The other day while on my bank alt, I saw my old hunter friend at the mailbox in Ironforge. I decided to inspect him to see what new gear he was sporting when something caught my eye. All of his +Agi gems had been swapped with +Armor Penetration (ArP) gems.

So I asked him, “what’s with all the Armor Pen?” He simply told me that he wanted to try out Marksman and MM spec favors Armor Pen. True statement since Marks Hunters use Steady Shot (more than SV) and hasted Auto Shot, but was it worth cramming all that Armor Pen over Agility?

I decided to do my own research and discovered that if you can reach the 650+ Armor Pen, yes it will fare much better than Agility for Marksmen Hunters. All this Armor Pen would also change one’s shot rotation to the suggested sequence of: Serpent > Chim Shot > Aimed >Steady x4. The removal of Arcane Shot is due to the fact that ArP will not effect the damage from this particular shot (since it’s arcane magic) and therefore not worth the mana to use.

There is a catch. If you cannot reach the 650 ArP through your current gear and regemming, it’s not worth the switch. You will still see a better return in damage if you keep your Agility gems. This isn’t to say that gathering gear with ArP is a waste of time. My game plan is to collect what I can so I can eventually make the switch to ArP. Too bad I can give my Druid’s Grim Toll to Wulf.

Edit: In furthering my research on this matter I’ve discovered the “magic 650” number is the ‘soft cap’ of ArP which is key if you are lucky to have Grim Toll or the Mjolinr Runestone:

ArP Soft-cap: 619.6 ArPen, if wearing Grim Toll
ArP Soft-cap: 566.6 ArPen, if wearing Mjolnir Runestone

If you don’t have one of these trinkets regemming for ArP over Agility probably won’t do you much good.