Top 5 Legendary Pulse Rifles + Pro Tips

Published on: Mar 15, 2015 @ 14:03

Ever since their most recent buff, pulse rifles now serve a broad role in Destiny’s combat. These rifles bridge the gap between the popular auto rifle and the marksman’s scout rifle.

Pulse rifles deliver a volley of 3 rounds for each firing sequence, rewarding Guardians with accuracy, sometimes resulting in a 2-burst kill.

We also have a top 5 list for auto rifles and fusion rifles.

The Basics

Pulse rifles require more attention to detail than other weapon classes. Small alterations in the stats or perks can make pulse rifles perform in a radically different way.

Like all primary weapons, there’s two archetypes you need to be aware of: The two ends of the spectrum are occupied by high and low rate of fire.

Oversoul Edict for example has a high RoF, so you’ll usually want to pursue enemies in a short-medium range. With a slower RoF rifle like Three Little Words, you’ll want to be behind your team, targeting enemies with deadly and concise precision from a further distance.

Important Qualities

Because the nature of pulse rifles can be so varied, it’s important to know what you are going to use it for and what archetype it is.



This is an incredibly important quality with pulse rifles. You need to make sure you are landing your shots well, otherwise you will lack in comparison to other users of pulse rifles. Generally stability isn’t as important for low RoF pulse rifles, but if it’s got a high RoF then great stability should be a top priority.

Like many weapons, pulse rifles have some very specific types of recoil. Many have a lot of vertical climb, some veer off in a random direction, and others have a wide spread.

Be sure to take a hard look at the first column in weapon’s upgrade tree that contains not only optics changes, but will also change how it behaves when you fire it. For example, while you may have a worse range, the recoil pattern might be more favorable, so you’ll want to test this thoroughly.

Rate of Fire

This is the strong balancing point of pulse rifles and dictates how the weapon should be used. If it’s got a high rate of fire, use it aggressively. With a slow rate of fire, you’ll have to be slow and methodical with your engagements.

Magazine Size

Some pulse rifles suffer from a small magazine size. Pulse Rifles fire 3 rounds for each sequence, so you generally only get 7-10 bursts. It’s important to have a constant stream in the reserve, as you don’t want to exhaust your bullets in the middle of the heated firefight.

Reload Speed

You always want to be contributing constant support to your team (regardless of the weapon you’re using), and if you are reloading for too long you may be leaving your team without backup.


Impact + Range

Outside of the Crucible it’s all about two things: being able to hit hard from a distance. In the harder activities like Nightfall’s or a raid, generally slower rate of fire weapons will be an better option.

destiny best pulse rifles

Best Perks

Low RoF


Try to avoid hip firing with pulse rifles, their precision capabilities are just too valuable. Rangefinder gives your hard hitting rifles even more edge when you’re shooting from a distance.

Field Scout

More bullets keeps you in combat longer, plain and simple. Unfortunately you won’t have access to Perfect Balance or Fitted Stock, but low RoF pulse rifles are generally easier to aim as it is.

Feeding Frenzy

Because Pulse Rifles exhaust their ammunition so quickly, it’s nice to have any boosts to reload speed.

Perfect Balance / Fitted Stock

Possibly the best perks you could have. If you are using high Impact rifles, either of these perks will give you so much more edge in long-range engagements.

Third Eye

While holding down an area, you never want to get flanked – right? If you know exactly when and where the enemy is coming from while ADS, you can prepare for the next engagements with more confidence.

High RoF

Perfect Balance / Fitted Stock / Counterbalance

Possibly the best perks you could have. The quicker you’re firing, the harder it’ll be to line up each burst.

Spray and Play / Flared Magwell

You’ll nearly always be emptying your magazine with high rate of fire rifles, so the quicker you’re able to reload, the better.

Secret Round

This perk will actually only use 2 rounds from your magazine if you connect the entire 3-round burst to your target. Essentially it allows you to reload less often, because you won’t be using as much ammo as you normally would be, assuming you land your entire burst on your target.

Top 5 Legendary Pulse Rifles

Based on versatility, damage output, base stats, and default perks: the following are the best Legendary auto rifles.

Chances are, you will have different ideas on which rifles are the best, and we’d definitely like your feedback on which you prefer and why. The more input, the better the results!

5. Oversoul Edict

oversoul edict review

What holds this weapon back is its niche perks. Full auto is a nice touch that makes the weapon fairly comfortable to use, but ultimately it doesn’t allow it to preform any better. Unless you plan on battling against Hive, you won’t find any use for the two Hive specific perks that come with it in PvP.

It is however an excellent choice for PvE since it counteracts their aggressive nature and breaks through the durable defenses of Knights. Use this weapon to get up close to your enemies and deny their presence with deadly aggression.

If you’re looking for a pulse rifle with full auto that’s more useful in PvP, try out The Stranger’s Rifle, which recently featured in our second top 10 rare weapons list.

4. The Conduit

top 5 legendary pulse rifles

A reliable assault weapon, it falls nicely between the passive support and aggressive pursuit pulse rifles. It is a well-rounded self-sufficient rifle that will benefit Rumble players and persistent scouts. It is particularly effective in the hands of independent players that are looking to weave through maps and methodically engage opponents.

If you are skilled with pulse rifles and like to take on the approach of a rogue, this is a very suitable weapon for you.

3. Praedyth’s Timepiece

best raid pulse rifle

A vicious weapon with the most aim assistance, it rewards Guardians who are able to land their bursts accurately. The Secret Round perk (contrary to its description) will actually save you bullets; if all 3 bullets hit a target, you’ll only be charged for 2 of them!

This weapon is equipped with some great CQB optics, ammunition, and stability increased perks that make it a real delight to use. In battles against aggressive enemies, this weapon has the stamina to stay on top and prevail, whatever the circumstance.

Tied with Oversoul Edict, it’s got the highest rate of fire out of the Legendary pulse rifles.

2. Time On Target

best legendary pulse rifles

This is an incredibly comfortable weapon to use. Its frame is non-obstructive and makes acquiring targets while aiming very easy, making it a desirable weapon to take into any activity.

It supports an independent playstyle by offering a good balance between precision and rate of fire. You should be able to take down opponents with well place accurate shots even while under fire.

It’s got the quickest reload speed which meshes well with its default Reactive Reload perk.

1. Three Little Words

best legendary pulse rifle

A Legendary equivalent to the renowned Evergreen II.I (featured here), it’s one of the few Legendary pulse rifles currently available with 30 Impact; perfect for the Crucible!

Something that makes this weapon truly brilliant is its standard vendor perks: Third Eye and Headseeker.

All in all, this is a great team support weapon that can easily hold its own if you’re by yourself. It’s got the highest Impact and range, making it absolutely destructive in any situation.

Check out if you'd like to talk to others about Destiny in a friendly and welcoming community! :)


  • Adam Bryan

    This is my 3 Little Words, I think it has… very great perks? I dunno. I wouldnt mind some here say about it from anyone!

    • Ryan

      Those are good perks. I don’t know how useful Full Auto perk is on this gun, but overall, you got a nice roll with this gun.

      • Adam Bryan

        I feel like it helps speed up the gun a little bit, the fire rate is semi good but the pull out it just feel like a 3 round pop rest pop instead of a pop…rest…pop

        • Christian

          That is basically down to Human error. While Full Auto is active, the weapon will fire again without that minuscule margin between shots. A human will always add a few extra split-seconds as they simply don’t pull the trigger as fast as a computer can automatically perform the action (: The better you learn the rhythm of your weapon, the less you notice the gap (This does take some time, but does eventually outrule the Auto Upgrade).

        • II me Gustav II

          Extra stability is always useful and the third eye perk is great for pvp, making your three little words even better in the crucible 🙂

    • Jason Grove

      Full Auto, Counterbalance and Third Eye is a pretty awesome roll.

  • Илья Видрашку

    Super Pox VLO.

  • ProfessionalCitizen

    The power ofcounter balance cannot be overstated. It is extremely beneficial to have such tight, vertical recoil on a precision weapon. I also think, PvP wise, fair and square is superior to three little words. Also, bad seed down or another weapon with the same impact/rate of fire combination should probably be in the running, as they are excellent. I would also recommend replacing oversoul edict with coiled hiss, at least for pvp.

  • Dan

    I want to like Three Little Words, but for some reason it feels like it misses a lot of head shots. I’ll have the sight right on the head and it won’t headshot kill. Is this just me?

    • drsprite

      your first shot should be aimed at the chest, barrel rise will do the rest.

      • Grymwulf

        I’m with drsprite here. Pulse rifles are different from, say, a handcannon. To get those headshots you need to aim a little below the head. This depends on your pulse rifle and how crazy/manageable its recoil is. If it has more or less straight up and down recoil, you should probably aim for an enemy’s chest or neck area in order to land a headshot. Other pulse rifles have crazier recoil (such as Red Death, it kinda bounces from side to side a little). You really have to know your weapon and work with the recoil to land head shots. I actually find it easier to land headshots on enemies with pulse rifles, they’re a little more forgiving than, say, a hand cannon.

        You may find yourself at first landing mostly body shots as you try to get a handle on your weapons recoil, but usually by aiming at the body or neck area, you should get at least 2 of your 3 bullets hitting as head shots.

      • Dan

        Thanks I’ll give that a try. I guess I’m just used to some other pulse rifles like Red Death where you aim for the headshot

  • Peake

    A bit confuesed with the fact that Three Little Words (a great Pulse weapon in my view) is rated number 1 in this article, while clicking on the item will take you to a page where the rating is not so impressive:

    Expert Panel Score
    PvP 6.8/10 PvE 5/10

    Maybe some rework and a proper review for at least the number one item on those Top 5 lists! 😉

    • Curdledcomb

      Well i think the score for the weapon was made before the patch.. which might effect why the weapon is much more valuable now 🙂

    • Christian

      That is a pre-patch review. Now the weapon is a 2 Burst Kill. Making it massively better than it was before (:

  • sycoteck

    I think I would have to give the number one to strange suspect, it’s a pre-dlc pulse rifle but still out performs most current pulse rifles, it’s got a 14 impact that double of conduits 7 and half of TLW 30, it’s right in the middle of the to ROF makeing it esay to switch between aggressive and supportive roles instantly. It a has the highest stability for pulse and auto rifles 73 I think. This guns like the multi-tool of pulse rifles if you were lucky enough to get and still have this gun you will know the only bad thing is it’s traped at 300 attack

  • Markdg23

    I don’t think the #1 spot should be the three little words because it has too much delay in between bursting, granted it is high impact. It seems to only be effective on long range non moving objects such as snipers which can easily outgun you with one swift headshot. Other pulse rifles such as the ones mentioned in article and others like the 123 syzygy and the coiled hiss work much better in all close quarters scenarios due to their high RoF and in long range enagements then can be fired slower to take down some of the legends cough cough SUROS ahh cough THORN! Landing a high RoF pulse rifle with glass half full is completely brutal against those people still using the Suros, at least in my experience I’ve been able to outgun them even after they land first shot. I believe getting a good roll on a high RoF pulse rifle is the key to finding a pulse rifle that fits your playstyle. My 123 zigzig as I call it has headseeker and Glass half full, and I consider this to be my go to legendary primary when I don’t won’t to use exotic spot for red death.

  • archied

    Somewhat surprised to see the conduit on here. I got one recently (my first legendary primary, woo!) as a rep level up gift from fwc. It is quite nice to use, but ive found the small magazine size a bit troublesome at times.

  • yahini

    I got 3 little words with full auto, fared magwell/perfect balance, and counter balance.
    its a beast!!!!

    • Rob Holden

      Nice! Mine is very similar to yours, but with the 3rd Eye perk..
      All 3 Red Dot sights, Feeding Frenzy, Stability, and 3rd Eye
      No longer do I agonize over what to legendary weapon to rotate in when I need to put Red Death on the shelf. 🙂

  • Marcus Vinícius Mota

    Hey, could you please make a new review of Oversoul Edict (after Pulse Rifle improvement) vs Fang of Ir Yut?

  • Kenshiro Genjuro

    Funny the oft-maligned Oversoul Edict ends up on this list. Conveniently enough it was a game-changer on this week’s arc-burn, knight-filled weekly and nightfall heroic strikes.

  • stratos

    Im surpised bad juju is not here. i have one maxed out and its a beast the perks are awesome and the “unlimited” ammo make you reload one a few times while cleaning mobs.

    love bad juju 🙂

    • Kenshiro Genjuro

      Bad Juku is an exotic and this list is for legendaries.

  • isis

    How about a Coiled Hiss with Reactive Reload, Feeding Frenzy, Flared Magwell/ Counterbalance?? I’m ready for multikills….

  • Xander

    You seem not to know this, but the “Full Auto” perk does more than just allow you to fire continuously. It increases the rate of fire, without affecting the RoF guage you see. If you have two guns with identical RoF’s, but one has Full Auto, the one with full auto will fire faster (I have a shotgun with terrible rof, as soon as I got full auto it now fires as fast as Invective).

  • Jonathan Bowers-Bone

    I purchased three little words and I found it to be strong at bursting down mobs when hitting critical hits. What I don’t like is how much it recoils up and left/right. I would have liked it more if it had the recoil of say Red Death. I think I will stick with other pulse rifles for pvp. Great analsys, I am looking forward to your shotfun one. *cough Secret Handshake, Swordbreaker, Felwinter’s Lie cough* haha. Shotfun was a spelling mistake that I decided to leave in. 🙂