Rise of Iron: Year 3 Thorn Exotic Review: Best Perks and Build Guide

How to get the best possible stats and perks out of the Year 3 Thorn Exotic Hand Cannon!

One of the single most divisive weapons in Destiny, the Thorn dominated the Crucible for virtually the entirety of Destiny’s Year 1; loved by some for its ridiculous range, impact and damage-over-time, the weapon was despised by others on the receiving end for the exact same reason. While it was a common sight among the battlegrounds of the Crucible, Bungie saw fit not to bring this powerhouse forward to Destiny’s Year 2. Thorn was put on hiatus for a year, only to now return for Rise of Iron and Destiny’s Year 3 with a revamped “A Light in the Dark” Exotic Weapon quest, ready to terrorize the unwitting Destiny community once again.

Thorn Base Stat Analysis

Rate of Fire - 32

Not anything too drastic or dissimilar to the majority of Hand Cannons out there, the new and improved Thorn matches the Last Word at a 32 for rate of fire, but both pull just ahead of the Hawkmoon’s 22. However, this is slightly deceptive when you think about the full-auto power of the Last Word. Regardless, Thorn is certainly more than capable of putting several shots in the air at the same time.

Impact - 68

Once again the Year 3 Thorn finds itself all tied up with its biggest rival, the Last Word, with both sporting a pretty hefty 68 for impact. Unfortunately, they are both outstripped by a significant margin by the Hawkmoon’s 81 impact. Once again those, this is somewhat deceptive. While the base stats might speak true, they don’t take into account the Thorn’s damage-over-time (DoT), the Last Word’s full-auto, or the Hawkmoon’s lucky bullets. Regardless, for an average shot, the Hawkmoon wins out.

Range - 29

For the first time, the Thorn totally and completely outclasses the Last Word, with the 29 of Thorn dominating the 8 range of the opposition. The Thorn even succeeds in mostly keeping up with the Hawkmoon’s impressive 32 range. To top it off, it’s possible through perks to actually boost the Thorn’s range that little bit further.

Stability - 31

Sitting somewhere in the middle, Thorn has a 31 stat for stability, slightly exceeding the 22 of the Last Word, but faltering a little when compared to the 46 of the mighty Hawkmoon. However, if you really can’t stand the stability, it will be more than possible to boost the stability of the Thorn through perks, at the expense of a couple other stats. Besides this, when combined with the rate of fire, you shouldn’t find too many issues here.

Reload - 43

Once again the Thorn finds itself sitting in the middle here, with a respectable reload of 43, outclassing the 39 of the Hawkmoon ever so slightly, but lagging behind the 56 of the Last Word. The reload here shouldn’t really present you with too many problems, but if needs be, choose gauntlets with Hand Cannon reload perks to make up the deficit.

Magazine - 9

For the final stat, Thorn once again finds itself sandwiched in the middle, although it touches more on the lower side, with its 9 shots in the clip registering just above the 8 of the Last Word, but below the 13 of the Hawkmoon. Keep in mind the Final Round perk here, as it’s important to know how this works to ensure the best DPS from the Thorn overall.

Base Stat Conclusion

Borrowing a little from the Hawkmoon, a little from the Last Word, the Thorn’s stats show it to be a competent killer, dealing significant damage with some well-rounded and powerful stats across the board to ensure some solid destruction in the Crucible and beyond. While there are a couple areas for improvement, there is ample opportunity both within and without on the gun to rectify these issues. Things are definitely looking up for the Thorn.

Thorn Perk Analysis

Exotic Perk – Mark of the Devourer

  • Rounds pierce targets and cause lingering damage over time

There was once a time when the Thorn’s DoT from the Mark of the Devourer perk was one of the most feared, most frustrating things the Crucible had to offer. Thankfully following an earlier nerf, the Year 3 version of Thorn doesn’t have quite the bite of its predecessor. Regardless, that doesn’t devalue this perk quite so much as you might imagine. The DoT might not be a killer these days, but it allows you to track your enemy’s location, and prevents their shields from recharging, letting you chase them down and kill them as they retreat. Just be aware that the Memory of Silimar artifact will negate the DoT.

Selectable Ballistics Perks – Accurized Ballistics/Field Choke/Aggressive Ballistics

Immediately we advise straying away from Aggressive Ballistics. One of Thorn’s most unique selling points is its range, which exceeds many Hand Cannons. However, this range was nerfed, so trying to bring it up a little is recommended. As such, you want to go with either Accurized Ballistics or Field Choke. Both boost impact and range a little, with only minor downsides. However, if you absolutely must go with Accurized Ballistics, you can pick up some range further down the line.

Middle Perk – Final Round

  • The last round in a magazine deals bonus damage.

Yet another reason the Thorn was so feared. Thanks to the Final Round perk, the last round in a magazine deals a considerable lump of additional damage, allowing you to nail your opponents with some extra force in the Crucible and beyond. By accounting for this extra damage burst, you can make short work of your enemies, and potentially get the edge in most firefights, and with the low 9 shots to the magazine, you can bet that Final Round will come around pretty often.

Selectable Stat Perks – Snapshot/Send It/Perfect Balance

For us, discounting Snapshot is the first port of call. It’s not a bad perk, per se, but in comparison to the other options, it’s certainly the worst of the three. Between the other two, we’re looking at a question of personal preference. We recommend going with Send It to preserve and extend the decent range of the Thorn and turn it back into the feared sniper it was in Year 1. However, if you really cannot tolerate the kickback from the Thorn, go with Perfect Balance to nullify this issue nicely.


It’s easy to see why Thorn was once a devastating force, both loved and despised equally. A decent to good set of stats, and a bunch of perks to boost all the places that are lacking, the Thorn is a pretty impressive piece of gear. It is able to function well in its own right as a Hand Cannon, but when tied into the longer DoT bursts, it becomes a tool of suppression and denial too, allowing for some effective kills in the Crucible. While it might not quite live up to the glory days of the Year 1 Thorn, the Year 3 version still packs a considerable, terrifying and horrific punch, and as such, we’ll be giving it a solid and well-deserved 4/5 Exotic Engrams. Welcome back, Thorn.

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Wondering what other weapons are must-haves for Rise of Iron? Check out our Vanguard Vendor Roll guide, as well as our guide for the best Crucible Vendor Rolls! Looking to get your hands on the Khvostov 7G-0X? We’ve got you covered!

About The Author: Greg Pain

A member of the #TitanMasterRace, Greg likes to Fist of Havoc his way through a good book, a great punk album and the background of Reddit. But really he plays Defender. Follow him everywhere as 'NorseFenrir'. Like everywhere.

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