There are few who are as prepared for anything as a Sword & Shield user. Sure, the other weapons are pretty cool, but can a Hammer cut a tail? Can a Long Sword K.O. the monster? Can a Switch Axe block an incoming fireball? While it’s a very beginner-friendly weapon, in the hands of a master, the Sword & Shield is a true multi-tool of destruction. We’ll be covering some of the best Sword & Shield builds Monster Hunter Rise has to offer, so you can reach those same lofty heights of slashing and blocking excellence.

Let’s get started, hunters!

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Monster Hunter Rise | Best Sword & Shields

While Sword & Shields can pump out elemental damage with the best of them, it looks like raw damage is king in Monster Hunter Rise. When picking your weapon, keep an eye out for high raw and white sharpness. Here’s our top three choices for general use:

WeaponRaw DamageElement/StatusAffinity
Flash in the Night180None30%
Tigrex Sword220None-15%
Queen Rapier22028 Poison10%

Topping off as our top recommendation is the Nargacuga Sword & Shield, Flash in the Night. The raw damage isn’t too impressive, but having White Sharpness from the get-go makes up for the lower than average raw damage. The addition of a second-level slot and a decent chunk of affinity means this Sword & Shield will fit a lot of builds comfortably, and will perform well against any monster. If you only wanted to craft one Sword & Shield, you won’t go wrong here.

The Tigrex Sword is similar in a lot of ways to Flash in the Night, boasting white sharpness and no need for Handicraft. That negative affinity and lack of slots can limit your skill choice, though, meaning your build will run a little tighter. Choose this Sword & Shield if you want to squeeze out every bit of DPS possible, even if it means you miss out on defensive skills.

Queen Rapier only reaches blue sharpness naturally, so you’ll want at least three points of Handicraft to get white sharpness. Additionally, if you plan to take advantage of the weapon’s poison damage, you’ll need to plan ahead to avoid fast sharpness loss.

Monster Hunter Rise | Best Sword & Shield Switch Skills

The Sword & Shield has some great Switch Skills available, allowing you to fine-tune your build based on what you want to do. You’ll find that each option is a good choice, but one typically leans toward raw damage while the other is more helpful for elemental builds. We’ve listed all of the Switch Skills and provided some thoughts below:

Switch Skill 1A: Hard Basher Combo

MHR Hard Basher Combo
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A melee attack using nothing but a shield. A direct hit to the head may open up more opportunities.
  • Controls: Press A after a shield attack.
  • How to Unlock: Available by default.

The Hard Basher Combo gives the Sword & Shield a consistent way to deal blunt damage by striking with the shield. This means you’ll cause stuns when hitting the monster’s head and build up Exhaust when hitting anywhere else.

Because you’re using the shield for the attacks, you won’t lose any sharpness when using this combo. Unfortunately, this also means any element or status on your Sword & Shield won’t apply for these attacks. You’ll want to use this switch skill when your primary focus is raw damage.

Switch Skill 1B: Drill Slash Combo

MHR Drill Slash Combo
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A multi-hit attack with tremendous potential when combined with an elemental weapon.
  • Controls: Press A after a shield attack.
  • How to Unlock: Craft or upgrade 8 unique Sword & Shields.

A Counterpoint to the Hard Basher Combo, the Drill Slash Combo focuses on dealing lots of elemental and status damage. Just keep in mind, the multi-hit will eat your sharpness like crazy.

Switch Skill 2A: Advancing Slash

MHR Advancing Slash
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A drawn attack where you perform a downward slash while stepping forward.
  • Controls: Press forwards and X while the weapon is sheathed, or press X+A with the weapon unsheathed.
  • How to Unlock: Available by default.

While a bit basic, the Advancing Slash is a great gap closer. It’s a quick way to get in and start your bread and butter combos. It also gives a small window of armor against weak staggers, which can be really useful in multiplayer hunts where your teammates might hit you. That said, slotting in Flinch Free is a lot easier in Rise, and provides that same armor.

Switch Skill 2B: Sliding Slash

MHR Sliding Slash
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A sliding attack that slashes the target twice. If the first slash hits, you are automatically launched into the air with a Scaling Slash.
  • Controls: Press forwards and X while the weapon is sheathed, or press X+A with the weapon unsheathed. You can press A while sliding to change the slide into a jumping slash.
  • How to Unlock:  Unlock ★3 Village Quests or ★2 Hub Quests.

The Sliding Slash is a lot flashier than the Advancing Slash, but with that comes commitment to longer animations. You’ll either be sliding along the ground, or launched into the air, and that means you can’t react to what the monster is doing. Launching into the air with the first strike, however, gives easy access to the Falling Bash attack with the shield, making for a solid combo if you can pull it off.

For technical hunters, there’s also a window of invincibility as you are launched into the air right after you land the first slash. This can be a flashy way to dodge some attacks that would’ve been impossible to avoid otherwise, but I’d recommend practicing with the Toadversary’s stomp to get a handle on the timing.

Switch Skill 3A: Windmill

MHR Windmill
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A multi-stage attack using a Wirebug’s silk to spin the weapon around. Any incoming attacks can be negated while the weapon is spinning.
  • Controls: Press A while holding ZL.
  • How to Unlock: Available by default.

The first of the interchangeable Wirebug skills, Windmill will hit multiple times in a wide area around you. There’s a large window of invincibility while the sword is spinning, so this is an easy way to avoid a lot of attacks. Because this attack hits multiple times, it’s great for elemental and status builds, but prepare to lose a good chunk of sharpness.

Switch Skill 3B: Metsu Shoryugeki

MHR Metsu Shoryugeki
Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson
  • Description: A jumping Wirebug attack that uses your shield to uppercut your target.
  • Controls: Press A while holding ZL.
  • How to Unlock: Complete the ★4 Hub Quest “Study the Sword & Shield.”

Metsu Shoryugeki is so fun and so flashy, I have to struggle not to slot in Wirebug Whisperer just to use it more often. This is a great way to hit high monster heads and deal some stun (while not losing sharpness). The fact that you can Falling Bash on the way back down for a second serving of stun is icing on the cake.

The real fun is that just after using the skill, there’s a brief window where you’ll block any incoming attacks. If you successfully block during this window, the uppercut will turn into a multi-hit attack that deals a whole lot of stun when hitting the head. The first time I blocked a Rathian’s bite and K.O.’d her with the resulting uppercut, I was sold and never looked back. 

The guard window is a lot smaller than the Windmill’s invincibility, though, so this is another good excuse to put the Toadversary through its paces with some practice.

Monster Hunter Rise | Best Sword & Shield Builds

One of the best parts of the Sword & Shield is how it can adapt to almost any situation. We’ve tried to show that in our build recommendations listed below, highlighting the variety of ways this weapon can be used on the hunt. 

Build 1 — Early Ranks

A set only a mother could love. | Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson

If you decide to pick up the Sword & Shield early in your hunting career, you might need some help getting your feet under you. This build can be crafted about midway through Low Rank, and has a good mix of offensive and defensive skills to help you familiarize yourself with the weapon.

Weapon/Switch SkillsArmor
Fighter SwordWroggi Helm
Hard Basher ComboBarroth Mail
Advancing SlashJaggi Gauntlets
WindmillSkalda Elytra
Wroggi Greaves

It’s a little early to be worried about crafting decorations or talismans, so I didn’t include any additional skill recommendations with this build. That said, even without decorations, this build will get two points into Evade Extender and a few points into Attack Boost and Critical Eye. 

If you’re an experienced hunter who’s played past Monster Hunter games, you can trade out the Wroggi head and legs for the Barroth Helm and Baggi Greaves. This will squeeze out a few more points of Attack Boost to get you through early fights.

As soon as you get the Nargacuga fight unlocked, you’ll want to trade out your Fighter Sword for the Hidden Edge I.

The Switch Skills recommended here are a combination of the easiest to use and those available at this Hunter Rank.

Build 2 — Endgame Valstrax/DPS

Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson

Once you’ve clawed your way to the top of the food chain, you may want a pair of fancy duds to help with endgame content. This build offers some of the highest defense in the game, while providing some of the most meaningful DPS skills at the same time. To top it off, you’ve got a couple of decoration slots to play around with if there’s a skill you love too much to lose.

Weapon/Ramp-up/Switch SkillsArmorSkill Priority
Flash in the NightValstrax HelmCritical Boost 3
Attack Boost IIIValstrax MailCritical Eye 4
Hard Basher ComboValstrax BracesAttack Boost 7
Advancing SlashValstrax CoilMaster’s Touch 3
Metsu ShoryugekiValstrax GreavesSpeed Sharpening 3

Because you’re in full Valstrax armor, you’ll want to stay below 80% health to take advantage of Dragonheart and the damage it provides.

Valstrax armor will get three points of Weakness Exploit, so you can move right to slotting in three points of Critical Boost as your first priority. From there, you can use Critical Eye to round out your affinity (you only need four points to hit 100% affinity on weak spots) and Attack Boost to stack on damage. If you don’t mind lowering your DPS for safety, you can drop Attack Boost for skills like Evade Extender or Wirebug Whisperer. Make sure to use your leftover Level 1 slots for Speed Sharpening or Flinch Free if you’re playing multiplayer.

As a quick note, you could slot in Tigrex Sword for Flash in the Night without too many other changes. Just drop as much Attack Boost as necessary to get Critical Eye up to seven points. 

Finally, taking the Hard Basher Combo and Metsu Shoryugeki for your Switch Skills will allow you to focus on using shield combos for damage and help preserve your white sharpness. Advancing Slash won’t lock you into animations like Sliding Slash, making it easier to use against some of the harder monsters the game has to offer.

Build 3 — Queen’s Rapier

Disclaimer: Layered armor is the only thing keeping me from looking stupid. | Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson

The Queen’s Rapier only inflicts poison with sword strikes, so this build centers around getting white sharpness, then using Protective Polish to keep it.

Weapon/Ramp-up/Switch SkillsArmorSkill Priority
Queen’s RapierKaiser CrownHandicraft 3
Attack Boost IIVaik SProtective Polish 3
Drill Slash ComboSinister SWeakness Exploit 3
Advancing SlashAnjanath Coil SCritical Boost 3
WindmillIngot SCritical Eye 7

This mixed set is going to give you a good start towards a handful of good skills, while having enough slots to get everything else you’ll need.

You’ll need to get at least one more point of Handicraft from your talisman or decorations to get white sharpness. From there, you’re looking to slot in Protective Polish to at least two points (preferably three) so you can keep what little white there is. Fill out remaining slots with Weakness Exploit > Critical Boost > Critical Eye > Attack Boost. With any remaining Level 1 slots (after Flinch Free if doing multiplayer), Speed Sharpening will get Protective Polish reactivated. You can also slot in some Poison Attack if you’ve got the room.

Our Switch Skill recommendations reflect that this build is focused on fighting with the sword more than the shield. Use the Drill Slash Combo for small openings and Perfect Rush for big ones. Protective Polish helps negate some of the downsides of Windmill, so you can use it to deal lots of poison at once.

Build 4 — Hi Ninja Sword

Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson

With Rise comes the return of one of my favorite looking Sword & Shields, the Hi Ninja Sword. This weapon has a whopping 100% affinity, meaning every attack will crit. This build aims to take advantage of by pairing it with Master’s Touch for lots of sharpness.

Weapon/Ramp-up/ Switch SkillsArmorSkill Priority
Hi Ninja SwordKushala GlareMaster’s Touch 3
Silkbind BoostVaik SCritical Boost 3
Hard Basher ComboSinister SAttack Boost 7
Advancing SlashAnjanath Coil SStun Resistance 3
Metsu ShoryugekiHunter’s Greaves SSpeed Sharpening 3

This set is similar to our Queen’s Rapier build, but replaces any affinity-boosting skills with Handicraft or Attack Boost since our weapon starts with 100% affinity. Slot in Master’s Touch to three points, and you’ll only lose sharpness on 20% of your attacks.

The next immediate priority is Critical Boost, then you can just take as much Attack Boost as will fit with your talisman. If you don’t mind the DPS loss, you can always drop some Attack Boost for defensive skills like Evade Extender or Evade Window. If you find four points of Handicraft to be overkill, you can drop the Sinister S gloves for Rathalos Braces S (more Attack Boost!).

The weapon model visually replaces the shield with a bracelet, so shield bashes from the Hard Basher Combo and Metsu Shoryugeki are instead punches to the monster’s face. Since you’re pretty much immune to sharpness loss, you can trade these out for Drill Slash Combo and Windmill with no problems. But also no punching.

Build 5 — Healing/Support

Image: Capcom via HGG / Jacob Johnson

Changing gears a little here, this build is all about helping others be the best they can be. Sword & Shields don’t need to sheathe to use items, so you can pair that with the Wide-Range skill to heal your fellow hunters and keep them in the fight.

Weapon/Ramp-up/Switch SkillsArmorSkill Priority
Rampage Sword SUtsushi Mask (V) SWide-Range 5
Attack Boost IV, Paralysis IIUtsushi Chest (V) SSpeed Eating 3 
Drill Slash ComboUtsushi Braces (V) SAttack Boost 7
Sliding SlashUtsushi Tassets (V) SSpeed Sharpening 3
Metsu ShoryugekiUtsushi Greaves (V) SStun Resistance

The Utsushi (Visible) set has everything you’re looking for as far as support skills, but it’s lacking anything offensive. This build should really only be used in multiplayer, hopefully with three other hunters. Your healing means the other players keep up their DPS for the entire fight, covering for your lack of offensive skills. You can bring traps, demon drugs, and flash bombs to further increase the DPS of the other players.

When ramped up, the Rampage Sword S has decent damage, and allows you to add paralysis to even further increase the damage your team does. With the right talisman, you can also add Paralysis Attack to get more paralysis procs over your hunts.

The Drill Slash Combo will allow for faster build up of your paralysis status, while the Metsu Shoryugeki can be used to K.O. the monster. Sliding Slash can help with getting K.O.s and also lead to monster riding and cutting tails out of reach.

Become a High Grounder

That’s our take on some of the best ways to use the Sword & Shield in MHR. Feel free to share your favorite Sword & Shield build in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our email list for more Monster Hunter build guides.

Happy hunting!