Best Hand Cannons In Destiny 2: PVE and PVP [2022]

I have spent 500 hours of playing Destiny 2, and here are, in my opinion, the best hand cannons in the game!

best hand cannons
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I have spent more than 500+ hours playing Destiny 2, so you can easily trust the information I provide related to the ins and outs of Destiny 2!

Hand cannons are a common sight in Destiny 2. Due to their ease of use and high damage per second, hand cannons are an excellent option for PvE and PvP players. Here are what I believe to be some of the best hand cannons in Destiny 2. I hope you will find this guide useful; for more Destiny 2 guides, check out Best Rocket Launcher Destiny 2 and Best Fusion Rifles Destiny 2.

Key Takeaways

Hand cannons are a popular weapon in Destiny 2, great for both PvE and PvP players. Here are my top picks:

  1. Eriana’s Vow: Best PvE hand cannon with hybrid capabilities, bonus damage, and shield-piercing ammo.
  2. Sunshot: PvE powerhouse, excels at clearing ads with explosive rounds and chain reaction.
  3. Malfeasance: Strong PvE choice, high fire rate, unique perks, and explosive shadow.
  4. Fatebringer: Classic hand cannon, high fire rate, features firefly perk.
  5. Ace Of Spades: Powerful PvE hand cannon from Forsaken with Memento Mori and Firefly perks.
  6. The Last Word: Top PvP hand cannon, fastest time to kill, rapid fire.
  7. Thorn: Great PvP hand cannon, Mark of the Devourer for damage over time, and Soul Devourer for reload and bonus damage.
  8. Ace of Spades: Strong for mid to long-range encounters, offering good range, a large magazine, and radar access when aiming.
  9. The Palindrome: Versatile hand cannon, excellent range, One for All perk boosts damage after hitting three enemies.
  10. Hawkmoon: Iconic hand cannon, unique Paracasual Shot perk for bonus final-round precision damage.

Updated March 15th, 2024 by Reeshail Qureshi:

With roughly 4 to 5 seasons passing since this guide was written, I had to edit some details about the mentioned Hand Cannons, as some got nerfed and the others received significant buffs. Sunshot and Fatebringer have been lucky and they got better at aiming and damage dealing, so everyone is using it. However, some other Hand Cannons were badly downgraded so no one is keeping them in their loadouts currently, so I took them off my list. The bottom-line is, I have edited this list to stay updated with the recent trends, so you do not get false information.

Best Hand Cannons Compared

Here is a comparison table of my Best Hand Cannons In Destiny 2 . Each stat can be sorted to view the highest and lowest values, which has been done for your convenience:

No.Hand cannonsStabilityHandlingReload SpeedAim AssistanceMagazineRounds Per Minute
1Eriana’s Vow30232480690
2Sunshot4082726012150
3Malfeasance8029805014180
4Fatebringer5755468410140
5Ace Of Spades4040427013140
6Last Word402080408225
7Thorn5565408511140
8Ace of Spades4040427013140
9Palindrome5850427910140
10Hawkmoon637159938140

Best PvE Hand Cannons In Destiny 2

Eriana’s vow

Best PvE Hand Cannon
best hand cannons
Eriana’s Vow
Attribute Value
Impact100
Range100
Stability30
Handling23
Reload Speed24
Aim Assistance80
Zoom24
Airborne Effectiveness9
Magazine6
Recoil Direction100
Rounds Per Minute90
Inventory Size-

Why did I Choose Eriana’s vow?

Eriana’s vow is the strongest PvE weapon due to its long range and high damage output.

Eriana’s vow is arguably Destiny 2’s greatest PvE hand cannon. This weapon is a hand cannon/sniper hybrid in many ways. The perks this hand cannon has to offer make it the greatest PvE weapon for many. You can acquire Eriana’s vow from the monument of lost light for 1 exotic cipher, 125, 000 glimmer, 200 etheric spirals and 1 ascendant shard. The two main perks of this hand cannon are ‘Death at first glance’ and ‘looks can kill.’ Death at first glance utilizes the weapon’s built-in scope and gives the player 45% bonus damage when aiming down sight.

This perk can also be chained using precision shots and by firing at an elemental shield making it especially effective against enemies with large health pools. Looks can kill means this hand cannon fires shield piercing ammo. Your rounds ignore your enemy’s shield and cause damage to their primary health pool straight away. All this, along with its 90 shots per minute firing rate, make it a strong PvE option.

  • Unique Trait
  • Catalyst Upgrade
  • Good range and ample ammo
  • High sustained DPS

  • Slow reload speed
  • Lower DPS compared to other options
  • Dependence on precision shots
  • Need for catalyst

Sunshot

Best Ranked Hand Cannon
best hand cannons
Sunshot
AttributeValue
Impact80
Range31
Stability40
Handling82
Reload Speed72
Aim Assistance60
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness27
Magazine12
Recoil Direction98
Rounds Per Minute150
Inventory Size53

Why did I Choose Sunshot?

You can shoot explosive rounds with Sunshot, that can cause multiple casualties which is its biggest benefit.

Sunshot is a powerful PvE hand cannon, especially when it comes to clearing ads. You can find it through exotic engrams. The weapon’s main perks are sunburn and sun blasts. Sunburn causes the gun to fire explosive rounds. Sun blast causes enemies who died with a precision shot or after burning to explode. As a result, the death of an enemy can trigger a chain reaction of enemies burning and dying. This is a sight to behold when facing a large number of low health ads. Sunshot’s 150 shots per minute also help, combined with its perks, make it an exceptional PvP hand cannon.

  • Solar explosions
  • Exotic Status
  • Versatility

  • Limited source
  • Exotic slot occupation
  • Special ability cooldown

Malfeasance

Best AOE Hand Cannon
best hand cannons
Malfeasance
AttributeValue
Impact78
Range40
Stability80
Handling29
Reload Speed80
Aim Assistance50
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness53
Magazine14
Recoil Direction98
Rounds Per Minute180
Inventory Size57

Why did I Choose Malfeasance?

The perk of Malfeasance Hand Cannon creates an AOE attack that causes significant damage.

Malfeasance, thanks to its unique perks and high rate of fire, is another strong PvE hand cannon. You can obtain it by completing its exotic weapon quest. The weapon’s perk of note is explosive shadow. This perk allows malfeasance to shoot slugs themselves into the opponent’s body. Shooting enough slugs cause them to explode, creating an AoE attack that damages surrounding enemies. This makes it a great choice for clearing ads. The high rate of fire (180 rpm) coupled with the large magazine makes this an effective hand cannon for all sorts of PvE encounters, and my favourite best hand cannon of destiny 2.

  • High damage and DPS
  • Synergy with Hunter’s lucky pants
  • Stun unstoppable champions
  • Potential for high DPS

  • Requires specific build
  • Limited effectiveness against certain enemies
  • Dependence on specific mods

Fatebringer

Best DPS Hand Cannon
best hand cannons
Fatebringer
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range46
Stability57
Handling55
Reload Speed46
Aim Assistance84
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness10
Magazine10
Recoil Direction98
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size53

Why did I Choose Fatebringer?

Due to high fire rate of Fatebringer, I keep it in my loadout when I am looking for aggressive gameplay.

Fatebringer was one of Destiny 1’s most popular hand cannons, and justifiably so. The iconic hand cannon makes a return in Destiny is and is still an excellent hand cannon. Fatebringer’s important perk is firefly, which causes enemies to explode upon impact and increase the weapon’s reloading speed. It also has a relatively high rate of fire at 140. The explosive rounds along with the rate of fire, make the Fatrebringer great for clearing hoards of ads and a good PvE weapon choice.

  • Legendary status
  • Rare drop
  • High quality performance
  • Versatility

  • Rarity and Obtainability
  • Perk requirements
  • Limited to hand cannons

Ace Of Spades

Best Exotic Hand Cannon
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range75
Stability40
Handling40
Reload Speed42
Aim Assistance70
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness14
Magazine13
Recoil Direction100
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size56

Why did I Choose Ace of Spades?

Ace of Spades is your go to weapon if you are looking for high kills, as it spawns a radar with your ADS to spot the enemies easily.

This list would’ve been incomplete without Cayde 6’s weapon of choice. The Ace Of Spades is a very powerful PvE hand canon. You have to play through Forsaken’s storyline to get your hands on this hand canon. The key perks of this weapon are ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘Firefly’.

Memento Mori grants you radar while aiming down sight and adds in a few extra damage bullets in your magazine after a kill. Firefly makes enemies explode upon impact and increases the reload speed after precision kills. The two perks complement each other perfectly and help make this hand cannon an excellent choice for PvE players.

  • Versatility
  • Exotic perks
  • High range stat
  • Momento mori
  • Cost
  • Limited customization
  • Risk of overreliance

Best PvP Hand Cannon In Destiny 2

The Last Word

Highest Fire Rate Hand Cannon
Best PvP Hand Cannon Destiny 2
The Last Word
AttributeValue
Impact78
Range20
Stability40
Handling20
Reload Speed80
Aim Assistance40
Zoom11
Airborne Effectiveness19
Magazine8
Recoil Direction100
Rounds Per Minute225
Inventory Size40

Why did I Choose The Last Word?

I have used this handgun the most, as it has the fastest time to kill so you can sprint-and-shoot with it.

The Last Word was known for its quick time to kill in the original destiny and a lot of what it offered has been brought back to the table in Destiny 2. You can buy The Last Word from the monument to the lost for 1 exotic cipher, 125, 000 glimmer, 200 etheric spirals and 1 ascendant shard. While The Last Word may have a bit of a learning curve for newcomers.

Those who acquaint themselves with this gun, however, will not regret it. The last word has the fastest time to kill of all hand cannons and a lightning-fast rate of fire of 225 rounds per minute. The Major perk for The Last Word is Fan Fire, which deals bonus precision hip fire damage and increases the reload time. This means that those who learn to control the hip fire recoil of this gun get a weapon that shreds through enemies.

  • Automatic firing
  • Fan fire perk
  • Versatile in combat situations
  • Perks enhance combat efficiency
  • No catalyst completion
  • Limited scope for customization
  • Requires specific skill set

Thorn

Best PvP Hand Cannon Destiny 2
Thorn
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range34
Stability55
Handling65
Reload Speed40
Aim Assistance85
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness21
Magazine11
Recoil Direction100
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size60

Why did I Choose Thorn?

The perk’s that come with Thorn handgun allow it to reload and deal extra damage upon getting kills.

Thorn, the classic Destiny hand cannon, had many arcs of its own. It went from being an extremely overlooked weapon in the original Destiny to being buffed to the point that it was considered broken. Thorn dominated PvP games back in the day. While being a fragment of what it was during its golden age, Thorn still packs a punch and is arguably one of the greatest PvP weapons in Destiny 2.

You can buy it from the monument to the lost for 1 exotic cipher, 125, 000 glimmer, 200 etheric spirals and 1 ascendant shard. Its two key perks are ‘mark of the devourer’ and ‘soul devourer’. Mark of the devourer translates to Thorn’s bullets dealing damage over time. This leads to a decreased time to kill and a delayed time to heal. Soul Devourer means once you absorb a soul remnant left behind by a fallen enemy, your weapon will reload partially, and mark of the devourer will deal bonus damage. The weapon also has a relatively fast rate of fire of 140 founds per minute which further decreases its time to kill.

  • Exotic catalyst enhancements
  • Versatility in playlists
  • Improved popularity
  • Limited options for Void Hand cannons
  • Quest-based Acquisition

Ace Of Spades

Best Exotic Hand Cannon
Best PvP Hand Cannon Destiny 2
Ace of spades
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range75
Stability40
Handling40
Reload Speed42
Aim Assistance70
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness14
Magazine13
Recoil Direction100
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size56

Why did I Choose Ace of Spades?

Ace of Spades is your go to weapon if you are looking for high kills, as it spawns a radar with your ADS to spot the enemies easily.

Cayde 6’s legendary hand cannon makes a return here as one of the greatest PvP weapons in the game. This hand cannon offers a lot of range and a magazine size of 13, making it a strong choice for mid to long-range encounters. The ability to access your radar while aiming down sight makes it almost overpowered for PvP. The high damage, ease of use and fire rate of 140 rounds per minute make it a very good weapon when it comes to facing other guardians.

  • Versatility
  • PvE effectiveness
  • Reliability
  • Limited scope
  • No exotic traits

Palindrome

Best PvP Hand Cannon Destiny 2
The Palindrome
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range50
Stability58
Handling50
Reload Speed42
Aim Assistance79
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness21
Magazine10
Recoil Direction98
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size50

Why did I Choose Palindrome?

With some experience and effort, Palindrome can be very effective at long ranges with significant recoil control.

The Palindrome might just be the best hand cannon In destiny 2. This 140 round per minute hand cannon offers excellent range at the cost of a slight learning curve. You can get your hands on one through master nightfalls. While this may be a challenge too hard for many, the Palindrome makes it worth it. The weapon’s long-range, damage, and quick shooting speed make it a very versatile PvP option. The Palindrome is strong at encounters of every range. The perks of note for the Palindrome is the One for all. Hitting three separate enemies will increase the damage of this gun for some time.

  • Adaptive frame
  • One for all perk
  • High recoil and decent impact
  • Decent stability and aim assistance
  • High recoil
  • Limited special perks

Hawkmoon

Best PvP Hand Cannon Destiny 2
Hawkmoon
AttributeValue
Impact84
Range52
Stability63
Handling71
Reload Speed59
Aim Assistance93
Zoom14
Airborne Effectiveness26
Magazine8
Recoil Direction96
Rounds Per Minute140
Inventory Size52

Why did I Choose Hawkmoon?

Every bullet of Hawkmoon Hand Cannon counts, as it has high damage output and great range for eliminating far away enemies.

Yet another iconic Destiny weapon on this list, Hawkmoon is a 140 round per minute hand cannon that offers a decent range and high damage. To obtain this hand cannon, you’ll have to complete its exotic quest. It also has a very unique perk, ‘Paracasual shot,’ which means final round precision shots will deal a lot of bonus damage.

While this may take a bit of learning for those used to reloading right after a kill, Hawkmoon’s small barrel size means you’ll be triggering the perk quite a lot. This can be very useful for specific 1v1 moments where that last round might just save you where you would’ve certainly otherwise died.

  • Unique design
  • Special effects
  • Cosmetic value
  • Limited performance
  • Less versatility
  • Cost and rarity

Why Others Were Not Chosen?

  1. Lumina: In PvP, the healing and supportive aspects of Lumina do not directly contribute to eliminating opponents efficiently, and players would rather choose Thorn over Lumina due to the Nerf to Benevolent Dawn.
  2. Eyasluna: I do not prefer this Hand cannon in intense combat situations, as it has slower reload speed comparatively and small magazine size. Eyasluna also has a steep learning curve, and it is comparatively easier to master other Hand Cannons over this.
  3. Austringer: In my opinion, the process to obtain Austringer is time-consuming and I prefer to avoid it. Other than that, Austringer fails to synergize with my gear, which significantly reduces its effectiveness. 
  4. Warden’s Law: This is a Kinetic weapon, which means it does not benefit from elemental damage types. Additionally, it has less appealing PvE perks, such as range and damage, which can be replaced by better Hand Cannon options.

My Opinion About The Best Hand Cannons

Some Hand Cannons, such as Fatebringer and Palindrome, are effective in both PvE and PvP. My shortlisted options may vary after the new update. However, they are currently the best choices in Destiny 2. Additionally, I highly recommend you toy with Sunshot and Palindrome, as they are my strongest options. All in all, I expect you to try out each Hand Cannon and let me know how it goes for you.

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