10mm SMG - DPS: 35 - This fast-firing 10mm machine-gun does a fair bit of damage, but it's ultimately not that useful. This is because it is hard to come by in the early game. Chances are that by the time you can get your hands on a 10mm SMG, you'll also have your hands on a Chinese Assault Rifle, which is a better weapon in any scenario.
Assault Rifle - DPS: 32 - The Assault Rifle is an easy weapon to find in the early game, but also quickly eclipsed by the more powerful Chinese Assault Rifle. In fact, the Assault Rifle is made obsolete more so than the 10mm SMG, because not only does it do less damage, it also fires the same ammo.
Chinese Assault Rifle - DPS: 42 - Apparently, while the Chinese are horrible at making pistols, they're not bad at all at making assault rifles. The Chinese Assault Rifle is a mainstay weapon for those using Small Guns, doing high amounts of damage at medium range. It also fires the extremely common 5.56mm round, which can be found nearly as easily as 10mm ammo. There are definitely better weapons, but the abundance of ammo available for this weapon, combined with its respectable damage, means you will always want to have one of these on you.
Hunting Rifle - DPS: 16 - Found early on, the Hunting Rifle does good damage in one shot and has high criticals, but it is hampered by its bolt-action design. Range is disappointing, as well - you won't be picking off opponents hundreds of yards away with this crude weapon. The Hunting Rifle becomes obsolete when you pick up the Sniper Rifle, yet you will probably still find yourself using this weapon a great deal in the early levels, simply because Super Mutants also often use it and you can loot their bodies for nearly unlimited ammo.
Railway Rifle - DPS: 60 - This schematic built rifle fires railway spikes. It is as deadly as it sounds, dealing significant damage per shot, and blessed with good critical-strike damage. Even better, the Railway Rifle can instantly cripple limbs, a feature that can be abused to render nearly any enemy harmless at close ranges - simply aim at their arms, fire, and watch your opponent's weapon go flying out of their hands. This weapon will likely be your weapon of choice at higher levels, but it is restricted by the fact that it fires railway spikes, which aren't exactly common. As such, you'll find yourself wanting to use this weapon all the time, but it is usually best to only whip it out in situations which appear challenging.
Sniper Rifle - DPS: 42 - This weapon is what most people probably want the Hunting Rifle to be when they first get their hands on it. Accurate at long range, deadly, and with a high amount of bonus damage added to criticals, the Sniper Rifle is the must-have Small Arms weapon for headshot freaks. It isn't ammo bound, as .308 rounds are easy to come by at most vendors. When you find your first Sniper Rifle, keep it.