The First Curse Exotic Hand Cannon Review: Perks and Build Guide

Everything you need to know about the Exotic Hand Cannon, The First Curse and its perks and stats! 

The First Curse Exotic Hand Cannon is the much maligned “Yin” to The Last Word’s “Yang”. Acting as The Last Word’s antithesis, many regard The First Curse as being a waste of time and effort to obtain, fit only for collectors. This is mostly due to the irritating quest line you need to complete to get your hands on this gun, whereby you must first reach Rank 5 with the Gunsmith, and then in a later step use one of the worst weapons in the game (the Imprecation Hand Cannon) to score 7 Precision kills in one Crucible match. This gun is almost single-handedly responsible for Bungie no longer allowing Fireteams into Rumble due to so many players “boosting” to finish the step. But does The First Curse deserve the bad rap it’s had so far? Let’s find out!

The First Curse Base Stat Analysis

Rate of Fire - 15

Immediately we’re off to a pretty poor start. The First Curse has a reasonably low Rate of Fire, sitting at 15. By Hand Cannon standards it’s still low, but not excessively so. However, The First Curse flags behind the Hawkmoon’s 22, and is practically eclipsed by The Last Word’s 32. With a reasonably dismal entry, hopefully The First Curse will pick up somewhere else.

Impact - 94

And already things begin to look better for The First Curse. With a monstrous Impact of 94, The First Curse hits like a trained boxer, ahead of the Hawkmoon at 81, and punching far above The Last Word’s weight class of 68. What we can gather from this is that The First Curse occupies the “low Rate of Fire, high Impact” Hand Cannon archetype. While compared with most other weapons all Hand Cannons look like this archetype. However, within the weapon type itself some distinction can be made, and The First Curse represents the furthest end of the curve.

Range - 47

Yet another triumph for The First Curse, we can see an impressive 47 here for Range, which would be considered somewhat exceptional for most Hand Cannons. In addition, it certainly outstrips the Hawkmoon at 32, as well as The Last Word’s pitiful 8 for Range. Already we can see how The First Curse and The Last Word represent opposites ends of the Hand Cannon spectrum.

Stability - 12

Unfortunately, this one is a battle The First Curse loses. Sitting at a Stability of 12, The First Curse finds itself behind The Last Word on 22, and completely outclassed by the Hawkmoon’s 51. When compared with The Last Word though, The First Curse actually suffers less from Recoil issues due to its reduced Rate of Fire, which gives the weapon additional time to “reset” between shots.

Reload - 22

This can be a little more problematic. The First Curse suffers somewhat on Reload speed, sitting at a lowly 22, outmatched by the 39 of the Hawkmoon, and outgunned by the 56 of The Last Word. Don’t despair too soon though – The First Curse has Reload-increasing perks, and we recommend using Gauntlets that will increase Reload too.

Magazine - 8

For a high-powered Hand Cannon, The First Curse has a relatively normal Magazine, maybe a little low but not overtly so. It ties nicely with its twin, The Last Word, which also holds 8 shots, although both fall behind in comparison to the impressive 13 of the Hawkmoon.

Base Stat Conclusion

We actually like The First Curse. It’s built for one thing, and one thing only... to hit hard from a good range. On top of that, it does this exceptionally well. While some stats could cause issue for some players, they’re balanced well with the extreme force this weapon is capable of dishing out. With a little perseverance the quirks of this weapon can work in your favor nicely. On top of this, some of the perks can fix up the stats issues without much of a problem.

The First Curse Perk Analysis

In rather atypical fashion, The First Curse actually sports two Exotic Perks.

Dead Eye – Bonus to range, stability and movement speed when aiming down sights.

While The Last Word may be all about the hip-fire, The First Curse is a weapon of precision, encouraging you to go for those longer range shots. With the Dead Eye perk on top, the already exceptional Range (for a Hand Cannon) is increased further. Stability issues are ratified to a degree, and if you’re the strafing sort you gain additional movement speed. The First Curse – First precision kill of the magazine refills it, granting bonuses to range and stability until the player reloads.

This Exotic Perk is far easier to trigger in PvE, but it’s so much more satisfying in the Crucible. If you are able to successfully trigger The First Curse perk, you no longer need to worry about the poor Reload speed, and you gain yet more Range and Stability. This Perk works hand in hand with Dead Eye to deliver some exceptional firepower. If there’s one thing we love, it’s perk-synergy, and The First Curse has it in spades.

Selectable Ballistics Perks – CQB Ballistics/Smooth Ballistics/Soft Ballistics

Immediately, we’d advise you avoid Soft Ballistics. It increases Stability (which is a benefit to The First Curse), but at the expense of the Impact. While Impact is the only stat The First Curse can afford to lose, it’s also the unique selling point of the weapon. Smooth Ballistics and CQB Ballistics actually do the opposite to each other. CQB Ballistics improves Stability substantially, but at a significant penalty to Range, making it another thing we recommend avoiding. Instead, go with Smooth Ballistics. While it may increase the Recoil of The First Curse, it also boosts the Range. For a slow-firing, sharpshooter weapons like The First Curse, this is preferable.

Middle Perk – Triple Tap Rapidly landing precision hits will return one round to the magazine.

This is a perk that you’re far more likely to trigger in PvE than in the Crucible. While we’re sure there are players capable of inflicting such feats on their fellow player, they’re not necessarily found in every match. Triple Tap changes that 8 shots The First Curse is carrying around into a potential 11 shots instead, which is a little more appetizing.

Selectable Stat Perks – Quickdraw/Lightweight/Speed Reload

Quickdraw is at its best in the Crucible because it allows you to switch to your weapon quickly, letting you get ready to shoot before your opponent. While that’s useful, it’s not the best thing you could use in this column. Lightweight increases your character’s Agility stat by +2, which should be made as a personal choice, but we consider it a rather pointless boost. That leaves us with the third and final perk, Speed Reload, enabling you to Reload your weapon much more quickly. Considering the low Reload stat of The First Curse, this is a winner for us.


The First Curse has been pretty misaligned at times. Painted as worthless at worst, The First Curse supports a certain playstyle, and requires sufficient aiming and patience to reach its full potential. The First Curse is functionally opposite to The Last Word, which focuses instead on point-blank, spray and play combat. In many ways, The First Curse has more in common with something like a Scout Rifle than many Hand Cannons. With an impressive Impact and Range, The First Curse is balanced by its low Rate of Fire but hampered by its Reload and Stability. Thankfully both can be patched up in places due to its perks. While we’d recommend The First Curse for PvE more than the Crucible, it’s still a perfectly viable option for PvP. As such, we’ll be giving The First Curse a respectable 3/5 Exotic Engrams.

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Wondering how The First Curse stacks up against The Last Word? Check out our Exotic weapon review of The Last Word! Have you heard that the Iron Banner is cancelled until further notice? Looking forward to hearing more about Rise of Iron? Here are five features we want in Destiny's Rise Of Iron expansion.

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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