Skyrim best weapons ranked - best bow, sword, dagger and more

The best, highest-DPS weapons in Skyrim ranked for each weapon type.

For almost all character builds, knowing the best weapons in Skyrim for each type is going to be worthwhile. Some are available early on, too, through side quests or otherwise, which can be a massive help for playthroughs on harder difficulties, or for those with a burning desire to power through to Skyrim's late-game content.

Skyrim best weapons explained

Whether you're looking to tackle some of the more bizarre Daedric quests, or power-level your Smithing to craft Dragonbone and Daedric weapons, the weapon rankings below should be of some use to you, but before you dive in there are a couple of quick things to bear in mind about how we've structured it all:

  • If you're looking to craft or enchant your weapons, be sure to check out our detailed guide to power-levelling Smithing and Enchanting skills to hit that level cap and craft the best weapons in the game as quickly as possible.
  • An 'N/A' for Perk means you need to boost your Smithing past 100 with Alchemy to improve it beyond Flawless - specifically, you need to max your Smithing level to 100 and then use potions of Fortify Smithing to boost it beyond that, at which point the weapons in question, which don't benefit from any of the Smithing skill Perks, can then be improved beyond Flawless quality.
  • The weapon sections below, excluding the Bows and Crossbows, are in order of lowest to highest damage and weight - so daggers first, with their low damage and low weight, moving ending with the heaviest and highest-damage Warhammers.
  • For bows, higher weight means faster arrow travel speed, and normally a slower nocking speed.
  • For one- and two-handed weapons, a higher weight means a slower swing speed, so for the most damage-per-second you'll want a combination of high base damage and low weight.
  • If a weapon is listed as not enchantable, that will generally mean it's not disenchantable, either.
  • We'll give a little extra context for our rankings in each section, but bear in mind we're considered damage-per-second here, too, so in many cases weight is just as important as raw damage!
  • Unique items are marked with an asterisk * and we've briefly explained how to get them in that section's notes. Standard items like Daedric weapons, meanwhile, can always be found through either random loot or crafting.
  • Stalhrim weapons' Frost Damage bonus is actually more powerful than it looks - the "Chaos Damage" enchantment, which has a 50% chance of dealing 25 fire, frost, and shock damage simultaneously, is also boosted, making it an extremely potent choice for skilled enchanters.
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The best Bows and Crossbows in Skyrim

A couple quick things to note about the bows and crossbows below:

  • The Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow is part of the Dawnguard questline, and can only be obtained if you side with the Dawnguard over the Vampires. This specific type of crossbow is available to craft or buy after finding the schematic in one of the sis "Ancient Technology" quests.
  • Crossbows, whilst generally more powerful than bows in terms of damage, take a fair bit longer to fire each shot. They can also be equipped with exploding bolts of various damage types, too, which stack with any enchantments on the crossbow itself.
  • Zephyr is found in the Dwemer ruin Arkngthamz during the Dawnguard quest "Lost to the Ages".
  • The Nightingale Bow is found in the Inner Sanctum after you've defeated Arch-Curate Vythur in the Dawnguard quest "Touching the Sky".
  • Note that with bows, there is generally a tradeoff between rate of fire and damage, and the choice depends on your playstyle. For stealth characters, higher damage bows like the Dragonbone, Daedric, and Nightingale bows are preferred, as they give you a greater chance of taking characters out in one hit from stealth and remaining undetected. For archers who expect to get in the mix a little more, attack speed is preferred, with bows like Zephyr and Auriel's bow, to help you maximise the stagger effect of your Perks, and deal sustainied damage as quickly as possible in extended combat.
  • In the table, 'DPS' refers to the damage-per-second of the bow, taking into account both the bow's total speed to fully nock and fire and arrow, and it's base damage.
WeaponDamageWeightDPSUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow 22 21 N/A Dwarven Metal Ingot, Dwarven Smithing Ignores 50% of armor Yes
Dragonbone Bow 20 20 15 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Auriel's Bow* 13 11 13 Refined Moonstone, Elven Smithing 20 Sun Damage, tripled if target is Undead. Can use Sunhallowed and Bloodcursed Arrows No
Zephyr* 12 10 12 Dwarven Metal Ingot, Dwarven Smithing Fires 30% faster than a standard bow No
Daedric Bow 19 18 9.5 Ebony Ingot, Daedric Smithing None Yes
Nightingale Bow* 19 18 9.5 Ebony Ingot, N/A 30 Frost Damage, 15 Shock Damage No

The best Daggers in Skyrim

Daggers have the highest attack speed and lowest base damage of all weapons in Skyrim, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored. In fact, for all One-Handed skill users, they can be essential:

  • Dual-wielding means that the swing-speed of the fastest weapon is applied to both. So, for duel-wielders, equipping one of the below daggers like Mehrune's Razor, which has a tiny weight of just 3, will apply that same weight to a massive Daedric Mace when put in the other hand.
  • Blade of Woe is acquired from either pickpocketing or killing Astrid of the Dark Brotherhood, or completeing the Dark Brotherhood quest "With Friends like These". If you pickpocket it from her before completing that quest, you can in fact obtain two copies of the weapon.
  • Mehrunes Razor is a reward for completing the quest "Pieces of the Past", if you opt to kill Silus Vesuius.
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade with ingot, PerkEffectEnchantable
Dragonbone Dagger 12 6.5 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Blade of Woe* 12 7 Any, Steel Smithing Absorb 10 health No
Mehrune's Razor* 11 3 Ebony Ingot, N/A 1.98% chance to instantly kill, infinite charges No
Daedric Dagger 11 6 Ebony Ingot, Daedric Smithing None Yes
Stalhrim Dagger 10 4.5 Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing Frost Damage enchantments 25% stronger Yes

The best Swords in Skyrim

Swords are, as you'd expect, the most popular weapons in Skyrim thanks to their versatility and balance of both speed and damage. They're the fastest non-dagger one-handed weapons, but have lower damage than their mace and war axe counterparts.

  • Windshear, firstly, benefits from appears to be a bug, whereby every attack with it will stagger your opponent - even dragons - rendering them completely unable to attack or reatreat as long as you continue to strike them with the right timing. It is only possible to obtain during the Dark Brotherhood quest "Hail Sithis" on board The Katariah, where it's lodged, Excalibur-like, right at the very top of the ship's prow.
  • Miraak's Sword is obtained by killing Miraak in the Dragonborn quest "At the Summit of Apocrypha".
  • Chillrend can be found during the quest "The Pursuit", inside the tunnels under Riftweald Manor in Riften, and can also be obtained by breaking into Riftwead Manor and accessing the tunnels from inside, after doing a spot of roof-hopping to get inside. Chillrend is levelled, too, meaning you get the stats we've detailed below at level 46 and over.
  • Nightingale Blade is acquired as a reward for completing the Thieves Guild quest "Hard Answers", and is also levelled, with the maximum stats we detail below gained if you're at level 46 or above.
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Windshear* 11 10 Steel Ingot, Steel Smithing Staggers opponent with every hit; 39% chance to paralyze opponent with block-bash No
Miraak's Sword* 16 3 Ebony Ingot, Daedra Heart, Dwarven Smithing Absorb 15 Stamina No
Chillrend* 15 16 Refined Malachite, Glass Smithing 30 Frost Damage, Chance to paralyze for 2 seconds No
Dragonbone Sword 15 19 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Nightingale Blade* 14 15 Ebony Ingot, N/A Absorb 25 Health and Stamina No
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The best War Axes in Skyrim

There aren't too many exciting options for those who prefer to bear a one-handed axe in Skyrim, but there are still one or two things to note:

  • The Dawnguard Rune Axe is rated first because the 110 damage to undead can in fact be locked in by tempering the axe at a grindstone. It can also be improved with only the Steel Smithing Perk unlocked, making it an exceptional early-game choice. In certain situations, it's one of the best one-handed weapons you can get your hands on.
  • The Rune Axe is acquired by completing the Dawnguard quest "Lost Relic".
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Dawnguard Rune Axe* 11 13 Steel Ingot, Steel Smithing 10+n damage to undead, where n = number of undead killed since sunrise No
Dragonbone War Axe 16 21 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Ebony War Axe 15 17 Ebony Ingot, Ebony Smithing None Yes
Daedric War Axe 15 18 Ebony Ingot, Daedric Smithing None Yes
Stalhrim War Axe 15 16 Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing Frost Damage enchantments 25% stronger Yes

The best Maces in Skyrim

  • The Mace of Molag Bal is acquired from the Daedric quest "The House of Horrors".
  • Molag Bal is only 1 damage lower than Dragonbone Mace but is much lighter, meaning a higher overall DPS - but this can be overcome with strong enchantments to the Dragonbone Mace.
  • Same with Stalhrim, this time with the bonus enchantment damage making it a stronger choice overall.
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Mace of Molag Bal* 16 18 Ebony Ingot, N/A 25 Magicka and Stamina damage, Soul Trap for 3 seconds No
Stalhrim Mace 16 18 Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing Frost Damage enchantments 25% stronger Yes
Dragonbone Mace 17 24 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Ebony Mace 16 19 Ebony Ingot, Ebony Smithing None Yes
Daedric Mace 16 20 Ebony Ingot, Daedric Smithing None Yes

The best Greatswords in Skyrim

Greatswords operate as the fastest, but lowest base damage weapons of the two-handed class. There are few unique ones of note, although the Bloodskal Blade provides an intriguing option.

  • The Bloodska Blade is located next to Gratian Caerellius' corpse in Bloodskal Barrow, during the Dragonborn quest "The Final Descent".
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Stalhrim Greatsword 23 21 Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing Frost Damage enchantments 25% stronger Yes
Dragonbone Greatsword 25 27 Dragon Bone, Dragon Armor None Yes
Daedric Greatsword 24 23 Ebony Ingot, Ebony Smithing None Yes
Bloodskal Blade* 21 16 Silver Ingot, N/A Ranged blast of energy with power attacks that deals 30 damage No
Ebony Greatsword 22 22 Ebony Ingot, Ebony Smithing None Yes
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The best Battleaxes in Skyrim

The middle tier of heavy weapons, the battleaxe class also plays home to one of the best weapons in the game, Wuuthrad.

  • Wuuthrad is obtained during the Companions mission "Glory of the Dead" - note that you'll need to place it in the hands of a statue of Ysgramor during the quest, but can be immediately removed after doing so.
  • The HEadsman's Axe can be acquired from two people, Ahtar from Solitude, and the Imperial Headsman in the opening prisoner sequence. It can only be obtained from Ahtar, by their gaining him as a follwer and taking it from him for free, pickpocketing it from him, or killing him and looting his corpse.
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Wuuthrad*2525N/A1.2x Damage vs. Dark Elves, Wood Elves, High Elves, Falmer, and OrcsYes
Stalhrim Battleaxe2425Stalhrim, Ebony SmithingFrost Damage enchantments 25% strongerYes
Dragonbone Battleaxe2630Dragon Bone, Dragon ArmorNoneYes
Daedric Battleaxe2527Ebony Ingot, Daedric SmithingNoneYes
Headsman's Axe*1711UnupgradeableNoneYes

Want more help with Skyrim? Find out how to join every guild and faction, how to earn Gold fast, learning about XP and levelling to 100, max Crafting skills, max Warrior skills, max Thief skills and max Mage skills, how to get married, where to buy a house, how to start Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC expansions. If you're on PC, we have a list of console commands and cheats, and you can learn about the remastered version and how to install mods with our Skyrim guide. Finally, with Switch owners, we have Skyrim amiibo support explained to help unlock special Zelda-themed items.

The best Warhammers in Skyrim

The heaviest of heavy weapons, warhammers are the slowest to swing but deal the greatest amount of damage per hit.

  • Volendrung is one of the Daedric artifacts, obtained for completing the Daedric quest "The Cursed Tribe".
  • The Longhammer is acquired from the cave Liar's Retreat, southwest of Solitude. It's located next to the body of Rahd, it's former owner.
WeaponDamageWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
The Longhammer* 21 18 Orichalcum Ingot, Orcish Smithing Swings 30% faster than a regular warhammer Yes
Volendrung* 25 26 Ebony Ingot, N/A Absorb 50 Stamina No
Stalhrim Warhammer 26 29 Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing Frost Damage enchantments 25% stronger Yes
Dragonbone Warhammer 28 33 Dragon Bone, Dragon Smithing None Yes
Daedric Warhammer 27 31 Ebony Ingot, Daedric Smithing None Yes

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Chris Tapsell

Chris Tapsell

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Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Staff Writer, its newest Chris, and a keen explorer of the dark arts of gaming, from League of Legends to the murky world of competitive Pokémon.

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