Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE

A Hunter's best friend

Hand Cannons are a beloved weapon archetype in Destiny 2 and arguably the most stylish. If you bring the aim, these weapons bring the pain, but which ones are worth using? Let me show you our Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE.

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The best Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

While every weapon is technically useable everywhere, some excel in PvP, while others are better suited elsewhere. Because of this, I have a separate list for PvP and PvE. I’ve put any Exotics at the top of each list, but Legendaries are just as important if you want your Exotic slot for another weapon. With this in mind, each list is split by rarity as well.

Top Exotic PvP Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

As Special and Heavy ammo are both precious commodities in PvP, why not take a deadly primary that doesn’t use them? These weapons are all popular in The Crucible, with good reason.

The Ace of Spades

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The Ace of Spades is one of Destiny 2’s most iconic weapons. It’s fitting, then, that this Hand Cannon is an absolute monster in PvP.

The Ace’s Exotic Perks include Firefly, which makes nearby enemies explode with precision hits. The Ace also has Memento Mori, which means you always see the radar and random bullets in each magazine deal extra damage. With a bit of luck and a skilled hand, you can delete enemy Guardians before they even know what’s happening.

This hand cannon is stylish, deadly, and a joy to shoot. What more could you want from an Exotic weapon?


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I’ve put this weapon on the PvP list, but it’s also viable in PvE. The Thorn has the Mark of the Devourer Perk, which poisons opponents. In other words, it inflicts damage over time (DoT) and is one of the few weapons in Destiny that does so.

DoT damage means your opponent slowly loses health instead of regaining it. Your enemies will need much longer to recover than usual, meaning you can relentlessly chase them down.

The Thorn is plain obnoxious in PvP and deserves its place among the best Hand Cannons in the game.



Nothing is worse than narrowly winning an intense 1v1 gunfight only to be taken out by a random player when you have no way to retaliate. The Crimson addresses this issue with its Cruel Remedy perk, which heals you when you kill opponents.

This perk is incredible in PvP and grants a level of sustain you can’t get from any other weapon. The Crimson is less useful in PvE, as you can get restoration from numerous armor abilities, but it’s serviceable.

I’m not a massive fan of the Crimson’s burst fire, but I’ve been wrecked by it enough times to know this is definitely a “me” problem.


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The Hawkmoon is another iconic Destiny 2 weapon that’s as deadly as it is stylish. It’s also fairly easy to obtain as Xur always sells one, although the stats change each time. If you want to buy a Hawkmoon, I recommend waiting for one with Opening Shot, which grants a ton of bonuses if you’ve not shot the weapon for three seconds.

I’m a sucker for 140RPM Hand Cannons as they are more forgiving than the slower-firing options while keeping that satisfying ‘punch’ they are known for.

The Hawkmoon’s Paracausal Charge Exotic Perk makes the last round in the magazine especially powerful and a real menace in The Crucible.

Top Legendary PvP Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

I’m a big fan of Exotic Hand Cannons in The Crucible, but this assortment of guns proves they aren’t required to be a slayer in PvP.

Igneous Hammer

Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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The Igneous Hammer is a powerful Hand Cannon only available from the Trials of Osiris. As Trials is the sweatiest PvP mode in Destiny 2, it makes sense that the weapon shines in Guardian-on-Guardian combat.

While the weapon has a slow rate of fire at only 120 RPM, it’s pinpoint accurate. You can engage opponents at disgusting ranges with the Igneous Hammer and increase that long-range lethality with the Keep Away perk. Precision Instrument is the second perk in the Godroll, further increasing precision damage.

This weapon demands a skilled hand as it’s punishing if you miss your shot. If you’re good enough to play in the Trials of Osiris, you’re likely qualified to wield the Igneous Hammer.


Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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The Eyasluna is a monster Hand Cannon, and while I’ve put it in the PvP list, it’s also a solid choice in PvE. This weapon has everything we’re after in a top-tier weapon. It’s got incredible perks like Range Finder and Snapshots Sights, which are oppressive in PvP. This weapon also boasts a comfortable 140RPM fire rate, making it more forgiving than the Igneous Hammer.

If you’re looking for a PvE roll, you can’t go wrong with Outlaw and Headstone. Outlaw provides a DPS increase by shortening our reload time, and Headstone leans into the weapons element by covering the battlefield with Stasis Crystals.


Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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I’m not a massive fan of Gambit, but grinding for a decent Trust keeps me playing even after getting my Malfeasance. The Trust is another Hand Cannon that can be used anywhere thanks to its superb perk pool.

Outlaw and Explosive Payload is a classic combination that offers speedy reloads and AoE detonations. Compared to other Hand Cannons on this list, the Trust has a spicy 180RPM fire rate. You can shoot this weapon very quickly, although you’ll promptly empty the 12-shot magazine if you do.

The Trust also works nicely with the Solar Subclass, which is heavily buffed in the Season of the Wish.

True Prophecy 

Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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The True Prophecy is another weapon that can be used anywhere, but I love it in PvP as it’s so oppressive to play against. This Hand Cannon can roll with Timed Payload, which is well known for causing tons of flinch. 

Flinch may not sound like much, but if you can make your opponent miss in a 1v1, you win the gunfight. Rangefinder is another savage PvP perk against ranged threats, where the True Prophecy shines. This is another Hand Cannon that does it all and punches holes in Guardians and tough PvE opponents alike.

Top Exotic PvE Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

Your Exotic slot is particularly precious in PvE, but there are several Hand Cannons worthy of taking it.


Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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We can’t talk about top-tier Hand Cannons without mentioning the Malfeasance. This Exotic is notoriously hard to obtain as it requires a long grind in the Gambit PvPvE mode. That said, it’s worth the slog.

The Malfeasance hits like a truck and deals additional damage against Taken enemies. This Exotic also sports a ridiculous 14-shot mag, which is way above average for the weapon class.

This gun handles like a dream, and while it’s arguably PvE Exotic, it’s also serviceable in PvP.


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I rarely see the Lumina used, so I may be laughed at for mentioning it, but hear me out. The Lumina has several Exotic Traits that support the Fireteam. You can collect Noble Rounds from defeated enemies that you can shoot at your teammates. Both of you receive an increase in damage when you do, and your ally is healed in the process.

In addition, the Lumina has everything you expect from an Exotic Hand Cannon. It deals respectable damage and has a fat 13-round magazine, so you can miss a few shots and still be effective.

Eriana’s Vow

Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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The Eriana’s Vow is a powerful Exotic Hand-Cannon with an identity crisis. This weapon is arguably overshadowed by Bows, and it uses special ammo, so you can’t run a shotgun or sniper secondary. 

Despite these flaws, I believe Eriana’s Vow is still a superb Hand Cannon. It wrecks Barrier Champions with its Looks Can Kill perk, which pierces shields. You also gain increased damage for using its scope and landing multiple precision hits.

Eriana’s Vow isn’t a perfect weapon, but it’s fun to use and deals respectable damage. Some brutal PvP players even use it in Trials of Osiris, as they can land those precision hits and reap the rewards.

Top Legendary PvE Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

If you can’t free up an Exotic slot for your PvE escapades, these powerful weapons will serve you well in almost any aspect of Destiny 2.

Midnight Coup

Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE
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At the time of writing, the Midnight Coup is in vogue as it’s part of the shiny new Brave arsenal. This weapon is superb in both PvE and PvP, but many perk rolls feel better suited to the former.

My Midnight Coup has Explosive Payload and Rampage. This combination makes my bullets explode on impact, and I gain damage when I defeat opponents. The Hand Cannon almost feels like an Exotic weapon, and if that doesn’t earn it a place on the list, I don’t know what does.


Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE

The Fatebringer is the ‘gold standard’ that other top-tier hand cannons are compared to. This weapon is incredible, and although I’ve included it on the PvE list, you can comfortably use it anywhere.

The Godroll is the classic combination of Explosive Payload and Firefly, which can explode entire mobs of enemies. Beyond the great perks, the Fatebringer is a joy to use, with a forgiving 11-round magazine, decent aim-assist, and excellent handling stats.

The only downside is you’ll have to run the Vault of Glass raid multiple times to get a good one.

Round Robin

Destiny 2 Hand Cannon tier list: Best Hand Cannons for PVP and PVE

Round Robin is another superb Hand Cannon that can be used in both PvE and PvP. It makes my PvE list because it’s a Strand weapon, which makes it even stronger if you use that subclass.

Keep Away is a superb perk, as it offers several buffs if you use the Round Robin at range. If you’re using Strand, you can’t go wrong with Hatchling, which synergizes perfectly with Strand-specific builds.

The 120RPM may feel a little slow for some Guardians, but if you find a decent Round Robin, I urge you to try it.

Hand Cannons are incredible in Destiny 2. Even with stiff competition from other top-tier exotics, these skill-based weapons are always worth considering. If you’ve got a decent aim and want to bring a stylish flair to your fire team, you can’t go wrong with the weapons on this list.

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Anthony Yates
Anthony is a freelance writer for PC Invasion and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony thrives in high-stakes games like Escape From Tarkov and Sea of Thieves. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events. When he's not grinding leaderboards, Anthony enjoys visiting Arcades, retro gaming, and horror movies.