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Skyrim Best weapons - The best bows, swords, axes, and more to use in Skyrim

Violence is the answer

The best Skyrim weapons make any Dragonborn’s life easier and less likely to be extinguished.

There’s no shortage of swords, maces, and daggers to use, and there’s even more choices if you plan on enchanting your primary weapon. However, a handful of these tools of destruction rise above the rest and even offer their own unique enchantments with no work involved from you.

Skyrim weapons - Which weapon to choose in Skyrim

A weapon’s two most important features are its weight and attack. Attack is obvious, but the weight determines how fast you can attack. You’ll naturally get fewer hits in with a two-handed battleaxe than with a dagger, but the damage is usually higher. Bows and crossbows are the exception, where rate of fire replaces weight.

Which weapon is right for you depends on your armor and intended build. Slow, heavy weapons fit with heavier armor, though there’s also a dual wielding trick you can use to make even heavier weapons easier to wield.

When you’re dual wielding, Skyrim applies the weapon speed from the fastest weapon to your other weapon. If you have a dagger in one hand, for example, you can technically get the same speed out of a mace or hammer.

It’s also worth considering what you want from a weapon. Dragon-series weapons are always among the strongest, but have no perks or abilities attached. You’ll often get more out of a weaker weapon with handy skills built in than even the Daedric weapons.

Skyrim’s enchantment system makes any weapon viable, but we’ve based our picks on stats and skills right out of the box, so to speak.

The best Skyrim bows

Nightingale Bow

  • Attack: 19
  • Weight: 18
  • Rate of fire: 9.5

The Nightingale Bow adds 30 Frost damage and 15 Shock damage to every strike. It’s not as fast as some, but the extra elemental damage makes it a strong pick anyway.

You’ll get this by completing the Thieves’ Guild questline, which is also where you’ll find the Nightingale Armor.

Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow

  • Attack: 22
  • Weight: 21
  • Rate of Fire: N/A

The Dwarven Crossbow ignores 50% of your opponent’s armor, making it an invaluable weapon for bow wielders.

You can purchase this one from Sorine in Fort Dawnguard after finishing the Ancient Technology quests.

Dragonbone Bow

  • Attack: 20
  • Weight: 20
  • Rate of Fire: 15

The Dragonbone bow is less interesting than Skyrim’s other bows, but only the Dwarven Crossbow surpasses its rate of fire. Loot this off the keepers in Soul Cairn, along with some special Dragonbone arrows.

Zephyr

  • Attack: 12
  • Weight: 10
  • Rate of Fire: 12

Zephyr’s special ability offsets its low attack. This bow has a 30% higher fire rate than any other, though you’ll need to complete the Lost to the Ages quest in Arkngthamz to get it.

The best Skyrim daggers

Daggers are the assassin’s friend. They’re light, but the right perks, such as Backstab, let you deal tremendous damage in the right conditions. Even if you’re not dual wielding, a good dagger can make a significant difference.

Blade of Woe

  • Attack: 12
  • Weight: 7

Blade of Woe absorbs 10 health from enemies, so it’s a good choice to pair with another weapon or to use in fights against one or two opponents only. It’s also easy to find. You can steal it off Astrid from the Dark Brotherhood, loot it from her if you decide to destroy the organization, or receive it as a reward for completing the “With Friends Like These” quest.

Mehrune’s Razor

  • Attack: 11
  • Weight: 3

Mehrune’s Razor has a small chance of instantly killing your opponent, slightly less than 2%, and you never need to recharge it with a soul gem. It’s also one of the fastest daggers in the game, though you’ll need to engage in a bit of skullduggery to get it. Mehrune’s Razor is only obtainable if you complete Pieces of the Past and murder Silus before he can put the dagger back in its display case.

Dragonbone Dagger

  • Attack: 12
  • Weight: 6.5

There’s nothing special about the Dragonbone Dagger aside from its stats. It’s Skyrim’s strongest dagger, and just a smidgeon heavier than the Daedric Dagger. You’ll need level 100 Smithing to get it, though, and there’s no special skill attached to it.

The best Skyrim swords

Skyrim’s one-handed swords are the all-’rounder’s choice, sitting comfortably in the middle in terms of weight and damage. Our picks also have some of the most interesting perks attached to them.

Nightingale Blade

  • Attack: 14
  • Weight: 15

The Nightingale Blade, earned through finishing the Thieves’ Guild questline, absorbs 25 stamina and health. It’s handy for using repeated bash or power attacks, so pair it with a strong second weapon or shield to get the most out of this.

Miraak’s Sword

  • Attack: 16
  • Weight: 3

Miraak’s Sword comes from Miraak during the Summit of Apocrypha quest. It absorbs 15 stamina on hit, but though it has few charges, the low weight makes it easy to recommend.

Chillrend

  • Attack: 15
  • Weight: 16

You’ll have to steal Chillrend from Riftwead Manor, but it’s worth the hassle. Chillrend deals 30 frost damage and could paralyze enemies for a few seconds.

Dawnbreaker

  • Attack: 12
  • Weight: 10

Dawnbreaker is weaker than other swords, but it’s a solid choice if you’re battling many undead enemies. Dawnbreaker may make undead enemies explode and deal extra damage in the process, and the explosion is more likely if you strike the enemy more times — which makes Dawnbreaker’s low attack more useful. Completing the Break of Dawn quest gets you this one.

The best Skyrim War Axes

War Axes are standard weapons with few special effects. They hit hard, but they’re a little bulkier and slower to wield.

stalhrim War Axe

  • Attack: 15
  • Weight: 16

The stalhrim axe boosts your frost enchantment damage by 25% and is one of the easier axes to get. You can just buy this one from Skaal Village or Raven’s Rock.

Dawnguard Rune Axe

  • Attack: 11
  • Weight: 13
The Dawnguard axe is similar to the sword, but rather than causing explosions, it deals progressively more damage to the undead the more you kill in a day. You can scavenge this one from the battlements of Fort Dawnguard.

The best Skyrim maces

Maces are essentially enhanced axes in Skyrim. Most deal slightly more damage on average, but are also much weightier. These two have handy special perks and lower weight, which makes them worth considering more than most maces.

Mace of Molag Bal

  • Attack: 16
  • Weight: 18

Complete the House of Horrors Daedric Quest to get this mace. It deals 25 Magicka and stamina damage and also inflicts soul trap for a few seconds, which is helpful if you need to fill soul gems.

Stalhrim Mace

  • Attack: 16
  • Weight: 18

The stalhrim Mace does the same as other stalhrim weapons and makes Frost enchantments 25% stronger. You can also buy this one at Raven’s Rock or in Skaal Village.

The best Skyrim greatswords

Two-handed swords are the next level up in both damage and weight. These are good choices for tankier builds and wearers of heavy armor.

Stalhrim Greatsword

  • Attack: 23
  • Weight: 21

The stalhrim Greatsword is the same as other stalhrim weapons, with 25% extra effect for Frost enchantments, and you can purchase this from Raven’s Rock or Skaal as well.

Bloodskal Blade

  • Attack: 21
  • Weight: 16

The Bloodskal Blade is a bit weak for a greatsword, but it also fires a ranged attack that deals 30 damage. You can pick this up during The Final Descent Dragonborn quest. It’s next to Gratian’s dead body.

Daedric Greatsword

  • Attack: 24
  • Weight: 23

As with other Daedric weapons, there’s nothing particularly special about the greatsword aside from its solid attack. It’s slightly weaker than the Dragonbane Greatsword, but significantly lighter. Daedric Greatswords may appear as loot around level 27 and higher, but your best chance of finding them is from level 46 on.

The best Skyrim battleaxe

Battleaxes are heavier than Greatswords, but don’t offer a substantially higher damage output.

Wuuthrad

  • Attack: 25
  • Weight: 25

Wuuthrad’s big draw is dealing extra damage to Orcs, Falmer, Dark Elves, Wood Elves, and High Elves. You’ll need to complete The Companions’ questline and put it in the Ysgramor statue during the Glory of the Dead, but after that, you’re free to remove it from the statue and make it your own.

Stalhrim Battleaxe

  • Attack: 24
  • Weight: 25

The Stalhrim Battleaxe does the same thing other Stalhrim weapons do — 25% increase in your frost enchantments — but it’s one of the lighter axes if you want to hit a bit faster. Also like the other Stalhrim weapons, this one is for sale in Skaal and Raven’s Rock.

Daedric Battleaxe

  • Attack: 25
  • Weight: 27

If you want a battleaxe that just hits hard and does little else, then this is the one for you. You can find it as loot or purchase it from merchants.

The best Skyrim Warhammers

Finally are the Warhammers. In theory, these are massive, unwieldy death machines. Some of the best warhammers no heavier than a greatsword, though, and have even better perks.

Volendrung

  • Attack: 25
  • Weight: 26

Volendrung absorbs 50 stamina, which is a handy perk to have if you plan on using power attacks or need a quick dash away from the frontlines. You’ll pick this one up during the Cursed Tribe Daedric quest.

Longhammer

  • Attack: 21
  • Weight: 18

The Longhammer is a solid choice if you want a tank build that moves a bit faster than your usual tanks. In addition to its lower weight, the Longhammer also has a perk that lets it swing 30% faster than other hammers. Find this in the Liar’s Retreat cave in Solitude.

Enchanting weapons in Skyrim

If you’re not keen on any of these weapons, you can enchant most weapons of any type and augment their abilities. It takes soul gems, but if you’ve got a fair idea of what you’re doing, it’s possible to make even lower-level weapons viable depending on the enchantments you use. We recommend using Azura’s Star or the Black Star if you plan on going this route. Soul gems shatter after one use, but both of these items are permanent.

For more help with your character, here are the best Skyrim builds for each of the races. You can also check out our full Skyrim guide, here.

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