Payday 3 best stealth build and stealth skills

Creating a stealth build in Payday 3 is very rewarding, as it’s a chance for you to prove that you could complete the heist without triggering any alarms or notifying any guards.

With the right stealth build, you can complete certain heists on your lonesome or, in some cases, without even pulling your mask on. This involves picking the right armor, weapons, equipment and skills to complement your quiet approach.

In this guide, we will run through the process of curating a dynamic stealth build that can adapt to a variety of difficult in-game situations, from which skills you should pick, what attachments you need for your weapons, and the specific pieces of equipment that can save you from the death knell of a police assault when you’ve spent an hour raiding a bank on the highest difficulty.

If you’re not sure you want to focus on one specific playstyle, then our best skills guide can help give you an overview of what to unlock first.

The best Payday 3 stealth build

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

Our stealth build brings together silent but deadly lightweight weaponry and game-changing skills that will help you navigate the inherent chaos of Payday 3’s heists.

We’ve also chosen some important equipment to provide an escape hatch if you are compromised or have to switch up your approach on the fly.

The best Payday 3 stealth build is as follows:

  • Primary Weapon: Car-4 with Silencer Barrel Extension
  • Secondary Weapon: Signature 40 with Silencer Barrel Extension
  • Deployable: Armor Bag
  • Armor Lining: Standard Lining
  • Throwable: Throwing Knife
  • Tool: ECM Jammer
  • Skills (based on a level 38 character with 11 skill points):
  1. Infiltrator (Infiltrator)
  2. Quick Fingers (Infiltrator)
  3. Escapist (Escapist)
  4. Battering Ram (Escapist)
  5. Grifter (Grifter)
  6. Walk the Walk (Grifter)
  7. Social Engineering (Grifter)
  8. Open Mic (Grifter)
  9. Hacker (Hacker)
  10. Glitch Protocol (Hacker)
  11. Signal Catch (Hacker)

A new buff system in Payday 3 allows certain skills to trigger powerful passives. The most important one to look for as a stealth player is Rush, which increases your movement speed. You won’t really need Edge or Grit, the damage and defence buffs, as the point here is to avoid a firefight.

Payday 3 stealth build weapons

A silenced weapon in a menu in Payday 3

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

Our favourite stealth weapons in Payday 3 constitute any primary gun with the option for a silencer as a Barrel Extension attachment. This is more about feeling than anything else – if you’re in stealth, you likely won’t be using your primary weapon beyond picking off a few guards.

We like the silenced CAR-4 as it’s an accessible early-game assault rifle that can be tricked out with mods over time. It has a solid base ammo capacity and great accuracy for picking off snipers or shooting through the glass of a riot shield. If you need to be more precise, you could bring the SA A144 semi-automatic with a silencer attached or even a silenced Reinfeld 880 pump-action shotgun if you prefer the close-up treatment – just be aware of the spread.

Your secondary weapon is more important to a stealth build, as they’re more lightweight, and speed is of the essence when securing loot or sneaking past cameras and guards. This is also what you’ll be using when holding a hostage as a human shield – so you want it to be accurate and deadly.

We’ve picked the Signature 40 with a silencer attachment, as it’s a lightweight pistol accessible from the start with brilliant accuracy, stability and handling. It has enough damage to take down a guard with one or two headshots, which is all you’ll need if you want to get in and out without running out of alarms.

Payday 3 stealth build equipment

The best Payday 3 stealth build equipment allows you to deal with compromising situations effectively, ameliorating the potential for a frustrating restart.

As far as deployables are concerned, this is kind of a non-factor in stealth; We like the Armor Bag as a last result if you do end up taking damage from a fall, but if you’re trying to complete a heist in stealth, you likely won’t need extra armor or ammo, as the point is not starting a firefight in the first place.

Elsewhere, the Throwing Knife throwable is an obvious choice, given that it’s the only throwable that won’t alert everyone in your surroundings. It also saves you from messing up a heist if you hit the key by accident. The Throwing Knife executes a silent kill on a target from a distance. To be honest, it’s probably easier to just use your silenced pistol, but if you’re caught out mid-reload and a guard is looking at you, then a throwing knife can save your bacon.

The Standard Lining armor in Payday 3

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

Regarding your armor lining, the Standard lining makes the most sense since it enables the fastest possible movement speed, but if you’re already triggering the Rush movement speed buff with your skills, any armor lining is applicable for stealth. It’s worth considering the Heavy ballistic lining if you’re worried about a heist going loud, as this will offer the most protection, and the movement speed difference really isn’t that notable.

Finally, your choice of tool is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in your stealth build. All of the choices are applicable – maybe you want to stick a spy MicroCam on a patrolling guard’s butt to tag cameras in the bank. Or perhaps you want to stick a motion sensor on the wall of a private area to scope out the positioning of security. Even the Infrasonic Mine can be useful if you want to stun a cluster of guards.

The EGM Jammer in Payday 3

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

However, the best choice overall is clearly the ECM Jammer, which delays the time it takes for a camera to report you and lengthens the period of time you have to answer a guard’s radio. This is especially useful if you end up killing a number of guards and need to quickly answer their pagers. The effect also stacks with multiple ECMs, so if you do need to go loud to escape, a team can lay down all of their jammers and get out before the police arrive on the scene.

Payday 3 stealth build skills

The best stealth build skills give you that extra distraction or a tiny nudge of speed that allows you to conquer a formidable heist. Of course, there are specific skill trees tied to stealth, and you’ll want to focus on researching these first to access the best stealth skills in Payday 3:

  • Infiltrator (Infiltrator, Quick Fingers, Bagger)
  • Escapist (Escapist, Battering Ram)
  • Grifter (Grifter, Walk the Walk, Social Engineering, Open Mic)
  • Hacker (Hacker, Secure Loop, Glitch Protocol)

It’s also worth noting that you have to select the base skill of a skill tree to choose its subsequent subskills.

Starting with the Infiltrator skill tree, the base skill provides you with Rush when you pick a lock or kill an enemy with a throwing knife. This Rush buff goes hand in hand with the Quick Fingers Infiltrator skill, which allows you to immediately pick any lock with one successfully timed lockpick jiggle. This means you can pick one display case and trivialise the rest if faced with multiple lockpicking challenges. There’s also the Bagger skill, which speeds up your loot acquisition and is useful if you need more time to escape before an assault lands.

The Quick Fingers skill in Payday 3

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

You can make stealth an even easier process with a point in the Escapist tree, which allows you to gain Rush by sprinting continuously for three seconds. Once active, you won’t even have to pick an initial lock to trivialise them all with Quick Fingers. The Battering Ram Escapist skill makes locked doors even less of a consideration, allowing you to barge through them with the buff active. You can use this to quickly get through defences and speedily escape with your bags at the end of a hard-fought heist.

Elsewhere, it’s worth picking up all of the main skills in the Grifter line, which is designed to help you when you are in casing mode prior to pulling on your mask. The base Grifter skill gives you Rush when you are near a civilian or employee while unmasked, which is great for speeding up the start of a heist. Furthermore, the rest of the skills in the tree will get you through the early parts of a stealth heist without needing to mask up.

Walk the Walk ensures cameras won’t detect you trespassing in private areas as long as you have Rush – so all you need to do is brush up against a civilian or sprint for three seconds to avoid detection. Social Engineering also means that employees will ignore you performing illegal actions so you can complete numerous heist objectives while unmasked and in their line of sight. Finally, the Open Mic skill gives you 50% more time to answer a guard radio, which is perfect if you fumble and have to deal with multiple dead guards simultaneously.

The Glitch Protocol skill in Payday 3

Image: Starbreeze Studios via Polygon

The Hacker tree rounds out the stealth build with important skills for defying security measures. The base Hacker skill allows you to hack cameras, which has obvious benefits for identifying guards, heist equipment and other hazards. Further in the tree, we have Secure Loop, which makes a camera loop its footage so you can surpass it. The most useful skill in the tree is easily Glitch Protocol, though; this allows you to hack a guard’s radio and distract them for five seconds, a window of time you can capitalise on to steal keycards, get into VIP areas, or de-escalate a possible escort or detainment.

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