Top 10 Best War Axes in Skyrim

By George Wood Jr.

Deep in the wooded winterlands of Skyrim, citizens rely heavily on their woodcutting axes for chopping down trees and splitting firewood to heat their homes. Dragonborn also share this Northerner love for the axe, except they rely on theirs for chopping limbs and splitting enemy skulls.

As a melee weapon, the war axe combines the swiftness of the sword with the staggering heft of a mace. This amounts to a higher damage, more nimble one-handed weapon with a glorious beheading animation for certain kills.

That said, if you really want to send some enemy heads flying across the map, may I suggest our list for the best two handed weapons in Skyrim? Perfect for your local Tamriel home run contest.

We’ve done lists for essential one-handed swords, now it’s time to put the war axes of Skyrim to the chopping block.

10. Elven War Axe

Top 10 Best War Axes in Skyrim - Elven War Axe
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Don’t hate on the Elven War Axe just because it’s the popular peacekeeper of the prickly, Talos-hating Thalmor Justiciar. Stick it to their snivelling organization by looting this lightweight hatchet off a Thalmor corpse and using it to execute his fellow judiciaries.

This polished moonstone axe is a valuable find early in the game, but it can also be crafted with a fairly low Smithing skill of 30. As far as aesthetics are concerned, this axe is crafted to look like a golden bird of prey, talons outstretched to strike at the hearts of your enemies.

At 12 damage, the Elven War Axe is a mid-range choice in its class. Add some enchantments and you’ve got a reliable sidearm for some time.

9. Skyforge War Axe

Top 10 Best War Axes in Skyrim - Skyforge War Axe
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Eorlund Gray-Mane in Whiterun may be the most accomplished steel artist in all of Skyrim. As the official weaponsmith of the Companions, he has tirelessly practiced his craft over the everburning coals of the Skyforge for generations of new recruits. This sacred forge produces the lightest, most lethal steel and the Skyforge War Axe is no exception.

This war axe looks like it belongs in the hamfist palm of some Viking King. Hefty in appearance, the Skyforge War Axe weighs surprisingly less than the Elven War Axe, with the same 12 points of base damage but a quicker attack speed.

8. Glass War Axe

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This war axe is technically made of refined malachite and moonstone, but it’s dual blades are still sharp as freshly shattered broken glass. With two notched blades that extend out like shimmering emerald wings, the Glass War Axe just might be the most gorgeous piece on this list.

This glistening limb chopper does a crushing 14 points of damage, far more dangerous than the majority of other War Axes available to the Dragonborn. It also carries a corresponding gravity, weighing 16 Tamriel pounds (not an officially recognized unit of weight, but none exists so it’ll do).

Creating this axe requires the Glass Smithing perk, which means putting in a considerable time at the blacksmith’s forge. Otherwise, your best bet for acquiring this axe is from a local merchant or looting it from a dungeon after level 27.

7. Dawnguard Rune Axe

Top 10 Best War Axes in Skyrim - Dawnguard Rune Axe
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As you may have guessed, the Dawnguard Rune Axe can only be acquired in the Dawnguard expansion in the “Lost Relic” quest. I had a tough time judging this axe’s placement on this list because, while it’s 11 base damage is meager, the Rune Axe’s enchantment can build on this considerably.

The Dawnguard Rune Axe, in addition to the base damage, does one extra point of Sun damage based on how many undead you’ve killed that day. This means vampires, draugr, conjured skeletons and other creepers of similar ilk. If you’re a real crusader against the undead, that bonus solar damage can theoretically rise to 100 plus the base damage of the axe itself!

The catch is, that counter resets to zero after sunrise of the following day. Back to a measly 11 damage.

So, the Dawnguard Rune Axe is a powerful tool if you plan to spend the day scouring old Nord crypts or Vampire dens. Otherwise, keep on rollin’ down the list.

6. Daedric War Axe

Top 10 Best War Axes in Skyrim - Daedric War Axe
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The Daedric War Axe is a visual example of the twisted evil lurking within the souls of all Daedric demon spawn. This weapon is made using all the same components as the Ebony War Axe, but with the blood from a freshly plucked Daedra Heart wrung out over the sizzling weapon.

This addition somehow warps the axe to form a vicious, serrated blade emitting a malevolent crimson glow. The dark lines and dreadful curves of this weapon announce insidious intention to maim and torture it’s victims until the very last scream can be squeezed out before death.

The Daedric War Axe has 15 damage points per hit. However this war axe swings pretty slow, especially when compared to our next entry.

5. Ebony War Axe

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In the Elder Scrolls universe, ebony is a high density, somewhat rare metal ore extracted from various mines around the land of Tamriel. This ore is then placed in a smelter and melted down to remove impurities. The smelting process produces ebony ingots that can then be molded and tempered to produce a nasty, fearsome looking weapon like the Ebony War Axe.

This is a minor departure from the Ebony available in real life, which is a comparably dense hardwood that can be polished and is often used to make art. As it happens, Dragonborn also use the Ebony War Axe to make art! Some of their favorites include Pollock-style blood splatter paintings on cave walls or joyful music emitted axe blades banging against dragon scales!

This axe, at 15 points of damage, is occasionally dropped by Draugr Deathlords, but can also be smithed or bought from shops.

4. Stalhrim War Axe

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Stahlrim is a rare, ice blue ore that holds a historical veneration among the Nords of Skyrim. Ancient Nords were encased in the material as part of burial rituals, and some among these people learned to craft powerful weapons and armor from it.

Fast-forward many years later to modern day Solstheim, an island Northwest of Skyrim, made available by the Dragonborn expansion. Stalhrim ore is being mined in various crypts around the island, only accessible by using ancient Nordic pickaxes.

Interestingly enough, a Dragonborn blacksmith with the Ebony Smithing perk is able to also make Stahlrim arms and armor. This includes the Stahlrim War Axe, with a blade that looks like roughly chipped ice blocks and has the same stats as the Ebony War Axe.

What elevates this axe made of Stahlrim from the Daedric and Ebony axes is it’s inherent preference of icy enchantments. The power held within Stahlrim grants a 25% damage increase with Frost enchantments placed on this weapon. No wonder Ancient Nords refer to Stahlrim as ‘enchanted ice.’

3. Hoarfrost

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Speaking of ancient Nordic pickaxes, number three on this list has to be the king among pickaxes, Hoarfrost. Hoarfrost, like the Stahlrim War Axe, can only be acquired in the Dragonborn expansion.

This miner’s tool may not look as intimidating as other axes on this list, and you may jump to the conclusion that because of its 5 points of base damage it’s spot here is undeserved. However, hidden deep within the rugged crevices and chilly history of Hoarfrost is a dreadful bite, 15 points of Health and Stamina damage with the chance of freezing your assailant solid.

After repeated strikes, opponents will soon find themselves drifting into the eternal sleep, the same slumber enjoyed by the ancient Nordic peoples who are responsible for Hoarfrost’s creation. 

2. Dragonbone War Axe

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While Dragonbone armor is made available to smith in the Skyrim main game, it isn’t until the Dawnguard expansion that your Dragonborn can begin crafting and finding armaments crafted from Dragonbone.

The Dragonbone War Axe is a one-handed juggernaut, offering the highest base damage of all war axes in Skyrim and the heaviest weight at 21. Acquiring this axe may be the most difficult undertaking on this list, as it either takes a capped out Smithing skill or the defeat of the indomitable, Dragonbone clad undead known as Keepers.

With a powerful enchantment, the Dragonbone War Axe could ascend to the number one spot on this list. On it’s own however, this weapon takes second to the legendary axe…

1. Okin

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A simple name belonging to a mythical war axe originally wielded by renowned Nordic Hero Kvenel the Tongue. It is said that Kvenel, after staggering enemies with a forceful dragon shout, would finish them off with Okin in one hand and his deadly sword Eduj in the other.

Okin can be found deep in the bowels of Volunruud, after defeating Kvenel in the quest “Silenced Tongues.”

This gnarled metal war axe is formidable in its own right with a base damage of 12. What pushes Okin to the top though, is the unique enchantment it is imbued with. This mighty enchantment delivers 10 points of damage to both Stamina and Health in conjunction with the physical damage of the hit.

As it is technically classified as a unique Nord Hero War Axe, it is only fitting that it deserves all the glory on this list.

Conclusion

With all of these war axes ranked and ordered, now comes the difficult decision of what to equip in your Dragonborn’s off hand. Will you grab a shield like some type of grizzly Northern raider, or perhaps dual wield instruments of death á la Kvenel the Tongue? Perhaps you want to mix it up with some spicy spellcasting, (We’ve got you covered).

Whatever your chosen path, keep your axe head sharp and stay choppy.