Best MW3 Search & Destroy loadouts, guns, equipment & more (Season 2)

Best MW3 Search & Destroy loadouts, guns, equipment & more (Season 2)
Images via Activision

Written by 

Harry Boulton

Last updated 

13th Feb 2024 16:29


While many of the best guns in MW3 are also excellent in Search and Destroy, certain loadouts excel in the single-life game mode, letting you stay alive and rake in the kills with ease.

In a sense, the key with Call of Duty's SnD is to eliminate risk and ensure that you're covered for as many situations as possible in the game. Assault Rifles are perfect for this as they offer an all-around solution, but Sniper Rifles are attractive too with their one-hit-kill potential.

What are the best Search & Destroy loadouts?

1. SVA 545

  • Muzzle: JAK BFB
  • Barrel: STV Precision Barrel
  • Optic: MK. 3 Reflector
  • Underbarrel: Bruen Heavy Support Grip
  • Magazine: 60 Round Mag

My pick for the best loadout in Search and Destroy for Season 2 is the SVA 545. It's soared to the top of the meta in place of the MCW - which I'll get onto shortly - and is the top overall choice that shines in the single-life game mode.

Image of the SVA 545 in Modern Warfare 3
Click to enlarge

The main 'quirk' of the SVA is that the first two shots are fired simultaneously, giving you technically double damage if you're accurate enough. This is super strong in Search and Destroy as achieving the fasted time to kill (TTK) will let you take down any foe - even those who have spotted you first.

I've found a lot of success when using the SVA in my games, as the instant headshot kill potential is a force to be reckoned with. It's a little bit tougher to handle than some of the other Assault Rifles in the game, but it more than makes up for it in sheer power.

The player base certainly seems to agree too, as according to WZRanked, the gun is sitting at a pick rate of 25.70%, which is the highest in the entire game by a considerable margin.

2. MCW

Image of the best MCW loadout for Search & Destroy in MW3
Click to enlarge

  • Barrel: Second Line Mammoth Heavy Barrel
  • Optic: MK.3 Reflector
  • Stock: A90 Venom Stock
  • Underbarrel: Chewk Angled Grip

The MCW remains a super strong choice in Search and Destroy despite the nerfs, as it has very minimal recoil, letting you ensure that all of your shots are hitting their intended target. This is as important as ever in Search and Destroy as dropping your opponent before they can take you out is what will help you stay alive and win more games.

While one gunfight might seem small in the grand scheme of things, staying alive in single-life modes does far more than one kill might seem - and thus a weapon like the MCW shines in this regard. It is an absolute laser, which you will quickly learn to appreciate when playing.

It's one of my favourite guns to use in the game too because of its similarities to the ACR from the original Modern Warfare 2, so it gets extra points from me for that little bit of nostalgia.

3. Longbow

Image of the best Longbow loadout for Search & Destroy in MW3
Click to enlarge

  • Barrel: Pro-99 Long Barrel
  • Stock: No Stock
  • Rear Grip: Demo 650 Grip
  • Magazine: 10 Round Mag
  • Ammunition: 7.62x39mm High Grain Rounds

You've got to try running a Sniper Rifle in SnD at least once, as the sheer potential is too high to turn down. The best weapon for this in MW3 is the Longbow, as its semi-automatic firing serves perfectly to help you stay alive.

While some bolt action rifles might have higher damage, the sheer adaptability and speed of the Longbow is more than enough to compensate for this - as it lets you take on multiple targets without too much recompense if you miss a shot or two.

The attachments that I've chosen have dramatically increased the movement of the weapon, letting you stay mobile and ready to shoot, considering any sluggishness could send you to the spectator screen.

4. WSP Sparm

Image of the WSP Swarm inspect animation in MW3
Click to enlarge

  • Barrel: WSP Reckless-90 Long Barrel
  • Stock: FSS Fortress Heavy Stock
  • Magazine: 50 Round Mag
  • Muzzle: Shadowstrike Suppressor S
  • Optic: MK. 3 Reflector

The WSP Swarm has been a favourite of the community for a while, but buffs in Season 1 Reloaded made the gun much stronger overall - especially in Search and Destroy.

The biggest reason for this is the dramatically increased maximum damage range and near-medium damage range, which have both been boosted by around 50%. This is particularly strong for Search and Destroy as it increases the number of gunfights that you can take, giving you more opportunities to kill and stay alive too.

You will, of course, find yourself in some situations where the WSP Swarm is a bit weaker, but it's all about learning to maximise its effectiveness - and with that, you'll shine no matter the map.

5. Rival-9

Image of the best Rival-9 loadout for Search & Destroy in MW3
Click to enlarge

  • Stock: EXF Close Quarters Assault Stock
  • Rear Grip: Rival Vice Assault Grip
  • Magazine: 40 Round Mag
  • Underbarrel: Chewk Angeld Grip
  • Muzzle: Shadowstrike Suppressor

While SMGs aren't always the most optimal for SnD due to their limited range, the Rival-9 is still worth considering as it is a close-range monster that can shred through any opponent if used correctly.

It's best to keep this weapon to close-quarters maps, or those that you're confident with your positioning on, as otherwise you can be easily caught out and sent to wait for the next round. However, if you play your cards right, you will be a nightmare for your opponents and they'll be dropped before they have the chance to react - especially if you work slide cancelling into your movement.

Best secondary, equipment & perks for Search & Destroy

Image of the best equipment for Search and Destroy in MW3, with the Bone Conduction Headset perk featured
Click to enlarge

Making sure that you've got the ideal equipment to bring alongside your weapon is perhaps just as important in SnD, as they will help support you in your fights and keep you alive as long as possible.

  • Secondary: WSP Stinger
  • Tactical: Stim
  • Lethal: Claymore
  • Field Upgrade: Suppression Mine
  • Gloves: Marksman Gloves
  • Boots: Covert Sneakers
  • Gear: Bone Conduction Headset

The general theme of the equipment here is to help you stay alive and hidden from any enemies, as that will let your weapon do the rest. The Stim Tactical is one of the most important parts, as it will give you a quick surge of health and replenish your tactical sprint - letting you evade enemy fire or rejuvenate after a tough gunfight.

Covert Sneakers and Bone Conduction Headset are also a perfect perk pairing, letting you listen out for enemy sounds while also concealing your own - although I'd only recommend these if you're using a gaming headset or a good pair of headphones.

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That will have you set to dominate your next Search and Destroy games, and you'll be a blessing to your teammates as you win game after game. You can find more tips and loadouts like this on our MW3 homepage, including all of the best loadouts for quickscoping, alongside all of the best audio settings to enable that make the perks even more effective.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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