The 5 best bows in Skyrim and how to get them

Pepper your foes from afar with one of these bows.

Image via Bethesda

There’s a plethora of weapon options that you can choose for your Skyrim character to specialize in. One that’s time and again been the go-to for many has to be the bow. It’s no wonder, as ranged weapons tend to be pretty good at keeping enemies at bay. With plenty of bows to choose from, some will naturally be better than others. Below, we will list our picks for the five best bows in Skyrim and how to get them.

Related: The best weapons in Skyrim Special Edition, and how to get them

The best bows in Skyrim

5. Stalhrim Bow

  • Base Damage: 17
  • Weight: 15
  • Base value: 1800 gold
  • Additional Effect: The Frost Damage enchantment is 25% stronger when placed on items crafted from Stalhrim.
  • Upgrade material: Stalhrim
Screenshot by Gamepur

If you want to go all-in on Frost Damage, then this bow is your best option. It has decent damage and fire rate out of the box and lets you place further enhancements to augment that. Of course, you should look to upgrade Frost Damage as a no-brainer.

To craft this bow, you will need Smithing level 80 and the Ebony Smithing perk. Furthermore, you will need to have completed the “A New Source of Stalhrim” questline. After that, you can craft it at any blacksmith forge for 3 Stalhrim.

4. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince

  • Base Damage: 16
  • Weight: 14
  • Base value: 375 gold
  • Additional Effect: The wielder receives an increasingly powerful blessing for every 20 animals killed by the bow.
  • Upgrade material: Refined Malachite
Screenshot by Gamepur

This bow is a great mid-game upgrade with a good fire rate and a nice power that progressively grows with the wielder. It starts out at 5 extra damage and caps out at 25, meaning at 80 animal kills. 

It can be bought from Falas Selvayn at the Ramshackle Trading Post on Solstheim, northwest of Fort Frostmouth. However, Falas sometimes has the bow equipped, in which case he will not want to sell it. Thievery or assault are the other options to get it instead.

3. Dragonbone Bow

  • Base Damage: 20
  • Weight: 20
  • Base value: 2725 gold
  • Additional Effect: None
  • Upgrade material: Dragon Bone
Screenshot by Gamepur

The Dragonbone Bow has the highest base damage of all obtainable bows in the game which is compensated by larger weight and a slower rate of fire. 

To obtain it, you need 100 Smithing and the Dragon Armor perk. Then, you can craft it at the forge by using 2 Dragon Bones and 1 Ebony Ingot. Alternatively, there is a chance to loot it from the bow-wielding Keepers in the Soul Cairn if you are level 45 or above.

2. Auriel’s Bow

  • Base Damage: 13
  • Weight: 11
  • Base value: 1000 gold
  • Additional Effect: 20 points of sun damage. Undead targets take triple damage.
  • Upgrade material: Refined Moonstone
Screenshot by Gamepur

Though starting out with lower damage than some bows, Auriel’s Bow’s extra effect damage is an excellent equalizer. Not only that, but facing Skyrim’s many undead foes, especially Vampires, you will want to have this bow in your inventory, as it will melt them without issue.

You can find this bow in the Inner Sanctum of Forgotten Vale, where you have to defeat Arch-Curate Vyrthur to get it during the final part of the “Touching the Sky” questline. 

1. Nightingale Bow

  • Base Damage: 19
  • Weight: 18
  • Base value: 3700 gold
  • Additional Effect: Freezes the target for 30 points and shocks the target for 15 points.
  • Upgrade material: Ebony Ingot
Screenshot by Gamepur

The high base damage and slow rate of fire of this bow make it a sniping powerhouse. The unique effect on it is icing on the cake, letting you do even more damage with those initial shots.

To get this bow, you have to complete the “Blindsighted” quest for the Thieves Guild, when Karliah will present you with it as a reward.