The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a plethora of weapons you can find throughout the frozen north. Among these are one-handed weapons — a useful and versatile weapon class fit for a variety of builds. We’ve put together this list of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim, each with their own unique, valuable features that can help you on your journey.
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Top 10 Best One-Handed Weapons in Skyrim
As a note, these weapons are listed in no particular order. Whatever works best for your playstyle will do just fine!
Chillrend is a leveled glass sword that resembles a regular green glass sword, but the blade appears blue instead. Chillrend does 15 points of base damage to enemies, plus additional damage depending on your current level.
This one-handed weapon also has a unique enchantment that allows you to deal up to 30 points of Frost damage to your target. With this enchantment, you also have a chance to paralyze your enemies momentarily. Chillrend is a great one-handed weapon to use against enemies that have a weakness to Frost.
Quest: The Pursuit (Thieves Guild)
You can obtain the Chillrend sword by completing the quest “The Pursuit,” given to you by Karliah. This quest is part of the Thieves Guild questline. Depending on your progress, you may need to complete other quests first. You can also break into Riftweald Manor, kill the bandits, and locate the wardrobe that has a false back panel to enter the tunnels.
One thing to keep in mind before entering tunnels is that there are a few traps that can do some damage to you if you’re not careful. The tunnels below the manor will lead you to a room with a display case that contains Chillrend.
2. The Dawnbreaker
The Dawnbreaker is one of the most distinct-looking weapons in Skyrim, with a glowing bright light at the end of the hilt. This sword is a Daedric artifact that does 12 points of base damage to your target. It also has the “Meridia’s Retribution” effect, which infects a target for ten seconds with each hit you land. If you’re fighting an Undead opponent and kill them within that ten-second period, they’ll explode. The explosion deals additional damage to nearby Undead and will cause enemies to run away for a short time.
Just remember that this effect also applies to you and your followers if you count as Undead. If you’re a Vampire or Vampire Lord, you can take damage from the explosion. Surena can also be damaged as a Vampire Lord.
Quest: The Break of Dawn
To locate the Dawnbreaker, you will have to complete the quest “The Break of Dawn,” given to you by the Daedric Prince Meridia. To begin this quest, visit the Statue to Meridia located on Mount Kilkreath, West of Solitude.
Once you arrive at the statue, Meridia will ask for help with clearing her temple of the Undead. The Undead have returned with the help of the Necromancer, Malkoran. Meridia will instruct you to locate her beacon and return it to her to continue the quest.
You can find Meridia’s Beacon by searching any boss chests in the game. It will randomly spawn — once it has been found, you will hear Meridia’s voice instructing you to bring the beacon to her shrine. Once you defeat Malkoran, Meridia will reward you with the Dawnbreaker.
The Dragonbane is a sword that was used by the Blades, a contingent of swordsmen that served the Emperor of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Dragonbane is a leveled sword but does 10–14 points of base damage to enemies. The sword has an enchantment called Damage to Dragons. This enchantment deals an extra leveled amount of damage per hit to a dragon. This enchantment also dishes out 10 points of Shock damage to other enemies who are not dragons.
Since Dragonbane is a leveled weapon, it will do increased amounts of damage to enemies if you are at a higher level. This makes Dragonbane one of the most powerful one-handed weapons in Skyrim. You can do up to 40 points of extra damage to dragons if you are Level 46 or higher.
Quest: Alduin’s Wall
You can find Dragonbane in Sky Haven Temple, located in The Reach near Markarth. Sky Haven Temple was the former headquarters of the Blades before it was sealed off, only to be opened again by a Dragonborn.
To gain access to the temple, you’ll have to go through Karthspire, which is occupied by Forsworn. Pick up the “Alduin’s Wall” quest from Delphine, and she and Esbern will help you defeat Forsworn on the way to Karthspire Camp. In the temple itself, you’ll find Dragonbane on a table in a room to the left of the main chamber. Next to the table is a chest that contains a full set of Blades armor, so be sure to pick that up as well!
To gain access to the temple, you will have to go through Karthspire, which is occupied by Forsworn. You will have to discover it with Delphine and Esbern during the quest “Alduin’s Wall.” Delphine is the quest giver and she will travel with you to Karthspire Camp along with Esbern, helping you defeat the Forsworn along the way.
4. Lord Harkon’s Sword
Harkon’s Sword looks similar to Dragonbane, but in gold instead of silver. Harkon’s Sword deals 8 points of base damage to your targets when struck with it. That’s fine and all, but what really makes this weapon shine is its enchantment. If you’re a Vampire, Harkon’s Sword can also absorb 15 points of your enemy’s Health, Stamina, and Magicka. This effect doesn’t apply otherwise, though, making this one of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim for Vampires.
Quest: Kindred Judgement (Dawnguard)
Harkon’s Sword is carried by Lord Harkon, who is the leader of the vampire clan Volkihar. The sword can be retrieved by either killing him during the quest “Kindred Judgment” or by pickpocketing it.
If you have chosen to side with the vampires during the Dawnguard questline, you can try pickpocketing the sword from Harkon to keep him alive. “Kindred Judgement” is the final quest in the Dawnguard add-on, so you must complete the questline before you can gain access to the castle.
If you are on the side of the Dawnguard, you must travel to Castle Volkihar after Isran makes the decision to attack the vampires and fight Harkon. Once he is defeated, you can collect the sword.
5. Nightingale Blade
The Nightingale Blade is a one-handed weapon that used to belong to Gallus Desidenius, the guild master of the Thieves Guild in Riften. The Nightingale Blade is a leveled sword that deals 14 points of base damage to your enemies, plus additional damage depending on your level.
As one of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim, it also has a unique enchantment called Nightingale’s Talon that absorbs up to 25 points of your enemy’s Health and Stamina and adds it to your own. This enchantment makes the Nightingale Blade one of the most beneficial one-handed weapons in Skyrim.
Quest: Hard Answers (Thieves Guild)
The quest “Hard Answers” is part of the Thieves Guild questline. You have to help some of the members decode a journal that belonged to the former guild master.
To receive the quest, you will have to speak to Karliah, a member of the Thieves Guild. “Hard Answers” requires you to decode a journal written in the Falmer language and locate the translation guide. To locate the guide, you must speak to Calcelmo in Understone Keep in Markarth and follow the quest objectives there.
Once this is completed, you can speak to Karliah, and she will reward you with The Nightingale Blade.
6. Soul Render and Blood Scythe
The Soul Render and Blood Scythe blades do 13 points of base damage to your targets. Soul Render and Blood Scythe are unique one-handed weapons that, when wielded together, gain a special enchantment benefit.
The blades have an enchantment that absorbs 15 points of your enemy’s Magicka and has the chance to lower their magical defenses. When paired with the Deathbrand armor from the same quest, you can increase your one-handed weapon damage by a significant amount.
Soul Render and Blood Scythe when wielded together with the Deathbrand armor can be a powerful combination, making them some of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim.
To locate the Soul Render and Blood Scythe weapons, you will have to find the book titled “Deathbrand” in Tel Mithryn or Raven Rock Temple in Solstheim. It is important to note that the quest will not begin if you are below Level 36 in the game.
Once you locate and read the book, the quest will have you locate Deathbrand’s treasure. Alternatively, you can loot ancient chests on Solstheim — if you come across Deathbrand’s helm or other items, the quest will activate. Upon completing the quest and defeat Haknir Death-Brand in Gyldenhul Barrow, you will be able to loot Soul Render and Blood Scythe from his corpse.
Windshear is a unique sword that does 11 points of base damage to your enemies. The Windshear is a Scimitar with its own unique enchantment that lets you perform bash attacks on your enemies that have a chance to knock them down.
There is also a chance to paralyze your targets for 0.1 seconds after performing a bash attack. Being able to paralyze your enemy during a fight can be a game-changing ability and help you gain the upper hand in a fight. Windshear is one of the most advantageous one-handed weapons in Skyrim with its ability to knock over your enemies.
Quest: Hail Sithis (Dark Brotherhood)
To locate Windshear, you must complete the quest “Hail Sithis!” This is part of the Dark Brotherhood questline. The Windshear is located on the Katariah, a ship located off the coast of Solitude. Without the quest, you will not be able to get access to The Katariah.
Once aboard the ship, you are tasked with killing the Emperor. You’ll have to face multiple soldiers and Penitus Oculatus agents patrolling the area. The Windshear can be found lodged into the wood on a beam attached to the front of the ship. You will have to climb onto the wooden beam and carefully sneak to the end of it to find the sword.
If you are anything like me and accidentally fall off the beam, you can just swim around to the anchor chain and regain entry to the ship.
If you missed the Windshear during the quest and want to get the sword, you are able to regain access as well. You can return to the ship and re-enter whenever you wish.
8. The Pale Blade
The Pale Blade is a leveled, one-handed sword that can deal anywhere between 8–11 points of base damage to your enemy. Though it resembles an Ancient Nord Sword, The Pale Blade has a unique enchantment that deals an additional 25 points of Frost damage to targets.
In addition to this ability, creatures and people up to Level 16 will flee from combat for 30 seconds. This ability can be incredibly useful when fighting multiple enemies, and the Frost damage gives you an upper hand against enemies with that specific weakness. The Pale Blade is one of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim because of the Frost damage enchantment and the ability to make your enemies flee.
Quest: The Pale Lady
The Pale Blade can be found by locating Frostmere Crypt and following the character Ra’jiir through the various tunnels. Once you have completed the quest objectives, you can then follow Ra’jiir to the tomb of the Pale Lady in Frostmere Crypt. Ra’jiir will be defeated, allowing you to pick up the Pale Blade, which will cause the Pale Lady to spawn. If you would like to keep the weapon, you will have to defeat the Pale Lady. Once you have defeated her, you can retrieve the blade from the pedestal and exit the crypt.
9. Stalhrim War Axe
The Stalhrim War Axe does 15 points of base damage. Despite the ancient Nordic belief that Stalhrim is enchanted ice, this is the only weapon on this list that does not come with a built-in enchantment.
That said, if the Stalhrim War Axe is paired with a Frost damage enchantment, it becomes 25% stronger. This addition can transform the axe, making it one of the most useful weapons to have. The Stalhrim War Axe is the perfect one-handed weapon for those who want to try their hand at enchanting a weapon. If you choose to add the Frost damage enchantment, the Stalhrim War Axe is even more effective against enemies with a weakness to frost.
Quest: n/a (Available for Purchase)
The Stalhrim War Axe can be purchased from Glover Mallory in Raven Rock. If he does not have it, you can wait for it to become available or travel to Skaal Village to see if Baldor Iron-Shaper has it for sale. The war axe can be found in various chests as well.
10. The Mace of Molag Bal
The Mace of Molag Bal is one of my favorite one-handed weapons in Skyrim because of its unique appearance and powerful abilities. The mace is a Daedric artifact, with an engraved visage of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal.
If you’re wandering around Skyrim with the mace equipped in your hand, you will hear some interesting reactions from guards and people. The Mace of Molag Bal does 16 points of base damage to your target with each strike you land on them. This weapon has an enchantment that deals 25 points of Magicka and Stamina damage to your targets.
The enchantment also allows you to cast Soul Trap on your enemies for 3 seconds. This enchantment makes the mace particularly convenient for fighting enemies who use a lot of Magicka or enemies that move quickly. The Mace of Molag Bal is one of the best one-handed weapons in Skyrim because of its ability to damage your enemy’s Magicka and Stamina.
Quest: The House of Horrors
The Mace of Molag Bal is given to you as a reward for completing the quest “The House of Horrors” in Markarth. To receive The House of Horrors quest, you will have to speak to Tyranus, who is a Vigilant of Stendarr. He can be found in Markarth wandering near the abandoned house. You can speak to him and he will ask for assistance in looking for clues in the house.
Once you have completed all the objectives for the quest and follow Molag Bal’s instructions, he will reward you with the mace.
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