Ultimate Archer: Sharpshooter+Crossbow Expert (5e Optimized Character Build)

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An Archer takes a deep breath. Every shot counts. He raises his crossbow, and begins to fire. The orc burning the bar falls first, then the one next to her. He rolls through a nearby door, already choosing his next target. Soon the 2 chieftan guards have holes punched into their heart. The blood thirsty brute looks up in horror and surprise. He and all his men were dead before the realized what happened. The archer releases a held breath. Every shot counts.

Want to play a high damage archer? Well then this is the build for you! The concept is fairly simple and many people have their unique versions of it. This will adress the optimal build for getting the most damage you can out of an arrow or any ranged weapon.

Race and Ability Scores[edit]

Race: Human Variant is the fastest way to get this build to come online and what will be assumed to be used to be used. However, other races are viable they just take longer to become the levels of broken this does

  • Feat - Crossbow Expert: due to how the wording on this feat works, you can use your action to attack with a hand crossbow then fire again with it as a bonus action. This extra attack is a huge damage increase for any ranged build that most can't compete with.
  • Skill - Perception: for the flavor and being able to spot your targets.

Ability Scores:

  • Point buy: Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10 (after racial bonuses)
  • Standard Array: Str 8, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 12

Class and Leveling[edit]

We will be going into the math later, but the highest damage you can deal is as a fighter. This is because of a feat you'll be taking as level 4.

  • Level 1: Fighter, Archery Fighting Style
  • Level 3: Any fighting style works, but we are going to recommend the Battle Master.
  • Level 4: Shapshooter Feat: -5 Accuracy, +10 damage. Archery fighting style massively reduces that penalty.
  • Level 6: Dexterity +2
  • Level 8: Dexterity +2
  • Level 12: Magic Initiate - Warlock. Get the hex spell
  • Level 14: Martial Adept Feat
  • Levels 16 and 19: You've already gotten the most damage you can out of archery. Customize with ASI or feats as you want


The main consideration is that the Fighter's 20th level ability is to attack 4 times with an action. We add our bonus action for a total of 5 attacks per turn. To do that we are using a hand crossbow (1d6 damage). Sharpshooter adds +10 damage, plus another 5 from dexterity. If its within an hour you can apply Hex to your chosen target (1d6).

5x(1d6+1d6+10+5)= 110 average damage per round +1-3 weapons and other magic items will MASSIVELY increase your damage since its multiplied by 5. One thing to consider is that your average attack roll will be an 18.5 if your using sharpshooter without any magic items. One of the nice things is that you can action surge to fire an additional 4 shots for 198 damage average in one round. Mix in your other class features and your quickly dealing an increadible amount of damage


Like all good builds, people have made many unique versions of this build. If you wand to add your own, let us know any results in the discussion page.

Stealth Archer - 250 damage in one turn: Fighter 4 /Ranger 5/Rogue 11[edit]

While raw damage might be useful in a straight fight, the utility of stealth can never be underestimated. In this build you'll focus on gaining larger bursts of damage with things like sneak attack to deal heavy damage each turn.

Race: While human might be optimal for a straight DPS check, a few others get competitive if your dealing with stealth and advantage.

  • Wood-Elf/Half-Elf: With access to the incredible Elven Accuracy Feat (XGtE), you can fish for critical hits from the shadows.
  • Air Genasi: being able to hold your breath indefinitely can be useful for stealthing in some pretty unique places.
  • Aarakocra: While almost universally banned, if your DM lets you play one, have fun snipping people from high in the air, using clouds for cover.

Leveling Guide

  • Levels 1-5 Ranger: Get hunters mark and extra attack. Also pick up Archery Fighting Style. Take Horizon Walker or Hunter for the extra damage.
  • Level 6-8 Fighter: Pick up Action Surge for some massive damage. Second wind and an extra fighting style are pretty nice. Choose the Champion archetype for extra critical hit chance, something that gets even better with stealth.
  • Levels 9-19 Rogue: Increase your dexterity and get some nice sneak attack damage. Bonus Action hide to consistently gain advantage.
  • Level 20 Fighter: Just for a nice extra feat. Take it at any point earlier if you feel the need.

Feats: Like all of these, pick up Sharpshooter + Crossbow expert. Beyond that, here are a few other options.

  • Elven Accuracy: an extra d20 when you have advantage compounds with the champion archetypes improved critical hit for an incredible buff!
  • Savage Attacker: While not very optimal, some people prefer it for consistency when it comes to damage.

Skill Analysis

  • Stealth Arrow: This build focuses on a stealth attack followed by a regular one after your position is revealed. Your fishing for a critical hit on your first attack which will compound with Sneak Attack and your ranger subclass damage boost.
  • Rapid Volley: Action Surge might not give you any extra sneak attacks, but you'll be able to volley your enemy for huge damage with just basic attacks thanks to sharpshooter and Hunters mark.

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