Note: this is an outdated Wrath Guide! This information is not current past Wrath.
I am asked very often what the best hunter spec is for the best dps. Very simply, this guide will lay out the best hunter spec of the day. These things change more frequently than ever: in WotLK the best hunter spec was BM, then Survival, then MM or Survival depending on your gear.
Like all WHU guides, this page will be kept updated as patches come out, and the Reviewed and Accurate logo in the top will include the date of the last time the guide was reviewed for accuracy. So you’ll know what the best hunter spec is now, and not what it might have been a few months or years back.
Best Hunter DPS Spec (Level 80)
At lower gear levels – say below 226 – Survival hunters will have the highest dps, using explosive shot to burn their way to the top of the dps charts. (See our Survival Talent Build). (note that at *very* low gear levels, ilvl 200 and lower, BM actually does the most, but then falls off hard and fast as gear improves).
At moderate gear levels MM and SV are neck and neck – there is no statistically relevant difference between the dps they can output. Here we’re looking at gear levels of around 226-245.
At high gear levels MM pulls ahead as the top dps spec; however, it should be noted that it is more difficult to play MM well. A competent player could very likely see more dps from SV than MM even at high gear levels. A very good player is able to stack cooldowns, maximize movement-based dps, and handle multiple-target dps better – and MM gives a greater advantage than SV to the players who is skilled at these things.
And for the record here, spreadsheets are notoriously poor at calculating best dps as we covered in Understanding Spreadsheets. We are able to see the actual damage done by all the top hunters via parses, and MM isn’t just a little bit ahead, not just a few hundred dps – it’s a lot ahead.
I personally favor MM because it just has a larger toolbox that gives a hunter more options to handle different situations. And of course I’m enamored of the dps advantages too :)
Best Hunter Leveling Spec
Beast Mastery is the best leveling hunter spec. Tough pets that can take the damage and hold aggro makes leveling a breeze. After all, the fastest way to level up is zipping through quests without ever having to stop to bandage, eat, or drink!