Yeah, unfortunately Bleed doesn’t take headshot damage into account (don’t know if it is intended or not but wouldn’t be surprised either way), neither for cards that increase weapon damage (like Markza Mastery or Increased Melee damage cards for Protector and Blademaster). Bleed only works off of base bodyshot damage.
This particularly sucks for the Nomad’s Markza build because the Markza by default gets most of its damage from headshots and the damage cards, so the Bleed is only a percentage of the Markza’s awful regular bodyshot damage.
Active reloads DO work for Bleed, however. And once again as far as I remember testing it is only for the base Active multiplier, not taking any weapon card damage boosts into account.
Correction: according to the Nomad passive, and my tests from a while ago confirmed this, you deal an extra 100% of base damage values to enemies under Fear. Which is double damage, and works for both Bleed and Active Reloaded Bleed.
Pretty much the two ways you mentioned. Execute something for stim, then hide and peekshoot with whatever ballistic gun you are using. Or sit next to a Combat Medic/Anchor that is using the Harness Energy card. A third, but IMO less reliable way, is to use the Lifeline card to get stim from killing enemies under Fear. But this also requires them to be scared first, instead of just simply being executed in the first place.
Overall, best way to use Armored Shot is to think of it as a damage boost for NOT taking damage, which IMO suits the guerrilla warfare style of Nomad. I get the most out of Bleed with the Execution build, because then everything around you is scared when you get stim off of executions, meaning that you don’t have to worry about the stim getting shot off AND the Bleed damage gets doubled against those same Feared enemies. Unfortunately I often don’t have room for the card since I like to use the Gnasher card in Horde and am a Stun Boltok fanatic in Escape.
Honestly, I think that Nomad’s potential damage output is actually fantastic, especially with the passive double damage on Feared enemies. However, the class would be a LOT better and more fluid if:
#1: Enemies in Fear didn’t run away so fast making it tough to take advantage of the passive on them.
#2: If Fear worked on ALL bosses, even if just for making the double damage passive work on them without the scaring part.
#3: If the Precision weapon damage perk in Horde was replaced by a general All Damage perk, allowing it to work on the Gnasher it has a card for, Armored Shot Bleed, and any other type of damage you can do.
Nomad has somewhat established itself as a versatile jack-of-all-trades class, and I wish the above changes could happen to emphasize that since it certainly doesn’t (and shouldn’t) beat any specialist classes at their own thing otherwise.