Anthem's Defender Rifle is a level 1 weapon that gets set as your default when creating a new weapon set. It's pretty common for shooters to have a default rifle of some sort, so the Level 1 Defender raised no eyebrows just by existing. Instead, it seems the rifle is a bit broken.
As discovered by Redditor YeetLordSupreme, despite the damage numbers insisting otherwise, the Level 1 rifle as able to kill a normal scar trooper enemy in less shots than a level 45 masterwork weapon.
According to YeetLordSupreme:
Components used during this test are Airborne Advantage, Convergence Core, Defensive Bulwark and Firearm Calibration Core. All are Ranger components which increase weapon damage. Anyway as for the test itself:
-With my Level 1 common Defender rifle, one bullet does 286 damage against a normal scar trooper.
-With my Level 45 masterwork Ralner's Blaze rifle, one bullet does 1184 damage against a normal scar trooper.
Given these numbers, you might (reasonably) assume that the MW weapon will kill enemies faster, since it does more damage.
This is NOT the case!
Going back to the scar troopers, the MW rifle takes 6 bullets to kill our scar friend. Given the damage numbers, our level 1 rifle should take around 5x more bullets to do the job. Guess how many it actually takes?
That's right. 4 bullets!!! Not 4x as many. Literally 4 rounds. Our level 1 rifle is somehow more effective than our level 45 masterwork, despite what our damage pop-ups are telling us.
I have tested this with various weapons and enemies, and while the numbers vary, the results are always the same: the level 1 defender rifle is by far the most effective weapon in my inventory. It melts literally fucking everything!
The findings were later corroborated by fellow redditor Beatpeet42 who made a gif of the bug in action.
BioWare community managers took the information to the dev teams who have confirmed this to be a bug that specifically effects default weapons when equipped by high level players:
Hey everyone – Thanks for the feedback on this. I have confirmed with the team that this is in fact a bug related specifically to the default items on a loadout in combination with higher level gear you have equipped. It's not functioning as intended and the team is working on it for an upcoming fix.
Which means, until the fix goes live, your best endgame loudout is in fact, the default level 1 weapons.