MHW Best Switch Axe – Iceborne Guide (June 2020)

Let's switch things up a bit.

As we push through another year of MHW, the best Switch Axe choice has changed immeasurably. The weapon type saw massive buffs across the board in the Iceborne expansion. Now playstyles focused on sword mode, axe mode, and a mix of the two all have their own unique benefits. What’s more is that the best Switch Axes in Monster Hunter World were just as altered by the usual suspects as most other gear types. Expect to see (and farm) some of your old favorites as we look at the best Switch Axe in MHW in our latest guide!

Note: This guide references weapons only attainable by fighting the limited-time monster known as Safi’Jiva. Awakened Weapons are the randomized drops that you get at the end of any Safi’Jiva siege. Whereas Xeno + weapons are built normally, along the Xeno’Jiva tree, using parts from both Xeno’Jiva and Safi’Jiva to reach the highest level of upgrade.

To determine when Safi’Jiva is available on your system, please head to the official MHW event calendar for consoles right here. Steam players can find their own event calendar at this link instead.

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Kjarr Axe “Water” (Master Rank Kulve Taroth)

Capcom has a weird thing about water weapons. It’s typically the strongest elemental damage type among elemental damage types, performing better against monsters weak to it than others. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because there are so few water-based monsters in MHW. So the type is a little more broadly applicable than others. Whatever the case, Kjarr Axe “Water” is a… water Switch Axe. Who’d have thought?

Like the other elemental Kjarr axes, this uses a Power Element Phial. That means your explosive pulses do water damage instead of impact. That’s good! The “raw” Kjarr Switch Axes, which is to say the ones with status effects instead of elements, aren’t very good.

Also look for Kjarr Axe “King” for fire damage. It’s just a touch weaker in its class compared to “Water.” We’re talking like single digit percentages here for total damage. Meanwhile Kjarr Axe “Stream” does ice damage and Kjarr Axe “Thunder” does, you guessed it, thunder. They’re not as potent as the other elements in their class, but they’re still basically the best elemental Switch Axes in the game for their element.

Note that this refers to the Master Rank versions of these weapons. You need to fight the special, non-siege version of Kulve Taroth to upgrade them. The upside is that, like all elemental Kjarr weapons, you also get Critical Element built in and access to the custom augment system. That really raises the ceiling on your total damage while opening up your build options for niceties, instead of just focusing on damage, which should always be considered when hunting.

Lightbreak Axe (Raging Brachydios)

If you want a fantastic all-rounder, and hate farming sieges, the Lightbreak Axe is for you! This is a “raw” Switch Axe. It does no elemental damage and features a Power Impact Phial that makes your explosions build up stuns. So why would you want it over the elemental options?

There’s the farming for one thing. Raging Brachydios isn’t tied to an event quest or a siege. That means you can worry less about random drops and don’t need to care about when you play at all. You also don’t have to worry much about weaknesses. Lightbreak weapons build up the blast status effect, which no normal monster in the game is immune to. It’s also arguably the best status in the game — since it deals more stun, breaks parts, doesn’t fade over time, and adds directly to your total damage.

The Lightbreak Axe also has incredible stats and and decoration slots (like all Raging Brachydios gear). It’s not the mathematically strongest blast Switch Axe in the game, but it’s easily the most “usable” for most players. Speaking of which, most players won’t really see the benefit of an extra sliver of damage from Safi’s Shatteraxe (the Safi’Jiva variant). Leave that to speedrunners and focus on consistency instead of single digit damage boosts.

Safi’s Shatteraxe (Safi’Jiva)

As mentioned above, this is technically the strongest raw Switch Axe in the game. But unless you’re a speedrunner, or really love the look of a fully awakened Safi’Jiva weapon, the Lightbreak Axe is a much better option. Not that we can blame you for the cosmetic choice… Safi’Jiva weapons do look damn fine.

If you really do want to grab this one, two levels of Sharpness V, two levels of Attack V, and one level of Attack VI are the optimal Awakened Skills for maximum damage output. As always, though, we recommend considering usability as well. “Comfort” in the form of Health Boost and other quality-of-life options is very important. That’s especially true when using a Safi’Jiva weapon, which comes with weaker decoration slots than its Raging Brachydios counterpart.

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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