Destiny: The Complete Guide to Ammo

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I’ve been collecting data on special weapon ammo in the Crucible for a long time now and I think it’s time I shared my thoughts. Truth be told, there is still a lot of things in relation to special ammo that doesn’t make any sense. Despite this, I wanted to post some of the data (and inconsistencies) I’ve gathered so far. Maybe together we can decipher special/heavy ammo and learn to use it to our advantage.

A NOTE ON INVENTORY STAT


Each weapon in Destiny has a slew of hidden stats. One of these hidden stats is “inventory” and it directly affects the maximum number of bullets you can hold, how much ammo you pick up per box and how much ammo you spawn with in the Crucible. While there is definitely some things about the inventory stat that don’t add up, understanding that it is THE most important stat affecting ammo in the Crucible is essential to this conversation.

AMMO INCREASING PERKS


There are many different ammo increasing perks in Destiny. Some come on weapons while others are part of your armor. Here is a list of all the ammo increasing perks, with a brief explanation.

WEAPON PERKS

  • Field Scout: Increases your inventory stat by 50.
  • Surplus: Increases your inventory stat by 10.
  • Skip Rounds: Increases your inventory stat by 5.
  • Send It: Decreases your inventory stat by 15.
  • Braced Frame/Casket Mag/Enhanced Battery/Tripod/Extended Mag/Etc.: While I still don’t understand much, increasing or decreasing your magazine size CAN affect your maximum ammo (more on this later).

ARMOR PERKS

  • Increased ammo (specific): Increases a specific weapon types inventory stat by 20 (i.e. sniper rifle)*
  • Increased ammo (general): Increases a weapon type inventory stat by 30 (i.e. heavy ammo)*

DO A THING PERKS

While this post won’t go into detail on the viability of any of these perks, here is a short list of the perks that can give you free ammo in the crucible.

  • Perfectionist: Magazine is refunded if all shots fired are precision kills.
  • Partial Refund: Chance to return a portion of the magazine after an assist.
  • Triple Tap: Rapidly landing precision hits will return one round to the magazine.
  • Mulligan: Missing a shot has a chance to return ammo directly to the magazine.
  • Performance Bonus: Kills with this weapon have a chance to grant bonus reserve ammo.
  • Replenish: This weapon’s magazine will be refilled whenever you unleash your Super.
  • Clown Cartridge: Reloading this weapon has a chance to grant a larger than normal magazine.
  • Rescue Mag: Chance to refill this weapon’s magazine when critically wounded.
  • Some niche exotic perks: Invective, Zen Meteor, Chaperone, etc.

*There is some debate on how much effect these actually have on your inventory stat (see /u/Mercules904 post for more info)

AMMO ON SPAWN


Now let’s start with special ammo on spawn. This is actually the easiest to explain and most straightforward aspect of ammo in the crucible. Essentially, each special weapon spawns with a set amount of ammo that only increases when you reach a certain threshold of inventory stat. This threshold is 95. If you can reach at least 95 inventory stat on your weapon, you’ll spawn with increased ammo at the start of every crucible match. After 95, each additional point you can reach in inventory stat will increase your ammo on spawn (until you max out at 100). Here’s a chart with the specific numbers. (Note: Certain exotics work differently).

 

Weapon Default Spawn Ammo Spawn Ammo at 95 Spawn Ammo at 100
Sniper Rifles 6 9 12
Shotguns 7 11 14
Fusion Rifles 8-10 12-15 16-20
Sidearms ~38 ~50 ~56
Queensbreakers’ Bow 11
Lord of Wolves 85 135
Lord of Wolves (Extended Mag) 85 131
The Trespasser 40

 

Looking at that chart, you’ll notice a few things. First, at 95 inventory stat you spawn with 1.5x the normal, default amount. Second, at 100 inventory stat, you spawn with 2x the normal, default amount (not counting some weird exotics). This has held true 100% of the time with every gun I have tested. If you have a sniper rifle with 50 base inventory stat and you can equip armor and boots that add an additional 50 inventory, you will start with 12 shots, guaranteed.

“But wait!” you say, “those numbers don’t add up for sidearms.” While I was confused at first as well, the numbers actually do add up. You see, sidearms always spawn with a certain amount of ammo, about 18-20 rounds, even after a death. These “free” bullets are actually added to your default starting ammo when using a sidearm. Take the popular Wormwood for example, which has a base inventory of 56.

Weapon Default spawn ammo (56) With +SA (76) With +SAx2 (96) With +SA/+Sp (100) On Death
The Wormwood 36 36 47 54 18

Note: +SA = Bonus Sidearm ammo, +Sp = Bonus special ammo

The number in the brackets is the current inventory value

NOTE: This is an older post, Side Arm data may be out of date.

As you can see, the Wormwood spawns with 36 shots. You’ll also notice that after you die, it spawns with 18 shots (exactly half). Your spawn-in ammo for a Crucible match with a sidearm is actually a combination of these 18 “free” bullets you receive on every spawn, as well as an additional default amount that’s (in pretty much all cases) equal to the amount of “free” bullets you get after death. By increasing your inventory stat to 100, you do in fact gain double spawn ammo, but only on that initial, default amount. Thus, if the Wormwood’s spawns with 18 rounds at default, you’ll spawn with 36 rounds with 100 inventory. Then, add another 18 rounds of “free” ammo, and you arrive at a total of 54 shots at the start of a crucible match. Similarly, (18 * 1.5) + 18 = 45 (+2 because the wormwood reaches 96, not 95).

While I don’t own a lot of sidearms to test this extensively, I am confident in my hypothesis. Here is some data for the Impeacher V. Note: I think because of how numbers round, this data appears to be one bullet off.

Weapon Default (66) With +Sp (96) With +SAx2 (100) With +SA/+Sp (100) On Death
Impeacher V 38 50 58 58 19

(19 x 1.5) + 19 + 2 = 50

(19 x 2) + 19 = 57 (one bullet off because of weird rounding numbers?)

Note: While sidearms respawn with ammo, this amount IS NOT affected by your inventory stat. If your sidearm spawns with 12 shots after dying, it will always spawn with 12 (no way to change that).


In regards to ammo on spawn, here are some examples key weapon examples:

Weapon Base Inventory Stat Required for 2x Ammo on Spawn
Defiance of Yasmin 70 +SR x2 or +Sp
Stillpiercer 60 +SR x2 or +Sp/+SR
Devil’s Dawn 50 +Sp/+SR
Antinomy XVI 40 +Sp/+SR/Surplus
1000-Yard Stare 50 +Sp/+SR
LDR 5001 50 +Sp/+SR
Y-09 Longbow Synthesis 10 Not possible
In Times of Need 80 +SH or +Sp
Winter’s End 60 +SH x2 or +Sp/+SH
Matador 64 40 +Spx2 (not possible in Y3)
Susanoo 55 +Sp/+FR
Plan C 40 +Sp x2 (not possible in Y3)
Panta Rhei 55 +Sp/+FR
Stellar Vistage* 58 +Sp/+FR
Saladin’s Vigil 20 Not possible
The Wormwood 56 +Sp/+SA
Impeacher V 66 +SA/+SA or +Sp/+SA
The Trespasser 30 Not possible

+SR = Bonus Sniper Rifle Ammo, +SH = Bonus Shotgun Ammo, +FR = Bonus Fusion Rifle Ammo

I can’t list all special weapons or combinations, but if you can find your weapon on Destiny Tracker’s database, it will list its inventory stat. Then add on any bonuses from weapon and armor perks you have. Use this to see if you can get your special weapon to spawn with double ammo in the Crucible.

AMMO ON PICKUP


Ammo on pickup is much more difficult to understand or explain. Here’s what I know for sure: You always pick up 25% of your MAXIMUM HELD AMMO (source) for special weapons. In other words, if your maximum held ammo is 19 (possible with many different sniper rifles) you’ll pick up 5 shots (19 * 0.25 = 4.75 -> 5). This gets tricky when you have a maximum number like 18. 18 x 0.25 is 4.5, but the 18 maximum ammo we see is likely a rounded number (i.e. 17.7) and as a result, 18 only yields 4 ammo on pickup, not 5 (at least for every gun I’ve tested).

This is much easier to see when you use special weapons with large reserve sizes, like the Queenbreakers’ Bow. Here is some data:

Weapon Spawn Ammo Ammo on Pickup Max Held Ammo % of Max
QBB (default) 11 7 29 24%
QBB (+FR) 11 12 46 26%
QBB (+Sp) 11 14 56 25%
QBB (+FR x2) 11 16 63 25%
QBB (+Sp/+FR) 11 18 72 25%

 

As you can see, QBB always picks up 25% of whatever your maximum held ammo is (give or take a little for the rounding of numbers). This is true for any other fusion rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun or sidearm.

Similar to QBB, testing with a heavy machine gun allows us to see the direct impact each inventory boosting perk has on our heavy weapons. This is because heavy machine guns have such large magazines, so you are less likely to be thrown off by numbers being rounded in strange ways. As opposed to special ammo, you pick up 37.5% of your heavy weapons max ammo per brick (this was nerfed from 50%). Here is some raw data about HMGs.

Weapon Default Pickup + HMG +HEAVY HMG + HEAVY Base Inventory
First Citizen 96 112 122 139 47
Unending Deluge 60 72 78 89 40
Unending Deluge (Surplus) 66 77 83 94 40
Jolder’s Hammer 25 31 34 40 21
Jolder’s Hammer (Surplus) 28 34 37 43 21
Jolder’s Hammer (Surplus + FS) 42 48 48 48 21
Nemesis Star 43 50 54 57 60
Nemesis Star (FS) 57 57 57 57 60
Quillim’s Terminus 34 41 45 51 35
Silvered Dread 47 55 60 68 45
Silvered Dread (FS) 68 70 70 70 45

FS = Field Scout, +HMG = Bonus heavy machine gun ammo Additional Fact: Jolder’s Hammer with Surplus + Skip rounds grabs 30 rounds on pickup.

Looking at the QBB and HMG data, you can see that the numbers I hypothesized at the start are correct. Skip rounds add a very small benefit, surplus slightly greater, +HMG ammo slightly greater, etc. You can also see that once you reach 100 inventory stat, your pickup amount is capped (Reference the Nemesis Star).

That being said, there are some strange numbers. Look at my Unending Deluge data for example. With JUST +heavy (a 30 boost to inventory) I pick up 78 rounds. With Surplus and +HMG (a boost of 10 and 20 = 30), I only pick up 77 rounds. Why the 1 round difference? This is where things get a little weird and I can’t rightly explain it. However, I believe from extensive testing, that any general increase in heavy or special ammo (as in, the perks found only on a few exotic armor pieces) will not only give you 30 inventory stat, but will also increase your maximum held ammo count by 1 (even if it takes it above the max). While my data can’t support this hypothesis with 100% accuracy, it works in the majority of cases and becomes even more important when dealing with rockets, snipers, shotguns or FRs (since their ammo economy is so much smaller, an increase of 1 is contextually larger).

Rockets and snipers exhibit this phenomenon most noticeably. On a sniper rifle, assuming you are not using any +special ammo boosting armor, you can only hold a maximum of 18 sniper shots. Equipping a +special ammo booster will, however, take you to 19 max ammo, and 5 rounds per pickup (assuming you also have at least 90 inventory).

Similarly, rockets cannot reach three rockets per pickup without a +heavy ammo booster or tripod. This is because the maximum ammo you can hold on a rocket without any boosters is 6. (6 x 0.375 is 2.25). If you can get your maximum ammo count up to 7 (or 8) however, you will spawn with 3 rockets (7 x 0.375 = 2.6, 8 x 0.375 = 3).

The good news is, obtaining a max ammo count of 7 or 8 (and subsequently 3 rockets on pickup) is possible on every rocket launcher. First, reach an inventory stat of at least 70. Then use either tripod or a +heavy boosting perk. I believe tripod operates the same way that +heavy does in relation to rocket launchers (said simply, if you have tripod on your launcher, it increases your max held ammo count by a single rocket). My Ceres-Lost BMJ-46, for example, has a base inventory of 20. With Field Scout, it increases to 70. Then, with tripod, I can hold 7 rockets max and always pick up three from a heavy brick. If I also equip a +heavy booster, my ammo capacity increases to 8, but I still only pick up three rockets.

Compare that to The Hothead. The Hothead has a base inventory of 30. With field scout, this increases its inventory to 80. Even with 80 inventory, or 100 inventory after equipping boots that add +rocket ammo, you have a max ammo count of 6 and only pick up 2 rockets per brick. I can’t get tripod on the weapon, but with +heavy ammo increasing perks, my max ammo count rises to 7 and I pick up 3 per brick.

Here is some additional data on rockets:

Weapon Default Pickup + RKT +HEAVY RKT + HEAVY Base Inventory
Ceres Lost BMH-46 (Tripod) 2 2 2 3 20
Ceres Lost BMH-46 (Tripod + FS) 3 3 3 3 20
Any Suros Launcher 2 2 2 3 20
Any Suros Launcher (Tripod) 2 2 2 3 20
The Hothead 2 2 2 3 30
The Hothead (FS) 2 2 3 3 30
Dragon’s Breath 2 2 3 3 70 (+ SURPLUS)
Pre-Nerf Truth (Tripod) 2 3 3 3 60

 

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THINGS WERE MAKING SENSE


Now let’s get into the really weird stuff: Fusion Rifles (and to some extent, Lord of Wolves). Fusion rifles follow some similar rules in regards to ammo, but also break a lot of them. For whatever reason, fusion rifles don’t have a default ammo count similar to the other weapon types, and each FR’s default number seems to be random and not tied to its base inventory stat.

What I mean is this: A sniper rifle without any special perks will always spawn with 6 rounds. Fusion rifles are all across the board. Here is some data to look at:

Weapon Default Spawn Ammo Max Ammo Max Pickup Inventory Stat
Susanoo 8 26 6 55
Worlds to Come 001 8 27 6 52
Each New Day 8 26 6 48
Split Shifter Pro 9 30 7 30
Techeun Rage 9 27 6 20
77 Wizard 8 24 6 35
Hitchhiker FR 4 10 30 7 30
Hitchhiker FR 4 (with BF) 10 32 8 30
Ashraven’s Flight 10 30 7 40
Ashraven’s Flight (with BF) 10 31 8 40
The Stellar Vistage 9 31 8 58
Thesan FR 4 10 30 7 32
Thesan FR 4 (with BF) 10 32 8 32
Give/Take Equation (Skip) 8 24 6 30
Give/Take Equation (BF ) 8 23 5 25
The Vacancy Didn’t test 25 6 10
The Vacancy (with BF) Didn’t test 27 6 10
Saladin’s Vigil 8 23 5 20
Saladin’s Vigil (with BF) 8 23 5 20

BF = Braced Frame

As you can see, some guns with low inventory stats spawn with significantly more ammo by default than those with high inventory stats. This makes no sense, though the amount that your fusion spawns with can be doubled by reaching 100 inventory stat (so at least that’s something).

Even stranger, your maximum held ammo on a fusion is seemingly random. Susanoo, with a base inventory of 55, can only ever hold a max of 26 shots. The Thesan FR4 with a base inventory of 30, however, can hold 30. Oh wait, just kidding. If you have Braced Frame on your Thesan FR4 it can actually hold 32 total rounds (and reaching a 32 max is great as it lets you pick up 8 rounds per brick—32*0.25=8)!

That’s right, randomly, even though it doesn’t work on HMGs or Hand Cannons (yes, I tested a hand cannon), Braced Frame actually increases your reserves on SOME Fusion Rifles. Furthermore, extended mag on Lord of Wolves and Enhanced Battery on SOME Fusion Rifles actually DECREASES your max ammo count. 30 and 40 seems to be a magical number for inventory stats on FRs, but again, it’s hard to say anything conclusive.

Could this be a bug? Are the hidden stats being reported incorrectly? Is there something I’m missing? I don’t know, but it makes very little sense.

A BRIEF BIT ON SWORDS


If you’re going to use a sword in the crucible, use an exotic one. Without any +heavy ammo booster, an exotic sword can utilize it’s bonus “Scabbard” perks to pick up 30… uh, swings. With Radegast’s artifact, this is pushed to 38 (Young Wolf’s Howl is only 36). Legendaries cap at 29 (Dreadfang is only 27).

CONCLUSION (THE TL;DR)


In conclusion, there is a lot of weird stuff going on with ammo in the crucible, but generally speaking, if you can get to 100 inventory stat with your special and heavy weapons, your personal ammo economy is going to thrive. In my opinion, not running out of special ammo is of utmost importance in the crucible. After all, if you have no special ammo then it doesn’t matter how Godlike the roll on your special weapon is. I think hunting for guns with high inventory stats is worth it (except on side arms since they spawn with ammo). Here are some of my top picks for each gun type. If you don’t own any of these, consider hunting for some!

SNIPER RIFLES:

  • Defiance of Yasmin. 70 base inventory. Easy to spawn in with 12 rounds, good scope, good aim assist.
  • Devil’s Dawn/Event Horizon. 50/49 base inventory. Requires +special booster and +sniper booster, but can spawn with 12/11 ammo and is the max impact to shut down supers.
  • Winged Word. 45 base inventory. With +special and +sniper boosters you spawn with 9 rounds, but the impact class with barrel mods means it’s the fastest firing sniper capable of shutting down supers (Hunters can also use Stillpiercer to similar effect). Obtained from reaching 7 wins in Trials.
  • Glass Promontory. 60 base inventory. You can reach 12 rounds on spawn with two +sniper boosters. Great aim assist, great scope and a guaranteed, great roll. This is the old Trials sniper, so it can be obtained from Trials gold bounties. While it can’t snipe supers it can barely rez snipe.  If you can’t get your hands on this sniper but still want a fast firing sniper, you can buy an Uzume RR4 from the Gunsmith. Similar stats, same base inventory of 60, but the scopes aren’t as good and it can’t rez snipe.

FUSION RIFLES:

  • Stellar Vistage. Base inventory 58. With two +fusion boosts, it spawns with 17 rounds and picks up 7 per brick. On top of this, it’s a great fusion rifle. Requires seven wins in Trials and some luck to obtain.
  • Panta Rhei. 55 base inventory, great base stats. Top tier rifle, but can only be obtained from legendary engrams so it might be hard to get.
  • Each New Day. 48 base inventory, decent base stats and a pretty good fusion.
  • Thesan FR4. Base inventory of 30, but somehow has an incredible ammo economy. Pretty much anything can work on this rifle because its base stats are so good, but aim for things like Hot Swap, Rangefinder or Braced Frame. Purchase from the Gunsmith.
  • Saladin’s Vigil. Actually has a terrible ammo economy with a base inventory of 20, but it’s just too good to not list. Again, you can get away with pretty much any roll because the base stats are so good, though range or stability boosting perks will improve your experience.
  • NOTE: Rescue mag is a great pick if you have an otherwise great FR with a bad inventory.

SIDEARMS:

  • Pretty much anything is good from an ammo perspective, but the Wormwood from FWC is best in class.

SHOTGUNS:

  • Matador 64. With a base inventory of 40, you won’t be spawning with extra ammo unless you use some Y1 armor, but it’s still the best option out there so you should probably just use this.
  • If you really want more ammo instead of range, the Winter’s End shotgun you get from the Rise of Iron book has a base of 60. It’s a pretty awful shotgun, but at least you’ll have oodles of ammo for it.
  • In Times of Need has 80 inventory (stupid high), but can only be found from classic crucible playlists and can’t reach max range. With just +shotgun ammo you can spawn with double ammo, and that could be worth it to you in the right situations.
  • 44 Curtain Call can roll max range, rangefinder and replenish, which could be good for someone struggling with their shotgun ammo and/or Self-Rez Warlocks.
  • Conspiracy Theory-D can roll 31 range (one below max) and rescue mag.
  • The Comedian can spawn with 14 rounds with two +shotgun ammo perks, but cannot reach max range. Only available from Vanguard packages.

ROCKETS:

  • As I mentioned above, any rocket can reach 3 on pickup, but obviously not having to use +rocket and +heavy armor pieces is always preferred. As such, any rocket that can roll tripod and field scout is your best bet.
  • All Suros rockets have 20 inventory by default and can’t get tripod + field scout. As a result, I would recommend NOT using Suros launchers. An extra rocket is far superior to higher base velocity.
  • Probably the best legendary rocket launcher (if you can get the right roll) is the Ash Factory. Great stats, great base inventory and can roll tripod, G&H and Field Scout. Even without field scout, it’s base inventory is high enough that just +rocket boots and tripod will let you pick up three rockets. You can only obtain the Ash Factory from classic crucible playlists.
  • The Steel Oracle (the current crucible rocket) can also obtain this God roll and has similar base stats to the Ash Factory (though it is a nasty salmon color instead of that dope green).
  • Tormod’s Bellows, not currently obtainable, but was sold in Iron Banner during TTK with a God roll. If you’ve got that, use it!

HEAVY MACHINE GUNS

  • Anything with field scout. Excluding exotics, the only current HMG that can roll field scout is the Iron Banner HMG and the old Trials HMG, the Unseeing Eye.
  • The Unending Deluge with Surplus. Surplus will give you an additional 6 rounds on pickup. That’s an additional kill and well worth it if you ask me (especially because you can get Counterbalance and Surplus on the same roll). No other current HMG can roll Surplus (which is also great for PvE).
  • Baron’s Ambition/Zombie Apocalypse WF47. Both have high base inventory stats and are excellent (though hard to obtain) HMGs. Highly recommended if you can get a good roll.
  • The First Citizen IX. This is of the “maximum rate of fire” archetype for HMGs. While not the most popular, it has the highest base inventory stat of any HMG. By default, it spawns with 96 rounds. Considering it takes between 7 – 10 bullets to get a kill, that’s 9 – 10 kills from one heavy. Compare that to something like the Quillim’s Terminus, which only picks up 34 rounds by default and takes 4 – 6 bullets per kill (5 – 8 max kills).

Testing notes: While I was able to personally test many weapons, I pulled data from different experiments wonderful people like /u/Mercules904 have done. Furthermore, I detest shotguns and only have a few non-exotic ones on hand. As such, I only tested 5 different shotguns. Conversely, I love fusion rifles and tested 24 different ones personally. If you are curious, I can provide a list of all the weapons I personally tested.

Edit: According to /u/Pavetsu Saladin’s Vigil spawns in with 9 rounds and picks up an additional shot per brick if you are using Smallbore. Yet another piece to the confusing puzzle.

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