Which one is better?
Also, which is better: the pistol or the rifle?
Personally, I love the broad spear. It counts as a ranged weapon, and a melee weapon! As well as the damage tables go, I have not really studied the raw code. I would think that cleaver would do more damage, but it is also harder to come by. You can just make your own spears if you have the melee skill. Also i think that cleaver would last longer as it is made with sturdier materials such as metal. Spears are going to be most commonly made with wood, glass, and a piece of string. Anyways... I would go with the spear, if you like the "survivalist" theme (ex. Dogman fur coat + broad spear). I hope that gives you some information that you were looking for. Happy scavenging!
Oh! and pistol would be a better short range weapon, and the rifle for long range. They should both last about the same, and a rifle would have more damage as it has a higher caliber (but isn't exactly made for 10- range).
The ability to hit and likely stun a foe in melee from range 3-4 is extremely powerful. In this game combat is all about survivability, so stunlock and ranged weapons are King. I'd sooner wield a spear than any other melee weapon.
Fortunately the Ranged skill is all you need to craft wonderful weapons from forest resources and trash (shards, string, paper).
As for firearms... anything you can get ammo for. It's rare enough that it shouldn't really be a decision point. In my most advanced game I carry a loaded 45 in my bag in case I run out of arrows or are fleeing from a pack of dogmen. I prefer to use the back slot for a slung crowbar over a rifle or shotgun.
I find myself using greenwood bows, or if I'm lucky enough to find one, a compound bow, rather than any kind of fire arm. The high availability of materials to make ammo for bows is not something to be disregarded. To the point where I usually try to carry a full stack of paper scraps, glass shards and small string. The danger of being mauled is significantly reduced when you can hop over to any woods tile and craft up some arrows.
I'm also hoping for quivers to be added some point in the game as a craftable item, perhaps slung over the shoulder. This would balance out, as players would have an increased ability to dish out damage, but at the cost of a valuable slot which could hold a fire arm.
The rifle seems to do more damage than pistols from a longer range. The cleaver seems to do more damage from a shorter range than the broad spear. The monkey wrench seems to disable more quickly than either the cleaver or spears, given its propensity to cripple limbs by breaking bones.
At the end of the day I prefer compound bows with piles of arrows and broad spears. Even the sling is potent with the ranged skill and a few extra rocks in your pockets. Given the easy availability of sticks and stones for the above I tend to sell off firearms and ammunition and destroy monkey wrenches and meat cleavers as I find them so they can't be used against me.
But that's just me.
the sling is overpowered imo. im ranged and dont even bother making a bow cause everything dies in 3-4 rocks
I tend to play a melee fighter, and thus greatly favor the monkeywrench. A concussion can turn a deadly foe into a starw target very quickly, and crippled limbs are are just as... well... crippeling.
But really, what weapon is best tends to depend on your play style.