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Destiny 2: The 10 Best Submachine Guns For PvE, Ranked

TheGamer logo TheGamer 7/4/2022 Charles Burgar
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Playing as aggressively as possible can be one of the most enjoyable ways to play Destiny 2. Weapons like Shotguns and Submachine Guns take full advantage of this playstyle, dealing large amounts of damage at short ranges.

Related: Destiny 2: Top Auto Rifles, Ranked

While Shotguns are great when you have ample ammunition, you will still need to rely on your Primary weapon to deal with hordes of enemies. Fortunately, Destiny 2 has a great selection of SMGs to choose from that can suit any playstyle. If you want to chuck grenades endlessly or deal great damage up close, there is a gun for you. Here are the best Submachine Guns you need to use in Destiny 2's PvE activities.

Updated July 4th, 2022, by Charles Burgar: The buff to SMG range in Season of the Haunted has made SMGs a great pick inside the Crucible, so much so that it made ranking SMGs in both sandboxes quite tough in the same list. We've split this list into two, covering the best PvE and PvP SMGs separately. As a result, some SMGs have been removed from this list and reshuffled into our PvP list. If you're looking for the best PvE SMGs in Destiny 2, you've come to the right place.


How to obtain: Dares of Eternity (rotates weekly).

The IKELOS SMG is still a fantastic weapon despite the power creep that's occurred in recent years. Originally reissued in Season of Arrivals, the IKELOS SMG is still a powerhouse that features great base stats, arguably the best magazine perk in the game, and it's one of the few weapons that can spawn Warmind Cells.

Threat Detector and Surrounded is a great combo in PvE, allowing this weapon to reload quickly and carve through enemies with a 40% damage buff—assuming you're also using Surrounded Spec. With the right armor mods, four kills will spawn a Warmind Cell you can use to clear out small groups of adds or debuff targets. Warmind Cells aren't what they used to be, yet the sheer lethality of the IKELOS SMG is so great that it's still a great pick today.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Threat Detector, Subsistence
  • Column Two: Surrounded, Demolitionist

Extraordinary Rendition

How to obtain: No longer obtainable.

While we typically avoid adding unobtainable weapons to our lists, Extraordinary Rendition is so good that it warrants the exception. This weapon is an Aggressive Frame SMG that has a fantastic base stat package and perk pool.

Subsistence and Frenzy is nothing short of S-tier, allowing you to fire hundreds of bullets if you can keep up your kill count. Frenzy is one of the best perks for an Aggressive Frame SMG, counteracting this archetype's low base reload speed and moderate handling stats while granting a passive 15% damage increase. If you were lucky enough to get one of these during Year 4, give it a try. And for those who missed this weapon, keep an eye on Xur or any future activities that might bring this weapon back.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Subsistence, Overflow
  • Column Two: Frenzy, One for All


How to obtain: Vow of the Disciple raid.

It's been a hot minute since we've seen a raid SMG in Destiny 2, and Submission does not disappoint. Obtained from the Vow of the Disciple raid, Submission is a Lightweight 900 RPM SMG that comes with some fantastic perks and an above-average zoom of 15.

Overflow and Frenzy is the notable perk combo in PvE, allowing this weapon to hold 74 rounds while gaining bonus damage, handling, and reload speed. Alternatively, you can get a roll with Subsistence and Bait and Swashbuckler. For PvE, this weapon is nothing short of an add-clearing monster.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Overflow, Subsistence
  • Column Two: Frenzy, Bait and Switch


How to obtain: Exotic Engrams found through Xur or world drops.

Riskrunner is a pocket Stormtrance Super that every class can use. Whenever you take Arc damage, Riskrunner becomes supercharged and shoots chain lightning with each bullet. You also take less Arc damage and have an auto-reloading magazine while this buff is active, allowing Riskrunner to clear out entire rooms worth of adds with ease. It might not have the same add-clearing potential as Trinity Ghoul, yet it also grants damage resistance. For low to mid-tier content, Riskrunner is a great pick.

CALUS Mini-Tool

How to obtain: Opulent chests and Umbral Focusing.

Season of the Haunted brought back some of Destiny 2's best weapons from the Menagerie, an activity from Season of Opulence back in Forsaken. CALUS Mini-Tool is one such reprised weapon, acting as an upgrade over the MIDA Mini-Tool with random rolls. Thanks to some perks introduced in Season 17, Calus Mini-Tool has quickly become one of the best PvE SMGs in the game.

By far the best perk on this gun is Incandescent, giving this weapon a sort of Dragonfly effect when you kill someone. The target will explode and Scorch nearby targets, causing them to take a small amount of damage over time. This perk synergizes with Solar 3.0's Aspects and Fragments, allowing you to Ignite targets or deal some serious DoT damage. Pair this with Unrelenting or Grave Robber for a good time.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Grave Robber, Unrelenting
  • Column Two: Incandescent, Surrounded

The Huckleberry

How to obtain: Exotic Engrams found through Xur or world drops.

On paper, Huckleberry seems like a rather lackluster gun. It gains increased fire rate as you hold the trigger, but what good is that when it only holds 30 rounds? The secret is Huckleberry's Masterwork, allowing this gun to fully reload itself after killing a target.

This fundamentally changes the gun, allowing it to unleash a hailstorm of lead if you can find a stream of targets. Unknown to many, this weapon's Rampage perk is twice as strong as normal, providing 65% increased damage at x3 stacks instead of the usual 33% boost. When paired with Charged with Light mods, you can output some ludicrous damage with this gun. And thanks to the zoom changes in Season of the Haunted, Huckleberry can tango with some of the sandbox's strongest SMGs. It has a learning curve, but those who master Huckleberry are rewarded with one of Destiny 2's most lethal Primary weapons across all activities.

Osteo Striga

How to obtain: Crafted at The Enclave.

Osteo Striga is a strange hybrid between a Veist SMG and Halo's Needler. Bullets (if you can even call them that) fired from this weapon infect the target with a deadly poison. Should that poison kill the target, they'll explode, dealing massive damage to nearby targets. When paired with the Catalyst, this weapon can fire near-indefinitely, spreading deadly poison explosions across whole waves of enemies. It's nothing short of S-tier for add-clear in just about every activity.


How to obtain: Duality dungeon.

Have you ever wanted to throw infinite grenades? If so, Unforgiven is for you. This is one of the few weapons in Destiny 2 that can roll with Demolitionist and Adrenaline Junkie simultaneously. Kills will grant a large amount of grenade energy, which you can then throw to reload the weapon and gain a 33% damage boost.

Paired with Volatile Rounds from Void 3.0, you can turn Unforgiven into one of the best add-clearing Legendary weapons in Destiny 2—matching and sometimes exceeding the strength of Funnelweb. If you aren't interested in throwing grenades, Unforgiven can get Feeding Frenzy and Frenzy as well. And if you want to have the hardest-hitting SMG in the game, get yourself a roll with Golden Tricorn. Just about every perk is good on this gun, but a god roll turns Unforgiven into an S-tier Primary. Funnelweb has some serious competition.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Demolitionist, Feeding Frenzy
  • Column Two: Adrenaline Junkie, Frenzy, Golden Tricorn


How to obtain: Legendary world Engrams.

We've mentioned Recluse a few times in this article due to just how impactful that gun was during the Y2 and Y3 metas of Destiny 2. Well, it might be sunset, but it has effectively been reincarnated with Witch Queen's Funnelweb SMG. It's the same archetype, same weapon foundry, and has some absurd perk combos that arguably exceed Master at Arms—at least for PvE.

Subsistence with either Frenzy or Adrenaline Junkie is what you want for PvE, giving this weapon a boost in lethality and a near-infinite magazine against red bars. Veist Stinger, this weapon's Origin Trait, ensures that you'll seldom have to reload. The real absurdity of this weapon comes from Volatile Rounds, allowing this weapon to fire rounds that can detonate targets and cause mass explosions, leading to some of the best add-clearing potential we've seen on a Legendary.

Recommended Traits:

  • Column One: Subsistence, Killing Wind
  • Column Two: Frenzy, Adrenaline Junkie


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.

It might be surprising to see Tarrabah so high on our list, but this weapon truly deserves it. Don't let its base stats fool you. Tarrabah is a surprisingly good SMG on its own that becomes hilariously strong once you kill a few enemies. It has more zoom than most SMGs, and it has a perfect 100 recoil direction. The default fire mode might not be Exotic-tier on its own, but most don't give Tarrabah's effective range enough credit.

As you kill enemies or take damage while Tarrabah is held, you'll build up a buff called Ravenous Beast. When it's charged, hold the reload button to "unleash the beast" for seven seconds. Here's what that actually means:

  • Tarrabah fires 20% faster.
    • Becomes a 900 RPM SMG with a 750's damage profile.
  • Body shots deal 200% more damage.
  • Headshots deal 100% more damage.
  • Tarrabah reloads drastically faster.
  • You gain increased sprint speed.

Ravenous Beast is the strongest Exotic perk in Destiny 2. It's only kept in check by the loss of energy upon switching weapons. It lasts seven seconds, only requires a few PvE kills to trigger, and its duration can be extended by damaging bosses or killing opponents. In a perfect situation, you could keep this perk up for 30 seconds or even a minute. If you're willing to build around this gun, you won't find an SMG stronger than Tarrabah.

Next: Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Complete Guide And Walkthrough


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