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Survival Hunter DPS Guide

Dwarf HunterThe Survival Hunter is the master of using traps and poisons to deal with the opposition. In Area Effect situations Survival does very well indeed and can keep it up for awhile. In this guide you’ll find out how to do maximum DPS as Survival spec, which gems and enchants to use, and so on.

Survival Hunter DPS Talent Build:

Core Survival Raiding Build


Glyphs are learned, like spells or abilities. Once learned you can swap them in and out of your glyph list as the situation demands. All you need is a pinch of Dust of Disappearance.

Glyphs come in three varieties, Prime, Major and Minor.

Prime glyphs enhance core aspects of your class and generally provide the greatest benefit of the three types.

Major Glyphs, while not quite as powerful as Prime Glyphs, are still useful and continue to provide a myriad of benefits.

Minor Glyphs often times provide small quality of life improvements or visual changes, such as the Glyph of Feign Death, which shortens the FD cooldown. 

Prime Glyphs for the Survival Hunter:

  • Kill Shot – Mandatory
  • Explosive Shot – Mandatory
  • Arcane Shot – Single target encounters
  • Serpent Sting – AoE encounters with Multi-Shot spreading Serpent Sting

Major Glyphs:

  • Trap Launcher – Optimal
  • Disengage
  • Mending
  • Raptor Strike
  • Ice Trap


Here are your highest priority abilities.

  1. Hunter’s Mark – Keep active on target
  2. Serpent Sting – Keep active on target, refresh with Cobra Shot
  3. Kill Shot – Whenever the target is below 20%
  4. Explosive Shot – Primary damage shot
  5. Black Arrow
  6. Arcane Shot – Focus dump
  7. Cobra Shot – Refreshes serpent sting and regains focus

To begin a fight, apply Hunter’s Mark and Serpent Sting, refreshing Serpent Sting throughout the fight by using Cobra Shot in your rotation.  Use explosive shot whenever it’s available, as well as Black Arrow.  Cobra Shot is used to regain focus while Explosive Shot and Black Arrow are on Cooldown.  Arcane Shot is used to expend excess focus to avoid focus capping, but should never be used to 0 Focus.

AoE Rotation

  1. Multi-Shot
  2. Explosive Trap
  3. Serpent Sting – Activated by Multi-Shot

For multi-target fights, Multi-Shot and Explosive Trap will be your primary damage dealing abilities.  Due to the talent Serpent Spread Multi-Shot will apply the Serpent Sting debuff to all targets for further AoE damage.


  • Call of the Wild
  • Rapid Fire

Stat Priorities:

Ranged weapon DPS >> Agility > 8% Ranged Hit > 20% Haste > Critical > Mastery > Haste (above 20%)

  • Agility increases your attack power and critical chance, and is your primary damage dealing stat. It is, by far, the best stat for any flavor of Hunter.
  • Hit rating of 8% makes it so that your special abilities will no longer miss on bosses, thereby avoiding loss of DPS.
  • Haste reduces cast time for abilities, makes you shoot faster, and increases focus regeneration speed.  Cobra shot reaches a 1.66 second cast time at 20% haste, allowing you to use it three times before explosive shot.
  • Critical rating increases your chance to critically hit with attacks. A critical strike will multiply the damage of an attack.
  • Survival Hunter Mastery increases all magical damage dealt.


When reforging gear, it’s important that you look to reforge from your least effective stat into the most effective for whatever gear goal you are currently aiming for.  See our stat priority list for more information.

8% Ranged Hit >20% Haste > Critical

For Survival hunters, reaching 20% Haste requires only 6% (758 Rating) from gear as the rest can be obtained from talents.  Once you’ve reached 20% haste it becomes more effective to reforge into critical strike rating so long as you maintain your 8% hit and 20% haste while doing so.

  1. If Hit is 8% and Haste is 20% then reforge Mastery and excess Hit and Haste into Crit.
  2. Otherwise reforge into Hit (to 8%) and Haste (to 20%)


If you can’t afford the new (as of 4.3) epic gems then dropping down one level is not a big DPS loss and you will save a lot of gold.

Unless a socket bonus offers agility, it’s more effective to gem for pure agility and ignore the bonus.



Survival Hunter DPS Build

(You can view this build here)

Survival Hunter DPS Build


Thanks to ElitistJerks for all their research and analysis.

Our class guides for whichever class you’re playing:

Death Knights – Druid – Hunter – Mage – Paladin
Priest – Rogue – Shaman – Warlock – Warrior

The GotWarcraft Gold Guide

Cataclysm Heroic Guides


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