SMGs are built for aggressive Destiny players seeking to control the battlefield with up close and personal rapid-fire. While SMG novices will probably be glass cannons for a while, it’s worth it to keep practicing. That’s because, in an experienced Guardian’s hands, the Destiny 2 best submachine guns can deal a swift death to enemies of the Light (and fellow Guardians in the Crucible).

What are the best SMGs in Destiny 2, you ask? Keep reading to find out!

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10 Best Destiny 2 Submachine Guns

It’s been a while since an SMG-focused meta update has occurred. And as we mentioned in our best PvP and best PvE lists, both pulse rifles and auto rifles are heavily favored. Luckily, SMGs tend to follow suit, falling somewhere between the two, and can be equally effective if you focus on using damage-heavy and balanced weapons.

Here are the ten best SMG options currently available in Destiny 2

1. Escape Velocity

The Destiny 2 best submachine gun

Escape Velocity
Image: Bungie via HGG

This SMG wants to show you the truth. It takes the top spot from the Recluse, thanks to everyone’s favorite feature, sunsetting.

Why is it one of the best? Escape Velocity has the benefit of mimicking the base stats of the Recluse Pinnacle, which was unfortunately sunsetted this season. The only drawbacks it has compared to that fan-favorite are lesser stability and reload speed, which can be increased with the Overload perk and Counterbalance Stock. 

It does make up for this stability issue by having a very unusual option for SMGs — the ability to change out scopes. Most players opt for the traditional Iron Sights option, but we recommend switching to the Circle or Loop if you like to play with a bit more distance. Add in Vorpal Weapon or Surrounded to the mix, and you suddenly have an incredibly powerful, fast, and stable SMG at your fingertips.

What’s it good for? It’s best for PvE, Gambit, and Crucible. Just know that Auto Rifles and shotguns outclass the damage and range potential in Crucible without the perk roll listed above.

How do I get it? Acquire it as a random Legendary Engram drop.

2. Friction Fire

The Destiny 2 best kinetic submachine gun

Friction Fire
Image: Bungie via HGG

Speed, heat, and light fuel this SMG and the versatile perk rolls it allows.

Why is it one of the best? Friction Fire is one of those weapons that benefit from the diverse amount of perks it has available. The base stats look fairly low on the surface, but with some Wrathborn Hunt fine-tuning, you can roll the variation you’re looking for. 

What is it good for? PvE, Gambit, and Crucible. It’s most useful in PvE, with Threat Detector, Wellspring, and Fluted Barrel equipped to improve reload speed, stability, and ability regeneration. For PvP, it’s all about accuracy, which means using Zen Moment and Accurized Rounds.

How do I get it? Acquire it from Crow Rank Up Packages or by completing Wrathborn Hunts that list it as a reward.

3. Huckleberry

The best Exotic submachine gun Destiny 2

The Huckleberry
Image: Bungie via HGG

It’ll be your huckleberry and solve all of your problems with thirty rounds.

Why is it one of the best? The Huckleberry may be one of the most underrated weapons in Destiny 2. It doesn’t pack quite enough power with the base stats to work against more powerful enemies, but it is a red bar killing machine. This is thanks to the combination of Ride the Bull and Rampage, which increase your fire rate when holding down the trigger, reload your clip, and increase your damage output by 3x on successful kills, respectively.  

It honestly may be your best bet when facing down a large mob of enemies and serves as a natural complement when running hand cannons or pulse rifles. Just make sure you keep killing enemies to keep the benefits stacking.

What’s it good for? It’s best for PvE and solely as a crowd control weapon in Gambit.

How do I get it? Acquire it as a random Exotic Engram drop.

4. Ikelos_SMG

The Destiny 2 best energy submachine gun

Ikelos_SMG
Image: Bungie via HGG

Ikelos makes a comeback with an upgrade that reinvigorates the previously decent submachine.

Why is it one of the best? The Ikelos weapons have always ranged from decent to excellent, with the latest iteration of the SMG landing closer to the latter. Thankfully, it serves as one of the best replacements for the Recluse when playing Crucible. The incredible handling, low recoil, and decent range are wrapped up in an aggressive frame that is further augmented by Disruption break. 

Use it to knock down enemy shields and follow up with your kinetic weapon to send enemy Guardians packing.

What’s it good for? PvP. Enough said.

How do I get it? Acquire it through random Exodus Engram drops.

5. Extraordinary Rendition

The Destiny 2 best submachine gun to grind

Extraordinary Rendition
Image: Bungie via HGG

Why is it one of the best? You’ll constantly be popping new variations of Extraordinary Rendition. It’s like Destiny 2 wants you to have as many as possible, but thankfully it’s actually a solid weapon. With a limited but offense-focused selection of perks, excellent handling stats, and the deep magazine, you can easily mow down enemies in a few seconds.

You’ll want to use this from short-to-mid range, so rather than worrying about accuracy, focus on rolls that boost your ammo reserves or gun speed even further. Honestly, just playing a few rounds of Battlegrounds should pop a few useful variations, making it a great option to farm out.

What’s it good for? Use it in PvE and PvP thanks to the deep magazine and high damage output. 

How do I get it? Acquire it by completing Battlegrounds activities, finishing seasonal bounties, or focusing Umbral Engrams.

6. Riskrunner

The Destiny 2 best Exotic energy submachine gun

Riskrunner
Image: Bungie via HGG

Charge enemy souls with continuous arc damage.

Why is it one of the best? One of the best weapons introduced with the launch of Shadowkeep has remained relevant thanks to its unique arc-based perks. When taking arc damage, your damage and resistance increase. It also causes your Superconductor perk to go off, allowing you to chain arc damage between enemies with lightning and return ammo to your magazine.

Besides that excellent perk, which is especially useful for arc-focused strikes, the base stats sit nicely in the upper-middle for all stats, aside from impact and reload speed. Since you can’t equip weapon mods, try to offset your reloading speed and stability with armor mods.

What is it good for? PvE, Crucible, and Gambit. The Superconductor perk makes it incredibly useful when taking down multiple enemies in any situation.

How do I get it? Acquire it as a random Exotic Engram drop.

7. Seventh Seraph VY-7

The Destiny 2 best submachine gun PvP

Seventh Seraph
Image: Bungie via HGG

Let your subclass do the talking with this unique SMG.

Why is it one of the best? Originally a season pass reward for Season 10, the Seventh Seraph weapon brand has stuck around as a reliable option for every weapon class. Most of this has to do with the unique perk that allows you to increase various stats based on your current sub-class. 

This is only amplified and balanced by an excellent perk pool, with Feeding Frenzy and Vorpal Weapon being among the best for PvP. Look to continue increasing range to stack on top of the already impressive range granted by the Precision Frame.

What’s it good for? PvP and PvE. It’s best for PvP but can still prove useful for crowd control in PvE.

How do I get it? Acquire it through random Legendary Engram drops.

8. Tarrabah

The Destiny 2 best submachine gun PvE

Tarrabah
Image: Bungie via HGG

An SMG that requires the opposite of what most SMGs need to succeed — patience.

Why is it one of the best? Tarrabah is one of those weapons that are incredibly unintuitive to use. It requires you to either continuously layout damage or take it to activate the Ravenous Beast perk, and then continue doing it to extend the perk’s use. Without it active, the SMG is fairly basic and difficult to take out enemies. 

But with a build centered around resilience and recovery, and the willingness to sit in the thick of it, you can turn it into a highly effective and continuous death machine. It’s perfect for mowing down low-level enemies as well as chipping away at larger enemy shields.

What’s it good for? It’s best for PvE encounters with a blend of weak and powerful enemies to balance damage input and output.

How do I get it? Acquire it by completing the Gahlran encounter in the Crown of Sorrow Raid or the Exotic Kiosk.

9. Cold Front

The best Legendary Destiny 2 submachine gun

Cold Front
Image: Bungie via HGG

Sweep in like a force of nature that looks strangely like your current sub-class.

Why is it one of the best? This seasonal weapon brings more than a cold front with it. If you use your grenade ability, the Cold Front will adopt your subclass’s elemental damage until you stow it. Having the ability to stack elemental combos from your secondary to a class ability can be truly game-changing when facing down powerful enemies.

Just be sure to use Extended Barrel and Tactical Mag to alleviate the lack of long-distance accuracy and intense kickback. Then work to get a roll that includes Subsistance and Rampage to keep your damage output up and your magazine full.

What’s it good for? PvE and PvP with the right perk rolls.

How do I get it? Cold Front was a gift during the 2020 Dawning Event. It is no longer available, but may return as a random drop. 

10. Death Adder

The Destiny 2 best lightweight submachine gun

Death Adder
Image: Bungie via HGG

Death becomes you as long as you face it head-on.

Why is it one of the best? The Death Adder is an interesting build that almost encourages you to keep taking damage. The lower the health, the higher the damage output, which can be a risky way to play. You’ll want to equip the Corkscrew Rifling and Appended Mag to improve stability and increase the magazine size. Then try to at least roll Feeding Frenzy to increase your reload speed.

This turns a relatively lightweight weapon with a dangerous benefit into a powerhouse that won’t stop firing.

What’s it good for? PvE and PvP with the right perk rolls.

How do I get it? Acquire it by completing the second encounter in the Prophecy Dungeon. Subsequent rolls can be found in one of the secret chests in the area.

Honorable Mentions: Destiny 2 Best Submachine Guns

The following submachine guns are fairly powerful, but they’re a little too situational to make it into our top 10 list.

Exit Strategy

The Destiny 2 best close-range submachine gun

Exit Strategy
Image: Bungie via HGG

Stay sharp while getting up close and personal.

Why is it an honorable mention? Rolling Threat Detector and Swashbuckler is your best option to make the most out of this weapon. It requires you to get close, but doing so increases your stability while increasing damage output as you get kills. Thankfully, every base stat, aside from impact, is relatively high, so as long as you get a few kills and keep your barrel on your enemies, you can easily take out multiple red bars in one go. 

What’s it good for? It’s best for PvE due to the perk pool being so focused on damage output against multiple enemies.

How do I get it? Originally acquired by completing the Drifter’s Clean Getaway Ques, it’s now available as a Legacy item or through random drops in Gambit.

Destiny 2 Best Submachine Gun Mods

When it comes to modding out the Destiny 2 best machine guns, you’ll want to either balance out the kick, enhance your accuracy or increase the magazine. Be sure to look at the base stats and inherent perks already attached to the SMG and then choose one of the following mods.

  • Backup Mag. Increases magazine.
  • Counterbalance Stock. Reduces recoil deviation for the weapon.
  • Freehand Grip. Increases accuracy and ready speed while firing from the hip.
  • Sprint Grip. Temporarily increases the weapon’s ready speed and aim down sights speed after sprinting.

Be sure to attach armor mods that decrease flinching, increase ammo pick-ups, and improve your stability when aiming down sites when using SMGs. You may have to upgrade your Seasonal Artifact to unlock a few SMG specific armor mods, including options required to take down enemies in Nightfall.

Hit Hard and Fast

By starting with one of the Destiny 2 best submachine guns on this list and amping it up with the right perks, you can truly become unstoppable from close to mid-range. Be sure to share this guide on your favorite social channels to help your friend who likes to play aggressively but can’t stop dying. For more Destiny 2 guides like this one, be sure to subscribe to our email list.

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Update 4/1/21 – added Extraordinary Rendition to number 5 position and dropped Exit Strategy to honorable mention