What is the Best Bow in Skyrim? Skyrim Bows Guide

There’s nothing quite like sneaking around and taking out an enemy with a bow. It’s incredibly satisfying watching a long distance kill cam of your arrow soaring through the air through obstacles to the head, heart or crotch (hey no judgements here) of your targets.

So you want to know what the best bow in Skyrim is. To answer that question there’s a few things to consider.

Firstly, there’s the base damage. Dragonbone is the strongest bow and Long Bow is the weakest. Nearly all bows can be improved using a grindstone. Your smithing skill and associated perks will determine the extent of the improvements.

There’s also enchantments which can increase the effectiveness of a bow. Some bows come with enchantments but you can also enchant them yourself. Personally I like to dual enchant my bow with fire and shock. Feel the burn baby.

The other major consideration with bows is their weight. Heavier bows will take longer to fire but also have more draw so cause more damage. The key to a great bow is balancing the damage with the fire rate. The fastest bows in the game are Auriel’s Bow, Zephyr and Froki’s Bow but that doesn’t necessarily make them the best.

Damage per second or (DPS) is the best way of determining the best bow. That’s how much damage you can inflict based on damage and fire rate. For that the Dragonbone Bow comes out on top. Read on for our top Skyrim bows lists and click on each one to see more details.

Top 10 Most Powerful Bows in Skyrim

These are the strongest bows in Skyrim and ranked based on damage stats alone:

  1. Dragonbone Bow
  2. Daedric Bow
  3. Nightingale Bow
  4. Stalhrim Bow
  5. Ebony Bow
  6. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince
  7. Glass Bow
  8. Gauldur Blackbow
  9. Drainspell Bow
  10. Nordic Bow

Top 10 Quickest Bows in Skyrim

These are the fastest bows in Skyrim and are ranked based on number of arrows that can be fired per second:

  1. Auriel’s Bow
  2. Zephyr
  3. Froki’s Bow
  4. Long Bow
  5. Bow of the Hunt
  6. Angi’s Bow
  7. Dravin’s Bow
  8. Hunting Bow
  9. Gauldur Blackbow
  10. Drainspell Bow

Top 10 Best Bows in Skyrim

To work out what the best bow in Skyrim is you have to take into consideration the weight of the bow, its power and speed. This is all worked out by calculating the DPS (damage per second). Here are the best bows in Skyrim ranked:

  1. Dragonbone Bow
  2. Auriel’s Bow
  3. Drainspell Bow
  4. Gauldur Blackbow
  5. Supple Ancient Nord Bow
  6. Falmer Supple Bow
  7. Zephyr Bow
  8. Daedric Bow
  9. Nightingale Bow
  10. Glass Bow of the Stag

Skyrim Bows Guide

Below are all of the bows that made our top 10 lists and details of where to find them.

Dragonbone Bow

Base Damage: 20

Weight: 20

Base Value: 2725

My absolute favourite bow in Skyrim! Let’s be honest anything made from the bones of fallen dragons is going to be awesome and this bow just looks cool. There are two ways to get your hands on a Dragonbone Bow. If you’re in the Soul Cairn, one of the keepers uses this bow along with Dragonbone Arrows. You can also craft your own Dragonbone Bow but will need a Smithing level of 100 and have the Dragon Armour perk. You’ll need two Dragon Bones and one Ebony Ingot.

Daedric Bow

Base Damage: 19

Weight: 18

Base Value: 2500

Probably the most badass looking bow in Skyrim with its demon looking features, the Daedric can be randomly found from level 46 onwards or dropped by Revered or Legendary Dragons. Forging a Daedric bow will require a Smithing level of 90 and the Daedric Smithing perk along with one Daedra Heart and three Ebony Ingots.

Nightingale Bow

Base Damage: 19

Weight: 18

Base Value: 3405

A unique bow in Skyrim and it is obtained during the Thieves Guild questline, the bow is levelled which means it becomes stronger as you level up. The only way to get the bow is after completing the Thieves Guild quest “Blindsighted”. It comes with an enchantment that causes Frost and Shock damage.

Stalhrim Bow

Base Damage: 17

Weight: 15

Base Value: 1800

The Stalhrim bow can be found  randomly in chests and is also sold by Glover Mallory (Raven Rock) and Baldor Iron-Shaper (Skaal Village). Smithing a Stalhrim Bow requires a Smithing level of 80, the Ebony Smithing perk and the completion of the “ A New Source of Stalhrim”. A great perk is that Frost damage enchantments are 25% stronger when placed on Stalhrim items.

Ebony Bow

Base Damage: 17

Weight: 16

Base Value: 1440

The Ebony Bow will start appearing from level 36. If you’re lucky you can find one from level 18 on Draugr Deathlords or Draugr Death Overlords. The Ebony Bow can be crafted and requires Smithing Level 80 and the Ebony Smithing Perk.

Glass Bow of the Stag Prince

Base Damage: 16

Weight: 14

Base Value: 375

As the name suggests it is a unique Glass Bow that can be obtained from Falas Selvayn at the Ramshackle Trading Post on Solstheim. For every 20 animals killed with this bow you’ll be granted with a blessing of additional health and stamina.

Glass Bow

Base Damage: 15

Weight: 14

Base Value: 820

Glass Bows can be found around Skyrim from level 27. No special locations for the Glass Bow but can be found on bosses, chests, blacksmiths and merchants. The Glass Bow requires a Smithing Level of 70 and the Glass Smithing perk. You will also need one Refined Moonstone and two Refined Malachite.

Gauldur Blackbow

Base Damage: 14

Weight: 18

Base Value: 927

This bow comes with the Absorb Magicka enchantment and can be obtained from Sigdis Gauldurson in Geirmund’s Hall during the quest “Forbidden Legend.”

Drainspell Bow

Base Damage: 14

Weight: 6

Base Value: 277

The Drainspell Bow can only be obtained in Labyrinthian during “The Staff of Magnus” quest. The bow is a ghost weapon used by special variations of Draugr. The bow is enchanted with Absorb Magicka but it is a relatively weak all things considered.

Nordic Bow

Base Damage: 13

Weight: 11

Base Value: 580

Nordic Bows are pretty easy to obtain, usually from Chief Bandits and other leveled outlaws. These can be smithed with the Advanced Armour Perk and three steel ingots and one quicksilver ingot.

Auriel’s Bow

Base Damage: 13

Weight: 11

Base Value: 1000

This bow can only be obtained with the Dawnguard expansion and is obtained through the main questline. The bow is enchanted to cause 20 points of sun damage which is tripled if your target is of the undead variety. It’s a nice bow with a great damage per second.

Zephyr

Base Damage: 14

Weight: 10

Base Value: 670

Zephyr is a Dwarven bow found in the Dwemer Ruin of Arkngthamz during the quest “Lost to the Ages.” The bow is special in the fact that it is enchanted to fire 30% faster than a standard bow making it a useful addition to your arsenal. The damage per second make it a great bow until you can smith a Dragonbone Bow.

Froki’s Bow

Base Damage: 5

Weight: 5

Base Value: 172

Not a particularly powerful bow by any means but one for collectors. Froki’s Bow is a unique weapon that does 10 points of Stamina damage. It can be found on top of a barrel at the back of Graywinter Watch. You can attempt to return it to Froki but the elderly hunter will insist you keep it instead.

Long Bow

Base Damage: 6

Weight: 5

Base Value: 30

The first bow you’ll come across in Skyrim and easiest to obtain. It has the fastest draw speed but conversely is weak.

Bow of the Hunt

Base Damage: 10

Weight: 7

Base Value: 434

As the name suggests this bow comes in handy if you fancy yourself a bit of a hunter. The enchantment on this bow means animals will take an extra 20 points of damage. You can find the Bow of the Hunt on the altar at the back of Clearspring Tarn.

Angi’s Bow

Base Damage: 7

Weight: 7

Base Value: 50

Another basic bow with low power stats that happens to be unique. It is identical to the Hunting Bow but is given to you after completing the archery training in the quest, “Composure, Speed, And Precision.”

Dravin’s Bow

Base Damage: 7

Weight: 7

Base Value: 50

This bow looks exactly like the Hunting Bow and is obtained through the quest “Bow to the Master”. Just speak to Dravin Llanith at Merryfair Farm who will tell you that it was stolen. Those pesky thieves! You can find the bow in a chest in Riften at the bottom of The Ratway Vaults.

Hunting Bow

Base Damage: 7

Weight: 7

Base Value: 50

Not much to say on this one. Easy to obtain even from the very start of the game. Basic and not a bow I’d use for very long if not at all!

What’s your favourite bow?

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