Top 10 Best Ranged Weapons in Skyrim

By Justin Joy

Whether it be on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, PC, Amazon Alexa, or toaster, most gamers have played the legendary Skyrim in some form or another. Skyrim originally released on November 11th, 2011 successfully fulfilling gamer’s wishes around the world, and for many was their first dive into the Elder Scrolls franchise. My first foray into the Elder Scrolls franchise was Oblivion where I immediately fell in love with archery. Luckily Skyrim has improved archery and gave the player plenty of options when it comes to launching arrows from far away. But the single greatest perk of using a bow and arrow is being able to snipe an enemy in the face only to have them say “Must have been the wind.” An honorable mention for ranged combat is the diverse selection of spells Skyrim offers but for me I prefer to keep it simple with an old-fashioned bow.

10. Glass Bow

Top 10 Best Ranged Weapons in Skyrim - Glass Bow
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

The Glass Bow is not nearly as fragile as you may expect but rather packs quite a punch for the low-level archer. Even among bows, the Glass Bow is incredibly light which frees up your inventory for all the glorious loot you will find. The Glass Bows deals 15 base damage and is capable of more when using better arrows. It can be found throughout the world once you have reached certain levels with increasing frequency the higher your level is. It can also be crafted once you have your crafting skill at level 70 and the Glass Smithing perk unlocked. In order to craft this bow, you will need 1 refined Moonstone and 2 refined Malachite.

9. Nightingale Bow

Top 10 Best Ranged Weapons in Skyrim - Nightingale Bow
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

Complete your edgelord look with this dark and twisted-looking bow. The Nightingale Bow is a reward for completing the Thieves Guild quest “Blindsighted” and has a base damage of 19. Like most unique items this bow’s effectiveness will increase the higher your level is so it pays to be patient and acquire this bow after you have done some serious adventuring. It will cap at level 46 and comes enchanted with a powerful freezing effect as well as dealing shock damage. The Nightingale Bow can be upgraded with ebony ingots after acquiring the Arcane Blacksmith perk however it does not benefit from any smithing perks.

8. Dwarven Black Bow of Fate

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

The mystery of the Dwemer, also known as the Dwarves, has long plagued the history of Elder Scrolls with only the ruins and tools that the Dwemer left behind being clues. One such tool is the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate. In order to get your hands on this gem of a bow, you will need to make your way into the ruins of Kagrumez and through the gates which can only be opened by collecting all of the Resonance Gems. The Dwarven Black Bow does a base damage of 13 but has an enchanted effect that really makes using this bow worthwhile. Each shot has a 50% chance to absorb health, magicka, and stamina. This absorption effect also can be applied to just 1 of these effects or all of them at a 50% chance as well which can keep your resources full during intense fights.

7. Ebony Bow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

We are getting dark with the Ebony Bow which has a pretty high base damage of 17. You can find the ebony bow as random loot throughout the world as well as fixed spawns in Lost Valkygg and even purchasable from Falas Selvayn at level 1. For the DIY player, the Ebony Bow is also craftable with 3 ebony ingots and the Ebony Smithing perk. The Ebony Bow’s DPS is lower than that of the Glass Bow but if you are the sneaking type the high damage is great for sneak attacks plus it is all black making it the perfect camouflage bow.

6. Glass Bow of The Stag Prince

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

We are making a return trip to the glass bow but only with some upgrades. The Glass Bow of the Stag Prince is a unique glass bow that sports a pretty cool enchantment. For every 20 animals that are killed with this bow, you will be rewarded with 5 extra health and stamina up to a maximum of 25 while the bow is equipped. In order to get the Glass Bow of the Stag Prince, you must find Falas Selvayn at the Ramshackle Trading Post. Once you find him you are able to purchase the bow from his inventory unless he currently has it equipped. Should he have it equipped, you can pickpocket the bow from him or acquire it through other nefarious means. Overall, this is an excellent bow for low-level archers that could use an extra boost to their stats.

5. Firiniel’s End

Top 10 Best Ranged Weapons in Skyrim - Firiniels End
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

Firiniel’s End is a unique Elven bow that can only be found during the Dark Brotherhood quest “Bound Until Death.” It is resting on a platform along with some arrows and an archery potion and can be picked up at any time during or after the quest. While its base damage is a rather low 13, it more than makes up for this with its enchantment. Each shot from Firiniel’s End deals 20 frost damage to both health and stamina which allows you to not only deal damage to your target but also whittle them down. It can be upgraded with refined moonstone and gains an additional benefit from the Elven Smithing perk.

4. Zephyr

Top 10 Best Ranged Weapons in Skyrim - Zephyr
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

One of the main selling points of using Zephyr is how easy it is to acquire this unique Dwarven bow. During the “Lost to the Ages” quest, the player will encounter the ghost of Katria who fell to her death after setting off an earthquake in the Dwarven ruins of Arkngthamz. She will point out her bow at the end of a log overlooking a chasm and all the player has to do is carefully walk out and grab it. Zephyr has a base damage of 12 but has been enchanted to fire 30% faster than a normal bow. This really ups its damage per second and allows you to fire arrows at an incredible rate. It actually possesses the highest DPS of any other bow in the game so is always a viable option for archers of any level.

3. Daedric Bow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

The Daedric Bow is the closest Skyrim allows you to get to playing as a demonic archer. Being a standard not unique bow, there are multiple ways of acquiring the Daedric Bow. The most straightforward method is to craft it using 1 Daedra heart and 3 ebony ingots after getting the Daedric Smithing perk. Other methods include finding it randomly, purchasing it from merchants, or heading to specific locations in the world where it spawns. However, when you get your hands on this dark beauty you will be quite pleased with its high base damage of 19 making it one of the harder-hitting bows in the game. The only negatives to the Daedric Bow are its rather low DPS and heavyweight but some sacrifices need to be made for raw power.

2. Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

As the only weapon on the list that isn’t a bow, the Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow has to be pretty special to not only make it on this list but also hold the number 2 spot. Boasting an incredible base damage of 22 the Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow also has an innate effect that allows it to ignore 50% of an enemy’s armor. These two things let this crossbow simply chew through enemies especially those that think a fancy suit of armor will keep them safe. In order to get the Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow, you will need to make your way to Fort Dawnguard and speak to Sorine Jurand. You will first need to complete the last of the six “Ancient Technology” quests, doing so will allow you to purchase this weapon as well as acquire the schematics to craft it.

1. Dragonbone Bow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (© Bethesda Softworks)

As the Dragonborn, it is only fitting that the best bow you can get your hands on is the Dragonbone Bow because what’s better than making a weapon out of the bones of your enemies, right? The Dragonbone Bow sports the highest base damage of any bow in the game that you can acquire without console commands sitting at a whopping 20. It is also one of the heaviest bows in the game as well. To acquire the Dragonbone Bow you will need 2 dragon bones, 1 ebony ingot, and the Dragon Armor smithing perk. A Dragonbone Bow can also be looted from one of the Keepers of the Soul Cairn once the Dragonborn has reached level 45. With the right set of enchantments combined with this bows high damage you will be nigh unstoppable and the best archer in all the land.

Conclusion

If ranged combat isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other options in the form of one-handed weapons and two-handed weapons. One of the benefits of using one-handed weapons is you can also carry a shield to hide behind when something ugly tries to tear you apart. Should you decide to equip a war axe and shield while playing as a Nord you can create a terrifying Viking-like character that will fit in perfectly in Skyrim. But there is something deeply satisfying about wielding a giant Warhammer and simply caving in your enemy’s skulls. Regardless of your preferred playstyle Skyrim offers a huge selection of roleplaying options and methods to take out your enemies.