Elite Dangerous Bounty Hunter’s Guide

Elite Dangerous Bounty Hunter’s Guide by Kuromimi505

This is aimed at newer players looking to get into effective bounty hunting.

“I’m not in the business. I am the business.”

There are limited good advancement choices when you are new stuck in a Sidewinder or Eagle, bounty hunting is a great choice, gets you right into the action of the game, and gets you used to combat with minimal chance for credit loss early on. Go for it.

This guide will cover Bounty hunting basics, and ways to increase your profit safely.

Starting info you need to do or know for this guide:

  • De-select the key for “Dump all cargo”
  • Set a key for “Previous Subsystem” (yes previous specifically)
  • Make sure a key is set for “Cargo scoop”
  • When targeting a subsystem, be on the correct side of the subsystem when shooting.
  • Know where a Black market is near you, one that is in an anarchy or an “outpost” (non-rotating). No cops to scan you there.
  • Know where a High Tech, High population station is for ship upgrades. (map settings can filter for this)
  • To GTFO: turn flight assist off, boost in a straight line. Chaff if you got it. If your shields are already down, consider hitting silent running.

Where to bounty hunt?

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

The ideal choices are:

  • Navigational Beacons (any inhabited system, non anarchy without a K-scanner, anarchy ok with K-scanner)
  • Resource Extraction Sites (RES: asteroid fields or planetary rings)

If you are worried about your target escaping, fighting within rings is preferred due to the rocks Mass locking everyone inside. If you want clean open combat, with easy to find continual targets; go Nav beacons.

These sites almost always have continual targets, but some may not be on your radar. Use your eyes instead. You will be able to see white streaks of FSD drives jumping in, or distant blue glow of engines, or exaust trails.

Hunting at Unidentified Signal Sources (USS) or interdicting or being an interdiction target is time consuming.

Once you equip a K-scanner (covered below) Highly consider hunting at an Inhabited Anarchy system.

Who to hunt?

Pay attention to NPC ranks. This is not just a skill indication, but also a equipment ranking. Novices may not even mount shields.

The big boys: Asps, Pythons, Anacondas may be a challenge, but keep an eye out for ones with no shields.

In a serious fight: To kill: Target “Docking computer” or “Power plant” in that order. (Watch for unshielded Anacondas with docking computers, easy money)

If you expect an extended battle: Target “Drives” the target will not be able to steer or FSD.

Any combat you are not worried about: Target “Cargo Hatch” one press of “previous subsystem” will usually target this.

Pirate booty:

“My work’s illegal, but at least it’s honest.”

Dropped pirate loot from cargo hatch hits is a great extra income. Do NOT pick these up if you do not have a easy to access Black market located. Illegal cargo fines will RUIN you. If you are not hunting in an Anarchy (see below), and a System authority vessel arrives stating it is doing cargo scans, BOOST GTFO.


“You just watch yourself. We’re wanted men. I have the death sentence on 12 systems.”

“Then I’m about to be paid 12 times for one job”

Starting out you will have to rely on basic scans to detect in-system wanted status. This status is relayed to you by the system you are in – and only shows wanted status of THAT system. If you are in deep space, or an Anarchy, everyone will register as “Clean” since there is no government to transmit wanted status.

To really get into bounty hunting, you need a K-scanner. This will detect the wanted status of the ship everywhere. You may even get paid multiple times if they have several bounties. Note the power consumption of higher ones, A & B K-scanners are power hogs, skip them unless you have massive power (Cobra or bigger)

Once you have a K-scanner: Please consider hunting in Inhabited Anarchy systems. No “oops” fines, no cargo scans, and likely will have a black market. Remember to always sell your illegal cargo right away after combat. Don’t jump to a new system and forget what you are carrying.

If you are not in a anarchy/unexplored, and find a target that is clean in-system but is wanted elsewhere, you will incur a bounty on yourself for starting a fight. Consider carrying one ton of something good to tempt pirates if you must K-scan hunt in a non anarchy.

Start every combat with a K-scan. If you notice them trash talking and scanning you, and you are in an anarchy, feel free to open fire while finishing your scan, they are likely a pirate with a bounty.

Once a K-scan finishes, DO NOT start another one. This will lose your wanted data.

Consider a K-scan with lasers on one weapon group to start a fight and begin work on taking shields down while scanning.

Ship upgrades for newbies:

“Peace Through Superior Firepower”

All ship systems buy & sell for 100% price, so upgrade or swap systems as you like.

Upgrade your FSD & Power Distributor early. After this, try and get life support & sensors to D rank.

A & D are the lightest ranks. D also saves on power.

Consider gimbaled M-cannons for subsystem targeting.

Ready for a new ship? (Strip the old one before you sell!)

  • Eagle: Light fighter. If you want quick, cheap, and maneuverable dogfighting Eagle could be the ship for you. It’s light, so go SERIOUS LIGHT. Rank A power, Rank A power distro, Rank D everything else, even shields. Once you are parked at a good bounty hunting area, consider even downgrading the class of your FSD and fuel tank for even more weight savings. You will be a leaf on the wind. If you die… so what? Your ship is ridiculously cheap… and fun! Also suggested if you have “expensive ship worry syndrome”. Park your expensive ride, get in this and fly like an idiot. 3 x S hardpoints
  • Viper: Bad ass heavy fighter. You have some of the best shields in the game for.. even above your weight, so make the most of them. You will ALWAYS be short on power in a Viper, so get your Rank A3 power plant asap. Likely the best dedicated bounty hunting ship. Great 2 x M, 2 x S hardpoints with close groupings.
  • Adder: Early all purpose ship, has cargo space, surprisingly maneuverable for a multi-purpose, decent hardpoints. Bit lacking on the shields and top speed. Consider mounting chaff if you need to run. Keep her light (per the Eagle plan above) and she could be great dogfighter for skilled players. But if you plan on relying on shields, it’s not for you. 1 x M, 2 x S hardpoints.
  • Cobra: All around great ship, no reason to limit yourself to just bounty hunting in this. A powerhouse when it comes to power. Most cargo space of any ship under 1 million, and can hold it’s own vs specialized fighters too. Weaker on the shields than a Viper, but with better boost capabilities. Great 2 x M, 2 x S hardpoints; but the smalls are a bit widely spaced, don’t use fixed in these slots vs small targets.


“Accelerate to attack speed.”

Put your throttle in the blue zone when turning or for max strafe thrust power; but you should know this.

Remember your ship maneuvers quicker and is faster when it is lighter, and when more pips are in Engines. If you are in a Sidewinder, Adder, or Eagle, your maneuverability is your only advantage. Make the most of it. Max your engine power whenever you can.

I will leave FA-off tactics for another guide, but early on, try downward strafe when pulling up, and upward strafe when pulling down. This will get you behind a target faster.

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