I have a player (who is a Bard/Rogue) who wants to fire both weapons but while I'm not seeing any rules against it I'm consulting for additional opinions.

Is there anything to consider when doing this?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by dual wielding? Do you intend to use Two-Weapon Fighting (to get a bonus action attack) or just have a crossbow in each hand? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2018 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The player in question is a Bard/Rogue who wants a hand crossbow in each hand. Also looking at 2 weapon fighting that says melee only \$\endgroup\$
    – KDodge
    Jun 18, 2018 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ the major poblem I see is "How does he load the weapons if his other hand is occupied?" \$\endgroup\$
    – ravery
    Jun 18, 2018 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The difference is that there are no rules for holding weapons to simply hold them. You can just hold any weapon you want. This means that we need to know if your player is intending to fire both of them with each hand or if they are using one hand to fire and the other to hold, as a free reload. Attacking with weapons is where the rules come in \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2018 at 19:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related How do you load a hand crossbow? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


Not sustainably, since you have to reload

The Players Handbook errata has clarified as part of the Ammunition property:

Loading a one-handed weapon requires a free hand

This means you would have to put one crossbow away every turn to load the other. This is not sustainable as after the first turn you have to put away one crossbow to load the other.

You may not even be able to do it the first turn (see below).


The Ammunition property says that loading is part of the attack so it is unclear whether you could even get off that first double attack. (Although I doubt most DMs will disallow pre-loading a crossbow).

Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack

The consequence of this is that you need a free hand to even attack with the hand crossbow.

If you handwave this, and let the player load it with the hand occupied by a crossbow, it still doesn't quite work.

The Attack action only allows for one weapon attack unless you have a specific feature that changes this.

The only other way to gain extra attacks is via Two-Weapon Fighting (in the Combat section of the Player's Handbook or Basic Rules) which requires a melee weapon:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand.

[emphasis mine]

The Crossbow Expert feat

There is a feat in the Player's Handbook you could offer your player (usually in place of an ability score increase at the relevant levels) that would allow a bonus action attack with the other crossbow. The Crossbow Expert feat says:

When you use the Attack action and attack with a one handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a hand crossbow you are holding.

This means you can fire the second one when you attack with the first.

The feat doesn't get around the reloading factor on its own, you would need to handwave that aspect for your player's build to work.

Would it be balanced to handwave it...

The Crossbow Expert feat does allow one to attack with one hand crossbow twice (Thanks @Carcer) since you only need to make an attack with a one-handed weapon. This has even been clarified officially by WoTC in Sage Advice

A hand crossbow is a one-handed weapon, so it can, indeed, be used for both attacks, assuming you have a hand free to load the hand crossbow between the two attacks.

Attacking twice with one hand crossbow is functionally equivalent to attacking once with two (in fact it's possibly stronger since you keep a free hand) so allowing your player to dual wield via the feat would be balanced. (Just make sure you restrict it to this specific ruling as allowing you to reload without a free hand for any ammunition weapon could have other unintended consequences)

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be better to lead with the core of your answer (crossbow expert/reloading) and then end with clearing up potential confusion around TWF. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, the answer is YES - it's just the problem of what happens next round :). \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ So if you allow preloaded crossbows (and i'm not sure this isn't allowed), wouldn't it work in the first round? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth noting that Crossbow Expert's bonus attack option still works if the one-handed weapon you attacked with is the same hand crossbow (as per sage advice) - so you can use one single hand crossbow and get the extra attack that Crossbow Expert offers, which may satisfy the player if their objective is to get the extra attack that dual-wielding might offer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ "The feat doesn't get around the reloading factor on its own, you would need to handwave that aspect for your player's build to work." I don't believe this is correct. According to D&D Beyond, "You ignore the loading property of crossbows with which you are proficient." dndbeyond.com/feats/crossbow-expert \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2020 at 19:33

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