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Barrels guide

Table of Contents

Created: 2020-05-09
Updated: 2020-05-14

In this thread I’ll be talking about this:

Chances are you’ve often gone insta-FFYL and/or suffered severe DOT especially in places like Slaughter Shaft and didn’t know why. Chances are you figured this has to do with barrels but you didn’t understand why they have such range and damage. I’ve analysed this and will explain what’s going on and just how big this problem actually is.

Barrels aren’t just passive things that simply always do the same damage. If *you* (not an enemy) shoot a barrel, it receives a lot of your bonuses. Barrels receive your splash damage bonuses. Barrels receive your splash radius bonuses. Barrels receive many of your bonus elements. And more…

What makes this worse is that self-damage knows no healthgating, so you can go down instantly. A Stop-Gap will only trigger if you had some health left after the initial hit; if the damage is enough to down you, the Stop-Gap won’t do anything.

I haven’t tested all bonuses in the game (and I certainly won’t), but I’ve tested quite a few and I hope I’ve covered the most important ones. I’ll first list what affects barrels, and further down I will go into more detail about how barrels work.

Everything that increases splash damage:

  • skills like Amara’s Arms Deal or Moze’s  Torgue Cross-Promotion
  • + Splash damage on class mods
  • + AoE damage on artifact
  • + 125% splash damage anointment


Everything that increases splash radius. Barrel damage depends on distance and this scales with splash radius; thus, increasing splash radius will increase damage at the same distance.

  • Moze’s [color=white]Torgue Cross-Promotion
  • + Splash radius on class mods
  • + AoE damage on artifacts*


Everything that increases elemental damage:

  •  Amara’s Tempest
  • + Elemental Damage guardian rank


Bonus elements:
  • skills like Moze’s Fire in the Skag Den or Amara’s Forceful Expression
  • Bonus elemental damage[/color] anointments on *shields* and *grenade mods*
  • +150% radiation when below 50% health on guns


DOT bonuses:
  •  Amara’s Anima. Have fun with 16 seconds of radiation DOT (or 24 seconds with 10/5). I actually stopped using Anima altogether because of its eagerness to kill you.
  • as always, DOT damage is also increased by everything that increases elemental damage. Also keep in mind that bonus elements have their own DOT as well, so there’s more than enough to make you happy.


Guardian rewards:
  • [color=white]Harmageddon[/color]. Yes, if you (the “enemy”) are on fire, the barrel will deal +5% damage to you.


And the best for last: the 300% vs enemies over 90% health anointment. You can see where this is going. If you’ve got over 90% health, the barrel deals +300% damage to you. You don’t need to shoot the barrel with this gun, you only need to be holding it in your hands when the barrel explodes. Things that keep your health below 90% (Front Loader, Deathless, Thin Red Line) however prevent this from happening.



Things I’ve tested that do NOT affect barrels

  •  Personal Space (it does affect bonus elements though)
  •  Infusion
  •  gun damage anointments like +100% ASE or +200% ASA
  •  common bonus elemental damage anointments on *guns* like “+50% on next two magazines” or siren’s “+75% radiation for a short time”
  •  grenade damage
  •  gun damage guardian rank

Base damage calculation

Barrel base damage is:
> BarrelDmg = 108 × 1.09<sup>level</sup> × (1 + 0.03 × level)

Where *level* is the map’s level, not your level. So if you go back to the Droughts in normal M0, they still do the same damage they did in the very beginning. In very most cases (playing at level 57 with Mayhem) all barrels will be level 57. Thankfully, Mayhem mode doesn’t increase barrel damage further.

So at level 57 we get:
> BarrelDmg = 108 × 1.09<sup>57</sup> × (1 + 0.03 × 57) = 39784

Now self-damage is always reduced by half, so barrel self-damage is:
> BarrelSelfDmg = 39784 / 2 = [color=white]19892[/color]

So ignoring any other bonuses, at level 57 we will hit ourselves for 19892 damage. This is the value at point blank, damage is decreased the further away we are. This value is also base damage before elemental modifiers are applied.

Damage depending on distance

Here’s my testing range:
I used the grid at the bottom of the screenshot as a ruler. Units of distance are simply number of grid units. I’d say 50 units is some 3-4 metres, but I’ll leave that to you to decide.

This is how barrel damage changes with distance:
Base explosion range is 60 units, so Amara is standing within the barrel’s outer range (50). 0 units is the centre of the barrel, so it’s impossible to be at 0 range. Touching the barrel is 9-10 units, so I’ve put a line there to mark minimum distance. As you can see, that is *just* within the barrel’s max damage range, so it will hit you with full force at point blank.

– from 0% – 20% distance, the barrel deals full damage.
– from 20% – 75% distance, damage decreases linearly until it deals only 20% damage at 75% distance.
– from 75% – 100% distance, it deals 20% damage (about 4000 in this case) until it sharply drops to 0 damage when maximum distance is reached.

Now let’s add a class mod with + splash damage *or* + splash radius (radius was +31%, dmg +31.5%):

Splash damage scales the curve vertically, splash radius horizontally. Since damage depends on distance, with +splash radius Amara is now standing in the transitional zone, receiving about 7000 damage. [color=white]Splash radius bonuses will in most cases increase barrel self-damage[/color]. Note that in this particular case, splash radius caused more extra damage than splash damage: *splash radius can be more dangerous than splash damage.*

Now let’s use an artifact with +40% AoE instead, which gives +40% damage *and* +40% radius*:

And now let’s combine these items. The white curve assumes we have radius *and* damage on the class mod:

My Amara uses splash damage on class mod and AoE on artifact (yellow line). Note that where she’s standing, damage has increased from 4000 to roughly 14000 — before considering any elemental damage.

Now let’s see what happens if we’re using radius, AoE and 7/5 Torgue Cross-Promotion:

And finally, let’s do the same while holding a gun with the 300vs90 anointment. This is what I was doing in the video:

As said before, for even more fun add bonus elements, DOT bonuses, elemental damage etc.


  •  *the AoE bonus on artifacts only increases both damage and radius if it’s not the artifact’s primary bonus — if it’s the primary bonus (i.e. the uppermost of the bonuses listed), it only increases damage, not radius. Thanks @Ratore!
  • I used 7/5 Torgue Cross-Promotion, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that only having many points there kills you. Without spending any points there, just with the +2 from the class mod, you get the full range and just slightly less splash damage and a lower chance. Even 1/5 TCP is extremely dangerous, that would have killed me in that video as well 

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