[Top 5] Destiny 2 Best Trace Rifles (And How To Get Them)

Pew pew pew! It's trace rifle-o-clock!

Destiny 2 is known for having a wide array of weapons for players to wreak destruction with. From common real-world weapons such as shotguns up to more exotic ones such as swords - Trace rifles may be one of the most exotic weapons one can have in their arsenal. It is an obvious SciFi weapon that looks cool and packs a massive amount of damage. Trace rifles, unlike most guns in the game, don't use singular shots of energy or bullets. Instead, it fires a continuous beam of energy that will keep doing damage as long as it’s in contact with its target. Not only does this work on singular targets, but some rifles allow you to damage multiple targets at once as you sweep them across the room.

The downside to such massive damage is that trace rifles are notorious ammo hogs, and unwisely using your rifle will leave you without ammo very quickly. Trace rifles then must be used smartly to be the most effective. They are not a weapon to ‘spray and pray’ with for sure.

There are not many trace rifles that currently exist in the game, and all but one are exotic. So not only can they be expensive ammo-wise, but they may also take up your singular exotic slot. So, how do you tell which ones are worth it? Below is a handy guide that will not only help you choose which trace rifle to try but also where to find it. Not included are rifles that can only be received from past seasonal quests, which are no longer available to get. Unless they release those to the vault to be bought with exotic ciphers or added to the Xur/Engram rotation, they will remain off the list for now (Sorry Ager's Scepter!). 

5. Coldheart (Best for PVE)

“The latest Omolon engineering leverages liquid fuel as coolant to keep weapon systems at biting subzero temperatures.”


Originally a pre-order for Destiny 2, Coldheart has been around for a very long time. Somehow it still manages to be a decent trace rifle after all these years and still a faithful rifle. It’s also one of the easiest ones to use as it has no real gimmick or anything complicated. You pretty much just point and hold down your trigger until the thing you’re aiming at is a melted pile of goo. It racks up in damage the longer you keep hitting the same target, so it’s very good at causing hurt to major enemies.

However, it is not that great at mob clearing, because as soon as you move from a target, you lose that damage boost. Thus, it’s better used on stationary targets that allow you to take full advantage of its Longest Winter perk. Because you need to stand still, it’s not good in PVP, where you have to keep moving to avoid getting jumped. It’s much better when paired with a team that can focus on mobs and let you do some DPS on a major target. 

It may not be the strongest trace rifle, but it deserves to be on this list due to it being easy to get. New players tend to find this one in exotic engram drops, which gives them a serious DPS boost to help them in leveling. I found one when I first began playing, and it helped when I started exploring outside my current level. It’s one of the best beginner exotics for New Lights for sure.

Weapon stats: (Base)

  • Damage type: Arc
  • Intrinsic Perk: Cold Fusion- Shoots a cold fusion-powered laser.
  • Exotic Perk: Longest Winter- Coldheart's laser does exponentially more damage the longer it remains on a target.
  • Catalyst completion trait: Increases this weapon's stability and reload speed by 18 and Masterworks it.
  • Impact: 6
  • Range: 73
  • Stability: 73
  • Handling: 33
  • Reload Speed: 37
  • Rounds Per Minute: 1000
  • Magazine: 101

What makes Coldheart awesome:

  • Available in Free to Play.
  • Friendly to new players.
  • Decent DPS.
  • Easy to find and use.

How to get Coldheart:

  • Opening Fated Engrams purchased from Xur.
  • Opening Exotic Engrams dropped during high-level activities.
  • Purchasing from Xur using Legendary Shards.
  • For help finding Xur, use WhereisXur.com

4. Wavesplitter (Best for both PVP and PVE)

“Omolon's newest breakthrough uses focused sonic waves to superheat electrons into a devastating energy beam.”

Wavesplitter in action.

Coming up next is Wavesplitter, another free-to-play exotic trace rifle. Unlike Coldheart, Wavesplitter finds play in PVP due to its range and its decent handling stat. If you have shaky hands or have terrible aim, Wavesplitter will do most of the work for you, letting you keep even damage on your foe without the beam going all over the place. Some will argue about its place on a top-tier list due to the constant flux of PVP meta, but it’s a decent choice to give a try just to see how it feels to you. 

If you run a build where you center around generating orbs of light, you will have a distinct advantage with this weapon. Collecting an orb of light will auto-reload your rifle and give you a maximum power boost for a short amount of time. This in turn lessens your recharge time for your abilities. Picking up orbs generated by other players also counts, letting you keep dealing constant damage. 

Originally a Playstation 4 exclusive, Wavesplitter has entered the exotic engram pool, allowing anyone to get it. However, this requires pure luck. Xur currently does not outright sell the Wavesplitter in his rotating pool of exotics, but it can be found in random engram drops and Fated Engrams bought from Xur. Fated Engrams have an advantage in that if you have already gotten an exotic from its pool, you won’t get the same one again. It’s a little annoying, but it sure beats having to jump through a dozen hoops to obtain it.

That being said, Wavesplitter currently does not have a catalyst. Bungie has released catalysts for older weapons before, so many players are holding out hope that one day, Wavesplitter will get the same treatment. For now, it’s worth a try for more experienced players.

Weapon stats: (Base)

  • Damage type: Void
  • Intrinsic Perk: Harmonic Laser- Power levels fluctuate over time.
  • Exotic Perk: Supercharged Battery- Collecting an Orb of Light grants a short period of maximum power that starts with an automatic reload.
  • Impact: 6
  • Range: 70
  • Stability: 96
  • Handling: 51
  • Reload Speed: 51
  • Rounds Per Minute: 1000
  • Magazine: 100

What makes Wavesplitter awesome:

  • Great for builds centering around generating orbs of light/becoming charged with light.
  • Good magazine size and gets better with ammo mods.
  • Amazing stability for those with poor aim or decreased motor skills. 
  • Great in a fireteam, as generated orbs of light can be used as well.

How to get Wavesplitter:

  • Opening Fated Engrams purchased from Xur.
  • Opening Exotic Engrams dropped during high-level activities.
  • For help finding Xur, use WhereisXur.com


3. Ruinous Effigy (Best for PVE)

“From the many wings of ruin blows a wind that will reshape this dead world."


Ruinous Effigy stands out as perhaps one of the most unique and fun weapons currently out there in Destiny 2. Sure, it can do some DPS, but its Intrinsic perk completely changes how you would play with it vs a more straightforward trace rifle. Killing an enemy with this weapon causes said enemy to collapse into a void relic, which can be picked up and used by both you and those in your fireteam. Not only that, but it can also drain the health of nearby enemies, temporarily healing you at the same time. 

As a result, you can sit back and melt low-level mobs, turning them all into usable orbs that anyone in your team can pick up. Being able to just spawn weapons is incredible, especially during a hard fight where everyone’s heavy ammo is gone and you need to do some damage. Once you finish the catalyst, the orbs do even more damage, and will temporarily make said target take extra damage from other sources. So you can have a few players give the boss a beatdown with some orbs, while others stay back and pelt them from a safe distance. 

It takes some practice to get used to this style of gameplay, as it takes strategy and thinking ahead to be sure you have the available ammo to spawn the orbs. It’s not for players that just want to hold down the fire button until their ammo runs out. It’s best used for PVE events where you have a team to help you, but terrible for PVP. It’s a great weapon for missions where you are going to be swamped with a lot of mobs that you can turn into orbs to beat the boss up with.

Plus, it’s just plain fun to dunk on the more annoying Champions.

Weapon stats: (Base)

  • Damage type: Void
  • Intrinsic Perk: Transmutation -  Collapses targets into spheres of Void energy.
  • Exotic Trait: Evolution- Transmutation spheres you create can be picked up and wielded as weapons by you or your allies. • [Light Attack] : Light attack • [Heavy Attack] : Heavy attack • [Block] : Guard/Drain nearby combatants
  • Catalyst completion trait: Deconstruction - This weapon deals increased damage against targets damaged by Transmutation spheres.
  • Impact: 8
  • Range: 51
  • Stability: 80
  • Handling: 58
  • Reload Speed: 40
  • Rounds Per Minute: 1000
  • Magazine: 94

What makes Ruinous Effigy awesome:

  • One of the most unique weapons in the game.
  • Your teammates can also pick up and use the relic.
  • Amazing for Void builds (especially with Volatile rounds).
  • Great moral boost when killing a mob with essentially a glowing basketball.
  • Great for those who like the support role.

How to get Ruinous Effigy:

  • Go to the Monument to Lost Lights kiosk in the Tower.
  • Look under the Shadowkeep tab. 
  • Purchase Ruinous Effigy for One Exotic Cipher, 125,000 Glimmer, 200 Helium Filaments, and One Ascendant Shard.
  • Exotic Ciphers can be obtained from events and Xur. 
  • For help finding Xur, use WhereisXur.com


2. Retraced Path (Best for both PVP and PVE)

“An early prototype that brought the potential for future Trace Rifles into sharper focus.”


Retraced Path is set apart from this list for being the only Legendary trace rifle in the game. This means that it does not take up your singular exotic weapon slot, letting you have a powerful weapon AND an exotic  simultaneously. That being said, it's more accessible for players but requires grinding to get the best rolls you can. Unlike most exotics, Retraced Path has different rolls it can have, which means a lot of luck is required to get the currently considered ‘God Roll’. 

The current roll to strive for is both Golden Tricorn and Subsistence (Feeding Frenzy is also great). This combo allows you to get bonus damage on kills, while also partially reloading your magazine from reserves. This means that a room full of enemies can be reduced to ashes simply by holding down your fire button without needing to stop and reload. Not only is this good for regular play, but it smashes in Crucible. That being said, it’s an energy weapon that takes special ammo (which runs out fast), so those that know how to wisely use their ammo are the ones to come on top in PVP.

Overall it’s a great weapon with the ability to be either a well-rounded utility weapon or become a main heavy hitter. It’s a Free to Play weapon, so it costs you nothing but time to get it, making it friendly for casual and dedicated players alike. The sheer fact that it’s a legendary and not an exotic boosts it up the list, and is only made even better with mods.

Weapon stats: (Base)

  • Damage type: Solar
  • Impact: 6
  • Range: 68
  • Stability: 78
  • Handling: 51
  • Reload Speed: 50
  • Rounds Per Minute: 1000
  • Magazine: 94

What makes Retraced Path awesome:

  • It’s completely free to all players.
  • The only Legendary trace rifle, leaving an open exotic slot.
  • A good, overall rifle.
  • Easy to obtain.
  • Great for melting people in PVP.

How to get Retraced Path:

  • Head to the Eternity node in the destination menu.
  • Play Dares of Eternity for random drops during gameplay and from completion chests.
  • Use keys earned from Dares to open the chest in Xur’s Treasure Hoard for a random chance to obtain one.

1. Divinity (Best for PVE)

“Calibrate reality. Seek inevitability. Embody divinity.”

Divinity in action.

Universally agreed to not only be the best trace rifle but also one of the best exotics in the game, Divinity shines as both a support and damage weapon. Firing at a target for a few seconds will spawn a Vex cage around them, amplifying crit damage as long as you keep hitting them. This doesn’t only just work for you, but it also works for your fireteam as well. Thus it is used in most endgame PVE battles where dealing as much damage as quickly as possible matters most. This is especially important in raids because not dealing enough damage in time will result in a party wipe, making you start the encounter over again. Even though it can also be useful in PVP for its crit effect, it mostly shines in PVE and is a welcome addition to any fireteam. 

The biggest downside, however, is how difficult it is to get. You not only need to do some work beforehand, but you will also need to complete the Garden Of Salvation raid. You will need a good, knowledgeable fireteam to not only help you get through the raid but to also solve the puzzles within. Free to Play players cannot get this weapon and will need to buy the Shadowkeep DLC. If you are mainly a solo player, you will have to go looking for a group to help you.

All that work is worth it however, and Divinity is still holding strong even into the current season. It does not currently have a catalyst, but some would argue that it doesn’t need one from how powerful it already is. 

Weapon stats: (Base)

  • Damage type: Arc
  • Intrinsic Perk: Judgment- Sustained damage with this weapon envelops the target in a field that weakens and stuns them. Strong against [Disruption] Overload Champions.
  • Exotic Perk: Penance- Targets under the effects of Judgment long enough are struck with a burst of damage.
  • Impact: 6
  • Range: 70
  • Stability: 100
  • Handling: 60
  • Reload Speed: 51
  • Rounds Per Minute: 1000
  • Magazine: 94

What makes Divinity awesome:

  • Perks make it the ultimate Overload Champion disrupter on its own, needing no seasonal mods to do so.
  • Crit buff works for all players, making it valuable for end-game DPS phases.
  • Melts both mobs and bosses.
  • Appreciated on any fireteam. (Both Raids and in Gambit)
  • Amazing stability for those with poor aim or decreased motor skills. 

How to get Divinity:

  • Have the Shadowkeep DLC.
  • Visit the Vex portal In Lunar Battlegrounds and kill all Vex.
  • Scan all Three Oracles in Lost Sectors On Nessus.
  • Kill 120 Vex on Moon to Get Decryption Cores.
  • Buy Empowered Decryption Core from Lectern Of Enchantment.
  • Solve Puzzles and complete the Garden Of Salvation Raid.
  • If you need help finding a fireteam to get through the raid, try joining a clan, most of which have a dedicated channel/board for those looking for a raid team. 

Effigy lets you get your dunk on.

In conclusion, this is simply a starter list on the current meta on trace rifles. Bungie often will buff or nerf a weapon, or sometimes will even vault them. Thus, most of these stats are subject to change as Bungie does their weekly tweaks. As of now, trace rifles have received a buff from the Witch Queen DLC, so they are certainly worth testing out. If anything, causing horrendous amounts of carnage is encouraged in Destiny 2, so try out one of these rifles today and see how much fun you can have sowing both destruction and chaos. The only thing that can be hurt an honest try is the feelings of enemies that dare to stand in your way. Embrace the SciFi aspect of Destiny and go melt some mobs today! 

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A cryptid hailing from the Pennsylvanian countryside, April can be found in her cave playing various games from D&D to Fallout. Gifts of dice are needed to prevent attacks on livestock.
Gamer Since: 1995
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Destiny 2
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