Best One-Handed Weapons in Skyrim Special Edition to Gain the Upper Hand

Muhibul Alam Chowdhury
By Muhibul Alam Chowdhury
28 Min Read
Credit: Bethesda Games

Finding Skyrim’s combat hard? It’s time to stack the deck in your favor with these powerful one-handed weapons.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offers a massive open world that players return to to this day since its original release back in 2011. It includes a plethora of locations, landscapes, quests, dungeons, and of course, enemies.

Read More: Best Mods For Realistic Gameplay: Skyrim

There are a variety of enemies in the world of Tamriel, from bandits, wizards, and thieves to monsters, demons, and dragons. To take on this gallery of foes, you’ll need some reliable weapons to help you on your journey, and Skyrim has a large variety of weapons, so much so that it might seem a daunting task to choose from all of them.

Furthermore, some of these weapons require quests to be completed and rare materials to be used, so you may want some information on what the best weapons are before you waste your time and resources.

Weapons in Skyrim include Swords, Greatswords, Maces, Axes, Waraxes, Greataxes, Daggers, Bows, and even Katanas. In this guide we will look at the best one-handed weapons in the game and how to get them.

Top 20 One-Handed Weapons in Skyrim SE

Here are my picks for the top 20 best One-Handed weapons in Skyrim Special Edition.

20. Bloodthorn

Bloodthorn
Bloodthorn
  • Base Damage: 5
  • Weight: 2.5
  • Enchantment: If the target dies within 3 seconds, it fills a soul gem. (Also has a health absorb enchantment not shown in the game description).

Bloodthorn is a steel dagger that allows players to deal quick damage due to its low 2.5 weight. Though it only has a meager 5 base damage, players can use its quickness to dish out quick bursts of damage. Furthermore, it has great utility, as Bloodthorn produces a soul gem if its user kills a target within three seconds of being attacked.

Pros:

  • Great Burst Damage
  • Great Utility

Cons:

  • Weak Base Damage

How to Get Bloodthorn

It can be found on the balcony of Hag’s End, which is located to the Northeast of Markarth and to the west of Solitude.

19. Nightingale Blade

Nightingale-Blade-1
Nightingale Blade
  • Base Damage: 14
  • Weight: 15
  • Enchantment: Absorb 25 points of health and stamina

Pros:

  • Great for tanky builds

Cons:

  • Average damage
  • Slow
  • The strongest form, acquired at level 46, cannot be upgraded at the grindstone.

While its average damage and high weight may not seem appealing at first, it has one of the strongest enchantments in the game. Where each hit absorbs 25 points of health and stamina from the enemy

How to Get Nightingale Blade

You can get the Nightingale Blade by completing the Thieves Guild quest “Hard Answers.” Keep in mind that the damage, weight, value and magnitude of the enchantment is based on your level when the weapon is obtained. The best possible version is available at level 46.

The level scaling is shown in the table below:

LevelDamageWeightEffectCharges/cost=Uses
1–181011Absorb 5 points of health and stamina500/28=17
19–261112Absorb 10 points of health and stamina1000/62=16
27–351213Absorb 15 points of health and stamina2000/96=20
36–451314Absorb 20 points of health and stamina3000/145=20
46+1415Absorb 25 points of health and stamina3000/55=54
Nightingale Blade Level Scaling

18. Harkon’s Sword

Harkons-Sword-1
Harkon”s Sword
  • Base Damage: 8
  • Weight: 9
  • Enchantment: Absorbs 15 points of Health, Magicka, and Stamina if wielded by a vampire.

Pros:

  • Enchantment is great for tanky builds.
  • Great against enemies that use magic.

Cons:

  • Enchantment requires refilling with a soul gem every 24 hits.
  • Basically useless if you don’t have the Vampirism perk.

While only slightly stonger than an iron sword, Harkon’s Sword has the powerful effect of absorbing 15 Health, Magicka, and Stamina of any enemy it hits. Make sure to keep some soul gems handy as this powerful enchantment does run out of charges relatively quickly.

You can also increase the number of charges by enchanting your gear with “Destruction spells cost X% less to cast.” However, keep in mind that its enchantment only takes effect if you are a Vampire (have the Vampirism perk).

How to Get Harkon’s Sword

You can get this weapon by defeating Lord Harkon during the Kindred Judgement quest, the final quest of the main storyline of the Dawnguard DLC.

17. Dawnbreaker

Dawnbreaker-1
Dawnbreaker
  • Base Damage: 12
  • Weight: 10
  • Enchantment: Burns for 10 points, and if killing undead, a chance to cause a firey explosion that turns or destroys nearby undead.

Pros:

  • Great for dealing with the Undead.
  • Great for clearing Dungeons.
  • The Enchantment has a lot of charges.
  • The fire damage can be upgraded.

Cons:

  • The explosion damages you if you have the Vampirism perk
  • The explosion damages Serana.
  • Requires a lot of soul gems to fully charge.

To make up for its average damage, the Dawnbreaker enchantment allows it to burn foes for 10 points. It also has a chance to cause an explosion that turns or kills the undead. The more times a target is hit the more likely an explosion is to occur. The fire damage can also be enhanced with the Augmented Flames perk. As such, the Dawnbreaker is great for dealing with high-level and large number of undead enemies.

How to Get Dawnbreaker

The Dawnbreaker is given to you as a reward upon completion of the quest “The Break of Dawn.”

16. Dragonbane

Dragonbane-1
Dragonbane
  • Base Damage: 10-14
  • Weight: 10-14
  • Enchantment: 20–40 points of extra damage to dragons,10 points of shock damage to others

Pros:

  • Great for dealing with dragons (especially a certain boss)
  • Can be extensively upgraded

Cons:

  • Levelled Weapon, therefore stats will be lower if you get it before level 46.

As its name suggests, Dragonbane is designed to kill dragons. Its unique enchantments allows you to deal level extra damage, from 20-40, to dragons, and 10 shock damage to non-dragon enemies. Furthermore, its stats make it as light as a base Glass Sword, while being able to deal more damage.

How to Get Dragonbane

You can get the Dragonbane during the “Alduin’s Wall” quest. You can find on a table in an atrium just off to the left of the main chamber of the Sky Haven Temple, along with a set of Blades armor.

However, if the sword is not taken during the quest, it will count as stolen, along with the Blades Armor, until Paarthurnax is killed during the quest “Paarthurnax.”

Also, the stats of the sword depends on your level when you enter the Sky Haven Temple for the first time, and you can get the best version if you enter after you reach level 46.

The level scaling is shown in the table below:

LevelDamageWeightValueEnchantment
1–18101078920 points of extra damage to dragons, 10 points of shock damage to others
19–261111104625 points of extra damage to dragons, 10 points of shock damage to others
27–351212118930 points of extra damage to dragons, 10 points of shock damage to others
36–451313186035 points of extra damage to dragons, 10 points of shock damage to others
46+1414259640 points of extra damage to dragons, 10 points of shock damage to others
Dragonbane Level Scaling

15. Stalhrim Mace

Stalhrim-Mace-1
Stalhrim Mace
  • Base Damage: 16
  • Weight: 18

Pros:

  • High raw damage
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Frost enchantments are more effective on Stalhrim weapons
  • Can be widely found after reaching level 36.

The Stalhrim Mace offers high raw damage while being a relatively lightweight weapon. Furthermore, like other Stalhrim weapons, the Frost Damage enchantment is 25% stronger when placed on this weapon.

How to Get Stalhrim Mace

As it is not a unique weapon, the Stalhrim Mace can be obtained through various means.

It is sold by Baldor Iron-Shaper in the Skaal Village, by Glover Mallory in Raven Rock, and can even be found as random loot.

Furthermore, with a high enough Smithing level, 80, and the Ebony Smithing perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 3 × Stalhrim
  • 1 × Leather Strip.

However, you’ll have to finish the quest “A New Source of Stalhrim”, before you can forge anything using Stalhrim.

14. Ebony Mace

Ebony-Mace-1
Ebony Mace
  • Base Damage: 15
  • Weight: 19

Pros:

  • Hight Raw Damage
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Can be widely found after reaching level 36.
  • Can be extensively upgraded

The Ebony Mace fits the same niche as the Stalhrim Mace, offering heavy damage while being relatively lightweight.

How to Get Ebony Mace

It can obtained relatively easy throughout the game. Once you reach level 36, the base weapon will start appearing as random loot in chests and as world items, wielded by various enemies, and can be bought from blacksmiths and general good merchants.

Enchanted Ebony Maces will start appearing after you reach level 37.

Furthermore, with a high enough Smithing level, 80, and the Ebony Smithing perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 1 x Leather Strips
  • 3 x Ebony Ingots

13. Daedric Mace

Daedric-Mace-1
Daedric Mace
  • Base Damage: 16
  • Weight: 20

Pros:

  • Highest Raw Damage of all one-handed weapons
  • Can be widely found after hitting level 46
  • Can be extensively upgraded

Cons:

  • Slowest of all one-handed weapons

How to Get Daedric Mace

While lore may suggest otherwise, the Daedric Mace can be found through means other than those that involve Dremora. Base Daedric Maces appear at level 46 while Enchanted Daedric Maces appear after level 47.

They can be bought from blacksmiths, general good merchants, random loot in chests, dropped by Revered or Legendary Dragons.

Furthermore, with a high enough Smithing level, 90, and the Daedric Smithing perk, you can craft it at a blacksmith’s forge by using these materials:

  • 1 x Daedra Heart
  • 1 x Leather Strips
  • 3 x Ebony Ingots

It can also be crafted at the Atronach Forge using these materials:

  • 1 x Sigil Stone
  • 1 x Daedra Heart
  • 1 x Ebony Mace
  • 1 x Centurion Dynamo Core
  • 1 x Black Soul Gem 

12. Mace Of Molag Bal

Mace-Of-Molag-Bal-1
Mace Of Molag Bal
  • Base Damage: 16
  • Weight: 18
  • Enchantment: Deals 25 damage to Stamina and Magicka. If target dies within 3 seconds, fills a soul gem

Pros:

  • Highest raw damage of any one-handed weapon.
  • Great for filling soul gems
  • Great for skill levelling, as it makes the enemy’s attacks weaker
  • Relatively Lightweight
  • Enchantment is not levelled, so its very powerful for early game.

Cons:

  • Takes up a lot of the screen in first person, limiting visibility

The Mace of Molag offers the heavy 16 base damage of Daedric Maces, but with lower weight. Furthermore, it has great utility thanks to its powerful enchantment, where it Deals 25 damage to Stamina and Magicka and casts Soul Trap on the target for three seconds, where if you kill your target within 3 seconds of being attacked, it fills a soul gem.

How to Get Mace Of Molag Bal

The weapon is given to you after the completion of the quest “The House of Horrors” which starts when you enter the Abandoned House in Markarth

11. Stalhrim War Axe

Stalhrim-War-Axe-1
Stalhrim War Axe
  • Base Damage: 15
  • Weight: 16
  • Enchantment: If the target dies within 3 seconds, it fills a soul gem. (Also has a health absorb enchantment not shown in the game description).

Pros:

  • High raw damage
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Frost enchantments are more effective on Stalhrim weapons
  • Can be widely found after reaching level 36.

It is a lighter option compared to other war axes, and like other Stalhrim weapons, increases the effectiveness of Frost Weapons by 25%.

How to Get Stalhrim War Axe

As it is not a unique weapon, the Stalhrim Mace can be obtained through various means. It is sold by Baldor Iron-Shaper in the Skaal Village, by Glover Mallory in Raven Rock, and can even be found as random loot. You can also pickpocket it from Frea in Skaal Village carries one.

Furthermore, with a high enough Smithing level, 80, and the Ebony Smithing perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 2 × Stalhrim
  • 2 × Leather Strip.

However, you’ll have to finish the quest “A New Source of Stalhrim”, before you can forge anything using Stalhrim.

10. Dawnguard Rune Axe

Dawnguard-Rune-Axe-1
Dawnguard Rune Axe
  • Base Damage: 11
  • Weight: 13
  • Enchantment: If the target dies within 3 seconds, it fills a soul gem. (Also has a health absorb enchantment not shown in the game description).

Pros:

  • Great for dealing with the Undead
  • Great for clearing dungeons.
  • Can be upgraded easily

Cons:

  • Average stats

While its stats may not seem that great, this axes deals 10+n damage against the undead, where n is the number of undead killed since the last sunrise. This extra damage caps at 100.

How to Get Dawnguard Rune Axe

You can find this axe at a radiant location during the Dawnguard side quest “Lost Relic.”

9. Blade of Woe

Blade-of-Woe-1
Blade of Woe
  • Base Damage: 12
  • Weight: 7
  • Enchantment: Absorb 10 points of health

Pros:

  • Highest base damage for a dagger
  • Quick

Cons:

  • Weak Enchantment compared to what a dragonbone dagger can be equipped with.
  • Enchantment only has six base charges,

The Blade of Woe’s high damage output, coupled with its enchantment, which absorbs 10 points of health from the enemy with each hit, makes it an exceptionally strong weapon. However, the dagger’s enchantment has only six base charges.

But you can reduce the amount of charge each strike uses by investing in the Destruction skill. Furthermore, it is possible to use the enchantment without losing any charge by equipping four items with a 25% Fortify Destruction effect for a total of 100% reduction.

How to Get Blade of Woe

The Blade can obtained through various means. First, as a reward for completing the quest “Death Incarnate.” Second, you can loot it off Astrid in the Abandoned Shack, which will cause you to fail the quest “With Friends

8. Mehrunes’ Razor

Mehrunes-Razor-1
Mehrunes Razor
  • Base Damage: 11
  • Weight: 3
  • Enchantment: Hits have a small chance to instantly kill

Pros:

  • Second highest base damage for a dagger
  • Very quick, allowing for a lot of chances for the enchantment to activate
  • Useful for any kind of build
  • Great as an off-hand weapon.

Cons:

  • Enchantment can be reflected by the Ebony Warrior
  • Cannot be improved past flawless quality without boosting the Smithing skill over 100.

One of the fastest weapons in the game, Mehrunes’ Razor dishes out damage very quickly. Though it has lower damage than the Dragonbone Dagger, it is significantly faster.

Furthermore, its enchantment sets it apart from other weapons. Each of its hits has 1.98% chance to kill almost any opponent instantly. Furthermore, the Razor has infinite charges therefore it will never require recharging with a soul gem.

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.

How to Get Mehrunes’ Razor

Mehrunes’ Razor is unlocked after completion of the quest “Pieces of the Past.” You can only get it if you choose to kill Silus Vesuius.

7. Dragonbone Dagger

Dragonbone-Dagger-1
Dragonbone Dagger
  • Base Damage: 12
  • Weight: 6.5

Pros:

  • Highest base damage for a dagger
  • Quick
  • Can be extensively upgraded
  • Can be crafted

Cons:

  • Cannot be found as loot
  • Requires a high smithing level to craft

Dragonbone gear is some of the strongest gear in the game, and this dagger is no exception. It boasts great damage and low weight, allowing it to deal very quick bursts of damage, giving it one of the highest DPS in the game.

How to Get Dragonbone Dagger

With a high enough Smithing level, 100, and the Dragon Armor perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 1 x Dragon Bone
  • 1 x Leather Strip

6. Valdr’s Lucky Dagger

Valdrs-Lucky-Dagger-1
Valdr’s Lucky Dagger
  • Base Damage: 5
  • Weight: 2.5
  • Enchantment: 25% chance of a critical hit.

Pros:

  • Great Burst Damage
  • Crits very frequently
  • Great as a backstab weapon for stealth builds
  • Low requirements to upgrade at a grindstone
  • The additional effect isn’t actually considered an enchantment in-game. So it works in tandem with the “Elemental Fury” shout.

Cons:

  • Weak Base Damage

Another dagger that boasts quick damager and great utility. While sharing Bloodthorn’s 5 base damage and 2.5 weight, it has the added effect of a 25% chance of a critical hit. Combined with the speed with which the dagger attacks, that’s a lot of critical hits. Furthermore, critical hits also stagger the enemy. The damage output can be further increased by upgrading it base damage by improving it on the grindstone and having a high one-handed skill. Furthermore, it makes an excellent weapon for stealth, as its critical hit chance combined the Backstab and the Assassin’s Blade perks makes it a near instant kill weapon.

How to Get Valdr’s Lucky Dagger

Valdr’s Lucky Dagger can be found quite easily. You can get this from Valdr by finding him in Moss Mother Cavern, which is located to the southwest of Whiterun, and north of Falkreath.

5. Dragonbone Sword

Dragonbone-Sword-1-1
Dragonbone Sword
  • Base Damage: 15
  • Weight: 19

Pros:

  • High Base Damage
  • Can be extensively upgraded
  • Can be widely found after level 46.

Cons:

  • Requires a high smithing level to craft.

How to Get Dragonbone Sword

With a high enough Smithing level, 100, and the Dragon Armor perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 1 x Dragon Bone
  • 1 x Ebony Ingot
  • 1 x Leather Strip

Furthermore, after reaching level 46, it can appear as a random loot and is sold by local blacksmiths.

4. Dragonbone Mace

Dragonbone-Mace-1
Dragonbone Mace
  • Base Damage: 17
  • Weight: 22

Pros:

  • Highest base damage of any one handed weapon
  • Can be extensively upgraded

Cons:

  • Slow
  • Rare as loot drops
  • Requires a high smithing level to craft

The Dragonbone Mace has the highest base damage of any one-handed weapon in the game, and is a testament to how powerful dragonbone gear is.

How to Get Dragonbone Mace

With a high enough Smithing level, 100, and the Dragon Armor perk, you can craft it by using these materials:

  • 2 x Dragon Bone
  • 1 x Ebony Ingot
  • 1 x Leather Strips

Furthermore, one of the three Keepers in the Soul Cairn may wield a dragonbone mace, if you are at least level 45.

3. Miraak’s Sword

Miraaks-Sword-1
Miraak’s Sword
  • Base Damage: 16
  • Weight: 3
  • Enchantment: Absorb 15 points of stamina.

Pros:

  • Highest base damage of any one-handed sword
  • As quick as most daggers
  • Enchantment requires only a petty soul gem to fully charge

Cons:

  • Enchantment is somewhat underwhelming

This weapon is stronger than the lightest, and faster than the strongest. It boasts the highest damage of any one handed sword and is as light as many of the daggers in the game. Resulting in one of the highest DPS in the game. If that wasn’t enough Miraak’s Sword also has an enchantment that absorbs 15 points of stamina from the enemy with each hit.

How to Get Miraak’s Sword

Miraak’s Sword can be looted from the remains of Miraak, after his death at the end of the Dragonborn DLC quest “At the Summit of Apocrypha”.

2. Chillrend

Chillrend-1
Chillrend
  • Base Damage: 15
  • Weight: 16
  • Enchantment: Target takes 30 points of Frost damage. Chance to paralyze for 2 seconds.

Pros:

  • Very high damage
  • Great Enchantment
  • Great for taking on enemies weak against ice.
  • Great for taking on fast-moving enemies.

Chillrend’s usefulness comes with its enchantment, which deals 30 points of Frost damage to targets and has a chance to paralyze them for 2 seconds, Making it very useful for taking on Fire dragons, Spriggans, Flame Atronachs, and other enemies weak against ice. Furthermore, its chance to paralyze makes it invaluable against fast-moving enemies.

How to Get Chillrend

It can be found in the tunnels under the Riftweald Manor in Riften during the quest “The Pursuit”. Remember that the weapon’s stats depend on your level when you first enter the Riftweald Manor.

The level scaling is shown below:

LevelDamageWeightEffect
1–101011Target takes 5 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
11–181112Target takes 10 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
19–261213Target takes 15 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
27–351314Target takes 20 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
36–451415Target takes 25 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
46+1516Target takes 30 points of frost damage to Health and Stamina. Chance to paralyze the target for 2 seconds.
Chillrend LEvel Scaling

1. Windshear

Windshear-1
Windshear
  • Base Damage: 11
  • Weight: 10
  • Enchantment: Bash attacks made with this weapon can knock enemies down.

Pros:

  • Infinitely staggers enemies.
  • Quick for swords
  • Makes you virtually unattackable.

Cons:

  • Average stats
  • Can be somewhat difficult to acquire

How can those mediocre stats result in the best one-handed weapon in the game? You guessed it, enchantments.

Basically, the Windshear has a 39% chance to paralyze an enemy for 0.1 seconds when block bashing. This may not seem very powerful, but this enchantment gives the Windshear’s attacks the additional effect of staggering any enemy 100% of the time, yes a 100%.

Therefore, sustained attacks with the Windshear completely stops the enemy from attacking or moving. If the saying, the best defense is a good offense, was a weapon, it would be the Windshear.

How to Get Windshear

This sword can be found during the Dark Brotherhood quest “Hail Sithis!” on the ship called The Katariah; this ship can only be accessed during or after the quest is finished.

On the main deck of the boat, follow the stairs that lead to the bow of the ship. Here, a long wooden beam protruding from the bow (a Bowsprit) is located. Walk up the beam to the top where the Windshear is wedged into the wood.

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Muhibul Alam Chowdhury is a Guide writer at GameRiv.