can be pretty effective when used correctly, but it’s more of a last resort thing and needs very good map knowledge and large amount of experience. You basically have to legmeta with buckshot loaded shotguns VS geared players, for instance.

Look at the clear data here: https://escapefromtarkov.gamepedia.com/Ballistics

Legend:

top tier ammo with high penetration. Expensive, rare, kills juggernauts.

mid-tier ammo with solid penetration unless noted otherwise, usually budget effective

low-tier ammo with certain drawbacks. Only use them if no other option is available or you know what you’re doing.

Bad ammo. Don’t use it except very early in the wipe or when running desperate budget kits. Absolutely trust your aim in nailing those headshots and pray that the enemy hasn’t got a faceshield.

a) Pistol Cartridges:

b) PDW Cartridges:

c) Rifle Cartridges:

d) Shotgun Cartridges:

2. Weapon list and a few modding guidelines

Why are some weapons missing? Because you can’t mod them or I consider them basically useless for PMC raids.

Legend:

a) Pistols

b) Machine Pistols

c) Shotguns:

d) Assault rifles:

e) DMRs

f) Sniper rifles

3. Body armor

Body armors have different armor classes = protection levels, ranging from 2-6. All of them cover the thorax and some of them cover the stomach or the arms as well. They are made out of different materials, which is reflected in their repair efficiency.
Content creator “J dog th3 wise” made an excellent up-to-date guide on body armors,
click here.

The first number indicates how the condition of the armor is in the moment. The right number tells you the max durability. Each time you repair an armor, it loses max durability. This way, you can’t just play the same unique piece of armor all the time. Repairing body armor is the least efficient with Prapor, balanced with Skier and the most efficient with Mechanic. It’s the other way round regarding repair costs.

a) Class 2 body armor

3M icon.pngPACA icon.png6B2 Icon.png

Protection against: Most pistol and shotgun ammo.

Useful in the early game / wipe cycle and against shotgun / pistol scavs.

Verdict: Don’t waste your money unless early in the wipe.

b) Class 3 body armor

UNTARArmorIcon.pngZhuk-3 Press armor icon.pngBNTIKirasaNarmorIcon.png6B23-1icon.png

Protection against: Cheap 5.45 Ammo, M855, all pistol ammo except 5.7x28 and 9x21mm.

The first armor really worth considering. Even if some cheap large calibre ammo still easily penetrates, it might absorb enough damage to keep you alive in a dangerous situation. MF-UN has a very bad repair rate. The 6b23-1 is 3x4 slots and doesn’t get looted very often.

Verdict: Useful for cheap looting / quest runs.

c) Class 4 body armor

Highcom Trooper TFO armor (multicam) icon.pngGZHELKArmorIcon.png6B23-2 armorIcon.png6B13 assault armor icon.gif

Protection against: Most mid-tier grade ammo. Can protect you from an otherwise fatal one hit kill on the chest by large calibre like 7.62NATO or 7.62x54r (Mosin).

Useful as the “standard”, mid-gear armor. Even if it gets damaged pretty quickly, it often saves your life in the process even against ammo with good pen.

GZHEL, 6b23-2 and 6b13 repair pretty badly. The trooper repairs excellently, but only covers your thorax, requiring you to either bring some provisions or a CMS kit.

Verdict: Best armor from a cost-efficiency point of view. It is important to repair them only once and then buy a new one, since the repair efficiency is so poor.

d) Class 5 Body armor

FORT Redut-M body armor icon.png6B13 M icon.pngGen4hmk.png

Gen4assault.pngIOTVfullIcon.pngFORT Redut-T5 body armor icon.png

Protection against: Everything except high grade penetrating ammo like 5.45BS / Igolnik, .223 M995, .308 M62/M61, 7.62x54R SNB.

Useful as the go to protection for high gear runs. Only the best ammo can penetrate, which is often pretty costly, making other juggernauts your only real enemy. They don’t repair that efficient, the only exception being the Killa armor. The Gen4Full + Redut-T5 have very significant ergo+movement penalties, making them unusable in my opinion anywhere but labs and factory.

Verdict: When focussing on late game gameplay, the Redut-M probably is the most common choice being the only one that can be bought directly with rubles. These are my go-to armors when I’m done questing and start playing for fun.

e) Class 6 body armor

FORT armor icon.pngZhuk-6a heavy armor icon.png

Protection against: Multiple hits by every ammo except 5.45 Igolnik, 7.62NATO M61, 7.62x54R SNB. Can tank an incredible amount of mid-tier ammo.

Very hard to play cost efficiently, since acquisition and repair is very expensive.

The 6b43 Zabralo or commonly known as “Fort” is the ultimate juggernaut armor. You basically are a tank, but move like one as well… The Zhuk6 is an expensive alternative with pretty small ergo+speed penalties. Both of them repair very poorly, making it even harder to make a profit at the end.

Final verdict: Very specialised and pricey armor. The Zhuk6 is the only one that can be integrated in a “normal” and mobile playstyle.

4. Tactical rigs

Tactical rigs can be either unarmored or armored (unable to wear with body armor at the same time). Remember that with a Micro Rig with 4 Magazine slots means you can carry 3 mags inside and one in your weapon. The free 1x2 slot is used when switching, otherwise you’ll drop a magazine to the ground.

Many tactical rigs actually generate space when put in a backpack. This is especially useful when looting many small barter items with 1 or 2 slots, because the value of the rig itself further increases your profit.

a) Small Rigs

Cheap and better than nothing. Often returns via insurance. Useful for non-automatic weapons. Scavs provide a steady supply, so you usually don’t need to buy them.

b) Medium Rigs

These rigs are a good compromise between space and cost. They are nowadays commonly found on scavs (Triton). You can either use the space to fill up more 30round magazines instead of two 60rounders or use them for high rate of fire, mag hungry weapons like machine pistols. If you use them while carrying only a standard amount of magazines, the space can be used for hot-keyed medkits, grenades or even standard loot.

c) Large rigs

This rigs can function both as loot containers and tactical rigs. They provide at least eight slots for 1x2 magazines. Well, except the Belt Rig, which is useless in my opinion. The Alpha Rig is the only unarmored rig able to carry 1x3 extra large magazines. My go to choice is the blackrock due to its balanced layout and the 2x2 slot which can be very handy for looting.

d) small armored rigs

You can not wear a body armor and an armored tactical rig / plate carrier at the same time!

The left one (6B5-16) is armor class 3, the other two are class 4. These rigs aren’t looted very often and are a cheap option for budget raids and loot runs. They have problems to keep up against heavy PvP engagements and it’s very impractical to do insurance fraud with them. The right one (6B3TM-01M) can be bought from Ragman LL2 and is an excellent budget choice.

e) large armored rigs

AVS icon.png

Covering thorax and stomach, all armor class 4: M1, M2 and AVS. The M2 rig is okay with a lot of magazine slots, but is has the lowest durability and lacks a 2x2 space. The M1 and AVS are a bit better and good choices for higher mid-tier runs. All of them repair poorly and you better sell them before the 2nd repair is needed.

Verdict: The flea market price of brand new M1 and M2 rigs is about 95k at the moment (05.Jan), which is excellent. These two rigs are a very underrated and cost-efficient gear options.

Covering only thorax: TV110, A18, Tactec. The TV-110 has slots for two drum mags and three 3x1 mags (bananas) and the highest durability. It’s the only one of the large armored rigs that can be bought directly with rubles on Ragman LL4.

The A18 is slot wise the largest rig ingame and has space for 10 standard mags. It has only slightly less durability than the TV110.

The Tactec is the only class 5 armored rig. It offers space for (only) 6 mags, but repairs incredibly effective. The Tactec costs significantly more than the other rigs.

5. Helmets

These items will be rated from good to situationally good to bad/meme level of effectiveness. This includes cost efficiency, too.

TankHelm2.pngKolpak-1S Icon.pngSHPM Firefighter's helmet icon.pngPSH-97 -Jeta- helmet Icon.png

All of these Class 2 helmets: Useless. Don’t use them and simply discard them when having them equipped on your scav. They don't provide any protection and have a very noticeable sound reduction.

SSH-68Icon.png6B47 Icon.gifUNTARHelmetIcon.png

Class 3: SSh-68 (also called penis helmet) and 6b47 are very good choices for almost every loadout. The Untar on the other hand is obviously bad because of its color.

LZSh light helmet icon.pngKiver-M Helmet icon.pngSFERAHelmetIcon.png

Class 3: The LZSh and Kiver-M provide an acceptable level of protection. You have to use them with a faceshield, otherwise you can just pick the SSh68 or 6b47. They can save your life from pistol, shotgun or cheap 5.45 ammo on CQB encounters like factory. The SFERA is a meme and please sell it instead of using it.

MICH Icon.PNGACHHC Icon.gifMICH Icon 2002.PNG

Class 4: The armor class of these helmets is fairly high paired with a high ricochet chance. All of them are good choices throughout the game progression. Keep in mind that the unprotected ears hitbox can be a problem, especially in CQB.

FASTMT Icon.gifCrye Precision Airframe Tan Icon.pngTeam Wendy EXFIL Ballistic Helmet icon.gif

Class 4: These are very expensive helmets, allowing you to attach a faceshield or/and a side armor. The helmets themselves are class 4 while their additional protection attachments are class3. They cost a small fortune and I’d advise you only to use them on very high gear loadout when playing with squadmates. Remember that these faceshields can be easily penetrated by mid-tier ammo (like 5.45BP+BT or 7.62PS), making these helmets only situationally good.

ULACH Icon.gifZSH-1-2M Icon.gif

Class 4: The ULACH is my go-to choice whenever I don’t need a faceshield. It repairs well and the FDE version is usually below 70k, which is a very good price. The ZSH-1-2M pairs a lvl 4 helmet with an armor class 3 faceshield, is significantly cheaper than FAST MT / Airframe / EXFIL but you can’t fit a headset under it. It’s good for factory and when being the pointman in a squad, so your squadmates can provide the “hearing power”.

LZHZ-2DTMIcon.pngMaska 1Sch helmet icon.gifAltynHelmetIcon.pngVulkan-5 (LShZ-5) heavy helmet icon.png

All of them are very expensive. The best ones are LSHZ-2DTM with its class 4 helmet+faceshield (!) and the Altyn being class 5 everywhere. I tend to only wear these helmets on Factory or Labs, but I use Altyn and LSHZ from time to time elsewhere, too.

The Maska has an insane class 6 faceshield with only a very small eye slit, but the helmet itself is only class 4. In the end, it ain’t worth it most of the time. The Vulkan-5 has a class 4 faceshield while the helmet itself is class 6. This is a way better combination than the Maska, but it’s insanely expensive and has huge ergo and movement penalties.

6. A specific look at the loot containers

Legend:

Bad. Hands off, you better be watching the perimeter instead.

Mediocre. Loot them when nearby, but don’t make a detour just because of it.
If you need certain quest items or there are many clustered in one place, loot them.

Good. Plan your routes along these spots. You may have to fight to get to them.

Register.pngRegister TAR2-2.png

Cash Registers: Don’t bother unless you badly need to take the V-Exit.

DeadScav.png

Dead Scav: Permanent loot container, loot is pretty random, but usually worth checking. Spawns Barter items, Provisions and medical loot.

Brownjacket.pngBluejacketnormal.png

Jackets: Since they can spawn most of the keys in the game, they nowadays are very valuable. Always loot them, because the quantity of searched jackets will provide you with valuable keys. They are very common on pretty much all maps.

Drawers.pngDrawers / Filing cabinets: Solid loot but with a very distinct audio signal while looting. Relevant items are some electronic items, which you need for some Mechanic quests.

Med Bag.pngMed Case.png

Medbags: Medicine is always good. Check them if you’re in dire need, need Salewas for Therapist or your pathway is close to one. I wouldn’t leave my planned route just to loot one or two of these alone.

Toolbox.pngToolbox2.png

Toolboxes: Spawn barter items of very varied value. Since screw nuts, bolts and tapes are somewhat valuable for the hideout / flea market, check them when you’re nearby.

WoodenCrate.png

Wooden / green crate: You can get lucky with a silencer, some army provisions or a medkit. Usually not worth checking out, if you’re not standing right next to it.
To all lesser experienced players playing factory: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP LOOTING THESE CRATES! Focus on the CQB gunfights instead.

GrenadeCrate.pngAmmoBox Container.png

Grenade box (green): Good. Grenades are useful and can be sold for about 10k each.
Ammo Box (lighter tone): Bad. Almost never spawns anything other than 5.45x39 or 9x18, which is most of the time of bad quality. If you’re very lucky, you can find 30pcs of 5.45BS or Igolnik…

Weapon Box 4x4.pngWeapon Box 5x5.png

Weapon Box 5x2.pngWeapon Box 6x3.png

Weapon boxes: Acceptable, but varying quality loot. Optics, silencers and rare weapons (RSASS for instance) can be nice, but an unmodded vanilla AKS-74 is a rather dissatisfying occurrence. My recommendation would be: Target them when doing low budget (pistol) runs explicitly. Otherwise, only loot them when nearby and only take valuable attachments.

DuffleBag.png

Duffle/sport bags: Don’t laugh at me, but these things are a real money maker. They can spawn all barter items, even very valuable things like Fuel Conditioner. One duffle bag won’t make you a millionaire, but 25 of ‘em surely are adding up. They are somewhat common on almost all maps.

Pc Block.png

PC blocks: Pretty useful. The only lesser useful items are DVD drives and capacitors, everything else has a pretty neat value per slot. Plan your loot routes accordingly. Good places to farm them are Shoreline and Interchange. Always look for a secure flash drive which possibly sticks in the PC block and is looted “outside” the actual loot container.

Safe Container.png

Safe: Always spawns currency (rubles, dollars, euros) which makes a wallet / docs case / SICC case in your secure container useful. They also spawn valuable barter items like antique vases / teapots, golden chainlets, cat / lion statues and even bitcoins and GP coins. Always loot them, if you have the chance to do so.

Groundcache.pngBuried Barrel Cache.png

Ground cache / barrel cache: Very random, can pretty much spawn any item in the game. This means, that checking a few caches near your pathway is an excellent way to make some money. I loot them pretty often.