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Gun-by-Gun: Crossbow DMR Comprehensive Breakdown

Modern Warfare has a new gun in town. Well, sort of. With the Battle Pass’ second season delayed to February 11, Infinity Ward has added a Crossbow to Modern Warfare to fill the time. At first glance, this seems like a gimmicky, fairly useless weapon. However, I’ve found a surprising niche for it.

Crossbow

First things first, you’ll want to know how to get it. Simply jump on Modern Warfare and get at least 5 kills with DMRs in 25 different games. It can take some time but there are little restrictions on completing it. You can either keep using the DMR for the entire game or switch after getting 5 kills. I’d recommend making the most of Shipment 24/7 and searching for TDM and Kill Confirmed lobbies to get it done fast.

Overview

The Crossbow is a surprisingly versatile weapon that can work both close-range and long-range. However, I find the best loadout is one that focuses on securing kills in the 15-30m territory where its bolts can often outshoot traditional guns. Beyond that snipers outperform the Crossbow and closer than that SMGs and Shotguns are better options.

Generally speaking, the Crossbow has not been gifted with great handling. Its base ADS time of 330 ms and sprint out time of 267 are nothing special. Also, many of the stronger ranged attachments decrease movement speed encouraging slower playstyles. The poor overall reload time of 3.1 seconds only further supports this.

Crossbow
It’s very satisfying to flick onto an enemy and drop them before they can even react.

Obviously, the Crossbow isn’t designed to be a suppressive fire weapon. In fact, without attachments, it only fires 19 bolts per minute. That makes it the slowest firing primary in Modern Warfare. Despite all these major drawbacks, I’ve found some surprising benefits to using the Crossbow in specific situations.

For one, it might be my favourite DMR in Modern Warfare. Whilst not as competitive as the Kar98k, or as reliable as the EBR-14, the Crossbow is great at catching people off-guard. When playing slower game modes like Search and Destroy I’ve melted enemies by just pre-aiming and shutting down popular spots. This is somewhat comparable to the role LMGs play but with the Crossbow, enemies don’t even have time to react before they’re dead.

In order to kit it out for this purpose, you are going to need some attachments. Without attachments, the Crossbow is pretty bad and can be very frustrating to level up. Once the grind it over though, there is some degree of a reward waiting for you.

Attachments

Crossbow

Arms

Although there are three different arms to pick from, only two are worthwhile. Essentially, 90% of the time you want to opt for the XRK Thunder which drastically increases bolt velocity. This is really nice for hitting longer range shots and making the bolt’s trajectory more predictable. Unfortunately, the XRK Thunder kills the Crossbow’s handling by adding a whopping 70 ms to ADS time.

Alternatively, the XRK Quill can be an okay choice for both Shipment and Shoothouse. At the cost of bolt velocity, this increases ADS by 50 ms. Whilst this is a really nice improvement to ADS, you are effectively turning your Crossbow into a shotgun. Hitting shots from beyond 20m will become very tricky.

Bolt

In total there are four different bolt options on the Crossbow. The default bolt, Fury, Venom, and Backburn. Fury bolts explode after landing but the actual blast radius is relatively unimpressive. This means outside of niche plays, I don’t recommend them.

Backburn bolts act as firable thermites and should be used exactly as you would thermite. In other words, this is best served as an anti-tank weapon, being able to take out most Ground War tanks in three shots. At launch, it could also take on most killstreaks in an equal amount of time but this has since been nerfed.

The Backburn Bolts absolutely shred through tank armour. You can even stack them with Thermites + Shrapnel for nasty anti-tank set-up.

Overall though your best option is the Venom bolts. These feel and act identically to regular bolts but have the added bonus of exploding like a gas grenade on impact. However, you do need to actually hit your opponent to get the detonation unlike Fury and Backburn bolts. With a bit of luck, it’s possible to hit a small group with the explosion, switch to your other primary or pistol, and rack up some serious kills.

Cable

Between the 16-Strand Cable and the 28-Strand Cable, I honestly didn’t notice much of a difference. Even when running the 28-Strand Cable, all of my shots ended up exactly where I aimed them. Therefore the accuracy bonus of the 16-Strand Cable feels completely unnecessary. Just opt for the 28-Strand Cable since its effectively free bolt velocity with very few, if any, cons.

Laser

Nothing too complicated here. You either choose the Tac Laser or don’t run a laser at all. The Tac Laser will reduce the Crossbow’s ADS by 50 ms which impressive although comes at the cost of giving away your position when aiming. I personally don’t like this attachment as I use the Crossbow as a DMR more than a run-and-gun weapon. Although if you were to play a faster-paced playstyle, the Tac Laser may be necessary.

Underbarrel

The primary grip you’ll want to be using is the FTAC Speed Grip. With this attached your ADS and sprint out speed will be decreased by 33 ms. This is also the only attachment to decrease sprint out speed and is, therefore, a must pick for all playstyles. You do not want to be caught out every time you try to run by an aggressive AR or SMG player.

With patience and a bit of luck, it is possible to chain together a killstreak with the Crossbow. As you can see though, it’s not easy to keep it going.

Your other viable option is the XRK Precision which steadies your aiming stability. Whilst not useless, I can’t see much of an advantage over the Speed Grip. Especially, as the Crossbow benefits from ADS and sprint-out speed improvements more than any other weapon. Finally, there’s the XRK Talon grip which is a no-go as all it does is improve recoil on a weapon that doesn’t fire fast enough for recoil to matter.

Stock

Surprisingly, I only found one of the stocks to be worthwhile. Both the FTAC Apex and TAC Dart can complement their relative playstyles but don’t give enough benefits compared to other, more competitive attachments.

In contrast, there is an argument for the FSS SpeedTrak which decreases ADS by 33 ms although I’m not sure what you would give up to make room for it. I suppose if you didn’t feel the need to run Venom bolts this would probably be the best alternative for that fifth slot. Since the Crossbow hasn’t got a tonne of useful attachments, you should feel free to use that final slot however you want.

Optic

The iron sights for the Crossbow are adequate at close-range but quickly become an unnecessary hurdle beyond 20m. With a precision DMR like the Crossbow, I heavily encourage you to consider using an optic of sorts. It’s widely personal preference but anything clear such as the G.I Mini Reflex, Cronen LP945, or Monocle Reflex all work equally well.

crossbow
Clear optics are a must in order to see and pick-off enemies in less clear situations. If I was using the iron sights here, there’s no way I’d have spotted him before dying.

In Search and Destroy specifically, the Merc Thermal Optic can be a decent way of silently picking of rushers who rely on smoke grenades to remain hidden. Finally, I’d opt against both sniper scopes as I find them clunky to use but they can work somewhat well on Ground War if you have good aim.

Perk

Just run Sleight of Hand and don’t look back. Sleight of Hand cuts the Crossbow’s atrocious reload speed down from 3.1 seconds to 2.5 seconds. It also increases the RPM from 19 bolts to 25 bolts per minute. These improvements may not sound groundbreaking but they are needed just to make the Crossbow feel usable.

Yeah, I know. It was a pretty bad miss. Still, it goes to show how costly not hitting your shots can be. Before I can even switch to my MP5, using Amped too, I’ve already been taken down. You need to hit your shots with the Crossbow.

The only other perk to even consider is Focus, just so you can still get a good shot off after being hit. Frankly though, if you’re not getting your shot off first then you’re better off using something else.

Field Upgrades

Pretty much across the board, none of the field upgrades widely benefit the Crossbow. I managed to find some success with Trophy Systems, which allowed me to remain in power positions without being flushed out by equipment. Also, Dead Silence can be a nice way to get in enemy backlines and pick them off unnoticed.

Final Verdict

All in all, the Crossbow is a decent secondary which offers good utility and an effective way to pick off single targets. It’s unfortunate that Overkill is a must-pick when using it given how strong EOD is in that Perk 1 slot. Even so, if it’s a one-on-one gunfight and you play your cards right, there is very little that can outshoot the Crossbow.

However, it’s a flawed weapon. Against multiple enemies, it is completely useless and will force another perk selection with Amped so that you can switch to a more reliable weapon in time. Another drawback to consider is that if you miss your shots, you’re wasting your time. The Crossbow is a high skill ceiling weapon that relies on high accuracy and prediction. If you don’t believe in your abilities to lead shots and predict movement, don’t even bother unlocking the crossbow.