MHW Best Gunlance – Iceborne Guide (June 2020)

Get the best Gunlance for your particular playstyle, using our handy guide to all three in MHW!

At its best, the MHW Gunlance is a tremendously versatile weapon. It offers high damage, the ability to break monster parts, and incredible defense. The Monster Hunter World: Iceborne expansion made that truer than ever. Now the three different styles of MHW Gunlance offer different advantages and disadvantages — depending on your shell type. That makes choosing the best Gunlance in MHW pretty difficult. There isn’t so much one shell type or weapon that stands above the rest. Instead, you need to look carefully at each category and consider which one is best for you. Our guide to the best MHW Gunlance is here to help! Let’s take a look at what goes into all these ultra-flashy boomsticks, and which one might be best for you.

Note: This guide references weapons only attainable by fighting the limited-time monster known as Safi’Jiva. Awakened Weapons are the randomized drops that you get at the end of any Safi’Jiva siege. Whereas Xeno + weapons are built normally, along the Xeno’Jiva tree, using parts from both Xeno’Jiva and Safi’Jiva to reach the highest level of upgrade.

To determine when Safi’Jiva is available on your system, please head to the official MHW event calendar for consoles right here. Steam players can find their own event calendar at this link instead.

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Normal Shell – Full Burst Style

Gunlances with the normal shell modifier are typically played using the “full burst” playstyle. This is where you initiate a melee combo (usually by stabbing forward), slam your Gunlance down with Triangle+Circle/Y+B (depending on your controller), and detonate all your shells at once with Circle/B. Then you can slash again and do a quick reload to create an infinite combo of powerful strikes and explosive finishers. This takes advantage of the normal shell Gunlance’s high ammo capacity, but low individual damage.

Safi’s Shatterbuster or Venombuster (Safi’Jiva): Since normal shell Gunlances use melee combos more than their peers, you’re free to use whatever element or status effect you prefer. However, you might as well get the highest level of shell possible. Any Awakened Gunlance from Safi’Jiva will give you just that, with the right ability. And while you can get Safi’Jiva variants in all elemental types, Blast and Poison damage are the “easy” options. Blast in particular does tremendous raw damage (while breaking monster parts and building up consistently). No normal monster in the game is immune to either effect. Whereas Safi’Jiva and Xeno’Jiva actually take increased damage from both.

Stygian Avaritia (Stygian Zinogre): Your other option for Level 7 normal shells, for the time being, is the Stygian Avaritia. This sucker takes some serious farming in the Guiding Lands. However, it will earn you a decent Gunlance with the highest level of shells in the game, plus some incredible purple sharpness. And it’s not tied to an event monster like Safi’Jiva!

Queen’s Panoply (Gold Rathian): Before its first wave of free updates, the best weapons in Iceborne were typically Gold Rathian variants. These are all-rounders with high damage, Affinity, sharpness, and Poison. The downside is that they only have Level 6 normal shells — meaning the burst will do less damage compared to the newly introduced Level 7 version. The upside is that this golden Gunlance is significantly easier to farm than its siege or Guiding Lands cousins.

Long Shell – Charged Shelling Style

Long shell Gunlances are typically all about charging. After any melee attack, you can hold down the fire button — Circle on PlayStation or B on Xbox — to fire a juiced-up single shot from your weapon. Long variants do the most damage with this attack type, and hit from a greater distance thanks to their higher range.

Xeno Hemta + (Xeno’Jiva/Safi’Jiva): Not all Safi’Jiva weapons rely on random drops. You can also construct upgraded versions of the Xeno’Jiva tree from base MHW using Safi’Jiva body parts — forgoing the need to farm Dracolite. They’re pretty good, too! The Xeno Hemta + comes with 15 percent Affinity, some of the highest raw damage in this weapon class, and a whopping two Level 4 decoration slots. You won’t get much use out of Affinity with a charged shelling build. However, those extra slots are tremendously hard to pass up.

Deathlance Vaal Spysa (Blackveil Vaal Hazak): On paper, the Deathlance Vaal Spysa is weaker than the Xeno Hemta + in nearly every way. It sports weaker raw damage, less sharpness, zero Affinity, and only two Level 2 decoration slots (compared to two Level 4 slots). However, damage and Affinity barely come into play with charge shelling builds — since shell damage is fixed according to level, and isn’t affected by sharpness unless you get extremely low. That means the Spysa (which also sports Level 6 shells) only really loses out to the Hemta + on slots.

The Spysa isn’t tied to an event, either. That means any player can farm for this weapon at any time — without needing to wait for a siege. That makes it a perfect early step if you’re just starting out with long shell Gunlances.

Wide Shell – Poke Style

Wide shell Gunlances saw some pretty major changes with the release of Iceborne. Once the go-to shell type for their class, the shotgun spears are now just one option among many. Specifically, wide shell Gunlances are good for the “poke” playstyle — wherein you mostly stay behind your shield, poke the enemy with a melee attack, fire a shell, and repeat, stringing together the shots, stabs, and quick reloads.

There are several benefits to this style of play. Poking means you never have to commit to long combos (as with the full burst playstyle). Nor do you push yourself back with recoil (as with the charged shelling playstyle). That means your damage stays incredibly consistent, as if you were using a standard Lance, while allowing you to shift to a block on the fly. Plus you can break monster parts and build up status effects at a good clip.

Raging Brachydios Gunlance

Lightbreak Gunlance (Raging Brachydios): Blast damage, purple sharpness, and two potent decoration slots: you can’t expect much more than what the Lightbreak Gunlance provides. Sure, the sharpness isn’t as high as the Furious Rajang version, but that’s not a major factor on this weapon type anyway — just a nice bonus. It also doesn’t have any innate Affinity. But this exploding pike has the highest base raw of any Gunlance currently in MHW, without the negative Affinity that usually entails. Not to mention Blast damage is just good all around. Plus a Level 4 and a Level 3 decoration slot makes this one powerful addition to any build you want to play around with. Finally, a good Brachydios weapon in MHW!

Furious Rajang Gunlance

Demonlord Gunlance (Furious Rajang): Surprisingly shortly after the release of Safi’Jiva, two new normal weapons gave the Gunlance category a run for its money. The Demonlord Gunlance comes from the Furious Rajang variant of the famously angry monkey. Like its counterpart, it’s one of just two Gunlances in the game to sport Level 7 wide shells! Not even the standard Safi’Jiva sports that. Though who knows what might happen with a potential new monsters down the line… Even so, this surprisingly hardy stick sports a whole mess of purple sharpness, 15 percent Affinity, and a somewhat respectable 300 Thunder damage. However, we probably give the nod to the previous Gunlance.

Safi’s Shatterbuster (Safi’Jiva): Safi’Jiva weapons are typically some of the best in the game (if you can get them). And the Blast damage from Safi’s Shatterbuster pairs well with the mix of melee strikes and quick shells you fire with this style. Just make sure you roll for Level 6 wide shells. You’re probably better off just farming for Raging Brachydios, though, if you’re truly married to the Wide life. That’s especially true since the Raging Brachydios armor set is the best in the game for Gunlance users.


Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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  1. Your take on the xeno long gunlance doing more because it’s raw is higher is false, shelling is fixed damage and the only things that bring it up is artillery, the shelling level and feline bombarder food skill, so just because the raw is higher that only effects the melee aspect, even if that was true it’s also wrong because the savage deviljo has the same raw but higher damage cap so it would have been better if your information was correct.

    1. You seem to be conflating “highest possible damage number” with “best.” At no point do I say the Xeno Hemta+ does more damage than the Consummate Gunlance. Instead, I point out the two Level 4 gem slots (the Consummate Gunlance has zero slots altogether) and positive Affinity (the Consummate Gunlance has negative 30). The latter makes it easier to use with Master’s Touch builds, if you don’t play entirely with charged shots. I also point out that the Affinity doesn’t help with the shelling. If you’re looking for highest raw numbers over general usability, perhaps for speedruns, I recommend trying one of the many available MHW damage calculators.

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