The Variable Rifle is a semi-automatic, scoped rifle with a high accuracy and rate of fire. It deals 32 damage per body shot and 64 damage per head shot, able to down an enemy in four body shots or two head shots. One can upgrade it for a maximum of 1200 parts and can buy five bullets at a relatively cheap price of 150 parts.
It shares the ability to fire both scoped and unscoped like the El Diablo. In terms of its damage profile, it compares most closely to an Enforcer and Semi-Auto Rifle with a scope, the difference being with the Semi-Auto is that it's third shot leaves the target with roughly 4 health; just short of a down. However, a headshot and 2 body shots will serve for downing an opponent if using this as a Semi-Auto.
As the weapon has a higher rate of fire than the Semi-auto, the time to kill is comparable or even faster, making it a cheaper alternative in the long run. In fact, the Variable Rifle has a higher rate of fire than even the Full-Auto Rifle, when fully upgraded, making it a solid choice for medium range combat.
The scope does provide the potential for the Vaiable Rifle to perform well at long range but players will natural find the Hunting Rifle or El Diablo are best for such as, with the Variable Rifle, one may struggle to land the fourth shot due to the enemy having ample time to retreat to cover and heal. The rifle is best served in medium range combat due to it being too slow to compete best in close range and arguably unreliable at long range.
The variable rifle pairs well with the Enforcer due to the similar damage models, or even the Revolver if one lacks the DLC. However, it might be best served with the Burst Pistol or the Shorty as these sidearms can give a player versatility; the Variable Rifle for long and medium range, the two sidearms for close quarters. Surprisingly, the best sidearm for the Variable rifle is the 9mm pistol. If the player shoots an enemy twice, it leaves the assailant with only 36 health left. The 9mm is the best choice in this scenario as it has a faster fire rate than the Revolver and Enforcer because all three of the mentioned sidearms require two more shots to down an enemy. One may still choose the Shorty or the Burst Pistol, but these would not suit the average medium-range fighter due to the fact that they are both inferior to the higher range and cheapness offered by the 9mm.
- The Variable Rifle is influenced by the Romanian paratrooper version of the PSL rifle as well as the Russian Vepr, a civilian hunting carbine
- This weapon utilizes a Western 'Target Dot' reticule, which is odd for a weapon of Russian origin.
- The Variable Rifle is also available in a preset default class and is paired with a Burst Pistol known as the Suppression class.
- This weapon resembles the Dragon Sniper from Uncharted 3.
- This weapon features a green dot in its aiming reticule. All other scoped weapons in The Last of Us utilize a red dot.