Best Destiny 2 Pulse Rifles Tier List: Ranked for PVP and PVE

by | Apr 9, 2021

As we get deeper and deeper into Season 13, you will most likely be getting a feel for what is meta and what has been performing worse. One thing you may have noticed that is dominating the meta right now is Pulse Rifle, already a strong weapon type, some of the more competitive archetypes received a buff and they have bolted to the front of the pack in both PvP and PvE.

There are a plethora of options when it comes to Pulse Rifles with there being four different archetypes to choose from, all complete with unique perk combinations.

This can make the question of ‘what Pulse Rifle should I use’ quite a tricky one to answer, but today we will be going over the basics of each of the non-sunset Pulse Rifles (including the exotics), their god rolls, what makes them good, and most importantly, give them a tier depending on how they size up to their competitors.


Destiny 2 Pulse Rifles Tier list

These are the different Tier levels used for this ranking:

  • 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 the S Tier and moves down from there. It also covers both PVE and PVP, with the “Excels in” column clearly identifying where each weapon shines.

About TTK & DPS: You’ll see us talk a lot about TTK, or time-to-kill, and DPS, damage per second, throughout this guide. TTK is important in PVP, because the lower the TTK, the quicker you can kill your opponent.

WeaponTierExcels inDrops from ❘ RequirementsVerdictElement?Archetype?Requirements?
The Messenger Destiny 2 art
The Messenger
| Pulse Rifle
Best

S

PVPTrials of Osiris
Destiny 2 Season 13 logo
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

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

► The best Legendary Pulse Rifle in the entire game, The Messenger is a returning weapon from Destiny 1 that comes with a top-tier perk previously reserved only for Pinnacle weapons: Desperado.

With Desperado, TTK can be massively reduced, allowing for insane killing sprees, especially with Rapid Hit or Outlaw. The Messenger is also incredible in PvE, due to its top-notch perk selection and generally great stats.
KineticHigh-ImpactFree-to-Play
No Time to Explain Destiny 2
No Time to Explain
| Pulse Rifle
Best

S

BothDeluxe Edition
Destiny 2 Deluxe Edition logo
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "Precision shots and shots against combatants affected by Stasis return to the magazine. At 10 stacks, a small portal will open, shooting bullets from an alternate timeline version of this weapon. Precision hits extend the portal's duration"

► No Time to Explain is a PVP powerhouse. Not only is it part of the most deadly Pulse rifles archetype (with insanely low TTKs), it also has great base stats and perks that make it nearly unstoppable when activated.

Its exotic perk ‘Rewind Again’ allows for consistent and forgiving kills. This, combined with its incredible range and clean sights, make it a top-tier option everywhere in the game, including PVE.
KineticExoticDeluxe Edition
Destiny 2 Vigilance Wing art
Vigilance Wing
| Pulse Rifle
Best

S

PVPExotic Engram
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "This weapon fires a 5-round burst. When a nearby ally is killed, gain health regeneration, and increased movement speed."

► Vigilance Wing is an excellent weapon to bring to the Crucible. Its ease of use alone nets it an S tier. However, it's also one of the most lethal weapons in the game with a unique 5 burst shot.

Vigilance Wing is indeed quite forgiving and lets you get kills without having to hit too many crits. This, combined with its range, makes it a nearly unstoppable force in the mid to long-range engagements.

KineticExoticFree-to-Play
Sacred Provenance Destiny 2 art
Sacred Provenance
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVEGarden of Salvation Raid
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Aggressive Burst

PVE God Roll: Rapid Hit (also good: Outlaw) + Kill Clip

► Sacred Provenance is currently the only aggressive, 4-burst Pulse rifle in the game, making it an absolute fan-favorite among Pulse aficionados.

Some may not like it due to its slow playstyle, but with excellent range and ease of use, Sacred Provenance is without a doubt a top-tier weapon for both PvP and PvE.
KineticAggressive BurstShadowkeep
The Third Axiom Destiny 2 art
The Third Axiom
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

BothPlaylist: Strikes
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVE God Roll: Feeding Frenzy (also good: Killing Wind) + Rampage

► The Third Axiom is the long-lost twin of the Forsaken Pulse rifle, Bygones. Falling into the Adaptive frame archetype, this is a very consistent weapon that will get the job done every time. It also happens to feel great: stable and smooth to fire.

On top of having some of the best base stats among Adaptive frame Pulse rifles, The Third Axiom can also roll with a wide range of strong perks, making it a desirable weapon for both PvE and PvP.
ArcAdaptiveFree-to-Play
Cold Denial Destiny 2 art
Cold Denial
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVPWorld Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

PVP God Roll: Killling Wind (also good: Feeding Frenzy) + Swashbuckler

► Cold Denial is an incredibly satisfying gun to use, from its firing sound to its recoil pattern. As a High-Impact Pulse, it boasts one of the best time-to-kills in the Crucible, at 0.67 seconds.

But more importantly, players love it because it has clean and open sights that allow it to excel at medium to long engagement distances. On top of that, Cold Denial has an excellent selection of perks, ranging from damage-dealing perks to consistency perks.
KineticHigh-ImpactFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 Bad Juju art
Bad Juju
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVEExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "Kills refill the magazine, increase damage for a short duration, and grant Super energy based on the number of kills. Fires full-auto."

► Bad Juju is one of the most underrated weapons in Destiny 2. It can be an absolute monster in PVE and gets even better with the catalyst.

Its exotic perk will gradually give you more and more Super energy while simultaneously increasing damage output. That alone makes it incredible at add clearing and build-crafting.
But unfortunately, it is held back by a poor archetype that does too little damage...
KineticExoticForsaken
Stars in Shadow Destiny 2 art
Stars in Shadow
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVPPlaylist: Crucible
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
Slot: Solar Energy | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

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

► Stars In Shadow is currently the only Solar Pulse rifle still viable in the game, making it a must-have weapon for higher-level PVE content.

However, PvP is where this gun truly shines. As a High-Impact frame Pulse, it too delivers an insanely fast 0.67 seconds time-to-kill. This fast TTK plus Kill Clip makes this weapon a true menace in PVP.
SolarHigh-ImpactFree-to-Play
The Time-Worn Spire Destiny 2 art
The Time-Worn Spire
| Pulse Rifle
Strong

A

PVPIron Banner
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Rapid-Fire

PVP God Roll: Rampage (also good: Iron Grip) + Moving Target

► The Time-Worn Spire is a reprised Year 1 Iron Banner weapon that has returned with plenty of fantastic perks.

In spite of having a slightly slower time-to-kill compared to The Messenger or Sacred Provenance, The Time-Worn Spire proves itself to be one of the best dueling weapons currently available. It also helps that it features a high rate of fire and a good perk selection.
KineticRapid-FireFree-to-Play
Jian 7 Rifle Destiny 2 art
Jian 7 Rifle
| Pulse Rifle
Average

B

PVEWorld Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
Slot: Arc Energy | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVE God Roll: Disruption Break (also good: Ful-Auto Trigger) + Rampage

► Jian 7 Rifle falls into some of the same traps as Hailing Confusion does. Its TTK isn't great and so are its base stats.

That said, the Jian 7 Rifle has better scopes than Hailing Confusion and can roll with a couple of damage perks, making it more appealing in both PVP and PVE as they can improve its TTK and DPS values while remaining consistent.

ArcAdaptiveFree-to-Play
Premonition Destiny 2 art
Premonition
| Pulse Rifle
Average

B

PVPPit of Heresy Dungeon
Destiny 2 Shadowkeep logo 3
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: High-Impact

PVP God Roll: Killing Wind (also good: Feeding Frenzy) + Rampage

► Premonition is a lethal pulse rifle that manages to keep up with Cold Denial and that by itself is quite an achievement. It even surpasses almost all of its competitors in the Energy slot.

But in spite of its excellent perk combinations, the feel of the weapon is up to personal opinion. According to many, Premonition feels sluggish and slow. However, to others, it's a monster. I can only recommend testing it out for yourself.
VoidHigh-ImpactShadowkeep
Last Perdition Destiny 2 art
Last Perdition
| Pulse Rifle
Average

B

PVPWorld Loot Pool
Destiny 2 Free to Play logo 1
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Rampage (also good: Kill Clip) + Outlaw

► Last Perdition is a great feeling pulse that can roll with some excellent perks that can turn it into a menace in the Crucible.

As all Adaptive Pulses, it's a consistent weapon that does well all-around but will never truly excel in any aspect of the game. But in spite of that, it remains one of the better choices in the energy slot.

VoidAdaptiveFree-to-Play
Chattering Bone Destiny 2
Hailing Confusion
| Pulse Rifle
Average

B

PVELast Wish Raid
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Lightweight

PVE God Roll: Outlaw (also good: Rangefinder) + Rampage

► Chattering Bone is a disappointing weapon, especially as it requires you to conquer the Last Wish raid for a chance to obtain it.

The weapon is part of the Lightweight frame archetype, and that alone makes it a hard sell: It does low damage per bullet and has poor range. And that's too bad because the Chattering Bone feels incredible to fire and is an all-around satisfying gun to shoot.
KineticLightweightForsaken
Destiny 2 Outbreak Perfected art
Outbreak Perfected
| Pulse Rifle
Average

B

PVEExotic Kiosk
Destiny 2 Forsaken logo 1
Slot: Kinetic | Ammo: Primary

Exotic Perk: "This weapon creates SIVA nanite swarms on rapid hits and precision kills and does more damage to enemies based on the number of SIVA nanites that attach to them."

► Outbreak Perfected said goodbye to its glory days a long time ago. But having said that, it's still a great feeling gun. It’s just a shame that it falls into quite an archetype that can't compete in PVP.

In PVE, Outbreak Perfected is still a capable weapon. It just can't single-handedly trash Majors and Bosses like it used to.
KineticExoticForsaken
Hailing Confusion Destiny 2 art
Hailing Confusion
| Pulse Rifle
Weak

C

-Europa
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
Slot: KInetic | Ammo: Ammo: Primary | Archetype: Adaptive

PVP God Roll: Surplus + Wellspring

► Hailing Confusion is a strange gun. It falls into the Adaptive frame archetype, putting it alongside weapons such as the Jian 7 Rifle and The Third Axiom.

However, Hailing Confusion pales in comparison. With a poor scope, average base stats, and a general feeling of clunkiness, this one is hard to recommend, especially as it has to compete with Pulses such as Cold Denial and The Messenger in the Kinetic slot.
KineticAdaptiveFree-to-Play
Destiny 2 Graviton Lance art
Graviton Lance
| Pulse Rifle
Weak

C

-Exotic Engram
Destiny 2 Beyond Light logo 1
Slot: Void Energy | Ammo: Primary

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."

► Graviton Lance is an interesting Exotic, however, it is vastly outclassed by several Exotic and Legendary Pulse rifles.

Graviton Lance is therefore hard to recommend, especially as it takes the Exotic slot. Also, its exotic perk is quite lackluster and difficult to consistently activate compared to other add-clear options such as Riskrunner, Trinity Ghoul, or even Outbreak Perfected.
VoidExoticFree-to-Play

Destiny 2 Pulse Rifles sources: How to get them

The table above includes a column titled “Drops from  ❘ Requirements“. This section goes deeper and includes more detailed steps on how to acquire all the Pulse Rifles still viable in Destiny 2:

Destiny 2 Exotic Pulse Rifles sources

This is how you can obtain the several Exotic Pulse Rifles in our Tier list:

  • Exotic Quest: Some Exotics require you to complete a dedicated Exotic quest. For more information, check out our Exotic Quests hub.
  • Exotics Kiosk: Most Exotic nowadays can be acquired via the Exotics Kiosk in the tower, officially called the Monument to Lost Lights. You can read all about it, including costs and requirements, here.
  • Random Engrams: Finally, some Exotics can only randomly drop while playing the game or by acquiring Exotic engrams (most notably from the Season Pass or from Xur).

Destiny 2 Exotic Engram

If you’re interested in the Legendary Pulse Rifles , read on.

Destiny 2 Legendary Pulse Rifles sources

This is how you can obtain the several Legendary Pulse Rifles in our Tier list:

  • Deep Stone Crypt Raid: Some elite weapons can only be found in the Deep Stone Crypt raid. For a detailed overview of all the weapons found in the newest Destiny 2 raid, this loot table covers both weapons and armor per encounter.
  • Trials of Osiris: The Messenger can only drop while getting wins in the endgame PVP mode Trials of Osiris, Destiny 2’s endgame (and brutal) PVP mode. Beware that drops rotate weekly, so you’ll have to patient and wait until Astral Horizon becomes part of the weekly drops.
  • World Loot Pool: Some Legendaries can only randomly drop while playing the game, either as end of matches rewards or when finding Legendary engrams.

Finally, several sources (such as Playlists, Garden of Salvation raid, etc) are self-explanatory, but in doubt, you can always leave a comment below with your question or ask away on our Discord.


Ranking criteria

For the record, as much as we tried to keep this list as objective as possible, it’s still based on our personal experience playing the PC version of the game.

Finally, if you’re wondering what criteria was used to build this Tier list, these are the main factors I took into account:

  • Lethality: The higher the effective DPS and usability, the higher the ranking.
  • Consistency: Some weapons may not have the highest DPS numbers, but they are so consistent, they more than make up for their lower DPS numbers.
  • Ease of use: Similar to the point above, some weapons are very effective because they are easy to use and don’t require too much skill or setup. This is also rewarded with higher rankings.
  • PVE/PVP Performance: High lethality in either PVE or  PVP is equally valuable. However, a weapon that is good at both PVE and PVP should rank higher than one that is slightly better on only PVE or PVP.
  • Fun factor: Not the most important factor, but it also helps if the weapon is damn fun to shoot with!

If you strongly disagree with some of the rankings here, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. By the way, what is your personal favorite?

Want to keep the conversation going?

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