Hand cannons are Destiny’s spiritual successor to the original Halo pistol. These beefy sidearms pack a heavy kick that is only complimented by the dramatic range and impressive impact. They’re difficult to master but incredibly rewarding once you do. 

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But, like most weapons in Destiny 2, there is a literal heap of hand cannons to choose from. So which one is the best? 

15 Best Hand Cannons in Destiny 2

The Destiny 2 best hand cannons are the perfect complementary weapons to assault rifles and pulse rifles. When looking through your options, you want to find a steady build that gives you decent stopping power and range — something equally valuable when up close or when taking potshots from across the map.

It’s also worth noting that the best hand cannons typically have an additional perk that makes them unique to use. So, with those things in mind, let’s dig into our top 15 hand cannon picks in 2021.

1. Posterity

The Destiny 2 best hand cannon overall

Posterity
Image: Bungie via HGG

Within the Deep Stone Crypt lies a weapon that may seem like any other. However, in the right hands, it can prove to be one of the most powerful Legendary weapons in Destiny 2

Why is it one of the best? The high base stats alone should tell you that this hand cannon is the best. It feels unreal that a weapon should be this balanced at such a high average, with the only real detriment being the smaller clip. The benefits are only amplified with the right perk rolls, which make it equally useful in Crucible, Gambit, and PVE events. 

Depending on those perks, you can become either a player that holds your ground and takes out multiple opponents thanks to the ridiculous stacked damage or a ghost that double-taps Guardians and sprints away with a mobility boost. Either way, you can expect to be more accurate, more elusive, and more deadly with this hand cannon.

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

Which perks should I roll for? For PVP environment, we recommend Killing Wing, Opening Shot (or Rampage), Arrowhead Brake, and Accurized Rounds.

In PVE environments, look for Reconstruction (or Rapid Hit), Rampage (or Demolitionist), Corkscrew Rifling, and Tactical Mag.

How do I get it? It can only be acquired by defeating the boss during the Deep Stone Crypt Raid’s third encounter. Once defeated, it can be acquired in the raid’s two secret chests on subsequent runs.

2. Dire Promise

The best Legendary hand cannon in Destiny 2

Dire Promise
Image: Bungie via HGG

You promised to defeat the enemies of the Light, and with this hand cannon, you can keep that promise. 

Why is it one of the best? If you’re looking for high impact with a minimal amount of kick, the Dire Promise is for you. It has an intrinsic perk that allows you to move faster when equipped, allowing you to take full advantage of its stopping power up close. This is only compounded by the egregious aim assist with this weapon, which makes every shot almost guaranteed to hit. Perfect for squaring off with Guardians in PVP, it can also be great in PVE with the right perks, but the small clip size holds it back.

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

How do I get it? You can find the Dire Promise as a random world drop through Legendary Engrams or by turning in tokens to Crucible or Vanguard vendors.

3. Bottom Dollar

The best fan favorite hand cannon in Destiny 2

Bottom Dollar
Image: Bungie via HGG

Why is it one of the best? The Bottom Dollar has possibly become the most sought-after God Roll weapon currently in Destiny 2, and for good reason. This Void energy aggressive frame weapon packs the impact of a shotgun and the range and accuracy of a mid-tier pulse rifle. On top of that, it also has a massive perk pool, meaning that you can build it out with everything from Dragonfly and Killing Wind to Outlaw and Wellspring.

The only major drawbacks are that there’s no surefire way to acquire it aside from playing Gambit (a lot), and the massive perk pool makes hitting the perfect roll a bit tiresome. But the real benefit is any version of Bottom Dollar you get will be valuable, as long as you learn to compensate for the massive kick.

What is it good for? Try it out in PvE, PvP, and Gambit due to the large perk pool and higher than average base stats. 

How do I get it? Acquire it from random drops by playing Gambit or by finishing bounties for the Drifter.

4. Thorn

The Destiny 2 best Exotic hand cannon

Thorn
Image: Bungie via HGG

Thanks to this Exotic hand cannon, being a thorn in someone’s side has never been so literal.

Why is it one of the best? Thorn may have struggled to find its place in the original Destiny, but Destiny 2 has fully redeemed it. This is all thanks to the complimentary Mark of The Devourer and Soul Devourer perks. 

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

Which perks should I roll for? Mark of the Devourer does residual damage to enemies over time, and Soul Devourer leaves behind Residue that can be picked up when refilling the magazine. It creates a vicious cycle of damage buffs perfect for PVE events and can boost an already efficient team in Crucible or Gambit.

How do I get it? It’s acquired by completing the Thorn Exotic quest. Find “a melted hunk of metal” within a campfire in the Salt Mines of the EDZ to start the quest.

5. Sunshot

The best energy hand cannon in Destiny 2

Sunshot
Image: Bungie via HGG

Make an explosive entrance with a weapon that severely sunburns your enemies.

Why is it one of the best? Think of the sunshot as a highly accurate explosive shotgun. If you defeat enemies with precision or burning damage, you can expect them to erupt into a ball of flame that can quickly decimate surrounding foes. This feature is further improved if you generate Warmind Cells with the Wrath of Rasputin mod, which can, in turn, allow you to detonate them after the spawn. 

This makes it a more efficient AOE weapon perfect for PVE events, but the solid base stats also make it incredibly useful in Crucible. Just don’t expect to consistently take full advantage of these perks when facing Guardians.

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

How do I get it?

The Sunshot is acquired as a quest reward during the original Red War campaign.

6. Ace of Spades

The best PVP hand cannon in Destiny 2

Ace of Spades
Image: Bungie via HGG

Cayde may be gone, but his charm and luck live on in this kinetic firearm.

Why is it one of the best? Luck and explosions fuel the Ace of Spades. This weapon has crazy range and impact, which is only offset by the buckling recoil. But with a combination of Rampage and Dragonfly, you can expect your damage output to keep rolling in Crucible. And thanks to the explosive death caused by precision shots combined with the random extra-damage shots, it’s fair to say you can cause enemy Guardians to have a consistently bad day.

What is it good for? Crucible.

How do I get it? This weapon is obtained through a quest chain in the Forsaken expansion that requires you to fix Cayde’s iconic weapon.

7. Eriana’s Vow

The best PVE hand cannon in Destiny 2

Eriana's Vow
Image: Bungie via HGG

Enemy shields are no match for a hand cannon that illuminates the darkness with elegant precision.

Why is it one of the best? The introduction of barrier specialties was both a unique challenge and a frustrating balancing act. Luckily, Eriana’s Vow takes care of that by having a built-in perk that allows you to pierce enemy shields. Thanks to the high impact and range, you get to do this from a distance and apply solar damage simultaneously.

This hand cannon is still a crucial late-game weapon that is so useful for taking out high-level bosses. Just don’t take it into Crucible, or you’re going to have a bad time.

What is it good for? PVE.

How do I get it? Originally acquired as a free reward during Season of the Undying, Eriana’s Vow can now only be claimed by turning in Exotic Engrams.

8. True Prophecy

The Destiny 2 best hand cannon for Gambit

True Prophecy
Image: Bungie via HGG

Finding the right balance to take on enemy hordes, as well as your fellow Guardians, is difficult to achieve. But the True Prophet makes that a non-issue. 

Why is it one of the best? There’s something special about a weapon that can balance taking on Guardians and world enemies without worrying about specific perks. Yes, this weapon is still reliant on perks to be effective, but you don’t need to worry about specific rolls to get the job done. 

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

Which perks should I roll for? With excellent range, combined with Opening Shot and Rampage, you can easily disrupt scoped in enemies and take them out in just a few shots. Just be ready to adjust for a high level of kick when aiming.

How do I get it? It’s currently sunsetted, but expect it to become available again in an upcoming season.

9. Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver

The Destiny 2 best kinetic hand cannon

Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver
Image: Bungie via HGG

Take full advantage of the Warmind thanks to this Legendary hand cannon.

Why is it one of the best? The Warmind Cells were a great addition to Destiny 2’s combat. While they aren’t so prevalent anymore, the weapons that utilize them are still just as good for PVE. Now, that ability alone does not make the Officer Revolver a great hand cannon; it’s actually the vast perk pool you have access to.

What is it good for? PVE and Gambit.

Which perks should I roll for? If you can get Fourth Times The Charm, Vorpal Weapon, and/or Multi kill Clip, you’ll find this weapon to be incredibly useful when taking on more formidable enemies and challenges. It encourages you to take careful aim and allows you to keep extending your magazine without concern of running low in a crucial moment.

How do I get it? Acquire it as a random world drop through Legendary or Umbral Engrams.

10. Crimson

The best hip fire hand cannon in Destiny 2

Crimson
Image: Bungie via HGG

Crimson is the spiritual successor to Red Death that simultaneously deals out destruction while protecting the light-bearer.

Why is it one of the best? One of the more unique hand cannons on this list, Crimson is useful due to its intrinsic trait and perk potential. The intrinsic perk, Banned Weapon, allows for a rapid 3-round burst that makes this weapon act more like a high impact sidearm. This is great when facing down Guardians in close proximity.

That said, this weapon is only useful for experienced hand cannon players in Crucible or Gambit for taking out low-level enemies. It just doesn’t pack enough of a punch to be effective in high-level PVE play. 

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

Which perks should I roll for? You can further improve this weapon with the Cruel Remedy perk, which heals you when you get a kill and refills the magazine if you do it with precision damage.

How do I get it? It’s acquired as a random world drop by turning in Exotic Engrams.

11. The Old Fashioned

The best random roll hand cannon in Destiny 2

The Old Fashioned
Image: Bungie via HGG

Bringing something back can have mixed results and maybe a little old fashioned, but doing so actually benefits the legacy of this hand cannon.

Why is it one of the best? The Old Fashioned was a tried and true year-1 Destiny 2 weapon that made a bit of a splash but quickly faded into obscurity. The refresh that came with Season of Dawn drastically improved this weapon’s abilities thanks to the inclusion of random perk rolls. Nowadays, it’s one of the Destiny 2 best hand cannons around.

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

What perks should I roll for? The base stats are solid enough, with the impact being much greater for an otherwise well-balanced gun. But if you throw in perk combos like Quickdraw and Moving Target or Demolitionist and Exploding Payload, it elevates the damage output and targeting ability even further. This makes it perfect for gunfights in the Crucible and is backed up by the stability of the rest of its stats.

How do I get it? Acquire it as a random world drop through Legendary Engrams.

Runners Up: Destiny 2 Best Hand Cannons

These next hand cannons are still formidable options, but aren’t quite as good as our earlier picks due to recent meta updates or weapon sunsetting.

12. Spare Rations

Spare Rations
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

13. IKELOS_HC_v1.0.2

IKELOS_HC_v1.0.2
Image: Bungie via HGG

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

14. Warden’s Law

Warden's Law
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? Crucible and PVE.

15. Jack Queen King 3

Jack Queen King 3
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? PVE.

Honorable Mention

Last, but not necessarily least, we have an honorable mention with an explosive personality.

Malfeasance

Malfeasance
Image: Bungie via HGG

What is it good for? Crucible and Gambit.

Destiny 2 Best Mod Specs for Hand Cannons

Hand cannons can be incredibly powerful weapons once you get used to them. And unlike more automatic weapons in Destiny 2, there is a broader range of difficulties to account for when choosing mods for your weapon. Generally, you want to remedy any high-level kickback, make it easier to switch between complementary weapons, or improve your ability to stay glued to targets.

Here are our general recommendations to consider when adding mods:

  • Counterbalance Stock: Reduces recoil deviation for the weapon.
  • Quick Access Sling: Swap weapons much faster for a short duration after emptying the magazine.
  • Targeting Adjustor: This weapon gains better target acquisition.
  • Backup Mag: Increases magazine.

Now, some weapons have specific perks that you’ll want to boost if they are enabled. Be sure to add the following mods if you have the perk of the same name available:

  • Dragonfly Spec: Increases the radius and damage of Dragonfly.
  • Rampage Spec: Increases duration of Rampage.
  • Surrounded Spec: Increases the damage granted by Surrounded. Bonus damage lingers for a brief time when no longer surrounded by three or more enemies.

As always, be sure to look at your perks and armor mods when deciding which mods to work with. They can be utterly worthless if you’re not complimenting the abilities of your overall build.

Get Ready for a Gun Fight

It will take some time to acclimate to using one of the Destiny 2 best hand cannons, but it’s worth it if you have a rapid-fire weapon to back it up. The best thing you can do is pick one and stick with it until firing it becomes second nature. Don’t forget to share this article with your fireteam to help them find the right hand cannon, and be sure to subscribe to our email list for more Destiny 2 guides.

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Update 4/1/21 – added Bottom Dollar to number 3 position and dropped Malfeasance to honorable mention