Dagger 5E: More Useful Than You Think?

There are plenty of weapons to choose from in the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. From crossbows to longswords, your character can deal damage in many different ways. While the dagger is often an overlooked option, it is a nice fit in a variety of character builds. Despite the low damage, it has useful properties that give you options for offhand and ranged attacks. Dive into the subject with our Dagger 5E Guide.

Dagger 5E Guide

dagger 5e
(melee weapon, simple)
Damage Type: Piercing
Damage: 1d4
Item Rarity: Standard
Properties: Finesse, light, thrown
Range: 20/60
Weight: 1

The first thing that jumps out at you about the dagger is the damage: it is low. In fact, it deals less damage than virtually every other weapon in 5E outside of blow darts. On its own, a dagger isn’t going to shred enemies at a lightning pace.

The real strength of the dagger is that it has three different properties This is more properties than any other weapon in 5th Edition D&D. This combination of properties makes the dagger useful in many situations and usable by virtually every character type.


Light. A light weapon is small and easy to handle, making it ideal for use when fighting with two weapons.

The dagger has the light property, which means you are able to dual-wield one with another light weapon without needing to take a feat to do so. In D&D 5e, dual wielding weapons is possible for any character, but using weapons that do not have the “light” property requires the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. This feat allows you to make an additional attack with your off-hand weapon as a bonus action on your turn. However, this attack cannot benefit from your Strength or Dexterity modifier for attack or damage rolls. Dual wielding daggers, or wielding a dagger with another light weapon, allows you to use the Two-Weapon Fighting style without needing to invest in the feat. A single d4 or damage without any modifier isn’t a lot of a damage, but it is potentially more damage than you would have dealt otherwise. It is also another opportunity to connect with a divine smite or sneak attack.


Finesse. When making an attack with a finesse weapon, you use your choice of your Strength or Dexterity modifier for the attack and damage rolls. You must use the same modifier for both rolls.

The finesse property allows you to use either your Dexterity or Strength bonus when making attack rolls. Characters who rely on Dexterity can be very powerful, especially because some weapons, like the dagger, allow you to use your Dexterity modifier for attack and damage rolls instead of your Strength modifier. This can be especially beneficial if you have a high Dexterity score, as it is also used to calculate your AC and initiative bonus, as well as being the ability modifier for certain skills and saving throws. Finesse weapons like the dagger allow you to increase your attack and damage potential without sacrificing too much in other areas.


Thrown. If a weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon to make a ranged attack. If the weapon is a melee weapon, you use the same ability modifier for that attack roll and damage roll that you would use for a melee attack with the weapon. For example, if you throw a handaxe, you use your Strength, but if you throw a dagger, you can use either your Strength or your Dexterity, since the dagger has the finesse property.

The thrown property allows you to throw a dagger at a target within a certain range, typically 20 feet or 60 feet with disadvantage. While you can technically throw any object as a ranged weapon, using a melee weapon without the “ranged” property carries penalties. You will not be able to use your proficiency bonus when attacking with an improvised weapon, and melee weapons used as thrown weapons will only do 1d4 points of damage and have the same range increment as daggers. It is generally more effective to use a dagger, which is designed as a ranged weapon and which all classes are proficient with, rather than using an improvised weapon or throwing a melee weapon without the ranged property.

How Much Damage Does a Dagger Do in 5E?

As a baseline, a dagger only deals 1d4 damage. However, the different properties of this simple weapon provide more than one way for you to stack additional damage in a turn when you otherwise would not be able to. Some of the ways you could increase your damage include:

  • Backup ranged attacks. If your character doesn’t have any other ranged attacks or magic available, a thrown dagger could be your only option for making a ranged attack.
  • Hidden weapons. Daggers are small – small enough to smuggle in many cases. It could be possible to sneak a dagger into a situation where your weapons are otherwise out of reach.
  • Offhand attacks. The dagger is a light weapon, which means you can use it to make an offhand attack. This is additional damage beyond what you would otherwise deal.

Dagger 5E FAQ

Are Daggers Useful in 5E?

Daggers are very useful in 5E. They might not deal the most damage, but they are arguably the most versatile weapon in the game. Anyone can use a dagger, and each character can apply their choice of Strength or Dexterity modifier to the weapon. It is also a thrown weapon, which allows you to attack from range. Daggers are not tools, but they are useful in a wide range of situations. You could cut rope, carve wood, or potentially pick a lock (at disadvantage) if your DM allows.

Can You use 2 Daggers in 5E?

Any character can use 2 daggers at once in 5E. This is due to the two-weapon fighting rules. Daggers are light weapons, which means you can dual-wield them without the need of an additional feat. When dual-wielding, the second dagger attack does not add an ability bonus to the damage roll.

What is the Point of Daggers in 5E?

In 5th edition, all characters are proficient in the use of daggers as a weapon, which deals 1d4. Additionally, all characters are proficient in unarmed strikes, although these attacks do not cause much damage unless the character is a Monk. These weapons are cheap, useful, and available to everyone.

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