Jack is given a wide-ranging arsenal of weapons in BioShock, ranging from standard firearms to explosives. Weapons can be upgraded at Power to the People stations, and most have three different ammunition types.
The Wrench is the first weapon and the only melee weapon Jack acquires in the game (unless the golf club used in a single cut scene is counted). The design is based on a 2.5" pipe wrench and works very well with Winter Blast and Electro Bolt. It is the only weapon in the game that cannot be upgraded, but there are a number of Physical Tonics and Combat Tonics that enhance Jack's combat ability with the Wrench. When properly equipped with these Tonics, the Wrench has the highest damage per second of any weapon in the game. Big Daddies can also be successfully defeated with it, but they are highly resistant to melee damage. Some Splicers also carry a wrench and will drop it when killed. These wrenches can then be picked up like any other weapon a Splicer drops. However, there is no apparent reason for doing this, as the Wrench has no ammunition. The Wrench is also an excellent weapon choice in order to conserve ammunition for other weapons.
The Pistol is the first ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is based on the Webley Mk IV revolver, chambered in .38 S&W. It has a good rate of fire, good range and accuracy, and does a moderate amount of damage. Its main weaknesses are its small magazine size and low ammo reserve capacity. However, the damage and magazine size can both be increased with upgrades at a Power to the People station, making the Pistol a far more effective weapon. Ammo for the Pistol is abundant for the first half of the game, making it a choice weapon for many scenarios.
The Machine Gun is the second ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is based on the 1921 Thompson "Chicago Typewriter" submachine gun. It fires a rapid spray of bullets, each doing a moderate amount of damage. Its main weaknesses are heavy recoil and low accuracy at long range. However, the damage can be increased and the recoil reduced with upgrades at a Power to the People station, increasing the Machine Gun's effectiveness. The Machine Gun has high magazine and ammo reserve capacities, and ammo is widely abundant throughout the game for the weapon. It is recommended to fire the weapon in individual one- or two-round bursts, because this greatly reduces the effective recoil.
The Shotgun is the third ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is based on the 1882 Spencer shotgun. It fires a wide burst of pellets with high damage that are most effective at a short range. Its main weaknesses are ineffectiveness at long range, a low magazine capacity, and a slow rate of fire. However, the damage and the rate of fire can be increased with upgrades at a Power to the People station, making the Shotgun even more powerful. The Shotgun has a high ammo reserve capacity, and ammo is common throughout the game.
The Grenade Launcher is the fourth ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is a custom assembly of household and commercial parts. It fires grenades that do high damage and have a wide splash damage radius. They are fired at an arc, making targeting at long range require some estimation. Its main weaknesses are a low ammo cartridge capacity, a slow rate of fire, and the potential for collateral damage. However, the damage can be increased and immunity to collateral damage can be gained with upgrades at a Power to the People station, further increasing the usefulness of the Grenade Launcher. The Grenade Launcher has a low ammo reserve capacity, and ammo is somewhat rare throughout the game.
The Chemical Thrower is the fifth ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is a custom assembly of household and commercial parts. It fires a straight, continuous stream of chemical substance as ammo is consumed. Its main weaknesses are a slow reload time, ineffectiveness at long range, and a very high rate of ammo consumption. However, the effective range can be increased and ammo consumption rate decreased with upgrades at a Power to the People station, making the Chemical Thrower a highly efficient weapon. The Chemical Thrower has high ammo cartridge and reserve capacities, but ammo is somewhat rare throughout the game, particularly Electric Gel.
The Crossbow is the final ranged weapon acquired in the game. It is constructed out of household items, including several rulers. It fires single bolts with high damage that are effective at any range. Bolts that are fired sometimes do not break on impact, allowing them to be recovered and reused. Its main weaknesses are a slow rate of fire and reload time. The damage can be increased and the chance that a bolt will break can be reduced with upgrades at a Power to the People station, making the Crossbow an efficient weapon with nearly limitless ammo. The Crossbow has a high ammo reserve capacity, but ammo is rare throughout the game. It is also the best sniping weapon in the game.
The Research Camera does no damage itself, but it is a deadly addition to the arsenal. It is equipped the same way as a weapon, and uses Film to take pictures that unlock biological weaknesses and hidden secrets about every Splicer, security device, and Big Daddy. In each tree, there are five levels of research that require increasingly more photos to complete. On the first, third, and fifth levels of completed research, a permanent damage boost is applied against the researched enemy type. The second and fourth levels of completed research yield various Gene Tonics and other bonuses that are extremely useful. Little Sisters are the exception, as a permanent increase to health and EVE is given for each completed level of research.