This isn’t going to be a post filled with accurate calculations, but I do think it is a great way to look at Zane, and will help people with gear and skill choices.
It is no surprise to anyone here that Zane is objectively the weakest Vault Hunter in regards to DPS. This makes various guns on him seem less desirable because he just doesn’t do as much with them as other characters. What I’m going to propose has been delved into by other members of the community, even if it hasn’t been said much directly, but Zane isn’t meant to take solid weapons and push their damage through the roof. Zane’s kit is better suited for taking the weaknesses of certain guns and turning them into strengths.
For starters, let’s take a look at rocket launchers, specifically the Scourge and the Hive. They have incredibly high damage output, but are weakened by a heavily limited ammo pool, and constant reloading. Zane can easily circumvent both of these by swap cancelling with Cold Bore (and getting a nice multiplicative 30% cryo boost) and either using Digital Distribution and a Big Boom Blaster, or giving your Digi-Clone a Face-Puncher and wearing a cut purse artifact. What’s better is these are single projectile, so Playing Dirty doubles their DPS when triggered, AND if you get the terror annointment that adds more projectiles to them, then you’ll see great damage numbers AND face far fewer drawbacks on these guns.
Praemunitus is a solid mag size boost for a tier 1 skill, Confident Competence and Nerves of Steel are great accuracy boosters, which help guns like the Maggie and Hellwalker, and ensuring you land more projectiles on crit for Brainfreeze procs. Zane gets reload speed buffs, and solid movement speed for positioning, survivability, and damage output, both directly from Violent Momentum, and consequentially from better positioning and survivability.
I hate when people use the argument that Zane isn’t viable because most of the time, people are succeeding by using strong gear, such as the Lyuda, but that’s kind of the point of Zane. He makes high damaging guns more fun to play and more reliable in ways outside of raw damage. Just because Zane can’t make a weak gun strong doesn’t mean he’s unviable.
Finally, this mini-rant isn’t meant to argue that Zane is OP and does not need any buffs, because he’s still the weakest Vault Hunter, it’s just that I think people look at Zane in the wrong way, and should look more at the other utility he provides, and how it can affect overall damage output with various guns and gear. There’s plenty of players on this forum that know a lot about this already, and have done a great job at explaining how to apply these synergies in skills and gear, and I highly recommend reading further into these guides for those who haven’t already and are struggling to make Zane work.