Monster Hunter World Heavy Bowgun Comprehensive Guide

Monster Hunter World Heavy Bowgun Comprehensive Guide by Psycho_Donut


My name is Psycho_Donut and I’ve been using the Heavy Bowgun since Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. I’m writing this guide because at the moment guides are very much lacking and while there are some great ones I feel none are as comprehensive as I’d like them to be. This guide is meant for players who are looking to get into gunning with the Heavy Bowgun as such while I’m sure there’s gonna be something in here for veterans it’s not exactly made for you specifically.

Why Heavy Bowgun?

Heavy bowgun is by far and away the highest damage ranged weapon this doesn’t always translate to faster speed runs, but it does transfer to the numbers you see when you hit a monster, which is the only important part (not really). The Heavy Bowgun, or HBG as I’m gonna refer to it from now on, is a DPS weapon through and through, your job is to keep up sustained damage while applying some status effects here and there if you have them.

It’s slow to wield and even slower to put away (one second to wield, two seconds to put away), you move incredibly slowly as well when wielded meaning you can only walk or dodge roll (sounds great right?). However the downsides are equaled out by the upsides, as I’ve mentioned, it has higher damage than the LBG, it has better ammo capacity and much lower recoil, so while you may be slow, you will be making up for it with your greater sustain damage. As for why I use it? because shotguns are my favorite.

The Small Difference Between Melee And Ranged:

Very quickly for those of you that don’t know, when you have a melee weapon equipped you will take less physical damage (like when a monster punts you across the arena), when you have a ranged weapon equipped you will take less elemental damage (like when Rathalos roars and tries to burn you to death) it’s important to keep in mind that we’re weaker to physical hits. Also it’s worth noting that you dodge a little bit further with an HBG than you do with a melee weapon.

Ammo Types And You:

Ammo is the bread and butter of the HBG. You have your main damage ammo and your support ammo. Starting with your main damage ammo we have:

  1. Normal (Levels 1-3) Medium range ammo, this is the most basic ammo type, normal ammo does damage on impact, and while it may do the least damage of the three it is easily the most reliable. Recommended if sustained DPS is your thing. While it’s damage is the lowest of the three it requires almost no setup since your not trying to aim through the longest part of a monsters weak point, and you don’t have to be standing right on top of them. (Damage increases with level, level 3 gets a ricochet if you aim right.)
  2. Pierce: (Levels 1-3) Long range ammo, pierce does exactly that, it pierces. Deals moderate damage per hit but hits multiple times. It does do more damage than normal shot if you hit three or more times giving it the second highest damage of the main ammo types. Recommended if you have good positioning or a way to lock down the monster, unlike normal shot you can’t take potshots at a monsters weak point as easily and so you’ll always be looking for a way to shoot through their weak point to get the three+ hits needed. Still, if you can lock down a monster your DPS will quickly beat out normal ammo. (Damage and the maximum number of hits increase with level. pierce 1 and 2 have the same damage but pierce 2 hits more in a shorter distance.)
  3. Spread: (Levels 1-3) Short range ammo, acts like a shotgun, hits multiple times dealing high damage per pellet. Boasts the highest damage of the main ammo types by almost double, but comes with the tradeoff of the shortest possible range (about 7 steps from the monster). Recommended if you like being up close and personal, but don’t want to use a melee weapon (trust me I get it). (Damage and number of pellets increase with level 3,5,7 respectfully.)

Support ammo: I consider support ammo, to be any ammo type that isn’t a main ammo type (note that elemental ammo is not a support ammo, see lower for details).

  1. Sticky: (Levels 1-3) Moderate damage ammo that explodes after a short delay, Sticky ammo is considered explosive and ignores weak points to instead deal the same amount of damage no matter what, very good at breaking parts and it does impact damage so you can use it to KO monsters if you hit them in the head. Be wary of hitting your team with the blast. (Damage increases with level)
  2. Cluster: (Levels 1-3) High damage ammo that is launched like a mortar shell and fragments into smaller explosions on contact with any surface. Be wary of hitting your team with the explosions. (Damage and number of fragments increases with level)
  3. Recover: (Levels 1-3) Recover restores your teammate’s health on hit (note if you’re a veteran you may think it’s still a shotgun but it’s now a projectile that pierces). (Heal increases with level) thanks to everyone that said it was piercing.
  4. Poison: (Levels 1-3) Poison does no damage to the monster but instead each shot increases an invisible bar, once full the monster will be poisoned and begin taking damage over time (Dot). Damage varies depending on how weak the monster is to poison. Please note that each time you poison a monster the bar gets bigger and you’ll need more shots than last time to poison (shots needed to poison decrease with level).
  5. Paralysis: Like poison paralysis ammo does no damage and instead fills an invisible bar, once full the monster will be stunned for a certain amount of time equal to how weak the monster is to paralysis and how tired they are (or if they’re enraged). Please note that each time you paralyze a monster the bar gets bigger and you’ll need more shots than last time to paralyze (shots needed to paralyze decrease with level).
  6. Sleep: Like both poison and paralysis this ammo does no damage and instead fills an invisible bar, once full the monster will fall asleep, some monsters will take more shots than others depending on how weak to sleep they are. Please note that each time you put a monster to sleep the bar gets bigger and you’ll need more shots than last time to sleep the monster. (shots needed to sleep decrease with level)
  7. Exhaust: Monsters have stamina just like us hunters, and when you hit a monster with exhaust it takes a huge chunk out of their stamina bar leading to bigger openings for you and your team (i.e a tired Rathalos will fall after using a charge), tired monsters also stay stuck in traps longer. (shots deal more exhaust “damage” with level)
  8. Dragon: While this may technically be an elemental shot it works differently than the others so I’m adding it here. Dragon ammo is an incredibly slow moving projectile that deals low damage per hit but hits a substantial amount (at least 20 times if you can hit through the entire length of a monster) Applies the elderseal debuff to elder dragons weakening them and locking out certain attacks.
  9. Slicing: Deals moderate slicing damage after a short delay, this means that it can cut tails which is something no other ammo type can do, it’s also moderately good at breaking parts, but be wary of hitting teammates with it as it has small knockback.
  10. Wyvern: Charges up an explosive short range blast that does very high damage extreme knockback on teammates so only use it on sleeping monsters when there’s no great sword around (or when you’re by yourself). Note that charging the blast causes you to remain stationary for a short time.
  11. Demon/Armor: Demon and Armor ammo is a buff type ammo that gives your team members an attack or defense boost similar to a Demondrug or Armorskin. I’m not 100% sure if they stack with the drugs but if someone knows please tell me and I’ll edit this.
  12. Tranq: acts as a Tranq bomb, but without the area of effect so you have to hit the monster (takes 2 to capture a trapped and weakened monster).

Elemental Ammo: As a side note I’d like to say that elemental ammo is not something you use on an HBG, it deals lower damage than normal shots and is much more expensive. However elemental ammo is still good on the LBG because it can rapid fire it. I’m not gonna cover every shot because it’s pretty self-explanatory, use the element a monster is weakest to (you can check this under physiology in the hunter’s notes).

Elemental: Deals moderate elemental damage on impact releasing a second shot that deals lower elemental damage.

Special Ammo: There are two types of special ammo for the HBG: Wyvernheart, and Wyvernsnipe. Both of these are affected by the skill special ammo boost, and both of these are affected by the skill focus (more in the skills section).

Wyvernheart: After a short animation your weapon becomes a fully automatic machine gun the damage starts out low and quickly ramps up to moderate/high damage. You can use this ammo even if the special ammo bar isn’t full so you can toggle it as long as you sit through the animation each time.

Wyvernsnipe: After a short animation your weapon becomes a sniper rifle that fires a single round, aiming in causes you to prone on the ground and allows you to fire. The shot will pierce the entirety of the monster, after a short delay the shot explodes in a line for as many times as you hit, so make sure you aim through the longest part (head to tail or vice versa). Unlike Wyvernheart you can’t use this without the special ammo bar being completely full.

Melee Attack: Your HBG has a melee attack (press Circle and Triangle together on PS4) it does a lot of damage and can be used to KO monsters. Definitely worth using if your sticky ammo didn’t quite knock the monster out.

Auto-Reload: Auto-Reload is a special mechanic that can be given to certain ammo types (denoted by the blue marker in the ammo info page). Auto-Reload reduces the ammo type to single fire and will automatically reload with the “fast” reload speed even if it’s regular speed is normal or worse (it basically turns the gun into a bolt-action rifle). Please note that getting hit out of the auto reload animation will revert it back to it’s regular reload (being normal or worse), free elem/ammo up may add an extra shot to the Auto-Reload affected ammo type but it won’t let you fire both of them (double barrel shotgun when???).

Recoil, Reloads, & Capacity OH MY!

Recoil: Recoil is a stat that each shot is given individually and it changes based on which weapon you’re using, as such not all weapons are made to use all ammo types. You can check the recoil your shots have in the forge, in your equipment box, or by opening your equipment info and going to your guns ammo section and pressing L3. Recoil is setup on a scale of +1 to +4 with +1 being the lowest, and +4 being the highest. +1 to +2 means you have Low/Average recoil, so you can walk and fire your gun with relative ease. +3 to +4 means you have High/Very High recoil and your hunter will stop moving and be knocked back a short distance. Recoil Suppression mods can help with this and we’ll cover that at the end of this section.

Generally (and I mean 90% of the time) you want the level 3 version of your main ammo to have +2 or lower recoil, this way you can fire on the move and you lose no DPS from having to recover from the knockback.

Reloads: Reload is a stat that dictates how quickly or slowly you reload, each ammo has a different number and each weapon has a different number so make sure you check it before you decide to use a bowgun. Reload speed varies from very slow to fast. Very slow causes you to stop moving for 4 seconds, slow causes you to stop moving for 2 seconds. normal/fast reload means you can reload and move at the same time. No matter what reload you have you won’t be able to dodge out of it so be careful when you reload. Reload mods can help this and we’ll cover that at the end of this section.

Generally you’ll want to start with slow reload and work your way from there, normal is preferable if possible but that depends on your weapons capacity which leads me to…

Capacity: Capacity or magazine size, or clip size is how much ammo your gun can shoot without having to reload (obviously). HBG is king when it comes to high capacity magazines but that’s not always what we’re looking for.

This is all personal taste, but a good reminder is “the bigger the magazine, the longer the reload.”

Bowgun Modifications: There are 6 different mods you can make to a bowgun, each bowgun rarity 5 or higher can have three mods, with rarity 3 having 2, and rarity 1 having 1.

  1. Recoil suppression: This mod reduces recoil across all your ammo types, this can be equipped multiple times to further reduce recoil. Please note that it may take more than one mod to get even a single point reduction from your recoil so your +4 recoil gun may only go down to +3 with every slot being taken by a recoil suppressor or it may not go down at all.
  2. Reload Assist: This mod reduces reload across all ammo types, this can be equipped multiple times to further reduce reload. Please note that it may take more than one mod to bring your reload lower so your very slow reload may only go to slow with every slot being taken by a reload assist or it may not get faster at all.
  3. Deviation Suppressor: This mod reduces your weapon deviation, I maybe should’ve mentioned this but deviation is how much your camera jumps off target when you fire if you have ever played an FPS you can think of this as the actual recoil because you’ll have to recenter your camera. Unlike the recoil suppressor or reload assist this mod always reduces your deviation, so with three suppressors you can reach no deviation at all.
  4. Close Range Up: Pretty simply increases damage at close range, this can be equipped multiple times for extra damage. Be warned that Close Range Up works to about the maximum crit distance of spread so it’s too close to be useful on a Normal gun. (10% bonus damage per equip.)
  5. Long Range Up: Just like close range up except for long range instead. Be warned that Long Range Up begins working just outside of Normals critical distance so it’s too far away to be useful to Normal shots but just enough to be good on pierce. (10% per bonus damage per equip.)
  6. Shield: Gives you a shield that auto guards attacks, can be equipped multiple times to give you a stronger shield (three shields will block Nergigante’s dive with minimal health and stamina loss). Even with one shield you’ll have a very effective guard, it even scales with guard skills (crazy right?) if you like tanks but hate the lance and gunlance this is the mod for you. It’s worth noting the shield doesn’t work if you’re recovering from a shot or if you’re reloading.

I’m Rolling In Skills!

This is the part of the guide where I talk about the skills that I believe synergize best with the HBG, this list doesn’t have every skill written out, but I believe that these are the core skills, in no particular order.

  1. Attack Boost: 21 damage and 5% affinity? Count me in, this is probably the best skill for HBG it scales incredibly well with Normal shot builds and gives a great damage boost to your explosive shots.
  2. Weakness Exploit: 50% affinity when hitting a weak point on a monster, lets be real here you’re a gunner, you’re never not hitting the weak point so take this and love it, it scales really well with Pierce or Spread builds as the low damage but multiple hits can each crit individually for heavy damage.
  3. Evade Extender/Evade Window: Come on, you’re making your evades better! Definitely take evade extender over evade window as evade extender lets you chase without putting your weapon away.
  4. Normal/Pierce/Spread shot up: Don’t sacrifice your attack boost for this, but if you can get +7 attack boost and one of these you will be golden on damage this is VITAL if you plan on using one of these as your main damage.
  5. Special Ammo Boost: 20% bonus to wyvernheart/wyvernsnipe damage? Yes, please.
  6. Xeno’Jiiva Divinity: 25% chance that you will not consume ammo (holy shit) it doesn’t even take it out of your magazine, so your 10 round magazine can become 14 or even 15. (Note I’ve never seen it activate more than 4 or 5 times in one reload). Very expensive skill.
  7. Free Elem/Ammo Up: Increases magazine size on your HBG it’s not insane, but it can make your 3 shots 5 shots (and it’s easier to get than Xeno’Jiiva divinity).
  8. Artillery: Makes your explosions up to 30% better, that’s pretty good.
  9. Focus: Reduces your special ammo recharge time by 20%, that’s not bad.
  10. Agitator: up to +20 attack and 15% extra affinity when you enrage a monster, pretty good, but an expensive skill.
  11. Ballistics: Shortens critical distance for your ammo, only useful on Pierce shots as both Normal and Spread work right next to the monster. Very expensive normally, but I’ve heard there was a decoration for it.
  12. Peak Performance: up to +20 attack when your health is full, this is definitely not for beginners so be careful.
  13. Maximum Might: up to 30% extra affinity when your stamina is full, Not for beginners so be careful.
  14. Elementless: Increases attack on bowguns that can’t use any elemental shot by 15 or 16, very good on weapons if you can use it.

Added Skills: This is my updated skill list from the comments, thank you to everyone who suggested these skills.

And many more, remember to look through all the skills to find what’s best for you, there are a lot more skills than just these 9 so keep your eye out.

Recommended Weapons:

There are a lot of weapons in the HBG tree but these are my quick recommendations to get you started.

Destruction’s Fusillade: The last upgrade in Nergigante’s tree this weapon is a powerhouse, if normal or spread is on your mind this weapon can do that for you, and while it’s ammo capacity is only a measly 3 shots for level 3 normal/spread it has only +2 recoil on both shots, slow reload on normal, and normal reload on spread.

For normal gunners I recommend one reload assist, one recoil suppressor, and one deviation suppressor, normal 3 will have +1 recoil and a normal reload, the deviation will also go from average to low so you can take full advantage of the low recoil.

For spread gunners I recommend 3 close range up mods, it will give you a shotgun so powerful Remington himself will cry.

Gnashing Flammenkanone: The final upgrade in Anjanath’s tree this is a great normal shot weapon, and also a great spread weapon. Having a much higher ammo capacity than Destruction’s Fusillade this weapon can lay down suppressing fire faster than you can say “Gnashing Flammenkanone”.

If you’re into the normal shots I would recommend: one recoil suppressor, one reload assist, and one deviation suppressor. This gives you on normal 3, +2 recoil, normal reload speed and average deviation.

If you’re like me and love spread shot I would recommend: two recoil suppressors, and one close range up. This gives you on spread 3, +2 recoil, slow reload speed and a small damage boost.

Legia Shattercryst: Ah yes, lastly we come to the Shattercryst, the last upgrade in the Legiana tree. This is the definitive pierce firing HBG there’s none better, it has high ammo capacity, low recoil, low reload, it is all around perfect for firing pierce.

So if you wanna pierce the heavens I would recommend 3 long range up mods so that your drill HBG can pierce the heavens.

Bone/Heavy/Power Shooter: This gun, may only be able to fire level 3 Normal Shots, but it has a huge amount of support shots, very good choice if you’re just starting out and unsure of what support ammo you would like to have in your arsenal.

Iron/Steel/Chrome Assault: If you’re a newer player and don’t have any of these HBG unlocked I would recommend to you continue down the ore HBG line and just keep upgrading it, it’s a very solid weapon early game and can help you get the guns you want once you’re further in the game.

Quick Combines: since an HBG uses ammo you need to be aware that you can run out of ammo, however, you can always make more, either on the battlefield or at home. Open your crafting list to see what you need to craft the ammo you want (especially useful for slicing or cluster shots).

Beginner Tips And Tricks!

This section is for those completely fresh to the HBG and thus if you’re a veteran I doubt you’ll learn anything new but it’s worth sticking around anyway.

  1. Reload All: if you hold the reload button you’ll begin to cycle through all your ammo reloading them starting with your fastest reloads and moving to your slowest. Pretty useful if the monster leaves or you wanna load all your Normal/Pierce/Spread levels.
  2. Edge Cancelling: If you’re standing next to a small edge you can cancel certain animations by walking off it, most notably the weapon sheathing animation. You can also roll out of the jumping reload animation if it’s taking too long but you don’t get the reload until the shell counter changes.
  3. Firing In Air: This might sound really basic, but if you roll off a ledge and fire immediately you’ll land back on the ledge, this lets you fire ammo with +3 and +4 recoil very quickly by rolling/firing/rolling/firing.
  4. Rearrange Ammo: If you go into your item pouch (press start/options and select item pouch) and press Triangle or Y then press the button R1 or RT(?) you’ll be able to rearrange the way your ammo shows up in the select menu and you can put your level 3 shots in order or something.
  5. Jumping Reload: This is probably very common knowledge, but if you jump off a ledge you can reload your selected ammo a little bit quicker (or a lot quicker if you have a very slow reload).

Have You Seen The Elder Scroll Dragons?

I think it’s worth mentioning that Two of the Elder Dragons can produce auras that block your bullets (pierce rounds will break through this aura), these two being Teostra and Kushala Daora and so let’s start with…

Teostra: When Teostra’s aura is up you can only attack his face and tail (recommend aiming for his face anyway because it’s his weakest point). If you want to stop Teostra’s fire aura you can do so by breaking one of his horns*, poisoning, paralyzing, knocking out, or attacking his face causing him to flinch.

*It’s worth mentioning that in previous games certain conditions had to be met before you can break his horns and this may still be true for World: the horns must take at least 1 point of damage from the dragon element, they must take a certain amount of ordinary damage, he has to be below 60% of his maximum health.

Kushala Daora: When Kushala Daora’s wind barrier is active you can only attack his head and tail, it’s very easy to stop by just poisoning him.


I’m more than 100% sure I’ve missed some things, so if you read this and noticed I missed something please let me know. Also if you’ve made it this far I love you, and I really hope you enjoy the HBG as much as I have, it is a weapon that can give you the real feeling of dancing with a monster. If you have any questions I will answer them to the best of my abilities. Thank you for reading this guide, I hope it will be a massive boon to you.

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