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Skyrim Best Bows Tier List: Every Bow Ranked

Find out which bows are the best with the help of our tier list guide to Skyrim, with every single bow ranked.

Bows have always been considered the best type of physical ranged weapon in Skyrim. They’re light and strong and can be easily upgraded at the grindstone. There are over 30 iterations in the game, some of which are unique and cannot be crafted or purchased. And, of course, those are typically the most powerful ones in the game and have special enchantments on them.

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Skyrim Best Bows Tier List: Every Bow Ranked

This Skyrim best bows tier list ranks the game’s ranged weapons from S-Tier to F-Tier. It covers all of the bow weapons you can pick up in the game, details their speed and damage stats, and tells you how to find them, including which quests you’ll need to complete.

Related: Best Skyrim Weapons Tier List

Skyrim S-Tier Bows

Nightingale Bow

  • Damage: 19
  • Speed: 0.50

What makes Nightingale Bow really special is the leveled design. The higher your character level is, the more damage the weapon deals. Your character level also influences the power of enchantments that can be applied to this bow. As soon as you reach Level 46 or above, the Nightingale Bow easily becomes the strongest bow in Skyrim. Lastly, you can improve it at the grindstone with an Ebony Ingot and the Arcane Blacksmith perk.

The Nightengale Bow is imbued with two enchantments: Frost Damage and Shock Damage. Since it’s a unique bow, you can’t craft it or buy it anywhere. You can only obtain it after completing the Blindsighted quest, given by Brynjolf at Riften, The Rift.

Dragon Bone Bow

  • Damage: 20
  • Speed: 0.75

Dragon bone weapons are universally acclaimed as the best in Skyrim, and the Dragonbone Bow is no exception. This is an extremely powerful ranged weapon that can be looted from the Keepers at the Soul Cairn plane in Oblivion. You can also craft it after reaching Smithing Level 100 and unlocking the Dragon Armor perk. The crafting recipe is:

  • 2x Dragon Bone
  • 1x Ebony Ingot

I use this bow in my Skyrim playthroughs once I can craft and enchant it. I typically use the triple enchantment for a chance to inflict Fire, Frost, or Shock damage. If I can’t place that, I’ll typically go with Frost damage.

Skyrim A-Tier Bows

Bow of Shadows

  • Damage: 19
  • Speed: 0.94

Bow of Shadows was originally a Creation Club item, but it’s now available through the Skyrim Anniversary Edition for free. This unique bow grants you invisibility. Unfortunately, it can’t be crafted and can only be obtained after completing the In the Shadows quest, given by Proventus Avenicci, an imperial steward at Whiterun. The Bow of Shadows is imbued with two enchantments: Invisibility and Quick Shot. The latter makes you draw arrows 20% faster than usual.

Daedric Bow

  • Damage: 19
  • Speed: 0.50

The Daedric Bow is definitely one of the best bows in Skyrim, and luckily, you can simply find it in the open world without needing to complete obscure quests. There’s a good chance of it dropping from legendary and revered dragons, but you can also find it in the following locations after you reach Level 47:

  • Purchasable from Niranye, merchant of Windhelm
  • Purchasable from Tonilia, a thief of Riften
  • Purchasable from Dremora Merchant, using Black Market spell
  • Inside the Brood Cavern, Hjaalmarch
  • Inside the Syndus’ Shop at The Ragged Flagon Tavern, The Rift

The Daedric Bow can also be crafted or conjured. You can find a complete description of both of these methods in our guide on Daedric Weapons.

Stalhrim Bow

  • Damage: 17
  • Speed: 0.56

There are several very rare materials in Skyrim, and Stalhrim is one of them. It can only be mined in Solstheim using the Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. This rare material makes Stalhrim Bow especially suitable for various frost enchantments. Before you can craft this bow, however, you must:

  • Complete the quest called, A New Source of Stalhrim, given by Deor Woodcutter at Skaal Village in  Solstheim.
  • Reach Smithing Level 80.
  • Unlock the Ebony Smithing perk.
  • Find x3 Stalhrim.

You can also find this bow in the following locations:

  • Purchasable from Baldor Iron-Shaper, a blacksmith of Skaal Village
  • Purchasable from Glover Mallory, a blacksmith of Raven Rock

Skyrim B-Tier Bows

Dwarven Black Bow of Fate

  • Damage: 13
  • Speed: 0.75

This unique bow may not possess the highest damage, but it has one-of-a-kind enchantments that absorb health, stamina, and even magicka. The Dwarven Black Bow of Fate can’t be crafted or purchased. Neither are there any quests associated with it. Follow these steps to find it:

  1. Obtain at least four Kagrumez Resonance Gems
  2. Arrive at Kagrumez, south of Temple of Miraak, Solstheim
  3. Place the gems in the correct order to open the gates
  4. Enter the southeast room
  5. Pick up the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate from the rack

Ebony Bow

  • Damage: 17
  • Speed: 0.56

The Ebony Bow has the same stats as the Stalhrim Bow — just without the frost enchantment. It’s a very strong bow, and obtaining it’s a lot easier once you reach Level 37. You can loot this bow from Draugr Deathlords that protect Word Walls or purchase it from Falas Selvayn, a merchant at Ramshackle Trading Post, Solstheim. You can also craft the Ebony Bow after reaching Smithing Level 80 and unlocking the Ebony Smithing perk using x3 Ebony ingots.

Auriel’s Bow

  • Damage: 13
  • Speed: 1.00

Auriel’s Bow is unique and designed specifically to deal with undead mobs. It’s imbued with the Sun Damage enchantment that deals three times more damage to the undead than the regular bow. This bow cannot be crafted or purchased. However, you can obtain it after completing the Touching the Sky quest, given by Serana, a pure-blood vampire at the Dimhollow Crypt, The Pale. The bow itself can be found inside the Inner Sanctum of the Forgotten Vale, Haafingar.

Gauldur Blackbow

  • Damage: 14
  • Speed: 0.88

The Gauldur Blackbow is very similar in design to the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate, but its enchantment can only absorb magicka. As is a trend in this best bows tier list, this weapon can’t be crafted or purchased. You can only obtain it after completing the Forbidden Legend quest, which begins right after you read the “Lost Legends” book. You can purchase the book from Urag gro-Shub, a librarian mage of the Arcanaeum at the College of Winterhold. The Gauldur Blackbow can be looted during this quest from Sigdis Gauldurson at the Geirmund’s Hall, The Rift.

Ruin’s Edge

  • Damage: 12
  • Speed: 0.875

Another bow originally from the Creation Club, Ruin’s Edge is now included in the Anniversary Edition of Skyrim. While the base damage is low, each hit has a chance to inflict the following:

  • Demoralize: Acts like fear, causing the enemy to flee while inflicting damage for 20 seconds.
  • Drain Magicka: Drains 1,000 points of Magicka over 20 seconds.
  • Frenzy: Deals 100 points of damage while causing the enemy to attach anything nearby for 20 seconds mindlessly.
  • Frost: Inflicts 25 points of Frost damage.
  • Paralyze: There are two Paralyze effects that may proc, either paralyzing the target for 1 second or 15 seconds.

These effects greatly boost how good this bow is. It’s easy to obtain as well, with the Edge of Ruin quest starting automatically in the Anniversary Edition. You’ll need to head to Stony Creek Cave and defeat the boss to get the bow. To upgrade it, you’ll need Daedra Hearts and the Arcane Blacksmith perk.

Skyrim C-F Tier Bows

The rest of the bows in Skyrim will be listed in tiers C, D, E, and F from best to worst:

Glass Bow 15 0.63 C+
Firiniel’s End 13 0.69 C+
Zephyr 12 1.00 C+
Nordic Bow 13 0.69 C
Elven Bow 13 0.69 C
Drainspell Bow 14 0.88 C
Bow of the Hunt 10 0.94 C
Falmer Supple Bow 15 0.75 C
Glass Bow of the Stag Prince 16 0.63 C-
Froki’s Bow 6 1.00 C-
Dwarven Bow 12 0.75 C-
Supple Ancient Nord Bow 14 0.88 C-
Nord Hero Bow 11 0.88 C-
Orcish Bow 10 0.88 D+
Forsworn Bow 12 0.88 D+
Falmer Bow 12 0.75 D+
Imperial Bow 9 0.75 D
Angi’s Bow 7 0.94 D-
Dravin’s Bow 7 0.94 D-
Hunting Bow 7 0.94 D-
Ancient Nord Bow 8 0.88 E
Long Bow 6 1.00 F

And that’s our Skyrim best bows tier list. Now you can focus on the best of the best, not just for your specific build and playstyle but for the entire game. Head over here for more Skyrim tips and tricks articles.

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Serhii Patskan
Serhii is the Writer at GameSkinny. He's been writing for GameSkinny since 2015. Before that, he's been writing for various outlets and playing video games, which eventually turned into a passion. The video games that have contributed the most to his enthusiasm for writing about this industry are Magic: The Gathering, Dark Souls, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
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Ashley Erickson
Ashley, otherwise known as Glitchiee, is an avid gamer of RPGs, TTRPGS, farming sims, and survival crafting games. Playing since she can remember, she started on the SNES, GameBoy Color, and collection 1st gen Pokemon cards. Using her passion for gaming, she's written about games for a combined total of 2 years.