Are you planning to make a barbarian character in Dungeons & Dragons 5e? With so many factors to consider, you may feel overwhelmed. One of the most important decisions to make early on is which weapon to invest your first gold in.
We have ranked the best weapons for barbarians in 5e from best to worst to help you out. We have aimed for a good balance between damage output, enjoyment to use, and fun to roleplay with. Our Dungeon Masters based the ranking on cold, hard numbers, their experience, and input from the community.
We are starting off with a classic. The Greatsword is the bread and butter of the barbarian. Just like the Greataxe (number 2), it doesn’t just hit hard, but it completes your look as a fear-inducing warrior.
The Greatsword deals 2d6 damage and has the versatile property. Due to this property, your barbarian can use the Greatsword two-handed or one-handed while wielding a shield. In our experience, this versatility makes the Greatsword slightly better than the Greataxe for a barbarian. The added flexibility, combined with the awesome look, makes the Greatsword the best weapon for a barbarian in 5e in our experience.
A very close second is the Greataxe. Many would argue that this is the best weapon for a barbarian, but we do think that the Greatsword edges it out closely. However, the Greataxe has a lot going for it.
The 1d12 damage is incredible, and this is paired with the brutal critical feature. If you are making a crit account, then a barbarian with the Greataxe is a great option. Whenever you deal a critical hit, you can roll another die to calculate extra damage.
If you are experienced with a barbarian and have a well-balanced team that can cover you, then you can deal some massive damage and slash through enemies like butter.
If your barbarian needs a quick and easy weapon when coin is tight or as an accessory to your main melee weapon, the Javelin is a fantastic option. We admit that putting a thrown weapon in our top three for a Barbarian is kind of controversial and unorthodox, but we have good reason for this.
The Javelin is ideal to give your barbarian a simple weapon that allows it to also hit targets from range. When thrown, you can deal 1d6 damage, and in a pinch, it is also a decent melee weapon. Thanks to the lightweight, abundance, and cheap cost, you will almost always have access to the javelin.
A weapon that is gaining popularity amongst players is the maul. This heavy two-handed weapon is strong, but you need to be experienced to get the most out of it. Just like the greataxe, the maul has the brutal critical feature.
A downside to the maul is that it has the heavy property. So if you have a small creature as your barbarian, you will have a disadvantage attacking. While most barbarians run into this issue, it is something to keep in mind if you have smaller party members or want to make a tiny barbarian.
A fun alternative to the javelin – or other weapons on the ranking – is the handaxe. The handaxe can be used both as a melee weapon and as a ranging weapon. Thanks to the fact that it is light, deals 1d6 of damage, and fits the Barbarian roleplay perfectly, having one as your secondary weapon makes a lot of sense.
The cost of the handaxe is a bit higher than the javelin, and they are harder to obtain. Those are the main reasons why we put the javelin at number three and the handaxe at number five.
Now that we have established our top five, it’s time we look at some more original weapon choices that are underused but still strong in the right hands. The halberd is a bit weaker than the greataxe.
It deals 1d10 damage and does not have the crucial hit feature. It does have the ability to hit your targets from 10 feet out. If your barbarian lacks the AC to tank hits or if you want to fight just behind the frontline, this weapon is great to do so.
Ranking the Battleaxe at number 7 might be a bit harsh. However, we have a few arguments that might convince you that the other 6 barbarian weapons are slightly better. The battleaxe can be used with both hands or with one hand thanks to the versatile property. However, unlike the greataxe, it deals only 1d8 of damage.
A redeeming feature of the battleaxe is that it is pretty useful outside of combat too. The handaxe has the chopping feature, so you can chop wood with it or build/destroy objects like wooden doors and poles.
The Glaive is another weapon that does not get a lot of love from Barbarians. If you pick a barbarian subclass or build that prioritizes agility over strength, then the Glaive is a worthwhile weapon to consider.
The Glaive is a two-handed weapon that has the finesse and reach property. The Glaive rolls off the Dex modifier if you make an attack. So a barbarian that mainly invested in the STR stat like a Goliath won’t be able to make much use out of it. However, an agility-based barbarian will soon see that the Glaive is a potent and fun addition to their arsenal of tools to deal with foes.
Number 9 on our ranking of the top weapons for a barbarian in 5e is the Flail. While uncommon and not used often, it has a few perks that might make it worth considering for certain battles.
While it only deals 1d8 of damage, the flail has the disarm feature. Thanks to the disarm feature, the flail has the ability to knock a weapon out of your target’s hand. The Flail can also knock enemies prone due to the trip feature the weapon has.
The flail is a great weapon that in the right situation can turn a fight around. Due to the fact it is less common and more niche than the others on this list, we decided on this spot. However, do not underestimate the Flail!
10. Hand-to-hand combat
Our final entry on the ranking is a bit of a spice pick! Hand-to-hand combat is a good way to deal damage with a barbarian in a pinch. The reason for that is that barbarians have proficiency in unarmed strike and deal their STR modifier +1 when fighting barehanded. This option is great if you are disarmed and have high Strength. Some subclasses also have a few perks when fighting with unarmed strikes.
There are so many great weapons for barbarians to choose from. While some, like the greataxe and greatsword, are no-brainers, a few are pretty underrated or fantastic given the right circumstances.
In my experience, the javelin and the flail are the two weapons that most players playing as a barbarian should try. The javelin is a great secondary weapon to give your barbarian a cheap and effective ranged option. The flail is great in a few niche situations, and when used right, it can turn a fight around.