Last Updated on November 20, 2023
In this post you will find:
- Simple Weapons List: Melee and Ranged
- Martial Weapons List: Melee and Ranged
- Special Weapons: Lance and Nets
- Advanced Weapons: Improvised, Silvered, Adamantine and Mithral
- Firearms: These are an optional ruleset that we’ll cover below.
Our Lists provide: Name, Cost, Damage, Weight and Properties.
We provide explanations and information on the categories, properties, and other considerations below.
Use the Table of Contents to quickly get to your preferred list.
- Weapon List
- Weapon Properties
- Advanced Weapon Rules
- Firearm Weapons List and Guide
It can be helpful to think of the different types of weapons in D&D as archetypes, rather than specific items. D&D 5e rules make no distinction between a kukri and a stiletto; they’re both daggers.
All in all, there are 37 different weapons in the D&D 5e equipment list. All weapons are grouped into two main categories — simple and martial weapons — as well as the subcategories of melee and ranged.
There are a couple of weirder, unofficial outliers as well, but we’ll get to them in a minute.
Simple Melee Weapons
Simple Ranged Weapons
Martial Melee Weapons
Martial Ranged Weapons
When determining if you’re proficient with a particular weapon, the place to start is whether or not the weapon is simple or martial.
Simple vs. Martial Weapons
Simple weapons refer to anything that’s physically dangerous enough to be used as an offensive tool, including clubs, maces, pitchforks, and other weapons often found in the hands of commoners.
Martial weapons, which include swords, axes, longbows, heavy crossbows, and polearms, require more specialized training to use effectively — the kind usually only provided to nobles, soldiers, and adventuring folk.
Most warriors use martial weapons because these weapons put their fighting style and training to best use.
Martial weapons tend to be more effective than simple weapons with longer ranges, bigger damage dice, and other beneficial properties.
In addition to their damage dice and damage type (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage), weapons are defined by their properties, which we’re going to break down here starting with the most simple division of weapons into melee and ranged categories.
A melee weapon is used to attack enemies within 5 feet of you (or 10 feet if the weapon has the Reach property) and doesn’t require ammunition.
Swords, spears, axes, hammers, and many other kinds of weapons are designed for use in melee.
Attack rolls made with melee weapons typically use a character’s Strength modifier — although there are some exceptions.
Ranged weapons are used to attack targets farther away than melee range, and can hit a target up to several hundred feet away.
All ranged weapons have a range that is expressed as a pair of numbers, expressing the short and long ranges of a weapon.
Ex. Longbow (range 150/600)
A weapon’s short range is the distance in feet up to which it can be fired normally. Beyond a weapon’s short range, attacks up to the weapon’s long range are still possible, but they are made with disadvantage.
Attacks can’t be made against a target beyond the long range of a weapon. Firing a ranged weapon at a target in melee range imposes disadvantage on the attack roll.
Ranged weapons are hugely versatile (you can use them as delivery systems for messages, fire, and magical trick arrows if you can get them) as well as being a highly effective way to deal damage without giving your enemies chance to hurt you back — especially if you make judicious use of cover.
Ranged weapon attacks are made using a character’s Dexterity modifier.
Weapons with the Ammunition property, like bows, crossbows, slings, and even guns (if you’re using those optional rules) consume ammunition in order to fire. Bows need arrows, crossbows need bolts (or quarrels), and slings need rocks.
Each time you make an attack with a weapon that uses ammunition, you expend one piece of that ammunition.
Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is counted as being part of the attacking action (you need a free hand to load a one-handed weapon).
In many cases, ammunition costs money — although searching the battlefield after a fight allows you to recover half of all ammunition expended over the course of the encounter.
Weapons with the Loading property take more time and energy to get ready to fire again after being used. Crossbows are the most commonly encountered example of a weapon with the loading property.
Weapons that require loading cannot be used to make multiple attacks per round. Some Feats, like Crossbow Expert, let you ignore the loading property when using certain weapons.
Weapons with the thrown property can be used both in melee and at range (although they can’t compete with ranged weapons in terms of their effective distance) and use the attacker’s Strength modifier instead of Dexterity — although a weapon with the Finesse and Thrown properties (see below) can be used to make a ranged attack with either Dexterity or Strength.
This makes thrown weapons, like javelins and throwing axes, great for high-Strength classes like fighters and barbarians.
Light weapons, like daggers, are usually smaller and easier to handle, making them ideal for two-weapon fighting, which requires you to use light weapons.
Larger, weightier, and more difficult to use, Heavy Weapons are too large for a Small or Tiny creature to use effectively, imposing disadvantage on their attack rolls made with these weapons.
The weapons with the larger damage dice tend to have the Heavy property.
Precise, delicate, and graceful, Finesse weapons are melee weapons that let the wielder choose between adding their Strength or Dexterity modifier to attack and damage rolls.
Note that you must use the same modifier for both rolls.
Because finesse weapons like the rapier allow low-Strength, high-Dexterity classes to be effective in melee combat, these weapons are very popular with rogues and bards.
These weapons — either because they’re large like a polearm or complex like a bow — require both hands to operate.
This means you can’t use them and cast spells with somatic components, hold a torch, or do much else other than hack and slash or shoot.
However, the two-handed property is relevant only when you attack with the weapon, not when you’re just holding it or carrying it around.
Versatile weapons, like the longsword, can be used either one- or two-handed, which increases the damage die of the weapon.
For example, a longsword has the versatile property.
When wielded one-handed (allowing you to use your other hand for a torch, a shield, or an arcane focus), the weapon deals 1d8 + STR slashing damage; when wielded two-handed, the weapon deals 1d10 + STR slashing damage.
Pikes, polearms, and glaives — weapons with the reach property can hit targets up to 10 feet away instead of 5 feet.
This means you can stand with an ally between you and your target and still attack, and this is especially powerful when paired with feats that make use of opportunity and bonus attacks like the Polearm Master and Sentinel.
Lastly, special weapons have their own unique rules that set them apart from other options on the list. There are two special weapons in the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook.
Lance. You have disadvantage when you use a lance to attack a target within 5 feet of you. Also, a lance requires two hands to wield when you aren’t mounted.
Net. A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is restrained until it is freed. A net has no effect on creatures that are formless or creatures that are Huge or larger.
A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success.
Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the net.
When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.
Advanced Weapon Rules
Of course, there are plenty of other tools that people in D&D have adapted to kill and maim one another, whether that means grabbing the first thing you have to hand and smashing an orc over the head with a bar stool or shooting a lich with a ray gun.
Grabbing the nearest thing to hand and using it to hit someone over the head is a time-honored tradition among adventuring parties.
An improvised weapon includes anything and everything you can wield with either one or two hands.
Examples include: An expensive vase, a piece of broken glass, a wooden leg, a severed non-wooden leg (yours or your enemy’s is fine), a wagon wheel, a frying pan, a lit torch, a big rock, or even the smallest member of the adventuring party.
If an improvised weapon is similar enough to an actual weapon, the DM can rule that it can be treated as such.
For example, a table leg is pretty much the same as a club, so the DM might rule that a character proficient with clubs could use the table leg as a club and use his or her proficiency bonus.
If an improvised weapon bears no resemblance to an existing weapon (a sack full of bees or a sharpened metal business card, for example), then it deals 1d4 damage and the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object.
If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage.
An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.
Some monsters (werewolves being the classic example) have resistance or immunity to attacks made with nonmagical weapons, but are susceptible to silver.
Silvered weapons make it possible to invest in plating mundane weapons with silver.
You can silver a single weapon or 10 pieces of ammunition for 100 gp. This cost represents not only the price of the silver but the time and expertise needed to add silver to the weapon without making it less effective.
Adamantine and Mithral Weapons
D&D 5e wouldn’t be a fantasy property without including some fantasy metals with properties beyond those of normal iron and steel.
While Mithral (which is very legally distinct from mithril, eh, Mr. Frodo?) is as silvery and delicate as you’d expect.
Adamantine in D&D looks very different from its more well-known counterpart in the X-Men comics. It’s a jet-black metal that shimmers green under torchlight and purplish white under magical light.
Firearm Weapons List and Guide
Who needs Power Word Kill when you’ve got a gun?
Firearms are an optional set of rules found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide that let you introduce either Renaissance, Modern, or Futuristic/Sci-Fi guns into your D&D 5e game.
Personally, as someone who sets pretty much all my games right around the advent of black-powder weaponry, I love these rules.
Firearms Weapons List
Firearms use special ammunition, and some of them have the burst fire or reload property.
Ammunition. The ammunition of a firearm is destroyed upon use. Renaissance and modern firearms use bullets. Futuristic firearms are powered by a special type of ammunition called energy cells. An energy cell contains enough power for all the shots its firearm can make.
Burst Fire. A weapon that has the burst fire property can make a normal single-target attack, or it can spray a 10-foot-cube area within normal range with shots. Each creature in the area must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take the weapon’s normal damage. This action uses 10 pieces of ammunition.
Reload. A limited number of shots can be made with a weapon that has the reload property. A character must then reload it using an action or a bonus action (the character’s choice).
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.