MHW Tier List Iceborne (MHW Best Weapons)

MHW Tier List
Monster Hunter World's Best and Worst Weapons!

What Are The Best MHW Weapons?

Monster Hunter World sports a grand total of 14 weapons. With that much diversity, it can be troublesome to choose which weapon will fit you best. Which weapons offer the best advantage? Which one has the most flaws? What are the ins-and-outs of each one? This tier list is here to help you answer those questions!

Before I begin, I want to preface this guide with a friendly message: Every weapon is viable in Monster Hunter. No matter where a weapon ends up in this tier list, all of the content in Monster Hunter will be possible for you to hunt. I’m also basing this tier list on efficiency and ease in a hunt once you have the right build going.

With that in mind, let’s get to the tier list!

Solo Tier List

S-Tier

  • Heavy Bow Gun

A-Tier

  • Switch Axe
  • Hammer
  • Charge Blade
  • Long Sword
  • Dual Blades

B-Tier

  • Bow
  • Light Bowgun
  • Lance
  • Gun Lance
  • Great Sword

C-Tier

  • Insect Glaive
  • Hunting Horn

D-Tier

  • Sword and Shield

Multiplayer Tier List

S-Tier

  • Heavy Bowgun

A-Tier

  • Switch Axe
  • Hunting Horn
  • Sword and Shield
  • Light Bowgun

B-Tier

  • Insect Glaive
  • Hammer
  • Bow
  • Lance
  • Charge Blade

C-Tier

  • Gunlance
  • Great Sword

D-Tier

  • Dual Blades
  • Long Sword

Heavy Bowgun (Solo Tier - S) (Multi Tier - S)

The Big Gun of the game - The Heavy Bowgun

Bowguns have always been the weapon to beat in Monster Hunter World’s lifespan. They’ve posted the fastest clear times on speed runs, offer the most utility out of the weapons, and have some of the highest damage outputs in the game. The learning curve isn’t very steep either, just pick up the gun and point at the closest breathing thing you can find.

In Iceborne, this is taken to another degree with the Zinogre Heavy Bowgun, Mightning+. With an ideal build, this bowgun puts out a disgusting amount of damage. With the build noted here, the weapon is doing about 240 damage per shot (~30 damage per pellet). 

In both solo and multiplay, the heavy bow gun has no real weaknesses outside of its ammo limits. The ease and comfort that comes with being able to block like a lance while outputting enough damage to put the Dual Blades to shame is what makes this weapon shine above the rest. When you also take into account the amount of utility it brings through stuns and abnormal status effect shots, the Heavy Bowun rises into a tier of its own.

Heavy Bowgun Strengths:

  • Highest damage per second in the game
  • Super easy and extremely safe
  • Very small learning curve compared to other weapons
  • Crazy amount of utility - easy stuns and abnormal status effects

Heavy Bowgun Weaknesses:

  • Little mobility
  • Finite Ammo (frequent trips to camp or careful planning needed)

Light Bowgun (Solo tier - B) (Multi tier - A)

The Heavy Bowguns little brother, the Light Bowgun can put down a surprising amount of damage.

While it’s close to the Heavy Bowgun, the Light Bowgun offers some crucial differences. 

The Light Bowgun is able to stay on the move and provide ranged fire support to its allies - a stark contrast to the heavy weapons platform found in the Heavy Bowgun. Its mobility keeps the player out of harm's way, while its hail of utility bullets keeps the monster in check. 

Iceborne has created a new way for Light Bowguns to play: sliding reloads and wyvernblast counters. Sliding reloads allow the Light Bowgun to reload while in the sliding animation, providing quicker reload times and more rapid movement. Wyvernblast counter allows the LBG to shoot their land mines at monsters, damaging the monster and blasting the player to safety.  

The Light Bowgun shines best in a multiplayer party where other players can take advantage of its crazy amount of utility. Wyvernblast mines are great tools to make sure your damage is staying competitive with the other weapons. But its damage is still on the lower side and usually requires some way of keeping up with the other weapons’ damage. While there may be better weapons for your solo adventures, be aware that the Light Bowgun is no slouch in solo play

Light Bowgun Strengths:

  • Extremely mobile
  • Able to create status effects very quickly
  • Wyvernblast mines adds a decent chunk of damage

Light Bowgun Weaknesses:

  • Limited Ammo
  • VERY reliant on weak spots for decent damage  

Switch Axe (Solo Tier - A) (Multi Tier - A)

Switch Axe received a bunch of buffs in Iceborne. Definitely try this weapon out!

The Switch Axe has had a pretty heavy remodeling since the base game. It’s received a series of buffs and new moves that fixes most of its laundry list of problems. At its core, the Switch Axe remains the same weapon most hunters have fallen in love with - players build-up energy with Axe mode, then unload energy in Sword mode for damage.

The best new additions Iceborne has brought have been buffs to the Axe mode’s toolkit. The new fade slash gives the Switch Axe some much-needed mobility, and the buffs to the Axe mode’s damage numbers are a welcome addition. Power Axe mode gives the Switch Axe a niche where it can flinch and break monster parts more easily than the other weapons. 

Much like the other weapons in A tier for Solo play, the ability to slam monsters into walls allows this weapon to build up and unload all of the damage it needs. Once the monster is either immobile or knocked down, Sword mode becomes one of the biggest sources of DPS in the game.

In Multiplayer, the Switch Axe can hit some crazy high damage numbers since each ally your sword swings through procs an additional explosion. Each of these explosions increases your damage by 25%-28%, so stick close to your allies who aren’t being flinched by your attacks. This increased damage paired with the ability to break parts faster than other weapons allows the Switch Axe to keep its A tier ranking in Multiplayer.  

For teammates of Switch Axe users, if you’re going to play multiplayer, always bring level 1 flinch free. Trust me, it's well worth the investment because of the sheer damage and utility a Switch Axe can bring now.

Switch Axe Strengths:

  • Axe mode has great damage, reach, and workable maneuverability
  • Sword Mode has one of the highest damage outputs in the game
  • Different phial types offer different playstyles

Switch Axe Weaknesses:

  • Sword Mode still lacks mobility
  • Long animations that you’re stuck in
  • A steep learning curve compared to other weapons

Hammer (Solo Tier - A) (Multi Tier - B)

Hammer users can bring damage and KOs to any hunt, just don't get in their way. Please.

The Hammer is a beautifully simple weapon and is better-known in the community as the KO King. 

In essence, Hammers just want to hit the monster in the head as many times as possible. Once you’ve done enough blunt force trauma to the head, monsters will usually fall down from all the KO damage, allowing Hammers to do more damage and build-up to the next KO knockdown.

The Clutch Claw has made Hammer even easier to use in both solo and multiplayer. The Clutch Claw’s grapple allows the Hammer to slam monsters into walls, giving the Hammer time to deal KO damage to the monster’s head. Alternatively, Hammer users can also grapple onto the monster’s head and weaken the spot there - allowing the hammer to do even more damage to the head than it previously could. 

Despite its strengths, the Hammer’s obsession with head trauma is also where the weakness of the Hammer lies - it needs to deal damage to the monster’s head to be efficient.

The Hammer earns an A tier rank for solo play since it’ll be easier to aim for the head when it’s just you and your Palico around with a lower stun threshold because it’s single-player. 

In multiplayer, the hammer’s job becomes even harder since the monster’s head will be swiveling from player to player, and not every hunter will give you free rein to slam into the monster’s head (looking at you Long Sword players). However, once you get off your first few KOs, the damage will flood-in from your teammates - you just have to work a bit harder to get to that point.   

Hammer Strengths:

  • Large amounts of KO damage
  • Huge damage on charged swings
  • Fun and damaging gap closers through Flying Smash
  • Great team player by providing more stuns

Hammer Weaknesses:

  • Needs the head for efficient damage and stun
  • Doesn’t always play well with teammates (either they get in the way of your stun damage, or you knock them over)
  • Very little defenses beside mediocre maneuverability
  • Can’t cut tails

Charge Blade (Solo Tier - A) (Multi Tier - B)

The highest damaging melee weapon is back! It's got a few important changes though.

The Charge Blade was once the top dog of melee damage in the original Monster Hunter World. With Iceborne, it’s fallen down a few spots but it still remains a solid weapon.  

The Charge Blade’s game plan is the reverse of the Switch Axe’s - you want to build up energy with your Sword half, and then unload all the energy in your Axe form. Unlike the Switch Axe however, the Charge Blade has a shield in its Sword form and far more maneuverability. 

In Iceborne, the Charge Blade has gained the ability to charge its Axe form so that its normal swings can do more damage. This comes at the cost of steadily consuming your phials, but the damage tends to be worth it. Plus, who doesn’t want to swing around a giant chainsaw? 

Solo Charge Blade players can look forward to an easier time building energy off blocked monster attacks and then getting away with greedy Super Amped Elemental Discharges. However, this makes Multiplayer as a charge blade a bit more of a pain. One second the monster could be focusing on you, providing perfect opportunities to unload damage, and the next, the monster will dash away to kill all your friends.  

The Charge Blade also drops a tier for multiplayer because it can easily knock over some of its allies with its wide hitting Axe mode attacks. However, it stays in the B tier of multiplayer weapons since it can deal a megaton of damage and KO like the Hammer and Heavy Bowgun.

Charge Blade Strengths:

  • Highest Burst Damage in the game
  • Has a move for every situation
  • Balanced in doing all parts of the melee role well

Charge Blade Weaknesses:

  • Axe mode only has a dodge to get out of trouble
  • Burns through sharpness fast
  • SAED has a long animation and you will get hit if you mistime it

Long Sword (Solo - A Tier) (Multi - D Tier)

The Long Sword in Iceborne is miles ahead of its base game counterpart.

The Long sword is shaping up to be one of the best weapons in the game. Its damage is comparable to the Dual Blades, and it sports counters similar to the Lance. 

In-game, the Long Sword is similar to the charge blade - both of them must attack to gain energy. But the Long Sword uses that energy in order to perform its Swordsman Spirit combo. If the player is successful in landing the last hit of that combo, they will increase their overall damage by leveling up their Spirit Bar. Foresight slash, the counter I mentioned earlier, can also be used to level up the Spirit Bar by successfully taking a hit during its animation and then landing the follow-up hits. 

In the new expansion, the Long Sword gained a new move, the Iai Slash. This move puts the player into a new stance where they can either strike twice then passively gain bar, or deal a massive counter hit that requires one of their swordsman spirit levels and refunds the level if you timed the counter correctly. My favorite use of this move is to cancel the sheathing animation of the Round Slash (the final hit of the Swordsman Spirit Combo) into the Iai Slash - it keeps you safe and adds a nice flow to the Long Sword.

The Long Sword earns an A tier status in Solo because of its high damage numbers and strong sustain through smart uses of its counter mechanics. This means a Long Sword can stand toe-to-toe with the monster and only leave if they need to heal. However, the Long Sword is in D tier for multiplayer since its Swordsman Spirit combos tend to trip everyone around them and it offers little utility besides damage to the rest of the team. I would argue the Long Sword is the main reason why most players should bring a Flinch Free gem when they hunt with other players 

Long Sword Strengths:

  • Once in red bar, it has huge damage potential
  • Counters allow them to hug the monster and keep up their damage
  • Iai Slash allows the Long Sword to ramp up faster

Long Sword Weaknesses:

  • Round Slash is important to land, and whiffing  can be an annoying loss in damage
  • Mistimed counters hurt a lot
  • Teammates will hate your existence if they didn’t bring Flinch Free Lvl 1

Dual Blades (Solo Tier - A) (Multi Tier - D)

If you love seeing a stream of damage numbers, then this is the perfect weapon for you.

Ah yes, the monster blenders. 

These blades have one real mechanic behind them - massive damage through lots of attacks. I know I’ve said that some of the other weapons can deal a lot of damage, but for the Dual Blades damage is the only point. You could build your dual blades with abnormal status effects in mind, but let’s be real here. You’re going to go full damage because being a human chainsaw is too fun to pass up. 

As the Dual Blades attacks, it fills up a bar called the Demon Gauge. Once that gauge is full, you can activate it and have each of your swords hit twice per attack. Be aware, while you are in demon mode, your stamina will steadily drain. 

Besides the additions of the Clutch Claw and slinger burst, the Dual Sword’s gameplay hasn’t changed that much. Some people may use the slinger burst as an emergency move, but it’s far more effective to save the ammo to slam monsters into walls. That way the monster can’t move when you go full blender on their face. 

Just like many of the weapons in Solo - Tier A, the Dual Blades earns its place through the sheer damage numbers it puts up. In multiplayer it drops to D tier just because it can trip allies, lacks any form of utility for the team, and will usually only aim for parts it can reach with its stubby range while the other weapons will focus on the head or tail.

Dual Blades Strengths:

  • Fast and Agile
  • It can machine gun out attacks and dodges faster than any other weapon
  • Demon mode makes it one of the highest damaging weapons in the game
  • Can inflict abnormal status effects quickly

Dual Blades Weaknesses:

  • VERY STAMINA RELIANT
  • Dodging is your only escape and defense mechanism. This also requires stamina.
  • Short reach
  • Eats through sharpness extremely fast

Bow (Solo Tier - B) (Multi Tier - B)

The Bow's Clutch Claw attack is easily one of the coolest animations in the game.

The Bow plays like a melee weapon with an incredibly long range. It uses coatings in place of ammo, and the longer you hold your shot, the more damage it will do. 

In the latest expansion, the Bow gained the ability to load up an arrow with slinger ammo and fire it like a shotgun. This adds more utility to the Bow’s tool belt since it will now be easier for them stun monsters with Thorn Pods or flinch monsters with Bomb Pods to name some examples.

The Bow is B tier for solo play cause you can pump out a ridiculous amount of damage at relatively safe distances. However, if you’re fighting an Elder Dragon that nullifies ranged damage, the Bow becomes much harder to use. If it weren’t for Teostra and his friends, the bow would easily be in Solo Tier - A.

In multiplayer, the Bow brings an amazing amount of utility to the team - para, stun, sleep, poison to name the big ones. It misses A tier just because one or two poorly placed arc shots can ruin an ally’s day, and a monster that’s moving to fight your allies means you have to move much more to keep slinging arrows into weak points.   

Bow Strengths:

  • Lots of damage at safe ranges
  • Extremely mobile
  • Wonderful ranged utility
  • Elemental Builds deal an obscene amount of damage

Bow Weaknesses:

  • Reliant on weak points to deal great damage
  • Limited number of coatings
  • Stamina intensive

Lance (Solo Tier - B) (Multi Tier - B)

It's as tanky as ever, and the Clutch Claw gives this weapon even more utility.

I just want to preface this by saying I’m extremely biased here - the Lance is my baby. I’ve used it since the beginning of my MH career.

The Lance has one objective in mind: stand near the monster’s weak point and never leave. Having the strongest shield and the best counters in the game means every attack the monster throws at you will rattle off harmlessly. When you’re using the Lance, I’d argue that the game becomes less of a hack-and-slash and more of a rhythm game since you’re trying to time counters and blocks to the Monster’s attacks.

Iceborne has given the lance a new move, the Counter Claw, which opens up more ways the Lance can both improve its own damage and support its allies. When the monster hits you, you can grapple onto it as if you had shot your clutch claw. Unlike the other weapons, if you’ve grappled onto the monster through the counter, then you get the rocksteady effect and can’t be shaken off (but you will still take damage if the monster does an attack). 

The Lance is in Solo Tier - B due to its less than stellar damage. Just like the Light Bowgun, this weapon is very reliant on weak points for competitive damage. The difference is that the Lance usually has easy access to the monster’s weak points thanks to the many defensive options this weapon has available to it.    

In Multiplayer, the Lance stays in B tier since it has plenty of utility to offer a team: it has the easiest time cutting tails, the Counter Claw allows it to get more Clutch Claw grapples than other weapons, it can mount more often than other weapons through its charge, and its precise nature means you won’t trip your allies as often as the weapons below it.

Lance Strengths:

  • Long reach
  • Best defensive options in the game
  • Fastest weapon if you’re moving in one direction for a long period of time

Lance Weaknesses:

  • Slow movement and dodge
  • Slow unsheathed Clutch Claw
  • Armor skill reliant (Guard or Guard Up usually needed for comfort)

Gunlance (Solo Tier - B) (Multi Tier - C)

Iceborne gave the Gunlance new toys and way more damage.

The Lance’s brother with a firm addiction to explosions. 

Instead of having a balance of blocking and stabbing, the Gunlance focuses on dealing more damage through explosive shells and explosions in general. While it does have a shield, it doesn’t have as many options with it as the Lance does. Most of its moves will have the player managing resources and cooldowns in order to squeeze out every last explosion you can out of the Gunlance. 

In Iceborne the Gunlance received a new version of the Wyrmstake, the Wyrmstake Blast. This allows the Gunlance to load its slinger ammo into the stake and then attach it to the monster. Every time you create an explosion near where this new stake is attached to, then you’ll make a bonus explosion. 

The Gunlance is in Solo Tier - B since it has impressive numbers for damage, but it lacks mobility and is just as armor skill reliant as the Lance is to both increase its damage and make up for its lack of mobility. 

In multiplayer, the Gunlance can be a nightmare to work with. Each explosion can knock around allies and the Gunlance itself doesn’t offer any form of utility to help its allies at all. It’s only saving grace from D tier is that it can wake up monsters similar to the Great Sword with a Wyvern’s Fire.

Gunlance Strengths:

  • Lots of explosions and lots of damage
  • Strong shield
  • Explosions can’t bounce off monsters

Gunlance Weaknesses:

  • Little Mobility
  • Explosions burn through sharpness super fast

Great Sword (Solo Tier - B) (Multi Tier - C)

"Why are all of your numbers so small?" Greatsword Users to other weapons.

If you’ve ever wanted to just hit a monster with a massive chunk of metal, then Great Sword is your go-to. 

The point of the Great Sword is to land as many fully charged attacks as you humanly can. Each attack has a slow wind-up and charge time to it, but there are few things more satisfying than watching your giant metal blade smash 2000+ points of damage out of a monster like candy out of a pinata.  

Iceborne has made it even easier to get to the final (and most damaging) charge level on the Great Sword. You just have to slinger burst between each charge until you’ve reached your final charge animation. The best part is that the slinger burst usually causes a flinch from the monster, setting them up for your full charged attack a moment afterward.

The Great Sword is in Solo Tier - B because of its huge damage potential and decent defensive options, but slow swings. For multiplayer it’s rank drops to C just because the Great Sword has the most damaging single strike in the entire game - perfect for waking up sleeping monsters - but beyond that, nothing else to offer the team. 

Great Sword Strengths:

  • Full charged hits do a LOT of damage - highest single hit damage in the game
  • Shoulder Tackle keeps you safe while you charge
  • Has a guard and a dodge for emergencies 

Great Sword Weaknesses:

  • Slow. Attacks are slow, dodges are slow.
  • Still takes damage through shoulder tackles
  • Moveset is not good for any kind of utility

Insect Glaive (Solo Tier - C) (Multi Tier - B)

Killing monsters with angry helicopter noises since Monster Hunter 4.

Have you ever wanted to challenge a monster for aerial superiority? What about having a trusty bug companion?

If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions then Insect Glaive is for you! In combat, the Insect Glaive has to first use its insect friend to gather essence from the monster. Each essence grants you 1 of three buffs: speed, attack, or defense. When you have all three then you will gain a further boost to all of your stats. 

To further add on to that, the Insect Glaive also has multiple ways it can leap into the skies and dash around to your heart’s content.

Iceborne gave the Insect Glaive the ability to collect two essences at a time, but you’d have to feed your slinger ammo to your bug in order to do so. It also added a diving attack that allows the Insect Glaive to finally get a more damaging move while it’s in the skies.

The Insect Glaive is in Solo Tier - C cause its damage isn’t the greatest and despite the buff to the bug, building up essences takes time. As a glaive user, you’ll be getting a lot of mounts, but those take time to complete and the presence of other weapons can take better advantage of that. 

This leads me to why the Insect Glaive is in B Tier for multiplayer: It can mount monsters for its allies to support it, latch on with a clutch claw if it gets close enough, and create support clouds for extra utility. The only downside is that its wild swings can flinch allies rather easily.

Insect Glaive Strengths:

  • Aerial Master - can stay in the air forever if need be
  • Easy time mounting and clutch clawing
  • Plenty of utility through bug clouds, mounts, and claw grapples
  • Highly maneuverable because of its aerial abilities

Insect Glaive Weaknesses:

  • Low damage in the skies
  • Insect takes time to gather essence and come back to you
  • Fast Sharpness loss
  • Stamina dependent when in the skies

Hunting Horn (Solo Tier - C) (Multi Tier - A)

Doot doot. Out of the way, the Buff train is coming through!

Doot! The Hunting Horn is the Hammer’s artistically inclined cousin, and just like most forms of art, it’s terribly misunderstood.

While the Hammer focuses more on damage, the Hunting Horn focuses on providing buffs. Whenever the Hunting Horn attacks, it generates a note which in turn the Horn can play and create a buff for every player to enjoy. 

However, just because it provides buffs does not mean the Hunting Horn is just a support weapon. Hunting Horns provide buffs to your team, but the Horn itself also benefits from these buffs enough to deal some chunky damage. With all of its damage buffs up and a constant focus on the monster’s head, the Hunting Horn can pull off some amazing speed runs

Iceborne introduced the Hunting Horn to the Echo Wave, a new move that has the horn user spinning the horn into the ground and playing a note. That may sound a little silly, but the KO damage attached to it is nothing to sniff at. The new attack also adds a new note that allows the hunting horn to do more damage while it is also playing a song. 

The Hunting Horn is in Solo Tier - C for now just because its swing speed is on the lower end of the spectrum, it has mediocre defensive options, and every weapon above it usually deals more damage in the long run. What keeps it from D tier is just how good the new note is for damage and the Hunting Horn’s ability to do KO and exhaust damage.

In Multiplayer, the Hunting Horn shines like no other. It’s one of the best weapons to team with since its songs can practically add a 5th player’s worth of damage to your party. The Horn’s ability to deal KO and exhaust damage also means a much easier hunt for everyone else on the team. The only reason this is just a step below the Heavy Bowgun is just because of how much damage HBGs can dish out.       

Hunting Horn Strengths:

  • Deals KO and Exhaust damage
  • Heals allies
  • Provides buffs to allies
  • Plenty of utility between buffs, KOs, and other songs

Hunting Horn Weaknesses:

  • Mediocre defensive options
  • Slow attack speed
  • Playing songs is a long animation

Sword and Shield (Solo Tier  - D) (Multi Tier - A)

I can feel Hijek's anger from here. Despite its placing, the Sword and Shield is still a great weapon.

The sword and shield is the generalist of the Monster Hunter weapons family. 

While it may not be able to reach some of the damage numbers of the other weapons, the Sword and Shield makes-up for it through its sheer range of options. It can block, dodge, stun, and with the new grapple claw attack, grapple onto monsters in the air. It’s also the only weapon that can use items while the weapon is unsheathed.

Its low damage is why it’s not the best solo weapon in the world. Despite this, players have still found strong elemental and nonelemental builds for the SnS that can bring its damage up to respectable levels. 

In team play, the Sword and Shield can work magic. It’s going to be the fastest weapon on the draw for life powders, buffs, traps, flashes, and clutch claw. Since it can do a little bit of everything, the Sword and Shield can help everyone at their job. It can help hammers stun, lances cut tails (jumping attacks), and apply status effects fairly quickly.

Sword and Shield Strengths:

  • A flexible weapon that can do a little of everything
  • Fast and mobile with a shield in case of emergencies
  • Can use items while the weapon is unsheathed

Sword and Shield Weaknesses:

  • Low damage
  • Fast attacks eat up sharpness quickly

 Thanks for reading! If you want to read more about Monster Hunter, then please check out some of these other articles.

Take a look at the Gallery to see all of these weapons in action. 

Also be sure to check out these articles:

As a coffee-powered typist, Chris is an expert at playing through caffeine-powered binges and writing about what happens during those binges.
Gamer Since: 1995
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Top 3 Favorite Games:Titanfall, Mass Effect 3, Megaman Legacy Collection
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