The next post is my empyrric testing and experience. If hunting rifles are indication it’s damage per bullet on the gauge.
I won’t include experimentals due to behaviour changing mechanics and/or huge boost of power due to being experimentals, though essentially they are “5* + effects”. Also, these changes don’t reflect on the gauges, may be except rate of fire - stopped to look at these long time ago.
First factor is hidden damage multipliers on ammo. SP got the biggest damage boost per bullet on components - Solo Guerilla FNIX Hunter can be felled in around two mags of either .243 and .270 on condition that every bullet goes blue spark and rifle is 5* (tickpod -> shotgun -> right “breast” -> left “breast” if bypassing vent grate, shooting “eye” I deem impractical, but it’ll do most damage). And seems to be get lowest resulting damage on chassis. HP of .44 also do high damage, but it’s somewhat slightly less.
Secons factor is how many bullets do the most damage. 9mm FMJ are balanced in regard of component damage and kick it produced. The fact that machines fall faster with 9mm SMG than with 6mm assault rifle is that 6mm do less damage on components with comparable firerate and hit rate, though 6mm has batter base AP properties (for example FNC with 6mm FMJ cant penetrate tank’s shoulder hinges from front, but can get into hip electric box virtually from any angle, sp and most hp ammo having trouble bypassing that plate).
Regarding MG - they do same damage per bullet as their assault rifle companion. Problem lay in consistent hit rate on weak spots, since ARs are easier to control - glaring difference between Minimi (even with compenstaor) and FNC with bare barrel.
I didn’t do extencive tests on US guns. All I’ve concluded from issued 3* M16 gunplay that it’s “5.56 burst DMR” - it has almost pin-point (~100m) accuracy for burst, but in full auto it start to float wildly after 4th bullet.
M60 feels less stable than MAG.
3rd factor that makes machineguns superior than assault rifles of same cartridge is difference in damage-per-second vs damage-per-minute. On paper assault riffles are better at potential DPS than MG because they can hit more crit spots in a continuous fire. Key word “continuous”, that is around 4-6 secons depending on who you ask. And then spending 3-5 seconds on reloading. MGs in that department spends double time on reloading, but quadruple+ time on shooting. That will mitigate damage losses on misses and hits on protected spots. As for me AG5 outperforms kvm89 by sheer accuracy difference.
Also same factor makes auto-shotgun have high(est) DPS, but mediocre/below average DPM, due to reload-to-shooting ratios.