Published on: Feb 8, 2015 @ 16:50
Contributing Author: Anson C
You just got a shiny new weapon. Whether it be from a vendor or the Nightfall, or even from the ever-so-stingy Cryptarch, naturally one of the first things that you inspect are the perks.
A weapon’s perks can make even rare weapons extraordinary, or allow some to perform better in roles that they normally wouldn’t.
Below you’ll find a list of the more noteworthy perks, the niche ones, and ones that are probably best to avoid.
All of the perks aren’t listed here, so if you have any that you can’t live without, be sure to let us know what they are and why you prefer using them!
Outlaw grants 150% of your base reload speed after a precision kill. A powerful mod in PvE and PvP, chaining precision kills can give you almost no downtime between reloads.
Outlaw is generally more effective in PvP if your playstyle gets you into close to medium-range engagements. At long range, quick reloads are less vital.
| Third Eye
Third Eye is a powerful awareness mod. This is critical in PvP, where having your Motion Tracker active while ADS can save your life and let you get the jump on someone trying to sneak up on you.
In PvE, Third Eye is less important, particularly if you’ve got friends playing with you.
The Exotic Knucklehead Radar helmet essentially provides this perk on any primary weapon.
Firefly causes enemies killed with precision damage to explode as a Solar blast with a 5-meter radius. Firefly is an awesome mod in PvE, as it yields bonus damage on nearby enemies when you score precision kills. It also does Solar damage, so the blast might occasionally help with Solar Shields.
Firefly basically turns weak enemies into walking grenades. Hit a Dreg in the face, and he’ll most likely take out his fellow Dregs around him. Those that live will get staggered, often knocking them out of whatever cover they were trying to hide behind.
In PvP, it’s less likely for opponents to be clumped up close enough for the explosion to routinely influence the outcome of a fight, so it’s best used in PvE since it will be more consistent there.
| Field Scout & Extended Mag
Most beneficial on weapons that have low ammo counts like machine guns and rocket launchers, Field Scout effectively increases the number of bullets that can be fired before a reload, the number of bullets that can be held, and the amount of bullets that can be picked up off a single pack of ammo.
Extended Mag only increases magazine size, but it’s still a great mod that will give you an indirect boost to your sustained DPS output.
| Fitted Stock & Perfect Balance
Maximizing Stability is key to winning firefights, at least in PvP. The more Stability your weapons have, the longer your engagement distances can be.
| Zen Moment
This boosts your Stability, capping at 66% after five hits. This is a significant bonus, and while it doesn’t last long, it can ensure that you become even more lethal as you score hits.
On a weapon with an already strong Stability value, Zen Moment may give you relatively little benefit.
| Final Round
Final Round gives you a 100% chance of dealing 33% more damage with the last shot in your magazine. This mod is less useful on a scout rifle, as emptying your entire magazine and scoring a kill with the final round’s damage boost isn’t a common occurrence.
In PvE, this contributes a slight boost to overall damage output, as long as you remember to always dump your magazine.
You can also prime your weapon by leaving a single round remaining and using it to deal a heavy hit when you begin an engagement.
| Luck in the Chamber
One of Hawkmoon‘s perks, this potent 33% damage boost can easily tip the odds in your favor. Scout rifles don’t benefit quite as much, though a low-magazine, high-damage scout rifle can still land some solid damage with precision shots at long range.
In PvE, this is a guaranteed damage bonus as long as you drain the magazine, but it is a small one similar to Final Round.
| Flared Magwell
A powerful reload speed increase, Flared Magwell will maximize the reload speed of any weapon, albeit at a cost to Stability.
This is ideal for weapon archetypes with low Reload and high Stability values.
| Explosive/Armor Piercing/High Caliber Rounds
Explosive ammo is good to have if your weapon lacks any other crowd control capabilities, armor piercing allows your bullets to go through lines of enemies (and walls if you are fortunate enough to find it on a sniper rifle), and HC is good in general since an enemy that is flinching cannot shoot back (though it is negated by the angry mission modifier).
Explosive Rounds gives your bullets a 2-meter explosion on impact. Against multiple targets near each other, it can raise your damage output because the blast will hit the nearby enemies. This is typically far more effective in PvE, especially against Hive in narrow hallways.
Armor Piercing Rounds is very useful in PvE, allowing your bullets to punch through the first enemy you hit, striking anyone behind them. This can significantly boost your damage output in situations where you are fighting large groups of clumped adversaries. In PvP, it’s less common for opponents to conveniently group up in a straight line for you to shoot. However, APR on sniper rifles will allow you to shoot through walls!
High Caliber Rounds do not increase damage, but they do increase the amount that your shots cause your target’s view to flinch. In PvE, this makes your rounds hit enemies harder, even though the rounds aren’t doing more damage. In PvP, don’t expect HCRs to save you in a firefight against an equally skilled opponent at short ranges. Scout rifles and hand cannons already have naturally high Flinch values, but High Caliber Rounds push them even higher.
| Hammer forged
A powerful Range mod, Hammer Forged can easily peg the Range stat on several archetypes, or push an otherwise short-ranged weapon out to medium or long range. Range determines how much damage you do at longer ranges.
You pay for this significant increase in long-distance performance with a penalty to reload speed. This is generally not a major issue if you’re keeping your fights at arm’s reach, but be mindful of the loss at short range.
In general, this mod is best on weapons that have naturally good accuracy and stability because you get the most benefit in damage output if you can actually land the shots at a distance. If you find yourself fighting at short range frequently, there’s better weapon perks than this one.
By increasing the range of a weapon, less of the damage is lost over distance, which can be great for auto rifles and essential for shotguns.
| Shot package
This is a high-risk, high-reward mod for shotguns. It tightens your pellet spread, giving you a better chance of landing all of your shotgun’s potential damage on target. The downside is that if you are even slightly off target, you may end up dealing no damage whatsoever.
Shot Package doesn’t directly increase damage output, but it helps to ensure that you’ll land the maximum possible damage that the shotgun is capable of.
In PvP, this all but guarantees a one-shot kill at short range. In PvE, this can extend the effective distance of your shotgun slightly while ADS, useful for hitting nearby adversaries while remaining in cover. It is particularly useful in the Crucible, where you can surprise a foe by hitting them outside the effective kill range of their shotgun.
| Lightweight & Single Point Sling
Lightweight raises your Agility by 2, giving you a boost to movement and jump speed. If you favor Agility, this can push you up to and beyond your normal Agility limit. However, don’t expect the slight boost to pull you past sluggish if you totally abandon Agility abilities as a Titan or Warlock.
Single Point Sling provides a 50% boost to Ready and Away speed as well as a 10% movement speed boost. The Ready and Away benefits make for quick weapon switching and faster recovery for your weapon from sprinting.
To obtain the maximum benefit from Single Point Sling, seek out a weapon archetype that has a strong Handling value to begin with—Single Point Sling’s percentage-based boost can push you well beyond the normal cap. Keep your eye out for a shotgun with a Single Point Sling; fast switching to a shotgun can be deadly in PvP.
Single Point Sling and Lightweight both provide a movement speed boost, but once your Agility is capped, Lightweight can outperform. For Hunters looking for maximum speed, cap Agility and bring a Lightweight weapon. Single Point Sling is typically superior for movement speed, but it does not boost your jump height in the same way that Lightweight does.
| Crowd Control
Crowd Control provides a significant 15% damage bonus for three seconds after you score a kill. Use this perk for a consistent damage boost; downing a single enemy can start a chain as you drop one target after another.
In PvP it can make the difference in a high-intensity firefight, and can help you score multiple kills easier.
| Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full is only found on auto and pulse rifles. Glass Half Full grants a scaling damage bonus that begins with a tiny boost to damage at half magazine, increasing to a 6% damage bonus at the bottom of the magazine as you empty it. Because the effect is so small, you’re looking at a slight increase to your sustained DPS output.
As long as you don’t waste rounds, this mod is a solid sustained damage boost in PvE. In PvP, this mod can reliably give a slight bonus to your damage output, particularly in situations where you transition from a first target to a second or third.
Pair this mod with Reactive Reload for damage bonuses at the start and end of your mag.
If you favor aggressive combat and melee, Hip Fire enables you to fire more accurately while closing the distance for a melee strike.
Weapons with a high Range stat have smaller bloom circles, and combining that with Hip Fire can give you the best possible hipfire accuracy.
Though it does increase the accuracy of a weapon, the benefits of aiming down sights far outweigh hip firing, as using your scope allows the weapon to operate at its maximum efficiency.
This mod gives you a 5% chance to reload your weapon with another shot instantly, but only when you fire and miss.
With such a low chance of activating, this perk is essentially unnoticeable, and the ammo that it does return is negligible anyway. No Land Beyond unfortunately has this perk.
Vacuum simply doubles the range at which you can grab nearby ammo packs. Although this can occasionally help you snag nearby ammo from cover or save you a few seconds in the open, it’s basically useless.
| Life support
Life Support refills your magazine and boosts your reload speed to 150% of base if you drop below 20% of your max health and manage to kill the enemy you are fighting.
In PvP, this can give you a surge of ammo to follow up on a second nearby foe and a faster reload right after, but if you are that badly wounded in a fight, pulling off the follow-up is difficult at best.
Any situation where you have enough health for the perk to activate upon a kill can be remedied by not getting into the situation in the first place, or by having superior firepower. Extended Mag or Field Scout are much safer alternatives.
Snapshot provides a 30% bonus to ADS speed, allowing your weapon to exceed its normal ADS speed cap.
A fast ADS times make a weapon feel incredibly responsive, but it’s not a powerful perk because ADS speed in general is already fast.