Destiny 2 is often known as the Space Wizard simulator, but the game has plenty of parallels with Space Cowboys as well. Destiny 2 has plenty of weapons, many of which take influence from the classic Gunslinging Cowboy archetype. With this in mind, I’ve put together a fun Gunslinger build for the Hunter classes that I believe captures that Gunslinging cowboy feel perfectly.
My Quick Draw Hand Cannon Hunter Build
When you think of Gunslingers in Destiny 2, no class comes to mind faster than the Hunter class. This class has plenty of armors and armor ornaments that capture the Gunslinger aesthetic. Naturally, I decided to start my Gunslinger Hunter build with the subclass that best captures that Gunslinging energy, the Solar Hunter Subclass.
This build makes use of two exotics, one exotic weapon, and one exotic armor piece. This build seeks to capture the big iron, revolver-style, Gunslinging Cowboy from old western movies and media by running an exotic hand cannon called Sunshot. The build’s two other weapons can be whatever the user prefers, but I recommend a shotgun as your special weapon and a grenade launcher or linear fusion rifle as your Heavy weapon.
Sunshot: This Exotic hand cannon is the bread and butter of the build. At 150 rounds per minute and 12 rounds in the clip, this hand cannon can confidently compete with the best of them. The main draws of Sunshot are its Intrinsic Trait Sunburn and its Exotic Perk; Sunblast. Sunburn makes the weapon fire explosive rounds, so it can hit targets in a group easily. You can also hit the ground or wall next to an enemy and still deal damage to them from the round’s detonation. Sunblast causes targets killed by Sunshot to explode. This explosion deals solar damage to targets and spreads scorch to nearby enemies. This exotic pair really well with many of the Solar 3.0 aspects and fragments. The only thing to keep in mind is that Sunblast explosions are not considered Ignitions, so don’t expect any synergy there.
Lucky Pants: This build’s exotic armor piece is the Lucky Pants leg exotic. These are a must-run for any hand cannon-focused build. In so many words, this exotic increases the damage of your hand cannons for a short time after swapping to them. While that window is available, shooting a target multiple times with a hand cannon will cause the damage of your hand cannon to increase with each shot you land. This is great for when you’re dealing with particularly spongy enemies or if your hand cannon doesn’t have the highest base damage numbers. This perk really gets crazy if you have good accuracy since you can absolutely shred health bars if you land multiple critical hits in a row while this effect is active. These pants will also improve your hand cannon’s handling, accuracy, and airborne effectiveness for a short time after swapping to it.
This build has a lot of freedom when it comes to its class abilities thanks to our focus being mostly on our exotic weapons. The only two abilities that I would strongly recommend you run are the Class Ability and Melee ability, which we’ll get to shortly.
Super: Either of the two Golden Gun Supers are fine. Both stick with the build main theme of gunslinger but I will admit, that the Blade Barrage super is probably the best option out of the three if you really want to be optimal in a lot of situations. The Golden Gun Supers will benefit from this build’s constant generation of Radiant. Golden Gun Supers will not be getting any of the benefits from our Lucky Pants exotic, which is a pretty huge bummer but what can you do?
Class Ability: I personally recommend running Gambler’s Dodge here. This class ability will fully restore your melee ability whenever you use your dodge near enemies. This, alongside one of our aspects effectively grants us infinite powered melee attacks. You can already have infinity-powered melees with a specific aspect and fragment combo equipped, but this class ability gives you an extra chance just in case you mess up and miss your melee.
Melee Ability: Knife Trick is my personal recommendation for this build’s powered melee attack. This melee ability throws a set of knives in a horizontal fan pattern. These knives Scorch targets they hit and typically kill most red bar enemies if you land a critical hit with one knife or hit the enemy with two or more knives to the body.
Grenade Ability: You can run a variety of grenades with this build depending on your playstyle and the kind of content your running. This build doesn’t actually need the extra damage from the grenade a lot of the time, so you can run the Healing grenade if you find yourself dying more often than you should. My personal recommendation is the Solar Grenade because it has a large hitbox, a lingering effect, and it applies a decent amount of scorch to its targets. Fusion Grenads can work well too.
Knock’em Down: This aspect grants the user 2 fragment slots and a few effects. It enhances all of the Solar Hunter’s Supers by granting increased damage resistance and duration to the Golden Gun Supers and adds more projectiles to the Blade Barrage Super. This is also the aspect that allows you to infinitely spam your charged melee ability. Final blows with your charged melee will completely refund the melee ability’s energy while the user is Radiant and has this aspect equipped.
On Your Mark: This aspect grants the user 3 fragment slots. While this aspect is equipped, precision final blows will grant the user and their nearby allies stacks of On Your Mark, up to a maximum of 3 stacks. This buff grants improved reload speed and handling to the user’s weapons. Activating your class ability will grant you the maximum number of On Your Mark stacks. This aspect pairs really well with the Gambler’s dodge ability we have equipped since, if you’re like me, you probably miss your melee attack fairly often and need to use your dodge to get it back.
Ember of Torches: This fragment grants the radiant buff to our Guardian and their nearby allies whenever we use a powered melee attack against an enemy. This fragment also reduces the user’s maximum discipline stat by 10 points, but don’t worry we will make up for that loss in the armor mod section. This fragment allows us to refund our charged melee ability whenever we kill an enemy with it as long as we have the Knock’em Down aspect equipped.
Ember of Tempering: This fragment serves 3 purposes. The first is to generate fire sprites, which provide our Guardian with grenade energy and restoration, more on that in a bit. The second effect this fragment provides is increased airborne effectiveness for our Solar weapons. The latter effect isn’t super essential to a Hunter, but if you’re like me and love to jump around the battlefield this little buff can come in handy for landing shots while in the air.
The final benefit this fragment provides is a plus 10 bonus to our Recovery stat for every stack of Ember of Tempering we have active (maxed out at plus 3 stacks). You can gain stacks by killing enemies with a solar weapon and these stacks can be allied to nearby allies as well. This fragment can clear up space on your Class Item mod loadout if you don’t already have 100 Recovery. Please keep in mind that this fragment will reduce your max Recovery stat by 10 points while equipped.
Ember of Mercy: This fragment grants you and your nearby allies the Restoration buff whenever you revive an ally. This fragment also grants the user the Restoration buff whenever they pick up a Firesprite. This Fragment is the main reason we are running Ember of Tempering. We need a consistent source of Firesprites so we can keep getting that Restoration buff. This buff is what will keep you alive in most of the game’s endgame content. We do have some other sources of healing in this build but Restoration is by far the strongest. One last thing when it comes to this mod, it increases the user’s Resilience stat by 10 points while equipped.
Ember of Singeing: This fragment may not look like much based on its description but trust me it is well worth equipping. This fragment grants the user a 300% increase to their class ability regeneration for 3 seconds whenever the user applies Scorch to a target. This fragment makes our class ability come back super fast, and when paired with some armor mods, we can get our class ability back in seconds.
Ember of Solace: This one is pretty simple, it increases the duration of our Restoration and Radiant buffs by a few seconds. I’ve chosen this fragment over Ember of Emperean because Emperean requires you to consistently kill enemies in order to maintain the buffs, the reality is that sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you can’t get a kill on another enemy in time to extend the effect. Empyrean also lowers the user’s Resilience stat by 10 and that is something to avoid as much as possible in PvE.
Our armor mods for this build are centered around improving our class ability regeneration, grenade ability regeneration, buffing our stats wherever we need to, generating ammo for ourselves/our fireteam, and gaining super-energy from generated Orbs of Power and ability usage. These are some energy-heavy mods so I recommend you get your armor as close to Masterworked as possible before tackling this section of the build. Also, some of the mods aren’t necessary if you have the right stat spread on your armor. We generally want 100 Resilance because the stat is really strong in PvE and most endgame content is going to melt you without it. I’d personally prioritize, Mobility and Discipline as the other 2 important stat for this build, because Mobility determines how quickly you get your class ability back, and Discipline, determines how quickly you get your grenade ability back.
Harmonic Siphon – This generates an orb of power whenever you get multiple kills with a Solar weapon in quick succession. The Orbs generated by this mod grant a small amount of Super energy when collected. Considering the fact that Sunshot is amazing at killing groups of red bar enemies really quickly with its Sunblasts, this mod is a must-run. This mod only costs 1 energy to equip.
Heavy ammo Finder – This mod increases the drop chance of heavy ammo bricks based on the weapon you use to kill enemies. The highest drop rate is with an exotic primary weapon, which we have in Sunshot. The rate with this weapon is roughly 16 kills for a single heavy ammo brick. Ammo bricks spawned from this mod will contain additional ammo when compared to standard ammo bricks. Heavy ammo is essential for clearing endgame content as some enemies will need to be dealt with quickly or else they will wipe you and your fireteam. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Hands-On – This mod grants the user super energy whenever they get a kill with their melee ability. This is great given how frequently we can spam our melee ability with this build. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Heavy Handed – This mod generates an Orb of power whenever you get kills with your powered melee ability. It is our main form of Orb generation outside of Harmonic Siphon. The Orbs generated by this mod will also grant a small amount of super energy when collected. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Font of focus – This mod increases the user’s Discipline stat by 30 points while they have armor charge. This mod isn’t necessary if you already have a Discipline stat of 80 or higher. If that is the case, I recommend running a copy of Impact Induction instead. This mod reduces your grenade ability cooldown every time you deal damage with your melee ability. These mods cost 3-2 energy to equip respectfully.
Focusing Strike – This mod restores class ability energy each time you cause damage with your charged melee ability. Our class ability is really important to this build so mods like this that help us get it back faster are a must-run. This mod costs 2 energy to equip.
Charged-up – This mod increases the user’s maximum number of armor charge stacks by 1. We use this to extend the duration of our Font and other blue mods. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Harmonic resistance/any Resistance Mod – These mods reduce the incoming damage the user takes from specific sources. You should equip one of these based on the elemental threat found in the activity you’re playing. These mods require a 1-2 energy to equip.
Font of Endurance or Harmonic Reserves – If you have less than 80 Resilience you may want to consider running the Font of Endurance mod. This mod will grant you 30 points to your Resilience stat while you have armor charge. Harmonic Reserves increases the maximum reserve ammo size of all your Solar weapons by a decent amount. These mods cost 3-2 energy respectfully.
Recuperation – Our secondary source of healing is provided by this mod, Recuperation grants a chunk of health to the player each time they pick up an Orb of Power. This mod is a 100% life savor in endgame content and it’s saved my tail on more occasions than I can count in solo dungeon runs. This mod only costs 1 energy to equip.
Elemental charge – This mod grants you a chance to get a stack of armor charge each time you collect a Firesprite or any other elemental pickup. We already want to pick up any Firesprites we generate so we can get Restoration, this mod just further incentivizes picking up Firesprites for the armor charge. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Absolution – This mod reduces the cooldown for all your abilities whenever you pick up an Orb of Power. It doesn’t reduce it by a whole lot but with how frequently we will be collecting Orbs of power this one is a good mod to have. This mod costs 3 energy to equip.
Bomber – This mod reduces the cooldown on the user’s grenade ability each time the user activates their class ability near an enemy. We don’t need the version of this mod that restores melee energy because we have an aspect that does just that. This mod only costs 1 energy to equip.
Powerful Attraction – This mod draws in nearby Orbs of Power whenever you use your class ability. The pull reach isn’t too crazy, but it can come in handy given the amount of Orb-related mods we have in this build. This mod costs 2 energy to equip.
Time Dilation – The armor charge decay timer is extended by 5 seconds for each stack of armor charge. This one is only here to further extend the duration of our Blue mods. It costs 3 energy to equip.
And that’s about it for our Gunslinger Hunter build. There are quite a few powerful hand cannons in Destiny 2, so you could probably recreate this build with a Solar hand cannon other than Sunshot, it just won’t be quite as powerful. You could also try a scout rifle like Skyburner’s Oath for this build if you’re not into Handcannons. Just replace this exotic with a Solar-related exotic and you should be fine. You can also pair this build with a sniper instead of a shotgun if that’s your preference.