Hand Cannons are the most iconic weapons in Destiny. Taking inspiration from revolvers in real life and the Magnum from Halo, Hand Cannons are high-damage weapons that can handle almost any situation from close to medium range.
There are so many Hand Cannons in Destiny 2 that it can be hard to pick which one is good. Despite the large roster, each Hand Cannon handles differently and offers unique pros and cons. Some Hand Cannons are better for killing hordes of enemies, while some stack so much damage that they can kill tankier major foes. Ranging from Exotic Hand Cannons to randomly rolled Legendaries, here are the ten best Hand Cannons players can use in Destiny 2.
Updated May 30, 2023, by Charles Burgar: Season of the Deep added some new Hand Cannons to the Destiny 2 sandbox, notably the Lightfall cover art's Epochal Integration Hand Cannon. While this season's new Hand Cannons feel great to use, the Last Wish perk refresh gave Nation of Beasts some serious love. It's now one of Destiny 2's best Hand Cannons and arguably the best Arc Hand Cannon for PvE content. We've updated this list to include Nation of Beasts, and we've reranked some lists to reflect sandbox changes in recent seasons.
10 Eriana's Vow
How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. It costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 100,000 Glimmer, 150 Legendary Shards, and 1 Ascendant Shard.
Eriana's Vow has been slowly forgotten throughout the years. Released with the Shadowkeep expansion, Eriana's Vow is Destiny 2's only Special ammo Hand Cannon that releases Anti-Barrier rounds with each trigger pull. It fires slowly, has the range of a Sniper Rifle, and can pierce right through Barrier Champion shields.
While this weapon is still good for countering Champions, it's fallen to the wayside after Arbalest was buffed in the latter half of Year 4. Arbalest fulfills the same niche as Eriana's Vow but can also break all shield types. Does that mean Eriana's Vow is bad? No, far from it. This weapon is a monster when paired with Solar 3.0, capable of maintaining Radiant with ease. Throw on Solar Weapon Surge mods and Lucky Pants into the mix, and you have yourself one of the hardest-hitting Special weapons in Destiny 2. Just don't expect this weapon to top Arbalest without some investment.
9 Zaouli's Bane
How to obtain: King's Fall raid.
Zaouli's Bane is a Solar 140 RPM Hand Cannon with some great perk choices. This is the only Hand Cannon in Destiny 2 that can roll with Incandescent, causing slain targets to explode while inflicting Scorch to nearby foes. Get a few rapid kills, and nearby enemies will Ignite.
You can pair Incandescent with Explosive Payload or Gutshot to make Zaouli's Bane excel at clearing fodder enemies in matchmade activities. If you prefer a more traditional Hand Cannon, you can get Firefly or One for All in the second column instead of Incandescent. It won't one-tap enemies in endgame content without some help from your build, but few Hand Cannons have a perk pool this good. If you can find a way to buff its damage and reload speed, you'll be surprised just how powerful Zaouli's Bane can be.
- Column One: Explosive Payload, Pugilist
- Column Two: Incandescent, One for All, Firefly
Why Not Ephocal Integration?
Ephocal Integration is also a solid PvE Hand Cannon for players that don't own an Incandescent weapon yet. That said, Ephocal's biggest flaw is that it isn't craftable. Enhanced Incandescent inflicts more Scorch stacks, allowing it to Ignite targets sooner when paired with Ember of Ashes. Ephocal is still a great gun and worth grabbing if you can't run King's Fall, but Zaouli's Bane just narrowly wins due to having enhanced traits.
8 Round Robin
How to obtain: Neomuna Activities.
Round Robin is the spiritual successor to Loud Lullaby, the 120 RPM Hand Cannon that launched with Shadowkeep. Similar to that weapon, Round Robin hits like a truck and has perks that further improve its damage output, allowing you to easily two-tap enemies in endgame content with some setup.
Since its a Strand Hand Cannon, Round Robin can get Hatchling in the second column, creating a Threadling on precision kills which will track targets before exploding. It effectively acts like Dragonfly that can track targets before exploding. As for raw damage, you can't go wrong with Golden Tricorn or Kill Clip. Pair this with Keep Away or Subsistence, you have a Hand Cannon that deals great damage and can even chip away at tankier foes thanks to its Nanotech Tracer Rocket origin trait.
- Column One: Keep Away, Subsistence
- Column Two: Golden Tricorn, Hatchling, Kill Clip
7 Nation Of Beasts
How to obtain: Last Wish raid.
What was once dubbed the Fatebringer of Destiny 2 as made obsolete when the Vault of Glass raid released back in Season of the Splicer. That's thankfully changed with Season of the Lost. All Last Wish weapons saw a major perk pool refresh and new origin trait, Nation of Beasts being no exception.
Arguably the strongest perk combination here is Dragonfly paired with Voltshot, giving this weapon two add-clearing perks to shred through groups of enemies. Dragonfly lets you clear an entire wave of fodder units with a well-placed headshot, and Voltshot lets you Jolt majors for some extra damage. If you're looking for more damage in endgame content, give Dragonfly and Golden Tricorn a shot. Achieving maximum Golden Tricorn stacks is trivial in this sandbox and greatly helps Nation of Beasts two-tap enemies in endgame content. It might not be as versatile as Fatebringer, but Nation of Beasts certainly packs a punch.
- Column One: Dragonfly, Keep Away
- Column Two: Voltshot, Golden Tricorn
How to obtain: Exotic Engrams found through Xur or world drops.
Fans of explosions are likely familiar with Sunshot, a 150 RPM Exotic Hand Cannon with explosive rounds and a stronger version of Dragonfly. Thanks to the 40% damage buff Exotic Primaries received in Witch Queen, it's easier than ever to create some explosive mayhem with Sunshot. Intrinsic Explosive Payload and its above-average fire rate make this gun fantastic at shredding through red bars and tougher elite units alike.
Enemies defeated either with a precision kill or while burning will emit a large explosion, dealing moderate damage in a small area. The damage is enough to cause a chain reaction with most red bars in non-pinnacle PvE content. If you need to clear a room full of enemies with only a few bullets, Sunshot has you covered. The only downside is that Sunshot currently has no synergy with Solar's Scorch and Ignite keywords. Explosive Payload also doesn't get buffed by Lucky Pants, halving the damage bonus you would otherwise be receiving from that Exotic. Besides those small downsides, Sunshot is a great Primary for all Hand Cannon fans.
How to obtain: Grasp of Avarice dungeon
Eyasluna is a monster inside of the Crucible due to its incredible stat package and solid PvP perks. Many players have disregarded this weapon in PvE, yet there's one powerful thing going for Eyasluna: Headstone. This perk allows Eyasluna to dish out immense AoE damage while synergizing with Stasis Aspects and Fragments.
Melee builds can equip an Aspect that generates Stasis shards, then use Headstone. Stasis builds that need additional survivability can throw on Whisper of Chains to gain 40% DR while near a Headstone crystal. The build possibilities are quite large for this gun. To make this playstyle even better, try to get an Eyasluna with Headstone and Unrelenting; Unrelenting triggers off Headstone kills. Excluding that roll, this Hand Cannon is mediocre at best for PvE content. Keep an eye out for this roll if you want to use it in endgame content.
- Column One: Unrelenting, Rapid Hit
- Column Two: Headstone
4 Ace of Spades
How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. It costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Legendary Shards, and 1 Ascendant Shard.
Cayde's iconic gun can be earned from the Tower's Exotic Kiosk. For one Exotic Cipher, you can get your hands on arguably the most well-rounded Hand Cannon available in Destiny 2 currently. That's mostly thanks to Ace's stacked perk effects. In essence, this gun has an upgraded version of Kill Clip, radar while aiming, Dragonfly, Outlaw, and High-Calibur Rounds.
As far as PvE is concerned, Ace of Spades is currently the only 140 RPM Hand Cannon that can one-tap enemies in Legend-tier content. Proc Memento Mori, get yourself three Kinetic Surge mods on your leg armor, and enjoy one-tapping enemies to the head. Cabal will need two shots to down in tough content, but this combination makes Ace of Spades especially lethal for builds that can afford to sacrifice Orb of Power mods for a damage buff. If you're new to Destiny 2, Ace of Spades is absurdly versatile and is a must-own Exotic. Veteran players might be surprised just how hard Ace of Spades hits after recent buffs.
How to obtain: Sold by Xur.
Most Guardians don't give Hawkmoon enough credit for what it does. It might not have its luck motif tied to its Exotic perk anymore, but Hawkmoon is still the one-shotting beast Destiny veterans remember it as.
Landing precision hits with this 140 RPM Hand Cannon grants stacks of Paracasual Charge, granting increased range, handling, and reload speed. When only one bullet is left in your magazine, Hawkmoon gains an absurd boost to its damage. With enough stacks, a single Hawkmoon bullet can one-shot most majors and even some bosses. Champions lose half of their health in Legend and Master content to Hawkmoon's Paracasual Bullet, making it an excellent weapon to pair with any burst DPS weapon. It's a fantastic Hand Cannon that can kill fodder and bosses with little issue.
- Column One: Rangefinder, Killing Wind, Surplus
How to obtain: Complete the "Darkness in the Light" quest (obtained from Gambit).
Malfeasance is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades Primary weapon in Destiny 2. This 180 RPM Hand Cannon fires slugs that burrow into targets. Land five shots on the same target to watch them explode, capable of shutting down most majors and Champions alike. It counters Unstoppable Champions, can three-tap red bars in endgame content with a damage buff, and will always kill tankier enemies in five shots. That alone makes this gun a great pick for all PvE content. It also gains Vorpal Weapon through its Catalyst to further improve its DPS against tougher units.
What makes Malfeasance truly spectacular is its synergy with the Hunter's Lucky Pants Exotic. This weapon goes from a solid add-clearing weapon into what's effectively a Special weapon when Lucky Pants' perk is active. You can easily reach the x10 damage buff from Lucky Pants since this weapon is a 180 RPM Hand Cannon, allowing you to achieve temporary DPS values that match Rocket Launchers. Red bars instantly die. Majors drop in a heartbeat, and bosses take some serious damage from this combo. If you have a teammate using Witherhoard, you also get another 20% damage buff thanks to the Taken Predator perk. This gun is great on its own, but if you can build around Malfeasance's strengths, it's easily one of Destiny 2's strongest Hand Cannons for PvE content.
How to obtain: Vault of Glass raid (Templar and Gatekeeper encounters)
Fatebringer has proven itself to be Destiny 2's best Legendary Hand Cannon. This weapon features one of the best perk pools out of all Hand Cannons, a great stat package, and it has an Adept variant. Most players consider this Hand Cannon a PvP menace and nothing more, but this weapon is just as much of a powerhouse inside PvE activities.
Explosive Payload and Osmosis can both roll in the first column for Fatebringer. You can stagger just about every enemy with Explosive Payload while granting Fatebringer a passive 15% damage increase. Osmosis is far more interesting, as it allows Fatebringer to take on any element. Void users can give Fatebringer Volatile Rounds. Strand users can proc Unraveling Rounds and turn Fatebringer into a Strand weapon through a Grapple melee. Solar users can easily trigger Ember of Empyrean to retain Restoration and Radiant buffs. To put it simply, Osmosis is fantastic if you build around it.
The second column is also fantastic. Frenzy is a great consistency bump for this weapon, Kill Clip makes your rounds hit much harder in mid-tier content, and Firefly makes Fatebringer an add-slaying machine when you land a precision kill. Just about every roll of this gun will serve you well, but a truly great roll of Fatebringer can only be matched by Exotics.
- Column One: Explosive Payload, Osmosis
- Column Two: Firefly, Kill Clip, Frenzy