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Under the section on Improvised Weapons, this rule shows up:

If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage.

Does this allow for melee attacks with ranged weapons, rather than simply treating the ranged weapon as an object for the purposes of this line:

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands.

If I attack with a ranged weapon that has the Ammunition property, can I use it as a ranged weapon (and keep its properties) or must it be an improvised weapon?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on the comments on the answers this question is being misunderstood. I tried to edit it, but I found that I can't figure out how to without putting awkward words in your mouth. Could you edit this to maybe describe the physical action you're asking for rules to cover? E.g., “holding a dart or arrow by the shaft and stabbing” is kinda what I think you're asking about (but I think that might be wrong too; I'm just not sure). I think that should clear up the question enough to get useful answers that aren't confused. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 27 '18 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I think I'll ask too seperate questions here. One for ammunition weapons and one for darts and nets. (since the ammunition property makes one answer obvious) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 20:25
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Improvised

In the Players Handbook, there are two main examples of standard weapons becoming improvised weapons.

[PHB, p. 147] If you use a weapon that has the ammunition property to make a melee attack, you treat the weapon as an improvised weapon (see "Improvised Weapons" later in the section). A sling must be loaded to deal any damage when used in this way.

and

[PHB, p. 148, in the section on Improvised Weapons] If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage. An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.

Thus, weapons that have the ammunition property used to make melee attacks, or weapons that are thrown which do not have the thrown property, count as Improvised Weapons. In each case, the weapons would follow all the rules for improvised weapons. (For example, you would not use your proficiency bonus to attack with them unless you have the Tavern Brawler Feat). Since "the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object" (PHB, p. 148) for an improvised weapon, the damage type would depend on your manner of attack.


Seeing the comments on your question, you may be referring to making a ranged attack against an enemy that is within 5 feet of you. If this is the case, see "Ranged Attacks in Close Combat" (PHB, p. 195).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No. I was entirely referring to a melee attack with a ranged weapon. Looks like you could do it with a dart (or a net possibly???), but not with anything else per the Ammunition property rules \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Why do you think nothing other than a dart (or possibly net) could not be used to make a melee attack? The quoted rule specifically states that you can use any weapon that has the ammunition property as an improvised weapon to deal melee damage. A longbow for instance can be swung to smack an enemy for 1d4 blunt damage by treating it as an improvised weapon. I don't understand why you don't think you could use ranged weapons... \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Mar 27 '18 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doc it is no longer a melee attack with a ranged weapon, but a melee attack with an improvised weapon \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wait, why does the use of a ranged weapon in melee inevitably cause it to be treated like an Improvised weapon? The rules doesn't say that; only that the weapon changes damage die \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct @DavidCoffron, a ranged weapon does not automatically become an Improvised Weapon: it just goes down to a 1d4 damage. Ammunition weapons do become Improvised Weapons. And thrown weapons without the thrown property also become Improvised Weapons (as evidence by the sentence that follows, about improvised thrown weapons). I'll edit my answer to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Mar 27 '18 at 20:32
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As you quote in the question, this text appears under the "Improvised Weapons" heading:

If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, [...] it also deals 1d4 damage.

The fact that this appears under the "Improvised Weapons" heading should be a clear sign that such a use of a ranged weapon (whether it originally had the "ammunition" property or not) causes it to be treated as an improvised weapon for that attack.

This section is also referenced and this rule reiterated in the description of the "ammunition" weapon property:

If you use a weapon that has the ammunition property to make a melee attack, you treat the weapon as an improvised weapon (see "Improvised Weapons" later in the section). A sling must be loaded to deal any damage when used in this way.

Since it is being treated as an improvised weapon, the properties of the original weapon (as well as its weapon type) seem quite irrelevant. The fact that your bow normally requires ammunition and has a certain range you can effectively shoot targets in doesn't matter if you're trying to bash an enemy with the bow or throw it at them. Thus, it seems to be a natural conclusion to me that the weapon is not treated as having those properties for the purpose of that attack.


Rules designer Jeremy Crawford unofficially confirms this interpretation in a November 2017 tweet:

Can you use a longbow in melee to get GWM and Sharpshooter in a single attack for +20 damage?

If you use a weapon in a way that turns it into an improvised weapon—such as smacking someone with a bow—that weapon has none of its regular properties, unless the DM rules otherwise.

When used as an improvised weapon (i.e. during the actual attack, not during some other time on the turn), it functions as an improvised weapon. None of its regular weapon properties apply unless otherwise stated.

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It works like an improvised weapon, with improvised weapons stats and rules

From Sage advice by Jeremy Crawford

@Amos_Fawkes: @JeremyECrawford A Ranged Weapon (Bow) used to make a Melee Attack (Smack). Do you still add proficiency to the attack roll?

@JeremyECrawford: A weapon with the ammunition property works as an improvised weapon when you smack someone with it (PH, 146–7).

So it's treated entirely like an improvised weapon. The wording on that section is a bit ambiguous, I agree.


Since you asked about darts, yes, they would work like any other improvised weapon by RAW:

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands...In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such.

That is, unless the DM rules that a certain thrown weapon works as a different weapon, as per this question. So maybe you could use a dart as an improvised dagger, and your DM may let you use your proficency bonus (if you have it) for the attack. In any case, the stats of the original weapon would not be used at all (though they may be pretty similar).


To clarify, you cannot make a melee attack with a ranged weapon:

Every weapon is classified as either melee or ranged. A melee weapon is used to Attack a target within 5 feet of you, whereas a ranged weapon is used to Attack a target at a distance.

But you can use a ranged weapon as an improvised melee weapon, and make a melee attack with that improvise melee weapon. Confusing, I know.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My intent is not to smack someone with it but to use it as a melee bow (with arrow and all). I'm not using an improvised use, but instead its intended use, just as a melee attack. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron That seems contradictory, can you go into more detail in your question? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Mar 27 '18 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron: Are you referring to using a ranged weapon to make a ranged attack at someone within 5 feet of you? There's no such thing as a "melee bow". \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 27 '18 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I didn't see the rule in the Ammunition property section. It makes sense now/ I deleted my answer to the other question \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 20:22

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