Destiny 2 Best PVP Weapons right now

by | Jun 14, 2021

As you start getting serious with Destiny 2, one of your first questions will be: What are the best weapons in the game?

And that’s not an easy question to answer, as it depends on whether you’re looking for the top weapons for PVP or PVE, casual or endgame content, etc.

Today, we’ll focus on the best PVP weapons in 2021 that were not sunsetted and remain viable as of Season 14, aka, Season of the Splicer.

In this guide, we cover both Exotic and Legendary weapons (including their PVP god rolls), the current PVP meta, and provide quick guides on how to obtain the top PVP exotics. For the sake of clarity, we’ll split our selection of weapons into three categories: Primary ammo weapons, Special ammo weapons, and Heavy weapons.

Pattycakes removebg previewA big thank you to Pattycakes for helping me put together this selection. Pattycakes is one of my favorite Destiny 2 content creators focused on PVP and someone you should definitely check out.


Destiny 2 Best PVP Primary weapons

In this section, we cover the best primary PVP weapons. And by primary, we mean either Kinetic or Energy weapons that use Primary ammo. If you sometimes get confused between Kinetic, Primary, Energy, and Special weapons, just remember Primary weapons use “normal” ammo, aka, white ammo boxes:

Alert iconAbout TTK: TTK, or time-to-kill, 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.

WeaponDrops from ❘ RequiresOptimal TTKPVP VerdictTypeElementRequirements
Destiny 2 Ace of Spades art
Ace of Spades
| Hand Cannon
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
0.87
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "Precision kills increase reload speed and cause the target to explode. Reloading after a kill increases damage. Grants radar while aiming down sights."

► Arguably the best 140 RPM hand cannon in the entire game, Ace of Spades has a lot to offer. With excellent base stats and some of the best perks around, namely Momento Mori, which is like Kill Clip on steroids, Ace of Spades is one of the most dominating kinetic primary weapons in the Crucible.

Ace of Spades was barely seen last season due to the excessive range buff that 120 RPM hand cannons received, but now that those have reigned down, Ace of Spades can (and will) shine again.
Good Alternative: Hawkmoon.
Hand CannonKineticForsaken
The Messenger Destiny 2 art
The Messenger
| Pulse Rifle
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
0.67
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

PVP God Roll: Rapid Hit + Desperado (also good: Kill Clip)

► This returning weapon from Destiny 1 is hands down the best Pulse rifle right now. Belonging to the High-Impact archetype, The Messenger already benefits from one of the fastest TTKs in the game. But on top of that, it has best-in-class base stats and excellent perks.

And while all of its perks are good, it can also come with a top-tier perk previously reserved only for Pinnacle weapons: Desperado. With Desperado, which greatly increases its rate of fire after a precision kill, its TTK is massively reduced, allowing it to duel absolutely anyone and even go for insane killing sprees in 6v6 modes.
Decent Alternative: No Time to Explain.
Pulse RifleKineticFree-to-Play
Igneous Hammer Destiny 2 art
Igneous Hammer
| Hand Cannon
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
1.00
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Quickdraw) + Rampage

► Seeing how it has been dominating the PVP scene for months now, Igneous Hammer shouldn't need an introduction. With the best stats among 120 RPM hand cannons and an excellent perk selection, including the extremely fun Quickdraw + Rampage, Igneous Hammer is a monster.

Other 120 RPM hand cannons can also roll with Rampage, but none can match Igneous Hammer's top-tier base stats and range. And as a Trials of Osiris weapon, it can also come in Adept versions which have slightly better stats and access to superior Adept modes.
Good Alternative: Bottom Dollar.
Hand CannonSolarFree-to-Play
Dead Man's Tale Destiny 2 art
Dead Man's Tale
| Scout Rifle
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Deluxe Edition logo
0.80
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "Chaining precision hits grants bonus damage and quickens reload speed. Future drops of this weapon have random rolls."

► Dead Man's Tale was a real game-changer. Before its release, it was unimaginable to see a scout rifle dominate the Crucible, but here we are. With excellent stats and the ability to 2-tap guardians once its Exotic perk is active, Dead Man's Tale is extremely lethal at long ranges.

But what makes this weapon particularly insane is that once you get its Catalyst, it can hip fire more quickly and with absolutely no penalties to aim assistance. This allows skilled players to map opponents in the Crucible simply by hip firing it, especially on PC.
Good Alternative: MIDA Multi-Tool.
Scout RifleKineticDeluxe Edition
The Palindrome Destiny 2 art
The Palindrome
| Hand Cannon
Nighfall: The Ordeals
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
0.87
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Killing Wind (also good: Quickdraw) + Rangefinder

► Among the many great Nightfall weapons out there, The Palindrome is the absolute must-have. It has great stats, excellent perks, and can dominate in both PVE and PVP. On top of that, it also comes with that smooth "feel" you'd want from a hand cannon.

The only reason you don't see it more often is because 120 RPM hand cannons currently dominate the Crucible. But make no mistake, The Palindrome is arguably the best legendary 140 RPM hand cannon, and with the right perks, it can compete with Ace of Spades and Hawkmoon. But it doesn't have to, as it sits in the Energy slot which allows you to pair with all the Meta special weapons, including Felwinter's Lie and Adored.
Decent Alternative: Ancient Gospel.
Hand CannonVoidFree-to-Play
Multimach CCX Destiny 2 art
Multimach CCX
| Submachine Gun
Iron Banner
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
0.67
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Dynamic Sway Reduction (also good: Killing Wind) + Kill Clip (also good: Iron Grip)

► It has been a while since an SMG was considered a top choice for PVP, but the Multimach CCX managed to earn a spot among our Top 10 PVP weapons. While close-quarters combat in Destiny 2 is mostly dominated by shotguns, Multimach CCX remains viable thanks to its decent range, consistency, and insanely fast time-to-kill (one of the fastest there is among primary ammo weapons).

The Multimach CCX is without a doubt favorite among SMG fans, but good luck finding a good roll. Unfortunately, this weapon is locked behind the terrible Iron Banner reward system, which means it will all come down to your luck when turning bounties...
Decent Alternative: Stochastic Variable.
Submachine GunKineticFree-to-Play
Shayura's Wrath Destiny 2 art
Shayura's Wrath
| Submachine Gun
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
0.80
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Precision

PVP God Roll: Tunnel Vision (also good: Killing Wind) + Kill Clip

► The latest (hot) new weapon to come out of Trials of Osiris, Shayura's Wrath is perhaps the best PVP SMG we have seen in a while. As a 600 RPM weapon, Shayura's Wrath offers a competitive TTK, but more importantly, it has an insane range for an SMG.

That surprisingly long range, great stats, consistency, and an excellent Perk selection make Shayura's Wrath a must-have for PVP, especially now that 600 RPM auto rifles have been reigned down.
Decent Alternative: IKELOS_SMG_V1.0.2.
Submachine GunVoidFree-to-Play
True Prophecy Destiny 2 art
True Prophecy
| Hand Cannon
Gunsmith
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
1.00
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Rangefinder (also good: Opening Shot) + Rampage (also good: PERK)

► Aggressive Hand Cannons are perhaps the biggest winners of the latest sandbox changes. With an increased rate of fire and longer range, 120 RPM hand cannons are a true menace in the Crucible. And among the many great options out there, True Prophecy is the top kinetic 120 RPM hand cannon.

While it lacks the base stats of something like a Sturm with its Catalyst, a True Prophecy with Rampage gives you the ability to 2-tap guardians, which is one of the most satisfying things you can do in PVP.
Good Alternative: Steady Hand.
Hand CannonKineticFree-to-Play
Gridskipper Destiny 2 art
Gridskipper
| Pulse Rifle
Override
Destiny 2 Season 14 logo
0.80
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVP God Roll: Heating Up (also good: Moving Target) + Multikill Clip

► Gridskipper is one of the biggest surprises this season. It's not a High-Impact Pulse and it doesn't have the best TTK, yet it can absolutely shred in PVP while simultaneously feeling great in your hands. It benefits from all of the best new perks, especially Heating Up, which help it effortlessly chain kills in 6v6 matches.

As a Rapid-Fire pulse, Gridskipper isn't great at peak shooting, but if used it aggressively, it can easily dominate medium-range engagements. Plus, it's superior and much easier to obtain than the only other remaining Rapid-Fire pulse rifle in the game: The Time-Worn Spire.
Good Alternative: Stars in Shadow.
Pulse RifleVoidSeason 14
Fatebringer Destiny 2 art
Fatebringer
| Hand Cannon
Vault of Glass Raid
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
0.87
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Explosive Payload (also good: Killing Wind) + Opening Shot (also good: Firefly)

► The most iconic weapon from the Vault of Glass raid, Fatebringer is the weapon everyone is talking about. And on paper, Fatebringer has a lot to offer: great stats and great perks.

One could argue Fatebringer is the best kinetic legendary 140 RPM hand cannon available, but unlike The Palindrome, it has to compete with all the excellent Exotic kinetic hand cannons, plus, many also prefer the "feel" of The Palindrome.
Decent Alternative: Dire Promise.
Hand CannonKineticFree-to-Play

If you’re looking for a video version of a great PVP weapons guide, this Tier list from Pattycakes is a must-see:


Destiny 2 Best PVP Special weapons

Destiny 2 special ammoIn this section, we cover the best Special PVP 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:

WeaponDrops from ❘ RequiresOptimal TTKPVP VerdictTypeElementRequirements
Felwinter's Lie Destiny 2 art
Felwinter's Lie
| Shotgun
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP Preferred Perks: Quickdraw + Opening Shot

► The best PVP shotgun currently in the game, Felwinter's Lie features insane one-hit-kill distances. And that's partly due to its exotic intrinsic perk, Shot Package, which gives it a tight and consistent pellet spread.

Similar to Pursuit weapons, it also comes with 2 fixed perks per slot you can choose from, and they're all excellent. For example, you can instantly swap to Vorpal Weapon to shut down supers when they come around.
Good Alternative: Found Verdict.
ShotgunSolarFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 Bastion
Bastion
| Fusion Rifle
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
-
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Charge to fire 3 spreads of Kinetic slugs. A portion of this weapon's damage bypasses elemental shields."

► Bastion is a unique weapon that sits between a shotgun and a fusion rifle. With its 3 quick bursts, it feels like a semi-automatic shotgun that can literally destroy any roaming super with ease.

Bastion is fun, easy to use, and is able to deal high burst damage. But because it's still technically a fusion rifle, you have to deal with its charge time. In other words, timing is everything.
Decent Alternative: Witherhoard.
Fusion RifleKineticShadowkeep
Adored Destiny 2 art
Adored
| Sniper Rifle
Pursuit Weapon
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP Preferred Perks: Killing Wind + Snapshot Sights

► The natural replacer of the top-tier Beloved sniper rifle, Adored has a lot going for it. With a fairly low zoom stat at 45, decent sights, and high aim assist, Adored offers a great combination of lethality and ease of use.

Even better, it's a legendary sniper that offers a great static roll for PVP and can be paired with one of the excellent Exotic hand cannons in the kinetic slot.
Good Alternative: UZUME RR4.
Sniper RifleArcFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 The Chaperone art
The Chaperone
| Shotgun
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
-
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Fires a single-slug precision round. Precision kills briefly grant bonus handling, range, and precision damage with this weapon."

► The Chaperone is a slug shotgun with incredible range and an easy contender for Best PVP shotty in Destiny 2.

Because of its excellent base stats and its single-slug frame, The Chaperone has the longest one-hit kill distance of any shotgun in the game, at around 12 meters, provided you can hit your headshots! In the hands of a skilled player, this is an incredibly lethal weapon able to map enemies from afar.
Decent Alternative: Blasphemer.
ShotgunKineticBeyond Light
Frozen Orbit Destiny 2 art
Frozen Orbit
| Sniper Rifle
Playlist: Crucible
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP God Roll: No Distractions (also good: Killing Wind) + Snapshot Sights

► Sniper rifles are all about their "feel", which is why some Snipers naturally stand out and steadily become the top choice in PVP. Frozen Orbit does have a lot of competition in the likes of Adored and Cloudstrike, but it's still one of the best feeling sniper rifles out there. And as an Aggressive Sniper, it can easily take down Supers, provided you have the aim.

If you play a lot of PVP, you'll probably end up with a bunch of these as they can be end-of-match rewards.
Good Alternative: Occluded Finality.
Sniper RifleVoidFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 Astral Horizon
Astral Horizon
| Shotgun
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP God Roll: Surplus (also good: Auto-Loading Holster) + Killing Wind+ Opening Shot (also good: Celerity)
► If you're looking for the best kinetic pellet shotgun, look no further than Astral Horizon. On top of having excellent base stats and a good range, it also stands out thanks to its excellent perk selection (which no longer includes Quickdraw, unfortunately).

In other words, a god-rolled Astral Horizon is perhaps the only legendary shotgun that can rival Felwinter's Lie. Be prepared for a tough time in Trials to farm it though...
Decent Alternative: Toil and Trouble.
ShotgunKineticFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 Telesto art
Telesto
| Fusion Rifle
Exotic Engram
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
-
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special

Exotic Perk: "Fusion projectiles attach and detonate with a delayed Void blast. Multikills with this weapon immediately reload your equipped Kinetic and Energy weapons from reserves."

► Telesto, The besto. Or so players like to call it. Telesto is indeed a great weapon with some unique features. With its proximity explosive bolts, you can use it to set traps and play defensively or use it as a traditional fusion rifle.

It's also capable of solid one-hit-kill ranges and has the ability to potentially get multi-kills on grouped-up enemies.
Decent Alternatives: Glacioclasm or Exile's Curse.
Fusion RifleVoidFree-to-Play
Eye of Sol Destiny 2 art
Eye of Sol
| Sniper Rifle
Trials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Aggressive

PVP God Roll: Snapshot Sights + Opening Shot (also good: Vorpal Weapon)

► Eye of Sol is a solid 90 RPM sniper akin to the now retired, Beloved. Featuring a reasonable 45 zoom stat and good aim assistance, Eye of Sol can also roll with great perk options.

That said, it remains one of the toughest weapons to farm in this list as it's locked behind Trials of Osiris. Keep an eye out in case it becomes the 3-win reward to grab yourself a couple (through the weekly bounty).
Good Alternatives: Praedyth's Revenge or Succession.
Sniper RifleKineticFree-to-Play
Duality Destiny 2
Duality
| Shotgun
Exotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Deluxe Edition logo
-
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Exotic

Exotic Perk: "Fires a pellet spread in hip-fire or a single high-damage slug while aiming. Pellet final blows grant a stacking precision damage and reload speed buff. Precision hits with slugs extend the duration."

► Duality has always been a unique shotgun that combines the strengths of both pellet and slug shotguns. It's definitely a fun exotic to use in low-stress PVE and PVP situations.

However, it also carries the weaknesses of both archetypes and when the stakes are high, Duality is out-performed by more specialized weapons. Duality did receive a buff with Season of the Chosen, which helps it a lot, but it remains a difficult weapon to use, especially when compared to the much more straightforward Felwinter's Lie.
Decent Alternative: Sojourner's Tale.
ShotgunSolarDeluxe Edition
Riiswalker Destiny 2 art
Riiswalker
| Shotgun
Iron Banner
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Destiny 2 special ammo Special | Archetype: Lightweight

PVP God Roll: Quickdraw (also good: Surplus) + Iron Reach

► One of the two new weapons from Iron Banner, Riiswalker was introduced at the perfect time. Now that aggressive shotguns were indirectly nerfed with the removal of Quickdraw (making them much clunkier to use), other archetypes can finally take a breather.

All Lightweight shotguns suddenly became more viable and Riiswalker is the best Lightweight shotgun there is. It has best stats and excellent perks, which is why all the top players who want to take a break from Felwinter's Lie are enjoying Riiswalker. Patty just released an excellent video comparing the two.
Decent Alternative: Seventh Seraph CQC-12.
ShotgunKineticFree-to-Play

Destiny 2 Best PVP Heavy weapons

Destiny 2 Heavy ammoIn this section, we cover the best Heavy PVP weapons, also known as Power weapons. Unlike Primary and Special weapons that can be in either the Kinetic or Energy slots, Heavy weapons can only be in the Heavy slot. In other words, we’re talking about the weapons that use “heavy” ammo, aka, purple ammo boxes:

WeaponDrops from ❘ RequiresOptimal TTKPVP VerdictTypeElementRequirements
Destiny 2 The Wardcliff Coil
The Wardcliff Coil
| Rocket Launcher
Exotic Engram
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
-
Slot: Arc Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "This weapon fires a volley of rockets and automatically reloads on ammo pickup."

► Arguably the best PVP rocket launcher in the game, The Wardcliff Coil is incredibly lethal and could potentially wipe an entire team. On top of that, it's a consistent and reliable weapon that can practically guarantee kills, even in competitive modes.

The Wardcliff Coils also has the ability to easily shut down supers from range.
Good Alternative: Eyes of Tomorrow.
Rocket LauncherArcFree-to-Play
Commemoration Destiny 2 art
Commemoration
| Machine Gun
Deep Stone Crypt Raid
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
0.53
Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Dynamic Sway Reduction + Eye of the Storm (also good: Rampage)

► Machine guns are popular in PVP because they offer an excellent ammo economy. When used right, one ammo brick can result in 4-5 kills.

Commemoration is one of the few legendary machine guns that survived weapon sunsetting, which is why it easily earned a spot here. On top of that, being a Void machine gun with excellent stats make it the natural replacement of the fan-favorite Hammerhead.
Good Alternative: NAME.
Machine GunVoidBeyond Light
Destiny 2 Xenophage
Xenophage
| Machine Gun
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
-
Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "Fires high-powered explosive ammunition. Aiming this weapon increases its effective range and zoom magnification."

► A top choice for both PVE and PVP, Xenophage is a must-have Power weapon.

In PVP, it remains as strong as it has always been. You can easily use its explosive rounds to two-shot kill any guardian, and you can even kill guardians behind cover by shooting the ground or nearby objects. PS: Xenophage is particularly good in Trials on longer-range maps.
Good Alternative: Thunderlord.
Machine GunSolarShadowkeep
Destiny 2 Deathbringer art
Deathbringer
| Rocket Launcher
Exotic Quest
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
-
Slot: Void Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "Fires remotely detonated projectiles that drop Void orbs on combatants. Hold to fire, release to detonate. The further a Void orb falls, the more powerful its detonation becomes."

► Deathbringer is one of the most fun heavy weapons in the game. If you catch a team on spawn, you can wipe them all out with a well-placed detonation.

You can also use it to shoot it at a wall when someone pushes you and still secure a few kills in a pinch. It's great at tracking enemies, and overall, a slept-on weapon more guardians should try.
Good Alternative: Black Talon.
Rocket LauncherVoidShadowkeep
Destiny 2 Heir Apparent art
Heir Apparent
| Machine Gun
Guardian Games
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
-
Slot: Solar Heavy | Ammo: Destiny 2 Heavy ammo Heavy

Exotic Perk: "This weapon can be fired only when fully spun up. While at full health, spinning up this weapon protects you with an Arc Shield."

► Heir Apparent has always been a fun-to-use weapon in Destiny 2. And while it was perceived as a gimmick for an entire year, now that it finally received a Catalyst, it became a true menace.

With its Catalyst, Heir Apparent can make you virtually unkillable, allowing you to shred any guardian that stands in your way. Heir Apparent particularly shines in low-stakes games such as 6v6 modes.
Machine GunArcFree-to-Play

Destiny 2 PVP Meta

Every sandbox change comes with a new 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 weapon types for PVP.

PS: If you’re looking for the complete rundown of the state of the current Meta for PVP and PVE, check out our Destiny 2 Meta guide.

We just covered the absolute best PVP weapons, but it’s equally important to understand how the different weapon types compare to each other.

Alert iconWhat is 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.

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.

The list starts with S Tier and moves down until it reaches the bottom Tier. Also, remember that the PVE meta is completely different than the PVP meta!

PVP Primary weapons meta

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
Hand cannon weapon type Destiny 2
Hand Cannons
Best

S

Hand Cannons are and have always been the top PVP choice in Destiny. Nerfs can bring them slightly down and give other weapon types a chance, but in the end, the top players will always gravitate towards hand cannons.

It all comes down to the very nature of hand cannons. They can deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time, meaning they are perfect at peak shooting in and out of cover (something an auto rifle, for example, cannot do).
Pulse rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Pulse Rifles
Best

S

Sometimes referred to as "dad rifles", pulse rifles are generally easier to use, have a good range, and good aim assist. And with the recent buff to the High-Impact archetype, top pulses, such as The Messenger, have become some of the most lethal weapons in the Crucible.

And by the way, not all Pulses behave the same. Some, such as Adaptive frames, are somewhat easy to use and could be considered "Dad rifles", whereas High-impacts are harder to master but have some of the most lethal time-to-kill in the entire game.
Sidearm weapon type Destiny 2
Sidearms
Strong

A

For some reason, Sidearms have never been particularly popular in PVP. But things are definitely changing, especially since their target acquisition was buffed last year. You now see more and more top players main sidearms alongside their favorite sniper.

On paper, sidearms certainly have a limited range, which puts them in direct competition with shotguns, but Sidearms still offer the best TTKs among primary weapons in Destiny 2. Don't be surprised to see them gain momentum as shotguns continue to receive nerfs.
Auto rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Auto Rifles
Average

B

Auto rifles had their 15 minutes of fame when they received a significant buff in Season of the Worthy, especially the 600 RPM variants. But Auto rifles were quickly reigned in and brought back to their usual place: the middle of the pack.

Every now and then, an outlier will see some usage in the Crucible, such as the new Chroma Rush, but in general, ARs suffer from a big drawback: They force you to stay out of cover all the time (unlike a hand cannon or pulse), which makes them less effective in competitive modes or against skilled users.
SMG weapon type Destiny 2
Submachine Guns
Average

B

SMGs are far from being the "meta" choice in PVP. Other weapons types can be almost as lethal while significantly offering better range.

Still, SMGs can get the job done. In fact, a very good SMG with the right perks, such as the new Shayura's Wrath or the Multimach CCX, can be a true menace in the Crucible, with low TTKs and decent range.
Combat bow weapon type Destiny 2
Combat Bows
Average

B

Combat bows are definitely a niche choice for PVP. You will rarely see a guardian using a bow in the Crucible, and that's because bows are far from being the most optimal tool to get the job done.

With a headshot, bows can "almost" kill an enemy, but during the time you'll need to shoot a second arrow, your enemy will be either gone or you will be already dead. Exceptions such as Le Monarque do exist of course, but in general, you'll be better served with other weapon types.
Scout rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Scout Rifles
Weak

C

To be clear, everything this applies to every Scout rifle in the game, except Dead Man's Tale, an exponentially superior Scout than the rest.

Whether we're talking about PVE or PVP, Scout rifles have been in a sad state for a long time. In PVP, they have some of the worst TTKs in the game and will lose most fights in close to medium range. They do offer good range, but most maps cater to closed-quarter combat.

PVP Special weapons meta

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
Shotgun weapon type Destiny 2
Shotguns
Best

S

Shotguns are so strong right now, they have been officially identified as a problem. They are simply too dominant in the current sandbox.

Shotguns are extremely lethal, easy to use, and encourage players to use them even more than primary weapons. And as Destiny 2's maps are relatively crowded (they were conceived for 8 players only), close-quarters combat is heavily encouraged, thus allowing shotguns to shine.
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
Strong

A

► Sniper rifles have always been a top choice for PVP. But unlike shotguns, they have a higher skill-ceiling. In other words, it's harder to master a sniper, but in the hands of a skilled player, there's nothing deadlier than a sniper rifle in the entire game.

Overall, snipers are in a weird place right now. Recent nerfs to their flinch and aim assist have made them harder to use, which lead to even more people using shotguns. But if you do cross paths with a sniper user, beware. If they are still using one, it's because they know how to use it...
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
Strong

A

► If you try to use Trace Rifles as any other Special weapon, you'll be very disappointed. Shotguns, snipers, and even fusion rifles are meant to be one-hit-kill weapons. Trace rifles, on the other hand, are not. They are slow.

But if you try to use them as a primary weapon, you'll see their true potential. With enough ammo, they behave like souped-up auto rifles, reaching the TTK of some of the best primary weapons in the game.
Fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Fusion Rifles
Average

B

► Fusion rifles have been struggling for a while. After their big range nerf a few seasons ago, mainly due to the infamous Erentil FR4, Fusion rifles have lagged behind shotguns and snipers.

Bungie is clearly trying to rectify the situation, offering a few minor buffs here in there. Fusion rifles still have a long way to go before becoming competitive again, but standouts such as Bastion or the newer PLUG.ONE can still dominate a lobby.
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Average

B

► The reign of Special ammo Grenade launchers came to an end the day the Mountaintop was retired. And the Crucible has been a happier place ever since. Jokes aside, Mountaintop was a real problem. It was too strong, downright broken, while the rest of its kind left a lot to be desired.

These days, special ammo grenade launchers have finally found some balance. Some of the latest breechloaded grenade launchers are very good on paper, but unlike Mountaintop, they require some skill to be lethal in the Crucible.

For the sake of clarity, weapon categories consisting of only 1 or 2 exotics have been excluded. For example, Eriana’s Vow is too unique to be representative of an entire weapon type.

Alert icon If you’re particularly interested in these unique exotics, check out our Exotic Tier list including every exotic weapon currently in the game.

PVP Heavy weapons meta

Weapon TypeTierRole ❘ Current State
Rocket launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Rocket Launchers
Best

S

Rocket launchers are in a great place right now for PVP. As ammo economy is not an issue in the Crucible, their insane high-burst damage per rocket allows them to shine.

Rocket launchers, and especially the exotics, can basically guarantee a kill without requiring much skill nor effort. And if used right, you can easily get multi kills in 6v6 modes. Rocket launchers even have a place in competitive modes, namely the Wardclif Coil, due to their consistency.
Machine gun weapon type Destiny 2
Machine Guns
Strong

A

Machine guns are always a safe bet in PVP. They have excellent TTK, are very consistent from medium to long-range, and have enough ammo to kill easily 2 to 3 guardians, 4 if you play your cards right.

Not all machine guns were created equal, though, as some of them are much stronger than the rest, especially the exotics (Heir Apparent immediately comes to mind). But with the right perks, legendary Machine guns can also shine
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
Average

B

Grenade launchers can be good options in PVP. They are powerful and can come with great perks, including the newish Chain Reaction, which can easily net you multi kills when hitting enemies grouped together. When used with something like Proximity grenades, grenade launchers can be even more reliable and easy to use.

Compared to the other Power weapon in the game, grenade launchers remain strong contenders. And when you take into account the exotics, namely The Colony, they can basically give you free kills.
Sword weapon type Destiny 2
Swords
Weak

C

Swords may be a top-tier choice in PVE due to their high-risk, high reward approach. But in PVP, the risk is much higher than the reward.

You can, of course, use a sword to benefit from the third-person view and wait for opponents around corners. But in many situations, you could find yourself completely vulnerable out in the open while chasing an enemy. On top of that, 3-peeking with swords is considered a douchy approach by the community, and with reason!
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
Weak

C

Linear fusion rifles are in the middle of an identity crisis. They are stronger than sniper rifles and have more aim assistance, but they still require Heavy ammo and a headshot to one-shot an enemy.

On top of that, they also have a charge time to take into account. Compared to a sniper rifle that fires immediately and only uses Special ammo, Linear Fusion rifles make little sense for the Crucible. In PVP, you want a Heavy weapon that can either easily down several guardians or guarantee a kill in a high-stakes match. It isn't impossible to do with a linear fusion rifle, but other weapon types can accomplish that more easily.

Alert iconThe Meta can change in a heartbeat, but you can rest assured, though, this overview is up to date with the current Season of the Splicer and will be updated as soon as a new meta arrives.


Destiny 2 Best PVP Exotics: How to get them

These are the detailed steps on how to acquire all the top PVP exotics in Destiny 2 mentioned before:

1. Exotic Engrams: How to get Telesto and Wardcliff Coil

All of these weapons can be found as random exotic engrams. This is bad news if you don’t already have them as you won’t be able to actively work to get them.

In a nutshell, there are only a few ways you can get exotic engrams in Destiny 2:

  • From the Season pass (the Free track offers while the Paid track offers )
  • From Xur: Either as his random exotic engram or as his weekly Exotic weapon for sale
  • As a random World drop

There isn’t much more that can be said about grinding Exotic engrams, only that they have a higher chance to drop from end-game activities. If finding this exotic is your priority, Nightfall: The Ordeals are for you. And the higher the difficulty (Master level and above), the higher the chance to get one.

2. Exotic kiosk: How to get Ace of Spades and Bastion

With the release of Beyond Light on November 20, 2020, several Exotics became available via the new Exotics kiosk in the tower, called the Monument to Lost Lights. The Monument to Lost Lights includes weapons that used to be part of Exotic quests that are no longer in the game. Nowadays, weapons such as Bastion, Thorn, and Le Monarque can be instantly acquired at the Exotics kiosk, provided you have the necessary materials. We cover all the weapons and materials from the Monument to Lost Lights here.

Destiny 2 Monument to Lost Lights wide

3. Exotic Quests: How to get Hawkmoon, The Chaperone, Deadbringer, and Xenophage

The difficulty of an exotic quest can vary from long and hard (such as Xenophage’s quest) to fast and easy (The Chaperone).

In any case, you can find every single exotic quest in this guide. It also includes the difficulty of the quest itself and links to the best video guides I could find.


Destiny 2 Best PVP loadouts

Up until now, we have split our top PVP 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 an Igneous Hammer as your primary weapon, then your Special weapon will have to be Kinetic.

In this section, we’ll share some of the most popular PVP loadouts right now. This is how our Top PVP weapons look like, filtered by slot and not by ammo type:

Destiny 2 Best PVP Kinetic weapons:

Weapon  Type Ammo Type
Ace of Spades Hand Cannon Primary
Multimach CCX SMG Primary
True Prophecy Hand Cannon Primary
The Messenger Pulse Rifle Primary
Fatebringer Hand Cannon Primary
Dead Man’s Tale Scout Rifle Primary
The Chaperone Shotgun Special
Riiswalker Shotgun Special
Bastion Fusion Rifle Special
Astral Horizon Shotgun Special
Eye of Sol Sniper Rifle Special

Destiny 2 Best PVP Energy weapons:

Weapon  Type Ammo Type
Igneous Hammer Hand Cannon Primary
The Palindrome Hand Cannon Primary
Gridskipper Pulse Rifle Primary
Shayura’s Wrath SMG Primary
Adored Sniper Rifle Special
Felwinter’s Lie Shotgun Special
Frozen Orbit Trace Rifle Special
Duality Shotgun Special
Telesto Fusion Rifle Special

If we mix and match the top kinetic and energy weapons, these are some of the most “Meta” and popular PVP loadouts currently in the Crucible:

Loadout 1*:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
Bastion (or Astral Horizon) Igneous Hammer (or Bottom Dollar) Wardcliff Coil

*My current go-to loadout!

Loadout 2:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
The Messenger (or No Time to Explain) Felwinter’s Lie Wardcliff Coil

Loadout 3:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
Dead Man’s Tale Felwinter’s Lie Wardcliff Coil

Loadout 4:

Kinetic Energy Heavy
The Steady Hand Adored (or Cloudstrike) Commemoration

The Last Word

We did our best to include both Legendary weapons and Exotics, as well as the top tier, most difficult to obtain weapons, and easier to get, yet still great alternatives.

Did we miss your current favorite PVP weapon? Do you have a particularly good PVP loadout you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

For the record, this list is based on my experience playing the PC version of the game.

Want to keep the conversation going?

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