Bows are a type of ranged weapon in Dark Souls 3. The game offers its players multiple types of bows, from Greatbows to miracles that summon a lightning bow. Bows in Dark Souls 3 range from strength-focused bows to dexterity focused bows. While bows are usually used as a secondary weapon, they can be extremely devastating. Bows, with high enough scaling, can cause a lot of damage, making them effective at both PvE and PvP.
Bows can help create distance, cause damage from a distance and kill off that one annoying enemy with a large healthpool who has killed you 7 consecutive times.
This guide will cover what we believe to be the best Dark Souls 3 Bows, from Greatbows to dexterity bows to basic bows. We will go over every aspect of bows and mention where each bow excels. We hope you find this guide useful, for more Dark Souls 3, check out Dark Souls 3 Strength Weapons and Dark Souls 3 Faith Weapons.
Best Bows In Dark Souls 3
Bows in Dark Souls 3 usually vary a lot, with different ranges and damages translating into different usages. No Dark Souls 3 bow can be infused or buffed (check out our infusion guide). Most bose have dexterity as their primary stat, although there are a few bows that scale with strength. Basic bows usually excel at distance management and killing off simple ads/basic enemy types whereas more unique and heavier bows make use of multiple types of arrows, each with their own unique properties.
Such unique bows are better for killing off tougher enemies and killing dragons. In Dark Souls 3, Bows can be held in either hand for ultimately you will have to dual wield them to shoot an arrow. When all is said and done, Dark Souls 3 has the most balanced bows in the series which means you cannot go wrong with any one bow. Here are our picks for the best bows in the Dark Souls 3.
Kicking things off with one of the more basic bows in Dark Souls 3. The composite bow is a simple short bow that shoots really quickly and is great for short to mid range encounters. It is an excellent bow for shooting locked on enemies, making it a great option for PvP and encounters with humanoid/quick small enemies. It is also helpful with clearing small groups of ads without any confrontation.
The composite bow also has Quick attack and rapid fire, both adding into its versatility. Quick attack means you can use the composite bow right after a dodge and while sprinting. Quick attack, however, deals 75% of the standard shot damage. Rapid fire means you can continuously fire shots with the Composite bow. Rapid fire shoots at a rate of around two arrows per second, it does, however, reduce the damage to around 50% damage of a normal shot.
The versatility and quickness of the composite bow make it a very good option for both PvE and PvP. For PvE, the composite is a great secondary weapon and a weapon that can deal a lot of damage relatively quickly. Cpmposite bow will excel at clearing ads, maintaining distance and helping you deal damage after a wrong dodge or backstep.
The ability to fire while sprinting means getting out of overwhelming situations will be much easier than it normally is in a game like Dark Souls 3. It is also good for finishing off large healthpools when you are out of Estus flasks, although that might ruin the game’s purpose for many (including us). All in all, the composite bow is one of, if not the finest all rounder Dark Souls 3 bows.
The composite bow is a quality bow in Dark Souls 3, meaning it scales with strength and dexterity. It requires a strength and dexterity level of at least 12 and has a D scaling with both. It can be used with all kinds of builds as long as you meet the minimum requirements. Strength, dexterity and quality builds, however, are recommended if you want to make the most out of this bow.
The composite bow is reinforced using Titanite (check out our weapon upgrade guide). It cannot be buffed or infused. It can be wielded in either hand.
To acquire this bow, you will have to give the Dreamchaser’s Ashes to the shrine handmaiden. Dreamchaser’s Ashes will expand the items for sale from the shrine handmaiden. You can acquire the Dreamchaser’s ashes behind a fake wall near the Watchdogs of Farron covenant area.
Black Bow Of Pharis
A Dark Souls classic, the black bow of Pharis arguably the most powerful PvE bow in Dark Souls 3, it is one of the finest bows in Dark Souls 3 for multiple reasons. The black bow of Pharis is a unique longbow, for it is wielded horizontally when shooting unlike other bows which are held vertically. It also has the most range among all bows in Dark Souls 3 and has a special move, Pharis triple shot which allows it to shoot three arrows at once. The black bow of Pharis can shoot multiple kinds of arrows, and its damage output depends on what type of arrow is being used.
Bows in Dark Souls 3 have a range limit, crossing that limit means the damage is significantly reduced. The fact that the Black Bow has the highest damage in Dark Souls 3 means that it will be reaching that limit comparatively much later. Since it is a longbow and deals more damage and weighs less than short bows like the Composite bow, you can not shoot right after a dodge or while sprinting.
The black bow of Pharis is a great choice for both PvE and PvP, with it being arguably the greatest PvE Dark Souls 3 bow. For PvE, its high damage, range and ability to use multiple kinds of bows means that this longbow will be dealing tons of damage. The black bow’s range will make it especially effective against sedentary large health enemies that can be annoying and dragons.
It will also be pretty effective at chipping away chunks from the boss’s health bar. The inability to sprint shoot and shoot off a dodge does mean that the black bow of Pharis is not the greatest for close range encounters or for getting out of tough situations in a pinch.
In PvP, while the black bow may not be the best option during 1v1 battles, it will certainly be a strong option during invasions or vice versa. Its high damage and range means you can deal tons of damage to your enemy while keeping your distance.
If you somehow escape the close battle range, you can also deal an annoying amount of damage before you opponent catches up. All in all, this bow is a great support weapon for PvP players and an exceptional choice for PvE players.
The black bow of Pharis is a dexterity bow in Dark Souls 3 and has a minor strength scaling. It requires a dexterity level of at least 18 and a strength level of at least 9. We recommend it for dexterity and quality builds with a high dexterity level of at least 40. It will be dealing tons of damage at high dexterity. The black of Pharis is reinforced using titanate and it cannot be buffed or infused.
In the Farron Keep swamp, in the area close to the Keep Ruins bonfire, you will come across three elder Ghrus, giant boss-like enemies with a massive health pool (they won’t be easy to them). You will have to kill all three. One of them will drop the back bow of Pharis upon his death.
The Dragonslayer greatbow is one of the more flashier and among the Best Dark Souls 3 bows. It one of the highest damage outputting bows in Dark Souls 3, dealing 427 attack at +5 with 40 strength and dexterity. The Dragonslayer greatbow can only shoot great arrows, they do, however, deal tons of damage. Its high damage means that it is a slow shooting bow.
To shoot using this bow, you will have to spend a few seconds loading your arrow into the bow. Unlike the Pharis bow and the Composite bow, this bow should be sparsely used for PvP encounters.
The Dragonslayer greabow also has a special attack called puncturing arrow that can pierce through targets and hit multiple enemies but is a little underwhelming in real use scenarios. Its high damage can help with finishing off tougher enemies without almost any effort. This greatbow can let you kill off enemies like Silver Knights from a distance without any confrontation (again, we do not recommend this).
If used carefully during a bossfight, it can deal very high amounts of damage. It is also great for finishing off single enemies when they are low on health.
The Dragonslayer greatbow, when used effectively, is a great PvE weapon. While it is not suited for PvP at all, if used carefully, it can be pretty devastating during PvP too. The high impact of the dragonslayer greatbow means it will knock any enemy down along with dealing tons of enemy, this can be very powerful if careful executed during PvP.
If you have more than one player in your squad, you can use the dragonslayer greatbow to attack a PvP opponent engaged in battle. For PvE, its uses go from damaging enemies to killing ads to dealing high damage to bosses. Overall, it is a very strong PvE bow, so strong that it might even be your highest damage outputting weapon and can be of use during certain PvP scenarios.
Overall, the Dragonslayer Greatbow is an extremely powerful Dark Souls 3 bow given you have high strength.
The Dragonslayer bow requires a strength and dexterity level of at least 20 to be used. We recommend a strength level of at least 40-50 to maximise its damage. The Dragonslayer greatbow is optimal for Quality builds due to its high-Quality scaling.
While it can shoot all kinds of great arrows, we recommend using the Dragonslayer great arrows only for they fully utilise this weapon. This greatbow is reinforced using Twinkling Titanite, goes up to +5 and cannot be buffed or infused.
While the easiest way to pick up a Dragonslayer greatbow is to try your luck and kill off Silver Knights in Irithyll of the Borreal valley and hope you get one, you can also find one lying with 5 Dragonslayer Greatarrows on a corpse on top of Anor Londo where most Silver Knight archers are posted in Dark Souls 3.
White Birch Bow
The White birch bow combines the speed of the Composite bow and the range of the black bow of Pharis. This comes at the cost of damage, it bow is the lowest damaging bow of Dark Souls 3. The White Birch bow is very versatile and its ability to shoot while sprinting and after a dodge makes it useful for all the defensive reasons the Composite Bow was good for.
It will let you avoid confrontation and get out of tense situations easily. It has a special ability that hides its arrows, making it a very good mind game bow.
The White Birch bow excels at both PvP and PvE, although never as a primary weapon. The White Birch bow, due to its quickness and versatility, can adopt and be helpful for multiple scenarios. Its ability to obscure its arrows can be very useful during PvP. Through this ability, you can have your opponents double guessing your moves and its quick shooting along with the arrow invisibility means you can confuse your opponent and fire from multiple angles in a relatively short period of time.
All in all, the White Birch Bow is a very versatile and quick hitting bow that can be useful in many Scenarios. Despite its low damage, its ability to help you maintain distance, annoy PvP opponents and kill ads make it one of the best Dark Souls 3 Bows.
The White Birch bow is one of the highest dexterity Dark Souls 3 bows. It requires a dexterity rating of at least 20. Its lack of strength scaling is also a reason behind why it has such low damage.
We recommend this bow for pure dexterity builds with at least 40 dexterity. It cannot be buffed or infused and is reinforced to +5 using Twinkling Titanite.
The White Birch Bow is a DLC weapon and you will require the ringed city DLC to acquire it. It can be found near the Ringed City streets bonfire. Near the bonfire, in the swamo is a an area full of hobbled clerics. There, lying atop a corpse you can find the Millwood Greatbow.
The shortbow is very similar to the composite bow and is useful for all the same reasons. It is very quick and has the same skillset. The Short bow’s ability to quickshoot right after a dodge and while sprinting makes it a very effective weapon for both PvP and PvE. It requires a strength level of at least 7 and a dexterity level of at least 12.
All in all, the short bow is an excellent alternative for the composite bow and excels in causing damage quickly and helping make distance. This bow cannot be buffed or infused and can be bought from Greirat once his returns from his expedition to the undead settlement (it is also a starting weapon for the thief class). A great option for people wanting a quick secondary bow in Dark Souls 3.
While the Drgonslayer greatbow takes the cake for being our favourite greatbow in the game, the Millwood greatbow is another excellent option. The Millwood greatbow has an A strength scaling and requires a strength level of at least 28 and a dexterity level of 12 to be wielded. It has the lowest range but high damage among all greatbows ( and all bows in general).
Its lower range and strength scaling do translate to its highest damage. Due to its high strength scaling, we recommend it for strength builds (check out our best strength builds guide). We recommend using this over the Dragonslayer greatbow if the loss in range does not affect you much and your primary stat is strength.
The Milloood Greatbow bow cannot be buffed or infused. Since this is a DLC bow, you will require the ashes of Ariandel DLC to get your hands on it. It is found on a corpse guarded by Millwood knights. Overall, its an exceptional strength bow in Dark Souls 3.
Are bows necessary in Dark Souls 3?
Nope, bows are not necessary for a playthrough. Bows are, however, extremely effective for various reasons, from their ability to act as excellent secondary weapons to helping you get out of tough situations.
Can the game only be played with a bow as your primary weapon?
While this is certainly possible, this is both rare is extremely difficult. A playthrough with bows only is known as a bowthrough, and is a way for veterans to challenge themselves, much like speed runs and no damage level 1 boss encounters/playthroughs.
Should I stick to one type of bow during a playthrough?
This depends on the utility you plan on deriving from a bow. If your plan is to only use a bow as a minor secondary weapon or to maximize damage, then sure, the composite bow the dragonslayer greatbow will serve as great secondary weapons. However, you can utilize the use of multiple bows during one playthrough to help during different situations. For example, using the composite bow as your main secondary weapon until you come across a dragon or an annoying enemy and then equipping a great or longbow to finish them off.
Can bows be used to kill bosses?
While it is possible and has been done, it will be extremely challenging. Most dark Souls bosses are quick and cause tons of damage. Killing a boss off with a bow only will mean being a veteran and knowing how to react to a boss’s every move. This can, however, be a fun challenge if you believe yourself to be a very good player.
Is there a bow build in Dark Souls 3?
While there is no specific popular bow build in Dark Souls 3, if you choose to play through the game using a bow only, you can create a build prioritizing the stat the bow of your choice scales with. That can be your own bow build.
What is the best class for using a bow?
If you plan on focusing on a bow, every class is fine. The thief class, however, starts with the short bow which is one of the best Dark Souls 3 Bows.