Having a bow in your inventory is a necessity in Skyrim (unless you use magic but even then it’s good to have a bow with you), the arrows weigh nothing and the bows themselves barely weigh anything. They provide good long range damage, they can get those pesky dragons who refuse to land and they’re great for starting sneak attack bonus before a big fight. We’ve all started a new character with the aim of being an archer but it’s best to just do archery on your main character. Combining your melee/stealth/magic with a bow can really help to improve your overall effectiveness, here’s 10 of the best bows for you to choose from!




10. Glass Bow of the Stag Prince

Base damage: 16

Shots per second: 0.625

Skin: Glass Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: You can obtain it from Falas Selvayn at the Ramshackle Trading Post. He will either sell it to you or have it equipped (you can just pickpocket it).

This bow is very easy to get, has a very nice damage output and a less than great fire rate. What it is best for is the enchantment, for every 20 animals killed you will get a bonus for 5 extra Health and Stamina (up to a maximum of 25). This bow goes really well with Mods like Hunting in Skyrim and Frostfall (PC only), if you’re into that kind of stuff. The only reason it is only entry number 10 is because the 25 Health and Stamina aren’t offensive enchantments, which are what you really want in a bow.





9. Gauldur Blackbow


Base damage: 14

Shots per second: 0.625

Skin: Ancient Nord Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: During the “Forbidden Legend” quest, Sigdis Gauldurson drops it (similar to the Gauldur Blackblade).

With lower damage, increased location difficulty and the same fire rate, I bet you’re wondering why this bow is better than the previous entry. The enchantment is the answer, this bow absorbs 30 points of Magicka per shot. Sounds a bit silly seeing as you won’t be using Magicka when firing a bow, but you can drain those pesky mages/necromancers/etc out very quickly. Alternatively, if you’re a mage yourself and have found yourself without any of your own Magicka and no potions to restore it, use this bow to get yours back!





8. Firiniel’s End

Base damage: 13

Shots per second: 0.687

Skin: Elven Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Found only after the Dark Brotherhood quest “Bound Until Death“, you find it on a ledge inside the Castle Dour in Solitude (cannot be found if the player killed the Dark Brotherhood rather than join them).

Featuring an increased fire rate but decreased damage, Firiniel’s End is just ahead of those before it because of the enchantment. The target takes 20 points of frost damage to their Health and Stamina, meaning the damage is higher than the previous two. It’s either easy or impossible to obtain, but it’s not something you will want to use for your entire playthrough.






7. Drainspell Bow

Base damage: 14

Shots per second: 0.875

Skin: Ghost version of Ancient Nord Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Obtained from killing a spectral draugr during the “The Staff of MagnusCollege of Winterhold questline, the draugr is located in Labyrinthian.

This bow has a very nice fire rate accompanied by an average base damage, the enchantment is nothing special as it absorbs 15 points of Magicka (half of what the Gauldur Blackbow absorbs). The difference is, this is easier to obtain and you can get it a lot earlier. Also, being a ghost weapon, it never runs out of charges. For those who want to start off quickly, this is a great bow to get, you can save up your soul gems and some Magicka potions before you drop it for something stronger.






6. Dwarven Black Bow of Fate

Base damage: 13

Shots per second: 0.75

Skin: Dwarven Bow coloured black

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Must have all Kagrumez Resonance Gems and enter Kagrumez, located in the South East room on a weapon rack.

The ever awesome looking Dwarven Black Bow of Fate is very powerful with a decent base damage and nice fire rate. The enchantment is one of the best you’ll see with a 50% chance of absorbing each of Magicka, Stamina and Health. I’m actually not sure how difficult it is to get, I’ve never had it but looking at the method it doesn’t look like you have to defeat a simple boss. It may do better in this list after I get it for myself.






5. Bow of the Hunt

Base damage: 10

Shots per second: 0.937

Skin: Hunting Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Found in Clearspring Cave.

Exceptionally easy to obtain and a high fire rate make this bow so good. The damage is quite low, but it is made for hunting so you won’t be expected to kill any dragons with it. Again, this bow goes great with the mods listed above, it does 20 extra damage to animals. If you’re planning on doing a realistic/hunting playthrough, this is the only bow you’ll need. If not, it’s still a good early game addition, bears and wolves aren’t weak at the lower levels so get this into your inventory when you make a new character.






4. Dragonbone Bow

Base damage: 20

Shots per second: 0.75

Skin: Dragonbone Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Smithing, requires level 100, 2 dragon bones and an ebony ingot.

Boasting the highest base damage out of any bow in the game, a nice fire rate and awesome looks, the Dragonbone Bow surely deserves a place in the top 5. It can be very tedious to obtain, some people may never have it if they’re lazy enough. The bow has no enchantment when first obtained, so if your enchanting is any good you can stick one on there. If not, there’s the words of power that temporarily enchant your weapons which could make the bow a very big powerhouse.






3. Nightingale Bow

Base damage: 19

Shots per second: 0.5

Skin: Unique

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Complete the “Blindsight” quest during the Thieves Guild.

This bow levels with you, so the power increases as your power increases. It has a very slow fire rate but a very nice base damage, accompany that with the ability to deal frost and shock damage with each hit and you have an actual hand cannon. It’s less than easy to obtain, but it’s a unique weapon so it should be. It looks awesome, if you were at an archery range and someone pulled this out, you’d just curl up into a ball. It’s also on one of the random loading screens, wielded by a Wood Elf, funnily enough, as seen here.





2. Auriel’s Bow

Base damage: 13

Shots per second: 1

Skin: Unique

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Requires the Dawnguard DLC, obtained after defeating Arch-Curate Vyrthur at the end of the “Toughing the Sky” quest.

A high fire rate, average damaging bow, Auriel’s Bow has been in all of the Elder Scrolls games so far. It has its own unique look, a white twist on Elvish (which makes sense as it was a Snow Elf bow). The enchantment is incredibly unique, doing 20 sun damage or triple that to undead. It also has its own type of arrows that can be used for some awesome effects, but I’ll save the elaboration on that for another time. The bow is difficult to obtain, though, which is why it doesn’t rank at number 1.




1. Zephyr Bow

Base damage: 12

Shots per second: 1

Skin: Dwarven Bow

(SPOILER) Where to get it: Found in Arkngthamz during the quest “Lost to the Ages“, it’s self explanatory once you get in there.

It may not look like much, but this bow has a huge amount to offer. That 1 shot per second alongside a fair 12 damage allows for some great damage at range. The enchantment is okay, well it’s awesome, giving a 30% faster fire rate, the enchantment is innate too, so it never runs out. This bow has the highest DPS (damage per second) out of any bow in the game. It’s very easy to obtain, barely taking any effort at all and all of this adds up to make it the best bow in the game!

I hope you enjoyed the list, it was one of the more difficult ones to create. Please keep in mind that although I try to be unbiased and factual as possible, this list may not apply to you. Everyone has their own playstyles, some of these may be completely useless to you.