OK, let’s see what is the best bow in Skyrim. I’ve got these 10 options here for you to choose from – well, this list is a kind of subjective, of course, but at least it will give you an idea of what to choose from. By the way, if you are playing as an archer, consider checking the best archer armor in Skyrim.
10. Dwarven Black Bow of Fate
This Dwarven bow is made of ebony and is not level-dependent. While the bow’s stats are quite average (like it has damage of 13 and shooting speed of 0.75), the enchantment makes it very useful.
With every shot you have a 50% chance of draining 25 health, stamina and Magicka from the target, so it becomes quite handy in long fights with tough enemies.
You can find Dwarven Black Bow of Fate inside a Dwemer Ruin called Kagrumez, which is located south of the Temple of Miraak on Solsteim (you will need the Dragonborn add-on). After you retrieve the Kagrumez Gems and put them in their rightful place, you will find the bow in the southern room of Kagrumez.
9. Stalhrim Bow
This icy bow is available in the Dragonborn DLC. Its base damage is 17, it is not that light – it weighs 15, and with 0.56 fire rate you can’t call it a fast bow.
If you place a Frost Damage enchantment on it, it becomes 25% stronger due to the use of Stalhrim.
Stalhrim bow feels and looks cool (I mean literally 🙂 ), and it blends nicely with the Skyrim setting.
You can also craft the bow with the Smithing level of 80, the Ebony Smithing perk and three Stalhrim pieces, but only after you complete the “A New Source of Stalhrim” quest.
Zephyr is a light Dwarven bow with 14 points of base damage and a weight of 10, which makes it a really fast bow with firing speed of 1.0, with one of the highest DPS in the whole game.
Using enchantment on Zephyr buffs the rate of fire by 30%!
You can find this bow in the Dwemer Ruin of Arkngthamz during the quest “Lost to the Ages,” which is included within the Dawnguard DLC.
7. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince
This is a unique enchanted glass bow, which is easily found early in the game – you can buy it from Falas Selvayn at the Ramshackle Trading Post. If it is not available, it means that Falas equipped the bow, so you have two options here: either steal it from him or give him some more valuable items so that he will unequip the bow.
While its damage is 16, which is only slightly better over the regular glass bow, it has “Blessing of the Stag Prince” enchantment, which gives you from 5 and up to 25 extra health and stamina for every 20 animals killed with this bow.
So you may think of it as one of the best hunter weapons in Skyrim.
6. Ebony Bow
Ebony bow is similar to Glass bow, but it fits better for sneaking and long range shots. It has the base damage of 17, and while it is more common among the higher level players, you can get it at level 18, if you are lucky enough.
Once you are at level 36, you can find it as random loot, and you can craft it with the Smithing skill of 80 and the Ebony Smithing Perk, using 3 ebony ingots.
Now, about your luck of acquiring it at level 18: you may happen to come across it at blacksmiths, merchants, or wielded by Draugr Deathlords, but you can also find a Draugr Deathlord or Draugr Death Overlord in Lost Valkygg in Labyrinthian, who carries an Ebony Bow and some Ebony Arrows.
5. Firiniel’s End
This is another interesting bow, which has low base damage of 13, but with awesome enchantment that makes 20 points of frost damage to both health and stamina with its every hit. This features come handy in boss fight, when you can simply tire your opponent out, making the process of finishing them much easier.
To get Firiniel’s End bow you need to embark on the Bound Until Death quest from the Dark Brotherhood, and there is no other way to obtain it (you cannot craft this bow). You will find it at the balcony of Castle Dour in Solitude.
4. Auriel’s Bow
This bow is available in the Dawnguard DLC; it is an ancient artifact that you can get by completing the Touching the Sky quest.
While the base damage of this bow it not that huge – it’s only 13, but it is quite light (11), and deals triple sun damage to undead targets such as Draugr.
Auriel’s Bow triggers the effects of Sunhallowed arrows and Bloodcursed arrows, and carries an extra 20 points of sun damage with every landing shot (again, which is tripled for the undead enemies).
To get this bow, you need to defeat Arch-Curate Vyrthur inside the Inner Sanctum, which takes place at the end of the Touching the Sky quest.
3. Nightingale Bow
Its base damage ranges from 12 to 19. The interesting thing about this unique bow is that its effectiveness correlate with your level at the time you get it and it will not level up along with you. So the logic is that the higher your level the higher the damage this bow produces.
This brings us to the obvious conclusion that to get the most damage out of the Nightingale Bow you need to get it when your level is 46, which is the maximum for this bow, and where it deals the same base damage output as a Daedric bow.
With freezing enchantment and subsequent shock damage, the Nightingale Bow becomes one of the best bows in Skyrim.
To obtain this bow, you will need to complete the quest from the Thieves Guild called “Blindsighted”, after which you will get it as a reward.
It comes with Frost and Shock enchantments, and cannot be disenchanted; and keep in mind that the higher your level at the time of acquisition of this bow, the better DPS you will get.
2. Daedric Bow
This is one of the best bows in terms of pure damage and appearance – red and black with multiple spikes. Its base damage is 19 and its weight is 18. However, it can’t be called a fast bow, because its firing speed is only 0.5.
When your character reaches level 46, the unenchanted version of Daedric Bow can be found as random loot in chests, or it can be dropped by a dragon.
After reaching level 47 you will find an enchanted bow: at Windhelm (Niranye), Riften (Tonilia) or even at The Ragged Flagon (Syndus).
You can also pick it up from a dead archer in the Brood Cavern or even get it using a black market spell.
You will need to have the Smithing level 90 and the Daedric Smithing perk to craft the Daedric bow. Oh, and 1 Daedra Heart and 3 Ebony Ingots will also be required to make it.
The interesting fact about this bow is that it can also be crafted at the Atronach Forge, which can be found beneath the College of Winterhold.
The whole process is a bit more complicated than just using a regular forge: you will need 1 Daedra Heart, 1 ebony bow, 1 Centurion Dynamo Core, and 1 Black Soul Gem, and your Conjuration skill should be at level 90. So, why bother, you may ask? Well, just because you can! 😉
1. Dragonbone Bow
This bow can hit any target with one shot. If you use it in conjunction with a sneak attack, and add some decent enchantment – you’ll get a deadly weapon!
It’s a bow with the highest base damage (well, except for Karliah’s bow). And although it weighs 20 points (which makes it one of the heaviest bows in the game), its shooting speed is 0.75 – that’s an average speed, of course, but considering the other characteristics, you’ll get a fairly fast and almost the most powerful bow in Skyrim.
Although this bow is standard, it is hard to find it. Of course, if your Smithing skill is 100, and you have the Dragon Armor perk, you can craft it – but for that you will need two Dragon Bones and one Ebony Ingot.
Otherwise, you can get it in the Soul Cairn, from one of the keepers, while doing the Chasing Echoes quest. By the way, there are Dragonbone Arrows there also.
What bow does the most damage in Skyrim?
You can expect the highest base damage from a single shot from the Dragonbone Bow.
Now, let’s talk about some upgrade examples.
- With the full smithing gear and a +40% smithing potion you can have a Legendary Daedric bow with 132 damage.
- When you have the Smithing perk at level 85, +60% smithing potion, you can get a Fornsworn bow with 147 damage.
- Using the smith enchanted gear you can craft an Elven bow that deals 200 damage.
- Another example of Forsworn bow, which benefits from the Steel smithing perk – you can make it up to 550 damage or so. You will need the Smithing at 100, 132% smithing potion (made with 4x 29% alchemy gear), and 4x 40% archery damage enchants, including 100 in Archery and 5/5 overdraw.
To get 29% gear enchantments, you will need 5 levels in the first alchemy perk and Benefactor. The next step is to make stronger Fortify Alchemy gear by using a Fortify Enchanting potion.
Now use this gear to make a stronger Fortify Enchanting potion, then rinse and repeat until you reach the cap, which is around 37%. After that make Fortify Smithing gear with your maxed out Fortify Enchanting potions, and make a Fortify Smithing potion using your maxed out Fortify Alchemy gear. (source)
Do you need to fully draw the bow back to get the most damage output?
Yes, that’s why the draw speed matters, and there are perks that’ll quicken your draw.
Is the Bound Bow the best bow in Skyrim?
Well, it can be one of the best weapons in the vanilla game with the base damage of 18, but there are things you need to consider:
- This bow is for practitioners of Conjuration only, so pure archers won’t be able to use it.
- It can’t be improved using the Smithing perk, but there is a “Double Damage for bound weapons” perk in Conjuring tree of Magic.
- But you can’t be disarmed using the Bound Bow.
- It can soul trap.
- It can turn undead and banish at level 99.
- It can give you plenty of experience with mystic binding.
- This bow has no weight, and never runs out of arrows, which are as strong as Daedric arrows with 24 strength.
- With the Mystic Binding perk, this bow becomes pretty much the same as an Exquisite Daedric Bow, which can get you through the whole game.
- You may have not enough Magicka to conjure the Bound Bow.
So, the Bound Bow can be very useful early in the game, but in the later game it makes more sense to use the regular bows, since you can improve and enchant them.
Does Bound Bow increase Archery?
Yes, it increases both Conjuration and the associated weapon skill. So, when you conjure the Bound Bow in front of the enemies, it will increase the Conjuration; and when you land shots with this bow, it increases the Archery skill.
Is Bound Bow better than Daedric?
With all the Smithing you can make the Daedric Bow much stronger, but you will need the Smithing level of 100 to do so, and all the gear and potions as well. Before that time you can use the Bound Bow, which shoots almost three times faster than the Daedric one.