Auto rifles have always dominated Destiny. Even with seasonal meta tweaks over the last few seasons to help bring pulse rifles up to par, auto rifles always come back with a vengeance. They’re some of the best and most diverse weapons in Destiny 2, and the team at Bungie seems to always find new ways to make their gunplay unique.

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But which auto rifles are currently the best in Destiny 2? Read on to find out.

15 Best Auto Rifles in Destiny 2

Every weapon class in Destiny 2, from shotguns to hand cannons, has a wide range of options. Plenty of them, especially in the auto rifle category, are actually great to play with. The best weapons depend on what game mode you intend to use them in, your playstyle, and (in some cases) the perks you roll. 

To help you find the best auto rifles to suit your needs, here are our top 15 picks in Destiny 2 as of 2021.

1. Gnawing Hunger

The Destiny 2 best auto rifle overall

Gnawing Hunger
Image: Bungie via HGG

This beast of a weapon harnesses the hunger of a Guardian ready to eat the Darkness for breakfast. It’s hands down one of the Destiny 2 best legendary auto rifles and best auto rifles overall.

What makes it one of the best? Even with the meta favoring auto rifles almost every season, the Gnawing Hunger still caught Crucible players entirely off guard. Released as part of the Season of the Drifter, this adaptive frame auto rifle is literally rolling in useful perks. Depending on what you want out of this rifle, it can either be fired continuously without reloading, completely minimize recoil, or keep you fully stocked with grenades.

Without the added perks, the base stats on this rifle are still relentless. It has a solid range, clean sites, decent recoil and, an effective time to kill that can only be amplified. It may have started as just a killer Crucible weapon, but with Season of Arrival, the latest version has adapted into a weapon that can continuously light up any enemy in every single game mode.

What is it good for? Crucible, PVE, and Gambit.

Which perks should I roll for? For PVP environments, we recommend Chambered Compensator (or Arrowhead Break), Extended Mag, Subsistence, and Rampage (or Demolitionist).

In PVE environments, look for Smallbore (or Hammer-Forged Rifling), Accurized Rounds, Tap the Trigger, and Kill Clip.

How do I get it? Complete weekly Powerful or Pinnacle activities, leveling up Banshee-44 or decrypting Umbral Engrams.

2. Hard Light

The best exotic auto rifle in Destiny 2

Hard Light
Image: Bungie via HGG

The best way to handle the Darkness is with a bright light that fires at a mile a minute.

What makes it one of the best? Hard Light has evolved from a Crucible only weapon into a powerhouse in every single game mode. While it was a bit stronger a few seasons ago, it still serves as an exotic alternative similar to the Gnawing Hunger. 

The truly remarkable thing about this rifle is how shots can ricochet off of surfaces. The more it bounces, the more damage it will do. This makes it perfect for spraying fire without concern for accuracy. The only drawback is the lack of mod slots due to it being exotic.

What is it good for? Crucible and PVE.

How do I get it? Find it in random drops from Exotic Engrams or by playing Crucible, Nightfall, or other activities.

3. SUROS Regime

The best auto rifle in Destiny 2 PVP

Suros Regime
Image: Bungie via HGG

Take down enemies nice and slow or with blazing fast speed.

What makes it one of the best? The SUROS Regime is one of those exotics that hasn’t lost its step since Year 1 of Destiny. In many ways, it served as the template for how the weapons team would approach creating auto rifles moving forward. It’s light, runs on incredible speed and handling, and has a specialty perk that lets you switch elements and between selective fire and full auto. 

In a pinch, this ability to switch made it perfect for facing down enemies up close, only to add more power and accuracy to take on enemies from a distance. The only drawback is that it isn’t quite as powerful as it once was thanks to meta refreshes, so it could use a slight update.

What is it good for? Crucible.

How do I get it? Complete weekly Powerful or Pinnacle activities, leveling up Banshee-44 or decrypting Umbral Engrams.

4. False Promises

The Destiny 2 best kinetic auto rifle

False Promises
Image: Bungie via HGG

A slow fire rate and light damage may sound like a bad thing for an auto rifle, but this one has all the perks.

What makes it one of the best? This auto rifle stays true to its name by not acting like an auto rifle in the slightest. It actually works more like a mixture of a submachine gun’s damage with a pulse rifle’s fire rate. For some, this can be a detriment, but only if you decide not to explore the perk pool. 

What is it good for? Crucible and PVE.

What perks should I roll for? Get Overflow and Swashbuckler, and the damage output won’t really matter since you won’t be reloading much. For those concerned with accuracy, a roll with Killing Wind and Eye of the Storm will do the trick while helping to alleviate and damage drop off from poor aim.

How do I get it? Decrypt either a Pyramid-Focused Umbral-Engram or Rifle Focused Umbral Engram to shrink the loot pool.

5. Shadow Price

The Destiny 2 best precision auto rifle

Shadow Price
Image: Bungie via HGG

Why is it one of the best? Another OG Destiny weapon brought back from the dead, Shadow Price serves as another excellent overhaul. This time around, it’s an Arc-based Energy weapon that relies more on precision and stability over quick damage. This escalates even further thanks to the perk pool that consists of One For All and Fourth Time’s the Charm, which makes the need to land precise damage all the more necessary.

All in all, it’s an excellent revision that works as a useful mid-to-long range automatic weapon for taking down Majors and Bosses. It’s a bit less useful for PvP, but can still be decent if you roll perks like Killing Wind and Disruption Break.

What is it good for? It’s best in PvE and Gambit due to the high base precision stats and damage-focused perk pool. 

How do I get it? Acquire it from playing high-level versions of the Kinightfall playlist.

6. The Summoner

The best auto rifle for Trials of Osiris

The Summoner
Image: Bungie via HGG

An auto rifle so sweet it’s worth trying to get a crack Trials team together.

What makes it one of the best? This rifle is incredibly well-balanced thanks to the adaptive frame. And while it may work similarly to the top weapons on this list, it’s perks make it far better suited for Trials. Every roll will include perks that help improve accuracy, diminish kickback, and produce slight upticks in range and stability. 

There’s nothing else to it. This gun is meant to be a killer support weapon that keeps your shots light and accurate.

What is it good for? Trials and Crucible.

How do I get it? Unlock it as a random drop in Trials of Osiris.

7. Steelfeather Repeater

The Destiny 2 best auto rifle for Gambit

Steelfeather Repeater
Image: Bungie via HGG

A weapon with a light and delicate touch that grows stronger as the adversaries you face grow in number.

What makes it one of the best? Originally released as a Sundial reward, the Steelfeather Repeater is an auto rifle that rewards you for facing down more enemies. The light impact still makes it less useful for PVE, but the increased damage when facing three or more enemies is a lifesaver in Crucible and Gambit. 

The perk pool for this weapon is ridiculously vast. You can either extend the already massive magazine, refuel your grenade ability, or gain additional damage from melee attacks, among other things. The one issue is without a specific event to attain this weapon, actually dropping it is extremely rare, so be on the lookout for an updated loot pool sometime soon.

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

How do I get it? Unlock it as a random drop through Legendary Engrams, or acquire it through the weapons collection menu. 

8. Monte Carlo

The Destiny 2 best auto rifle PVE

Monte Carlo
Image: Bungie via HGG

The Monte Carlo has been elevated once again, taking full advantage of Stasis, freezing your opponents, and breaking them out with a cold touch.

What makes it one of the best? The Monte Carlo has always been one of those auto rifles that can either be incredibly good or that’s nerfed to death by any meta changes. The introduction of Stasis serves as the former, providing an excellent opportunity to stack damage and wipe multiple enemies at once. For the melee players out there, it only gets better, with any kills made reducing your melee ability cooldown (which creates the Stasis loop all over again). 

Just know that any changes could hurt the use of this weapon, so pay attention to the specific adjustments Bungie makes before using it. 

What is it good for? Gambit and PVE.

How do I get it? Find it in random drops from Exotic Engrams or by playing Crucible, Nightfall, or other activities.

9. The Forward Path

The best adaptive frame auto rifle in Destiny 2

The Forward Path
Image: Bungie via HGG

Revisiting old friends from the Iron Banner continues to be worthwhile, with The Forward Path being one of the best examples in recent memory.

What makes it one of the best? Every reissue of Iron Banner weapons gets better and better thanks to this weapon’s exclusive perk pool. The Forward Path is especially useful thanks to the Iron Gaze and Iron Grip abilities that either allow you to snap to aim or stabilize your weapon into working more like a rapid-fire scout rifle. It could use a slightly larger clip, but other than that, this weapon is absolutely brutal in Crucible and Gambit.

What is it good for? Crucible, PVE, and Gambit.

How do I get it? Nab this weapon by playing Iron Banner matches (when available), completing Iron Banner bounties, or ranking up your Iron Banner reputation with Lord Saladin.

10. Valakadyn

The Destiny 2 best energy auto rifle

Image: Bungie via HGG

In Year 1, it rose to the top. In Year 2, it looks like it will do so once again.

What makes it one of the best? Valakadyn is a versatile weapon, which makes it absolutely indispensable. Remember how we said the best weapons would largely depend on your preferred playstyle? Well, the Valakadyn can work for any of them.

What is it good for? Crucible and PVE.

What perks should I roll for? This auto rifle can become the equivalent of a stable, long-range scout rifle, or with Outlaw and Kill Clip, you can quickly juice up your damage output for a short-range powerhouse. There’s no specific god roll worth attaining, and it really depends on your playstyle to find which version is best for you. 

How do I get it? Rank up your reputation with Banshee-44 or acquire as a random world drop through Legendary Engrams.

11. The Ringing Nail

The best precision frame auto rifle in Destiny 2

The Ringing Nail
Image: Bungie via HGG

Forged from fire and flame, this auto rifle allows for deadly precision accompanied by a blinding solar flare.

What makes it one of the best? Season of the Forge led to some fantastic weapon drops, but The Ringing Nail stands out amongst the rest. A slower firing and reload speed accompanied by a stupidly high range and damage output on precise shots makes this more akin to a reliable Scout Rifle over a real auto weapon.

What is it good for? PVE.

What perks should I roll for? If you happen to roll Dragonfly and Rampage, your accuracy only benefits you further, causing defeated enemies to erupt into flames and juice up your damage even further.

How do I get it? This weapon is currently sunsetted with the introduction of Beyond Light, but will likely return in an upcoming season.

Runners Up: Destiny 2 Best Auto Rifles

There are plenty of other incredible auto rifles out there that play similarly to this list’s top options. These last few are still worth getting but aren’t quite as good due to recent meta updates or weapon sunsetting. Here’s hoping that Sweet Business becomes incredibly broken again at some point because there is nothing quite like having a full fireteam mowing down everything in its path.

12. Misfit

Kody Wirth / High Ground Gaming

What is it good for? Crucible, PVE, and Gambit.

13. Uriel’s Gift

Uriel's Gift
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? Crucible and PVE.

14. Cerberus +1

Carberus +1
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? PVE and Gambit.

15. Sweet Business

Sweet Business
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

Honorable Mention

Last, but not necessarily least, we have an honorable mention that’ll give your enemies whiplash.


Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? PVE.

Destiny 2 Best Mod Specs for Auto Rifles

Auto rifles benefit from virtually the same mod specs that pulse rifles do. The only thing is that you can avoid adding any mods that improve ADS accuracy and focus more on weapons speed and hip fire performance. Here are our recommendations for PVP:

  • Sprint Grip: Temporarily increase the weapon ready speed and aim down sights after sprinting.
  • Freehand Grip: Increases accuracy and ready speed while firing from the hip.

For PVE performance, focus on amping up your ability to take on large groups of enemies. Most auto rifles are already built to mow down multiple enemies but often need a damage boost if possible. Here are our recommendations for PVE:

  • Surrounded Spec: Increases the damage granted by Surrounded. Bonus damage lingers for a brief time when no longer surrounded by three or more enemies.
  • Rampage: Kills with this weapon temporarily grant increased damage. Stacks 3x.

As always, be sure to look at the base stats, and perk rolls when applying a mod. Look for opportunities to boost a high-level ability or make up for low performance.

Satiate That Gnawing Hunger

Auto rifles are a powerhouse for every activity in Destiny 2 — hopefully, our list has helped you find some great options to test out. We’re sure that whatever you equip, you’ll be easily mowing down the forces of darkness at a rapid pace.

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Related Reading

Update 4/1/21 – added Shadow Price to number 5 position and dropped Breakneck to honorable mention