best one handed weapons in skyrim guide

Best One Handed Weapons in Skyrim: Unsheath Your Sword

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There’s nothing more iconic than leaping onto a dragon’s head, sword in hand, to slay the scourge that has befallen Skyrim. Some absolutely legendary swords have featured in The Elder Scrolls series, no thanks to its bottomless lore. I’ve compiled a list of the best One-handed weapons in Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim features swords, maces, and war axes that have stood the test of time. You really get a sense of how old and deep the Elder Scrolls lore is when you pick the fabled Dawnbreaker or demonic Mace of Molag Bal.

Bottom Line-Up Front

If you haven’t got time to read the entire article, no worries, pal, I got you; here is all the important information you need.

Here is a breakdown of the best One-handed weapons in Skyrim:

  • Windshear
  • Mace of Molag Bal
  • Chillrend
  • Dawnbreaker
  • Okin
  • Dragonsbane
  • Miraak’s Sword
  • Nightingale Blade
  • Stalhrim One-handed Weapons
  • Madness One-handed Weapons

You can’t go wrong with any of these weapons on the list. However, some One-handed weapons are far superior to others in the right situation.

The Dragonsbane is undoubtedly the best dragon-slaying One-handed weapon in the game, as at max level, it deals an extra forty points of damage to the overgrown geckos. So if you’re struggling to fight off the terrible lizards, then this is the weapon for you!

Miraak’s Sword is arguably the best One-handed sword in the game. It deals sixteen points of damage and weighs three weight units! Making it the second-lightest weapon in the game! However, nothing beats Chillrend for style and damage. This weapon is sure to turn heads as well as split them. It’s by far my favorite One-handed sword in the game.

Selection Criteria

One-handed weapons come in all shapes and sizes, from Daggers, War Axes, Swords, and Maces, so we first need to understand what makes a good One-handed weapon. One-handed weapons aren’t as strong as two-handed ones, but they sure are light and can be wielded for all combat strategies. Here are some considerations I took when piecing together this list.

  • The weapon’s damage must be in the top range of its weapon class.
  • The weapon must be light compared to other weapons in its class.
  • If the weapon has low damage, it must have an enchantment or unique effect to increase its damage to match the top weapons in its class.
  • Skyrim is over a decade old. New versions, such as Skyrim Special Edition and Skyrim Anniversary Edition, along with all DLC and Creation Club DLC, should be considered when creating the list.

The list is in no order since the One-handed weapons mentioned in the article can outperform each other in different areas. For example, Chillrend is far superior than most of the weapons on the list but deals less damage to dragons than the Dragonsbane.


  • Damage: 11
  • Weight: 10
  • Upgrade Material: Steel Ingot
Windshear skyrim special edition
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The Windshear is the perfect sword for roleplaying pirates or Redguard warriors. This sword has less damage than most One-handed weapons on this list but has a cool ability to knock enemies down when using the bash attack.

So the Windshear staggers enemies from bash and can cause them to ragdoll. Most One-handed weapon effects are like sapping Stamina from the enemy or dealing elemental damage. The Windshear is unique in this field, so I added it to the Best One-handed weapons list.

You can temporarily remove enemies from combat for a short duration of time while you finish off other opponents. The Windshear bash ability can be improved by obtaining specific Block skill perks.

After obtaining the Power Bash perk, you can deal five times more damage while bashing. In addition, Disarming Bash will grant you a small chance to disarm your opponent from a bash enabling you to increase the time enemies are out of a fight.

Windshear can only be obtained once the player has started the “Hail Sithis!” Dark Brotherhood quest and is found on the deck of The Katariah ship. Walk to the front of the ship and walk along the thin piece of wood to find the Windshear.

You can return to The Katariah after you’ve completed the “Hail Sithis!” quest.

Mace of Molag Bal

  • Damage: 16
  • Weight: 18
  • Upgrade Material: Ebony Ingot
Skyrim Special Edition Mace of Molag Bal
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The Mace of Molag Bal truly is an iconic weapon of The Elder Scrolls series. The mace features in Morrowind and Oblivion, but these versions are nowhere near as epic as the Skyrim version. The Mace of Molag Bal deals 25 points of Stamina and Magicka damage, and Soul Traps enemies that die within three seconds of being hit.

Maces are much slower than swords but pack one hell of a punch, and there’s no other unique mace that deals more damage than the Mace of Molag Bal. You can improve the attacks of the Mace of Molag Bal with Ebony ingots.

I suggest acquiring the Bone Breaker perk from the One-Handed skills, as this allows attacks from maces to ignore 85% of enemy armor at max rank. The Mace of Molag Bal is acquired after completing “The House of Horrors” Daedric quest obtained after entering the Abandoned House in Markarth.

The Mace of Molag Bal has a horrifying design that NPCs and townsfolk will comment on their concern and fear of it when the player has the mace unsheathed.


  • Damage: 15
  • Weight: 16
  • Upgrade Material: Refined Malachite
Skyrim Special Edition Chillrend
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Chillrend deserves a spot on the list of best One-handed weapons in Skyrim, thanks to its high base damage and powerful enchantment. Enemies struck by Chillrend take thirty points of Frost Damage and have a small chance of becoming paralyzed in ice and ragdoll on the floor for two seconds.

Chillrend is hands down one of the best One-handed weapons in the game. It’s a leveled item, so to get the best stats for Chillrend, you must acquire Chillrend at level forty-six. You can obtain Chillrend during the “The Pursuit” Thieves Guild quest while inside Riftweald Manor in Riften.

The player cannot disenchant Chillrend, but they can improve its Frostfeed enchantment by acquiring the Augmented Frost perk in the Destruction skill tree.

To maximize the output of Chillrend, acquire the Armsman 5/5 One-handed perk to deal double damage on each strike. Consider dual-wielding Chillrend with Dawnbreaker and unlock the Dual Flurry and Dual Savagery perks to inflict high physical, Frost, and Fire damage.

I highly recommend the Weapon Animation (Chillrend) mod, as this applies a frost effect on the sword, making it look even more unique. If you prefer the Oblivion version of the sword, install the Oblivion Chillrend SSE mod.


  • Damage: 12
  • Weight: 10
  • Upgrade Material: Ebony Ingot
Dawnbreaker Skyrim Special Edition
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The Dawnbreaker is one of the most iconic Daedra Artifacts in Skyrim and deserves a place on the list of best One-handed weapons in Skyrim. While the Dawnbreaker may not deal as much base damage as Chillrend, but in the right situation, the Dawnbreaker can decimate your undead foes.

The Dawnbreaker burns foes for ten points of Fire damage and has a chance to cause undead enemies to explode into a pile of ash when killed. Nearby undead flees upon seeing this making it very useful when fighting Draugr.

The player can improve the Dawnbreaker with an Ebony Ingot and increase the burn damage to fifteen by leveling the Augmented Fire perk in the Destruction magic skill tree. You can increase the fire damage by an extra two points of damage by wearing Ahzidal’s Mask.

Dawnbreaker is acquired after completing “The Break of Dawn” Daedric quest and is given to the player by Daedric Prince Meridia. The Dawnbreaker is my all-time favorite Elder Scrolls One-handed sword; most of the Daedric Artifacts have ties with evil deities. The Dawnbreaker highlights the powers of good in the world of Nirn.

The Weapon Animation (Dawnbreaker) mod applies light effects and greatly improves the sword’s look. I love how particles of light revolve around the hilt of the sword.

The ElDruin Dawnbreaker – Mesh and Texture Replacer mod is a great alternative for those that want a Final Fantasy-looking or Elden Ring-styled sword. However, it’s incompatible with the Weapon Animation (Dawnbreaker) mod.


  • Damage: 12
  • Weight: 11
  • Upgrade Material: Steel Ingot
Okin Skyrim Special Edition
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Okin is the first War Axe to feature on the list. It’s a One-handed weapon that is sadly lost in the hype of the other unique One-handed weapons. Okin is a powerful War Axe that deals ten points of Frost Damage to health and Stamina and slows the target for fifty seconds, making it a fantastic weapon for playing on higher difficulties where fatiguing your opponent can save you from being struck by deadly power attacks that would otherwise kill you.

The Okin’s damage can be improved by upgrading it with Steel Ingots, although you’ll need the Arcane Blacksmith perk unlocked. You can increase the Okin’s Frost damage by leveling the Augmented Frost perk in the Destruction Magic skill tree.

I also suggest leveling the Hack and Slash perk within the One-handed skill tree, as this applies to bleed damage to your enemies struck by War Axes.

Okin can be acquired in Volunruud during the “Silenced Tongues” quest obtained when entering Volunruud. The player must defeat Kvenel the Tongue to complete the quest. Note that the Okin is a War Axe; therefore, it swings slightly slower than a sword but deals more damage and has an increased chance to stagger.

Miraak’s Sword

  • Damage: 16
  • Weight: 3
  • Upgrade Material: Ebony Ingot, Daedra Heart
Miraak's Sword skyrim
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Miraak’s Sword is one of the best One-handed weapons in the game. You won’t find anything that matches this sword’s grotesque Lovecraftian look. Miraak’s Sword is a leveled weapon meaning that the player should aim to obtain the sword at level forty-six to acquire the best version of the sword.

Miraak’s Sword applies fifteen points of Stamina damage to the player’s target per hit and is one of the lightest weapons in the game. You can upgrade Miraak’s sword on a Grindstone by using an Ebony Ingot and Daedra Heart. However, you will need the Dwarven Smithing perk and Arcane Blacksmith perk.

The Dragonborn DLC is required to obtain Miraak’s Sword. The sword is obtained upon completing “At the Summit of Apocrypha,” the final quest for the Dragonborn DLC.

I’m not a fan of the design for Miraak’s Sword. It looks bulky, and its proportions are skewed, making it look like a giant dagger. That’s why I highly recommend the Aevrigheim – Miraak’s Sword and Staff Replacer mod. This mod allows you to choose from four new variants of Miraak’s Sword.


  • Damage: 14
  • Weight: 14
  • Upgrade Material: Quicksilver Ingot
Dragonbane skyrim special edition
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The Dragonbane is a blast from the past. However, it has never been more useful. Reminiscent of the Blades swords from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The Dragonbane is one of the best, if not the best One-handed weapons in the game for slaying dragons. Dealing 14 points of physical damage when acquired at level forty-six, matching the stats of the Daedric Sword.

The Dragonsbane deals an extra forty points of damage to dragons and ten points of Shock damage to all other enemy types. The player can acquire Dragonsbane during the “Alduin’s Wall” main quest. This One-handed weapon is found in the Sky Haven Temple, and the level of the player determines its level upon entering the temple for the first time.

The Dragonsbane is not the only Blades sword found in Skyrim. The player can acquire Bolar’s Oathblade, another Blades sword, albeit a much weaker version of Bloated Man’s Grotto.

The Dragonsbane looks fantastic paired with the Blades Armor; Heavy Armor set also found in the Sky Haven Temple. I highly recommend the Insanitys Dragonbane mod. This mod replaces the model’s textures, making it look even more unique by adding dragon bones around the sword’s hilt and a sword scabbard made from dragon bone.

Nightingale Blade

  • Damage: 14
  • Weight: 15
  • Upgrade Material: Ebony Ingot
Skyrim Special Edition Nightingale Blade
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The Nightingale Blade is one of Skyrim’s most iconic and best One-handed swords. Its dark but elegant design is unlike any over-the-top grizzly and grotesque Daedric Artifact in the game. The Nightingale Blade absorbs twenty-five points of Health and Stamina per hit, enabling the player to outlast their opponents in battle even when they have an edge in level and health.

The Nightingale Blade is one of my favorite weapons in the game due to its powerful enchantment. It’s possible to gain the same effect on a Daedric Sword with the Extra Effect Enchanting perk to create a stronger version of the sword.

You can upgrade the Nightingale Blade on a Grindstone with an Ebony Ingot. It would be best to have the Arcane Blacksmith perk unlocked; unfortunately, the Nightingale Blade doesn’t benefit from any Smithing perks. The Bladesman (3/3) perk will increase the critical damage of the Nightingale Blade by fifty percent. I recommend the Savage Strike and Armsman (5/5) perks to increase their damage further.

I must say that the Nightingale Blade looks amazing while wearing a full set of Nightingale Armor. It will also increase the damage of One-handed weapons by 15%! The player must complete the “Hard Answers” Thieves Guild quest for Karliah to give the player the Nightingale Blade.

Stalhrim One-handed Weapons

Weapon  Damage Weight Crafting Materials
Stalhrim Sword 13 14 Stalhrim
Stalhrim War Axe 15 16 Stalhrim
Stalhrim Dagger 10 4.5 Stalhrim
Stalhrim Mace 16 18 Stalhrim


Stalhrim One-handed weapons are some of the best craftable weapons in the game. At this point, all weapons have similar stats, but the Stalhrim One-handed weapons have the edge over Daedric One-handed weapons. Daedric swords, daggers, maces, and war axes all damage slightly more than Stalhrim’s One-handed weapons. However, Stalhrim Ore is a light material making the Stalhrim weapons much lighter than Daedric weapons.

Moreover, Stalhrim’s One-handed weapons have a secret property that grants them 25% stronger Frost Damage enchantments. This can be combined with the Frost Enchanter perk from the Enchanting skill tree to grant Stalhrim weapons a total of 50% stronger Frost Damage enchantments.

Stalhrim One-handed weapon’s Frost Damage can be increased further by a further 50% by obtaining the Augmented Frost perk in the Destruction Magic skill tree. The Stalhrim War Axe is my favorite of the Stalhrim One-handed weapons as the Hack, and Slash perk from the One-handed skill tree can be used in conjecture to inflict bleed damage on top of the heavy Frost Damage.

The player does not need to smelt Stalhrim Ore into Ingots to craft Stalhrim One-handed weapons or to upgrade them.

Madness One-Handed Weapons

Weapon  Damage Weight Crafting Materials
Madness Sword 16 20 Madness Ingot
Madness War Axe 17 22 Madness Ingot
Madness Dagger 13 7 Madness Ingot
Madness Mace 18 23 Madness Ingot

Madness weapons are the heaviest type of weapons in Skyrim. You will need Skyrim Special Edition and above to get your grubby Khajiit paws on these bad boys. Originally only available by purchasing the Saints and Seducers Creation Club DLC, but now free to all as Bethesda gave the Saints and Seducers expansion for free for all versions of the game on Skyrim’s Anniversary.

Madness One-handed weapons can be upgraded with Madness Ingots and be enchanted. (Now, only if there was a weight reduction enchantment). Madness One-handed weapons are the heaviest in the game, but thats the trade-off you get for the greatest damage dealing One-handed weapons in the game.

To unlock Madness Smithing, to craft Madness One-handed weapons, you must acquire Evethra’s Journal, which can be found by looting Evethra’s corpse located near Mistwatch. To acquire this miscellaneous quest, read the Note on Amber and Madness Ore. This note can be found on a table in a bandit camp near Thoron.

I’m personally not a fan of Madness One-handed weapons due to their heavy weight. However, there are ways to improve your character’s carrying capacity. Such as obtaining the Conditioning perk from the Heavy Armor skill tree.


Question:  What Races are Best Suited for One-Handed Weapons in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?

Answer: The Redguard is the best Race in Skyrim to build a One-handed weapon character. They are talented warriors and start with 25 skill points in One-handed weapons. Their Adrenaline Rush race power can be activated once a day for sixty seconds to grant them ten times faster Stamina regeneration. This enables them to relentlessly strike with a deadly dual-wielding flurry and one-handed power attacks without getting tired.
Orcs are another fantastic race for building characters specialized in One-handed weapons. They start with twenty skill points in their One-handed skill, and their Berserker Rage race power can be activated once a day for sixty seconds to deal double damage to enemies and receive 50% less to themselves.

Question: How Can I Level Up my One-Handed Skill Fast in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?

Answer: You can quickly level your One-handed skill by striking essential characters. Essential NPCs cannot be killed and, therefore, can be exploited for the experience by repeatedly striking them with One-handed weapons. The greater the damage you deal, the more experience points you will receive.
The player can strike Hadvar with a One-handed weapon during the “Unbound” quest at the beginning of the game with no penalty to level their One-handed skill. This exploit is made more efficient when affected by the “Well Rested” effect and “Lover’s Comfort” effect, as this raises the skill experience gain by 10% and 20%, respectively.
Shadowmere can also be exploited for experience grinding thanks to its large health pool and fast health regeneration. The player can activate the Warrior Standing Stone to increase the experience gain rate for One-handed weapons by an extra 20%.

Question: Are Shields Worth it in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?

Answer: Yes, the Dragonborn should equip a shield unless they are using magic in their off-hand. Shields grant the player extra defensive capabilities and can serve as two extra enchanting slots for their character once they have unlocked the Extra Effect Enchanting skill tree perk. Shields can also be used to bash the Dragonborn’s foes to stagger and interrupt enemies while they are attacking.

Moreover, Shields grant the Dragonborn protection from ranged attacks such as arrows. The Block skill tree has some powerful perks, such as Deflect Arrows and Elemental Protection, to protect the player from magic attacks. Deadly Bash allows the player to deal five times the normal damage to a target than regular shield bashing, and Shield Charge enables the player to knock enemies to the floor.

Best One Handed Weapons in Skyrim: Conclusion

In conclusion, I’ve explored all four corners of Skyrim to bring you the best One-handed weapons in the game. However, there are still many more badass One-handed weapons to acquire in Skyrim. Mehrunes’ Razor is one dagger with a small chance to kill an enemy outright in a single strike. However, I decided against adding it to the list as daggers can be situational, and with the right stealth perks, most daggers can deal insane critical hits.

You can’t go wrong in choosing any of the One-handed weapons in this list. However, I must mention that although these weapons are incredibly powerful, you will need to build your character accordingly to maximize each weapon’s potential.

While it’s possible to obtain every single perk in the game now, thanks to the addition of Legendary Skills, you can hinder your character early-mid game while playing on harder difficulties if you spread your character too thin across different skill trees. However, the joys of Skyrim are its freedom. It’s equally fun to build characters revolving around playstyles and equipment such as the One-handed weapons shown above.

Read More: Elder Scrolls Skyrim Kahvozein’s Fang

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