Thunderlord is part of the World Pool in Destiny 2, meaning it is available via exotic engrams. You can also sometimes obtain it from Xur during his weekend visits. Unlike a lot of other exotics, Thunderlord isn't available in the Monument to Lost Lights so there's no way to quickly get this if you're specifically hunting for it.
How to Get the Thunderlord Catalyst
You can obtain the Thunderlord catalyst by completing playlist activities. That means strikes (Nightfall or otherwise) and Gambit or Crucible matches. It basically comes down to sheer luck, sadly. Keep in mind, you need to actually own the weapon itself to cause the catalyst to drop.
What Does the Thunderlord Catalyst Do?
The Thunderlord catalyst doesn’t boost the weapon’s stats at all, but it does add the Return Stroke perk. With it, causing a lightning strike with Thunderlord specifically, partially reloads the magazine from reserves. The important context here is the Reign Havoc intrinsic perk which makes it so that final blows with the LMG cause lightning strikes from above. This is also now strong against Overload Champions.
In short, every final blow that causes a lightning strike now partially reloads the magazine. That’s kind of the weapon’s whole deal so in theory this should be a pretty good buff, at least outside of high-level content.
How to Level up the Thunderlord Catalyst
You can level up the Thunderlord catalyst by eliminating 500 foes. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of bonus for certain game modes or from the season pass catalyst progress buffs. You can just use the gun a whole bunch or grind it out quickly.
There are many places where you can complete this catalyst, but you should note that the old Thrall hallway in the Shattered Throne dungeon has been patched to no longer grant any kind of XP or catalyst progress. You’ll need to find another location if that was something you frequently did. You can use the beginning of the Shuro Chi encounter or Grasp of Avarice as an alternative.
Now we recommend activities like the Blind Well and Altars of Sorrow as terrific alternatives. The latter throws huge numbers of weak Hive enemies at you, making it easy to complete this catalyst. At least with the new primary infinite ammo addition, you can literally just stand in one place as lines of enemies run at you.