Destiny 2 brings back pulse rifles, the Swiss army knife of weapons. Which, if any, is the best pulse rifle?
Pulse rifles aren’t the best weapons category in Destiny 2 right now, but regardless of their ranking in the meta they’re easy and fun to use. If you’re going to do it, you better be sure you’re packing the best pulse rifle around.
Pulse rifles fall part way between the high rate of fire of auto-rifles and the easy precision of scout rifles, without really channeling the strengths of either. With very few exceptions, pulse rifles are a hard pass in Destiny 2’s current PvP meta.
On the other hand, in PvE: pulse rifles are a great beginner weapon. It’s easy to land precision shots on Cabal, Hive and Fallen by aiming for the chest and letting the fire pattern jerk upwards for a headshot. Spamming the trigger will allow you to quickly eat way shields if necessary, too, so you’ve got a reasonable tool for both situations. Finally, the pulse rifle is effective up close and at a pretty generous range. It’s a very forgiving weapons category, even if they’re not the first choice for experts.
On this page, part of our Destiny 2 guide, we’ll run down the best pulse rifles for PvE and PvP. Combine this with our advice on the best armour attributes in Destiny 2 and our lists of armour sets and where to find them, and you have everything you need to craft a perfect Destiny 2 build.
Many Destiny 2 players will say the best pulse rifles is one you’ve dismantled and thrown in the bin, but we’re here for you with a couple of options you may at least have some fun with.
Note that the opinions expressed here are derived from the state of the Destiny 2 PvP and PvE meta during Season 1 (September 2017 onwards). A major rebalance is expected when Season 2 begins, and we’ll update once the dust settles.
Okay, well, here are the best pulse rifles in Destiny 2 – such as they are.
Best pulse rifle for PvP: The Time-Worn Spire
The Rapid-fire paradigm is where Crucible hounds should be looking for their pulse rifles, as it has the fastest precision TTK and a reasonable body shot TTK, too. An Iron Banner reward, The Time-Worn Spire has the highest aim assist of any pulse rifle, making it ludicrously easy to land precision shots with. The recoil is extremely manageable, and stability increases as you land shots and do damage. Three scope choices make it adaptable to multiple playstyles. No fancy perks, sure, but all-round better stats than anything else in this paradigm.
- “Forged in honor of Silimar, and persistence in the face of impossible odds.”
- View on Destiny Tracker: The Time-Worn Spire
- Found in: Iron Banner engrams
- Alternative: Lincoln Green is difficult to master (dat recoil!) but has Quickdraw.
Best Energy pulse rifle: Inaugural Address
Adaptive pulse rifles are a bit weird in that they favour precision shooting but only come as Energy weapons. This makes them really good for taking down Supers in Crucible, though. Inaugural Address is the best of the bunch, with only a lacklustre aim assist to detract from its glories, and that well-compensated by superb recoil control. In PvE, this one really shines – Outlaw and Kill Clip are a great pair of synergistic perks that make this weapon near unstoppable against crowds. Line ’em up, and knock ’em down.
- “My first act as emperor was to send the Consul into the wasteland. The golden sun would burn away his corrupt form; a fitting symbol for the revolution that was to be my reign.”
- View on Destiny Tracker: Inaugural Address
- Found in: Leviathan Raid engrams
- Alternative: Swift Ride has Headseeker, which is a great perk for Pulse Rifles.
Best close-range pulse rifle: Nightshade
If you split your attention between body and precision shots, don’t need to engage at long range and favour snappy handling and reload, a good Lightweight pulse rifle is your friend. Nightshade is a clear favourite in this category thanks to its higher range and best average stats, but its Kill Clip perk, which increases damage upon reloading after a kill, makes it very tasty indeed. Shines in expert PvP hands, solid enough in PvE.
- “Three drops is all it takes.”
- View on Destiny Tracker: Nightshade
- Found in: Vanguard Tactician (Strike) engrams
- Alternative: Nergal PR4 is a full-auto pulse rifle that’s difficult to control but rewarding if you manage it.
Best pulse rifle with low aim assist: Three Graves
Some advanced players really hate aim assist, and that’s where High Impact pulse rifles come into their own, with only a slightly lower precision TTK than the best in this category. Three Graves is a scalpel, with good range, good stability, and absolutely top tier recoil. Its handling is nothing to write home about, but a couple of tasty perks including Outlaw (reload speed increases after precision kills) make it far zippier than the numbers suggest.
- “No need to dig too deep. Our slumber will not be disturbed.” – Arach Jalaal
- View on Destiny Tracker: Three Graves
- Found in: Dead Orbit engrams
- Alternative: Relentless has Snapshot, which works beautifully with this ADS-focused paradigm.
Best Exotic pulse rifle: Vigilance Wing
There are only two Exotic pulse rifles to choose from and there are no doubts that Vigilance Wing is the better of the two. As well as having a unique five-round burst fire that does high damage very quickly, this pulse rifle really shines in group play, especially while patrolling in PvP, because of its amazing perks. The player holding Vigilance Wing will be the one to survive when two evenly matched crews face off in a fair fight.
- “The eye remains open. The Lighthouse remains lit.” — Brother Vance
- View on Destiny Tracker: Vigilance Wing
- Found in: Exotic engrams, Xur
- Alternative: Graviton Lance is fun but pretty rubbish, unfortunately.
Do you have another contender for best pulse rifle in Destiny 2? Chime in; we’re all ears.