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My understanding is that Natural Weapons are considered Weapons, for example for the purpose of the Improved Divine Smite ability (see discussion here).

Yet, according to Jeremy Crawford it is not possible to cast the Magic Weapon spell on a Natural Weapon:

The magic weapon spell targets weapons (PH 146–49), not body parts.

This makes me very confused. Is a Natural Weapon a Weapon or not?!

Specifically, can the Magic Weapon spell be cast on a natural weapon?

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RAW: yes

Intended or not, the rules define natural weapons as weapons.

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

So it is simple, natural weapons are, as their name implies, weapons that happen to be naturally occurring on a monster or creature's body. They are used to make melee weapon attacks, they are called weapons in the rules, and they have "weapon" as part of their name. Intended or not, the rules define natural weapons as weapons.

Magic weapon works on any weapon

You touch a nonmagical weapon. Until the spell ends, that weapon becomes a magic weapon with a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls.

The spell doesn't put any limits or restrictions on the weapon that can be affected and thus can affect natural weapons as well.

The Sage Advice Compendium says yes.

The Sage Advice Compendium states:

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.

Rules as Intended(?): No

Jeremy Crawford has said in an unofficial tweet:

The magic weapon spell targets weapons (PH 146–49), not body parts.

It's hard to say why he believes that because he does not explain his logic. He seems to imply that the word weapon only applies to the weapon tables in the PHB. However this is a very strange take given that there are many weapons listed in the DMG that are not in this table. They are all magic weapons and thus not eligible to benefit from this particular spell, but they are weapons regardless. So his claim that any mention of "weapon" refers exclusively to the PHB table seems extremely flawed.

However, it is possible he means that this was the way the spell was intended to work.

Honestly, as a DM, I have no idea how I would go about justifying his ruling if I wanted to implement it at my table.

Without more explanation it is unclear, but it seems very clear that what he says is at odds with the RAW.

As always of course, your DM can choose to rule as they please regardless of RAW/RAI.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, the Crawford tweet seems to reflect the way magic weapon was intended to work (whether or not it actually does so). See this tweet: "That was part of a discussion about the magic weapon spell. I stated that it was meant to be cast on weapons that are objects, but that casting it on natural weapons would break nothing." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 27 '19 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be updated now that Sage Advice has officially clarified that natural weapons are weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 9 '20 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer can use an update, see this answer: How to let a steed make magical attacks? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Feb 9 at 12:55

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