Fans of Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series regard Skyrim as one of the most engaging in the franchise. This entry in the series fleshes out Oblivion's graphics with a dash of Morrowind's combat ingenuity. Players always look forward to the endgame whenever they make their characters.

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However, even the mightiest adventurers need their weapons. Players who want to reach the pinnacle of combat in Skyrim may need the help of the best damage-dealers in the game. In the case of one-handed weapons, what should players regard as must-haves?

Updated on May 6, 2021 by Rhenn Taguiam: Despite its 2011 release, Skyrim remains one of the most beloved modern games of all time. Still, players who want to relive the magic of Tamriel’s northern region might want to add a bit of spice to their gameplay. One way is to take note of the best One-Handed weapons in the game. Aside from extraordinary pieces of weaponry, players might find some cherished heirlooms or artifacts as worthwhile additions to their warrior’s arsenal. These include weapons designed to kill supernatural creatures, a sword specifically made to face dragons, and weapons wielded by some of the most notorious villains in Skyrim.

14 Dawnbreaker

Dawnbreaker - Skyrim Best One Handed Weapons

Meridia is the Daedric Prince associated with energy and life. With the Sunburst as her symbol, it makes sense for people to also call her as the Lady of Infinite Energies. Despite her status as a Daedric Prince, she’s not entirely evil, and has a benevolent aura about her. This holds true with her Daedric artifact, Dawnbreaker, which players can retrieve after “The Break of Dawn” quest. 

At first glance, Dawnbreaker fits its artifact status. The blade has a circular cross guard with a gem in the middle that constantly emits light. This isn't just an aesthetic effect, as the light illuminates dark areas. In terms of stats, it has 10 Weight and deals 12 Damage, making it as light as a Steel Sword but as strong as a Glass Sword. However, its additional enchantments make Dawnbreaker deal 10 Fire Damage to targets, with a chance of causing undead to explode upon defeat. 


13 Harkon's Sword

Harkons Sword - Skyrim Best One Handed Weapons

Lord Harkon boasts not just pure-blooded vampirism and sheer powers, but also his fabled Harkon’s Sword. As the name suggests, this is Harkon’s personal weapon, stylized as a Blades Katana with a sword guard seemingly of Molag Bal’s aesthetic. Unlike a Blades Katana, Harkon’s Sword is bloodied, reflecting its nature. While its 9 Weight and 8 Damage make it slightly stronger than an Iron Sword, Harkon’s Sword does have a unique enchantment.

When Harkon’s Sword hits an enemy, it absorbs 15 Health, Magicka, and Stamina. However, this enchantment only works if a vampire uses the Sword. Harkon’s Sword becomes nothing but an heirloom when looted from Lord Harkon by a mere mortal.  

12 Bloodscythe & Soulrender

Bloodscythe and Soulrender - Skyrim Best One Handed Weapons

Bloodscythe and Soulrender serve as two of the most unique weapons in Skyrim. Despite their appearance as regular scimitars, their enchantments only work when wielded together. They’re the favored weapons of Haknir Death-Brand, the legendary Nord pirate. Players may grow to love dual-wielding these weapons, too, as their 10 Weight and 13 Damage means they’re as light as Steel Swords but as strong as Ebony Swords.

In terms of appearance, they look exactly like normal scimitars, but with a red sheen. When wielded together, they can steal 15 Health and have a chance of granting 50 Armor Reduction for as long as 15 seconds. Players can get these weapons after finishing the “Deathbrand” quest. 

11 Dragonbane

Dragonbane - Skyrim Best One Handed Weapons

At first glance, Dragonbane resembles the staple Akaviri katana found inside the Sky Haven Temple. However, beneath its recognizable exterior is a unique effect. This sword is specifically built to kill dragons. At its core, Dragonbane affects its targets two different ways. First, it deals extra 40 Damage when attacking dragons. If it attacks a non-dragon target, it deals 10 Shock Damage to them instead. 

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Dragonbane boasts 14 Weight and 14 Damage, making it the lighter version of the base Daedric Sword. It’s as light as the base Glass Sword but deals more damage. Players can obtain Dragonbane during the “Alduin’s Wall” quest.

10 Mace Of Molag Bal

Mace of Molag Bal - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

What better weapon to slay foes in Skyrim than a mace wielded by a Daedric Prince himself? The Mace of Molag Bal is arguably one of the best maces in Skyrim, second only to the Dragonbone Mace. Players can obtain the mace in "The House Of Horrors" Daedric Quest, located in Markarth's Abandoned House. The Mace boasts 16 Damage, 18 Weight, and an interesting enchantment. Whenever the mace hits an opponent, not only does it deal 25 Magicka and Stamina damage, but it also inflicts Soul Trap for three seconds.

Fans might be interested to learn that while the Mace is lower than damage compared to the Dragonbone Mace, it far exceeds it in weight. In terms of all maces in the game, the mace matches in damage and weight with the Stalhrim Mace. Given the mace's damage bonuses, it also exceeds the Dragonbone Mace in terms of DPS.

9 Stalhrim War Axe

Stalhrim War Axe - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Despite its status as a normal weapon, the Stalhrim War Axe can be just as refined as its named counterparts. As with most Stalhrim weapons, it can be forged by combining two leather strips and two Stalhrim. What makes it unique is obviously its use of Stalhrim, a rare ore with no random locations. There are only 19 regenerating Stalhrim deposits throughout Solstheim.

This axe has 15 Damage and 16 Weight, making it considerably lighter than its "stronger" counterparts. The Ebony, Daedric, and Dragonbone versions of War Axes have 17 Weight, 18 Weight, and 21 Weight, respectively. As a Stalhrim weapon, it can increase the potency of Frost Damage enchantments by 25-percent.

8 Dawnguard Rune Axe

Dawnguard Rune Axe - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Adventurers planning on fighting Tamriel's Vampires might be tempted to join the Dawnguard. Doing so lets them access the Dawnguard War Axe, one of their fabled weapons. This axe boasts 11 Damage and 13 Weight. Albeit not as remarkable as other weapons, it does deal five more damage against Vampires.

The Dawnguard Rune Axe can serve the player exceptionally well when fighting the undead. If improved via the Smithing Perk and using a grindstone, players can cap damage against undead at 110 points. Moreover, using the War Axe in tandem with weapons such as a dagger alongside the Dual Flurry Perk can greatly enhance this weapon's killing power.

7 Dragonbone Dagger

Dragonbone Dagger - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Forged from the bones of dragons, the Dragonbone Dagger is one of the most powerful dagger types in Skyrim. This small dagger has a simple iron handle and a fine feather-like blade. Players can forge this dagger with a leather strip and a dragon bone. They can further upgrade the weapon via a grindstone with double the improvement if they have the Dragon Smithing Perk.

The Dragonbone Dagger is tied with the Blade of Woe in terms of damage output. However, the Dragonbone Dagger bests the Blade of Woe in terms of speed. Theoretically, the Dragonbone Dagger can have higher DPS than the latter.

6 Mehrunes' Razor

Mehrunes Razor - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Players who want a lighter Daedric artifact might appreciate Mehrunes' Razor. Named after the Daedric Prince of Destruction, the rare artifact of Mehrunes Dagon can only be acquired after killing Silus Vesuius in the "Pieces Of The Past" quest. Interestingly, the weapon only boasts 11 Damage, weaker in comparison to the Blade of Woe and Dragonbone Dagger.

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However, Mehrunes' Razor does come with a unique effect — it has a 1.98-percent chance of killing the enemy in one hit. Unlike other daggers, Mehrunes' Razor only comes with 3 Weight, making it much lighter than other powerhouse daggers. Using this weapon with the Dual Flurry Perk can make for some incredibly fast stabbing.

5 Blade Of Woe

Blade of Woe - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Fans of the Dark Brotherhood will be intimately acquainted with the Blade of Woe. Players can acquire the Blade either by stealing it from the Dark Brotherhood's Astrid or by finishing the "With Friends Like These" quest. Interestingly, pickpocketing Astrid prior to completing the aforementioned quest can give players access to two Blades.

The Blade boasts 12 Damage, 7 Weight, and can absorb 10 Health upon hit. While second to the Dragonbone Dagger in terms of weight, it's considerably more accessible since the Dragonbone material is harder to access. Having the Dual Flurry Perk (One-Handed) can give a vast speed boost — even with just a dagger in one hand, and any other 1H-weapon in another.

4 Nightingale Blade

Nightingale Blade - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

This blade represents the Nightingales, a secret sect within the Thieves Guild tasked to protect shrines dedicated to Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Luck and Darkness. The Nightingale Blade itself served as the primary weapon of Gallus Desidenius, the former master of the Thieves Guild and a former Nightingale. Players obtain the blade after completing the "Hard Answers" quest for the Thieves Guild.

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At first glance, this sword merely boasts 14 Damage and 15 Weight. However, its strength lies in its enchantment, wherein its hits also absorb 25 Health and Stamina. The Nightingale Blade is a leveled item, so it's worth noting that its stats can scale up to level 46.

3 Miraak's Sword

Miraaks Sword - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Warriors serving eldritch entities fit perfectly with Miraak's Sword. Players can obtain this weapon after killing Miraak in the "At The Summit Of Apocrypha" quest. When obtained, the sword has 16 Damage and 3 Weight. It can also absorb 15 Stamina when hitting opponents. Players will love Miraak's Sword for its aesthetic, as the sword appears to be composed of a long tentacle writhing around itself. When attacking, the weapon "extends" its tentacles for cosmetic effect.

The Sword tells the player it's out of charges when the tentacle stops appearing during attacks. However, even a petty soul gem can restore its charges. This weapon boasts the highest base physical damage across all 1H-swords and is the second-lightest among this category, just after the Dragonborn Dagger.

2 Chillrend

Chillrend - Skyrim Best One Hand Weapons

Fans of Oblivion will remember Chillrend. This time, the icy weapon appears in the possession of Mercer Frey, the leader of the Thieves Guild. Players can obtain this sword in the quest "The Pursuit," inside Riftweald Manor. The sword boasts an elegant appearance, with a golden hilt and the crystalline blade of a Glass Sword. As a weapon, its base stats are 15 Damage and 16 Weight. As it's a leveled weapon, its stats improve as the player increases in level. It can also be acquired as early as Level 1.

It comes with an enchantment that deals 30 Frost Damage, alongside a chance for a 2-second paralysis. Fans of builds focused on Frost damage will appreciate how Chillrend also qualifies for the Augmented Frost Perk (Destruction). In turn, Chillrend at Level 46+ will boost its Frost damage to 45 points via the Perk.

1 Windshear

Windshear - Skyrim Best One Handed Weapons

Players looking for the equivalent of the mythic Excalibur can find it with Windshear. This Scimitar can be accessed via the "Hail Sithis!" Dark Brotherhood quest. It's located on the beam of The Katariah, a ship accessible during or after the said quest. It has 11 Damage, 10 Weight, and is upgradeable via Steel Smithing.

This Scimitar comes with an enchantment that can stagger opponents with a bashing attack. In combat, its effect translates into a 39-percent chance of paralyzing an opponent during a block-bash. Interestingly, Windshear has a more powerful stagger as the main weapon. Every attack has a 100-percent chance of staggering the enemy.

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