The Best Weapons in MHW: Iceborne (April 2020)

Fill out your arsenal with the best weapons in Monster Hunter World.

It’s no easy task to decide the best weapons in Monster Hunter World. The game is full of them and they’re pretty well-balanced besides! With the release of Iceborne, however, we have certainly found our favorites. So we’ve collected a few of them here, with in-depth descriptions of what makes them worth using, according to a number of different factors. Read on for our full lists of the best weapons in MHW: Iceborne!

For the record: these are not just the mathematically nastiest weapons in the game. There are plenty of third-party apps out there that can crunch those numbers if you simply want the highest “effective raw damage.” Those are usually only useful to speedrunners and players with an absolutely ungodly number of Decorations.

Instead, we’ve focused on the weapons that have the best balance of overall stats — including sharpness, Affinity, and widely applicable damage types. And while one category of weapon in particular is better than most, we’ve also taken into account special niches for special weapon types (e.g. the Gunlance and Hunting Horns).

Keep that in mind! Now, without any further ado, here are some of the best weapons in MHW.

Detailed Best Weapon Guides:

Now that we’ve had time to look at more of the weapons in great detail, we’ve begun splitting out our best MHW weapons into their own lists. You can find links to the ones we’ve completed below! Meanwhile, this guide is now dedicated to more broadly explaining what makes the best weapons and where you can get them.

Iceborne Best Weapons MHW

Safi’Jiva Awakened Weapons

MHW saw a massive shift with the release of Safi’Jiva. This event monster functions somewhat like Kulve Tarroth — in that it’s only available in-game for limited times. Also like Kulve Taroth, the Safi’Jiva weapons are more-or-less best in their respective classes at the moment. At the very least they directly compete with the Raging Brachydios options and offer more flexibility. That’s because they’re incredibly customizable! You can pump them for raw damage, sharpness, affinity, and a helluva lot more. Check out our full Awakened Weapons guide for complete details. And look here for our skill recommendations.

These generally come with the base power of “unique” weapons, but can be further enhanced with Awakened Skills that make up for the lack of custom augments (which are otherwise only found on “generic” looking weapons). Often that just means stacking multiple raw damage skills on the same weapon for massive benefits.

If you have an Awakened Weapon with the right elements and skills for you, or the Dracolite necessary to upgrade them, you’re probably set! The following non-event weapons are for those that can’t get the right skills to roll, haven’t had time to farm Safi’Jiva, or are simply waiting for the next event to roll around.

Speaking of events: you can usually see when the Safi’Jiva Siege will roll around next. Just head to the official MHW event calendar for consoles right here. Steam players can find their own event calendar at this link instead.

Raging Brachydios vs. Gold Rathian vs. Rajang… vs. Kulve Taroth

Raging Brachydios just had to come and blow a whole through the meta. Now the boxing lizard’s weapons are pretty much the best non-event items across the board! And they’re available for every single weapon type. If you have access to the Guiding Lands, and can brave the better Brachydios, it’s time to get farming for Immortal Reactors. Otherwise we have a few other options below!

For quite some time after the release of Iceborne, however, Gold Rathian weapons were the best non-event weapons in MHW. They come with a fantastic mix of raw damage (the second highest in the game), positive critical hit chance, white sharpness, and a bit of Poison. There’s a lot of complicated and not-so-complicated math that explains why this particular mix makes them so good. Suffice it to say that, even on monsters with one-star weakness to Poison, the total damage from a Gold Rathian weapon outdoes even Rajang variants — which currently have the highest raw damage in MHW for most weapons.

In addition, Gold Rathian weapons have positive Affinity, whereas other gear with high raw damage, including Rajang weapons, which usually have the highest base raw in the game, do not. Even without maximizing your crits, that’s always a nice bonus. Plus it mixes well with Critical Status and True Critical Status. You can even get the latter skill from a Gold Rathian armor set bonus.

The major caveat is that not all weapons have Gold Rathian versions (unlike Raging Brachydios). The Insect Glaive, for instance, would greatly benefit from the golden stats. But it just doesn’t exist. That’s where Ruiner Nergigante once came into play. There is a Ruiner Nergigante version of every weapon category. They don’t come with positive Affinity or Poison, but do include a great deal of white sharpness and a tiny shred of Dragon damage. However, Raging Brachydios has made this backup plan somewhat moot.

Except in cases where a monster is completely immune to Dragon, Ruiner weapons do still stack up pretty nicely. But only Zorah Magdaros Raging Brachydios weapon first if you can. You can even craft them faster than Ruiner Nergigante gear, since the Elder Dragon requires you to hit Master Rank 100! The same goes for Gold Rathian equipment.

The Unkillable Spread Heavy Bowgun

This one deserves special mention. That’s because Safi’s Burstcannon and Loyal Thunder, two of the best Heavy Bowguns in the game, are downright broken. Truly optimizing them requires a ton of specific armor and Decorations (just like every weapon). However, just slotting the weapons with three Shield Mods and an Ironside Charm will still make you nearly unkillable. Then slot in one Recoil Mod and one Close-Range Mod for faster attack speed and more damage. Or you can just stack it with Close Range Up mods and a Special Scope. Anyone can get those!

The power of this weapon lies in its consistency. You get high damage and very little recoil on the potent Spread Ammo. Then the aforementioned Shield Mods and Charm make you immune to damage while blocking. That’s especially powerful on the Heavy Bowgun, where “blocking” just means “not firing.” You get the stability and protection of a Lance shield by just standing still. The Guard Up skill can make you further immune to even normally unblockable attacks.

Both Safi’s Burstcannon and Loyal Thunder also come with Wyvernheart. This machine gun special attack does incredible damage at medium and close range. That makes it perfect for a Spread Ammo HBG. There’s not a lot to say about it beyond that! It’s just an incredibly good shotgun without any true downsides to speak of, if you use it as intended.

More MHW & Iceborne:

NOTE: The following text is out of date, or contextualized better in the specific weapon guides linked near the top of this piece. We’ve kept the text here as it might still provide some useful tips, tricks, or inspiration for your own builds. For the most part, though, consult the individual best weapon guides.

Hidden Blade II – A Heavy Hitter With Options

The Great Sword is a favorite among MHW speed runners and try-hards. Its laughably high raw damage and somewhat slow swing speed reward perfect timing and positioning. If you know a monster very well — and can predict where it will be and how long it will be there — the Great Sword is for you. Plus it comes with a limited ability to block. That means even less experienced players will have something to fall back on while learning.

The Hidden Blade II, the Nargacuga Great Sword in MHW, doesn’t have the highest raw damage in its class. However, it makes up for that with extremely good sharpness and Affinity. It’s also (appropriately) a hidden element weapon — meaning you need to use the Free Element skill to unlock its whopping 660 poison damage. If you don’t, you can use the Non-Elemental Boost skill to bring its raw number up another five percent. Meanwhile, its critical hits, which are easy to guarantee with a natural 25 percent Affinity, deal more damage than standard hits from Great Swords with more raw damage.

This allows you to focus on Poison or raw damage depending on the situation. It also means you won’t need as many Handicraft and/or Critical Eye skills from Decorations and armor. So you can add more defensive, evasive, or quality-of-life skills without losing out on damage. If that weren’t enough, the Hidden Blade II is very easy to farm in Iceborne — particularly compared to the also-popular Immovable Dharma. The latter Great Sword requires you to reach the end of the expansion’s main story and farm the boss’s incredibly irritating Tenderplates.

Alternative: Immovable Dharma has better raw damage, a defense bonus, and an extra Level 1 Decoration slot. It loses the Affinity and purple sharpness, however. Oh, and you have to farm those damn Tenderplates…

Lightbreak Gunlance – The Wide Gunlance of Choice

There’s simply no getting around it. Raging Brachydios broke the Iceborne meta only a few short months after Safi’Jiva did the exact same thing. Now Wide Shell Gunlances have a Level 7 option to play with: the Lightbreak Gunlance. If you can farm the necessary materials, this isn’t just the best weapon for its shell type — it’s probably the best Gunlance in the game, outclassing even Safi’Jiva. At the very least, it offers a very flexible alternative.

Besides having what is currently the highest level of shell in MHW, the Lightbreak also has decent sharpness, the best raw damage for all base Gunlances, and excellent Decoration slots. It offers utility and incredible power. You can’t beat that!

Xeno Hemta Plus – The Long Gunlance of Choice

Long Shells are all the rage in Iceborne. Now that Wide Shells have a Level 7 option, Long Shells aren’t the only go-to. But they do offer a different playstyle! And the best Long Shell Gunlance in MHW is probably the Xeno Hemta +. It’s a mouthful to say, but it earns the title with Level 6 Long Shells, two Level 4 Decoration slots, great sharpness, and strong Dragon damage. “Charged shelling” builds, where you focus on shooting monsters from behind your shield with juiced up shots, work tremendously well with the Hemta +.

The major downside is that it requires considerable farming. While you don’t need to farm Dracolite to juice this weapon, you do still need a good chunk of Safi’Jiva parts. Those just aren’t possible to get if the Safi’Jiva siege is unavailable. In that case, the next step down for Long Shell Gunlances is probably the Deathlance Vaal Spysa. It takes considerable damage, gem slots, and sharpness compared to the Hemta +, but it’s better than nothing, and has Level 6 Long Shells to play with.

Alternative(s): Queen’s Panoply has better Affinity, better raw damage, and about the same level of sharpness as the Blackveil Vaal Hazak variant. It also comes with Poison, which is more widely applicable than Dragon damage (putting it over the Xeno Hemta + in terms of pure damage in some cases). The one major downside is that it has the Normal Shell type. That’s not nearly as good as Long Gunlances for the charged style. It works just fine if you mostly focus on melee attacks (to build up Poison) and land “full burst” combos in between, though.

Bazel Valdi Rooksearer – The Fire and Forget Hunting Horn

If you’re playing with a team, you can never go wrong with a Hunting Horn. These intimidating weapons are well worth learning. And thanks to changes made in Monster Hunter World, the weapon type has never been easier to get into. I made the jump myself just earlier this year and haven’t looked back. When hunting in co-op, there is simply no replacement for the damage and quality-of-life buffs this weapon brings.

In Iceborne, few Hunting Horns compete with the Bazel Valdi Rooksearer. It comes with the always coveted Attack Up (L) song and two Level 2 gem slots. And while it has 10 percent negative Affinity (critical hit rate), that’s not too bothersome on such a slow weapon anyway. Not to mention you make up the difference with a very respectable 300 Blast damage — which saw a significant buff in Iceborne as well. At the moment, Blast is more-or-less the best status effect for raw damage.

The Rooksearer also sidesteps one of the more irritating issues with healing Hunting Horns. If you want to keep your allies alive, healing with Health Recovery (S) can be very helpful. In practice, though, the timing is tricky. Most players will just heal themselves with potions or other items before you can finish playing a song. In cases where they can’t heal (because they’re stunned, pinned, etc.) you’ll still likely be too slow to prevent a charging Nergigante from finishing them off.

That’s where Extended Health Recovery and Recovery Speed (L) come in. The former gives everyone regenerating hit points, as if they had the Vaal Hazak set bonus or had rested in hot springs. And the latter makes the red portion of their health gauge recover very quickly. These ensure that allies are healing constantly, albeit more slowly, making timing a non-issue. Not to mention they won’t have to manually heal as often — freeing them up to deal even more damage with that Attack Up buff. You’ve still got Health Recovery in a pinch, too.

To top it all off, you’ve got Impact Echo Waves for increased stuns and exhaustion. Hunting Horns are already great at this on their own. Put together, the aggressive enemies of MHW will slow down considerably faster. Finally, a healthy dose of purple sharpness makes this one of the least maintenance-intensive Hunting Horns in the game.

Alternative(s): The Rasping Ballad is a more strictly offensive Hunting Horn. It has very high raw damage and some purple sharpness with Handicraft. It also sports Attack Up (L) and Knockbacks Negated. That means you can whack away, with the extra offense, without fear of being pushed out of your attack animation. It also sports both Impact Echo Waves and Echo Wave “Dragon:” the two purely offensive songs in MHW. Combined with the high damage of the new Hunting Horn spin move, that’s a lot of DPS.

Austere Paradise also sports a good blend of damage and utility. Its hidden Dragon element means you can slot it with Non-Elemental Boost for easy extra damage. Combine that with Defense Up (L), Attack and Defense Up (S), All Wind Pressure Negated (meaning it even works against Kushala Doara), and a couple of stamina boosting skills.

Attack and Defense Up (S) is only five percent less potent than Attack Up (L) when you encore it. And the extra defense keeps allies alive longer. Finally, the stamina buffs help Insect Glaive, Dual Blades, and Bow users attack more frequently for an indirect offensive leap, while making it easier to mount and rodeo monsters with the Clutch Claw to boot.


And there you go! Thanks for taking the time to read about our best weapons in MHW: Iceborne. We hope they help you get a leg up on your foes in the hunts to come. Bear in mind that Capcom is updating and adding more gear to the game all the time, though! We’ll be sure to come back as well and update this list with new options as they come to our attention. Until then, take care and have fun!

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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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