Top 10 Pathfinder Best Ranged Weapons

When enemies take to the air, you might want to look at your ranged options


You might think that ranged weapons are just for rangers and gunslingers. However, many classes in Pathfinder can make use of ranged weapons. Let’s look at a few.


10. Alchemical Crossbow


In the early game, your archer may find itself up against enemies that resist elements like fire. While you get upgrades later on that make that largely a moot point, you still need to survive long enough to get those upgrades. To this end, an archer could consider the alchemical crossbow.


The alchemical crossbow takes alchemical bombs and gives their arrows elemental properties. However it does negate splash damage, limiting their usefulness against swarms. And the crossbow only works with the lesser bombs. However, it can be viable in the early game.


This is best used after an intelligence check when you determine an enemy’s elemental weaknesses and resistances. Then you can attach an elemental bomb. This is best used by alchemists since they can make bombs but if an alchemist is in your party, they can make bombs for you.


This is best for alchemists or archers because:


  • Alchemists can make bombs. This makes it cheaper and more dependable than getting to town if they have a lab.
  • .Alchemically-enhanced arrows can do more damage overall. A bomb covers three arrows.
  • They can pierce resistances. This can make fights go quicker.


This item is uncommon so you may have to consult your GM if you want to purchase it at creation or buy it in a large town.


Alchemical crossbow stats:


  • Price 25 gp;
  •  Damage 1d8 P; Bulk 1
  • Hands 2; 
  • Range 30 ft.;
  •  Reload 1
  • Category Simple
  • Group Bow


9. Bombs


The alchemist’s best weapon is often his bombs. And there’s a greater variety in 2nd Edition. If the alchemist is constructed well, bombs can become a dangerous weapon on the battlefield.


Early bombs like alchemists fire and acid flasks have basic elemental properties. Later ones can have poison gas. Most bombs have area-of-effect properties so they can take out swarms.


Bombs, used as a secondary weapon will help with swarms. Low-level bombs with energy properties can be used in alchemical crossbows. If you want to be a bomber, you might need to increase your dexterity score.


Alchemists can use bombs to disperse swarms. Higher-level bombs can inflict status effects and do more damage. However, you’ll need a high dexterity stat.


Bombs are useful for everyone because:


  • Alchemists can prepare them in their downtime if they have the ingredients. This means they can be like spells.
  • Many have the splash property. This lets them deal with swarms.
  • They can have elemental properties. This is the best way to pierce elemental resistances early on.


Some early bombs can be bought but others, particularly higher level ones, may only be bought by crafting.

Stats can vary.


8. Daikyu

The Daikyyu is a mid-ranged bow often found in the Asian-inspired region of Tian. It has no special properties other than being propulsive. However, there can be some good role-play potential.

If you’re going for a bow in an Asian-inspired setting, you’ll probably have access to this bow. It does 1d8 damage plus your strength. For proper role-play, use it as a cavalier.

This is best used as a cavalier or a fighter or ranger with high strength. It’s best used within 80 feet of a target. Charge into battle on your steed and fire your arrows.


This is best used for fighters and cavaliers because:

  • It’s great role-play. The Daikyu was a mounted rider’s bow.
  • It has the propulsive trait. It’s enhanced by strength.
  • In contrast, if a character with low strength uses it, it can do negative damage. Meaning dexterity-based characters wouldn’t benefit.
  • This weapon is uncommon and it can only be found in large towns.


Daikyu stats:

  • Price 8 gp; 
  • Damage 1d8 P; 
  • Bulk 2
  • Hands 1+; 
  • Range 80 ft.;
  •  Reload 0
  • Category Advanced
  • Group Bow


7. Flying Talon

If you’re going to go for a kobold character, why not use a kobold weapon? The flying talon is great for kobold rogues. It has a lot of handy special abilities.

It has a ranged trip attack. This is good for rogues, particularly kobolds. This will let them step up and stab the tripped person with their primary weapon.

If used primarily for throwing you should stay within range and try to trip the enemy. Then go up and stab it once he trips. It’s best used before the other melee characters 

The flying talon is good for rogues because:

The ranged trip ability makes it easy for a kobolds to trip an opponent. Sometimes these actions are better used from range.

Using trip can be easier for rogues than fighters. Rogues tend to have more skill points so getting an athletics check where it needs to be can be easier.

Since it relies on dexterity modifiers, it’s good for rogues. Rogues have higher dexterity.

You can obtain this from beating kobolds or buying it from kobold settlements. However, it’s probably easier to create a kobold character.


Flying talon stats:


  • Price 6 gp;
  •  Damage 1d4 P;
  •  Bulk 1
  • Hands 1
  • Category Advanced
  • Group Flail


6. Composite Longbow


If you want to have a weapon with a long range, try the composite longbow. It has a 100-foot range. This is before any modifiers or magic get added.

This weapon is good for rangers and fighters. This bow is propulsive so the damage increases with the strength of the character. However, it can decrease if the character strength stat is negative.

If you want to specialize in a longbow, you will want to take some feats to increase your range or increase your initiative modifier. You should also invest in your strength stats.

Composite longbows are great for fighters and strength-based rangers because:

  • The bow is among the longest-range weapons. The 100 foot range can cover many maps.
  • The bow has the propulsive property. The stronger classes get the biggest bonuses.
  • Fighters can switch between ranged and melee. This can be good if enemies close distances.


This can be shops or created with the character.


Composite longbow stats:

  • Price 20 gp; 
  • Damage 1d8 P;
  •  Bulk 2
  • Hands 1+;
  •  Range 100 ft.; 
  • Reload 0
  • Category Martial
  • Group Bow
  • Ammunition Arrows


5. Double-Barreled Musket


For gunslingers, having two shots in a turn is ideal. Plus it does the same damage as a regular musket. This makes the musket more viable as a weapon for gunslingers. 

The two barrels let you fire two shots at once. This makes it do 1d8 damage rather than 1d6 per separate shot. It also makes critical hits more damaging.

A gunslinger should use this weapon within 60 feet. Letting the enemy get too close will reduce the musket’s effectiveness. Try to get high initiative.

This weapon is good for the gunslinger because:

  • It’s a highly damaging ranged weapon. More damage is always good.
  • The ability to fire two shots allows you to focus fire or disperse it. Sometimes an enemy will be weakened that you only need one 
  • Its concussive property lets it do bludgeoning and piercing damage. This adds to the versatility.


This weapon can only be found in regions like Alkenstar, Dongun Hold, Tian Xia, Vudra, Arcadia, Ustalav, and the Shackles.

Double Barreled Musket Stats

  • Price 11 gp; 
  • Damage 1d6 P; 
  • Bulk 1
  • Hands 2;
  •  Range 60 ft.; 
  • Reload 1
  • Category Martial
  • Group Firearm
  • Ammunition. Firearm Ammunition


4. Solar Shellflower


Let’s add some magic to our guns. The solar shellflower is a gun that does magical fire damage. This is a great weapon if you know where to use it.

Since a lot of enemies have a resistance to non-magical damage, this is a great weapon for mid-level. However, a lot of things are immune to fire so keep that in mind.

To make the best use of its ability, use this in a desert or other sunny place to get more charges of its magic ability. Keep an extra weapon on hand for enemies that are immune to fire. Especially if there are lots of demons.

This is good for gunslingers because:

  • Magic bullets can be hard to find. The rules saying that all the damage is magic solves the problem.
  • A lot of creatures are weakened by fire. Look at creatures like trolls for an example.
  •  it has the ability to do extra persistent damage. The 2d4 damage once a day or hour depending on where you are is handy.


Look for these in rare weapon shops. Particularly in regions where guns can be bought.


Solar Shellflower stats:


  • Price 160 gp
  • Usage held in 2 hands; Bulk L
  • Base Weapon Flintlock Musket


3. Hand Crossbow


Hand crossbows may not be the flashiest weapons. They don’t set things on fire. But they are an essential item for adventurers of all classes.

For aerial enemies, it’s important to have a ranged weapon. However, the hand crossbow can be used by anyone. This saves spells for casters.

Used as a secondary weapon, this can handle enemies that can’t be reached normally. This is handy for low-level combat when spells are scarcer.


This is best for all classes because:

  • You never know when the GM will bring out an aerial enemy. It’s better to be dealing weak damage than hoping an airborne enemy comes to the ground.
  • Rogues can use it to get sneak attacks. If you’re trying to use stealth to execute a sneak attack, a crossbow from a distance has a better chance of succeeding than getting into melee where there’s more chance of being detected.
  • If you’re a spellcaster, you might need this at early levels. You may run into things that are immune to your spells.


Hand crossbow stats:

  • Price 3 gp; 
  • Damage 1d6 P; 
  • Bulk L
  • Hands 1; 
  • Range 60 ft.; Reload 1
  • Category Simple
  • Group: Bow
  • Ammunition Bolts


2. Spiritsight Crossbow


Going into mid-level, you may start encountering intangible enemies. Things like ghosts often pose a problem for parties. Especially since they use status effects.

This is where the spiritsight crossbow comes in. Any arrow that comes out of it gains the ghost touch property. This saves you money trying to craft ghost touch ammunition. 

The best way to use this is to use this as a regular crossbow. If you see an intangible opponent, prioritize him. After all, some people may not be equipped to fight them.

This is great for rangers because:


  • Intangible enemies are often the most dangerous. They can do stat damage and even drain.
  • They can attack enemies that shift to the Ethereal Plane. This often happens with ghosts.
  • It still functions as a normal crossbow. But you can still fight without trying to make ghost touch ammunition.


This weapon is rare and can be found at GM discretion.

Spiritsight Crossbow stats:


  • Price 450 gp
  • Usage held in 2 hands; 
  • Bulk 2
  • Base Weapon: Crossbow


1. Repeating Crossbow

For people who want to master a bow, you can’t go better than a repeating crossbow. It has longer range than the composite longbow And it’s easier to use in battle.

Instead of reloading a bolt every turn, the repeating crossbow uses a cartridge. Each cartridge contains 5 bolts. This allows multiple shots in a round.

This is good for rangers because it has a range that can cut clear around the map. This also makes it good for airborne enemies that can fly a hundred feet in the air. Make sure to emphasize strength though.

The repeating crossbow is good for rangers because:


  • It takes 5 shots before reloading. It may be possible to go without reloading for a combat if the party is strong enough.
  • At 120-feet, this crossbow has a longer range compared to most bows.
  • This is extremely handy for air or water-based enemies. Many will stay out of your range.


This item can be found in weapon shops at GM discretion/


Repeating crossbow stats:

  • Price 15 gp;
  •  Damage 1d8 P; 
  • Bulk 1
  • Hands 2; 
  • Range 120 ft.;
  •  Reload 0
  • Category Advanced
  • Group Bow
  • Ammunition  Repeating Crossbow Ammunition



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As one of North Carolina's numerous rogues, Matt Stafford is always using his stealth and diplomacy skills to get the next scoop.
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