Does a shield used as an improvised weapon via Improvised Weapons rules

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands... (PHB 147)

count as a melee weapon since it is similar to melee weapons?

In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. (PHB 147)

If so...

Do you get +2 to AC from a combination of the +1 AC from the Shield and the +1 AC from the first bullet point of the Dual Wielder feat?

You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand. (PHB 165)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to vote to hold this question until the details of the spiked shield are provided. While its details appear known to OP, the rest of us need to know in order to answer or vote intelligently. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Apr 5, 2018 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Digcoal thank you for working with us, and sorry for the hassle but the question that you have modified this one to has already been asked. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5, 2018 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the question I am referring to BTW: Would dual wielding a sword and shield as an improvised weapon count for dual wielding perks? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5, 2018 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for removing any references to Spiked Shields as I intended to do that. The second answer does answer my question, but it conflicts with the most popular/only answer to my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digcoal
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Digcoal I've added a third answer to the duplicate question that may explain it better. Unfortunately, duplicates are not generated by answers but by if the questions are the same. In this case, both yours and the linked question are identical. If you think a different answer is better, you should vote accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


No. Neither Shields nor Improvised Weapons are actually Weapons.

(They can be treated as weapons during a melee attack with them, but not otherwise. Some improvised weapons are actually still weapons, but leave that to the other question I asked.)

There is a relevant tweet from Jeremy Crawford:

Q: A shield as an improvised weapon with the Dual Wielding feat: Does the feat's +1 AC stack with the shield +2 AC that round?

J.C.: Dual Wielder is meant to work (RAI) with a melee weapon or an equivalent, not something like a shield.

Dual Wielder (PHB p165) requires the character to be wielding a melee weapon in each hand. Common weapons are listed in the table in the PHB p149. While you may still make some weapon attacks with items not found in this table, it is not a weapon unless it is on the table or explicitly defined as such.

An example of an improvised weapon resembling an actual weapon is the leg of a chair. It resembles a club, and can be treated as one. A Shield does not resemble any actual weapon. Likewise, "frying pans, wagon wheels, and dead goblins" do not become weapons because you attack with them. (Those are some of the examples in the PHB.)

Apparently, during the actual attack, an improvised weapon is temporarily considered a weapon. However, this temporary status won't qualify it as a weapon except for features which apply to that attack. So Booming Blade would work with an improvised weapon but Pact of the Blade would not.

  • Unarmed Strikes
    • unarmed strikes are classified as melee weapon attacks, but they (fists, legs, etc.) are not actually weapons (this is in the PHB errata)
  • Shield Shove
    • granted by the Shield Master feat (PHB p170) as a bonus action
  • Improvised Weapons (PHB p147)
  • Ranged Weapons and Ammunition
    • since these are not melee weapons, they can only be used for melee attacks as improvised weapons (and might be treated as a simple melee weapon such as a club or dagger if similar enough)
    • you ignore all of its properties (i.e., ranged, heavy, light, etc.)

In order to qualify for the AC bonus granted by Dual Wielder, you must be wielding 2 actual distinct weapons, 1 in each hand. This means you can't use unarmed strikes, shields, improvised weapons, double weapons, etc., unless the item itself has a specific rule that applies. For instance, I can imagine Spiked Chain or some other exotic double weapons being allowed to qualify for Dual Wielder if specifically called out in their description.

Tavern Brawler (PHB p170) does not make improvised weapons into actual weapons. All it does is allow proficiency when using them (plus the other parts of the feat).

  • \$\begingroup\$ At the very least in the round you are using it as a weapon it would not be considered a shield and vice versa. That would be how I would likely rule this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Apr 5, 2018 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ That would be a house rule. By RAW, all of the weapons in 5e are in the Weapons table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ oh, wait. improvised weapons don't count as weapons? Huh... didn't know that. I thought you could use dual wielder and two beer bottles or whatever \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be a good house rule to allow Tavern Brawlers to treat them (beer bottles) as weapons for some other things (like Dual Wielder), but probably not game breaking as they are spending multiple feats for that. Still not RAW though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Digcoal - based on the results of the question that I asked so that we can clarify this a bit, it looks like improvised weapons are temporarily considered weapons. While that will allow them to qualify for certain things that affect melee weapon attacks, it should not qualify them for things like Dual Wielding and Pact of the Blade, etc. I have updated my answer to include my new understanding of how Improvised Weapons work. It does not materially affect this answer (but I have reversed my opinion w.r.t. GFB and BB cantrips for instance). Thanks for calling me out on that one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Apr 5, 2018 at 20:46

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