November 28, 2023

Shotguns are some of the most enjoyable weapons to use in any video game. They can take down enemies at close ranges with uncompromising firepower. When you start looking at loot-based games, things get even more interesting.

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Destiny 2 has a wide range of Shotguns for players to try, ranging from slug weapons to fully automatic Shotguns. Perks can also give these weapons even more interesting properties that allow the gun to reload on grenade throws or increase the damage of your next melee attack. Whether you’re facing Champions or raid bosses, here are the best Shotguns for PvE you can use in Destiny 2.

Updated October 16, 2023, by Charles Burgar: We’ve updated this list to include two Shotguns that are staple PvE weapons: Swordbreaker and Legend of Acrius. Swordbreaker is a new weapon in Season of the Witch that allows you to slay adds without compromising on single-target DPS, while Legend of Acrius is a reliable option for melting dungeon bosses and stunned Champions alike.

10 Wastelander M5

Destiny 2 Wastelander M5

How to obtain: Xur’s Treasure Trove; craftable at the Enclave.

Tex Mechanica has finally created a Legendary weapon in Destiny 2, and it’s just as good as you’d expect. The Wastelander M5 is a Lightweight Shotgun that features the same aesthetic and animations as its Exotic counterpart, The Chaperone. It’s also a not-so-subtle callback to the shotgun from Marathon 2, although you can’t dual-wield it in Destiny 2 sadly.

It might not have the absurd range of Chaperone, yet the Wastelander M5 more than makes up for it with an excellent selection of perks and a great stat package. This is one of the few Shotguns in Destiny 2 that can roll with Subsistence, allowing you to fire a torrent of buckshot without needing to reload. You can pair this with Vorpal Weapon to increase your damage against Champions. Some other good perks include Slideshot, Perpetual Motion, and One-Two Punch. If you love Shotguns at all, Wastelander can do a little bit of everything and is fully craftable.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One:
    Subsistence, Slideshot, Perpetual Motion

  • Column Two:
    Vorpal Weapon,

    One-Two Punch, Trench Barrel

9 Gunnora’s Axe

Destiny 2 Gunnora's Axe

How to obtain: Iron Banner matches and Engrams.

First In, Last Out has finally met its equal. Gunnora’s Axe is an Arc Shotgun that fires pinpoint slugs, dealing massive damage if you can land your shots. This weapon features an excellent stat package, perks, and two solid origin traits. For boss DPS and defeating majors, Gunnora’s Axe has something for everyone.

Arguably this gun’s most interesting roll is Auto-Loading Holster and Voltshot. Equip your Shotgun, land a quick kill, reload, then fire again to inflict chain lightning onto targets. It makes Gunnora’s Axe shockingly good at clearing adds and majors simultaneously. If you’re looking for a good boss DPS weapon, Gunnora’s Axe has you covered there, featuring Auto-Loading Holster and Vorpal Weapon as a potential perk combination. Keep farming the Iron Banner playlist for a chance of getting this weapon.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One:
    Auto-Loading Holster, Threat Detector

  • Column Two:
    Voltshot, Vorpal Weapon

8 The Fourth Horseman

Destiny 2 The Fourth Horseman

How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Legendary Shards, and 1 Ascendant Shard.

If you need a boss dead immediately, look no further than The Fourth Horseman. This weapon unloads four rounds—five when Masterworked—in less than a second, each round gaining a damage boost as you land successive shots.

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Barrel-stuffing enemies in tough PvE environments is typically ill-advised, but The Fourth Horseman is one of the few exceptions to this rule. This gun’s DPS is so great that you can melt stunned Champions in one or two magazines. Hunters take this gun to a whole new level, using certain Exotics, Fragments, or Marksman’s Dodge to unload dozens of Shotgun shells in a few seconds. Very few enemies with survive the barrage of shotgun shells you’ll be firing their way. Just note that this weapon’s ammo economy is abysmal, using up its entire ammo reserve in less than a minute of continuous firing and reloading.

7 Legend Of Acrius

Destiny 2 Legend of Acrius

How to obtain: Purchased from the Exotic Kiosk in the Tower. Costs 1 Exotic Cipher, 150,000 Glimmer, 240 Spoils of Conquest, and 2 Ascendant Shards.

Legend of Acrius is a Cabal Shotgun that resides in the Heavy slot, making this one of two Heavy Shotguns in the sandbox. Unlike Tractor Cannon, Legend of Acrius is designed to obliterate whatever is on the opposite end of the barrel, dealing a jaw-dropping amount of damage with its Catalyst.

This weapon is a 55 RPM Arc Shotgun that releases a wave of energy instead of firing pellets. The Exotic Catalyst gives it Trench Barrel, buffing your next three shots with a 50% damage buff after you land a melee hit. If you pair this weapon with a Well of Radiance, you can facetank most dungeon bosses and melt their health bar in a couple of phases. It’s a powerful Shotgun that’s easy to use, if a bit cumbersome to wield.

6 Swordbreaker

Destiny 2 Swordbreaker

How to obtain: Crota’s End raid; craftable at the Enclave.

Swordbreaker is a Lightweight Shotgun that deals Strand damage. That makes Swordbreaker a strange sight on a PvE list since Lightweights aren’t particularly strong against bosses or even Champions, but this gun has an absurdly strong perk pool and an origin trait born to slay adds.

Every copy of this weapon drops with Cursed Thrall, infusing this weapon with Necrochasm explosions if you land a powered melee kill. Since this is a Shotgun, you can quite easy pull this off with a One-Two Punch roll. You can pair this with Pugilist or Demolitionist to quickly recover your melee or grenade ability, respectively. And if you prefer using your Shotgun to slay tougher foes, you can’t go wrong with Sword Logic or Golden Tricorn. This weapon is a menace on melee builds that can detonate hordes of enemies with a single shot, and it’s a solid weapon against Champions as well. Don’t underestimate Swordbreaker.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One:
    Demolitionist, Pugilist, Subsistence

  • Column Two:
    One-Two Punch, Sword Logic, Golden Tricorn

5 Until Its Return

Destiny 2 Until Its Return

How to obtain: Season of the Deep activities; craftable at the Enclave.

Until Its Return is the first Strand Shotgun we’ve seen in Destiny 2, immediately setting it apart from other options. Its Rapid-Fire Frame makes it solid for quickly melting majors, but as with most guns in Destiny, the true strength of this Shotgun lies in its unique perk combinations.

Arguably the strongest combination here is Overflow with Cascade Point. Picking up a Special brick will double the gun’s magazine, letting you fire 14 back-to-back shotgun shells before needing to reload. This can be fully taken advantage of with Cascade Point’s fire rate bonus, letting you melt a miniboss or Champion while the perk is active. Get a kill with your Primary, swap to your Shotgun, unload 14 shots, and repeat. If you find Overflow to be lacking, you can use Auto-Loading Holster instead. It’s effectively a Legendary version of The Fourth Horseman that deals Strand damage.

Recommended Traits

  • Column One:
    Overflow, Auto-Loading Holster, Threat Detector

  • Column Two:
    Cascade Point, Trench Barrel, Surrounded

4 Tractor Cannon

Destiny 2 Tractor Cannon

How to obtain: Exotic Engrams.

Tractor Cannon has seen a small resurgence after the release of Solar 3.0. Sunbreaker Titans can use this weapon to debuff a boss before throwing hammer after hammer at the target, dealing immense damage. For builds that can have a reusable ability or weapon to deals DPS, you won’t find a better utility option than Tractor Cannon.

This Heavy Shotgun releases Void pulses that push targets back, inflicting a 30% Weaken debuff to anyone caught in the blast. Tractor Cannon deals enough damage to kill red bars in a wide area, and the debuff makes this weapon invaluable for lengthy DPS phases in dungeons or raids.

3 Nessa’s Oblation

Destiny 2 Nessa's Oblation

How to obtain: Root of Nightmares raid; craftable at the Enclave.

If you love Heritage but wish it was an Energy weapon, meet Nessa’s Oblation. This Void Shotgun fires slugs and has an absurdly good stat package, although not quite as good as Heritage. Nessa’s Oblation more than makes up for this with its perk pool, as this weapon has some combinations that we haven’t seen in Destiny before.

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The standout here is Repulsor Brace with Destabilizing Rounds, turning this Shotgun into a Sentinel Titan’s dream. Kills will turn nearby targets Volatile. Kill those enemies to gain a Void Overshield and inflict more Volatile, allowing you to play aggressively in all content. If you’re looking for a backup DPS weapon, Nessa’s Oblation also has you covered. Reconstruction with Vorpal Weapon or Paracasual Charge can dish out some serious damage against close-range bosses. If you enjoy using Shotguns at all, Nessa’s Oblation is a weapon you’ll want in your arsenal.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One:
    Repulsor Brace, Reconstruction, Fourth Time’s the Charm, Demolitionist

  • Column Two:
    Destabilizing Rounds, Vorpal Weapon, Paracasual Charge

2 Conditional Finality

Conditional Finality Exotic Shotgun with Root of Nightmares fauna behind it in Destiny 2 .

How to obtain: Root of Nightmares raid.

Conditional Finality is Destiny 2’s first double-barreled Shotgun, obtained as the Exotic weapon reward from the Root of Nightmares raid. This weapon loads Stasis pellets in the first barrel and Solar pellets in the second, capable of freezing and igniting targets if you land most of your pellets from either shot.

While the DPS of this weapon can’t overthrow Heavy weapons, Conditional Finality’s utility cannot be overstated. You can freeze Champions, stun Unstoppables with either shot, and deal some absurd AoE damage with the second shot’s Ignite. Both shots play off subclass Aspects and Fragments as well, giving this weapon some serious buildcrafting potential. You can even use holster mods to load a shot every couple of seconds, allowing you to weave ignites or freezes into your typical firefight. Needless to say, Conditional Finality is one of Destiny 2’s most versatile Exotics and is a blast to use.

1 Heritage

Destiny 2 Heritage

How to obtain: Deep Stone Crypt; craftable at the Enclave.

The Deep Stone Crypt’s unique Shotgun, Heritage, is one of the game’s best Shotguns for PvE. It’s a Precision Frame, allowing this weapon to deal some fantastic damage if you can land precision shots. Most players will want to get Reconstruction in the first trait column, allowing this weapon to passively reload itself and overflow its magazine. Having a dozen shots loaded in a shotgun is always useful. If Reconstruction is too slow for your playstyle, Demolitionist is a solid replacement.

The fourth perk column has a few good options for PvE, notably Recombination. Killing enemies with other weapons will slowly charge this perk, greatly improving the damage of your next shot. At x10 stacks, you’ll deal twice as much damage on your next shot, making this gun perfect for one-tapping majors, greatly damaging Champions, or dealing a quick burst of damage during a boss fight. Some other options include Focused Fury and Swashbuckler, although both perks require more active setup to use. Overall, Heritage has great perks, the best stat package out of any slug Shotgun, and packs a serious punch in all PvE content.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One:
    Reconstruction, Demolitionist, Auto-Loading Holster

  • Column Two:
    Recombination, Thresh, Killing Wind

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