Season of the Witch in Destiny 2 brought one of the longest-awaited changes to the sandbox in years: making Hand Cannons worthwhile in PvE. Now, thanks to a major to buff to Hand Cannon damage against orange bar enemies (and a smaller one against red bar trash), you can actually use the weapon type in much more content without feeling like you’re gimping yourself. One Exotic Hand Cannons has even come back into the meta conversation (for the 5th time? I’ve lost count). We’ll go over the five best PvE Hand Cannons in Destiny 2 in this guide.
The Best PvE Hand Cannons in Destiny 2 as of Season 22
What makes a good PvE Hand Cannon in Destiny 2? Damage, for one, but also controllability, perk selection, and synergy with at least one subclass. There are a ton of smaller considerations as well, but for the most part, those factors are your biggest. And all of the Hand Cannons I’m listing here have them (mostly with Solar, oddly).
Fatebringer, the Destiny classic reintroduced with Destiny 2‘s version of the Vault of Glass, remains one of the best Hand Cannons in the franchise. Whether you have the Timelost or the regular version, a full half of this weapon’s perk pool is absolutely fantastic for PvE:
- Explosive Rounds
- Rewind Rounds
- Kill Clip
… The list really just keeps going, and that’s not accounting for its fantastic Barrel and Magazine selection.
Fatebringer also feels great to use. It’s not flashy, nor is does it provide a visceral feeling to fire. It’s just an all-around good workhorse weapon that’s responsive, effective, and can do a little bit of everything. You can use it with any subclass in the game and get the same level of effectiveness, but with Firefly, you can get a little more value from a Solar subclass.
Sunshot has been a fantastic weapon since it released alongside Destiny 2, but for literal years it was outshone by almost every other weapon archetype in the game. Either it had too few bullets, was less immediately effective than the top-tier option of the time, or was just sub-par alongside its Hand Cannon brethren.
Well, that’s changed now. Now Hand Cannons can actually do damage even in the game’s harder content. With Solar 3.0 still being just this side of overpowered, Sunshot has taken its place back in the metaphorical sunlight. It’s always packed a punch, and its explosions have always been incredibly useful, but between its inherent benefits and the recent buffs, things have returned to their rightful state.
Thorn has long been a fantastic PvP choice thanks to its excellent handling, damage, and traits that add damage over time and refill the magazine on Remnant pickup. With the buff to Hand Cannons, Thorn can be a powerhouse in PvE as well, especially as it deals with trash mobs.
You can conceivably build around Thorn such that you almost never need to reload. Combined with the Hunter Exotic boots the Lucky Pants, you can take its already top-tier damage even higher. Combining Thorn with Strand or Solar subclasses makes it that much better, as well.
4. Epochal Integration
While the Epochal Integration is exclusive to the Lightfall expansion, it’s also relatively easy to get your hands on as a guaranteed questline reward. It’s also strong as part of a Solar Ignition build thanks to its Incandescent perk combined with Keep Away.
Like Fatebringer, this weapon isn’t particularly flashy, though it does cause bigger explosions than its classic counterpart. It handles like a dream, and can benefit from any other Hand Cannon perks like Lucky Pants or other bonuses you can build into. As a Legendary weapon, it one-ups Sunshot in that you can pair it with a Solar exotic like Gjallarhorn, Parasite, or any other of your favorite Solar Power weapons for even more boom.
5. Zaouli’s Bane
Zaouli’s Bane, the King’s Fall Raid Hand Cannon, can give you the unique Trait combo of Explosive Rounds and Incandescent, making every shot and kill an explosion. Its biggest downfall is its slower reload speed, which you can counteract with Firefly if you so choose.
Because it’s craftable, Zaouli’s is also the only weapon on this list that can also take enhanced perks, making its already strong selection even stronger. You do need to complete lots of King’s Fall Raids to get a proper roll of Zaouli’s Bane, especially the crafted version, but it’s more than worth the time and effort.
And those are my picks for the best PvE Hand Cannons in Destiny 2 as of Season of the Witch. There are always more entries coming into the sandbox, but these weapons have stood the test of time (whether that time was long or short). For more content on Destiny 2, check our guides on how to gain Insight, how the Deck of Whispers works, and more in our D2 guides hub.