Bows have been a major part of Destiny 2 since the launch of Forsaken years ago. Bows mix the mid-speed accuracy of scout rifles, the long-range distance of sniper rifles, and the semi-rapid fire of pulse rifles to make a unique weapon class that’s difficult to master.
Over the last several years, we’ve gotten a ton of bows. Some are Exotic with very specific, unique perks, while some are generic legendaries without much to offer. No two bows are the same, and some of the more recent options have introduced some incredible perks. But which of them are worth trading in your heavy-duty artillery for a bow and a quiver?
8 Best Destiny 2 Bows in 2023
Picking the right bow can be difficult since they vary so greatly in purpose. Some are great for long DPS phases, while others excel at wiping out small enemies. Here’s our list of the top 8 bows in Destiny 2 (in no particular order)!
The best Exotic bow in Destiny 2
Why is it one of the best? Poison is a dangerous element in Destiny 2, and any weapon which can apply it tends to be very good. Thanks to its high precision damage, on-hit poison, and combination of perks, Le Monarque is likely the best bow in Destiny 2.
Le Monarque paved the way for Exotic Bow archetypes, being the first to showcase an explosive ability through precision hits. The interesting thing is that it causes poison damage, meaning any AOE impact can gradually affect nearby enemies. And thanks to the high impact and accuracy stats, any precision shots will typically take out minor enemies and even Guardians in one to two hits.
Since bows are always good for taking out Champions, Le Monarque really gets a chance to shine in difficult content. It’s surprisingly efficient, even at the hardest difficulties. In Crucible, Le Monarque is an absolute menace. It does over 150 damage on a precision shot, plus the poison damage. It’s enough to easily pick off anyone who’s already been hit, and it can quickly kill from full health as well. It also prevents healing and reviving since the poison ticks for a while.
What’s it good for? Le Monarque is perfect for everything from Crucible to the hardest PVE content.
How do I get it? Exotics Archive at the Tower.
One of the most unique bows in the game
Why is it one of the best? Ticcu’s Divination is one of the best examples of how unique Exotic bows tend to be. This tri-shot, solar-based Exotic bow works as a solid enemy clearing weapon or sustained DPS. The intrinsic perk, Sacred Flame, allows you to “mark” targets for explosion. Hip-fire a shot, then land a precision shot to detonate the explosion and do huge damage.
Ticcu’s is good in PVE mostly, since the Sacred Flame detonations can be very easily spammed. It’s also a good choice for Nightfall strikes when there’s an applicable Champion mod and the right modifiers. In a Nightfall strike with a Solar surge and/or a Bow weapon boost, this is a great option to have ready. It also works really well in Gambit, since it does have some usefulness in a partial PVP environment, even if it isn’t the best bow for PVP.
What is it good for? Ticcu’s is good in all forms of content, but it shines most in PVE. It’s easier to make use of Sacred Flame on enemies that can’t just run away as soon as you land the hip-fire shot.
How do I get it? Exotics Archive at the Tower.
Under Your Skin
The strongest Void bow for PVE
Why is it one of the best? Under Your Skin is a Void precision frame bow that’s also craftable*. It’s one of the strongest bows available for PVE and even has potential in PVP. Since it’s the only craftable Void bow, it gets an automatic advantage over most others. Void is strong right now thanks to the incredible Artifact mods for the subclass and its general strength (all three classes have solid Void subclass builds). Pair Volatile Rounds and other Void mods with this bow for a deadly PVE weapon for any content.
The best roll for PVE is Explosive Head and Archer’s Tempo. This combo allows for bonus damage via Explosive and rapid draw speed via Archer’s Tempo. It does require precision hits, but as long as you consistently land those it’s incredible. For PVP, you could use Opening Shot and Archer’s Tempo or Tunnel Vision. Explosive Head doesn’t do much in PVP, so it’s best not to use it.
What is it good for? Under Your Skin is better in PVE, but it has some solid rolls for PVP as well. In PVE, its status as a Void bow (on top of its great perks) make it a great choice in endgame content.
How to get it? World Drop or Banshee-44 (the Gunsmith).
*As with most Witch Queen era weapons that were obtainable via seasonal activities, there’s no way to consistently farm the pattern for this weapon right now. This should change sometime in 2023, but it’s unclear when as of now.
The best bow for add-clear
Why is it one of the best? Bungie has a thing for weapons that chain lightning, and we’re not complaining. Trinity Ghoul takes this idea to the natural extreme, thanks to the Lightning Rod perk, which chains lightning upon precision kills (or any kill, if you have the catalyst). All you have to do is get one kill with Trinity Ghoul to grant the Lightning Rod perk. Then you can just fire your arrows in the general direction of enemies and the chain lightning will do the rest. It’s like firing arc grenades on repeat.
To truly get the most out of this bow, you need to opt for an Arc subclass to keep your chain lightning rolling. This can be limiting for some players, but the crazy amount of AOE and residual damage is well worth it, especially when taking on multiple enemies. In PVE, Trinity Ghoul synergizes very well with Arc 3.0 builds due to how many Arc kills you can get with it.
What is it good for? Trinity Ghoul is the top pick for add-clear bows in PVE. It’s nearly unmatched in its ability to clear out a room with ease.
How to get it? World Drop or Xur.
A simple, yet versatile Kinetic bow
Why is it one of the best? Whispering Slab has been one of the best kinetic bows for a long time. It’s quick and light thanks to its frame, and its perk pool is nearly perfect. Vorpal Weapon and Archer’s Tempo make for a deadly combo for accurate bow users. It holds up in any difficulty level since it is able to output consistent damage, take out smaller enemies quickly, and leaves the Exotic slot open for either a special or heavy ammo weapon.
It’s not quite as strong in PVP, but if you’re interested in a lightweight bow, you can make it work. Opening Shot and Rangefinder or Killing Wind are both good rolls for PVP, so it might be worth a shot if you really like the weapon.
What is it good for? The Slab is at its best in PVE. If you need a good Kinetic bow for any PVE content, you can’t go wrong with it.
How to get it? World Drop or Banshee-44 (the Gunsmith).
The best bow for Solar builds
Why is it one of the best? Strident Whistle is a Solar bow with Incandescent as one of its perks. That alone is enough to warrant a spot on this list, but it has other great perks to match. Archer’s Tempo along with Incandescent makes for a non-stop explosion chain, and other options like Explosive Head, Vorpal Weapon, and Shoot to Loot are also all viable.
Being the only bow that can get the Incandescent perk is an incredible merit for this weapon. It fits better into Solar builds than any other bow, even including the Exotic ones. If you’re looking for a bow that you can take into Nightfall strikes or Master raids, this is a fantastic choice. Incandescent allows it to take out swarms, and it can whittle away at larger enemies quickly thanks to Archer’s Tempo. Definitely don’t forget about this bow.
What is it good for? Strident Whistle can work in any environment thanks to its perks, but we’d recommend sticking mostly to PVE. Its perks can work in PVP, but they’re harder to utilize.
How to get it? Vanguard Playlists or Engram Focusing at Zavala (once you have it unlocked).
The best Legendary Stasis bow
Why is it one of the best? Raconteur is the new best Stasis bow in town. It replaces Lunulata-4B, which was previously the only bow with the Headstone perk. Now that Raconteur has arrived, we can finally access the combo of Archer’s Tempo (the best bow perk) and Headstone. Headstone spawns Stasis crystals on precision kills, and Archer’s Tempo grants faster reload speed after precision hits. It’s a perfect combo.
If you don’t need endless Stasis crystals (for some reason), you can also go with the always-reliable Explosive Head + Archer’s Tempo combo. Explosive Head grants a nice damage bonus, so you can’t really go wrong with it.
Outside of PVE, Raconteur can be used in PVP pretty effectively. Gutshot Straight is surprisingly good on bows since it allows for two-shot kills even if one is a body shot, and for the other perk you could use either Surplus, Perfect Float, or Archer’s Tempo.
What is it good for? Anything! You can get a good roll for either PVE or PVP.
How to get it? Defiant Battlegrounds or Engram Focusing at the H.E.L.M.
The best (and only) heavy Exotic bow
Why is it one of the best? Leviathan’s Breath is the only heavy bow in the game. For years it was a joke, with the exception of the occasional strike, but these days it’s pretty great. The Leviathan’s Sigh perk causes fully drawn arrows to cause a powerful AOE explosion on hits, boosting its damage output. Over a long damage phase, Leviathan’s Breath can output more damage than nearly any other weapon.
The Leviathan’s Breath catalyst is one of the major selling points of this weapon. It increases the magazine size by 50% and grants the perk Archer’s Tempo. The base draw time of this weapon is longer than any other bow’s, so Tempo was a necessity for it to be useful.
With the catalyst, this weapon more than holds its own in damage phases and against powerful enemies such as Champions. It has a built-in Unstoppable Champion mod, too, so it’s strong no matter what Artifact mods are available for it.
What is it good for? Doing sustained DPS in PVE.
How to get it? Exotics Archive at the Tower
Best Mods for Bows in Destiny 2
The best bows in Destiny 2 have the unique aspect of being useful when aiming down sights and when firing from the hip. Typically one method leads to great precision damage, and the other has a beneficial AOE effect. For mods, that means opting for better targeting or hip fire benefits, depending on your playstyle. Damage boosting mods are also great.
Here are the mods you should look out for:
- Minor Spec: Deals extra damage against rank-and-file (small) enemies.
- Major Spec: Deals extra damage against powerful enemies.
- Freehand Grip: Increases accuracy and ready speed while firing from the hip.
- Sprint Grip: Increases weapon ready speed and aim down sights speed after sprinting.
- Icarus Grip: Improves accuracy while airborne.
- Targeting Adjuster: Improves weapon target acquisition.
Just Call Me Hawkeye
The best bows in Destiny 2 are some of the most fun weapons to use. Grabbing a handful from this list will provide you with some diverse and deadly firepower in your arsenal. If someone on your fireteam doesn’t know which bows to use, be sure to share this article with them on your favorite social platform. To stay up to date with the latest from Destiny 2, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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10/20/2021 Update: Wolftone Draw added to the #4 spot.
4/5/2023 Update: Changed to a Top 8 format and changed the rankings to be up to date.