Archery is one of the most engaging playstyles in Skyrim. The focus on landing arrows from long distances is a fun experience that nothing else can compare to. Combining archery with stealth also results in some of the strongest builds in the game.

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Like all builds, however, gear is incredibly important. While crafting will remain the best for most builds, bows have a wide range of unique options that can make leveling an archer easier. A few bows can even be taken to the hardest content Skyrim has to offer. Here is every unique bow in Skyrim ranked from worst to best.

13 Froki's Bow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KZZ-C2KV9c
Via: Leoric Plays (YouTube)

It's clear that Bethesda intended Froki's Bow to be an early-game bow that players would upgrade out of later. The issue is that this bow is objectively worse than a standard Long Bow.

It has the same damage of a Long Bow, the same attack speed, yet contains a rather lackluster Stamina damage enchantment that is hardly noticeable in combat. Worst of all, it requires Iron Ingots to upgrade instead of Firewood which makes this weapon impossible to upgrade beyond Flawless without Smithing-enhancing armor or potion effects.

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12 Dravin's Bow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g4t9g4ltQY
Via: Anggiezzz (YouTube)

Quest items can be handy early-game for players that need an accessible upgrade. While Dravin's Bow is an upgrade to common Long Bows, it isn't much better than most bows players can find in dungeons or even from merchants. Since its a quest item, it also tends to bug out and become inseparable from a player's inventory even after the quest ends.

11 Angi's Bow

https://elderscrolls.fandom.com/wiki/Composure,_Speed,_and_Precision
Via: The Elder Scrolls Wiki - Fandom

Angi's Bow is the same as Dravin's Bow except it isn't a quest item. Players get this unique Hunting Bow rather early by completing an unmarked NPC quest. It isn't bad for how early players receive it, but it is nothing of note besides the unique name.

10 Drainspell Bow

https://gamemodding.com/en/tes-v-skyrim/weapons/46029-whiterun-archery-pro-shop-all-bows-arrows-and-training.html
Via: GameModding.com

Damage wise, the Drainspell Bow is quite good. This Ancient Nordic bow is one of the better unique bows in Skyrim in terms of damage output, but its enchantment is rather lacking compared to its competition.

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Absorbing Magicka is a strange property for an archer that is likely focused on Stamina. That said, the Drainspell Bow is solid for mages that wish to have a means of restoring Magicka from a safe distance. Its enchantment doesn't last long, either. Four hits are all it takes for the enchantment to dissipate and require recharging.

9 Bow Of The Hunt

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Via: ESO (YouTube)

The Bow of the Hunt is a major step up compared to previous entries on the list. While it may do a measly 10 damage base, it deals 20 extra points of damage to animals. This bonus applies to Wolves, Bears, Werewolves, and most non-humanoid creatures that roam Skyrim's landscape. It's a solid bow that the player can get early on in their playthrough. The Bow of the Hunt would be higher on this list if it couldn't be disenchanted and replicated on other weapons to a much stronger degree.

8 Gauldur Blackbow

https://elderscrolls.fandom.com/wiki/Sigdis_Gauldurson
Via: The Elder Scrolls Wiki - Fandom

Gauldur's Blackbow is what the Drainspell Bow should have been. Not only does the enchantment on this bow last longer, but it absorbs up to 30 points of Magicka per hit instead of 15 based on what level the player is when they obtain it. It also benefits from the Dwarven Smithing perk, allowing for a suitable backup weapon for mages or builds that rely on Magicka.

7 Firiniel's End

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Via: Anthony Octavio (YouTube)

For players that want a bow that packs a punch, Firiniel's End is a solid choice. While it has one of Skyrim's slowest bow draw times, it makes up for that with its high base damage and strong enchantment that deals 20 points of Frost damage to Health and Stamina. Only Dark Brotherhood members will get an opportunity to obtain this weapon, but it's worth it for bow fans that want a hard-hitting option.

6 Karliah's Bow

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Via: hitman944 (Nexus Mods)

Players might not be familiar with Karliah's Bow. This weapon is technically inaccessible, but those crafty with console commands or mods can spawn it for players to use. It's a strong weapon that deals 25 points of damage base at the cost of slow draw time. If it benefited from Smithing perks and could be used without cheats or mods, this would likely be the strongest bow in Skyrim in terms of raw damage.

5 Nightingale Bow

https://gamemodding.com/en/tes-v-skyrim/armor/44388-craftable-nightingale-armor-and-bow.html
Via: GameModding.com

Similar to the Gauldur Blackbow, the Nightingale Bow is better if the player is a higher level upon receiving it. At level 46, the Nightingale Bow deals a whopping 19 base damage, 30 points of Frost damage, and 15 points of Shock. Needless to say, this weapon packs a serious punch that is only brought down by having the slowest draw time in the game.

4 Glass Bow Of The Stag Prince

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Via: Camelworks (YouTube)

On the surface, the Glass Bow of the Stag Prince is a normal Glass Bow with no effects that enhance its damage. It won't buff a player's damage output, but this is a fantastic bow for buffing core archer stats. Every 20 animals killed with this bow will increase a player's maximum Health and Stamina by 5 points, capping out at 25 points at 80 kills. If players can invest resources into upgrading this weapon, few weapons in Skyrim can offer the benefits this bow can.

RELATED: Skyrim: The 10 Best Weapon Enchantments, Ranked

3 Dwarven Black Bow Of Fate

Introduced in the Dragonborn DLC, the Dwarven Black Bow of Fate is a normal Dwarven Bow on the surface with a powerful enchantment. Similar to the Chaos enchantment, this bow has a 50% chance to absorb 25 points of Health, Magicka, or Stamina. This is objectively better than Chaos enchantments as it gives the 25 points of damage back to the player's respective resource pool. Each attribute type has its own 50% chance to activate, meaning it isn't uncommon to have 2 effects go off at once.

2 Zephyr

Zephyr is one of the strongest bows in Skyrim that can be obtained rather early, specifically in the Arkngthamz dungeon. It has the damage of a Dwarven Bow but the attack speed of a Long Bow. Since it attacks so fast, it's a prime candidate for using poison-dipped arrows or special arrows to shutdown foes from any distance. Few bows can match this weapon's sheer attack speed and damage per second.

1 Auriel's Bow

Auriel's Bow is so strong that a cult of vampires and vampire hunters are scrambling to uncover this weapon. Most of the Dragonborn DLC is spent obtaining it, and Auriel's Bow is more than worth the trouble. It deals solid base damage with a good draw time, attacks as fast as Zephyr, deals 20 Sun damage per hit (that upgrades to 60 if its an undead target), and can eclipse the sun in either darkness or light. Under darkness, vampires don't suffer from negative effects and can spawn vampire raids in various cities. When the sun is brightened, the sky itself becomes a weapon. God rays fall from the heavens and devastate foes similar to the Storm Call shout. Auriel's Bow is the best unique bow in Skyrim by a considerable margin.

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