MHW: Iceborne Best Switch Axe Build Guide

Action Bar

Share This Article?

Home  >  Games  >  Monster Hunter World

MHW: Iceborne Best Switch Axe Build Guide

One of the greatest things about Monster Hunter: World is how varied it is. Each weapon is unique, and each weapon can shine in the hands of a capable hunter. Here, I’m going to take a stab at breaking down the best switch axe build in MHW. Understandably, chasing the meta isn’t for everyone, and there are many different ways to enjoy MHW. I’ll do my best to give a well-rounded look at a variety of approaches.

That said, there are definitely ways to improve our existing builds and make them more effective, regardless of our main or playstyle. Building around your weapon’s advantages and disadvantages can make hunts easier and more rewarding, especially if you’re hunting with a group.

In this guide, I’ll be discussing a few essential guidelines (i.e., weapons and skills) for creating the best Switch Axe for MHW. With these guidelines in mind, I’ll also show a few example builds that illustrate how a strong baseline can be adjusted to fit any number of playstyles.

Please note our Fatalis update is in progress for this guide. Stay tuned and happy hunting!

Best Switch Axe in MHW: Baseline Build

Before we get into any specific builds, let’s first discuss what makes for one of the best Switch Axe builds for MHW. As I said before, every weapon type in Monster Hunter has unique advantages, and exploiting these advantages makes the difference between an ineffective build and a good one. Although the fine-tuning of each build is up to you and your preferred playstyle, you should consider a few key elements when choosing your equipment and decorations.


Monster Hunter World Art
Image Credit: Capcom

To begin, let’s talk about weapons. Since the Switch Axe is a strong offensive weapon type that combines power and mobility, it’s wise to look for weapons with high damage output and well-rounded stats. The Safi’jiiva weapons are great endgame options in general due to their high base stats and incredible potential for customizability. All of the Safi Switch Axes start with the same base stats, differing only in their elemental damage type. Because of this, I recommend using Safi’s Shatteraxe, which focuses on Blast damage. 

The great thing about Safi’jiiva weapons is that their base stats can be improved and customized through the use of Awakened Abilities. Depending on the build you’re going for, you can add up to five new abilities to your weapon to increase its base stats, change a given property of the weapon, or apply a set bonus that would otherwise be accessible only through a particular armor set.

It’s worth noting that customizing a Safi’jiiva weapon to this degree takes a lot of extra time and energy (especially if you’re upgrading more than one weapon in the series). If you’re not chasing the meta and don’t find the investment worth the effort, an excellent alternative is the Lightbreak Axe. Although it lacks the customizability and innate affinity of Safi’s Shatteraxe, it makes up the difference in higher raw and blast damage, greater sharpness, and an added Level 3 decoration slot. At the end of the day, a sidegrade like this won’t hugely affect your overall build and saves you the hassle of grinding the Safi’jiiva Siege. 

When we talk about specific builds, I’ll be focusing on the Lightbreak Axe to keep things a little more accessible. If you’re using Safi’s Shatteraxe, feel free to customize any of the builds as desired to allow for modifications you’ve already slotted in.


With that in mind, let’s switch our focus to skills. To better take advantage of the MHW Iceborne best Switch Axe attacks (like wounding clutch claw), it’s a good idea to focus on skills that boost your affinity and increase the damage you do landing a critical hit. 

There are many different ways to do this, but the most consistent method is investing in Critical Eye. Each level of Critical Eye boosts your affinity by 5% at all times, maxing out at 40%. Since we’re aiming for a 100% critical chance, putting more points into Critical Eye is an excellent way to increase your percentage without fulfilling specific conditions.

Conditional skills are an excellent way to boost your affinity even further, though they may not always be active. Here are a few conditional affinity skills that work well with the Switch Axe:

  • Weakness Exploit (increases affinity when striking a weak or wounded spot)
  • Agitator (increases affinity when the monster is enraged)
  • Maximum Might (increases affinity when your stamina bar is full)

From there, you’ll want to invest in skills that increase the damage you’re doing when you land critical hits. Critical Boost is a good option here, as it increases the damage done on critical hits by 5% per level, allowing you to do a maximum of 140% damage when you land a critical hit. Attack Boost is another good investment, as each level increases your attack power (also increasing your affinity at later levels).

That’s it for what I’m calling the Baseline build. With these specifications in mind, let’s check out a few of the best Switch Axe builds for MHW — ones that demonstrate the true power of this exceptional hunter.

Best Switch Axe: DPS Build

In its sword form, the Switch Axe has the second-highest DPS of all the weapon categories, making it ideal for DPS-focused builds. Focusing on skills that deal added damage and boost critical chance under more aggressive conditions is a great way to deal a lot of damage quickly.

Lightbreak AxeSafi Crested Crown β+
Master’s Charm IVSafi Crested Chest β+
Temporal Mantle+Brachydium Braces β+
Vitality Mantle+Brachydium Faulds β+
Safi Crested Boots β+

As for the best armor for Switch Axe in MHW? Equipping three pieces of Safi’jiiva armor unlocks the set bonus “Dragonvein Awakening,” which boosts elemental and status damage and increases affinity by 20% on draw attacks. I’ve recommended equipping the head, chest, and leg pieces of the beta armor set since they include Critical Boost and a few additional decoration slots, which you’ll need to round out the build later on.

Although you could go with a full Safi’jiiva set and take advantage of the added damage and affinity boosts of the “True Dragonvein Awakening” bonus, I’m instead recommending a mixed set that includes two pieces of Raging Brachydios β+ armor. Doing so unlocks the “Agitator Secret” set bonus, which increases Agitator’s maximum skill level.

With the addition of the Master’s Charm IV, this set boasts the following skills (before adding any decorations):

  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Eye 4
  • Critical Boost 3
  • Evade Window 1
  • Blight Resistance 1

Since decorations are awarded somewhat randomly, the jewels you use to round out and augment your skill list will largely depend on what you have available. I recommend using decorations to slot in the following skills:

  • Agitator (max out)
  • Critical Eye (max out)
  • Recovery Up (increases health recovery rate of Dragonvein Awakening)
  • Focus (increases gauge fill rate for sword mode)
  • Power Prolonger (increases the duration of powered-up modes)
  • Attack Boost (increases attack power, boosts affinity at later levels)

Since this build prioritizes damage over defense, it’s a good idea to take equipment that can improve your chances at survival — DPS means nothing if you’re carting all the time! I recommend taking the Temporal Mantle+ to boost your evasion, which will help get you through some of the harder-hitting attacks. The Vitality Mantle+ is also a good investment here, as it grants a brief “shield” that absorbs incoming damage before your health bar is affected. Since Dragonvein Awakening has a steady health drain while you’re attacking, both of these mantles can help you keep your health up as you work to take the monster down quickly.

Best Switch Axe: Utility Build

Best Switch Axe MHW Art
Image Credit: Capcom

As mentioned above, the Switch Axe is a mostly offensive weapon that doesn’t offer a lot of defensive moves. Unless you’re DPS speedrunning, it’s smart to create a set that balances offensive and defensive skills. This gives you more safety net than a purely DPS build, but doesn’t sacrifice the hard-hitting abilities.

Lightbreak AxeBrachydium Helm β+
Challenger Charm VGolden Lunemail β+
Evasion Mantle+Brachydium Braces β+
Health Booster+Golden Lunecoil β+
Garuga Greaves β+

This armor set is designed for a slightly more defensive build. It uses two Gold Rathian armor pieces to unlock the set bonus “Divine Blessing Secret,” which increases the maximum limit of the Divine Blessing skill. I’ve recommended taking the beta chest and waist pieces, which have enough Divine Blessing points to reach this new maximum without needing to slot it in.

Again, I recommend using two pieces of Raging Brachydios armor to unlock the “Agitator Secret” set bonus, which will keep your affinity percentage up while still focusing on a more defensive set. Using the beta helmet and arms will give you a couple of points into Weakness Exploit and Agitator. I recommend mixing this set up even further, adding in the beta Yian Garuga legs to add a couple of points of Critical Eye to our build.

Using the Challenger Charm V to max out the Agitator skill, you now have the following skills equipped (again before adding decorations):

  • Agitator 7
  • Divine Blessing 5
  • Critical Eye 2
  • Weakness Exploit 1

Since the goal of this build is to combine powerful DPS with more defensive abilities, there are a few skills you’ll want to slot in as they become available. I recommend working in the following options:

  • Critical Eye (max out)
  • Critical Boost (increases damage done by critical hits)
  • Attack Boost (increases attack power, boosts affinity at later levels)
  • Health Boost (increases health and maximum health cap)
  • Evade Extender (extends evasion distance)
  • Evade Window (increases invulnerability window when evading)

The Evasion Mantle+ is an excellent addition here, especially if you’re not able to slot a lot of points into Evade Window. Since it adds a small attack boost to a well-timed evasion (on top of extending your evasion I-frames), it’s a useful tool to have on a utility build like this. The Health Booster+ can also give you an added advantage, ensuring that your health stays up as you deal damage.

Best Switch Axe: Specialty Build

Specialty builds aren’t necessarily designed to be practical. Builds like these often forego more useful armor sets and skills to exploit a few specialized mechanics of a given weapon type. For the Switch Axe, we’ll be taking a look at a build designed around the Zero Sum Discharge move.

Lightbreak AxeGolden Headdress β+
Attack Charm IVBuff Chest α+
Glider Mantle+Ruinous Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Ruinous Coil β+
Garuga Greaves β+

Using two pieces of Ruiner Nergigante armor unlocks the set bonus “Hasten Recovery,” which regenerates a set amount of health as long as you’re continually attacking a monster (10HP for the Switch Axe). Equipping the beta arms and waist, in particular, grants us a few points of Attack Boost and Agitator, as well as a level in Earplugs. Since the Zero Sum Discharge move temporarily grants Earplugs Level 4, taking this extra point will ensure you have maxed-out Earplugs every time you execute a successful Discharge.

The other three armor sets don’t grant any additional set bonuses, but include a few useful skills while keeping your base defense relatively high. By using primarily beta armor (except for alpha Buff Chest), we get a few helpful decoration slots while increasing Agitator and gaining Fortify and Critical Eye.

With the addition of the Attack Charm IV, the current skill count (before decorations) looks like this:

  • Attack Boost 7
  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Eye 2
  • Weakness Exploit 2
  • Earplugs 1
  • Fortify 1

From here, you’ll want to slot in decorations that increase the overall damage when landing a Zero Sum Discharge and help overall recovery. This is particularly useful since the set itself doesn’t include a lot of defensive boosts. I recommend the following:

  • Critical Eye (max out)
  • Weakness Exploit (max out)
  • Critical Boost (increases damage done by critical hits)
  • Focus (increases gauge fill rate for sword mode)
  • Power Prolonger (increases the duration of powered-up modes)
  • Peak Performance (increases damage when health is full)
  • Health Boost (increases health and maximum health cap)
  • Recovery Up (increases health recovery rate) 

I’m personally a fan of including both the Glider Mantle+ and the Rocksteady Mantle+ in this set. Although they’re not exactly crucial for the build, having a brief amount of gliding time can help you target the monster’s face more effectively when doing wounding attacks and landing Discharges. Plus, the Rocksteady Mantle can help reduce flinching and damage that can knock you out of the attack.


Build Your Character

I hope you enjoyed our list of the MHW best Switch Axe builds! Just remember that you have options — part of the appeal of Monster Hunter is its customizability and the way it makes room for varied playstyles.

I always love to see the unique and creative builds of my fellow hunters, so please feel free to share your favorite Switch Axe build with us! If you have any suggestions for tweaking or improving the builds above, let us know in the comments.

Happy hunting!

Related Reading


Continue the Adventure!

Sign up for an account at High Ground Gaming, and access all these amazing perks:

  • Custom profile page
  • Save articles to favorites
  • Rate articles
  • Post comments & engage with the community
  • Access the HGG Discord
  • Enter giveaways
This is a pre-registration form. Fill in the following details to verify your email address first. You will be able to access the full registration form and register for an account after the verification.

Join the Discussion

Give feedback on the article, share additional tips & tricks, talk strategy with other members, and make your opinions known. High Ground Gaming is a place for all voices, and we'd love to hear yours!


Forgot Password?

Join Us