Swords are the most common weapon type in any Elder Scrolls title. From as far back as The Elder Scrolls: Arena, there have been multiple unique swords for players to use. Skyrim is no different, having over 30 unique one-handed swords and two-handed greatswords.
Excluding crafting, some of these weapons are the best lootable items in all of Skyrim. Weapons that fire projectiles or stun enemies with every strike are just a few examples of what unique blades can do. On the flip side, some of Skyrim's swords are so terrible that they should never be considered. Here are all of Skyrim's swords ranked from worst to best.
31 Amren's Family Sword
Amren's Family Sword is a typical Iron Sword but is considered a quest item. Since players will stumble across multiple Iron Swords at Helgen, this weapon is useless beyond completing an NPC quest.
30 Ceremonial Sword
Inside of the Volunruud dungeon, players will need to obtain a Ceremonial Sword and Axe to open a unique tomb. This sword is the same as an Ancient Nord Sword excluding its unique name.
29 Hjalti's Sword
Yet another quest item, the Hjalti's Sword bears the same properties as an Ancient Nord Sword. Since players can obtain an Ancient Nord Sword in Bleak Falls Barrow rather early, this sword serves little practical use besides progressing a questline.
28 Queen Freydis's Sword
Queen Freydis's Sword is a quest sword similar to Hjalti's Sword, only this time it's a Steel Sword. By the time players stumble across this weapon, they'll have found something better.
27 Akaviri Sword
Dexion Evicus, the Moth Priest introduced in Dawnguard, has a unique weapon named the Akaviri Sword. It is the same as a Blades Sword excluding its unique name. Players can plant a better weapon on Dexion, wait a few days, then pickpocket it from him.
26 Drainheart Sword
The Drainheart series of weapons are ethereal weapons that weigh next to nothing and have a unique effect. In the Drainheart Sword's case, it absorbs 15 Stamina per attack. It's a solid choice for Skyrim's early-game.
25 Balgruuf's Greatsword
Balgruuf's Greatsword is a normal Steel Greatsword that can be obtained from Adrianne Avenicci incredibly early in a Skyrim playthrough. Instead of giving the sword to Jarl Balgruuf, players can wield it until they find a better Greatsword.
24 Vilkas's Sword
As is the case with Balgruuf's Greatsword, Vilkas's Sword is a traditional Steel Sword that players can obtain right after joining the Companions. Instead of turning in the weapon to Eorlund Gray-Mane, they can instead keep it until they find something better to help with leveling.
23 Red Eagle's Fury
Some of Skyrim's books talk about the legend of Red Eagle and his blade. Players can find it at the Sundered Towers in The Reach. While it might be an Ancient Nord Sword, it deals 5 points of fire damage and lights targets aflame with each swing. It does great damage considering how early players can obtain it.
22 Lunar Iron Sword
Inside the Silent Moons Camp lies a unique forge that can craft Lunar gear. These weapons have a unique enchantment that burns struck targets for 20 damage when the moon is out. That said, it's still just an Iron Sword. If players are willing to wait for nighttime before most fights, however, this weapon is incredibly strong for the early-game.
21 Lunar Steel Sword
This is the same weapon as the Lunar Iron Sword except it's a Steel weapon. The Lunar Steel Sword deals one extra point of damage per swing compared to the Iron variant.
20 Bolar's Oathblade
Bolar's Oathblade is a Blades Sword that deals 25 points of Stamina damage and causes enemies up to level 12 to flee when hit. Fleeing targets are easy to finish off as they rarely retaliate, but the player will have to obtain this weapon early to get the most use out of it.
19 Miraak's Sword
For completing the Dragonborn main story, players are treated to Mirrak's weapons and armor. His sword deals 16 damage a swing and absorbs 15 Stamina a strike. While its damage is rather high by itself, its enchantment is incredibly lackluster when compared to other weapons that can be obtained much sooner.
The Ceremonial weapons mentioned earlier unlock a tomb that grants the unique Eduj sword. Eduj is an Ancient Nord Sword that deals 10 points of frost damage to health and stamina with each swing, making it a formidable one-handed weapon for any player not interested in crafting or enchanting gear.
17 Harkon's Sword
Defeating Harkon in the Dawnguard DLC grants his blade, a sword that deals eight damage per swing while also absorbing 15 Health, Magicka, and Stamina per strike if the player is a vampire. For those who don't want to use Bloodscythe or a similar absorb weapon, this is a fantastic alternative for vampire characters.
Ghostblade does eight base damage alongside three points of armor-ignoring damage. While that might be rather low, this enchantment lasts indefinitely. Better yet, this weapon only weighs one unit. As a backup blade, it doesn't get much better than this.
15 Red Eagle's Bane
Before players obtain Dawnbreaker, Red Eagle's Bane is a solid alternative. Striking undead with this upgraded version of Red Eagle's Fury causes them to be set on fire while fleeing away from the player. It's fantastic against Draugr and Vampires.
Grimsever is a generic Glass Sword that deals 15 points of frost damage. It counts as a quest item, but players can obtain it permanently by finishing the quest and taking it from Mjoll.
13 Herebane's Courage
Herebane appears to be a cut character in Skyrim with their gear being in the game's files but unobtainable without console commands. That said, Herebane's Courage is a one-handed sword that deals 25 points of fire damage alongside 11 base damage. Various mods bring this weapon into Skyrim if players are disinterested in using console commands.
12 Gauldur Blackblade
The Gauldur Blackblade is an Ancient Nord Sword that absorbs 25 points of Health with every attack. Since absorbing Health also heals the player, this weapon is a fantastic choice for dual-wielding characters.
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