Best Trace Rifles in Destiny 2: Tier List Ranking

by | Jan 20, 2022 | Weapons

Considered second-tier for too long, Trace rifles are making a comeback.

First of all, they finally received dedicated ammo scavenger and ammo finder mods. This greatly improved their ammo economy and DPS potential. On top of that, the most recent additions have been stellar, namely Ager’s Scepter, which many consider one of the best weapons in the game.

This guide covers every Trace rifle in Destiny 2, including both Exotic and Legendary Traces, as well as the best rolls for PVE and PVP.

Checkmark icon V3Lists updated as of Bungie’s 30th Anniversary event.  

Destiny 2 Trace rifles Tier list

The Tier list below includes every Exotic and non-sunset legendary Trace rifle in the game. It starts with the S Tier weapons and moves down from there. It also covers both PVE and PVP, with the “Excels in” column clearly identifying in what area each weapon shines:

About DPS: You’ll see us talk a lot about DPS, damage per second, throughout this guide. DPS is important for PVE, because the higher the DPS, the more damage you can deal to a Boss or Major.

NameWeaponsTypeArchetypeAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?RankSourceAvailable?Tier rankSource ❘ DLCFinal VerdictReleasedPerks
Ager's ScepterAger's Scepter art
Ager's Scepter
Trace RifleExoticSpecialStasisBeyond LightYesS › BestExotic Kiosk
Best

S



Excels in:
PvE + PvP
Exotic Kiosk

Beyond Light
Slot: Stasis Stasis | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Final blows with this weapon generate a slowing burst around the defeated target. Stasis final blows transfer ammo to this weapon's magazine from reserves."

► Ager's Scepter is exactly what you would have expected from a proper Stasis trace rifle. Its ability to freeze and slow at will is remarkable, but on top of that, it has best-in-class stats and a top-tier catalyst. You won't find another weapon able to quickly dispose of ads while creating great synergies with a Stasis subclass.
Season 15
Slot: Stasis Stasis | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Final blows with this weapon generate a slowing burst around the defeated target. Stasis final blows transfer ammo to this weapon's magazine from reserves."
Retraced PathRetraced Path art
Retraced Path
Trace RifleAdaptiveSpecialSolarFree-to-PlayYesA › StrongDares of Eternity
Strong

A



Excels in:
PvE + PvP
Dares of Eternity

Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: Subsistence (also good: Feeding Frenzy) + Golden Tricorn (also good: Frenzy)

► The only non-exotic Trace rifle in the entire game, Retraced Path also happens to have good base stats. Even better than those of Coldheart. And with the right perks, this can be a great PVE alternative.
30th Anniversary event
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: Subsistence (also good: Feeding Frenzy) + Golden Tricorn (also good: Frenzy)
ColdheartDestiny 2 Coldheart art
Coldheart
Trace RifleExoticSpecialArcFree-to-PlayYesA › StrongExotic Engram
Strong

A



Excels in:
PvE
Exotic Engram

Free-to-Play
Slot: Arc Arc | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "This weapon shoots a steady cold fusion-powered laser that does exponentially more damage the longer it remains on a target."

► Coldheart has always done a decent job at dealing sustained damage against Bosses, Majors, and Champions. But now that it was buffed with increased damage and also grants ability energy, it is much easier to recommend.
Season 1
Slot: Arc Arc | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "This weapon shoots a steady cold fusion-powered laser that does exponentially more damage the longer it remains on a target."
DivinityDestiny 2 Divinity art
Divinity
Trace RifleExoticSpecialArcShadowkeepYesA › StrongExotic Quest
Strong

A



Excels in:
PvE
Exotic Quest

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 disrupts them."

► Able to deal with Overload Champions and easily apply a huge debuff on everything, Divinity is excellent for endgame PVE activities. It may relegate its user to a "support" role, but it remains extremely valuable, especially against enemies that have hard-to-hit crit spots.
Season 8
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 disrupts them."
Prometheus LensDestiny 2 Prometheus Lens art
Prometheus Lens
Trace RifleExoticSpecialSolarFree-to-PlayYesB › AverageExotic Engram
Average

B



Exotic Engram

Free-to-Play
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Fires a Solar trace beam and generates a damaging heat field that grows while the weapon continues to fire. Kills with this weapon return a fraction of the ammo used."

► Prometheus Lens had its 15 minutes of fame when a bug allowed it to dominate the Crucible for an entire weekend. Other than that, the weapon has always been considered mediocre at best. But the mere addition of ammo mods has shown us that Prometheus Lens has a lot to offer.
Season 2
Slot: Solar Solar | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Fires a Solar trace beam and generates a damaging heat field that grows while the weapon continues to fire. Kills with this weapon return a fraction of the ammo used."
WavesplitterDestiny 2 Wavesplitter art
Wavesplitter
Trace RifleExoticSpecialVoidFree-to-PlayYesB › AverageExotic Engram
Average

B



Exotic Engram

Free-to-Play
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Laser damage has three power levels that oscillate while the trigger is held down. Collecting an Orb of Light grants a short period of maximum power."

► Wavesplitter can be a decent alternative for both PVP and PVE, but you'll be better off with any of the other Trace rifles on this list. In fact, this weapon could be much more useful, but a lack of a Catalyst holds it back.
Season 4
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Laser damage has three power levels that oscillate while the trigger is held down. Collecting an Orb of Light grants a short period of maximum power."
Ruinous EffigyRuinous Effigy Destiny 2
Ruinous Effigy
Trace RifleExoticSpecialVoidShadowkeepYesB › AverageExotic Kiosk
Average

B



Exotic Kiosk

Shadowkeep
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Final blows with this weapon collapse victims into Void Transmutation spheres. Transmutation spheres you create can be picked up and wielded as weapons by you or your allies."

► Ruinous Effigy is one of the most unique and fun weapons ever released in Destiny 2. It won't be replacing any of the top PVE weapons, but it can be very effective at close range on Majors: Use it to cancel stomp mechanics, dunk, melee, and finish off with a sword.
Season 11
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Final blows with this weapon collapse victims into Void Transmutation spheres. Transmutation spheres you create can be picked up and wielded as weapons by you or your allies."
Hollow DenialHollow Denial art
Hollow Denial
Trace RifleAdaptiveSpecialVoidSeason 17YesC › WeakSeasonal activity
Weak

C



Seasonal activity
Season 17 Destiny 2 icon
Season 17
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: PLead From Gold + Swashbuckler (also good: Killing Tally)

► Because of trace rifles' overall weak performance, Hollowed Denial is mediocre at base. And while its perk pool does contain some unique options like Killing Tally and Swashbuckler, the damage and ammo reserves are too low to take full advantage of their power.
Season 17
Slot: Void Void | Ammo: Special ammo Destiny 2 Special | Archetype: Adaptive

PvE God Roll: PLead From Gold + Swashbuckler (also good: Killing Tally)

These are the different Tier levels used for our list:

  • S Tier – Best: Highest ranking weapons in our Tier List.
  • A Tier – Strong: Very strong weapons, 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.

More Destiny 2 Tier lists:

Best Destiny 2 Trace Rifles in 2022

This section not only covers the top Trace rifles currently in the game, it also tells you where you can find them. This guide covers every weapon source in Destiny 2 and most of the sources below are self-explanatory, but in doubt, you can always leave a comment below or ask away on our Discord server.

Overall, these are our Top 5 favorite Trace Rifles for PVE and PVP.

 

Ruinous Effigy Destiny 2 featured

Ruinous Effigy, an Exotic Destiny 2 Trace rifle

5. Ruinous Effigy

Vanguard logo Destiny 2 Excels in PVE

Ruinous Effigy was celebrated as the most unique and fun weapon ever released in Destiny. And while that remains true, a few nerfs made an already modest PVE weapon (in terms of lethality and viability) even weaker.

Having said that, Ruinous Effigy can still be very effective at close range on Majors: Use it to cancel stomp mechanics, dunk, melee, and finish off with a sword. Plus, it remains extremely fun to use.

Exotic Perk: “Final blows with this weapon collapse victims into Void Transmutation spheres. Transmutation spheres you create can be picked up and wielded as weapons by you or your allies.”

How to get it: Ruinous Effigy can be purchased at the Monument to Lost Lights in the Tower.

ArtWeaponTypeArchetypeRarityAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?Ammo?Element?TierExcelsSourceAvailable?RequiresReleasedSlotCraftable?
Ruinous Effigy Destiny 2Ruinous EffigyTrace RifleExoticExoticSpecialVoidShadowkeepYesSpecial ammo Destiny 2 SpecialVoid Void
Average

B

-Exotic Kiosk
Shadowkeep
Season 11EnergyNo

 

Coldheart Destiny 2 featured

Coldheart, an Exotic Destiny 2 Trace rifle

4. Coldheart

Vanguard logo Destiny 2 Excels in PVE

Coldheart has always done a decent job at dealing sustained damage against Bosses, Majors, and Champions. And now that it has improved ammo thanks to the return of ammo mods, Coldheart is once again a good DPS alternative.

Exotic Perk: “This weapon shoots a steady cold fusion-powered laser that does exponentially more damage the longer it remains on a target.”

How to get it: Coldheart can be acquired via Exotic engrams or Xûr.

ArtWeaponTypeArchetypeRarityAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?Ammo?Element?TierExcelsSourceAvailable?RequiresReleasedSlotCraftable?
Destiny 2 Coldheart artColdheartTrace RifleExoticExoticSpecialArcFree-to-PlayYesSpecial ammo Destiny 2 SpecialArc Arc
Strong

A

PvEExotic Engram
Free-to-Play
Season 1EnergyNo

 

Retraced Path Destiny 2 featured

Retraced Path, Destiny 2 Trace rifles

3. Retraced Path

Crucible logo Destiny 2 Excels in PVP

The only non-exotic Trace rifle in the entire game, Retraced Path also happens to have good base stats. Even better than those of Coldheart. And with the right perks, this can be a great PVE alternative.

What was surprising is how good it can also be in PVP. With the right roll, the right mindset, and as many ammo mods as you can possibly equip, Retraced Path can be tons of fun in casual 6v6 modes.

PVE God roll:

  • Perk 1: Subsistence (also good: Feeding Frenzy)
  • Perk 2: Golden Tricorn (also good: Frenzy)

PVP God roll:

  • Perk 1: Perpetual Motion (also good: Killing Wind)
  • Perk 2: Golden Tricorn (also good: Harmony)

How to get it: Retraced Path can be acquired by completing Dares of Eternity runs or turning in Treasure keys at Xûr’s in Eternity.

ArtWeaponTypeArchetypeRarityAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?Ammo?Element?TierExcelsSourceAvailable?RequiresReleasedSlotCraftable?
Retraced Path artRetraced PathTrace RifleAdaptiveLegendarySpecialSolarFree-to-PlayYesSpecial ammo Destiny 2 SpecialSolar Solar
Strong

A

PvE + PvPDares of Eternity
Free-to-Play
30th Anniversary eventEnergyCraftable

 

Ager's Scepter Destiny 2 featured

Ager’s Scepter, The best Destiny 2 Trace rifle?

2. Ager’s Scepter

Vanguard logo Destiny 2 Excels in PVE

Ager’s Scepter is exactly what you would have expected from a proper Stasis trace rifle. Its ability to freeze and slow at will is remarkable, but on top of that, this exotic has best-in-class stats and an excellent Exotic perk that helps it stand out even more. In PVE, you can expect it to handle casual and solo content with easy, and in the hands of an experienced player, it can do just fine in endgame content too.

On top of all that, Ager’s Scepter with its Catalyst can absolutely shred in The Crucible. You’ll have to use all your Super energy but I’ll be worth it.

Exotic Perk: “Final blows with this weapon generate a slowing burst around the defeated target. Stasis final blows transfer ammo to this weapon’s magazine from reserves.”

How to get it: Ager’s Scepter can be acquired by completing an Exotic quest.

ArtWeaponTypeArchetypeRarityAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?Ammo?Element?TierExcelsSourceAvailable?RequiresReleasedSlotCraftable?
Ager's Scepter artAger's ScepterTrace RifleExoticExoticSpecialStasisBeyond LightYesSpecial ammo Destiny 2 SpecialStasis Stasis
Best

S

PvE + PvPExotic Kiosk
Beyond Light
Season 15KineticNo

 

Divinity Trace Destiny 2 featured

Divinity, the best PVE Destiny 2 Trace rifle

1. Divinity

Vanguard logo Destiny 2Best PVE Trace in Destiny 2

Divinity is the ultimate support weapon. It can deal with Overload Champions and more importantly, it can apply a huge debuff on everything, weakening enemies and creating a giant crit spot on them.

Divinity may have the lowest DPS on this list, but the huge benefits it can bring to any fireteam more than make up for it. If you and your fireteam want to increase your chances to complete the most difficult endgame content in Destiny 2, bringing a Divinity will certainly help.

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

How to get it: Divinity can be acquired by completing an Exotic quest.

ArtWeaponTypeArchetypeRarityAmmoElementRequirementsIn loot pool?Ammo?Element?TierExcelsSourceAvailable?RequiresReleasedSlotCraftable?
Destiny 2 Divinity artDivinityTrace RifleExoticExoticSpecialArcShadowkeepYesSpecial ammo Destiny 2 SpecialArc Arc
Strong

A

PvEExotic Quest
Shadowkeep
Season 8EnergyNo

Trace Rifles in PVP: Lethality & TTK

TTK is particularly important in PVP, because the lowest the TTK, the faster you can kill your opponent. You can read all about it in our TTK guide below.

This TTK guide includes the TTKs for every weapon in Destiny 2. But first, let’s set the right expectations: Trace Rifles are viable and fun, but they cannot be considered a top PVP weapon in Destiny 2.

Having said that, if you commit to them, equip ammo finder and scavenger mods, and use it as a Primary weapon (like a souped-up Auto rifle), they can get the job done:

Weapon Optimal TTK Average TTK
Coldheart 0.67s 0.93s
Wavesplitter 0.67s 0.93s
Prometheus Lens 0.73s 0.93s
Ruinous Effigy 0.73s 0.93s
Divinity 1.13s 1.80s

For the record, a 0,67 seconds TTK is extremely fast and matches the fastest Primary weapons in the entire game (the top sidearms and SMGs). Trace Rifles have better range too, but on the other hand, they use Special ammo, which means you’ll have to be much more careful with how you spend ammo.

Using a Trace rifle may seem like a gimmick, but these days, with the right ammo mods and the right mindset, you can have tons of fun with them. This video from our friend Pattycakes shows you exactly how:

Trace Rifles in PVE: DPS

DPS is important for PVE, because the higher the DPS, the more damage you can deal to a Boss or Major.

This DPS chart includes the DPS numbers for every weapon in Destiny 2. When it comes to actual DPS, Traces can do ok numbers:

-Weapon TypeArchetypeAverage DPSBurst DPSTotal DamageSpecs---Best in ClassChange?Ammo

Endgame content

Trace rifles do not excel in endgame content thanks to their DPS numbers. Granted, some, such as Ager’s Scepter, can deal insane DPS. But for the most part, Traces excel thanks to the unique things they bring to the table. For example, Divinity is king for endgame PVE content due to the immense support it provides to teammates.

Trace Rifles in Destiny 2: Are they Meta?

We’ve talked about the best Traces for PVE and PVP already, but how do they compare, in general, with other primary weapon types? In other words:

Are Trace Rifles good in Destiny 2?

The current Meta for PVE

So, are Trace rifles good in Destiny 2 PVE? This table summarizes how the several special weapon types rank against each other in PVE:

Weapon TypeRankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
S › Best
Best

S

► Shotguns are in a great place right now, and that's mainly due to the buff to slug shotguns but also the many new shotguns recently released with great stats and insane damage-dealing perks such as Reconstruction, Vorpal weapon, one-two punch, etc.

Overall, shotguns are finally hitting that sweet spot between risk and reward. Slug shotguns, in particular, are among the best shotguns in the game.
PVE Specials
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
S › Best
Best

S

► Special ammo Grenade launchers used to be Top tier, but that was only because of the Mountaintop. Technically, the Mountaintop is still one of the best (if not THE best) special weapon for PVE.

Thing is, Mountaintop will be retired with Beyond Light and won't be viable for endgame content anymore. And as much as people keep saying Truthteller will replace it, no other grenade launcher will be nearly as good as the Mountaintop.
PVE Specials
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
A › Strong
Strong

A

► Up until Season of Dawn, snipers were the best PVE special weapons in the game. They were extremely lethal and safe to use in endgame content, as they allowed players to deal insane DPS from afar.

But Bungie decided to nerf them hard because they were "too safe", bringing them back to pre-Shadowkeep values. Except, they were buffed with Shadowkeep because they were too average...
PVE Specials
Fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Fusion Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

► Fusion rifles were recipients of a significant nerf some time ago, making them technically weaker than before.

That said, fusion rifles deserve more love, because even if they were nerfed, they are still powerful. They are capable of dealing more damage than snipers while being safer to use (due to having more range) than shotguns.
PVE Specials
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

► Trace rifles don't have much going for them in PVP. They can deal respectable total damage, which can be useful on a boss. But in PVP, you wan't the opposite.

With insanely high TTKs (remember, high = bad), it can take forever to down an opponent, unless they're absolutely terrible and barely move at all, or you have excellent tracking. Generally speaking, Trace rifles take too long to do significant damage and most opponents will either hide or counter you with something that hits harder, such as a shotgun.
PVE Specials

The current Meta for PVP

What about PVP? This table summarizes how they rank against each other in PVP:

Weapon TypeRankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
A › Strong
Strong

A

Trend down► Shotguns have been hit by several nerfs and are no longer the undisputed go-to short-range option. They have lost their 'mapping' potential and even struggle to pick up kills at close range due to inconsistencies. However, Shotguns remain the easiest Special weapons in the game to pick up and slay out with, so for that reason, it still sits comfortably in the A tier.

► Best Archetype: Lightweight (80 RPM)- Example: Without Remorse
PVP Specials
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► Snipers have benefitted massively from the 'Anti-Flinch' changes that have been added with Season of the Haunted. Leaning into high Stability and equipping Sniper Unflinching Mods can allow you to still land the headshot while getting shot by multiple people. They do have a little bit of a learning curve, but if you become skilled with a Sniper, you can be nearly unstoppable.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (90 RPM)- Example: Beloved
PVP Specials
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

Trend down► Trace Rifles are quite a niche pick and will fall short as a competitive option in most players' hands. Even once you learn to master Trace Rifles, you'll be better off with a Special weapon that can provide a one-hit-kill t rather than one that can be out-dueled by a Primary weapon.

► All Archetypes are 1000 RPM - Best Option: Coldheart
PVP Specials

Glaives
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► Glaives received a buff going into Season of the Haunted, and have also benefitted from the Special Ammo changes that also launched with Season 17. Simply hitting a single shot will chunk your opponent for 131 damage, and will also provide energy for your Shield which is a chunky 75% damage resist. Glaives require mastery of a certain playstyle, but once you get it down, you can dominate lobbies with ease.

► All Glaives share the same archetype
PVP Specials
Fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Fusion Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► Fusion Rifles have seen buff after buff, and with Season of the Haunted, they finally saw a slight nerf. However, this change hasn't altered the state of Fusion Rifles enough to consider them noticeably weaker than before. They are able to cover the close-medium range excellently and a good Fusion Rifle player can be incredibly hard to beat.

► Best Archetype: Precision (780ms Charge Time) - Example: Main Ingredient
PVP Specials
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► Grenade Launchers remain the most 'annoying' option in PvP. The ability to flush players out from cover is not lost on players in PvP, and being able to 1-hit kill with certain rolls allows Grenade Launchers to be a highly tactical, but also lethal option. They also serve as an excellent 'hot-swap' choice to allow for easy cleanups with your Primary weapon.

► Best Archetype: Wave Frame - Example: Dead Messenger
PVP Specials

Your turn

You now know everything there is to know about Trace Rifles in Destiny 2, whether that is for PVP or PVE content.

Latest changes made to this guide

Things change fast in Destiny 2, especially when a new Season or Expansion launches. For that reason, this post will be updated at least once per season.

With the release of Season of the Lost (Season 15) and Bungie’s 30th Anniversary event, the following weapons were added:

  • Eyasluna
  • Zephyr
  • Ager’s Scepter

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 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.
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