Daggers are the weapons of thieves and assassins, small and light but still deadly in the hands of an expert. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, they can do more damage than any other weapon with the right perks and equipment. A character with the Assassin’s Blade perk and Shrouded Gloves can perform sneak attacks with daggers that deal 30 times the weapon’s damage, instantly killing most enemies.
There are many different daggers in the game, including numerous types that can be crafted and a few that are completely unique and must be obtained via quests.
I’ll rank the best daggers in Skyrim below from good to great and tell you how you can get your hands on each one.
I’m starting my list with an option that’s basically just an enchanted Steel Dagger. It’s a useful enchantment, especially if you don’t plan to enchant your weapons yourself. This dagger is also technically obtainable early in the game when you may not otherwise have access a soul trap ability.
Bloodthorn has a base damage of 5 and if your target dies within 3 seconds of being hit with it, it fills a soul gem. Whether by design or error, the dagger also has a second, hidden enchantment that absorbs some health from the target.
This dagger can be found in Hag’s End, an Ancient Nord tomb in the mountains between Solitude and Markarth which can be reached by passing through another Nordic ruin, Deepwood Redoubt.
The dagger is on top of an altar on a balcony. You’ll have to fight your way through some witches and a hagraven to get to it.
#9 Ebony Dagger
Ebony items don’t start appear in the game until you reach level 36. But it is possible to get your hands on one of these daggers before then. To do so, you’ll either need to pickpocket one or craft it.
The NPCs Cicero, Neloth, and Esbern all have an Ebony Dagger that you can pickpocket. To craft an Ebony Dagger yourself, you’ll need the Ebony Smithing perk, which requires level 80 in the Smithing skill. You’ll then need to bring an ebony ingot and a leather strip to a blacksmith forge to make it. Ebony ingots and ore are rare. The bet place to get them is Gloombound Mine in Eastmarch.
Ebony Daggers have a base damage of 10 and no special properties. The Blade of Sacrifice is an unique variant of this dagger, and you’ll find it at #8 below.
#8 Blade of Sacrifice
The Blade of Sacrifice is a variant of the Ebony Dagger, which is #9 in this list above. It has the same base damage value, 10, but is slightly lighter weight. It’s also a slightly different color.
The main reason this variant is higher on my list is because it is easy to obtain. You will need to be at least level 30, but that’s six levels sooner than you’ll find Ebony Daggers from loot or vendors.
To obtain the Blade of Sacrifice, you’ll have to locate a copy of the book Boethiah’s Proving. Reading the book will mark the Sacellum of Boethiah on your map. Travel there and agree to the priestess’s request for a sacrifice, and she’ll give you the dagger. You don’t have to actually follow through with a sacrifice to get your hands on the blade.
#7 Stalhrim Dagger
Stalhrim is a material that is exclusive to the island of Solstheim, which was added with the Dragonborn DLC. This cold blue ore is also known as enchanted ice, and can only be mined with an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. It was used in the burial rituals of the Ancient Nords and can be mined from their coffins. The material enhances frost-based enchantments by 25%, so this dagger is a good candidate for a frost damage enchantment.
Stalhrim Daggers can be purchased from vendors in Solstheim or found as loot on the island. They can also be crafted if you have the Ebony Smithing Perk, which requires Smithing level 80, and have completed the quest A New Source of Stalhrim. This quest can be started in the Skaal Village on the island of Solstheim by speaking with Deor Woodcutter. Once you’ve met the prerequisites, you can craft a Stalhrim Dagger at a blacksmith’s forge using one piece of stalhrim and a leather strip.
This dagger has a base damage value of 10, the same as an Ebony Dagger. There are better daggers in the game, but stalhrim has a nice look to it, and you can technically head to Solstheim and get a Stalhrim Dagger pretty early in the game. It also offers that nice bonus to frost enchantments.
#6 Daedric Dagger
Prior to the Dawnguard DLC, the Daedric Dagger was the best craftable dagger in Skyrim, with a base damage value of 11. This dagger has a sinister appearance befitting its name, with a red glow on the blade and a serrated edge.
Daedric Daggers are rare and won’t be found in loot or from vendors until you are at least level 46. The easiest way to obtain one is through crafting. You’ll need the Daedric Smithing perk to make one, which requires level 90 in the Smithing skill. Then you’ll need to bring a daedra heart, an ebony ingot, and a leather strip to a blacksmith forge to craft it.
A Daedric Dagger can also be crafted at the Atronach Forge at the College of Winterhold if you have unlocked it and acquired a Sigil Stone. Doing so requires completing the Conjuration Ritual Spell quest, which in turn requires level 90 in the Conjuration skill. Then you can bring a daedra heart, an ebony dagger, a centurion dynamo core, and a black soul gem to the Atronach Forge to make a Daedric Dagger.
#5 Dragonbone Dagger
The Dragonbone Dagger was added to the game with the Dawnguard DLC, and is the strongest non-unique dagger in the game. Dragonbone items can’t be found as loot or from vendors, which makes sense since you’re the only person going around Skyrim killing dragons. So you’ll have to craft one yourself.
To make a Dragonbone Dagger, you’ll need the Dragon Armor perk, which requires a Smithing level of 100. Then you’ll need to bring a dragon bone and a leather strip to a blacksmith forge to assemble it. Dragon bones can only be obtained by killing and looting dragons, but that’s something you’ll be doing a lot of anyway.
For your trouble, you’ll get a dagger with a base damage value of 12. The only other weapon with as high of a base damage value is the Blade of Woe, which is #4 in this list.
#4 Blade of Woe
The Blade of Woe has the same base damage value as a Dragonbone Dagger (12), plus it comes with an unique enchantment that absorbs 10 points of health with each strike. This enchantment is weak relative to ones that you can put on your own weapons with the Enchanting skill, but if you’re not planning to enchant your items, this one can be especially valuable. The dagger also uses a unique model that sets it apart from other weapons in the game.
To obtain the Blade of Woe, you will have to get it from its current wielder: Astrid, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood. You can do this one of three ways.
You can kill her in the Abandoned Shack where you first encounter her and loot the dagger from her corpse. You can also pickpocket it from her if you have the Misdirection perk, which allows pickpocketing equipped items. Finally, you can join the Dark Brotherhood and complete their quests up through Death Incarnate, at which point Astrid will give you the Blade of Woe.
This unique dagger has a base damage value of 8, which puts it on par with the Elven Dagger, Nordic Dagger, and Skyforge Steel Dagger, all common mid-tier items. But its value lies in its in enchantment and not its middling damage. This weapon has a chance to absorb 10 points of Health, Magicka, and Stamina on every strike.
More than anything, though, Keening is just a very cool item to get your hands on, especially if you played Morrowind. It has a rich history as one of the tools created by Lord Kagrenac to harvest the Heart of Lorkhan. These tools feature in the plot of Morrowind as well, where they are used to defeat Dagoth Ur. Keening comes with a unique model that makes it the best-looking dagger in the game, with its detailed Dwemer hilt and crystal blade.
To get your hands on Keening, you’ll first have to complete the quest Hitting the Books for Urag gro-Shub in the library of the College of Winterhold. This will unlock the quest Arniel’s Endeavor, which can be obtained from Arniel Gane in the college’s Hall of Attainment. He will ask you to locate three other items first before he will send you to find Keening. When you find it, it will initially have a negative effect that will lower your Health, Magicka, and Stamina while it is equipped. Bring it back to him and complete the quest to get the version with the absorption effect.
Note that Keening is bugged in the base game and does not recharge, making its enchantment a one-time use. This is fixed with the Unofficial Skyrim Patch, which makes it an infinite charge as intended.
#2 Valdr’s Lucky Dagger
Valdr’s Lucky Dagger is a unique version of the Steel Dagger, using the same model and stats, including a base damage value of 5. That’s not much to write home about, but we’re not here for the stats, but rather the item’s unique effect. This dagger grants a 25% chance of a critical hit on every strike, which can stack with the sneak attack bonus. This weapon is also easy to obtain fairly early in the game, which can’t be said of many of the other items on this list.
To get your hands on Valdr’s Lucky Dagger, you’ll have to travel to the Moss Mother Cavern entrance in Falkreath Hold, west of the lake. Valdr sits just outside the entrance and will request your help, starting the quest Hunter and Hunted.
Heal him with a spell or a potion, and then clear the enemies in the cave: 3 spriggans and a bear. When you return to him, he’ll give you his dagger as a reward.
#1 Mehrunes’ Razor
If you’re looking for the best dagger in Skyrim, look no further! Mehrunes’ Razor is a Daedric artifact, so you know right off the bat that it’s going to be a powerful unique item. Its base damage is equal to a regular Daedric Dagger (11), but it’s lighter, and it has a 1.98% chance to instantly kill your target. This effect has infinite charges so you’ll never need to recharge it with soul gems. It also has a uniquely wicked-looking model.
There’s just one catch: to get it, you have to make a proverbial deal with the devil. Mehrunes Dagon is the Daedric Prince of Destruction and this is his dagger.
To get your hands on it, you’ll have to be at least level 20. You’ll receive an invitation to visit the Mythic Dawn Museum in Dawnstar. (If you played Oblivion, you may remember the Mythic Dawn as devout followers of Mehrunes Dagon who assassinated Emperor Uriel Septim VII and triggered the Oblivion Crisis.)
Go to the museum and speak with Silus Vesuius. He wants you to find the pieces of this dagger, which once belonged to his family. This will start the quest Pieces of the Past, which will require you to take the three pieces from their current owners, usually by killing them.
Once the pieces have been collected, you’ll travel with Silus to the Shrine of Mehrunes Dagon, where the Daedric Prince will command you to kill Silus. You must do so if you want to keep the dagger. If you spare him, he will keep it and lock it up in the museum where it can’t be accessed.