Left 4 Dead Wiki

"This big rifle is now mine."
"Grabbing the assault rifle."

The Combat Rifle (most commonly known as the Desert Rifle) is a Tier 2 assault variant in Left 4 Dead 2 that has a capacity of 60 rounds per magazine and is based on the real life FN SCAR-L. Unlike the other assault rifles, it fires in three-round bursts. Contrary to burst rifles featured in other games, where the trigger must be pulled every time a burst is fired, this weapon's trigger can be held down for multiple bursts. Sustained bursts make for a more accurate spread of fire than the M16 and AK-47. The Combat Rifle's damage falls off with distance, starting with 3% damage per 500 Hammer units and significantly greater damage falloff after 1500 Hammer units. It has a max range of 3000 Hammer units.

The Combat Rifle is preferred by Bill, Louis, Nick, and Rochelle (as well as Zoey in the older Xbox 360 version of Left 4 Dead 2).

Official Description[]

Similar in firepower to the M-16 Assault Rifle, the Desert Rifle boasts a three-round burst from a single pull of the trigger. Sustained bursts make for a more accurate spread of fire than the M-16, with improved ammo conservation.[1]


  • The Combat Rifle is the most accurate assault rifle in the game and a lot more accurate in bursts than the M-16 Assault Rifle, making it effective for weakening and killing Special Infected from a distance. It can kill Common Infected with one burst, even on Expert. It also carries the most ammo per magazine out of all assault rifles.
    • The Combat Rifle also maintains high accuracy while moving, which allows you to cover or save teammates even while taking evasive maneuvers, moving to help another teammate, or attempting to reach a level objective.
  • The Combat Rifle's ability to continually fire bursts as long as the trigger is held down makes it effective against hordes. Sweep your line of fire and swap to a melee weapon when appropriate to conserve ammunition. If you kneel down and shoot at the headline of the oncoming Horde, you can still get 1-shot-1-kill results.
  • A total of 420 rounds translates to 140 pulls of the trigger, so accuracy to conserve ammo is crucial.
  • Because the Combat Rifle's reload time is longer than most of its counterparts with the exception of the SG 552, it's highly recommended to reload only when you find a suitable interlude.
  • The Combat Rifle has the second highest magazine capacity of any automatic weapon in the game, providing high efficiency with Explosive Ammunition and Incendiary Ammunition. This is somewhat counteracted by burst which will eat up any ammo you waste over twice as fast.
  • Prioritize accuracy with the Combat Rifle; an inaccurate player will waste three rounds at a time instead of one.

Pros and Cons[]


  • High accuracy.
  • Burst fire helps conserving ammo and killing enemies.
  • Medium damage, one burst is enough to kill any common infected on any difficulty.
  • Massive magazine, allowing it to take huge advantage of ammo upgrades.
  • Relatively common.


  • Lower DPS than the other assault rifles.
  • Forced bursting requires more precise aiming to conserve ammo.
  • Slow reload.


The Combat Rifle fires in three-round bursts as opposed to fully automatic, which translates the 60-round magazine to 20 trigger pulls. The individual bursts are highly accurate, and the weapon is still greatly accurate when running or being hit by Infected. DPS (368.4) is lower than the M-16 Assault Rifle (~377), the SG 552 (400) and the AK-47 (~446), and the reload time is the longest of the assault rifles; it takes a little over three seconds to reload the weapon.



Nick holding the Combat Rifle

  • The Combat Rifle is modeled after the FN SCAR-L Mk 16, while the model texture lists it as a SCAR-H Mk 17 Mod 0. The flashlight is a literal handheld flashlight ziptied to the bottom of the gun instead of a tactical flashlight mounted to the gun's dedicated rail on the bottom of the handguard.
    • Noting the markings on the side of the gun, it seems to feature characteristics of both variants: the markings mention it being a "Mk 17 Mod 3" (SCAR-H) and chambered in "Cal 5.56mm" (SCAR-L).
      • The SCAR-L in the game is actually modeled after the FN SCAR 16S, a civilian semi-automatic version of the SCAR-L with a 16.25" barrel and a M16A2 flash-hider. Likely the developers couldn't legally get a real military SCAR-L to model and like most of the guns in the game modeled it off of available models.
    • The FN SCAR stands for "Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle" and is used primarily by the U.S. Special Operations Command, indicating the possible presence of U.S. Special Operations.
  • The in-game commentary states that the rifles were diverted from the Middle East and shipped back home to control the Infection.
    • However, it should be noted that the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, conveniently based in Georgia, had SCARs issued to them in real life several months before the events of the games take place, also giving a valid excuse canon-wise for their lack of appearance in Left 4 Dead.
  • The rifle is referred to as "rifle_desert" in the developer's console, probably referring to the weapon's tan coloring, which would blend in if used in a desert.
  • In the "Dead Center" "Atrium" survival, the magazine of the model at the spawn point is a bright tan, but when picked up, the magazine is dark tan on the first-person model.
  • The Combat Rifle was rated 5th in the Left 4 Dead 2 Top 10 FTW Weapons on Machinima.
  • There are numerous inaccuracies with the in-game depiction of the real life weapon:
    • The SCAR-L locks the bolt back on empty, so there's no need to lock the bolt back manually.
    • The real life gun only fires in semi and full auto. In contrast, the M16A2 depicted in the game only fires in semi and burst in real life but is shown to fire full auto.
    • The coloring on the upper receiver doesn't match what a desert camo, tanned variant of the SCAR would look like.
    • The designation on the side of the gun calls it an Mk 17 Mod 0 which is a SCAR-H when it should really be designated Mk 16 for SCAR-L. The caliber beneath the designation correctly shows 5.56x45mm though.
    • It has 60 rounds when the magazine shown in the game can only contain 30.
  • During the beta version of Left 4 Dead 2, the Combat Rifle was fully automatic and had a 55-round magazine, but then it was changed to the current form due to balancing reasons.
  • In real life, the military FN SCAR-L Mk 16 shares the same 5.56 NATO ammunition with the M-16 Assault Rifle and uses 30-round magazines, rather than the 60- (SCAR) and 50- (M-16) round magazines in-game. These capacities exist for their real counterparts, but they are far less common after market magazines. Nevertheless, the in-game models depict 30-round magazine sizes. The real life version also only fires in semi and full auto.
  • When firing and shifting aim at the same time, three individual shots can be spread over a distance, making it possible to shoot three different targets at the same time.
  • The three-round burst can be interrupted in numerous ways: melee attacking, switching weapons, or being pinned by a Special Infected such as the Hunter or Charger in the middle of a burst.
  • The 3-round burst ability appears to be taken from the FAMAS' secondary fire mode in Counter-Strike, as this will make the 3 rifles more diverse, giving players more variety as to which weapon best suits their play style.
  • The actual rate of fire of the three-round bursts is at 0.07s, and the interval between bursts is at 0.15s.
  • The minimum shot-interval is 0.034s, else it will consume more than three rounds despite only putting out three shots.


External Links[]

Primary Weapons
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / MP5 Invert.png MP5 / Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Scar invert.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert.png SG 552 / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert.png AWP / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert.png Scout / G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
Secondary Weapons
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol / Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol
Melee Weapons Bat invert.png Baseball Bat / Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / Axe invert.png Fireaxe / Pan invert.png Frying Pan / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club / Guitar invert.png Guitar / Katana invert.png Katana / Knife Invert.png Knife / Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick / Icon pitchfork inverted.png Pitchfork / Icon shovel inverted.png Shovel
Special Tier Chainsaw invert.png Chainsaw
Other Weapons
Grenades Bile invert.png Bile Bomb / Molotov inverted.png Molotov Cocktail / Pipebomb invert.png Pipe Bomb
Upgrades L4D2 ammo explosive.png Explosive Ammunition / L4D2 ammo incendiary.png Incendiary Ammunition / Laser sight HUD invert.PNG Laser Sight
Fixed Weapons MMG Icon.png Heavy Machine Gun / Minigun icon.png Minigun
Usable Items Explosive Barrel HUD invert.png Explosive barrel / Fireworks icon.png Fireworks / Gas canister HUD invert.png Gas can / Oxytank icon.png Oxygen tank / Propane tank icon.png Propane tank
Special Items Cola.png Cola / Gnome icon.png Gnome Chompski
Featured in both games / L4D1-exclusive / L4D2-exclusive (Counter-Strike weapons / PC-exclusive)