The Dragon Hide racial feat (XGtE, p. 74) gives you claws. It states that

The claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

In general, unarmed strikes aren't considered weapons, as the errata says:

Weapons (p. 149). Unarmed strike doesn’t belong on the Weapons table.

Since specific beats general, do claws count as weapons? If they do, what are the properties of these weapons (melee, two-handed, light, etc)?


2 Answers 2


Natural weapons are a kind of weapon...

There are almost no general rules on natural weapons in the PHB or Basic Rules describing what they are and how they interact with other rules. Some game features grant specific natural weapons to a character, and some monsters/NPCs have specific natural weapons listed in their statblock, but we can't derive general rules from that.

As of 2021, the Sage Advice Compendium (v2.7) contains a single official ruling about natural weapons:

Are natural weapons considered weapons?

Things designated as weapons by the rules, including natural weapons, are indeed weapons. In contrast, unarmed strikes are not weapons. They are something you do with an unarmed part of your body.

This is a pretty clear official ruling: Natural weapons are weapons. This is a logical interpretation of the rules, given that they're referred to as "weapons" in the first place.

On the topic of unarmed strikes:
As clarified in the Q&A Can natural weapons be used for unarmed strikes?, natural weapons are not used to make unarmed strikes unless a game feature explicitly states otherwise. By default, natural weapons are just another kind of weapon (separate from simple and martial weapons). However, as noted in my answer there, most features that grant natural weapons to player characters do specify that the natural weapon can be used for unarmed strikes.

...but they don't have any weapon properties unless they say they do

In an unofficial tweet from June 2015, rules designer Jeremy Crawford responded to a since-deleted tweet asking whether natural weapons have the finesse property:

Are natural weapons considered finesse weapons? A lot of them use dex for to-hit and damage, but I can't find a reference.

No. A weapon has the finesse property only if its description says so, and using Dex. to hit doesn't equal finesse.

In general, weapons don't have specified properties (e.g. finesse, light, thrown, etc.) unless their descriptions in the rules say they do. As such, natural weapons don't have any weapon properties unless they say they do.

Whether they're melee or ranged weapons is indicated by the kind of attack they can be used to make, as detailed in their description – but "melee" and "ranged" aren't weapon properties, just classifications of weapons. Beyond that, we can't assume they have any weapon properties unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Most features don't care whether you're using a weapon (or what properties it has) anyway

Natural weapons are usually used to make melee weapon attacks. (Occasionally, the description of a natural weapon specifies that it is used to make ranged weapon attacks, though I think that mostly applies to monsters that have natural weapons.)

In general, most game features that apply to or interact with an attack don't care whether you're using a weapon or not, and very few features rely on specific weapon properties. Many attack-related features trigger off "weapon attacks" or specifically "melee weapon attacks", rather than requiring a weapon or relying on the weapon's particular properties. (The rogue's Sneak Attack is one of the few notable exceptions, requiring a finesse or ranged weapon.)

As such, even if natural weapons weren't considered weapons (and regardless of whether they have any particular weapon properties), most such features would work with natural weapons anyway.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, the SAC says natural weapons are weapons. This was added in version 2.5 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic: I've updated the answer. Let me know if I've missed anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 18:42

According to the melee attack rules unarmed strikes make "melee weapon attacks":

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons).

Natural weapon has "weapon" in the name so yes it is a kind of weapon, this is confirmed in the monster rules for melee attacks:

The most common actions that a monster will take in combat are melee and ranged attacks. These can be spell attacks or weapon attacks, where the "weapon" might be a manufactured item or a natural weapon, such as a claw or tail spike.

As for weapon properties? As with any weapon, the weapon has only the properties the rules state; none have been stated so it has none.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I made this as a shorter version focused on the rules rather than the meta discussion and history. It might be helpful to have a shorter more usable version. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 7:54

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