Pistols – These weapons are small, fast, and use little AP in V.A.T.S. Good against smaller creatures and unarmored enemies. Some have high accuracy, and are good when you need to be quick and keep space.
Revolvers – These tend to use the same ammo types as pistols, but offer smaller magazines as well as lower fire rates. Those tradeoffs provide more stopping power and greater accuracy.
Automatic weapons – Faster and normally with larger base magazines, these weapons sacrifice accuracy for fire rate and damage output.
Rifles – Slower, yet more powerful weapons that are perfect for range and accuracy. Best used with a scope.
Mini-Gun – Fires high power rounds with a very high fire rate and large clip. If you need to bring down something big, this is what you use to do it.
Submachine Guns – Best against groups, and can be either be energy or ballistic. These have low accuracy, perfect against groups in close to mid range.
Shotguns – Shotguns are for those who like to play it close and love crippling enemies. Energy weapons can also be tuned to be more shotgun-like by adding a Beam Splitter. While all types of shotguns are able to deal massive damage over an area rather than just as a single shot, Ballistic types seem to be better at tearing through armor and paralyzing limbs. These shouldn’t be used if you prefer range, as you’ll have to get pretty close to do anything worth writing home about. Still, when backed into a corner, there aren’t many better options.
Launchers – These weapons launch a payload at high velocity to deal lots of damage. Missile Launchers and the Fat Man can destroy an entire crowd, although they are shortchanged if used in an area with a lot of cover, unless you have the Penetrator perk.
Flamer and Cryolater – Shoots a stream of flame or cryo vapor. Benefits: a stream of flame or cryo vapor. These weapons are best for good, mid-range mayhem.
Syringer – Shoots specially crafted syringes with varying effects. Relatively useless against machines, but can be very deadly against humans and creatures.
Melee Sharp – Sharp, close-ranged weapons that can be upgraded to have a bleeding effect, creating massive melee damage potential.
Melee Blunt – Blunt weapons that can be upgraded to have other status effects. Your starter baton, for example. These weapons aren’t the top of the weapon chain, but they’ll get the job done.