Dark Souls Weapon Rankings – The Best Swords, Axes, Spears, Hammers, Catalysts, & More (for Multiple Builds)
With the vast selection of weapons in Dark Souls, it can be a little daunting to figure out where you should invest your titanite and soul stockpile. I’ve tested every single weapon available in the game, and I’ve played through the game multiple times, with a number of different types of character builds. Because each weapon scales based off of a certain stat (like strength or dexterity), where you have spent your stat points will be a big decider on what weapons will be the most effective for you.
Also, a quick note: before you invest your stat points by leveling up, its a good idea to have a plan for your character, rather than spreading your levels around every stat. A good starting point for any character is to level your strength to 16, and your dexterity to 14, then add a few points to vitality. This is a very versatile start and will allow you to use a good selection of weapons until you decide exactly how to proceed. The builds below will provide a quick recommendation on where to place stats to start, and the stats will be listed in order of importance. Note that the stats are not necessarily listed as end-game–rather this is a minimum you should aim for in a standard playthrough. Also, do NOT waste stats on Resistance!
The weapon rankings are based off of many factors. The required stats to use the item have to be stats that you would normally have in the listed build. The “moveset” of each weapon is also very important (how fast it swings, how long is the range, how wide / sweeping is the swing of the weapon in case your enemy is dodging).
For builds based of maximizing Strength. This is not a common build, and will be generally less effective in Player vs Player duels. The benefit is using the impressive super-heavy weapons, and shields with incredible stability that can easily block any attacks indefinitely. Playing single player your goal will be blocking attacks, then counterattacking with your heavy weapons. This will stun/stagger the enemies and allow you to continue your followups. Wearing heavy armor and having good vitality (HP) will also allow you to eat an enemy attack or two since your swings take so long, and you’ll often be 2-handing for maximum damage and stagger ability. Also consider enough points in intelligence (25) to use Crystal Magic Weapon, OR enough points in faith (30) to use Sunlight Blade / Darkmoon Blade for temporary increased weapon damage.
Recommended stats: Strength: 45-50, Vitality 30+, Endurance 30+, (optional: Intelligence 25 for Crystal Magic Weapon), Dexterity no higher than about 14-16
Recommended weapon upgrade path: Normal +15 on a weapon with a high strength scaling
Weapon rankings for Strength Builds (loose ranking of “better” listed first):
- Zweihander (strong attack slams enemies into ground, great range, great swing coverage)
- Claymore (great swing coverage)
- Black Knight Greataxe (relatively fast, great coverage, great range, cool strong attack uppercut, but easily parried)
- Bastard Sword
- Great Club (great rolling attack with huge range/coverage, but otherwise lacking moveset)
- Large Club (great rolling attack with huge range/coverage, but otherwise lacking moveset)
- Sunlight Straight Sword
Heavy Strength Weapons (slower, arguably worse at PvP, but below are more typical “heavy” strength weapons that scale well with strength)
- Dragon King Greataxe (slow, limited range, but strong 2 hand attack AoE effect!)
- Demon Greataxe (slow, limited range, limited swing coverage)
- Stone Greatsword (fun to use as a switch weapon because its strong attack casts an AoE slow spell)
- Demon Great Machete
- Dragon Bone Fist (for fun only – very low damage, very low range, but strong attack is like Ryu / Ken’s dragon punch!)
- Grass Crest Shield (useful for 2 handing your weapon because this still improves stamina recovery)
- Balder Shield (lightweight, good damage reductions, can parry)
- Greatshield of Artorias (heavy, but amazing stability and damage reductions, also blocks status effects)
- Havel’s Greatshield (ridiculously heavy, but amazing stability and the best damage reductions – magic fire etc!)
- Eagle Shield (lightweight, low STR requirement)
- Parrying Dagger (lightweight, can be used as an alternative in case you need to parry)
For builds based on maximizing your Vitality and Endurance for super survivability, then relying on lightning, fire, or chaos ascended weapons to increase damage (rather than relying on stat based scaling on weapons for damage). Your goal with this build will be to get to Anor Londo’s Giant Blacksmith (or the Catacombs Blacksmith) so you can upgrade a weapon to lightning / fire as quickly as possible.
Recommended stats: Vitality 41-45+, Endurance 35+, Limit stats to: Str 16, Dex 14
Recommended weapon upgrade path: Lighting +4 / +5, Fire +9 / +10, (optionally Chaos if you are able to play with 10 humanity all the time)
Weapon rankings for Vitality Builds (higher ranked is first on the list):
- Uchigatana (very fast, causes bleeding damage, good charge and rolling attacks)
- Claymore (low stat requirements, good range, and strong/high damage attacks that can stagger enemies)
- Dragon Slayer Spear (one of the longest ranges in the game, also has a special projectile attack. medium damage)
- Partizan (wide strong attack swing, good charging attack, good range, can attack from behind a shield)
- Estoc (very fast attack, can attack from behind a shield, limited range, very limited swing coverage, low damage)
- Bastard Sword (low stat requirements, decent damage)
- Blacksmith Giant Hammer (unfortunately you have to kill the Giant Blacksmith in Anor Londo for this. good damage.)
- Quelaag’s Furysword (bonus damage up to +10 humanity, very high fire damage. limited range and limited swing coverage)
- Barbed Straight Sword (fast attack, limited range, but also causes bleeding)
- Washing Pole (requires more stats in STR/DEX than is recommended for Vitality Build, but otherwise good range and speed)
- Shotel (good alternative / switch weapon, its strong attacks ignore enemy shields)
- Eagle Shield (highest stability shield that has low stat requirements. can’t parry however)
- Grass Crest Shield (bad for blocking, but gives stamina regen bonus)
- Balder Shield (good damage reduction and can parry, but not nearly as stable as eagle shield)
For builds based on maximizing Dexterity. This can often involve high backstab critical damage, but is not necessary. Note that Dexterity also slightly increases your spell cast speed, so consider using pyromancy spells as an alternative. Also consider enough points in intelligence (25) to use Crystal Magic Weapon, OR enough points in faith (30) to use Sunlight Blade / Darkmoon Blade for temporary increased weapon damage. Using one of these weapon spells allows your weapon to then scale well off of both dexterity AND faith / intelligence at the same time.
Recommended stats: Dexterity 45-50, Vitality 35+, Endurance 35+, Limit stats to: Str 16 and 1-2 attunement slots max
Recommended weapon upgrade path: Normal +15 (on a weapon with S, A, or B dex scaling)
Weapon rankings for Dexterity Builds (higher ranked is first on the list):
- Uchigatana (bleeding damage, fast attacks, good moveset)
- Bandit’s Knife (gets a very high critical backstab bonus, also does bleed damage)
- Iaito (bleed damage, good moveset, good damage)
- Quelaag’s Furysword (scales of both Dexterity and Humanity, and does fire damage)
- Balder Side Sword (fast attack. mediocre damage)
- Ricard’s Rapier (fast attack, can attack from behind a shield, limited swing coverage)
- Claw (bleed attack, fast, decent moveset, but low range)
- Lifehunt Scythe (extra high bleed damage, but also causes bleed on yourself so you need bleed resist like Bloodshield)
- Priscilla’s Dagger (does not have the backstab bonus that other daggers do, but higher dex scaling)
- Painting Guardian Sword (good dex scaling, but limited range and moveset is not great)
- Great Scythe (medium damage, medium range, but adds bleed effect. moveset is not good however)
- Black Bow of Pharis (highest damage bow for dex characters)
- Notched Whip (works with miracles but not magic weapon. low dmg, but some damage goes through shield and has bleed)
For builds based on sorcery and the intelligence stat. You’ll want to ascend regular weapons to either magic (best for early / mid game) or enchanted (best for late game once your intelligence is in the 40 range). Of course you also get to benefit from using sorcery spells. The best sorcery spells for PvP are Crystal Homing Soulmass and Crystal Soul Spear. For a regular playthrough you’ll find that once you get a good catalyst, and a high ~40 points in intelligence, you’ll be one or two-shotting a lot of the enemies with your spells from a safe distance and it becomes very easy.
Recommended stats: Intelligence 45-50, Vitality 30+, Endurance 20+, 2-3 Attunement slots at least
Recommended weapon upgrade path: Magic +5 (early/mid game), Enchanted +5 (late game). Required upgrade materials are titanite shards, green titanite shards (magic), blue titanite chunks / slabs (enchanted).
Weapon rankings for Intelligence Builds (higher ranked is first on the list):
- Moonlight Greatsword (slow but good swing coverage, uses dragon scales, has projectile strong attack, one of the highest damage INT weapons)
- Moonlight Butterfly Horn (great range, can attack from behind a shield, good INT scaling)
- Enchanted Uchigatana (fast attacks, causes bleed damage, medium short range)
- Enchanted Estoc (fast poke attack, can attack from behind a shield. low damage)
- Enchanted Claymore (good damage, slow swing but has good swing coverage. low stat requirements)
- Enchanted Falchion (found in Duke’s Archives so it is already upgraded for you, but otherwise mediocre)
- Lightning Avelyn (triple fire attack, useful for a swap weapon to take pot shots)
Catalyst rankings for Intelligence Builds (higher ranked is first on the list):
- Best: Tin Crystalization Catalyst (highest damage, but halves sorcery castings)
- Intelligence Over 40: Logan’s Catalyst
- Intelligence 28-40: Sorcerer’s Catalyst
- Intelligence under 28: Oolacile Ivory Catalyst
For builds based on the Faith stat, enabling the effective use of miracles.
Recommended Miracles: Darkmoon Blade, Sunlight Blade, Wrath of the Gods, Sunlight Spear, Great Heal, Great Magic Barrier
Recommended stats: Faith 45-50, Vitality 30+, Endurance 30+, 3-4 Attunement slots at least
Recommended weapon upgrade path: Divine +4 / +5 weapon for regular use AND/OR regular +14/+15 weapon along with the Sunlight Blade or Darkmoon Blade enchantment buff (only lasts a few seconds, so this is best used for short term duels or boss fights)
You could also choose Occult, but Divine is slightly better in pretty much every situation, even though Occult +4/+5 has the higher A faith rating, the actual overall weapon damage compared to Divine +4 / +5 with B faith rating is about the same (or Divine is better). Sidenote: For extra damage in PvE, use Divine in areas with skeletons and use Occult in areas with Silver/Black Knights.)
Use these extremely handy weapon damage spreadsheets to compare Divine vs Occult and you will see that Divine weapons are the better choice: Occult Weapon Damage Spreadsheet or Divine Weapon Damage Spreadsheet
Best Talisman to use for Faith Builds:
- Early game, use the Thorulund Talisman (best up to about 26 Faith)
- Mid game, use the Canvas Talisman (best up to about 43 Faith)
- Late game, use the Darkmoon Talisman (best at 43 Faith or higher)
Best weapons for Faith Builds (higher ranked is first on the list):
- Divine Claymore
- Uchigatana (dash in with your weapon then cast Wrath of the Gods miracle)
- Recommend some others in the comments!
Warning: Avoid overuse of the Wrath of the Gods miracle in PvP. Most players consider it extremely cheap.
If you have any corrections, additions, or comments about any of the builds or choices let me know! If you provide good reasoning, I’ll be updating the guide over time, as well as updating it for new items once the DLC / Expansion “Prepare to Die Edition” is released.