No weapon category is more popular in Destiny 2 than Hand Cannons. Their versatility and great damage make them a fan-favorite among most of the community. Even after blanket range and perk nerfs, these weapons are still the preferred Primary among many Crucible veterans.
Like with every other weapon category, there are many choices of Hand Cannon that suit different playstyles. Exotics further increase the number of choices, some favoring utility while others are more akin to Sniper Rifles. From hard-hitting 120 Hand Cannons to rapid-firing 180s, there is a Hand Cannon to suit anyone's needs. Here are the ten best Hand Cannons you should use in PvP in Destiny 2.
Updated May 30, 2023, by Charles Burgar: Season of the Deep has brought back the fan-favorite Spare Rations and gave it a Taken counterpart called Targeted Redaction. While Spare sadly doesn't handle well in the current meta, Targeted Redaction is a two-tapping monster if you're willing to build around it. We've updated this list to include Targeted Redaction, and we've reranked a few entries. We also removed Rose from the list since it's no longer obtainable.
10 The Last Word
How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Spinmetal Leaves, and 1 Ascendant Shard.
The Last Word is a polarizing weapon amongst the PvP community. Some players think it's borderline unusable, yet others consider Last Word to be cheesy and overpowered. What causes this disparity? Input devices.
Depending on which input device you use, The Last Word is either a headshot magnet or one of Destiny 2's most unforgiving Hand Cannons. Controller users get to reap the benefits of Last Word's excellent 225 RPM and sticky aim assist. Mouse and keyboard users will experience a weapon that's far more punishing and requires pixel-perfect accuracy in most situations.
That's a tall order considering Destiny 2's fast movement and low tick rate servers. However, if you humble your aim and truly master this gun, even mouse and keyboard players can see just how devastating this gun can be. A 0.53 optimal TTK at SMG ranges is virtually unbeatable. Good Last Word users on controller become nigh-unstoppable at close range. We're ranking it here because of its performance on PC for most players, but this gun is substantially better if you use a controller. Give it a try before throwing this in the Vault.
9 Round Robin
How to obtain: Neomuna activities.
While 120 RPM Hand Cannons haven't been meta since Beyond Light, Round Robin makes a strong case for itself by being the only Legendary 120 that can easily two-tap Guardians. That's thanks to its origin trait, Nanotech Tracer Rockets. Damaging a target has a chance to launch a missile at the target, dealing a small chunk of damage on hit.
That alone won't land you a two-tap, but pairing this origin with Kill Clip is all you need. Get a kill, reload, and enjoy landing the occasional two-tap. You can pair this with Keep Away for better stats or Killing Wind to assist with the gun's low handling stat. Round Robin is also craftable, making this a great dueling weapon for any Hand Cannon fan out there.
How to obtain: Legendary world Engrams.
Cantata-57 is a better version of Annual Skate in almost every way. It can roll with Timed Payload or Rangefinder, and its first column perks are nothing short of fantastic. It has a great stat package, rolls with barrels instead of Annual Skate's sight options, and it comes with the SUROS origin trait for even more consistency.
You're looking for a Cantata with Timed Payload or Rangefinder, as this gives the weapon incredible range. For the other column, Rapid Hit or Heating Up is fantastic for most players, but don't sleep on Eye of the Storm. You'll be taking damage in just about every gunfight in the Crucible, so Eye of the Storm is active more often than you'd think. You can even pair it with Opening Shot if you want to have a slightly worse Energy version of Austringer. Play aggressively, and the Cantata will reward you with some of the best consistency you can find on an Energy 140.
- Column One: Rapid Hit, Eye of the Storm, Heating Up
- Column Two: Timed Payload, Rangefinder, Opening Shot
7 Targeted Redaction
How to obtain: Season of the Deep activities.
Spare Ration's Taken cousin has flipped the Hand Cannon meta on its head. This 120 RPM Void Hand Cannon features above-average stats for its archetype and a beautiful weapon model. Its perk pool seems mediocre at first glance, missing the iconic Rangefinder and Eye of the Storm combination that dominates most meta picks, but this gun has one perk that single-handedly makes it a menace: Collective Action.
Collective Action grants a 20% damage buff for five seconds upon picking up any elemental keyword, allowing this gun to two-tap. This works with Firesprites, Ionic Traces, Void Breaches, and even Stasis Shards. You can play as a Behemoth Titan, break a Stasis Crystal, then enjoy a two-tapping Hand Cannon for the next few seconds. And since Stasis Shards are so easy to make, you can keep this perk active for an entire Crucible match with some practice. Pair this with Outlaw for fast reloads. You may also want to consider Well-Rounded if you plan on using Unsated Hunger, Targeted Redaction's origin trait.
- Column One: Outlaw, Well-Rounded
- Column Two: Collective Action
How to obtain: Vault of Glass (Templar encounter).
The king of Hand Cannons is back and better than ever. Fatebringer is a 140 RPM Hand Cannon that has one of the best stat packages in the game. Excellent handling, stability, and aim assist allow this weapon to chain headshots with little issue. Of course, what good is a Hand Cannon without good perks?
Fatebringer can roll with some fantastic traits. Explosive Payload is arguably the best PvP perk for a Hand Cannon, inflicting an absurd amount of flinch onto your target while extending the effective range of this Hand Cannon. In case that isn't enough, Fatebringer can roll with Eye of the Storm—arguably the strongest consistency perk in Destiny 2. You'll be taking damage for most duels, something Eye of the Storm turns into an advantage by effectively giving all of your bullets Opening Shot. Paired with Explosive Rounds, winning 1v1 duels has never been easier.
That's not even everything Fatebringer has going for it. This weapon also comes with an Adept variant (named Timelost), enhancing this weapon's stats even further while letting you equip Adept mods that enhance your stats even more. Simply put, Fatebringer is an Exotic disguised as a Legendary. It has excellent range, great consistency, and has one of the best stat packages in its archetype. If you like PvP at all, you need this gun.
- Column One: Explosive Payload, Tunnel Vision, Killing Wind
- Column Two: Eye of the Storm, Opening Shot, Kill Clip
How to obtain: Sold by Xur.
One of Destiny 1's most coveted Hand Cannons, Hawkmoon, has returned in Destiny 2. Its random nature was shifted from its Exotic perk to its acquisition method. Now, players can earn random rolls on Hawkmoon, allowing a degree of personalization.
The gun itself is fantastic, bundled with an incredible stat package and a strong Exotic perk. Paracasual Charges offer a great boost to Hawkmoon's consistency and allows crafty players to one-shot Supers and other Guardians in the right circumstances. Hawkmoon does come with a large cost: it's an Exotic weapon. You can't put mods on this gun, and it restricts what you can put in your Energy and Heavy slots. This weapon also has random rolls, meaning you'll need to wait for Xur to sell a god roll on a lucky weekend.
Even with those caveats, Hawkmoon's ease of use makes it one of the best Hand Cannons you can use. If you're trying to get accustomed to Hand Cannons, Hawkmoon is a fantastic weapon to start with.
- Column One: Opening Shot, Rangefinder, Eye of the Storm
4 The Palindrome
How to obtain: No longer obtainable.
We try to avoid including unobtainable guns in our weapon lists, but Palindrome is a rare exception. This gun shook the entire Hand Cannon meta when it released, and the aftershocks of its return can still be felt today. In essence, Palindrome is a 140 RPM Hand Cannon with the range of 120s, the ease of use that you'd find on a 180, and it takes up the Energy slot.
With no perks at all, Palindrome hits the ground running with above-average range, stability, aim assist, and a surprisingly high Airborne Effectiveness stat of 21. Landing shots with this gun is a breeze, but it gets better. Palindrome can get Rangefinder and a ton of range-boosting perks. With the right perks, it's possible to get Palindrome to 75 or 80 range. Get Killing Wind on your roll, and you'll have 100 range with a single kill. That's not even accounting for Adept mods that can boost Palindrome's range even further. Good rolls of Palindrome have around 36 meters of range, going as high as 38 with Killing Wind. Only one Energy Hand Cannon can achieve the same amount of range.
- Column One: Killing Wind, Overflow
- Column Two: Rangefinder
3 Ace Of Spades
How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Legendary Shards, and 1 Ascendant Shard.
Nearly everyone who played during Forsaken remembers this gun. Ace of Spades shaped the Crucible meta for a long time and still has a massive impact today. So long as Hand Cannons exist in Destiny 2, Ace of Spades will be a great pick.
That is thanks to its Exotic perks. Ace really has five perks instead of two major ones. This weapon has its radar active while aiming, Firefly, Outlaw, a stronger version of Kill Clip, and High-Caliber Rounds for extra flinch. Its absurdly high range stat helps it tango with Rangefinder Legendaries as well. If you can consistently get Memento Mori to activate, you become nigh-unstoppable in most gunfights.
2 Exalted Truth
How to obtain: Trials of Osiris matches and Engrams.
Remember how we said only one Hand Cannon can compete with Palindrome? We were referring to Exalted Truth, a Trials of Osiris Hand Cannon that is an arguably stronger version of Palindrome. Featuring higher base stats in almost every regard (excluding aim assist and recoil), Exalted Truth is a Void 140 RPM Hand Cannon with excellent base stats and an incredible set of perks.
Rangefinder rolls on the first column on this gun, giving you room to get your hands on a damage or consistency perk. Eye of the Storm is a no-brainer for the second column, making this weapon a headshot magnet for 1v1 duels. Don't sleep on Encore either, as its rework allows you to gain range, stability, and accuracy by killing enemies. At max stacks, you'll feel unstoppable. And if damage is your thing, pair Kill Clip with Radiant for some two-tapping potential.
What really sets this gun apart from Palindrome are the origin traits. SUROS Synergy, Alacrity, and One Quiet Moment roll on every copy of this gun. For comparison, Palindrome was stuck using PvE origin traits that were ill-suited for the Crucible. SUROS Synergy is our recommendation here, granting a massive boost to your handling and flinch resistance after reloading. But if you're a solo player who wants to slay, use Alacrity. Bottom line, Exalted Truth is a stat monster that can achieve a whopping 37 meters of effective range with a god roll, beating out Palindrome by half a meter. It has the same consistency as Palindrome but has better origin traits and can even squeeze in a damage perk with the right build. If you're skilled enough to play Trials, Exalted Truth is definitely worth the grind.
- Column One: Rangefinder
Eye of the Storm, Kill Clip, Encore
- Repulsor Brace is also an option if you're a Hunter main that uses Gyrfalcon's Hauberk.
How to obtain: Occasionally sold by Banshee-44; craftable at The Enclave.
Season of the Haunted brought back some of Destiny 2's most coveted weapons, one of which being the Austringer. This weapon was originally meant to be an homage to the original Destiny's Eyasluna. Yet when Eyasluna returned, many veteran players thought it didn't live up to its name. Austringer does.
The iconic Eye of the Storm and Opening Shot combination is back and stronger than ever, allowing Austringer to start and end gunfights on its own. Land the second bullet in a duel, and the gun will take care of the rest. Eye of the Storm gives Austringer a level of consistency that few Hand Cannons can match, yet there are only two weapons in the entire game that can get this perk alongside Opening Shot: Austringer and Cantata-57. This perk combination is so powerful that Bungie waited three years to bring it back.
Using both of those perks does mean you can't match the range of a Palindrome, but you can just drop Opening Shot for Rangefinder. The effective range on Austringer is absurd if you do this, topping just about every Legendary 140 in the Kinetic slot. Compared to Eyasluna, this gun is overall an upgrade. Compared to Fatebringer or Exalted Truth, it's closer to a sidegrade.
However, we're ranking this Hand Cannon higher than the likes of Palindrome and Exalted Truth for one simple reason: you can craft Austringer. This fundamentally changes the PvP meta and gives you flexibility in your perk choices. Every player can get a 5/5 god roll with enough time invested. It also means Austringer is one of the few Hand Cannons that can access enhanced perks, allowing this weapon to hang with its Adept competitors. All future Hand Cannons will be compared to Austringer, craftable or not.
- Column One: Eye of the Storm, Snapshot Sights
- Column Two: Opening Shot, Rangefinder