The single most potent bow in Breath of the Wild is, without a doubt, the Bow of Light. It tops every category and rips Dark Beast Ganon to shreds in the final boss battle.
Of course, without glitches, we can only wield the Bow of Light in an isolated boss fight. It isn’t the most practical item to pursue. If you want to clear out enemy encampments or slay some mini-bosses in a unique challenge mode, we’ll need to compare loot drops a little more carefully!
So, I’ll be listing a breakdown for 4 categories: Strength, Draw Speed, Durability, and Range. Then we’ll factor in offhand buffs like Multishot, Zoom, and Guardian Damage before reaching a final verdict of the 10 best bows in BotW.
Let’s start with the obvious – brute strength! No bow quite compares to the fated Bow of Light when it comes to raw power. Each of its arrows drive home a respectable 100 points of damage. Talk about overkill! Still, BotW has a few bows that can spark fear into the eyes of a mighty Lynel or fearsome Molduga.
Here’s a breakdown of the highest base damage ratings in the game:
Some Royal Guard’s Bows offer pretty hefty damage buffs, climbing upwards of 70 damage per arrow, but lack durability. You could also stumble into a modified Royal Bow that packs 50 damage per arrow.
But now it’s time for me to toss a curveball:
In Botw, Multishot bows won’t dwindle your arrow reserve any faster than a standard bow. Multishot bows only consume one arrow per shot and deal more cumulative damage, provided each arrow lands on the target. Let’s take a look at the multishot buff before sailing into the next category:
Now that changes things! Suddenly the top 4 multishot bows fall into S-tier damage output.
Each bow in BotW has a hidden draw speed rating. Thanks to a user on GameFAQs, we have some solid data on rates of fire. When measuring in shots per second, most bows fire 0.7 arrows. The quick shot enhancement increases that number to 0.77 arrows/ second. The Ancient Bow is the only bow to shoot slower than a standard ranged weapon, firing 0.6 arrows/ second. Of course, there are a handful of bows that fire faster, too:
Bear in mind: Any standard bow with quick shot will slightly outspeed the Swallow Bow.
Anyway, don’t rule out draw speed! A slight augmentation to Link’s firing speed spells the difference between life and death while gunning down a tenacious Lynel or Hinox!
Ah! I’d argue this is the most important category since everything in this Zelda installment is so dang fragile!
Hitpoints determine durability ratings in BotW. It’s pretty straightforward: Each arrow fired consumes one hitpoint.
Now to address some corner-cases. Multishot bows will only expend one hitpoint per shot, and durability isn’t lost when Link neglects to shoot an arrow (i.e., Firing blanks or putting the bow away before shooting.) For reference, most bows found in BotW have 20 hitpoints, and the almighty Bow of Light has 100.
The Mighty Lynel Bow and Forest Dweller’s Bow win a runner’s-up award for their 35 hitpoint durability rating. While the number isn’t exceptional, these weapons boast authoritative scores elsewhere, too. Unfortunately for the Duplex Bow, it snaps after firing 18 times – making it the second least durable bow in BotW.
A bow is only useful if it can hit its target. For those of us who don’t want to play a game of trajectory calculus every time we fire an arrow, range is ultra important.
The majority of bows in the game have a range of 20 feet before the arrows begin to arc. You’ve probably noticed while aiming to headshot a Bokoblin that a shot or two have dropped off and missed the target entirely! Next thing you know, the enemies are sounding off their horns, and the whole camp comes charging in for an attack. Luckily, there are a handful of bows with exceptional range!
Four bows have additional modifiers that further amplify their range and accuracy.
The Ancient Bow and Silver Bow have a hidden gravity reduction stat that improves both range and accuracy.
The Golden Bow and Phrenic Bow come with the added perk of zooming in on enemies, making them top choices for long-distance enemies or farming dragon shards.
One last thing before we compile that top 10 list of best bows!
The Ancient Bow has another little trick up its sleeve: Bonus damage to guardians. That might sound super niche, but those pesky flying guardians tremble in fear upon sighting one. An Ancient Bow can blast away a guardian’s propeller using two standard arrows. That’s incredible!
If you fancy yourself as someone with mad sniping skills, this bow is the perfect tool for the job. This ancient piece of tech packs a serious punch and outclasses every standard bow in the game in terms of range, at a small cost to draw speed. This bow is exceptional. You can craft the Ancient Bow in the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab. It’ll cost you 1,000 rupees, 15 ancient springs, 10 ancient gears, and a giant ancient core. You’ll also need to clear a particular quest to purchase one.
This bow slays. Even if your aim is atrocious enough to keep you from flipping on the hottest new battle royale game, the spray and pray technique works wonders here. You can loot Savage Lynel Bows from white-maned, silver, and golden Lynels that roam Hyrule Field and the Hebra Mountains. Other colors are considerably weaker and will drop weaker loot.
Unfortunately, this bow can only be obtained as a random drop for scanning an Amiibo during gameplay. That’s why I couldn’t whip up a sweet action shot for this bad boy. With the second highest durability in the game and a range that dwarfs even the Bow of Light, it’s a little unfair to unsuspecting Hinox and friends.
But his bow is formidable.
Thanks to it’s 40-ft range and A-tier draw speed, it’s a near-perfect upgrade to the Golden Bow – aside from the lack of zoom. It’s also easily replaceable: To craft a Great Eagle Bow, you’ll need to offer Harth a Swallow Bow, one diamond, and five bundles of wood. Harth lives in Rito Village. The Great Eagle Bow is easily the strongest bow for braving a violent thunderstorm without being struck down by lightning.
The Royal Guard’s Bow looks plain menacing! Any time you’re short a bow and fumble across one of these puppies, pick it up! It may sport a lackluster 20 hitpoints, but this bow packs a serious wallop. Its range isn’t too shabby, either. Royal Guard Bows only spawn in Hyrule Castle. They’re easiest to spot in the castle armory or Princess Zelda’s room.
Scattered throughout the scorching dunes of the Gerudo Desert is a gem of a ranged weapon. On paper, this bow might appear middling, but I can’t stress enough the sheer utility of the added zoom feature. These bows are also abundant, making them prime targets for burning through simple exploration tasks or farming dragon shards. The most accessible location to spot a Golden Bow is in the barracks of Gerudo Town. I discovered an even better drop site with a Golden Bow and Radiant Shield Spawn while researching my guide to shield surfing!
Durable. Dependable. Devastating. The Royal Bow is built to last. They’re perfect for combat that’s gotten up-close-and-personal, and they’re somewhat common to loot from chests or high-tier enemies. Specifically, you can snatch Royal Bows from Hinox and strong enemies across the Hebra Mountains and Tabantha region.
Those little Korok rascals can do more than play hide and seek! They’re also skilled craftsmen who have mastered the art of wooden bows and shields. If you haven’t completed Vah Medoh and unlocked Revali’s bow yet, these are the best bows to equip when dealing with lightning. Unfortunately, the arrows travel 11% slower than usual. If you’re on the prowl for one of these bows, you can find one in the Korok Forest. There’s also a notorious spawn point in Lanayru (on Kincean Island) behind a wall of bombable rocks.
The Falcon Bow is a speedy little devil that can get a lot of mileage during bullet time and related aerial combat shenanigans. Bonus points for being wooden. You can find Falcon Bows around Rito Village and rip them from enemies’ hands throughout the Tabantha Frontier and Hebra Mountains.
Feeling impatient? There’s a tall pillar south of Hebra Plunge with a chest that guarantees Falcon Bow drops. The exact location is marked on the map above.
As much as I hate ending in a tie, the Duplex Bow snaps like an autumn twig. I couldn’t justify placing it higher than the trusty Steel Lizal.
Anyway, these bows aren’t too shabby. Most top ZeldaTubers and journos skip the Steel Lizal because they’re ubiquitous. Although a 50-point durability rating is nothing to scoff at!
The Steel Lizal and Duplex Bows both sport decent stat lines, with the latter offering the coveted multishot buff. They come in clutch for head-shotting enemies with flashier loot. Still praiseworthy bows, in my book. You can pluck a Duplex Bow from Yiga-Clan archers and a Steel Lizal Bow from black, silver, and golden Lizalfos.
Anyway, that’s a wrap, folks! The 10 best bows in Breath of the Wild in a nice tidy list, as well as some valuable data on what makes a bow uncommonly strong. Happy hunting, and try not to keep Princess Zelda waiting too long while you’re out feeding local wildlife or debating to join the Prince Sidon Fan Club!