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21 Best Weapons In Skyrim, Ranked By How Powerful They Are

"The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim" has delighted fans for more than a decade. While the main story isn't all that long, players can easily pour a significant amount of time into exploring the expansive map and finishing all the side quests. Diehard fans have spent thousands of hours in the title, and there are still details they don't know about "Skyrim."


Part of what makes "Skyrim" so compelling is its replayability. Players can install mods that completely change the game and invite new approaches, but even the base experience offers countless reasons to take a second or third pass. For example, different builds prioritize specific weapons and allow players to smash their enemies in exciting new ways.

Whether you're planning your first "Skyrim" run or you're a veteran who thinks they've seen it all, take a look at the most powerful weapons in the game before venturing into the wilderness and making your mark as the Dragonborn.

21. Mehrunes' Razor

Mehrunes' Razor is an incredibly fun, albeit inconsistent, weapon to wield. The small dagger only does 11 base damage, but no one is using the Razor for its damage output. The weapon once belonged to the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, and he imbued it with the power to kill any foe with one hit – slightly less than 2% of the time. That roughly 51 swings per instant kill rate isn't enough to make Mehrunes' Razor the most powerful weapon in "Skyrim," but it's nothing to sneeze at either.


Mehrunes Dagon himself gives the dagger to the Dragonborn, as long as they're willing to take out museum owner Silus Vesuius, who has a particular interest in Daedric history. Silus recruits the Dragonborn for the quest "Pieces of the Past," and together they reassemble the Razor. Murder might be a high cost, but considering how satisfying it is to kill formidable enemies with a single swing, most players won't think twice about making the trade off.

20. Dragonbane

As its name implies, Dragonbane is a niche use weapon, but when it comes to taking down the largest enemies in "Skyrim," there's no better choice than the one-handed sword. Dragonbane scales with the player's level, so it might be best to wait until level 46 or higher to bother obtaining it. In its strongest form, Dragonbane does 14 base damage, 10 shock damage to all non-dragon enemies, and a stunning 40 points of bonus damage to dragons. Get ready to watch those dragon health bars melt away.


Dragonbane is tied to one of the main quests in the game. During the course of "Alduin's Wall," players will gain access to a room that houses not only Dragonbane but also a set of heavy Blades Armor. Without the right specialization, the armor might not be all that useful, but there's a reason for almost every character to hold on to Dragonbane.

19. Sanguine Rose

The Sanguine Rose isn't exactly a weapon, but it's absolutely one of the most powerful combat items in the game. To get it, the Dragonborn needs to finish the quest "A Night to Remember," where a man named Sam Guevenne offers the staff to anyone who can beat him in a drinking contest. After the Dragonborn blacks out, Sam takes off with the staff, and it takes a little work to track him down. At that point, Sam reveals himself to be Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of debauchery, and gives the Dragonborn the staff.


For many players, the Sanguine Rose is even better than a normal weapon. When used, it casts a conjuration spell that summons a level-matched Dremora to fight on the player's behalf. Fighting alongside the Dremora makes many encounters breeze by, but sometimes that's not even necessary. It's easy enough to use the Rose, then sit back and watch the Dremora do all the work on its own.

18. Dawnbreaker

Daedric weapons are among the most powerful items in all of "Skyrim," so it's no surprise that they take up a handful of slots on this list. Dawnbreaker is another Daedric weapon associated with the Daedric Prince Meridia, whose powers have to do with the energy of living beings. By paying a visit to her statue, players can begin the quest "The Break of Dawn," which awards Dawnbreaker upon completion.


As far as base damage, Dawnbreaker isn't exactly a jaw-dropper. On its own, the one-handed sword does 12 damage, but its abilities make it so much stronger. Dawnbreaker burns anyone it strikes for an additional 10 damage, meaning the Dragonborn can dish out 22 damage per swing without even upgrading the weapon. The blade is even better when fighting the undead because it has a chance to cause defeated undead enemies to explode. Because of how early players can gain access to Dawnbreaker, it's one of the game's most reliable weapons.

17. Wuuthrad

According to a fan-made DPS chart, Wuuthrad has the sixth-highest base damage per second in "Skyrim." Two-handed weapons are already some of the heaviest hitters, but at 25 damage, Wuuthrad really is the kind of weapon that should send most enemies fleeing in terror. Elves in particular should beware of any Dragoborn wielding this battleaxe. There's a screaming elf built into the design because Wuuthrad deals 20% extra damage to elves. That ability is inherent, not enchanted, so Dragonborn are also free to use other means to make the weapon even stronger.


Wuuthrad has a big role to play in the quest "Glory of the Dead." During the mission, players collect pieces of the axe and have Eorlund Gray-Mane re-forge it. Then they use Wuuthrad to gain access to Ysgramor's Tomb, but after opening the secret passage, Wuuthrad can be picked back up and carried along for the rest of the "Skyrim" journey.

16. The Ebony Blade

Another Daedric weapon, the Ebony Blade can become one of the most powerful options in "Skyrim." Getting the Blade, however, will take some heavy lifting, and raising it to its maximum strength will require more than a few sacrifices.


The first step to obtaining the Ebony Blade is to finish "Dragon Rising," which shouldn't be too difficult because it's part of the main questline. After that, players need to ask around at The Bannered Mare until they get the objective "Ask about Balgruuf's strange children." Following that instruction will unlock the side quest "The Whispering Door," which ends with the Ebony Blade in the Dragonborn's hands.

At base strength, the Ebony Blade does 11 damage, plus 10 points of Absorb Health. That Absorb Health effect can be leveled all the way up to 30 points, but only by using the Blade to kill trusted allies. Players will need to kill up to ten companions or quest-giver's whose questlines have been completed, but then they'll have a weapon worthy of the Daedric Prince Mephala.


15. Miraak's Sword

Miraak's Sword is one of the best DLC weapons in "Skyrim," and that's fitting considering it acts as one of the final quest rewards for the "Dragonborn" expansion. Completing the quest "At the Summit of Apocrypha" involves squaring off against Miraak, the first Dragonborn. After defeating him, players can loot his staff, clothing, and the sword off of his corpse.


Unlike the Ebony Blade, Miraak's Sword comes with a built-in enchantment that will need to be recharged from time to time, but that doesn't make this powerful weapon any worse in the long run. The sword scales to the player's level, but as long as it's obtained by a level 60 or higher, Miraak's Sword does 16 damage plus 15 points of Absorb Stamina. The enchantment can be fully recharged with a petty soul gem, so keeping Miraak's Sword at full power should be pretty easy. On top of being a powerful weapon, it also has one of the coolest animations in the entire game.

14. Blade of Woe

Any fan of the Dark Brotherhood will be familiar with the Blade of Woe. This one-handed dagger belongs to Astrid, who leads the Brotherhood in Skyrim, and it's quietly one of the best weapons in the game. The Blade does 12 base damage, plus another 10 points of Absorb Health. That's 22 damage per swing, and using it to cut down enemies refills the Dragonborn's own health bar.


Unlike many of the other weapons on this list, there are actually a few different ways to go about getting your hands on the Blade of Woe. The one that most players will opt for is completing the quest "Death Incarnate," which is part of the Dark Brotherhood plotline. It's also possible to steal the Blade from Astrid, either by killing her in the Abandoned Shack (which dramatically changes the progression of the Dark Brotherhood plot) or by pickpocketing it from her.

13. Staff of Magnus

Most of the big bad weapons in "Skyrim" are going to be used by characters who prefer to get up close and personal with their enemies, but the Staff of Magnus is perfect for casters who like to keep some distance between themselves and the people or creatures they're fighting. Getting the Staff of Magnus is a pretty straightforward task that just involves completing the quest "The Staff of Magnus." In order to unlock the quest, however, players will need to join the College of Winterhold and progress through six other side quests.


When it comes to damage, the Staff of Magnus isn't messing around. By default, the Staff absorbs 20 points of Magicka per second. As soon as the opponent is completely drained, the Staff begins absorbing their health at the exact same rate. Disabling magic-wielding enemies before outright killing them is a tantalizing proposition, but there is a slight catch. The Staff only has enough charge for 17 uses and keeping it fully charged isn't easy. That said, for anyone with enough soul gems on hand, the Staff of Magnus is an obvious choice.

12. Nightingale Bow

It's about time a bow made the list. The Nightingale Bow is an attractive option for any Dragonborn who dreams of playing through "Skyrim" like an elite sniper. The weapon scales with the player's level, so it's best to wait until level 46 or higher to obtain it. At that point, the Nightingale Bow does an unbelievable amount of damage. Every shot will hit for 19 base damage, plus 30 frost damage and 15 shock damage thanks to the Nightingale Storm enchantment.


So, you want this bow in your inventory, but how do you get your hands on it? The Bow belongs to Karliah, a member of the Thieves Guild, but luckily she's willing to part ways with it. However, first players will need to progress through almost the entire Thieves Guild plotline. After completing "Blindsighted," the second-to-last quest in the story, Karliah will simply hand the Nightingale Bow over.

11. Zephyr

In the battle of bows, Zephyr beats the Nightingale Bow by just a hair. Though it does only 12 damage, Zephyr fires arrows 30% faster than other bows, and that innate enchantment will never run out of charges. Also, because Zephyr doesn't level scale, players can snag it early in the game and still get the full benefits of using it. Some fans argue that the weapon is overrated when compared to something like Auriel's Bow, but when it comes to early game sniping, Zephyr just can't be beat.


Players can get Zephyr during the events of the quest "Lost to the Ages," which is part of the Dawnguard DLC. If they happen to read "The Aetherium Wars," a map marker for the Dwemer ruins Arkngthamz will appear, but stumbling on the ruins organically will also begin the quest. The ghost of the Nord woman Katria will travel with the Dragonborn through the ruins, eventually pointing out where her lost bow now sits.

10. Champion's Cudgel

The Champion's Cudgel is another notable weapon from the "Dragonborn" DLC. Perfect for any Dragonborn who wants to smash their enemies to bits, the Champion's Cudgel is a massive two-handed warhammer that deals 24 damage per hit. That's already an eyebrow-raising number, but the Cudgel is also loaded with an intense enchantment that deals 25 points of chaos damage. With every swing there's a 50% chance of dealing 25 points of fire, frost, and shock damage, and sometimes all three types will be dealt. In a best case scenario, the Cudgel can dish out 99 damage in a single hit.


During the quest "March of the Dead," players will be tasked with putting an end to whoever is using ash spawn to attack Raven Rock. With a little bit of searching, players will eventually find General Falx Carius, and after an intense battle they can pick up the Champion's Cudgel from his corpse. Whereas most unique weapons can't be disenchanted, the Champion's Cudgel actually can be, but many have pointed out that the chaos enchantment can be learned from other weapons, so it's best to save the Cudgel.

9. The Rueful Axe

Power rankings should go out the window when there's a weapon that lets you hang out with a talking dog. The Rueful Axe is obtained during the events of the quest "A Daedra's Best Friend," where the Dragonborn is tasked with helping the talking pup Barbas reunite with his master, who just so happens to be Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains. Along the way, players will pick up the Rueful Axe, but completing the quest will force them to choose between giving it up and killing Barbas. Maybe some quests were never meant to be finished.


The quest and lore associated with the Rueful Axe are phenomenal, but the two-handed weapon is also astoundingly powerful. What's better than chopping enemies to bits while also draining their ability to do anything at all? The Rueful Axe deals 22 damage and an additional 20 points of Stamina damage. There aren't many foes who will be able to keep up with that.

8. Drainblood Battleaxe

The Drainblood Battleaxe isn't necessarily tied to a quest, and it doesn't have a particularly compelling backstory, but it is one of the strongest two-handed weapons in "Skyrim." It's wielded by the ghostly Draugr who wander the halls of the Labyrinthian ruins that are featured in the College of Winterhold quest "The Staff of Magnus." Players will be killing more than a handful of Draugr during the mission, so obtaining a Drainblood Battleaxe shouldn't be all that difficult.


Luckily, the reward vastly outpaces the difficulty in this case. The Drainblood Battleaxe does 21 damage and it absorbs 15 points of health with every hit. There are quite a few enemies who will find themselves immediately outmatched by the weapon, especially in the earlier parts of the game. The only downside is that the Drainblood Battleaxe can't be upgraded, but it punches so far above its weight class that by the time it stops being useful there will be plenty of other incredible weapons on offer.

7. The Pale Blade

Players will likely discover the Pale Blade during the course of the quest "The Pale Lady." The quest begins with players finding Frostmere Crypt, where bandits have seemingly taken up residence. Ra'jirr is a member of the group, but he's stolen one of their swords, intending on using it to banish a mysterious figure known as the Pale Lady deeper in the crypt. Either at the hands of the Pale Lady or the player, Ra'jirr dies, and the Pale Blade can be looted from his corpse.


Though level scaling means it won't do the same amount of damage for every player, the Pale Blade is easily one of the best one-handed weapons in "Skyrim." It reaches maximum strength if it's picked up by a character at level 27 or higher. At that point, the Pale Blade does 11 base damage plus 25 points of frost damage and an astounding 50 points of Stamina damage. As an added bonus, striking with it will also cause enemies level 16 or lower to flee for thirty seconds, and the Blade can be upgraded with blacksmithing.

6. Grimsever

Grimsever is a glass one-handed sword that is fantastic for dealing damage and draining stamina simultaneously. The sword has a base damage of 12 and on top of that it deals 15 points of frost damage to both health and stamina with each swing. The sword gets even better if it's upgraded at a blacksmith and doubly so if the player has the Glass Smithing perk. It's not the flashiest weapon in the game, but it's hard to argue with that kind of damage output.


The process of obtaining (and getting to keep) Grimsever is a little more convoluted than most other weapons, but that shouldn't deter you from going after it. The weapon is part of the "Grimsever's Return" quest, and it can be picked up at the Mzinchaleft Gatehouse either before or during the mission. "Grimsever's Return" can only be completed by delivering the sword to Mjoll in Riften, but at that point she offers to become the Dragonborn's follower, allowing the player to take the sword back from her inventory.

5. Gauldur Blackblade

Having to wait to get the most out of level scaling weapons tests the patience of any gamer, but the maximum strength Gauldur Blackblade is absolutely worth the wait. If it's obtained by a player level 36 or higher, the Gauldur Blackblade can deal 11 damage and absorb 25 health with every hit. That amount of health absorption is extremely valuable, and any player with a free hand will want to equip the sword.


The Gauldur Blackblade will likely be obtained during the events of the quest "Forbidden Legend." The mission sends the Dragonborn all over the map to obtain pieces of the Gauldur Amulet. The quest begins whenever the book "Lost Legends" is read. The amulet itself is split into three pieces in separate locations, but players should save their visit to Folgunthur until they're a higher level if they want the best version of the sword. While exploring the ruin, the Dragonborn will face off against the Draugr Mikrul Gauldurson, and on its corpse will be the Gauldur Blackblade.

4. Stormfang

Stormfang is a monster of a weapon from the "Dragonborn" DLC that hides behind the appearance of a standard two-handed greatsword. Enemies might not recognize the sword by its look, but they'll certainly notice its swing. Stormfang hits for 17 base damage, plus an additional 30 points of shock damage and 15 points of Magicka damage. Stormfang can also be improved, massively increasing its base damage. That's why some fans consider it the strongest two-handed weapon in the game.


Anyone hoping to pick up this formidable weapon will need to take a trip to Brodir Grove. The location is populated by enemies called Reaver Lords, which under normal circumstances aren't all that intimidating. However, one particular Reaver Lord in the Grove managed to get his hands on Stormfang, and it'll take a brutal battle to defeat him and claim the weapon as your own.

3. Nightingale Blade

Nightingale Bow is one of the best options for players who want to strike from a distance, but in terms of pure damage output, it pales in comparison to Nightingale Blade. Like the bow, this sword level scales, and the best version of it becomes available at level 46. The blade deals 14 damage, and its Nightingale's Talon enchantment deals an additional 25 points of damage to both health and stamina. Especially after being fully upgraded, Nightingale Blade can slay any enemy with ease.


Like its ranged counterpart, Nightingale Blade becomes available through the Thieves Guild. After completing the quest "Hard Answers," Kaliah will award the blade, which once belonged to a previous guildmaster. For thieves, a sword has to be a last resort, but no matter what kind of trouble a thief gets themselves into, Nightingale Blade isn't going to have any trouble getting them out of it.

2. Chillrend

Chillrend is a leveled sword that frequently lands near the top of fan rankings for "Skyrim" weapons. Taking a closer look at the sword, it's easy to see why so many people love it. Chillrend is at its strongest when it's obtained at level 46 or higher, and at that point it's likely to replace most other one-handed weapons in your build. The blade deals 15 base damage, which can be upgraded, and then it throws out an additional 30 points of frost damage and has a chance to paralyze the enemy for 2 seconds. Slash 'em, freeze 'em, and send 'em on their way.


Chillrend can be found in Riften, specifically in the tunnels beneath Riftweald Manor. Luckily for Thieves Guild members, the quest "The Pursuit" basically leads right to the sword. Not everyone feels like joining the guild, so players have come up with their own systems for obtaining the weapon without the quest and possibly unlocking it earlier in their playthrough. Of course, Chillrend is weaker when it's obtained at earlier levels, so in this case, patience is key.

1. Auriel's Bow

It's nearly impossible to name one weapon as the best in all of "Skyrim." Depending on character builds, enchantments, upgrades, and combat situations, the true power ranking of any weapon is going to change. However, Auriel's Bow makes the most compelling case for being the single best weapon in the game. The bow is part of the "Dawnguard" DLC, and anyone who plays all the way through the story will pick it up. "Touching the Sky" is the second-to-last quest in the expansion, and the reward for completing it is Auriel's Bow. If your character isn't already a worthy ranger by the time you get the bow, putting in the work to become one is worth considering. 


Auriel's Bow fires faster than any other in the game, and enemies struck by it take 20 points of sun damage. The Bow also has a base damage of 13, which is low enough to disappoint some fans, but others pointed out that its other abilities and faster firing speed give it an incredible overall DPS. Auriel's Bow also triples its damage against any undead enemies. With a combination of the right perks, upgrades, and arrows, Auriel's Bow can deal mind blowing amounts of damage, and you can destroy your enemies without ever getting close enough for them to hit you back.