The Destiny 2 meta is in a very interesting place right now. A year ago, nobody would have guessed that auto rifles would dominate the Crucible or that a sword, of all things, would be the DPS weapon of choice for high-level bosses. And yet, here we are.
In making this tier list, I took into account weapon usage, the range of useable weapons within a class, and my own personal experience with Destiny 2. The list reflects the meta as of August 2020 — I’ll update it in the future to reflect buffs and nerfs down the line.
Guide last updated on September 2023 by Alejandro Josan.
It is safe to say that fully automatic weapons have taken the Destiny 2 community by storm, with the auto rifles populating the vast majority of PVE builds and currently being the most used weapon in the game. And who can blame them? It’s got accuracy with a great damage output.
Standouts: Quicksilver Storm, Monte Carlo, Rufus’s Fury.
To those who enjoy sporting huge weapons and firing a rain of bullets, machine guns are the way to go. Just like the auto rifles, these weapons dominate PVE, thanks to their damage output. Although limited due to their finite ammo and limited stability, these machine guns will get you out of trouble by obliterating small enemies and bosses in front of you.
Standouts: Retrofit Escapade, Thunderlord, Commemoration, Eleatic Principle.
Grenade launchers keep being a great choice for crowd control in Destiny 2. Not only that, but you will also get to keep bosses at bay. Take the following entries to this weapon type category, and you will have a great damage-dealing option in your hands.
Standouts: Forbearance, Witherhoard, Ex Diris.
A classic entry on the best weapon type list in Destiny 2, hand cannons are more often than not the obvious choice for PVP, thanks to their reliability and firing speed and a decent pick for PVE. Although now displaced by auto rifles and machine guns, hand cannons will help you get out of close-quarter encounters, as well as deal with any enemy Guardians.
Standouts: Sunshot, Malfeasance, Kept Confidence.
While they are not as popular as their fully automatic cousins, the submachine guns maintain reliability for Guardians who try to thrive in PVE activities thanks to their fast firing rate, allowing you to dispose of enemy foes. You might as well pick auto rifles instead, but these can save you from trouble in close encounters.
Standouts: CALUS Mini-Tool, Osteo Striga, Funnelweb.
Fusion rifles used to dominate both PVE and PVP, but they have been demoted to tier B thanks to the prominence of the auto rifles. They have climbed a couple of stops in this list, thanks to recent weapons introduced in the game such as The Eremite, but remain in a secondary spot.
Standouts: Riptide, The Eremite, Cartesian Coordinate.
Swords have also fallen from their glory. Although they still seem to be a great option for PVP, overall they have been replaced by the aptitude of hand cannons and even auto rifles in that regard. Although, if you ask me, slicing enemies with swords is still one of my favorite activities in the game.
Standouts: The Other Half, The Lament, Half-Truths.
While the rocket launcher’s popularity has been struggling for quite a while, their explosive damage makes them a good choice for those looking for a sturdy weapon. These might fall short of their grenade launcher cousins, but if you wish to use a great PVE and PVP weapon type, go ahead and pick one up.
Standouts: Gjallarhorn, Apex Predator, Semiotician.
There is a steady decline in shotgun usage in favor of auto rifles, but they still keep their B-tier status for their close-quarter power punch capabilities. Be fast, aim correctly, and shoot your way through enemy lines and the occasional Guardian invader.
Standouts: Conditional Finality, Tractor Cannon, Heritage, Wastelander M5.
While scout rifles have been very unpopular for a while, due to the characteristics of other weapon types higher on the list, there has been a minor increase in this weapon’s use throughout the last couple of years. However, they remain as a second or even third option, although they certainly pack a punch in ranged damage.
Standouts: Brya’s Love, Fang of Ir Yût, Doom of Chelchis.
While bringing a bow to a gunfight might seem archaic, shooting Energy and Poison arrows toward enemies makes it worthwhile. However, due to their limited rate of fire, these fall into the middle of the C-tier, without much power to justify using them.
Standouts: Wish-Ender, Le Monarque, Trinity Ghoul.
While impressively useful due to their unique and high accuracy, trace rifles have fallen close to oblivion. Populated mainly by Exotics, it is hard to talk about these weapons in general since they all vary in their characteristics, making way for more popular and obtainable options to take over.
Standouts: Wavesplitter, Coldheart, Prometheus Lens.
Linear Fusion Rifles
A fusion and sniper rifle hybrid, range makes up for the lack of versatility in linear fusion rifles. In a game where fast reactions are necessary, having charge time in a weapon can become a setback. This weapon type is good for dealing precision damage to bosses and supporting your fellow Guardians, but a faster and heavier weapon might be worth equipping instead.
Standouts: Taipan-4fr, Arbalest, Sleeper Simulant.
Pulse rifles have suffered from the rise and dominance of auto rifles. While these bring middle-to-long-range damage capabilities, I have always felt a lack of freedom and control due to their burst-firing action. Pulse rifles can help you in PVE often, but a machine gun or an auto rifle may be more useful.
Standouts: Graviton Lance, No Time to Explain, The Messenger (Adept).
While sniper rifles are quite the choice for PVP, these weapons have been replaced in PVE by the reign of automatic weapons. While you might want to do a 360 no scope with these bad boys, you will find that snipers are mostly useful in extreme necessity — especially since weapons such as linear fusion and scout rifles can act as snipers.
Standout: Succession, Izanagi’s Burden, Locus Locutus.
Sidearms are well past their prime, if there ever was one in the first place. A limited range, damage output, and rate of fire are not a great combination. You might as well stick to hand cannons for the pistol aesthetic. They might have a faster draw and firing rate, but the raw power of a hand cannon is much more pivotal in combat situations.
Standout: Brigand’s Law, Heliocentric QSc, Mykel’s Reverence, Forerunner.
The Witch Queen expansion saw the introduction of the Glaives. One rule of thumb is that new weapons often populate the most used weapons in the game. However, that initial fire was extinguished quite fast, becoming the least-used weapon type of the game for both PVE and PVP. These melee-range hybrids are just not worth your time at the moment.
Standout: The Enigma, Judgment of Kelgorath.
That’s my take on the current Destiny 2 meta. Did I over or undervalue any particular weapon type? Let me know in the comments below.