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 two different kind of 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. At the time of this writing, Safi’Jiva is currently not available on the PC version of the game at all. However, it probably won’t be long. Steam players can find their own event calendar at this link instead once the creature does become available.
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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.
Safi’s Shatterbuster (Safi’Jiva): Safi’Jiva weapons are typically 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.
Great Demon Gunlance (Rajang): If you can’t fight Safi’Jiva at the moment, or don’t have the Dracolite to build a Gunlance to your liking, the Rajang tree is your next best bet. It’s the only other Gunlance that sports Level 6 wide shells (for now).