Top 10 Best Bows in Skyrim

Best Bow in Skyrim

While one of the joys of Skyrim is the close-quarters smashing that comes with melee weapons, there are times when fighting at range is necessary. It’s not just effective, though. Sniping an enemy from 50 yards out and finishing him off with a satisfying slow-motion kill is one of the best things about Skyrim. Sure, you can use magic and crossbows at range as well. But for your friends at Nerds and Scoundrels, the bow takes the cake. Keep reading for our top ten takes on the best bow in Skyrim.

Best Bow in Skyrim – Our Criteria

There’s more to choosing the best bow in Skyrim than merely picking the one with the most damage. While that’s obviously a consideration, there are other factors that go into it. For the record, one factor that we don’t need to look at is range. Bows all have roughly the same range. They typically can’t hit enemies past 60 meters, although spent arrows can be recovered up to 100 meters away. Our list also doesn’t take into account skills, perks, arrows used. The criteria we have settled on includes:

Damage: This is the raw, base damage a single shot from a bow deals. While both matter, we tend to prefer higher single-shot damage that allows for one shot kills.

  • Weight: Weight matters as it affects how much you can carry as well as your bow’s rate of fire.
  • Rate of Fire: One reason raw damage isn’t the only consideration is rate of fire. You may be willing to trade some damage if you can get off multiple arrows faster.
  • Ease to obtain: While not our primary consideration, it’s worth knowing if a bow is hard to find.

10. Glass Bow

best bow in skyrimDamage: 15
Arrows per Second: 0.625

Just squeezing into our list is the Glass Bow.  With 15 points of raw damage, the Glass Bow fits just in the top half of all bows.  The Glass Bow also has a rate of fire that is pretty close to the median for bows in Skyrim. It is one of the easiest bows to come by on our list. They will begin to turn up in loot drops once you hit level 27. What’s more, you are able to craft them yourself once your Smithing skill hits 70.

9. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince

best bow in skyrimDamage:  16
Arrows per Second: 0.625
Required DLC: Dragonborn

The first unique weapon on our list; the Glass Bow of the Stag Prince is an enchanted glass bow. Easily found early on, the bow can be purchased at the Ramshackle Trading Post from Falas Selvayn. At times, Falas will have the bow equipped which makes it impossible to buy. If you’re in a pinch, you can try to pickpocket it from him. You can also slip him more valuable weapons which will cause him to unequip the bow. The bow has slightly better damage than a normal Glass Bow, but it is best known for the enchantment “Blessing of the Stag Prince.” The blessing gives you increasingly powerful health and stamina boosts for every 20 animals you kill with it.

8. Nightingale Bow

Nightingale BowDamage: 12-19
Arrows per Second: 0.50

The Nightingale Bow is a very interesting weapon. Unlike most bows, the Nightingale Bow does not have a set base damage. The base damage varies depending on your level at the time you acquire it. The bow won’t level with you, so it’s in your best interest to refrain from getting the Nightingale Bow until you reach level 46. At maximum power, the Nightingale Bow does some of the best DPS in the game.  Our ranking is contingent on maxing the bow out; lesser-powered versions of the bow don’t make our top ten despite an enchantment that freezes your target.

7. Ebony Bow

best bow in skyrimDamage: 17
Arrows per Second: 0.562

One of the better standard bows in the game, the Ebony Bow has better damage than most of the other options in the game. With a decent rate of fire, the Ebony Bow is a strong no-frills option that is relatively easy to obtain. You can obtain an Ebony Bow as random loot starting at level 36. You can also craft one yourself with a Smithing skill of 80. The most interesting thing about Ebony Bows is that there are a few ways you can obtain the bow at level 18. You have a small chance of coming across one randomly at blacksmiths, merchants, or wielded by DraugrDeathlords. However, there is one location that you are guaranteed to find one starting at level 18. In Lost Valkygg in Labyrinthian, you can find a DraugrDeathlord equipped with an Ebony Bow and 16-18 Ebony Arrows.

6. Daedric Bow

best bow in skyrimDamage: 19
Arrows per Second: 0.50

One of the better-looking bows in the game, the demon-inspired design is red and black with multiple spikes. The Daedric Bow offers the highest pure damage of any standard bow in the game. You will only come across these bows once you reach level 47. They can be found in chests and are at times dropped by dragons. You can also construct a Daedric Bow of your won with a Smithing level of 90.

5. Zephyr

best bow in skyrim

Damage: 12
Arrows per Second: 1.0
Required DLC: Dawnguard

If being quick on the draw is your style, the Zephyr is for you. The bow is naturally at the top range for rate of fire, but that doesn’t take into account the enchantment that buffs your rate of fire by 30%! The end result is the highest DPS bow in the game. It can only be found in the Dwemer Ruin of Arkngthamz during the quest “Lost to the Ages.” The rate of fire is great for pouring DPS on your targets, but don’t forget to pack plenty of arrows!

4. Auriel’s Bow

best bow in skyrim

Damage: 13
Arrows per Second: 1.0
Required DLC: Dawngaurd

With average damage and good rate of fire, the unique bow available through the Dawnguard expansion has better than average DPS. However, it some situations its enchantment can make Auriel’s Bow one of the strongest in the game. The bow does 20 additional points of sun damage, which triples against undead. That’s an incredible 60 enchantment damage against those irritating Draugr.

3. Dwarven Black Bow of Fate

best bow in skyrim

Damage: 13
Arrows per Second: 0.750
Required DLC: Dragonborn

The Dwarven Black Bow of Fate has fairly average statistics overall. The low damage is made up for somewhat by a decent rate of fire. But it’s the bow’s enchantment that really makes it stand out. Each hit with the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate gives you a 50% chance of draining health, stamina, and/or Magicka from your target. This is an excellent weapon in long fights and can help you drain difficult enemies quickly. The bow can be found in Kargumez, but only after you acquire all Kagrumez Resonance gems.

2. Firiniel’s End

best bow in skyrim

Damage: 13
Arrows per Second: 0.687

Like the last few bows reviewed, Firiniel’s End makes up fairly weak general stats with a powerful enchantment. The enchanted bow delivers 20 additional frost damage to Health and Stamina on every hit. This makes Firiniel’s End one of the best bows for taking down large foes. You can also acquire this bow without any DLC. You only need to complete the Dark Brotherhood quest “Bound Until Death” to acquire the bow.

1. Dragonbone Bow

best bow in skyrim

Damage: 20
Arrows per Second: 0.75
DLC Required: Dawnguard

The true One Hitter Quitter of Skyrim bows, the Dragonbone Bow is our favorite by far. With 20 base damage, it’s easy to kill a large variety of enemies with a single arrow. Although it is a standard bow, it can be harder to come by. It’s possible to craft a Dragonbone Bow with a Smithing skill of 100 and the Dragon Armor perk. Without making your own, your best bet for finding one is on a Keeper in the Soul Cairn.

Your friends at Nerds and Scoundrels hope we’ve helped you find the best bow in Skyrim. To get the full grasp of archery in Skyrim, check out our Top Ten Best Arrows in Skyrim as well. Agree to disagree on our ranking? Let us know in the comment section!

 

 

Travis Scoundrel

A life long gamer, Travis spends his time writing about and playing games when he's not suing people or hanging out with his family.

Travis Scoundrel
About Travis Scoundrel 348 Articles
A life long gamer, Travis spends his time writing about and playing games when he's not suing people or hanging out with his family.