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The Alternator is often the first gun you will find in a match of Apex Legends — and if you don’t upgrade it to something else soon, it might just be the last. It is currently one of the least competent weapons in the game.

Respawn did announce they plan to buff Apex’s weaker guns in Season 2, and they hopefully have something nice planned for the double barrel SMG. Until then, here’s everything you need to know about the Alternator!

Two smoking barrels

The Alternator served as a respectable anti-personnel weapon in Titanfall 2. Its original concept art was called the Hatchet due to its resemblance to an axe head. That, along with its distinct double barrel design, makes it very visually distinct.

Alternator concept art Titanfall Apex Legends Respawn

In Apex Legends, the Alternator is a suppression sidearm with great accuracy and hipfire control. To get a quick idea of its performance, priority attachments, and optimal use, check out our primer to Apex’s submachine guns.

Its main and only advantage over the R-99 and the Prowler is how easy it is to use. Kings Canyon is practically littered with both light ammo and Alternators. And once you pick one up, it’s like you have been using it your entire life.

The Alternator has negligible recoil both from hip and when aiming down sights, and it can equip a barrel stabilizer for additional precision. Its unusual spray pattern gives it an extra edge in mid-range accuracy. The zig-zag distributions of shots ensure your shots connect with your target even when they are dancing left and right.

Alternator R-99 Prowler spray pattern Apex Legends
SMG spray patterns in Apex Legends

Unfortunately, the Alternator’s low rate of fire, while helpful for suppression, results in high time-to-kill. While you can easily pelt your enemies from a safe distance, you can’t knock them down as reliably as an assault rifle or an LMG would at that range. And things will go south the moment you get rushed.

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How (and why) to use an Alternator

First of all, determine whether firing is worth it at all. Past the 40 meter mark, the Alternator not only loses its headshot multiplier, but it also becomes dramatically less accurate. At that range, its spray pattern starts turning into wide horizontal scatter. You won’t be able to do much damage, and you will expose your position to the enemy squad.

Alternator at a glance Apex Legends weapon guide

Having spotted your target in mid range, just pull the trigger and don’t let go. Don’t bother with controlled bursts, as you won’t gain much in accuracy and your DPS is already too low for such intricacies. Make sure to dance — your superior ADS movement speed will protect you from return fire.

When in close range, always fire from the hip to take advantage of the increased mobility and the Alternator’s superior control. Because it reloads quickly and less frequently than other SMGs, and with its high damage-per-shot, it actually has decent output over longer fights. With the proper movement and composure, you can definitely duel with players wielding stronger weapons.

Make no mistake, the Alternator is a sub-par submachine gun, and it was designed this way. It is much more commonly found than the other two for a reason. It serves as one of Apex Legends’ starter weapons. The Alternator does have one advantage over all other guns in the game, however: it makes you better.

Alternator art by Todd Zlab

It’s objectively not the strongest, but it’s easy to find and you can practice with it in every game. By deliberately putting yourself at a disadvantage, this gun forces you to learn better movement and safety practices.

And if you can win with the Alternator, you will have an edge with hand-holding weapons like the R-301.

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