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Skill: One-handed

One-handed governs your effectiveness when using one-handed weapons, including daggers, swords, maces, and war axes. With the addition of dual-wielding, one-handed weapons can be put in both hands in any combination. The higher your skill in One-handed, the more damage is done with one-handed weapons. The One-handed skill tree has a total of 10 perks, requiring a total of 21 perk points to fill. Each skill point grants a +0.5% bonus to the damage dealt with one-handed weapons (+2% for NPCs). This bonus stacks with the ones provided by the Armsman perk and by Smithing-related improvements.

In-game Description: The art of combat using one-handed weapons such as daggers, swords, maces, and war axes. Those trained in this skill deliver deadlier blows.

Skill Perks[edit]

One-handed Perk Tree
Armsman (5 ranks): 0/20/40/60/80 One-handed. One-Handed weapons do 20/40/60/80/100% more damage.
Bladesman (3 ranks): 30/60/90 One-handed. Attacks with swords have a 10/15/20% chance of doing critical damage.
Bone Breaker (3 ranks): 30/60/90 One-handed. Attacks with maces ignore 25/50/75% of armor.
Bone Breaker
Dual Flurry (2 ranks): 30/50 One-handed. Dual wielding attacks are 20/35% faster.
Dual Flurry
Dual Savagery: 70 One-handed. Dual wielding power attacks do 50% bonus damage.
Dual Savagery
Fighting Stance: 20 One-handed. Power attacks with one-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina.
Fighting Stance
Critical Charge: 50 One-handed. Can do a one-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage.
Critical Charge
Savage Strike: 50 One-handed. Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies.
Savage Strike
Paralyzing Strike: 100 One-handed. Backwards power attack has a 25% chance to paralyze the target.
Paralyzing Strike
Hack and Slash (3 ranks): 30/60/90 One-handed. Attacks with war axes cause extra/more/even more bleeding damage.
Hack and Slash
One-handed Perk Tree
Perk Rank Description ID Skill Req. Perk Req.
Armsman 1 One-Handed weapons do 20% more damage. 000babe4
2 One-Handed weapons do 40% more damage. 00079343 20 One-handed
3 One-Handed weapons do 60% more damage. 00079342 40 One-handed
4 One-Handed weapons do 80% more damage. 00079344 60 One-handed
5 One-Handed weapons do twice as much damage. 00079345 80 One-handed
Bladesman 1 Attacks with swords have a 10% chance of doing critical damage (+0% crit damage)*. 0005f56f 30 One-handed Armsman
2 Attacks with swords have a 15% chance of doing more critical damage (+25% crit damage)*. 000c1e90 60 One-handed
3 Attacks with swords have a 20% chance of doing even more critical damage (+50% crit damage)*. 000c1e91 90 One-handed
Bone Breaker 1 Attacks with maces ignore 25% of armor. 0005f592 30 One-handed Armsman
2 Attacks with maces ignore 50% of armor. 000c1e92 60 One-handed
3 Attacks with maces ignore 75% of armor. 000c1e93 90 One-handed
Dual Flurry 1 Dual wielding attacks are 20% faster.** 00106256 30 One-handed Armsman
2 Dual wielding attacks are 35% faster.** 00106257 50 One-handed
Dual Savagery Dual wielding power attacks do 50% bonus damage.** 00106258 70 One-handed Dual Flurry
Fighting Stance Power attacks with one-handed weapons cost 25% less stamina. 00052d50 20 One-handed Armsman
Critical Charge Can do a one-handed power attack while sprinting that does double critical damage. 000cb406 50 One-handed Fighting Stance
Savage Strike Standing power attacks do 25% bonus damage with a chance to decapitate your enemies. 0003af81 50 One-handed Fighting Stance
Paralyzing Strike Backwards power attack has a 25%*** chance to paralyze the target. 0003afa6 100 One-handed Critical Charge or Savage Strike
Hack and Slash 1 Attacks with war axes cause extra bleeding damage. 0003fffa 30 One-handed Armsman
2 Attacks with war axes cause more bleeding damage. 000c3678 60 One-handed
3 Attacks with war axes cause even more bleeding damage. 000c3679 90 One-handed

* The bonus damage is calculated using the base damage of the weapon.
** These effects also apply to single-handed attacks as long as a one-handed weapon is equipped in each hand.
*** Paralyzing Strike's effect is affected by Alteration-modifiers, such as the Stability perk. It also has a chance to activate of 26%.

Skill Usage[edit]

Approximate weapon characteristics are given in the following table:

Weapon type Relative damage Speed Reach Stagger
Dagger −3 1.3 0.7 0
Sword +0 1 1 0.75
War Axe +1 0.9 1 0.85
Mace +2 0.8 1 1

"Speed" determines the frequency of attacks, in number of attacks that can be performed per second. "Reach" determines how far away an opponent can be and still be hit by the weapon. "Stagger" multiplies your base Staggering chance by this amount.

It should be noted that the overall weapon damage balance is only kept when the weapons are not upgraded or enchanted. As soon as you start smithing or enchanting your weapons, the damage shifts more and more in favor of the faster swinging weapons—especially daggers. For example, a Legendary Iron Dagger has damage per second of 18.2—20% higher than a Dragonbone Sword, and as it swings 30% faster it would also apply enchantments 30% faster. However, daggers have no stagger value and shorter reach; as such, swords are usually preferred. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that heavier weapons consume more stamina for power attacks, and axes/maces are heavier than daggers/swords.

After performing a power attack, the next two regular attacks will be faster than usual. This is a mechanic (bug?) unique to one-handed weapons. This trick can be chained (power attack, two regular attacks, power attack, etc.).

Dual Flurry[edit]

The Dual Flurry perk also works on regular attacks. As long as you hold a weapon in your off-hand your main hand will swing 20%/35% faster, even if you don't use your off-hand at all.

  • This perk occasionally stops working. Changing weapons, power attacking, and reloading may fix it. Changing anything you wear using a hotkey is a quick way to fix this mid-fight (you only have to change once, but taking off/on in quick succession can fix this without really affecting combat).
  • While the perk is active, switching from dual-wielding to a two-handed weapon or bow will transfer the speed benefit to those weapons.


The Bladesman perk works off of the base damage of the weapon, which is a fraction of your total damage at high levels. For example, using a Legendary Daedric sword with 100 One-handed skill and 5/5 Armsman perk levels, you will deliver 72 damage per hit. However, base damage for a Daedric Sword is only 14; so with 3/3 Bladesman perk levels, you would have a 20% chance to cause an additional 10.5 points of damage, resulting in an average increase of 2.1(~3%) damage per attack. However, this is the only weapon perk which functions against undead, automatons, and other armorless, bloodless creatures.

Material Perk Level
1 2 3
Damage Bonus(Avg)
Iron .7 1.3 2.6
Steel, Imperial, Ancient Nord 0.8 1.5 3
Orcish 0.9 1.7 3.4
Dwarven, Falmer, Nordic** 1 1.9 3.8
Elven, Honed Ancient Nord 1.1 2.1 4.2
Glass, Honed Falmer 1.2 2.3 4.5
Ebony, Stalhrim** 1.3 2.44 4.88
Daedric 1.4 2.6 5.2
Dragonbone 1.5 2.8 5.6

Bone Breaker[edit]

Bone Breaker has no effect on most enemies without visible armor. Dwarven automatons, for example, have no armor rating, despite their metallic exterior. Against armored enemies, however, this perk has increasing value at higher levels, as skills, perks, and potions come into play. This is because the other weapon perks, Bladesman and Hack and Slash, add a flat damage value to attacks, which diminishes in value as skill-modified weapon damage increases. By contrast, Bone Breaker offers a multiplicative increase in damage.

For example, early in the game, a 10 damage attack might be reduced by 2 damage, so Bone Breaker would offer 1 bonus damage, while Bladesman would offer 3. By contrast, if the player is dealing 100 damage, Bone Breaker would offer 10 bonus damage, while Bladesman offers a maximum of 5.6, making this perk most useful from mid-level onward; against high-level bandits, the effect of this perk can be as high as 40% bonus damage.

Hack and Slash[edit]

Hack and Slash causes extra damage over a given period of time based on the material of the war axe used. It's stackable and ignores armor. Things that don't bleed, however, such as undead and Dwemer constructs, are immune to the effect.

Material Perk Level
1 2 3
DPS Dur. Total DPS Dur. Total DPS Dur. Total
Iron 1 3 3 1 4 4 1 5 5
Steel, Imperial, Ancient Nord 1 3 3 1.7 3 5.1 2.3 3 6.9
Orcish 1 4 4 1.5 4 6 2 8* 16
Dwarven, Falmer, Nordic** 1.2 4 4.8 1.75 4 7 2 4 8
Elven, Honed Ancient Nord 1.5 4 6 2 4 8 2.5 4 10
Glass, Honed Falmer 2 4 8 2.5 4 10 3 4 12
Ebony, Stalhrim** 2 5 10 2.5 5 12.5 3 5 15
Daedric 2 6 12 2.5 6 15 3 6 18

Skill Analysis[edit]

Of these three skills, which is the best? This is determined largely by the enemy being faced; Bone Breaker, for example, is useless against animals or dragons, which generally have no armor, while bleed damage is useless against enemies that do not bleed. What about cases where none of these factors are present, like against a steel-armored Bandit Thug?

The simplest comparison is between Axes and Swords. With level 3 bladesman, swords do a bonus 3/8ths of base damage per hit, on average. A Daedric Sword, for example, will do a bonus 6.75 damage per attack, on average. A Daedric Axe, by contrast, will do a bonus *18* bleed damage per attack. Of course, since neither of these scale with skill level or smithing, neither is particularly significant part of total DPS. A Daedric weapon can eventually do 300+ damage per blow, reducing either bonus to insignificance.

It is at this stage that Bone Breaker takes the fore. While no NPC has particularly notable armor values, a fully-armored high-level opponent can still have their durability increased fairly significantly. Ignoring this can increase damage to these enemies by much more significant amounts, since this value is multiplicative, rather than additive.

Ultimately, weapon speed is far more important than any of these three perks. Because blacksmith upgrades increase damage by the same amount regardless of weapon type, damage differences between weapon types are gradually minimized, and eventually the difference between weapon types is reduced to >5%. At this stage, being able to hit faster with swords will almost always be more important than being able to cause bleeding or ignore armor. Eventually, skipping these perks entirely is probably the best choice.

* The duration of level 3 Hack and Slash for Orcish axes is erroneously twice that of first two levels. (details)
** Nordic and Stalhrim axes are not included in the list for this perk

† Level 1 Hack and Slash will not work for Elven or Honed Ancient Nord axes because it requires that the axe be both Elven and Honed Ancient Nord at the same time.

‡ Dragonbone axes benefit from this perk with only Dawnguard installed. The Dragonborn add-on makes alterations to the perks that remove the axe from the list.

One-handed Fighting Styles[edit]

See Skyrim:Combat.

Skill Increases[edit]

Character Creation[edit]

The following races have an initial skill bonus to One-handed:


Skill Books[edit]

Free Skill Boosts[edit]

Gaining Skill XP[edit]

  • Weapon skill gains are based on base weapon damage dealt against valid targets (those whose health can be damaged). You can increase your skill level fastest by choosing a one-handed weapon that causes the most base damage in a given time period.
  • Boosting One-handed damage via skill perks or equipment enchantments does not result in more XP per strike, nor does improving your weapons at a grindstone.
  • You can exploit certain targets for training combat skills, because they are essential, and therefore cannot normally die; because they are expendable; or because they have high health or can regenerate health. They are not normally "enemies". They include: Shadowmere, Hadvar or Ralof during Unbound, creatures you have conjured, Paarthurnax (before starting his quest), and M'aiq the Liar.
    • Note that the target in question must actually sustain damage for it to count. For this reason, practicing on invincible targets such as Children and Brynjolf will not level your skill.
  • If you have the Dawnguard Add-on installed, wielding a Dragonbone dagger in the left hand and a Dragonbone Mace in the right hand and performing a dual-wield, simultaneous, non-power attack (tapping both attack buttons simultaneously) with them will net the most experience for a given enemy. Be sure to equip the dagger in your left hand, as the off-hand weapon dictates the striking speed of this attack. Combining this with the Dual Flurry perks will further enhance the XP per second, while adding the increased attack speed of the Elemental Fury shout will garner the highest XP per second possible.
  • One-handed power attacks will not increase the XP per blow since XP is earned based on weapon damage, not the extra damage done from the power attack.


  • Blade and Blunt skills from Oblivion no longer exist. Melee skill has instead been divided between One-handed and Two-handed.
  • If your only weapon is in the left hand (off-hand), finishing move animations will not appear.
  • You can combine Critical Charge with the Silent Roll perk for a more powerful sneak attack.
  • Dual Flurry can benefit from Necromage; x1.35 is incremented by 25% (multiplied by 1.25) to 1.6875. You must be a vampire and have Necromage before taking Dual Flurry to benefit. The enhanced speed bonus will remain even after being cured.
  • Critical Charge and dual-wielding can be done with either the left hand or the right one, but not both at the same time; attempting to do so while sprinting will simply have you stopping and attacking in place.


  • Equipping a dagger in your main-hand and another one-handed weapon in your off-hand, then changing what you are wearing in your armor/clothing slot will cause both of the equipped weapons to appear on your hip, when normally just the main-hand weapon appears. Unequipping the off-hand weapon will not remove it from your hip, but subsequently changing clothes or armor will.