Top 5 Legendary Hand Cannons

Published on: Apr 8, 2015 @ 16:46

Hand Cannons are among the most popular weapon types in Destiny. They are adapted from sidearms, but are given the raw and overwhelming power of a primary weapon.

Being able to dish out tons of damage in just a few shots, it’s no surprise why they’re such a desired primary choice, regardless of where you’re fighting.

In this article we’ll discuss what you should know before using a hand cannon, what perks are best, and our top 5 Legendary choices.

We also have a top 5 list for autofusion, scoutand pulse rifles.

The Basics

Hand cannons are a very rewarding weapon for those who can master them, but a very unforgiving weapon for novices with an unsteady hand.

In the same way that you need to be more careful and precise with a scout rifle, hand cannons also share the same caution.  Considering the slower rate of fire, unalike Auto Rifles and Pulse Rifles, you don’t have to expose yourself for long periods of time to take someone down, so be sure to use cover to your advantage.

As with all weapons, there’s a spectrum of high Impact with a lower RoF and a low Impact that fires much quicker. Generally the high RoF HCs will be best in the Crucible (think The Last Word), while a deadlier shot via high Impact will be best for PvE.

destiny top 5 legendary hand cannons

When using a hand cannon, it is important to develop a good rhythm with the weapon. In PvE you can afford to take your time with your shots, but in PvP you need to let off rounds fast but as accurately as possible. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot that will have fighting like a force to be feared, and it just takes practice to get the timing right.

There’s a certain balance that you’ve got to strike between patience and aggression. If you’re too aggressive you may end up missing shots and getting flustered, but you can’t take too much time lining them up because your opponent with the AR has been spraying the whole time.

Another thing to keep in mind is the perks, because stability perks are necessary for the ones with a fast RoF, and you may even want to consider having a PvP-only hand cannon.

Important Qualities


Magazine Size & Reload Speed

The larger the magazine, the longer you can assert your dominance in combat. This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when using a certain hand cannon because reload speeds are so slow.

You want to be sure that you can take out at least 2-3 enemies without having to worry about reloading.

Rate of Fire & Stability

Both of these statistics go hand in hand. A high RoF will generally lead to a lower base stability, so you’ll want to use any perk you can to increase it.

Having to adjust for an intense recoil is the last thing you’ll want to be doing in the heat of the moment.



Maybe besides magazine size, this is the only stat you really need to be worried about. More bang for your buck means less bullets to take down an enemy; 1-hit kills are just so satisfying.

Best Perks

The first thing to think about is where you plan to use your hand cannon. Crucible? Raids? Strikes? Whatever the choice, it’s good to consider what perks you’ll need in advance.



The latest patch reduced the range of hand cannons, so a bit more can’t ever hurt.

Perfect Balance

You want to land your shots as quick as possible, so the less time spent correcting the recoil, the faster you will be able to put damage out.

Field Scout

The best alternative to Flared Magwell (though that’s still a good option), you don’t necessarily want to reload after every kill, only when you know you’re in the clear and can have the seconds to spare.

Luck in the Chamber

The glorious perk from Hawkmoon, free extra damage can be the determining factor between a kill.


Explosive Rounds

You can damage multiple opponents with each round, which is very useful against tightly packed mobs of enemies, and is as close as you’ll come to Firefly.

Field Scout

Invaluable on a hand cannon, it gives a large boost to the total size of the weapon’s magazine, up to the 13 rounds.


This perk rewards precision kills with blindingly fast reloads. This type of weapon suffers from a sluggish reload speed but you’ll get back into the fray in half the time with Outlaw.

High Caliber Rounds

Don’t you love when enemies are staggered and helpless? Of course you do – so make sure you’ve got this perk!

Crowd Control

For when you are aggressively chaining kills, which is fairly common with hand cannons, Crowd Control gives you a stacking damage bonus to make your combos easier.


With each kill you’ll gain 10% of your grenade energy back, so you’ll have a grenade ready much more often than you normally would, and that simply equates to more damage.

Top 5 Legendary Hand Cannons

These are our top 5 picks based on versatility, damage output, stats, & default perks.

You can help out too by sharing your opinions with us about which Hand Cannons you think are the best. The more input the better!

5. The Chance

The pride of the Future War Cult, this is an excellent option for Hand Cannon enthusiasts. Though it requires a hefty 150 Crucible Marks and Rank 3 with the FWC, the investment is well worth it.

It offers solid base stats, comparable to TFWPKY 1969 , edging it out in Stability and Reload Speed while falling short in Range.

It is made all the more appealing by the quality perks the vendor version offers in Spray & Play, Field Scout/Perfect Balance/Flared Magwell, and Grenadier. These result in a Hand Cannon with 13 rounds in the chamber that encourages frequently emptying the mag and rewards a sure aim with drastically increased Grenade uptime.

It only lacks a way to increase its range, which is just a tiny nuisance for an otherwise solid gun.

4. Timur’s Lash (Full Review)

3. Red Hand IX

This is an excellent all-purpose hand cannon, but is particularly effective in the Crucible because of its excellent stability.

Unfortunately this weapon isn’t available for purchase, but if you land the right perks, it’s absolutely worth taking the time to upgrade. You can see all of its potential perks using this DB link.

The only real downside to this weapon is its low base range, just slightly higher than The Devil You Don’t. This can be fixed with Rangefinder or Send It, but RNG has to be in your favor.

It’s designed with a sleek model that catches the eye and is supported by a (cosmetic) suppressor attachment that’s rarely seen on other HCs.

While we’d love to do an individual review for it, the lack of consistent perks really makes that difficult. However, it’s one of the best hand cannons to start out with because its so user-friendly.

2. Word of Crota (Full Review)

1. Fatebringer

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


  • Adam Bryan

    I got a Red Hand actually, qute a good one too f had to say so..Sent it, armor peircng, crowd control, return to sender

  • P4leRider

    Interesting that “The Chance” didn’t make it on this list? Seems to that it beats out TFWPKY in almost every way, especially with the vendor perks. What is it Spray and Play, Field Scout, and Grenadier? Definitely all more useful than the TFWPKY’s stock perks. Other than that, I really wish the Vanguard hand cannon was decent 🙁 But FFS who had the idea of a high RoF hand cannon with only FIVE ROUNDS in the stock mag? Basically if you can’t roll one with field scout this HC is utterly useless. Sad day since that high RoF would be nice to have in Crucible!

    • Ah yes, added it as a side-note. Easily could take that spot

      • Actually I’m going to change it to The Chance, you’re right the perks are too good to pass up.

        • n00bius

          Rangefinder is an available perk on The Chance as well. Mine has it to go along with Field Scout and Crowd Control. Very nice option until RNGesus sees fit to bestow the Hawkmoon upon me.

    • Kenshiro Genjuro

      With regard to TDYD…

      Yeah, a low-impact, 5-chamber HC, with painfully slow reload and no range to speak of. Or is it just that reloading so often makes it that much more painful?

      And it seems RNGesus sees fit to bestow it upon me some 3/4 of the time it gives me HCs. I see it and think autoshard.

      But I did happen to get one with field scout and outlaw…completely different beast! The range is still awful but since I prefer scout rifles at range anyway it’s fine. It’s what I go to when shut into tight spaces with lots of adds coming in, like the Vex goblins at the end of last week’s nightfall.

      • eiffiks

        if you don’t get field scout on it, it’s only (almost) viable for a hunter with chain of woe.

        The triple combo low range/low magazine/low impact is really bad. Increasing the base magazine to 7 rounds would make such a difference. At the moment, with 5 rounds,a gains high level ennemies, you can hope for up to 3 kils per mag if you’re lucky, most often it will be one and almost two (but just when you should go for the kill, it’s time to reload).

        It would be good if any weapon is already viable with it’s base stats (just needing to adjust your gameplay to it), and perks makes it better. For the TDYD, it’s not the case: you need the perks to make it good.

        It feels to me as if I occasionnaly shoot between the reloadings, while it should feel the opposite…

        • Kenshiro Genjuro

          Sums it up with that last sentence right there. I bet we could even time the reload versus how long it takes to fire the 5 rounds and confirm it.

          5 in the chamber can similarly almost work with Outlaw if you’re really meticulous about it, that is until you find yourself surrounded by majors who don’t die in 5 headshots. Pretty sure I had one drop like that once (outlaw but no field scout), not sure if I left it in the inventory to think about or if I sharded it already. It would be interesting to feel.

    • G_V_Black

      The Chance, TFWPKY 1969, and Venation III are virtually identical apart from cosmetics. The Chance really NEEDS Field Scout to be usable which is a small minus.

      I have The Devil You Don’t with near-perfect rolls (Sureshot IS/Zen Moment/Field Scout/Grenadier) and it’s still not great.

  • Lucas Thompson

    I got a Devil You Don’t with field scout (god bless, it’s useless without it), crowd control and return to sender (woulda prefered outlaw or spray and play though) and it’s surprisingly good for PvE, haven’t tried it much in PvP yet

    • Kenshiro Genjuro

      Yup…just responded to the same issue in another post. TDYD just sucks from the vendor, and there is no redemption to be found with most of the perks RNGesus doles out on random drops.

      I lucked out massively once though getting one with both Field Scout and Outlaw…it is sweet. Impossibly sweet. I have no idea how long it languished in my inventory before I noticed the perks and decided to see what would happen if I upgraded it.

      The numbers would claim with those perks it could be better in PvP than The Last Word…same RoF and impact, faster reload, much deeper clip, and none of the twirly equip animations. I don’t do Crucible though so can’t really say.

      • Chris Conley

        Yep, I agree. I got one with field scout, return to sender and Grenadier. The thing is straight up AWESOME!!

    • Tom Cruz

      I was lucky enough to get one with rangefinder, send it and luck in the chamber. It can be an absolute beast with 20% (1/5) of your shots doing more damage. Reloading is not an issue as a warlock with hand cannon reload gloves.

  • OrangeJulius43

    Nice job planet destiny got all primary top fives and fusion rifles, I really like these articles and am looking forward to seeing top five of the other weapon types

  • JediJulius

    Why did you get rid of the in text descriptions of your choices? In previous Top 5’s you your reasons for your choice as well as a video if applicable.

    I appreciate all your hard work, but I liked seeing the reasoning behind your decisions. 🙂

    • Primarily because we extensively covered WoC and Fatebringer in our recent comparison article

      • JediJulius

        Ok makes sense. Thanks for the response. Just curious.

  • JediJulius

    I do like that the Chance was added to the list. A solid Hand cannon, but still miss the in text reasoning behind the other choices.

  • Anthony Murphy

    Hey Ryan, love these, but agree with other folks – the txt comparisons are key….also in other articles you haven’t included the possible random vendor choices, so I’d say TFWPKY should have a place instead of Red Hand. Love my Red hand too, but don’t think it should be in the list.

  • TJbrena

    I’m surprised you didn’t put more emphasis on Range in PvE, since that’s a big factor in that portion of the game. Maybe because there’s no scopes for the hand cannons? That’s something Bungie should look into, since people do that IRL.

    The attachment on the muzzle of Red Hand IX isn’t a suppressor (sound or flash), it’s a muzzle brake.

    Muzzle brakes act to reduce weapon recoil drastically by venting propellant gasses in directions to counteract a weapon’s recoil, instead of just letting those gases go in the general direction a typical barrel points – which per Newton’s 3rd law creates much of the recoil felt by the shooter.

    The drawback of dedicated muzzle brakes are that they make a weapon a LOT louder, painfully so in confined spaces. That’s why they’re typically not used by soldiers that could reasonably expect to engage enemies inside buildings, since it’s just begging for tinnitus, and that’s not good for situational awareness. You’ll mostly see them on dedicated sniper rifles or civilian rifles as a result.

    Plus, you can’t suppress a revolver with any effect unless there’s a gas seal to prevent propellant from escaping in that space between the cylinder and barrel, such as in the Nagant 1895 used in Tsarist Russia and the early USSR.

    Of course, given that the hand cannons in Destiny feed from what looks sort of like a 40mm grenade – that I assume internally self-configures to meet the ammunition requirement a given hand cannon has – it’s feasible that a gas seal like that would be possible, though it wouldn’t be anything like a *fwip fwip* Hollywood Suppressor, especially with the hugeass rounds they fire.

    Semi-autos are better anyways IRL, but if you’re gonna use a handgun as you main weapon in a video game, you may as well use a hand cannon!

  • Tiidaymon

    I have been looking for this since I learned of this site. They need to add a five best of legendary weapons IMHO, thank you guys

  • Stefan Lakerveld

    I love hand cannons and got most of them and i can’t agree to this list.

    Fatebringer and Word of Crota are the best choices for PVE thanks to the burn damage and the specific PVE perks, but are outgunned by the others in PVP where range and stability are more important.

    The Red Hand IX with Rangefinder and Send It is the best PVP gun but you have to get lucky. I got a Venation III with Send It which is actually better then my Timur’s Lash with Perfect Balance and Rangefinder so it’s hard to compare these as well.

    Basicly the vendor guns with the right perks are the best choices but you have to get lucky. Timur’s Lash is the second best PVP choice where you can forge the perks but you have to grind IB for that…

    • cderry

      I got a drop of Red Hand IX with Outlaw, Send It, and Luck in the Chamber. 🙂

  • berndguggi

    Why didn’t you include Firefly in the best perks? I know that only Fatebringer has it. But is is still one of if not THE best perk.

    • Andrew

      That is because you don’t want to confuse people. People should know that they can’t roll a Firefly on a hand cannon. I am sure that many people tried to roll Firefly on Timur’s Lash or Field Scout on Gheleon’s Demise. It is not nice to mislead the people.

      It would be like saying Wolfpack rounds is THE perk you want to go for on a rocket launcher, or Full Auto is THE perk you want to go for on a Scout Rifle, or White Nail is THE perk you want to go for on a Sniper. They are special perks that only apply to certain weapons and you CANNOT get them to drop on a normal legendary.

      • berndguggi

        Good point. I was not aware that firefly could not be rolled on Timurs Lash.

  • CB12

    I have 4 out of 5 of these and honestly i like my dead orbit venation the best, maybe because i got an epic roll of outlaw/field scout/ third eye. I try to use my red hand its just not as fun and i really only use WOC for void burn or hive majors

  • gsco

    I have to agree with the selection of The Chance in this list. I originally targeted TFWPKY 1969 for purchase because of the large magazine and decent stats. But then The Chance dropped and I scrapped TFWPKY.
    Spray and Play, Crowd Control, and Field Scout are awesome on it. If I could have gotten exploding rounds instead of armor piercing, it would be perfect. I couldn’t believe when field scout raised magazine to 13 which was the same as TFWPKY field scout, but that gun starts with 12 rather than 6. However, with spray and play, 6 shots is easily doable.

  • cderry

    I got blessed by RNGesus: a Red Hand IX with Outlaw, Send It, and Luck in the Chamber. I use it for everything and it’s a crucible monster.

    Ryan…Would you rate my version of the Red Hand IX better than the WoC or Fatebringer?

  • Grandfather Wilkens

    I don’t understand why everyone loves Timur’s lash for pvp. It’s a decent gun, don’t get me wrong, but it seems like its time to kill is just too long to make it viable. It’s a 3 shot kill regardless (unless you have crowd control and can hit 2 crits on a second enemy right away, doesn’t happen often). Because Timur’s doesn’t reach a shot count threshold less than the hand cannons in the next lower impact archetype (fatebringer, TFPKY, Hawkmoon, etc) it seems to lose out to those guns which can reach the 3 shot minimum more quickly.

    I’m not considering luck in the chamber which can result in a 2 shot for Timur’s but outside of Hawkmoon which has 3 luck in the chamber chances, that perk doesn’t statistically justify the weapon, even with a 7 round mag.

  • Thiago123

    This is pretty much as predicted (, even with the inclusion of the Red Hand IX.

    I would still take the TFWPKY over the Chance. I can’t really articulate it, but having used both extensively, the TFWPKY just feels better to me.

    The Red Hand IX is my favorite handgun for general use outside of Fatebringer. I’d take it over WoC except when Hive or Void damage is needed, of course. It fires true and hits like a truck. So it’s not easy to say, but I think this list is kind of bogus considering how the rest of the weapons have been ranked with only vendor weapons. Looks like Badger CCL should be placed in the Scout rifle top 5…

    But to be honest, the Iron Banner weapons probably don’t need to be included either considering you can’t just buy them anytime you want, and if IB remains the same, the next time that the guns show up, who knows if the perks will remain the same.

  • BurningPlayd0h

    Im pretty sure what you guys have called a “suppresor” is actually just an extended barrel. Suppressors would be a lot wider and there is a muzzle break on many of the HCs that have it.

  • Keith Christmas

    I have a Rangefinder/Send It/Feeding Frenzy Red Hand IX, a TFWPKY 1969 with Outlaw, choice of Armour Piercing or Explosive Rounds, and Final Round, as well as a 331 Venation III with Return To Sender, Send It and Grenadier. I think I’ve done pretty damn well as far as HCs are concerned

    Oh, and special mention to my old 300dmg Send It/Rangefinder/Reactive Reload Lord High Fixer, which was my gateway drug into using HCs, and has now been retired to a place of honour in my vault. Still hoping they’ll let us boost damage on old weapons some day…

  • GranSmithsMelon

    WooHoo! Go the Chance

  • Red Skyward

    As much as I LOVE hand cannons, i have been very unlucky in my drops. My first hand cannon when Destiny first came out was The Devil You Know with amazing perks, but that is the only legendary hand cannon that has ever dropped for me. I dont want to get the vendor handcannons cause they arent that great, but I have all exotic hand cannons. I just really want Fatebringer or Word, or even Red Hand…

  • Ash_Killem

    Honestly if you have a fatebringer you don’t need any other legendary hand cannons (except WoC).. hell you barely need any other primaries.