loader image

Elements, Multipliers and YOU

Table of Contents


It is possible that elemental SMGs, pistols, shotguns, and combat rifles are BUGGED. x1 guns seem to be doing as much damage as x4 guns (legendary exceptions aside). Please read on to find out more. Also, note that this is still a work in progress.

Tech Level

Borderlands guns are full of hidden stats. Among these is one called Tech Level, which is derived from the gun’s parts. Some parts (especially Maliwan parts) increase the tech level of the gun. From what I’ve been able to tell, the tech level also corresponds to both the multiplier and proc chance.

  • x0: 0 tech level
  • x1: 1-8 tech level
  • x2: 9-11 tech level
  • x3: 12-14 tech level
  • x4: 15+ tech level

I won’t say with certainty whether this is correlation or causation, but this is what I’ve observed. An exception to this is Rocket Launchers, which are always x4, regardless of tech level.

Tech Pool & Active Regen Rate

All guns have tech pools, even if they aren’t elemental weapons. All elemental weapons have a Tech Level determined by its parts.

The tech pool of a gun is equal to 4 * its tech level.

Whenever an elemental weapon procs, a bit of its tech pool is depleted. The amount depleted depends on the gun (for repeaters, for example, the number is fairly low, while it is higher in SMGs) and on the strength of the proc (for snipers and revolvers, as they seem to be the only weapons capable of varying proc strengths). When the pool is completely depleted or does not have enough for a proc, a gun will not proc.

Tech Pool Active Regen Rate is how fast this tech pool regens. As long as the weapon is out, it will regen, unless it is full. It will begin regenerating IMMEDIATELY after a proc. If you switch out guns, it will not regen, and its pool will stay at what it was when the gun was switched. If you put the gun in your inventory, its pool will reset to 0.

Note that for every weapon I’ve seen, the Active Regen Rate is 4.0. The Siren skill Spark and Class Mods that increase Elemental Effect Chance can increase the Active Regen Rate.


Let’s look at an example! Pretend you have a sicknasty x2 Corrosive Combat Rifle, with a tech level of 9, a pool of 36, and each proc depletes the pool by 15.

  • A three-shot burst that procs once will leave you with a pool of 21.
  • A three-shot burst that procs on the first two bullets will leave you with a pool of 6, making it IMPOSSIBLE for the third bullet to proc, as there needs to be at least 15 in the pool for it to proc.
  • You shoot a three-shot burst which procs twice, killing that skag, and leaving your pool at 6. You then adjust your aim for another skag, giving your gun time to recharge its pool a bit. At the time of the first shot in your next three-shot burst, your pool is 14 – it cannot proc. However, by the second shot of the burst, the pool is 15, and the shot can proc. For the sake of this example, though, it doesn’t. The third shot, now with a pool of 16, procs! Your pool is now one.
  • You’re now out of combat rifle ammo. You switch to your shotty, kill the last two skags, and loot 96 combat rifle ammo.
  • Badmutha Skag! You switch back to your combat rifle, which now has ammo, and just unload. After an entire clip, your gun never procs, because its pool was at 1 when you brought it out.
  • By the time you’ve reloaded, the pool is adequately filled and you can start procing again. TOO BAD YOU DIE BEFORE YOU CAN SHOOT.

Weapons Act Differently

As I said, all weapons have tech levels, tech pool, and active regen rate. However, they don’t all treat them the same way.

Revolvers & Snipers

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are a lot more x4 revolvers and snipers than say, shotguns and combat rifles. This means that they in general have a higher tech level, and thus more tech pool This is convenient, as snipers and revolvers are capable of doing the most damage with an elemental proc: x1 and x2 elemental guns are capable of doing what I will call an x2 proc, x3 guns can do x2 and x3 procs, and x4 guns can do x2, x3, and x4 procs.

Unlike snipers, however, revolvers will fire at least an x2 proc on every shot.

For reasons you’ll understand later, here are some examples using shock revolvers (assume that the target has no weakness/resistances – it takes exactly 100% damage from everything):

    • A x2, 100 damage shock revolver will hit the target for 100 damage + 200 proc damage, always. The 200 damage is the x2 proc.
    • A x3, 100 damage shock revolver will hit the target for 100 damage + 200 most of the time, and occasionally, it will proc for 300 damage (an x3 proc). You can tell when this happens usually because the proc explosion is larger.
    • A x4, 100 damage shock revolver will hit the target for 100 + 200, and it is also capable of a 300 damage proc, but it can also do a 400 damage (x4) proc. This also has a big explosion.

For revolvers, the x2 proc does not drain the tech pool, so it is always capable of shooting x2 procs. x3 and x4, on the other hand, do drain the pool (if my x4 Fulgurating Viper is a typical example, x3 and x4 procs drain about 20 points from the pool).

Snipers act like revolvers in that they are capable of x2, x3, and x4 procs, but unlike revolvers, they do not proc on every shot. Furthermore, an x4 proc on my x4 Erupting Sniper drained over 50 points from the pool on a x4 proc, while smaller procs drained less.


Repeaters (or at least, the ones I’ve tested) are unique in that a proc drains very little from the pool (4-6). This means that they can get a lot of procs off (or even infinite, if you have skills or mods that boost the pool’s regeneration rate and a slow enough repeater) before their pool is empty.

Unlike revolvers and snipers, and like other guns, repeaters can only do x2 procs, regardless of tech level. Yes, even x1 guns. THIS MIGHT BE A BUG. According to Arcell_Garza, who is quoting the official strategy guide, repeater pistols are simply supposed to have each bullet inflict the gun’s max elemental effect. However, after extensive testing with an x1, x2, and x3 repeater of every element, I have yet to see a proc higher than x2, EXCEPT with the Maliwan Firehawk, which actually acts like a x6 incendiary gun. Unlike revolvers, the Firehawk cannot do x2, x3, and x4 procs; it either hits for its normal bullet damage, or procs for x6. This makes me think that other repeaters are bugged as they cannot proc for more than x2.

This is especially unfair for the explosion element, which does not have a DoT to make up for lower damage.

SMGs & Combat Rifles

Like Repeaters, SMGs and Combat Rifles can only do x2 procs, and these procs drain 16-22 from the pool. So, not only are the elemental versions of these weapons procing for less than revolvers, but they drain very quickly. Intended? Who knows?


I’ve seen people saying that each pellet on a shotgun has a chance to be elemental – this isn’t true. Each shot fired either procs on every pellet or none. Otherwise, they are exactly like SMGs, and CRs – they only proc for x2, and their pools drain relatively quickly.

Rocket Launchers

These guns have pools that are unaffected by tech level, but the pools never drain: essentially, they can’t proc; they just deal full elemental damage on each shot.

Elemental Legendaries


HellFire is unlike other SMGs every shot procs for x2, and sometimes it procs for x3. The x2 procs do not drain the pool, but x3 procs do. Being legendary, HellFires have very high tech levels (20ish) and thus have high pools, too.

Majikal_ninja says that the “We don’t need no water” effect on HellFires increases the length of the DoT on HellFires, which I have not tested.


Volcano also acts like a revolver in that every shot procs, although this could just be the fact that it has a relatively slow fire rate coupled with a very high tech level. Like normal snipers (and revolvers), a Volcano can proc x2, x3, and x4.

Majikal_ninja says that the “Pele demands a sacrifice” effect on Volcanoes increases the DoT damage, which I also have not tested thoroughly.


I’ve talked about this a little, but I’ll repeat it here. Basically, the Firehawk acts as (I feel) a repeater should: every shot has a chance to proc for max elemental damage. In this case, max elemental damage is an extraordinary x6 (which, for fire, is 4.8x normal damage, but more on that later).


Haven’t tested this one out much, but from what I’ve been able to tell, this is just a shotgun with a relatively high-tech level. Only saw x2 procs.

That’s all the legendaries I’ve looked at, but Majikal_ninja has the following to say about The Blister and Pestilent Defiler:

      • there’s also the corrosive version on the shotgun “The blister” where the red text says “Its a painful thing” which seems to be a combination of High + Long DoT and a defiler magnum has “give sic…” which as far as I’m aware has a higher than normal chance for enemies to pass on the corrosion.

Here is a summarizing chart!

 x4 x2 Procx3 Procx4 ProcProc Drain
Combat RiflesYesNoNoMedium

*Higher procs drain more tech pool.

Proc Damage

I’m going to keep this fairly simple to avoid clutter. Basically, these were all tested using x4 revolvers and snipers.


This means that a 100 damage incendiary gun will shoot 160 damage x2 procs, 240 damage x3 procs, and 320 damage x4 procs. A 100 damage explosive gun will shoot 250 damage x2 procs, 375 damage x3 procs, and 500 damage x4 procs.

Notice that each element’s multiplier increases by the same number each time. I call this the elemental coefficient, and each element’s coefficient is laid out here:

  • Incen: 0.8
  • Shock: 1
  • Crrsv: 0.7
  • Expls: 1.25

Basically, an elemental proc of level xN does (Ncoefficient) damage, with the exception of x1 guns, as x1 procs don’t exist (these guns from what I’ve seen do x2 procs).

So an x3 100 damage corrosive revolver can proc for (tech level * coefficient) * (damage) = (30.7) * (100) = (2.1)*(100) = 210 damage.

Flesh & Shields

From some admittedly brief testing, I have come up with the following:


This means that Fire does 50% damage to shields, and Shock does 90% damage to flesh, etc. I haven’t tested armor yet.

Damage Over Time

I am not as confident about this section as I am about the others, but I feel it is fairly accurate.

From what I can tell, tech level does NOT affect DoT damage. I have observed four factors that affect DoT damage.

  1. What is hit
  2. HP of the enemy hit
  3. Where the bullet hits
  4. How much of the proc hits

What is Hit

This is simple: by what is hit, I mean flesh, shield, or armor. A fire dot will do much less damage to shields than flesh, for example.

HP of the Enemy Hit

The more HP an enemy has, the more DoT damage it will take. This is why Badass Maniacs take much more DoT damage than regular goons, and why the Rakk Hive can take thousands of damage from Radiance.

Where are the Bullets?

I’ve noticed that in general, DoT damage is affected by where you hit the enemy. If you hit the armored front of a Spiderant, for example, the DoT will do less damage than if you’d hit, say, an equal-HP bandit in the chest.

How Much of the Proc Hits?

This is the part I’m least certain of.

Anyways, procs are AoE: you can shoot the ground in front of an enemy charging at you, and it will catch fire. If the entire AoE hits the enemy, the DoT will do more damage than if you shoot the ground in front of him (as only a fraction of the AoE actually hits the enemy).

Taking the advice of Chaotk, I went to the clown car tent of midgets outside New Haven and shot each of them in a different part of the body. The ones I hit square in the chest took around 150-180 damage from the fire, while ones I hit in smaller areas took less. For example, the one I hit in the head – critting him, naturally – only took DoT ticks of 62. Presumably, this is because not all of the AoE of the proc hit the midget, as the midget’s head was too small.

This is the only way I am able to explain differing DoT damage ticks on the exact same enemy.


All guns have three hidden stats that affect their elemental potential:

  • Tech level, which increases the multiplier and proc chance
  • Tech pool, which increases by 4*tech level and depletes whenever a weapon procs
  • Tech pool regen rate, which is the rate at which the tech pool regenerates.

When the tech pool reaches zero (from procing often), the weapon will not proc until it sufficiently regenerates.

Weapons act differently with regards to elements. Snipers and revolvers are capable of the most damage from procs – up to x4. Revolvers proc on each shot. All other non-launcher weapons only do x2 procs. Repeater procs drain very little from the pool; SMGs, shotguns, and CRs drain more per proc. Repeaters, SMGs, shotguns and CRs may be bugged.

Each element, when it procs, frontloads a different amount of damage. In order from most frontloaded to least, it goes Explosive, Shock, Fire, and Corrosive. These elements do 1.25x, 1x, 0.8x, and 0.7x the weapon’s elemental multiplier in damage, respectively. Weapons with an x1 multiplier, for the sake of proc damage, act as if they have a x2 multiplier, although they may proc less or do less DoT damage (unconfirmed) than x2 weapons. So, a x1 fire revolver will do 100 damage + 160 when it procs, while a x4 revolver can do 100 + 320 damage when it procs.

Four things affect how much DoT damage is done: what armor type it is hitting, the max HP of the enemy hit, whether or not the proc hit an armored/weak body part, and what body part the proc hits.

Vault Hunter Hub