The Best Weapons in MHW: Iceborne (November 2019)

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 list 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.

Iceborne Best Weapons MHW

Gold Rathian vs. Ruiner Nergigante vs. Rajang

For the vast majority of players, and most situations, Gold Rathian weapons are the overall best in MHW. They come with a fantastic mix of raw damage (the second highest in the game), positive critical hit chance, white sharpness, and 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.

In addition, Gold Rathian weapons have positive Affinity, whereas other gear with high raw damage, including Rajang weapons, 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 variants. The Insect Glaive, for instance, would greatly benefit from the golden stats. But it just doesn’t exist. That’s where Ruiner Nergigante comes 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.

Except in cases where a monster is completely immune to Dragon, Ruiner weapons stack up pretty nicely. But only Zorah Magdaros is completely immune to Poison. That means, all else being equal, you should probably go for a Gold Rathian 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!

Loyal Thunder – The Unkillable Spread Gun

Loyal Thunder is a borderline broken Heavy Bowgun… Truly optimizing it requires a ton of specific armor and Decorations (just like every weapon in the game). However, just slotting it 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. 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 3. 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.

Loyal Thunder also comes 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.

Alternative: Nothing else even comes close to Loyal Thunder for Spread guns, to be honest. That’s not to say other Heavy Bowguns are bad or unusable! But if you can use the Zinogre HBG, you should.

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.

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.

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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.

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…

Deathlance Vaal Spysa – The Long Gunlance of Choice

Long Shells are all the rage in Iceborne. And the best Long Shell Gunlance in MHW is probably the Deathlance Vaal Spysa. It’s a mouthful to say, but it earns the title with Level 6 Long Shells, two Level 2 Decoration slots, a ton of white 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 Spysa.

Alternative: Queen’s Panoply has better Affinity, better raw damage, and about the same level of sharpness as the Vaal Hazak varient. It also comes with Poison, which is more widely applicable than Dragon damage. 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.


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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