MHW: Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide

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MHW: Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide

Before we start on our MHW: Iceborne best Bow build guide, have you seen the trailer for Monster Hunter Rise? I’ve loved my time spent in the New World with the resolution and controls of the PS4, but I’ll 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’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 Build in MHW: Baseline

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

The Bow is largely considered the best element weapon in the game. Its attack speed and range make it great for consistent damage, and it can be customized for better close-range damage with a bit of melee thrown in. Its highly-targeted attacks make it ideal 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.


MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide
Image by Capcom

We haven’t covered any ranged weapons in this series at the time of writing this, so I haven’t had the chance to talk about ammo/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:

Bow of Vice & Violence444120 (Dragon)-30%Blast, Close Range, Paralysis, Power, Sleep
Kjárr Bow204 – 252240 – 330 (All)10 – 15%Combinations vary
Safi’s Bow312120 (All)5%Close Range, Power
Alatreon Commandment336600 (Dragon)0%Blast, Close Range, Paralysis, Power, Sleep

I’ll start by saying that the Fatalis Bow is hardly considered to be the meta. If you’re going for a raw build or up against a monster without a notable weakness, you can certainly take advantage of those high raw stats. For any other build, however, it’s worth remembering that the Bow does its best work when dealing element damage, and other Bows simply do it better.

Speaking of better, check out those Kjárr weapons. These will be your best bet in most cases. 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.

Keep in mind that some elemental match-ups work a bit better with the Safi’jiiva series. Safi’s Bows, much like other Safi weapons, can be specially augmented with Awakened Abilities that boost their already quality stats.

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


The MHW best Bow skills take the weapon’s stamina reliance into account. 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)
  • Critical Boost (increases attack power on critical hits)
  • Critical Element/Status (allows affinity to affect element/status damage)
  • Critical Eye (increases affinity)
  • Health Boost (increases health and max health cap)
  • Weakness Exploit (increases affinity when hitting 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. 

MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide 2
Image by Capcom

Best Bow Build: Fire

For each of these example builds, I wanted to showcase a different type of element damage. The builds themselves will look pretty similar — Fatalis has updated the meta enough that you’ll basically be using the same set for everything. We’ll try to introduce a little variety, but for now, let’s start with the MHW best Fire Bow build!

Kjárr Bow “King”Dragonhead β+
Challenger Charm VDragonhide α+
Temporal Mantle+Dragonclaws β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Dragonbarbs α+
Rimeguard Greaves γ+

As usual, we’re going with the MHW best Bow armor — Fatalis with a bit of Velkhana thrown in. Two pieces of Fatalis gives us the Inheritance set bonus, which unlocks the skill caps of all skill secrets. Four pieces gives us Transcendence, which gives us a nice boost to health and stamina and a really nifty point into True Razor Sharp/Spare Shot.

The armor pieces themselves give us points into Weakness Exploit, Evade Window, and Critical Eye (among a few other skills). While none of these are particularly crucial for the Bow, having some of these basic skills built in will free up some decoration slots for better customization.

Since we’re using a Kulve Taroth Bow, we get innate Critical Element, and we’ll equip the Challenger Charm V for the handful of points in Agitator. This makes our total skill list (before decorations) as follows:

  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Element 1
  • Critical Eye 3
  • Evade Window 2
  • Peak Performance 3
  • Quick Sheath 2
  • Stun Resistance 3
  • Weakness Exploit 3

From here, it’s time to slot in our baseline skills. There’s room to slot in pretty much everything on the list, so feel free to stack points based on your available jewels and preferred level of comfort. Adding a few points of Fire Damage wouldn’t hurt!

Best Bow Build: Ice

Next up is our Ice build. If you’re looking for the best set, you can basically just copy the Fire build above and slot in Ice Damage instead, but variety really is the spice of life. To avoid showing you the same set over again, I’ve mixed this one with a few pieces of Safi’jiiva armor.

Kjárr Bow “Stream”Safi Crested Crown β+
Fury Charm VDragonhide α+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Dragonbarbs α+
Safi Crested Boots β+

Since we’re not using as many pieces of Fatalis armor, we’re not going to get the Transcendence set bonus — you’ll want to slot in Razor Sharp/Spare Shot later on. Instead, we get the Dragonvein Awakening set bonus, which grants 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).

The Fatalis chest and waist pieces still give us a couple of points into Critical Eye, Evade Window, and Weakness Exploit. The Safi armor comes equipped with a few points into Critical Boost and Evade Window, with a bit of Blight Resistance thrown in for good measure.

Instead of Agitator, we’re investing in Resentment to take better advantage of the Safi set bonus. Since we’re using a Kulve Taroth weapon again, we’ve still got Critical Element built in — this brings our skill list (before decorations) to the following:

  • Blight Resistance 1
  • Critical Boost 2
  • Critical Element 1
  • Critical Eye 3
  • Evade Window 3
  • Resentment 5
  • Weakness Exploit 3

We don’t have quite as many slots available in this build, so we’ll have to be more judicious with our decoration slots — we won’t be able to max out quite so many things. Get as many of the Bow-specific baseline skills as you can, then slot in Ice Attack and comfort skills as your jewels allow.

MHW Iceborne Best Bow Build Guide 3
Image by Capcom

Best Bow Build: Water

Finally, let’s take a look at the MHW best Water Bow build. This one is more of a transitional set (i.e. it doesn’t use 2-4 pieces of Fatalis by default). If you’re looking for an effective endgame Bow build that doesn’t require quite so much Fatalis grinding.

Safi’s AquabowEscadora Wisdom α+
Flood Charm VSafi Crested Chest β+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Escadora Might α+
Safi Crested Boots γ+

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 damage on our hunts.

Since we’re using a Safi’jiiva Bow, we don’t get Critical Element built in the way we do with the Kulve Taroth. You’ll want to set aside one of your Awakened Abilities slots for this one.

Equipping the Flood Charm V gives us a few points into Water Attack, bringing our skill list (before decorations) to the following:

  • Attack Boost 4
  • Blight Resistance 1
  • Critical Boost 2
  • Critical Eye 1
  • Dragon Resistance 3
  • Element Conversion
  • Water Attack 5
  • Resentment 3

This is already a pretty solid build, aside from the lack of Bow-specific skills. Slot in the baselines as the corresponding jewels become available, and adjust for comfort as needed.

The Hunt Begins

That takes care of our 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. Please feel free to leave a comment, and subscribe to our email list for more MHW build guides.

Happy hunting!


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