Following a major gameplay update in June 2023, Counter-Strike 2 saw the addition of a new player loadout system—the first of its kind in the franchise.
Previously, the loadout screen in the CS:GO menu only really allowed for selecting which skin you wanted to use, with just a handful of slots—like the M4A1 versus the M4A4—able to be swapped or chosen between. Now, June’s update is set to revolutionize just what players will be able to use in a Counter-Strike match.
Players will need to select five pistols, five ‘mid-tier’ weapons (previously the SMG and Heavy options), and five rifles to choose from as their main loadout. Team-specific weapons, such as the AK-47 for Ts or the M4 for CTs, will remain locked to their respective sides.
But just which weapons should you be choosing? The Negev comes packed with plenty of rounds but should it be one of your five options? Can you fit in an auto sniper? And just who will pick the FAMAS?
Best pistol loadouts for CS2
CT side: Default, Desert Eagle, P250, Five-Seven, CZ-75/Dual Berretas
For your default pistol on CT side, it’s up to personal preference. I use the USP-S; despite its lower ammo reserves, its superior range and the suppressor hiding your initial location are just too good to pass up when compared to the P2000.
The Desert Eagle should be your priority first pick here. With the changes to its recoil and its one-shot capabilities, it’s still your best fallback weapon for half-buy rounds or as a great backup with an AWP.
The P250 has been a faithful secondary for years now and will continue to serve you well in CS2. Its cheap price plus its accuracy at range make it a must-have. The Five-Seven is basically a better P250, and great for armor penetration at close range. Your final slot is a bit of a free pick depending on how you like to play.
If you’re looking for something in very tight spots or for a one-and-done position, opt for the CZ-75. However, buffs to the Dualies and a cheaper price tag might sway you if you play at a slightly longer range or just want to lay down the lead in a chokepoint.
T side: Glock, Desert Eagle, TEC-9, P250, Dual Berretas
You have a little more leeway with pistol options for the T side, partly because of how weak the Glock becomes at range or against armored opponents. Where possible, after pistol rounds/on full gun round purchases, you should be looking to upgrade your Glock.
As for CTs, you should be throwing in the Deagle for those half-buy rounds, as well as the P250 as it’s always a consistent force. The T side’s version of the Five-Seven—the TEC-9—is also a must, given how accurate the weapon is while on the move.
Taking the CZ-75 is an option over the Dual Berretas, but honestly, I’d almost always go for a TEC-9 if I have the funds to afford it. It’s just that good with a faster fire rate and its deadly accurate first few shots whilst on the move.
Best mid-tier loadouts for CS2
CT side: MP9, UMP-45, XM1014, MAG-7, Negev
For CS2, Valve has chosen to roll both SMG and Heavy weapons into one, making for an interesting decision as to how to approach half-buy rounds.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. The Negev? What?
Assuming the Negev remains as cheap as it is and as consistent when on maximum blast, the Negev is actually a viable option for its ability to lockdown a chokepoint. The changes to how smokes warp around tracer bullets make this a weaker option than in CS:GO but the Negev on defense at just $1,700, might be a go-to option in the end.
Otherwise, your regular cheap options are good here. The MP9 excels at close range but struggles beyond, which is why we offer up the UMP as a mid-range substitute. For your very close-quarter angles, the MAG-7 and XM auto shotgun are brilliant options.
T side: MAC-10, UMP-45, XM1014, MP7, Nova
While some might be able to get away with the Negev on CT side, we definitely don’t recommend trying it on T side, lest you want to be kicked from your team.
Instead, we look at the T-side equivalents for the SMGs. The MAC-10 is fantastic for a rush strategy with its high fire rate, while the UMP again excels at medium ranges. We have thrown the MP7 in as an option but given how expensive it and the MP7 have become, you might be better off spending your money on a Galil.
Shotguns aren’t a common choice on T side, but one option is the Nova. It has a tighter pellet spread, and with solid accuracy is a viable choice for tigher chokepoints like attacking Banana on Inferno. Its drawback is its extremely weak armor penetration, so try and read your opponents’ economic status and determine if the Nova might be an option to pursue against unarmored enemies.
Best rifle loadouts for CS2
CT side: M4A4, M4A1-S, AWP, Scout, FAMAS
We have the technology, folks. You can now select between the two different M4s on CT side.
It’s a feature everyone has been begging for since CS:GO’s inception, but following the closed test update on June 6, players can now equip both M4s in their loadout screen and purchase them interchangeably.
Both present unique use cases. The M4A1-S has the added benefit of hidden tracer rounds meaning enemies might take an extra moment to identify your location, but it comes with the added cost of fewer bullets in the magazine and fewer reserves. It’s also slightly cheaper, but at longer distances, suffers if you cannot hit those crucial headshots.
The M4A4, on the other hand, is pricer but fires faster and has a larger magazine, and is more suited to mid-range battles or tighter chokepoints. Giving players the option between both depending on where they’ll be playing is a huge quality-of-life change.
Otherwise, it’s par for the course here. The AWP and Scout should always be on hand, whether it be a compliment to your ability to snipe or for an ally who is more proficient. The final spot is a bit of a personal preference, with the FAMAS favored over the AUG as it’s cheaper and fills a mid-range role during a half-buy.
T side: AK-47, AWP, Scout, Galil, SG553
The almighty AK-47, the best rifle in Counter-Strike, should be your first choice and key tool on the T side. If you’d prefer a scope on your assault rifle, also throw in the SG553. The Krieg has less recoil to control, but the tradeoff of an inability to one-tap enemies to the head might be too much of a turn-off.
As always, the AWP and Scout should also be present in your loadout. The Scout, in particular, is incredibly useful in force buy rounds against fully armored CT’s, while the AWP speaks for itself—just be sure you’re capable of justifying its high price.
Finally, to wrap up your T-side loadout, opt for the Galil. It’s an incredibly cheap and relatively consistent rifle that doesn’t quite match the AK but definitely is potent against SMGs and the FAMAS. Take a Galil on force buy rounds where range will be a factor, such as Overpass’ A approach or out towards Long A on Dust II.
These are our picks for the best all-around loadout in CS2. This guide will be revisited should the game receive significant weapon additions or changes in the future.