Destiny 2 Best PvE Weapons right now (Season 23 Meta)

by | Dec 18, 2023

As you get more invested in Destiny 2, one of the first questions you’ll have is: What are the best guns in the game?

That question is not as easy to answer, as it all depends on whether you’re looking for the top weapons for PvP, PvE, casual, or endgame content. Today, we’ll focus on the best PvE weapons right now. We’ll cover both Exotic and Legendary weapons (including their PvE god rolls) and give you an overview of the current PvE meta.

Checkmark icon V3Updated as of Season of the Wish (S23). See Updates.

Best PvE Primary weapons

Destiny 2 Primary ammoIn this section, we cover the best Primary PvE weapons. And by Primary, we mean either Kinetic or Energy weapons that use Primary ammo. Just remember Primary weapons use “normal” ammo, aka, white ammo boxes:

WeaponsTypeAmmoSlotRequirementsIn loot pool?SourceSource ❘ DLCVerdictPart of?
Destiny 2 Trinity Ghoul art
Trinity Ghoul
Combat BowPrimaryEnergyForsaken PackYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Forsaken Destiny 2 icon
Forsaken Pack
Slot: Arc Arc | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Fires an arrow that splits when released. Aiming down sights and fully drawing the bow both decrease the spread. Precision kills grant the next shot chain-lightning capabilities."

► Trinity Ghoul has always been brilliant for ad-clear, and that doesn't seem to be changing any time soon. Despite the more ability-focused meta we have right now, Trinity Ghoul is still a top contender for ad-clear in all PvE content.
PVE
CALUS Mini-Tool art
CALUS Mini-Tool
Submachine GunPrimaryEnergyBeyond LightYesPresagePresage
Beyond Light Destiny 2 icon
Beyond Light
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: MIDA Synergy

PvE God Roll: Unrelenting (also good: Moving Target) + Incandescent

► Able to roll with the excellent perk Incandescent, CALUS Mini-Tool immediately cemented itself as a top-tier pick with the release of Solar 3.0. Plus, it's one of the few top-tier craftable SMGs currently in the game, meaning it's one of the easiest to get as well.
PVE,Meta
Destiny 2 Graviton Lance art
Graviton Lance
Pulse RiflePrimaryEnergyFree-to-PlayYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Second shot of a burst rips a hole through space-time, doing high damage and recoil with no falloff. Kills with this weapon cause enemies to detonate and spawn tracking Void projectiles."

► Over the summer, Graviton Lance received a whopping 67% PvE damage buff, making it tear through enemies with ease, especially with its AoE detonations. Plus, its catalyst now provides Vorpal Weapon. On the PvP side of things, it can still compete in longer range maps.
PVE
Fatebringer art
Fatebringer
Hand CannonPrimaryKineticFree-to-PlayYesVault of Glass RaidVault of Glass Raid
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: Explosive Payload + Firefly
PvP God Roll: Explosive Payload + Eye of the Storm

► One of the most iconic legendary weapons in the game, Fatebringer comes with insane stats and great perks. While it does have some competition, namely Eyasluna, this almost-perfect Hand Cannon holds its ground as an all-time community favorite.
PVE,PVP
Destiny 2 Wish Ender art
Wish-Ender
Combat BowPrimaryKineticForsaken PackYesExotic QuestExotic Quest
Forsaken Destiny 2 icon
Forsaken Pack
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "While aiming down sights with a fully drawn Bow, combatants behind walls are highlighted, and arrows pierce shields. Strong against Barrier Champions. One shot can over-penetrate multiple targets."

► Wish-Ender has never been this strong, nor popular. With the newfound intrinsic ability to deal with Anti Barrier Champions with ease, even in Master and Grandmaster levels, and the fact that it effectively hits 3 times per arrow due to its piercing perk, Wish-Ender is currently a monster in PvE.
PVE
Epochal Integration art Destiny 2
Epochal Integration
Hand CannonPrimaryEnergySeason 21YesSeasonal activitySeasonal activity
Season of the Deep Icon
Season 21
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE Fixed Roll: Stats for All + Incandescent
PvP Fixed Roll: Keep Away + Eye of the Storm

► Epochal Integration is an easy-to-obtain and powerful Solar hand cannon. Because of how strong Solar is right now, a solid Solar weapon like Epochal Integration can easily excel. It beats out the competition mostly due to its ease of access, but also because Stats for All and Incandescent are excellent perks.
PVE
Quicksilver Storm art
Quicksilver Storm
Auto RiflePrimaryKineticLightfallYesExotic KioskExotic Kiosk
Lightfall Preorder icon
Lightfall
Slot: Strand Element Strand | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Landing multiple hits turns your next shot into a homing micro-rocket. Landing multiple rockets loads a grenade."

► Quicksilver Storm is unique, particularly due to its ability to produce homing rockets that transform it into a grenade launcher hybrid. The exotic perks on offer here will be more useful in PvE, but the homing rockets alone will prove effective in PvP as well.
PVE
Destiny 2 Sunshot art
Sunshot
Hand CannonPrimaryEnergyFree-to-PlayYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "This weapon fires explosive rounds. Targets killed with Sunshot explode in Solar energy."

► One of very few Lightweight Hand Cannons left in the game, Sunshot feels exceptionally great to use even while disregarding its exotic perk. However, looking at how many explosions you can set off with this weapon, it's clear why the community often regards Sunshot as both fun and a beast at ad clear.
PVE,PVP
Destiny 2 Lumina art
Lumina
Hand CannonPrimaryKineticForsaken PackYesExotic KioskExotic Kiosk
Forsaken Destiny 2 icon
Forsaken Pack
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Kills with this weapon leave behind Remnants which convert your next hip fired shot into an ally-seeking Noble Round that heals them and grants both of you a weapon damage bonus for a short duration."

►Lumina is one of the most unique Exotics in Destiny 2, allowing you to heal allies and spread one of the most potent damage buffs in the game. If you're looking to optimize a DPS phase—or want to play a more significant support role—this is a fantastic pick. This applies to PvP too.
PVE
Destiny 2 Malfeasance art
Malfeasance
Hand CannonPrimaryKineticFree-to-PlayYesExotic QuestExotic Quest
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Shoot tainted slugs that burrow into the enemy. Stacking enough slugs causes them all to explode. Bonus damage against Taken enemies and Gambit invaders."

► Malfeasance has always been a fascinating weapon, and with the buffs to Hand Cannons, it quickly became one of the strongest Kinetic Primaries in the game, especially against Taken enemies. Malfeasance is even stronger when using the Lucky Pants Exotic, allowing for ridiculous damage.
Gambit,PVE

⚠️ PS: This will soon be updated to include a few of the excellent Brave weapons, such as Midnight Coup, The Mountaintop, The Recluse, and Edge Transit.

Best PvE Special weapons

Destiny 2 special ammoIn this section, we cover the best Special PvE weapons. And by Special, we mean either kinetic or Energy weapons that use Special ammo. Just remember, Special weapons use “Special” ammo, aka, green ammo boxes:

WeaponsTypeAmmoSlotRequirementsIn loot pool?SourceSource ❘ DLCVerdictPart of?
Destiny 2 Graviton Lance art
Graviton Lance
Pulse RiflePrimaryEnergyFree-to-PlayYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Second shot of a burst rips a hole through space-time, doing high damage and recoil with no falloff. Kills with this weapon cause enemies to detonate and spawn tracking Void projectiles."

► Over the summer, Graviton Lance received a whopping 67% PvE damage buff, making it tear through enemies with ease, especially with its AoE detonations. Plus, its catalyst now provides Vorpal Weapon. On the PvP side of things, it can still compete in longer range maps.
PVE
Destiny 2 Malfeasance art
Malfeasance
Hand CannonPrimaryKineticFree-to-PlayYesExotic QuestExotic Quest
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Primary ammo Destiny 2 Primary | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Shoot tainted slugs that burrow into the enemy. Stacking enough slugs causes them all to explode. Bonus damage against Taken enemies and Gambit invaders."

► Malfeasance has always been a fascinating weapon, and with the buffs to Hand Cannons, it quickly became one of the strongest Kinetic Primaries in the game, especially against Taken enemies. Malfeasance is even stronger when using the Lucky Pants Exotic, allowing for ridiculous damage.
Gambit,PVE
Cartesian Coordinate art
Cartesian Coordinate
Fusion RifleSpecialEnergyFree-to-PlayYesWorld loot poolWorld loot pool
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PvE God Roll: Lead from Gold + Vorpal Weapon

► As a Solar weapon, Cartesian Coordinate synergizes perfectly with a powerful Solar Heavy weapon to generate lots of Elemental Surges. Plus, featuring solid perks and being part of a competitive weapon frame, Cartesian remains a staple in the energy slot Fusion Rifle meta.
PVE
 class=
Heritage
ShotgunSpecialKineticBeyond LightYesDeep Stone Crypt RaidDeep Stone Crypt Raid
Beyond Light Destiny 2 icon
Beyond Light
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Pinpoint Slug

PvE God Roll: Reconstruction (also good: Auto-Loading Holster) + Recombination
PvP God Roll:Slideshot + Offhand Strike

► Heritage is an absolute staple in the Kinetic Slot and will forever hold a place as a go-to option in my loadouts. It can hit like a truck with Recombination and can get up to double its regular magazine size. It wastes majors and bosses alike and is an option that we 100% recommend you grind for.
PVE
Destiny 2 Divinity art
Divinity
Trace RifleSpecialEnergyShadowkeepYesExotic QuestExotic Quest
Shadowkeep Destiny 2 icon
Shadowkeep
Slot: Arc Arc | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Sustained damage with this weapon envelops the target in a field that weakens and Overload rounds disrupts them."

► Divinity has been a great choice since it was released back in Shadowkeep. Even though a recent nerf reduced its debuff potential to 15%, this trace rifle still proves its worth through the ability to make crits way easier to hit. Plus, it's still considered the best Overload weapon in the game.
PVE
Destiny 2 Izanagi's Burden
Izanagi's Burden
Sniper RifleSpecialKineticForsaken PackYesExotic KioskExotic Kiosk
Forsaken Destiny 2 icon
Forsaken Pack
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Holding reload consumes the magazine and loads a round with additional range and damage."

► A powerhouse of a weapon, Izanagi's Burden can reach some incredible DPS numbers, especially when combined with an Auto-Loading Holster Rocket Launcher. While this combo is slightly more demanding than some other DPS options, it is well worth the effort to unlock this beast's potential.
PVE
Witherhoard art Destiny 2
Witherhoard
Grenade LauncherSpecialKineticShadowkeepYesExotic KioskExotic Kiosk
Shadowkeep Destiny 2 icon
Shadowkeep
Slot: Kinetic symbol Destiny 2 Kinetic | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Projectiles fired blight the target or nearby area on impact. Blighted targets take damage over time and blight the nearby area on death."

► Even a few nerfs to this GL couldn't knock it out of the top spot. A true fire-and-forget weapon, Witherhoard can deal with all manner of enemies in just a few shots. Whether it is used as part of a damage rotation, or just to lock an area down, Witherhoard reigns supreme.
PVE
Destiny 2 Merciless art
Merciless
Fusion RifleSpecialEnergyFree-to-PlayYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Non-lethal hits make this weapon charge faster. Reloading immediately after a kill increases weapon damage for a short time."

► Merciless is unmatched in the Fusion Rifle department. With the changes to the Conserve Momentum perk lasting through reloading, Merciless became a beast overnight and can put out some ridiculous burst damage.
PVE
Forbearance art v2
Forbearance
Grenade LauncherSpecialEnergyThe Witch QueenYesVow of the Disciple RaidVow of the Disciple Raid
The Witch Queen Destiny 2 icon
The Witch Queen
Slot: Arc Arc | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Wave

PvE God Roll: Ambitious Assassin (also good: Unrelenting) + Chain Reaction

► Forbearance is widely regarded as the best Wave Frame in the entire game. With the ability to roll the combo that made Salvager's Salvo famous, this weapon is an ad-clear machine. Not to mention, Wave Frames are extremely fun to use, and the Origin Trait is a nice cherry on top!
PVE
Conditional Finality art
Conditional Finality
ShotgunSpecialKineticLightfallYesRoot of Nightmares RaidRoot of Nightmares Raid
Lightfall Preorder icon
Lightfall
Slot: Stasis Stasis | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Dual barrels split into Stasis and Solar damage. Landing nearly all Stasis pellets will freeze targets; landing nearly all Solar pellets will ignite targets."

► Conditional Finality is remarkable. In PvE, it has Champion stunning capabilities and excellent potential damage with a hot-swap setup, rivaling even Izanagi's Burden. In PvP, it has great handling, solid 1-hit kill range, and can take down supers with its Freeze-Ignite effect.
PVE,PVP
The Eremite art
The Eremite
Fusion RifleSpecialEnergySeason 22YesSeasonal activitySeasonal activity
Season of the Witch (S22) icon
Season 22
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: High-Impact

PvE God Roll: Envious Assassin (also good: Compulsive Reloader) + Reservoir Burst (also good: Controlled Burst)

► A fusion to match Loaded Question, The Eremite quickly became a favorite thanks to it being craftable, and with some solid perks to boot. Like most high-impact fusions, the only real issue you'll have with it is the slower charge time.
PVE
Scatter Signal art Destiny 2
Scatter Signal
Fusion RifleSpecialKineticSeason 23YesSeasonal activitySeasonal activity
Lightfall Preorder icon
Season 23
Slot: Strand Element Strand | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PvE God Roll: Overflow + Controlled Burst (also good: Slice)
PvP God Roll: Perpetual Motion + Under-Over

► Scatter Signal is the Fusion rifle everybody's talking about in Season of the Wish. With amazing PvE perks, including Overflow and Controlled Burst, and the benefits of the Rapid-Fire Frame, it's easy to see why Scatter Signal is one of the most sought-after weapons this season.
PVE,PVP

Destiny 2 Best PvE Heavy weapons

Destiny 2 Heavy ammoIn this section, we cover the best Heavy weapons for PvE. In other words, weapons that use “heavy” ammo, aka, purple ammo boxes:

WeaponsTypeAmmoSlotRequirementsIn loot pool?SourceSource ❘ DLCVerdictPart of?
Apex Predator art Destiny 2
Apex Predator
Rocket LauncherHeavyHeavyForsaken PackYesLast Wish RaidLast Wish Raid
Forsaken Destiny 2 icon
Forsaken Pack
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Heavy ammo Destiny 2 Heavy | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: Reconstruction (also good: Tracking Module) + Bait and Switch (also good: Explosive Light)

► Possibly the most impactful weapon reissue in Destiny 2's history, Apex Predator went from D-Tier to S-Tier in a single season. This drastic shift is due to Apex's ability to roll with powerful perks never-before-seen on a Rocket Launcher: Reconstruction and Bait and Switch. Get your hands on this beast ASAP, as only a few replacements exist.
PVE,Meta
Destiny 2 Tractor Cannon art
Tractor Cannon
ShotgunHeavyHeavyFree-to-PlayYesExotic EngramExotic Engram
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Heavy ammo Destiny 2 Heavy | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "This weapon emits a powerful impulse that pushes enemies away, suppresses their abilities, and makes them more vulnerable to all incoming damage."

► Ever since Divinity was nerfed, players now use Tractor Cannon instead, as it is extremely easy to use and applies one of the strongest debuffs in the entire game. To truly be an optimal Fireteam, someone should always have a Tractor Cannon on hand.
PVE
Destiny 2 Leviathan's Breath art
Leviathan's Breath
Combat BowHeavyHeavyShadowkeepYesExotic KioskExotic Kiosk
Shadowkeep Destiny 2 icon
Shadowkeep
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Heavy ammo Destiny 2 Heavy | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Fires a massive heavy bolt that stuns unshielded combatants. Strong against Unstoppable Champions. When fully drawn, the bolt creates a large concussive blast that knocks combatants back."

► With a catalyst and a direct buff, Leviathan's Breath has gone from zero to hero. Not only does it make short work of Champions and apply Volatile, but it's also able to one-shot any super in PvP! Plus, Leviathan's Breath is relatively easy to use and can put up some of the highest total damage numbers in the game.
PVE
Gjallarhorn art
Gjallarhorn
Rocket LauncherHeavyHeavy30th AnniversaryYesGrasp of Avarice DungeonGrasp of Avarice Dungeon
Destiny 2 30th anniversary icon
30th Anniversary
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Heavy ammo Destiny 2 Heavy | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Rounds fired split into tracking cluster missiles upon detonation. Gain increased handling and reload speed when standing near allies. Firing this weapon also grants Wolfpack Rounds to nearby allies wielding non-Exotic Rocket Launchers."

► While significant damage nerfs in PvE have caused Gjallarhorn to fall into a purely-support pick for most, it continues to dominate the meta in most areas of the game. If your fireteam runs rocket launchers for a raid or dungeon boss encounter, you're nearly guaranteed to see one player running this exotic.
PVE
Dragon's Breath art Destiny 2
Dragon's Breath
Rocket LauncherHeavyHeavyFree-to-PlayYesSeason PassSeason Pass
Free to Play Destiny 2 icon
Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Heavy ammo Destiny 2 Heavy | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Rockets embed themselves in struck targets and periodically eject incendiary fuel that inflicts Scorch. The longer this weapon goes without firing, the more fuel the next rocket contains. Igniting nearby targets partially replenishes fuel. This weapon refills itself from reserves upon gaining maximum fuel."

► The last Season Pass exotic to become meta was Witherhoard in Season 11. Thankfully, after 12 seasons, we got another one: Dragon's Breath. This is one of the easiest to get but strongest Rockets we've ever seen. Using this exotic in DPS rotations on a Solar Subclass can net some outrageous damage.
PVE

Destiny 2 PvE Meta

Every sandbox change comes with a new weapons meta. And while we love to criticize Bungie for not changing the meta often enough, the last few seasons have significantly altered the hierarchy of PvE weapon types in Destiny 2.

Alert iconAbout DPS: DPS, or damage per second, is important for PvE, because the higher the DPS, the more damage you can deal to a Boss or Major. You can read all about it in our DPS guide.

We covered the absolute best PvE weapons this season, but it’s still important to understand how the different weapon types compare with each other.

PvE Primary weapons meta

Weapon Type RankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
SMG weapon type Destiny 2
Submachine Guns
S › Best
Best

S

-► SMGs are doing very well right now. They have good DPS to tear through ads and beefier orange bar enemies, but also come with excellent perks. There are a plethora of good SMGs you can go for right now, like Funnelweb, Unforgiven, Every Waking Moment, or Extraordinary Rendition, the choice is completely yours. They may struggle slightly in super high-end content, but they are still definitely usable.

► Best Archetype: Aggressive (750 RPM) - Example: Unforgiven
PVE Primaries
Pulse rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Pulse Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

-► Pulse Rifles are in a great place right now. They offer good range and pretty decent damage, allowing you to take down some beefier targets nicely. There are also some excellent pulses in the game right now, like Insidious, Sacred Provenance, or New Purpose. Unfortunately, High-Impact and Aggressive frames are the only archetypes worth your time, as the others rely on Exotic Perks or god rolls to compete.

► Best Archetype: Aggressive (450 RPM) - Example: Insidious
PVE Primaries
Hand cannon weapon type Destiny 2
Hand Cannons
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► Hand Cannons have shot up the rankings thanks to the changes introduced this Season, all the way up to the S tier. They have solid range and can dispatch enemies with complete ease in almost all difficulties. Hand Cannons have truly taken over the spotlight with their most recent buffs, and they shouldn't be leaving it any time soon.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (140 RPM) - Example: Fatebringer
PVE Primaries
Combat bow weapon type Destiny 2
Combat Bows
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► Bows are a high-damage, high-range option for players who prefer to keep their distance. The main issue with bows is that they are slow at clearing ads (outside of Trinity Ghoul). and when you have to deal with ads up close, bows can massively struggle. However, their solid range and excellent damage make them a strong option.

► Best Archetype: Precision - Example: Under Your Skin
PVE Primaries
Auto rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Auto Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

-► Auto Rifles currently feel like a worse version of SMGs. They have a bit more range, but outside of the absolute top-shelf content such as Grandmaster Nightfalls, range isn't too much of a factor. And if you are actively tackling difficult content, Auto Rifles aren't exactly the best pick either, making Autos a decent, but outclassed option right now.

► Best Archetype: Rapid-Fire (720 RPM)- Example: Quicksilver Storm
PVE Primaries
Scout rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Scout Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

Trend down► Scout Rifles are the definition of average right now. They can do the job just fine, you can plink away at enemies from a safe distance in high-level content; however, when it comes down to it, most players will prefer to use a Hand Cannon or SMG as they simply do the same job better and faster. Scouts aren't bad at all, but they certainly aren't a go-to

► Best Archetype: Lightweight (200 RPM) - Example: Tarnished Mettle
PVE Primaries
Sidearm weapon type Destiny 2
Sidearms
C › Weak
Weak

C

Trend down► Aside from a few select sidearms with certain perks, there really isn't much of a reason to use Sidearms. They have slightly higher damage numbers than SMGs, but typically come with significantly less range. Outside of top-tier weapons like a god-roll Brigand's Law or High Albedo, there is no real reason to run a sidearm.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (491 RPM) - Example: High Albedo
PVE Primaries

PvE Special weapons meta

For the sake of clarity, the categories below do not include Exotics that use an abnormal type of ammo, such as  Eriana’s Vow or Arbalest. If you’re particularly interested in Exotic weapons, check out our Exotic Tier list.

Weapon Type RankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
Fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Fusion Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up►Fusion Rifles are absolutely insane right now. There were a ton of viable options already and newer options, such as The Eremite, can roll with perk combinations that can turn them into monsters. This, on top of certain Exotic options like Merciless, makes Fusion Rifles a staple option for either backup DPS or just general major clear.

► Best Archetype: Rapid-Fire (500ms Charge Time) - Example: Cartesian Coordinate
PVE Specials
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► Shotguns are excellent right now. They can be used in traditional hot-swap loadouts when combined with Tractor Cannon in a raid setting, and they remain strong at both major clear and burst damage. However, they can achieve some of the highest damage combos in the game due to their ease of use, high burst damage, and perks like One-Two Punch.

► Best Archetype: Lightweight (90 RPM) - Example: Wastelander M5
PVE Specials
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
S › Best
Best

S

-► Grenade Launchers are brilliant right now. They are versatile and are arguably the best pick in almost all areas. They can have excellent add control through Blinding Grenades or the Wave Frame archetype, and they can also deal good boss damage in a 'hotswap' build with Spike Grenades.

Simply put, having a strong arsenal of Grenade Launchers is something you should definitely prioritize if you're looking to get into high-level content.

► All Breach Grenade Launchers share the same archetype
PVE Specials
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

-► Sniper Rifles have improved a tad, but not that much. They are still too slow for most players' liking, but they can still be a solid backup DPS option. These are commonly used in many longer-range DPS scenarios, but other than that, they remain mediocre.

► Best Archetype: Rapid-Fire (140 RPM) - Example: Supremacy
PVE Specials
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

-► With the nerfs to the double-special ammo economy, Trace Rifles have been knocked down a notch. Using a Primary weapon is just more efficient these days. However, they remain solid utility weapons and a go-to if players still want to run double-special lodouts. They also have a couple of solid Exotic options too, making them a decent pick right now.PVE Specials
Glaive weapon type Destiny 2 art
Glaives
B › Average
Average

B

-► Glaives require a bit of getting used to, but when you do, they can grant you crazy levels of damage resistance. However, they are quite a risky pick, especially if you haven't learned how to master them first. Glaives are also one-dimensional. There is basically no reason to use their melee attack, which is unfortunate as that is probably the most fun part of the Glaives.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (55 RPM) - Example: The Enigma
PVE Specials
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
C › Weak
Weak

C

Trend down► Linear Fusion Rifles are difficult to rank as there are only two of them. While Arbalest is definitely a powerful weapon, it is by no means a must-pick anymore. And Lorentz Driver isn't exactly a serious contender for PvE. Overall, this archetype is quite weak, especially now that Arbalest isn't the top-pick it used to be.PVE Specials

PvE Heavy weapons meta

Weapon Type RankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
Rocket launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Rocket Launchers
S › Best
Best

S

Trend upMain role: Burst Damage (Secondary role: Add Clear)

► If an S+ category existed, Rocket Launchers would be there. They absolutely dominate the DPS meta for any boss that isn't Crota and easily outclass other options thanks to their flexibility in damage rotations and their ability to be spammed at bosses. Rockets are incredibly strong right now, and it wouldn't be surprising if they received some tuning soon.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (20 RPM) - Example: The Hothead
PVE Heavies
Machine gun weapon type Destiny 2
Machine Guns
A › Strong
Strong

A

Trend upMain role: Add Clear

► With the nerf to double-special loadouts, players can't mindlessly spam Machine Guns at enemies anymore and be rewarded for it. However, Machine guns are still excellent at ad clear and remain decent for DPS. That said, for DPS, they are massively outclassed by Rocket Launchers.

► Best Archetype: Rapid-Fire (900 RPM) - Example: Retrofit Escapade
PVE Heavies
Sword weapon type Destiny 2
Swords
A › Strong
Strong

A

Trend upMain roles: Add Clear & Single Target damage (i.e. Boss damage).

► Swords are in a good spot right now. In fact, they are the go-to option for Crota in Crota's End. However, this is only because of a modifier that increases Sword damage against Crota. Outside of this specific boss, Swords are a decent option that doesn't excel simply because they are out-damaged by other heavy weapons.

► Best Archetype: Whirlwind - Example: Falling Guillotine
PVE Heavies
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
A › Strong
Strong

A

Trend downMain role: Single Target damage (Secondary role: Burst Damage)

► Linear Fusion Rifles might not be the top dogs anymore, but they are still serious contenders when it comes to total damage. Options like Cataclysmic and Briar's Contempt can still see some use in today's meta. However, despite their strengths, most situations do not require the amount of total damage that Linear Fusions offer, and if they do, options like Leviathan's Breath can fill that void very easily.

► Best Archetype: Precision (533 RPM) - Example: Reed's Regret
PVE Heavies
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
B › Average
Average

B

-Main role: Add Clear (Secondary role: Single Target Damage).

► Grenade Launchers are on the rise, and with a couple of changes, we could see them soar to the top of the pile. For now, though, they remain a mediocre option with a couple of outliers, such as the Cataphract GL3, which is mainly good because it has Bait and Switch, not because it's a Grenade Launcher.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (120 RPM) - Cataphract GL3
PVE Heavies
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Exotic Sniper Rifles
C › Weak
Weak

C

-Main role: Single Target damage

► Exotic Snipers still require more help. D.A.R.C.I remains a complete joke, and Whisper of the Worm isn't strong enough to bring the ranking up. While Whisper is a surprisingly decent option, it requires a teammate using Divinity in most situations, unless you are very consistent with your shots. And even then, Rocket Launchers are still superior DPS options.

► Best Archetype: Aggressive (72 RPM) - Example: Whisper of the Worm
PVE Heavies

Alert iconWhat is the “Meta”? Meta refers to the most used weapons for a particular activity. Generally, these weapons are the most used because they are the most powerful/efficient. The Meta can change in a heartbeat, but you can rest assured, though, this overview is up to date with the current season and will be updated as soon as a new meta arrives.

These are the different Tier levels used for these Tier lists:

  • S Tier – Best: Highest ranking weapon types.
  • A Tier – Strong: Very strong weapon types, but not on the same level as S Tier Choices.
  • B Tier – Average: Decent choices that can be lethal in the hands of a skilled player.
  • C Tier – Weak: The middle of the pack, somewhat mediocre.
  • D Tier – Worst: Lagging behind the competition, these don’t have much to offer.

Destiny 2 Best PvE loadouts

Until now, we have split our Top PvE guns into Primaries, Special and Heavy weapons. This makes sense when comparing weapons against each other.

But once you start building towards the ultimate loadout, a weapon’s slot becomes crucial. That’s because you can only carry one Kinetic, one Energy, and one Heavy weapon at a time. For example, if you’re committed to using Trinity Ghoul as your Primary weapon, then your Special weapon will have to sit on the Kinetic slot.

PVE Destiny 2 900p

Best PvE weapons, Destiny 2

These are some of the most lethal PvE loadouts right now:

-Kinetic--Special---HeavyMeta
Witherhoard art Destiny 2WitherhoardCALUS Mini-Tool artCALUS Mini-ToolApex Predator art Destiny 2Apex PredatorPVE
Destiny 2 Wish Ender artWish-EnderNessa's Oblation artNessa's OblationCataclysmic art v2CataclysmicPVE
Osteo Striga artOsteo StrigaForbearance art v2, Forbearance (Brave) art Destiny 2Forbearance,Forbearance (Brave)Cold Comfort art Destiny 2Cold ComfortPVE

Remember that you can only equip one Exotic at a time, which means that finding the top Legendary weapons is extremely important too. We also cover the best Kinetic weapons this season here.

Before you go…

If you’re looking to take your game to the next level in PvE, definitely check out our Top PvP weapons round-up.

See latest Updates

We keep our content up to date! These are the latest changes made to this guide:
  • December 18, 2023: Updates based on the Season 23 meta and the replacement of Osteo Striga, Necrochasm, Ikelos SMG V1.0.3, Zaouli’s Bane, The Other Half Riptide, Nessa’s Oblation, Cold Comfort, Cataclysmic, and The Other Half.
  • September 13, 2023: Updates based on the Season 22 meta and the replacement of Rufus’s Fury, Outbreak Perfected, Submission, Unforgiven, Arbalest, Iterative Loop, Cloudstrike, Thunderlord and The Hothead.
  • May 1, 2023: Updates based on the Season 20 meta
  • April 13, 2022: Updates based on Destiny 2’s Year 5 meta
  • March 22, 2021: Updates based on Destiny 2’s Year 4 meta
  • September 30, 2020: The guide is published for the first time.

Stay tuned, and don’t forget to bookmark this page for next season!

About The Author

Ric Molina
Ric Molina
I've been covering gaming since 2012, and some of my work has been featured by large brands, including MSN.com, Forbes, Rock Paper Shotgun, and more. I've been obsessed with Destiny 2 (and now Diablo 4) for years now, and I hope to provide new and returning players with the guides and resources I wish I had when I first started.
More from Ric Molina
20 Comments
  1. pizzaman

    Good guide, Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Cody

    I think you forgot to put the machine guns in the meta list. But it was very helpful! Thank you

    Reply
  3. DonPool

    Any updates coming to this with the overall weapons guide getting updated?

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      I’m working on it! This one is completely overdue and desperately needs an update… Sorry for the delay but I hope to have a proper refresh out by Monday the latest!

      Reply
  4. Rae

    There’s a typo classing Deafening Whisper as a Fusion rifle

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      Damn, you’re right! Completely missed that one, thanks for the heads up!

      Reply
  5. classzero

    PVE Energy weapons types are not correct.

    Reply
    • Ric (aka Prim)

      What do you mean? I’m looking for something to correct but found nothing!

      Reply
      • Django

        I think he meant you labeled IKELOS_SMG_V1.0.2 as an auto rifle, while in fact it’s an SMG (as suggested in its name lol)

        Reply
        • Superhobo

          Why is Trinity Ghoul listed as free to play. I thought it was only for the Forsaken DLC that you can get it.

          Reply
  6. Whataloadofbull

    Hilarious. scout rifles are B? sidearms are A ? pure BS . let me know your sidearm load out in a GM or Master raid please

    Reply
  7. Acklow

    Hi there I was looking over this and was wondering if you were going to be updating the guide for this season or if you were going to be updating it for Witch Queen. There are some outdated recommendations and some mistakes I saw in the loadouts. I’d like to be able to show my newbie friends this page but it’s kinda outdated.

    Reply
    • Acklow

      For example you list Nation of Beasts as a kinetic weapon when it’s actually an arc primary hand cannon and you cannot pair it with the Seventh Seraph CQC

      Reply
  8. Spicyy

    So many weapons are missing bro what

    Reply
  9. Yuzuki

    I think this would need an update with the season of plunder lol

    Reply
  10. Iunnrais

    Why is Taipan-4FR not listed here? The crafted god-roll for Taipan is an absolute staple in raids for boss DPS, with Veist, Firing Line, and Triple Tap. Nearly everyone is running it, and for good reason.

    Reply
  11. ItsSonnyInIT

    Instead of being rude, please add something constructive. What loadout do you prefer for GM and master raid? I’m sure other people could learn from your experiences.

    Reply
  12. Nico

    S20 Machine Guns @ B ? They’re at least A.. Can’t go wrong with Thunderlord, retrofit or commemoration

    Reply
  13. cozyi

    wish ender is in the kinetic slot and is a primary ammo weapon. multiple guides you have made have wish ender under special/energy slot. very informative and great content – thank you!

    Reply
    • Ric Molina

      Ok, I couldn’t understand as I have it as Kinetic/Primary in my database, and that’s also the case on this post. Found the issue on the loadout section, it has been corrected. Thank you for the heads up!

      Reply
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