Most Popular DnD Weapons – Adventurers’ Favorites!

Weapons in Dungeons and Dragons 5e are a little different than they used to be in previous editions.

In the past, a club was a club, nunchaku were nunchaku, a katana was a katana, a saber was a saber, and a spiked chain was a spiked chain.

These days, a club is still a club, but so are nunchaku, escrima sticks, and table legs. A katana is a longsword, as are bastard swords, broadswords, and macuahuitl. Spike chains are now whips, and punching daggers are simply daggers.

Does this represent the kind of generalizing that allows players to personalize their characters and build the kind of world they want to play? Or does it represent the Western ethnocentric glossing over of other cultural differences that was the problem of anthropologists for a long time?

The truth is that yes, it is both. Life is complicated. Deal. Things can be good and bad. It’s what you do with it that matters.

All of that being said, we are looking at what the most popular DnD weapons are and explaining how you can use those generic weapons and still be a unique character.

My goal in this post is to give you the most popular weapons in DnD, explain why they are so popular, and then give you a list of historical weapons that can fall into those weapon categories so that you can modify your character sheet with little fuss.

What Are the Most Popular Weapons in 5e?

According to this data, the most popular weapons in D&D are simple one-melee weapons and the Light Crossbow.

Why Are There So Few Weapons in DnD?

As mentioned above, the weapons in DnD 5e are meant to represent categories of weapons that players can adopt in order to leave room for them to use any type of weapon they want.

The goal here is that instead of trying to find a stat block for a specific niche weapon like the kukri, you can simply use the stats for a dagger and then do a little research to learn about the culture and land from which the kukri hails. (It’s fascinating, by the way. Look it up after you are done here.)

If you want specific stat blocks for each weapon, I recommend playing Pathfinder 2.0. They have done a great job of giving you rules for every possible action and piece of equipment you could do or have. In DnD, though, this is what we’ve got.

What Are the Most Popular Weapons in DnD 5e?

1. Dagger

In DnD 5e, the dagger is a simple melee weapon that can use either strength or dexterity and comes equipped for most character classes. That is honestly probably why it is the most popular weapon. Everyone gets one at 1st level on DnD Beyond, which is where our data comes from.

Different variations of the dagger can include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Punching daggers, which are held in a fist and thrusted.
  • Karambits, which are held in a reverse grip and used with upward cutting motions.
  • Kukri, which are curved in the middle and known for severing limbs.
  • Butcher knives, which are used for cutting culinary meat.
  • Alabama ToothPicks, which are nearly 9 inches long and double-bladed.
  • Stiletto, which is small, has a razor tip, and was often used by courtesans for self-defense and assassination. It can be disguised as a hair stick.

2. Shortsword

Larger than daggers, shortswords are also simple finesse weapons. They deal a bit more damage but can not be thrown. Many character classes also have this weapon available at first level and so will be equipped with it as standard.

Different variations of the shortsword include but are not limited to:

  • Ninja-to is a ninja weapon that is straight, single-edged, and often comes with lots of accessories and tools, which make it perfect for any rogue. It can house poison powders and hidden darts and be used as a climbing aid and even as a snorkel. Any rogue would benefit from this weapon and is definitely worth a Google.
  • Butterfly Knives stem from Shaolin martial arts and are a wushu/wing chun weapon known for their ability to trap and disarm an opponent.
  • Machetes are typically used in clearing vegetation but are heavy enough on the tip to sever fingers and limbs if used properly.
  • Kris are wavy short swords that come from the Kali Arnis tradition that use the different waves of the blade to deepen cuts as the weapon travels along its path.
  • Cavalry Sabres are slightly curved swords that may also count as scimitars or longswords. They are designed to be swung from horseback.

3. Handaxe

Handaxes are a rarity among DnD weapons because they can be thrown and still use your strength score. For this reason, they are probably favored among fighters and barbarians who don’t see the value in carrying around a 7-foot javelin “just in case.”

Handaxes are one of the first tools of civilization, originally simply a stick with a sharp rock on one end that was used for cutting and scraping vegetation, cordage, and game. In truth, a handaxe was meant to be a sharp rock you held with your hand. What we use in DnD would be better called a hatchet.

Variations of the handaxe include but are not limited to:

  • The tomahawk is a throwing ax from the first nations peoples of both American continents. It often features a pick on the back side.
  • Hungarian Shepherd’s Axe features a long, thin blade and was used for camping and defense.
  • The Lihult Axis is from Sweden and bears a flat edge on the back side designed for hammering.

4. Light Crossbow

Okay, so there aren’t many variations of this weapon. The Chinese had crossbows, and so far as I know, so did the French. But the French probably got it from the Chinese.

Either way, this is a simple ranged weapon that does a decent amount of damage and is so easy that a child can use it. So give one to the wizard… Oh… wait….

5. Rapier

The rapier is a long, thin blade designed for stabbing and thrusting. It was considered a gentleman’s weapon in Europe where it is from.

Variations of the rapier include but are not limited to

  • Jian are thin, flexible, double-bladed swords used exclusively in Tai Chi and are primarily used for thrusting and disarming. There are several techniques that can be done with this sword that can not be done with others.

Personalizing Your Character’s Weapons…

This can be a rewarding and educational exercise if done well.

We highly recommend using the popular weapons in DnD 5e as categories from which you can derive other, more specific options for your character.