The world of D&D lets adventurers pick and choose between various ranged and melee weapons.
However, some weapons stand out above the rest, fitting an adventurer’s background, build, flavor and simply giving more useful stats to that character.
In the case of Artificers, their backstories and playstyles mainly include bows, crossbows, firearms, tools, magical staffs, and certain melee weapons.
Artificers don’t have many subclasses, but those they do have open the doors to all sorts of interesting playstyles that they wouldn’t normally be able to adopt.
- Artificer Weapon Proficiency
- Best Weapons for the Artificer in 5e
- Final Thoughts
Artificer Weapon Proficiency
- Simple weapons
- Firearms (optional and DM dependant)
Best Weapons for the Artificer in 5e
Cost: 1 SP
Damage: 1d4 Piercing
Properties: Ammunition, Range (30/120)
Slings are your worst ranged option on this list, doing less damage than all the others, but they can serve as a backup for an Artificer who is going melee, as it is easy to take out and weighs nothing.
Besides that, its flavor can work, but only if you try to make it work. Its damage will also be lower than most of your Cantrips, so it’ll be better to take a crossbow unless you’re not looking to only go ranged.
14. Light Crossbow
Cost: 25 GP
Damage: 1d8 Piercing
Weight: 5 lbs
Properties: Ammunition, Range (80/320), Loading, Two-handed
If you have 16 Dexterity and the Hand Crossbow doesn’t work for your character’s flavor, take the Light Crossbow.
Unfortunately, it won’t work with the Repeating Short infusion, but it still deals more damage than your Cantrips if you meet the Dexterity requirement.
13. Polymorph Blade
Rarity – Very Rare (requiring attunement)
Item Type – Weapon (any sword)
Attack a creature with this weapon, and rolling a 20 on the attack roll forces the creature to make a DC 15 Wisdom save, suffering the attack’s normal effects as well.
Failing the save means the creature will suffer the effects of a Polymorph spell. You must then roll a d20 and see the table below to determine the form the creature is transformed into.
A creature will be immune to this effect if it is immune to the weapon’s damage type, if it’s a shapechanger, or if it has legendary actions.
Curse – The weapon is cursed, and attuning to it also curses you. Unless the curse is broken by the Remove Curse spell or other magic, you become unwilling to part with the weapon.
Attacking a creature with the weapon and rolling a 1 on the attack roll means you will suffer the effect of a Polymorph spell for 1 hour. You must roll and look at the table to determine your form.
A Polymorph Blade fits the flavor of a mad scientist Artificer, obsessed with transforming his “test subjects” and understanding the power this weapon holds.
While it isn’t the most powerful weapon, it certainly finds a spot in an Artificer’s wide array of interesting playthings!
12. Hand Crossbow
Cost: 75 GP
Damage: 1d6 Piercing
Weight: 3 lbs
Properties: Ammunition, Range (30/120), Light, Loading
Hand Crossbows are best when paired with the Repeating Short infusion and picking up a shield.
Not only will this do better damage than your Cantrips for the early game, but it opens up possibilities to use ranged weapons for damage and spells for utility. It also provides you with a much-needed AC bonus.
Cost: 2 GP
Damage: 1d4 Piercing
Weight: 1 lb
Properties: Finesse, Light, Thrown (20/60)
If you’re not a Battlesmith, you’ll most likely use a Dagger. It functions well in melee and at range, and it allows you to have something in your off-hand if you don’t want a shield.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t deal as much damage as a crossbow or a bow. However, since it works well with Dexterity, has Finesse, and can make opportunity attacks, it might even be better in certain circumstances.
10. Hammer of Thunderbolts
Rarity – Legendary
Item Type – Weapon (Maul)
Gain a +1 bonus to damage and attack rolls made using this weapon.
Giant’s Bane (Requiring Attunement) – A Belt of Giant Strength (any type) and Gauntlets of Ogre Power must be worn to attune to this weapon. The attunement will end if one of those items is taken off.
Being attuned to this weapon and holding it increases your Strength score by 4, which can exceed 20 but not 30. Rolling a 20 on an attack roll made with the weapon against a giant forces it to make a DC 17 Constitution save, succeeding or dying
The hammer has 5 charges, and being attuned to it lets you expend 1 charge to make a ranged weapon attack with it, hurling it like it had the thrown property with a normal range of 20 and a long range of 60 feet.
If the attack were to hit, the hammer would unleash a thunderclap, audible up to 300 feet. Its target and all creatures within 30 feet of it must make a DC 17 Constitution save, succeed, or be stunned until the end of their next turn.
The hammer will regain 1d4 + 1 expended charges each day at dawn.
Battlesmiths rejoice! A Hammer of Thunderbolts will be your best melee weapon by a long shot.
While it does require other items, making it exceedingly difficult to wield and even obtain, when you are capable of wielding it, you can see yourself as the god of thunder.
Cost: 500 GP
Damage: 1d12 Piercing
Weight: 10 lbs
Properties: Ammunition (range 40/120), Loading, Two-handed
Muskets act as improved Light Crossbows, dealing more damage but sporting less range and a higher cost.
It is a good choice if firearms are available, but the Pistol is better if you factor in the fact that you can use it with the Repeating Short infusion.
Rarity – Uncommon (requiring attunement)
Item Type – Weapon (longsword)
You have a +1 bonus to damage and attack rolls made with this weapon.
Hitting an object will automatically make that hit become a critical hit, dealing Bludgeoning or Slashing damage to the object (if you choose).
Damage from nonmagical sources cannot harm the weapon in any way.
The Shatterspike is quite a low-damage weapon, even with its +1 bonus. So why is it so high up on the list?
Well, that’s because of its ability to automatically critical hit when striking an object.
Essentially, it’s an Artificer’s ticket to ignoring doors and obstacles by simply knocking them down and letting their party march on through.
Cost: 50 GP
Damage: 1d8 Piercing
Weight: 2 lbs
Properties: Ammunition, Range (150/600), Heavy, Two-handed
Battlesmiths who fancy a ranged build should definitely keep their eyes out for the Longbow.
Keep in mind that because you’ll be using your Intelligence modifier for attack and damage rolls as a Battlesmith, you’ll deal insane damage.
You can even go further and get Feats like Sharpshooter to be able to hit targets even further away.
6. Dragon Wing Bow
Rarity – Rare (requiring attunement)
Item Type – Weapon (any bow)
This bow is infused with the essence of a metallic, gem, or chromatic dragon’s breath.
Hitting with an attack roll using this bow means the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of the same type as the breath that’s infused in the bow – Thunder, Radiant, Psychic, Poison, Necrotic, Lightning, Force, Fire, Cold, or Acid.
Loading no ammunition into the weapon will allow it to produce its own, automatically creating a single piece of magical ammunition when you pull back the string. The created ammunition will vanish the instant after it misses or hits a target.
Artificers have access to a ton of magic weapon attunements, so if you’re a ranged Battlesmith or an Armorer, you should be sure to upgrade your Longbow with the Dragon Wing Bow!
Not only will it give you a juicy damage increase, but it even creates its own ammunition, so no more having to carry around quivers with arrows.
Cost: 250 GP
Damage: 1d10 Piercing
Weight: 3 lbs
Properties: Ammunition, Range (30/90), Loading
Pistols are superior Hand Crossbows, following the same concept but having a higher damage die.
Also, its average damage is higher, even more so when combined with the Repeating Shot infusion. At this point, you should also grab a shield for some bonus AC, as it’ll greatly benefit your low AC.
4. Wand of the War Mage
Rarity – Uncommon (+1), Rare (+2), Very Rare (+3) (requiring attunement by a spellcaster)
Item Type – Wand
Holding the wand lets you gain a bonus to your spell attack rolls, which are determined by the wand’s rarity.
When making a spell attack with the wand, you’ll also ignore half cover.
Artificers who specialize in combative spellcasting (Battlesmiths, roleplayers, fanatics) will enjoy the bonus of their spell attacks.
This will greatly increase the ability of an Artificer to become a powerful spellcaster who uses magic to defeat his enemies.
3. Holy Avenger
Rarity – Legendary (requiring attunement by a Paladin)
Item Type – Weapon (any sword)
Gain a +3 bonus to damage and attack rolls made using a magic weapon. Hitting a fiend or undead with the weapon has the creature take an extra 2d10 Radiant damage.
Holding the drawn sword lets you create an aura in a 10-foot radius all around you.
You, as well as all friendly creatures (you choose) within the aura, have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Having 17 or more levels in the Paladin class increases the radius of this aura to 30 feet.
The Holy Avenger is usually only accessible to the Paladin, but because of the Artificer’s 14th-level Magic Item Savant, they can pick it up.
Unfortunately, its buffing radius will only be 10 feet, but that’s good enough, as the weapon itself is already great, and it’s even better if you’re a supporting Battlesmith or Armorer.
All you have to do is equip a shield, the Holy Avenger, and get the War Caster Feat to cast those spells without a Material component!
2. All-Purpose Tool
Rarity – Uncommon (+1), Rare (+2), Very Rare (+3) (requiring attunement by an Artificer)
Item Type – Wondrous item
A simple screwdriver that can turn into a variety of tools.
Using an action lets you touch the item, transforming it into any type of Artisan’s tool you choose. Whatever form the tool takes, you will have proficiency with it.
Holding the tool lets you gain a bonus to saving throw DCs and spell attack rolls with your Artificer spells. The bonus is determined by the rarity of the tool.
Using an action lets you focus on the tool, letting you channel your creative forces. You may choose a Cantrip you don’t know from any class list.
For 8 hours, you may cast this Cantrip, counting as an Artificer Cantrip for you. Once this property has been used, it cannot be used again until the next break of dawn.
Not only does the All-Purpose Tool have such high bonus damage, but it also helps an Artificer by being able to transform into any tool they need.
It even grants a bonus to save DCs and spell attack rolls, making it even better for a spell-focused Artificer.
1. Staff of the Magi
Rarity – Legendary (requiring attunement by a Wizard, Warlock, or Sorcerer)
Item Type – Staff
This staff may be wielded as a magic quarterstaff, granting a +2 bonus to damage and attack rolls. Wielding it also gives you +2 spell attack rolls.
It has 50 charges, regaining 4d6 + 2 expended charges each day at dawn. Expending the last charge forces you to roll a d20. Rolling a 20 lets the staff regain 1d12 + 1 charges.
Spell Absorption – Holding the staff gives you advantage on saving throws against spells. You can also use your reaction when a creature casts a spell only targeting you.
Doing this makes the staff absorb the magic of the spell, canceling the effects and gaining charges equal to the spell’s level. But, if this brings the staff’s total charges above 50, the staff explodes, activating Retributive Strike.
Spells – Holding the staff lets you expend some of its charges to cast certain spells:
Flaming Sphere (2 charges), Invisibility (2 charges), Knock (2 charges), Web (2 charges), Dispel Magic (3 charges), Ice Storm (4 charges), Wall of Fire (4 charges), Passwall (5 charges), Telekinesis (5 charges), Conjure Elemental (7 charges), Fireball (7th-level version, 7 charges), Lightning Bolt (7th-level version, 7 charges), Plane Shift (7 charges).
Certain spells can also be cast without any charges, only using an action:
Protection from Evil and Good, Mage Hand, Light, Enlarge/Reduce, Detect Magic, and Arcane Lock.
Retributive Strike – Use an action to break the staff against a solid surface or on your knee to perform a Retributive Strike. This destroys the staff, releases its remaining magic, and explodes to fill a 30-foot radius centered on it.
There is a 50% chance to instantly travel to a random plane of existence, avoiding its explosion. Failing to avoid the effect means you will take Force damage that’s equal to 16 X the number of charges in the staff.
Creatures in the area must make a DC 17 Dexterity save. Failing means the creature takes damage depending on how far away they are from the point of origin. Succeeding in the save means the creature takes only half the damage.
|Distance from Origin||Damage|
|10 ft. away or closer||8 x number of charges in the staff|
|11 to 20 ft. away||6 x number of charges in the staff|
|21 to 30 ft. away||4 x number of charges in the staff|
If you want to become a full-fledged spellcaster, there’s no better item to pick up than the Staff of the Magi.
It allows you to cast various spells without ever needing to learn them and without expending a single spell slot.
Ultimately, this is another interesting weapon that the Artificer can unlock due to the 14th-level Magic Item Savant feature.
For the most part, each class in D&D has its most used or beloved weapon that is both iconic and functional.
Though some of these weapons might not be the best D&D weapon overall, they remain the best option for that character at the moment.
A good example would be the choice between a Crossbow and a Firearm, as it all depends on how much damage they need, the Adventure’s setting, their subclass, and which they like more.
In the end, whether you decide to take a conventional or unconventional weapon, as long as you like it and it fits your playstyle, you should roll with it!