Skyrim’s vast array of weapons allows players to try out different playstyles. Archery, in particular, is a fan favorite in the community as it offers a very satisfying gameplay.
It complements the stealth playstyle very well, as you can shoot at enemies from far a distance while remaining hidden.
But the most challenging thing for players who want to try archery is choosing a good bow.
To ease up the process, we’ve tried all the bows in the game and shortlisted the best ones,
At first glance, this might seem like a regular bow. However, the Stalhrim bow has a hidden perk that makes it surprisingly good.
The bow inherently boosts any frost enchantments applied by 25%, thus increasing the overall damage.
You can only get this bow in Solstheim, as random loot, or from merchants like Glover Mallory and Iron-Shaper.
If you wish to craft this weapon,
- You’ll need to level up your Smithing to level 80.
- Get the Ebony Smithing perk from the Smithing skill tree.
- Gather three pieces of Stalhrim.
Glass Bow of the Stag Prince
This glass bow is famous for its unique enchantment, “Blessing of the Stag Prince.” Equipping this bow will grant you 5 points increment to your Health and Stamina.
This damage bonus increases with every 20 animals killed with this weapon. The damage bonus does, however, caps out at 25 bonus points.
You can buy this bow from Falas Selvayn at Ramshackle Trading Post in Solstheim. If he doesn’t have the bow, you can force reset his inventory by the following steps.
- Pickpocket Falas Selvayn and replace his gear with a low-damaging melee weapon.
- Strike him to make him hostile.
- Use the calm spell, or the Bend Will shout at him to make him non-hostile.
- Speak with him to buy the bow.
Dwarven Black Bow of Fate
Many players consider this weapon to be one of the strongest in the game because of its enchantment. When you land a hit with this bow, you have a 50% chance to absorb either Health, Stamina, or Magicka from the enemy.
In my opinion, this enchantment bonus is very situational. It is handy if you’re facing multiple enemies while running low on either of the three stats, i.e., Health, Stamina, and Magicka.
But when you reach that point, you are better off using potions or restoration spells rather than your weapon.
To get this bow, you’ll have to clear the three trails in the Kagrumez Dwemer ruin at Solstheim.
This bow is a hidden gem among all the weapons in Skyrim. Although the bow resembles closely to the Dwarven bow, this weapon has a special and unique enchantment on it.
The bow offers a 30% faster draw time out of all the bows making it the fastest-firing bow in the game. From a gameplay perspective, this feature allows you to hit your target multiple times quickly, thus increasing your total DPS.
You can get this weapon in Arkngthamz, a Dwemer ruin located in the western part of Skyrim, just south of Dushnikh Mine. Inside the ruin, you’ll meet Katria, the former owner of Zephyr. Get her bow from the edge of a fallen tree.
The Nightingale Bow is a part of the Nightingale collection and is among the game’s strongest damage-dealing bows.
The enchantment of the bow deals Frost and Shock damage to the enemies and slows them down for 3 seconds. This gives you ample time to shoot multiple arrows and eliminate them quickly.
To get the Nightingale bow, you’ll have to become a member of the Thieves Guild and progress far into the guild’s campaign. You’ll get the bow from Karliah upon completing the Blindsighted campaign.
Note: This is also a leveled item, which means the stats of this weapon will depend on your character’s level. It would be best to wait until you reach level 46+ for the best variant of the Nightingale bow.
Like any other Daedric gear and equipment, the Daedric Bow is amongst the best bows in the game. It boasts a high base damage of 19 and a descent draw speed of 0.5 seconds.
There are multiple ways to acquire this bow,
- The Daedric bow will appear in your game as random loot after your character reaches level 46+.
- You can buy it from merchants like Niranye, Tonilia, and the Dremora merchant after leveling up to 47+.
- If you’re looking to craft this bow yourself, you’ll first need to get the Daedric Armor perk from the Smithing skill tree. Afterward, you can craft the bow at the forge using one Daedra heart and three Ebony ingots.
- You can craft it at the Atronach Forge after completing the Conjuration Ritual Spell questline for Phinis Gestor. You’ll also need to gather one of each item, including a Daedra Heart, an Ebony Bow, a Centurion Dynamo Core, and a Black Soul Gem.
The Bound bow is not technically a bow, but rather it is a conjuration spell that summons an ethereal bow out of thin air. So, you’ll need to cast the Bound Bow conjuration spell to use this weapon.
Overall, this bow brings a lot to the table regarding convenience and usefulness.
- Visually and damage-wise, the bound bow is similar to the base variant of the Daedric bow.
- Conjuring the Bound Bow will also give your 100 spectral Daedric arrows for free.
- You can further increase the damage output of this weapon by getting the Mystic Binding perk. Acquire it from the Conjuration skill tree.
- With the Conjuration Skill Tree’s Soul Stealer perk, you can capture souls and fill soul gems on every kill you do with this weapon.
Since this weapon is a spell, you’ll need to get its Spell Tome to acquire it. You can find its Spell Tome inside Fort Amol or purchase it from wizard merchants like Falion, Phinis Gestor, or Farengar Secret–Fire after reaching level 50 in Conjuration school.
If you want the bow that deals the highest damage, then this is the bow that you should get. With a base damage of 20, this is the hardest-hitting bow in the game.
The surprising thing about this bow is that it’s not a unique item. Meaning you can upgrade it at the grindstone and apply enchantments on this weapon to boost its damage capability further.
The Dragonbone bow is best suited for late-game or playing through the end-game content at a greater difficulty.
You can craft this weapon at the forge with a couple of Dragon Bones and an ebony ingot. But first, make sure to unlock and get the Dragon Armor perk from the Smithing skill tree.
The Auriel’s Bow is a unique artifact that was introduced in the Dawnguard expansion. This bow has a long history behind it and is also so said to be the bow wielded by Auri-El during the War in the Dawn Era.
The enchantment of Auriel’s bow deals 20 additional fire damage to all the living enemies, whereas the damage is tripled when facing the undead. Like Zephyr, this bow also features a very fast draw time.
However, the most fun mechanic of this bow is the ability to shoot the sun. You can make the sun shine even more brightly by shooting the Sun-hallowed arrows at it or make the sun go dim using the Bloodcursed Arrow.
To get Auriel’s Bow, you’ll need to install the Dawnguard DLC expansion and complete the Touching the Sky quest line. Afterward, you can get the bow in the Inner Sanctum at the Forgotten Vale.