Destiny 2 Meta weapons: PvP and PvE Meta today

by | Sep 14, 2023

The Meta refers to the most used weapons for a particular activity at any given time. Generally, these weapons are the most used because they are the most powerful/efficient, which means they can be used to your advantage when used right.

You can always use whatever weapons you enjoy the most. But if you’re like me, as soon as you get destroyed in endgame content or the Crucible, figuring out the current Meta becomes crucial. This guide covers the current state of the Destiny 2 meta.

Checkmark icon V3Updated as of Season of the Witch (S22). See Updates.

Destiny 2 current PvP Meta: The Crucible Meta

Keep in mind that the PVP meta is the result of the combination of fast TTKs (time-to-kill) and ease of use. We cover TTK values for every weapon in the game in our TTK guide.

PS: If you’re looking for the top PvP weapons right now, you can check our Best PvP weapons guide. Unlike this guide, which focuses on weapon types, that guide covers the specific weapons that currently dominate the Crucible.

PvP Primary weapons meta

Weapon Type RankTierTrendRole ❘ Current StateCategory
Hand cannon weapon type Destiny 2
Hand Cannons
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► Hand Cannons feel great right now and can deal with all the other meta options, provided they are in the hands of a skilled player. They are unbelievably forgiving in terms of aim-assist and can compete at solid ranges. Hand Cannons are the jack of all trades, and while they may not dominate up close or far away, they are incredibly scary to face in a mid-range duel.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (120 RPM) - Example: Igneous Hammer
PVP Primaries
Pulse rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Pulse Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

-► Pulse Rifles have seen a resurgence in the past few seasons, with constant buffs to all types of Pulse Rifles. It is hard not to find success with one due to the high-flinch potential of Rapid-Fire Pulses or the lethal time-to-kill of High-Impact Pulses.

► Best Archetype: High-Impact (340 RPM) - Example: The Messenger
PVP Primaries
SMG weapon type Destiny 2
Submachine Guns
S › Best
Best

S

Trend up► SMGs remain a staple of the PvP meta. SMGs absolutely shred enemies at close range and as soon as their top option is nerfed, a new top-tier SMG is introduced to replace it. SMGs have been, and seemingly will remain, meta for a long time to come.

► Best Archetype: Aggressive (720 RPM) - Example: The Immortal
PVP Primaries
Sidearm weapon type Destiny 2
Sidearms
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► Sidearms have lost their place at the top of the meta, but they remain a solid pick, especially for players using a Controller, as they inherently have manageable stability with a rapid time-to-kill. Honestly, the main reason they've lost their place at the top is due to how powerful SMGs are right now.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (325 RPM) - Example: Forgiveness
PVP Primaries
Auto rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Auto Rifles
A › Strong
Strong

A

Trend up► After a couple of recent changes and buffs, Auto Rifles are feeling great to use right now, especially in the more casual Crucible playlists. While they may not have the juice to compete with some of the top dogs, they are still a solid pick and can help you frag out with relative ease.

► Best Archetype: Precision (450 RPM) - Example: Ammit AR2
PVP Primaries
Combat bow weapon type Destiny 2
Combat Bows
B › Average
Average

B

-► Bows are incredibly unique. They have a remarkably slow time to kill, however, this isn't where Bows shine. Hotswap builds with bows can be incredibly potent and don't require much learning either. Bows also provide incredible value when teamshooting opponents. Despite this, Bows on their own are quite mediocre and need something behind them to really shine.

► Best Archetype: Precision (Slower Draw Time) - Example: Strident Whistle
PVP Primaries
Scout rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Scout Rifles
C › Weak
Weak

C

Trend down► Scout Rifles are struggling right now. In most situations, the maps are too small to benefit the long range of a Scout rifle. An Aggressive or High-Impact Pulse Rifle will better serve your needs. Plus, Scout Rifles are abysmal up close. There are one or two outliers that shine but, on the whole, Scout Rifles are in a weak spot.

► Best Archetype: Rapid-Fire (260 RPM) - Example: Fang of Ir Yût
PVP Primaries

PvP Special weapons meta

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

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

S

-► With the introduction of fixed (and consistent) pellet spread patterns per archetype and the reversal of some widely disliked nerfs, Shotguns are finally back. With consistent changes in the right direction, Shotguns are once more a staple pick among many PvP players.

► Best Archetype: Precision (65 RPM) - Example: Matador 64
PVP Specials
Sniper rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Sniper Rifles
S › Best
Best

S

-► Sniper Rifles are in an excellent spot right now. After the nerfs to Linear Fusion Rifles, it only makes sense that Sniper usage picked up. And with weapons that come stacked with aim assist and excellent perks, such as the Defiance of Yasmin or Beloved, it's easy to see why Snipers have risen up the ranks.

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

S

Trend up► Fusion Rifles have been at the top of the meta for a while now, and it doesn't seem to be changing. Fusions can cover the close to medium ranges excellently, and a good Fusion Rifle player can be incredibly frustrating to play against, no matter the range of the engagement.

► Best Archetype: Precision (780ms Charge Time) - Example: Main Ingredient
PVP Specials
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► The special ammo Linear Fusion category of weapon is rather barren, but the two weapons that occupy it, Arbalest and Lorentz Driver, are both forces to be reckoned with. While they have received some deserved nerfs throughout Seasons 17-19, they remain a solid choice for many players wanting a long range option.PVP Specials
Trace rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Trace Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

-► 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
Glaive weapon type Destiny 2 art
Glaives
B › Average
Average

B

Trend down► With their buffs in Season 19 and the hit registration improvements they've seen, Glaives can be quite annoying to play against. That said, they are outclassed by other mid/long range options and can't compete at close range due to their lackluster melee.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (55 RPM)- Example: The Enigma
PVP Specials
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
C › Weak
Weak

C

Trend down► Grenade Launchers are annoying to play against, and that's about it. They can be used in a hot-swap loadout, but you'll be better served by a Bow like Le Monarque. Grenade launchers can put pressure on your enemies, but they can't bring the heat like some other Special Weapons can.

► Best Archetype: Lightweight - Example: Truthteller
PVP Specials

PvP Heavy weapons meta

Same as before, weapon categories consisting of only 1 or 2 exotics have been excluded. In this case, snipers, shotguns, and fusion rifles have been excluded:

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

S

-► Rocket Launchers remain a staple in many players' loadouts. They can provide high-range one-shot kills, and can also do AoE damage which can potentially allow you to clear teams if they are close enough together.

► Best Archetype: Precision (15 RPM) - Example: Gjallarhorn
PVP Heavies
Grenade launcher weapon type Destiny 2
Grenade Launchers
S › Best
Best

S

-► Heavy Grenade Launchers are an incredible option for those who are confident in landing their direct hits. They can functionally serve as a Rocket Launcher, but instead of coming with only a single shot, Grenade Launchers can bring 3, which, of course, means more potential kills.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (120 RPM) - Example: Memory Interdict
PVP Heavies
Machine gun weapon type Destiny 2
Machine Guns
A › Strong
Strong

A

-► Machine Guns are still an incredible option for Control as they can provide many kills. However, they do require multiple shots to kill which can lead to you potentially being Sniped or peak-shot by a Primary Weapon.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive (450 RPM) - Example: Corrective Measure
PVP Heavies
Linear fusion rifle weapon type Destiny 2
Linear Fusion Rifles
B › Average
Average

B

► 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.PVP Heavies
Sword weapon type Destiny 2
Swords
C › Weak
Weak

C

-► Swords are perhaps the most fun option (especially with Eager Edge); however, they are too inconsistent to warrant any competitive use. Furthermore, benefitting from third-person view is no longer possible without Heavy ammo, making the only niche usage swords had redundant.

► Best Archetype: Adaptive/Lightweight- Examples: Half-Truths/Quickfang
PVP Heavies

The lists starts with the S Tier options and moves down until it reaches the bottom Tier. These are the different Tier levels used for the list:

  • 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 current PvE Meta: The DPS Meta

Unlike PVP, the meta in PVE is often defined by what the highest DPS weapons currently are. If you’re looking for DPS values for every weapon type and Exotics, our DPS guide covers them all.

PS: If you’re looking for the top PVE weapons, you can check our Best PVE weapons guide, including the top 25 weapons for PVE right now.

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, all weapon categories consisting of only 1 or 2 exotics have been excluded. Weapons such as Eriana’s Vow are too unique to be representative of an entire weapon type.

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

In PVE, your Power weapon of choice will often be a burst-damage weapon able to deal with bosses and/or damage phases or an ad clear weapon for difficult content with lots of shielded ads.

This table covers all the main Power weapon types, excluding of course those categories with only 1 or 2 exotics (such as snipers, shotguns, or fusion rifles):

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

Destiny 2 Meta tracker: Season 22 changes

This section covers all the latest and most noticeable Meta changes made by Bungie. In other words, these are the latest and most important buffs and nerfs, ordered chronologically:

Coming soon…

Constantly changing: Every buff or nerf has the potential to significantly change the Meta. For that reason, whatever commentary or analysis you find that is a season (or more) old is potentially irrelevant and outdated. Expect this page to be updated at least once per season.

Your turn…

Terms such as “Meta” or “sandbox” may sound overwhelming at first, but just remember they basically refer to the current “state of the game”. Understanding the Meta will ultimately help you understand the game better. What works right now and why. And hopefully, this guide should give you a proper overview of the current sandbox for you to digest.

See latest Updates

We keep our content up to date! These are the latest changes made to this guide:
  • Aug 21, 2023: General updates based on Season 22’s Meta.
  • November 3, 2022: General updates based on Year 5’s Meta (The Witch Queen)
  • June 17, 2021: General updates based on Year 4’s Meta (Beyond Light)
  • October 25, 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

Matthew Evans
Matthew Evans
I've been hooked on Destiny 2 for years now... I've racked up countless hours and plenty of experience, which I hope to share with Blueberries who want to get involved with Destiny. You can find Matthew on Twitter.
More from Matthew Evans
1 Comment
  1. treb

    Is this page updated for Season 20 as well? It’s written that for these articles, with the meta weapons, we should expect them to be updated at least once per season. It does say “Updated as of Season of Plunder’s release (S18)”, but is that either just because this text was not changed, even though the contents have, or because it really is outdated? The PvP meta page is updated to the current season, so I would like to know what’s the case here. Thank you!

    Reply
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