Before we get into the MHW: Iceborne best bow build guide, first things first — have you seen the trailer for Monster Hunter Rise yet? I’ve loved spending my time in the New World with the resolution and controls of the PS4, but I have to admit — I’m excited to play Monster Hunter on a portable system again. The new features look incredible, and I can’t wait to embark on another adventure.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll get to continue this build guide series with the new installment — a return to the skill point system of earlier titles would make for an exciting change of pace!

For now, though, we have the final MHW update to look forward to. AT Velkhana is coming in hot (er, cold) with Fatalis in tow, so now is a great time to tighten up your end game builds. Next time we convene, there could be a whole new meta for your weapon of choice!

This week, we’re taking a closer look at the Bow and all it has to offer. As always, we’ll start with some big-picture recommendations for helpful weapons and skills, then use those recommendations to guide a few example builds that show off the weapon’s versatility. Let’s get started!

Best Bow in MHW: Baseline

To start us off, let’s look at the unique advantages of the Bow and which skill types will best capitalize on them. 

The Bow offers serious, consistent damage at a range. That said, you can always adjust your build to increase close-range damage and take advantage of its melee options. The bow is also your best choice for dealing elemental damage, and it’s considered the best Element weapon in the game. Its highly-targeted attacks make it great for exploiting weak points and wounded areas, so attacks that boost your affinity and critical hit damage will be a big help.

Something to keep in mind is that the Bow is a very stamina-heavy weapon. It relies on your stamina bar to fuel its attacks, and you’ll still need to dash and evade when attacking from a distance. When putting your build together, you’ll want to focus on skills that take this stamina reliance into account.

I’ll discuss a few recommended skills in detail later on — for now, let’s look at the best Bows MHW: Iceborne has to offer.

Weapons

MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide

We haven’t covered any ranged weapons in this series yet, so I haven’t had the chance to talk about coatings. Each of the six different coating types offers a unique advantage that can help you deal more damage, so knowing which coatings best complements your setup can further refine your build.

Be sure to keep a close eye on which coating types your Bow supports — not all coating types are included on every weapon. A few skills can help you slot in your coating of choice if it isn’t innately compatible, though this will likely take up a valuable decoration slot. That said, Power and Close Range coatings are supported on most end-game Bows, which are the most useful options for basic DPS anyway.

Here’s a quick overview of the best Bows available to date:

WeaponDamageElementAffinityCoating Support
Alatreon Commandment336600 (Dragon)0%Blast, Close Range, Paralysis, Power, Sleep
Kjárr Bow204 – 252240 – 330 (All)10 – 15%Combinations vary
Safi’s Bow312120 (All)5%Close Range, Power

Alatreon Commandment doesn’t feature in any of the example builds below, but I’d be remiss not to include it in this list. It’s by far the best MHW dragon bow for putting together a Dragon-based build — even a Safi Bow augmented to the teeth with Element Up only boasts 590 Dragon damage compared to the Commandment’s innate 600. Throw in some formidable raw damage and five out of the six available coatings, and you’ve got yourself a top-notch weapon.

With the obvious exception of Dragon, the Kjárr Bows are your best bet when it comes to any other type of element or status damage. They’ve got impressive base stats, plus the added advantage of innate Critical Element/Status so that you don’t have to slot the skill in to take advantage of their element damage on critical hits.

Finally, there’s the ever-powerful Safi’jiiva series. Safi’s Bows, much like other Safi weapons, can be specially augmented with Awakened Abilities that boost their already quality stats.

With these weapons in mind, let’s take a look at the best skills for your baseline Bow build.

Skills

What about the MHW best bow skills?

As I mentioned before, you’ll want to take the Bow’s stamina reliance into account when putting together your build. Ideally, your skill list should include options that manage your stamina consumption and increase your overall damage output.

First up is Stamina Surge, which boosts your stamina recovery speed. This pairs well with Constitution, which reduces the cost of stamina-draining activities. I recommend this mostly for your Bow attacks, but it’ll also come in handy with all the dashing you’ll need to do to stay out of the monster’s clutches. 

From here, you have a couple of options. You can either invest fully in Constitution to reach the 50% stamina reduction cap, or stop at Level 3 and take a few points into Mushroomancer. Investing three levels into this skill allows you to consume farmable Devil’s Blight mushrooms, which give you all the benefits of Dash Juice at a significantly lower cost. 

Combining the two skills gives you 30% built-in stamina reduction, plus an additional 25% reduction (and a few other stamina-related benefits) for four minutes after eating Devil’s Blight. Although it does require a bit more slot finagling, investing in Mushroomancer ultimately gives you more sustainable access to Dash Juice and several other benefits that wouldn’t be as accessible with a maxed-out Constitution build.

Beyond stamina management, there are a few other skills that are specifically useful for the Bow. I recommend investing in both Normal Shots and Spread/Power Shots, which increase each specified shot type’s attack power. Bow Charge Plus is also useful for landing charge attacks, as it lets you increase your maximum charge level by one.

I also recommend looking into the usual generic affinity- and attack-boosting skills, as it’s always a good idea to boost your overall damage when you can. Here’s a quick list of some valuable options:

  • Agitator (increases affinity when the monster is enraged)
  • Attack Boost (increases attack power, increases affinity at later levels)
  • Critical Boost (increases attack power on critical hits)
  • Critical Element/Status (allows affinity to affect element/status damage)
  • Critical Eye (increases affinity)
  • Weakness Exploit (increases affinity when attacking weak spots)

That takes care of our baseline build! Now that we’ve armed ourselves with the MHW best Bows and Bow-related skills that Iceborne has to offer, let’s look at some example builds that utilize these options in line with the current meta. 

Best Bow Build: Fire

MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide 2

For each of these example builds, I wanted to showcase a different type of element damage. Since four out of the seven Iceborne Elder Dragons are weak to fire damage, we’ll start with that one! Here’s our MHW best fire bow build.

EquipmentArmor
Kjárr Bow “King”Escadora Wisdom α+
Blaze Charm VSafi Crested Chest β+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Escadora Might α+
Safi Crested Boots β+

We’re going for a mixed armor set, as Safi’jiiva and Alatreon both offer set bonuses that will help this build. Two pieces of Alatreon armor gives us Element Conversion, which increases element damage as our armor’s element resistance increases. Since the Safi armor includes a few innate resistances, we’re guaranteed to get a nice little boost of fire damage on our hunts. That makes it some of the MHW best bow armor for this particular build.

Speaking of Safi’jiiva, the Dragonvein Awakening set bonus gained from its armor will give us additional element damage (and increased affinity) as long as your weapon’s drawn. It does come with the drawback of a steady health drain, but you can always recover health as long as you’re continually attacking (which isn’t too difficult to do with the Bow and our stamina skills).

Equipping the Blaze Charm V will give us increased fire attack, boosting our damage even further. After taking the Kjárr Bow’s innate Critical Element into account, our current skill list (before decorations) is as follows:

  • Attack Boost 4
  • Blight Resistance
  • Critical Boost 2
  • Critical Element
  • Critical Eye
  • Dragon Resistance 3
  • Element Conversion
  • Fire Attack 5
  • Resentment 3

The skills you slot in with decorations will depend on the jewels you have available. I recommend equipping the baseline skills as soon as you can and building off of our set’s innate skills.

  • Bow Charge Plus
  • Constitution (and Mushroomancer, if desired)
  • Critical Boost
  • Critical Eye
  • Fire Attack
  • Normal Shots
  • Recovery Up (to counteract Safi’s health drain)
  • Spread/Power Shots
  • Stamina Surge
  • Weakness Exploit

As usual, I recommend the Temporal Mantle+ and Rocksteady Mantle+ for general comfort in your build. This will be consistent for the rest of the example builds in this guide.

Best Bow Build: Water

Next up is water, which matches up well with a good handful of end-game Iceborne monsters. We’ll be using Safi’s Aquabow for this build, as it’s considered among the MHW best water bows. Moreover, arming it with Power coatings and a few choice Awakened Abilities gives it a slight advantage over its Kjárr counterpart.

EquipmentArmor
Safi’s AquabowSilver Solhelm β+
Challenger Charm VSilver Solmail β+
Temporal Mantle+Silver Solbraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Silver Solcoil β+
Brachydium Greaves β+

There aren’t many supremely useful skills attached to this armor set — Silver Rathalos armor is nice, but we’re mostly here for the True Critical Element set bonus. Since we’re not using a Kjárr Bow, getting the skill on a quality set of end game armor will save us from having to slot it in later.

The Brachydium Greaves will give us a couple of points into Weakness Exploit, and the Challenger Charm V will help us hit our Agitator max. With these skills in place, our list (before decorations) looks like this:

  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Boost 3
  • Slinger Capacity 3
  • True Critical Element
  • Weakness Exploit 2

From here, you’ll want to slot in our baseline skills and a few other skills to boost your affinity and attack power. I recommend using the following as they become available:

  • Bow Charge Plus
  • Constitution (and Mushroomancer, if desired)
  • Critical Eye
  • Normal Shots
  • Spread/Power Shots
  • Stamina Surge
  • Water Attack (max out)
  • Weakness Exploit (max out)

Best Bow Build: Ice

MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide 3

Finally, let’s round out our guide with an elemental build centered on ice damage.

EquipmentArmor
Kjárr Bow “Stream”Safi Crested Crown β+
Frost Charm VSafi Crested Chest β+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Safi Crested Belt β+
Safi Crested Boots β+

We’re going with a full Safi’jiiva set on this one, unlocking the True Dragonvein Awakening set bonus. This increases the amount of elemental damage and affinity granted when you have your weapon drawn, as well as the amount of health you recover from the steady drain.

We get a few points into Evade Window and Critical Boost from the armor itself, but we’re mostly investing in the Safi set for its set bonus. Since we’re using a Kjárr Bow again, we get the added benefit of innate Critical Element, plus a few points of ice damage from equipping the Frost Charm V. Before adding decorations, our skill list is as follows:

  • Blight Resistance 3
  • Critical Boost 3
  • Critical Element
  • Evade Window 3
  • Ice Attack 5

Again, you’ll want to slot in our baseline skills as they become available. For decorations, I recommend focusing on the following skills:

  • Agitator
  • Bow Charge Plus
  • Constitution (and Mushroomancer, if desired)
  • Critical Eye
  • Ice Attack (max out)
  • Normal Shots
  • Recovery Up (to counteract Safi’s health drain)
  • Spread/Power Shots
  • Stamina Surge
  • Weakness Exploit

The Hunt Begins

That takes care of our MHW best Bow build guide — thank you so much for reading! As always, I’d love to hear more about the unique builds you’ve all set up. Since the meta’s likely to change in the next couple of weeks, please feel free to report back with any comments you may have about the builds listed here.

Happy hunting!

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