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The Hunter Ranger's Horde Breaker feature states:

Once on each of your turns when you make a weapon attack, you can make another attack with the same weapon against a different creature that is within 5 feet of the original target and within range of your weapon.

We also know that unarmed strikes count as weapon attacks and in particular the Sage Advice Compendium states:

For example, an unarmed strike counts as a melee weapon attack, even though the attacker’s body isn’t considered a weapon.

However, the Horde Breaker feature states that you must make another attack within range of your weapon and unarmed strikes are not weapons. So can you use an unarmed strike with Horde Breaker?

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No you cannot; Horde Breaker later relies on a weapon

The case here is similar to two others where it looks like you could use unarmed strikes but you actually can't:

  1. The Savage Attacker feat states:

    Once per turn when you roll damage for a melee weapon attack, you can reroll the weapon's damage dice and use either total.

    And then the Sage Advice Compendium states:

    Q. Does the Savage Attacker feat work with unarmed strikes?

    No. Savage Attacker relies on a weapon’s damage dice, and an unarmed strike isn’t a weapon (a point that was clarified in the Player’s Handbook errata).

  2. The Divine Smite feature states:

    [...] When you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon's damage.

    And then this well upvoted answer to the question "Does Improved Divine Smite trigger when a paladin makes an unarmed strike?" states:

    [...] Note that normal Divine Smite also does not work with unarmed strikes [...]

    Even though an unarmed strike is technically a melee weapon attack, the rule for Divine Smite also says that the damage is done by a weapon and an unarmed strike is not considered a weapon [...]

The scenario here is the same as those; though Horde Breaker looks like it would work with unarmed strikes it actually still requires a weapon, and unarmed strikes are not weapons:

Once on each of your turns when you make a weapon attack, you can make another attack with the same weapon against a different creature that is within 5 feet of the original target and within range of your weapon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would this not work with a race's ability that specifically calls it a Natural Weapon, such as the Lizardfolk's Bite, the Tortle's or Tabaxi's Claws, or the Minotaur's Horns? Considering that these special abilities specifically call it a Natural Weapon that you can make Unarmed Strikes with, I'd be curious if that would work or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Kay Nov 3 '19 at 13:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JayKay I think this answers that but I'll keep looking: "Do natural melee weapons (from racial traits) trigger Improved Divine Smite?". Also "What are natural weapons?". \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 3 '19 at 15:08

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