Image via Bungie
There was once a long-running meme in the Destiny community best summarized as “Not another Exotic Hand Cannon!” It seemed like — for years — every season or expansion that released came with a new one. Bungie has since slowed down their output, but there are still ten Exotic Hand Cannons in Destiny 2. Sadly, not all of them are created equal, with some keeping their luster and others fading into obsolescence. We’ll cover the best of them today, presented in alphabetical order.
Related: The 10 best hand cannons in Destiny 2 PvP
Ace of Spades
A classic Destiny 1 Exotic that made its way into Destiny 2 back during the Forsaken expansion, the Ace of Spades is still one of the best Hand Cannons in the game, bar none. A single kill and reload activates its Momento Mori ability, which gives a huge damage boost. A precision kill activates Firefly, causing a massive Solar explosion and maximizing the weapon’s reload speed. All this gets more effective with the Catalyst. Even though the Ace of Spades has received multiple nerfs and been overshadowed by newer weapons, it remains an excellent pick no matter what you’re doing in Destiny 2.
Another iconic Exotic Hand Cannon from the first Destiny, Hawkmoon got a major rework to its core mechanic. Where once two of its bullets randomly did massive additional damage, now precision shots power up the final round in the cylinder, making one-shots possible in PvP from any distance. Hawkmoon also handles like a dream in both PvE and PvP, with its nine available shots being the only real downside.
Perhaps the most iconic Destiny weapon of all, the Last Word, like Ace of Spades, has been on the receiving end of several major nerfs and now occupies a niche space, as it can’t three-tap enemies across a PvP map. Its usage in PvE is overshadowed by dozens of more effective weapons and ability combinations. Put the Last Word in the right hands, and with the proper setups, there’s almost nothing the gun can’t do.
The first of two Destiny 2-specific Exotic Hand Cannons, the Lumina is something of an odd duck in that it’s a perfectly serviceable weapon (though its base form Rose and the likes of Hawkmoon outperform it), but its Exotic perk puts it in a whole other league. Whenever you collect a Remnant from a defeated enemy, you earn a single Noble Round. Shooting an ally with said Noble Round heals and gives both of you extra weapon damage for ten seconds. It also stacks with other damage buffs, making it a great alternate option in PvE and a possible game-changer in Crucible.
Once something of an (undeserved) meme in vanilla Destiny 2, after a buff to its magazine size and the upcoming addition of the Solar 3.0 Scorch keyword when the Lightfall expansion releases, Sunshot could be something of a sleeper hit with specific Solar builds — more than it is already. Sunshot’s ability is as simple as it is deadly: any enemy Sunshot kills explodes. It’s also got good range and damage, so while it won’t directly compete in PvP with the weapons currently dominating the meta, it’s a great off-meta option with utility no matter what you’re doing.