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Best MW3 M4 loadout and class setup

Here's the best M4 build to dominate in Modern Warfare 3

A close-up of the M4 Assault Rifle in Modern Warfare 3.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

What is the best M4 loadout for Modern Warfare 3? For the first time in Call Of Duty's history, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 features an ambitious Carry Forward system which enables you to use any weapon from Modern Warfare 2 in MW3's multiplayer. That means a lot of old favourite rifles are already storming through the lobbies of Modern Warfare 3, and among the most popular is the M4 Assault Rifle.

If you want to stick with what you know and make the most of one of the most well-known and powerful rifles in the game, you've come to the right place. Below we'll walk you through how to build the best M4 loadout and class setup in Modern Warfare 3, detailing the ideal attachments to use, the perks and gear you'll need, and more.

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Why use the M4 in MW3?

Different guns rose to and fell from the top of the meta throughout Modern Warfare 2's lifetime, but the M4 always started right near the top - and the same is true of Modern Warfare 3. Powerful, versatile, and familiar, the M4 has a competitive time-to-kill and a comfortable recoil pattern that can be minimised with the right set of attachments.

The M4's effective damage range is also very respectable within the Assault Rifle category, particularly considering its damage profile and fire rate. Usually an Assault Rifle will sacrifice its damage for excellent range, or its fire rate for increased damage, and so on. The M4 is a neat and powerful balance of all three, and an ever-popular choice for running around MW3's veteran maps and gunning down enemies in moments.

Best M4 loadout in MW3

  • Muzzle: Harbinger D20
  • Barrel: Hightower 20" Barrel
  • Stock: Tempus P80 Strike Stock
  • Magazine: 45 Round Mag
  • Rear Grip: Phantom Grip

The aim of this M4 loadout is to give the M4 every possible advantage when it comes to finishing off the higher-health enemies of Modern Warfare 3 within its effective range. Range in Call Of Duty works in bands, so by pushing the damage range further, you're also pushing out the distance at which the gun deals its maximum possible damage. This results in an extremely powerful version of the M4 that reliably kills enemies at most ranges without sacrificing too much in the handling and mobility stats.

Muzzle: Harbinger D20

The Harbinger D20 is among the largest and weightiest suppressors available for the M4, but it's worth it when the aim is to boost damage range and bullet velocity. The Harbinger also adds a nice amount of recoil control, which helps with acquiring and tracking the fast-moving targets of MW3.

Barrel: Hightower 20" Barrel

As with the case in the previous game, the Hightower 20" Barrel is simply the best M4 attachment you can use in MW3. It boosts recoil control, bullet velocity, and damage range by a noticeable amount, making the M4 really shine at medium range. Pay no attention to the added weight; our other attachments will counteract the downsides of the Hightower Barrel.

Stock: Tempus P80 Strike Stock

The Tempus P80 Strike Stock is one of two attachments designed to speed up the M4 after we weighed it down with the Muzzle and Barrel addons. This Stock adds some sprint speed and ADS speed to our build, and comes only at a very minor cost of recoil control. That's why we prefer it to more extreme Stock choices like the Demo D50 Buffer Tube, which grants much quicker speeds but ruins the M4's steady recoil.

Magazine: 45 Round Mag

The choice to add the 45 Round Mag to the M4 might be unusual to players coming from MW2, but with the increase in health pools of players from 100 to 150 in Modern Warfare 3, it's worth adding that 50% extra magazine capacity to help ensure the kill before needing to reload. We find it to be the best recommendation for our M4 loadout, although we do note that the M4 has a very fast reload time anyway, so if you want to forego this attachment we'd recommend putting a dot Optic such as the Cronen Mini Pro on your M4 instead, to help improve clarity at mid-range.

Rear Grip: Phantom Grip

The Phantom Grip is the other key attachment that we use to speed up the M4's handling with this build. This Rear Grip quite straightforwardly speeds up the gun's ADS speed and Sprint-To-Fire time, which we find to be necessary after adding the Harbinger D20 suppressor and 20" Barrel.

Best M4 class setup: Secondary weapon

Striker, Lockwood 300, or Renetti.

While the M4 is a very versatile weapon that can be used fairly effectively at any range, it won't quite beat out a strong SMG or Shotgun in very close quarters combat. We'd recommend you pair the M4 with a Striker or Lockwood 300 if you are using the Gunner Vest to enable two primary weapons. Otherwise, your best bet is to equip the Renetti with a JAK Ferocity Carbine Kit to turn it into a powerful SMG sidearm to use as a backup whenever an enemy gets in past your M4's effective range.

Best M4 class setup: Perks and Equipment

Frag Grenade, Battle Rage, Gunner Vest, Commando Gloves.

The Gunner Vest is the ideal choice for this M4 loadout, not only because it enables two primary weapons, but because the improved reload speed reinforces one of the M4's best traits. To reinforce it even further, equip the Commando Gloves so you can reload while sprinting, and you'll basically always be ready to fight.

Using the Gunner Vest removes use of Boots and extra Gear. If this is not to your liking equip the Overkill Vest and for your Boots, equip the Stalker Boots for that little bit of extra ADS movement and strafing speed, and for your final Gear slot, we'd recommend you use the Ghost T/V Camo, which allows you to stay off the enemy's radar when UAVs are overhead.

As for your throwables, our choice for this M4 class setup is the Frag Grenade and Battle Rage. The lethal is really down to personal preference, but I find there's not much an enemy can do against a well-cooked Frag. And Battle Rage is useful for pretty much every loadout in Modern Warfare 3, increasing your survivability when you need it most - and doing more for you than the Stim in previous CODs thanks to the increased health pool of MW3.

For more Modern Warfare tips and tricks, check out our guide to the best perks in-game for optimal loadouts.

Best M4 alternatives in Modern Warfare 3

MCW, M13B, MTZ-556.

The M4 beats most of its competition in the Assault Rifle department by striking a great balance between power, speed, and control. There are a couple of guns that also fit into this niche, including the MW3-exclusive MCW Assault Rifle. Learn how best to equip it with our MW3 best MCW loadout guide.

If you want to go for something a little quicker, then the M13B is still an excellent weapon to use in Modern Warfare 3. And another good choice is the MTZ-556, which boasts one of the quickest theoretical time-to-kill stats of any Assault Rifle in the game.

That's everything you need in order to build the best possible M4 loadout and class setup for Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer. To see how the ever-familiar M4 stacks up against its newer kin, check out our guides on the best guns in Modern Warfare 3, and the best loadouts in Modern Warfare 3.

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