The best MHW Bows aren’t easy to find. The weapon type got a bit of a nerf with the release of the new expansion, after it dominated the base game. At the same time, however, other “elements” of the game got buffed. I’m talking about elemental damage — which is now the number one consideration when it comes to maximizing Bow output. So what are the best Bows in MHW now and why? Let’s take a look and find the right build for you!
The best Bows in MHW: Iceborne are at least simple to break down. They’re just highly situational and, potentially, a pain to farm. That’s because Bows gain the most benefit from focusing on elemental damage. Ideally, you want to have one Bow for every damage element in the game: Fire, Ice, Water, Thunder, and Dragon. To really get the most out of any individual Bow build, you want to have the best Bow in each category.
Safi’Jiva vs. Raging Brachydios vs. Kulve Taroth – MHW Best Bow
Safi’Jiva gear is no longer the top of the line across the board. The original MHW siege monster, Goldilocks herself, Kulve Taroth, has come back for her crown. As such, Safi’Jiva is generally a very slightly weaker option, or arguably a side grade across the board when it comes to elemental Bow builds in MHW. And since elemental is basically the way to play with Bows, you might as well farm all the various Kjarr Bows with every element. It’s arguably easier to do than messing with Safi’Jiva and Dracolite anyway!
That’s because Awakened Weapons (the Safi’Jiva gear that comes with its own totally unique perks) are randomized and tied to a time-limited event. Even when the event is up, there’s no guarantee of getting your perfect weapon and set of perks for quite some time. That’s why it’s important to lay out the best weapons you can straight-up craft in Iceborne at the moment. That includes the Raging Brachydios Lightbreak Bow: a totally solid option for all monsters in the game, if you don’t want to futz with elemental match-ups.
If you do care about elemental match-ups, however, Kjarr Bows get a lot of their power from having Critical Element and Critical Status built in. It’s fantastic, and opens up your armor options considerably.
The Other Best MHW Bows in Iceborne
As previously mentioned, elemental damage is the number one consideration for Bow DPS, thanks to the buffs these types received in Iceborne. You want to pick Bows that have high elemental damage to start. From there, though, you need to worry about Custom Augments. High-tier “generic” weapons (those that just look like slightly modified Bone and Alloy Bows) have greater access to elemental damage augments than the “unique” designs. It’s a pain, and one of the core criticisms of Iceborne as an expansion, but it’s the truth. Pumping Custom Augments into your Bow will provide the most overall elemental damage — assuming you don’t just use the unique Safi’Jiva or Kjarr variants.
Glavenus Arrow II meets all these requirements for Fire. Plus it has two Level 1 Decoration slots to play with. You can say more-or-less the same thing about Mist Glacia (Ice), Laguna Shot II (Water), the Thundering Strikebow (Thunder), and Dragonseal Aldbow II (Dragon). Just make sure to use your Custom Augment slots to increase elemental damage as much as possible on each weapon.
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Since the best MHW Bows fall under such a broad umbrella, and are so elementally oriented, a lot of your damage actually comes from your armor set. This requires further grinding and loadout management… Most of that is spent preparing Level 5 elemental damage Charms: Frost Charm V, Flood Charm V, Shock Charm V, Blaze Charm V, and Wyrmsbane Charm V. The bright side is that you can basically use the same armor set for every Bow build, and simply change out the Charm depending on which weapon you use.
Said armor set usually starts with four pieces of the Silver Sol Beta+. Specifically, you want four pieces of the gear to unlock its True Critical Element bonus. This “greatly” increases the elemental damage you deal on each critical hit. As such, surprising pretty much nobody, you should wear the top four pieces of Silver Rathalos gear and slot the Garuga Greaves Beta+ onto your legs. The all-powerful armor piece comes with amazing slots and two levels of Critical Eye — just what you want on a True Critical Element build.
A Note on Kirin Longarms & Thunder Bows – MHW Best Bow
It’s worth pointing out that, for the best Thunder Bow builds, you can consider the Kirin Longarms Beta+. These gauntlets have some of the best gem slots in MHW (the same as the Garuga Greaves) and provide a whopping three levels of Thunder Attack. That means they’re both highly situational and highly versatile. In other words, they’re perfect for Bow users!
Since you’d be exchanging them for the Garuga Greaves, you’re effectively gaining one Level 1 slot and losing two levels of Critical Eye, while gaining two levels of Slinger Capacity in the trade. But since that Level 1 slot will likely go to Critical Eye anyway… you’re ultimately losing one level of Critical Eye for more Slinger Capacity.
That’s not completely worthless on a Bow. Higher Slinger Capacity gives you more powerful Thousand Dragons attacks. However, you still want to hit the max level of Critical Eye (and preferably Weakness Exploit) to take full advantage of True Critical Element. The other advantage is that three levels of Thunder Attack means you can use a Shock Charm IV instead of a Shock Charm V without losing any slots. Why is that important? Because Level 5 Charms require Phantomcore Ore: an incredibly elusive crafting material. And you need five of those suckers to make every maxed out elemental damage Charm.
It largely comes down to what Decorations you have and how much Phantomcore Ore you want to farm. In the short term, you can at least use this method to save on Phantomcore Ore and focus on building the rest of your Level 5 Charms.
As always, what weapon you use is ultimately up to you, as well. Monster Hunter World is an incredibly well-balanced game at the moment — thanks largely to the changes made in Iceborne. And a tiny bit of extra damage from using a fully augmented Bow with Silver Sol armor doesn’t necessarily make it the best for your situation. No number of extra crits is going to help you if you keep dying to Effluvia, or have trouble dodging Velkhana’s ice beams. That’s nothing to be ashamed of! It’s literally how the game is built.
However, I hope this look at the best Bows in MHW and Iceborne (at least from a certain standpoint) will give you a better idea of how the game works. You can use this knowledge as a baseline to better find the build that works for you. In the meantime, though, happy hunting!