Rogues' Sneak Attack ability states "The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon." For purposes of sneak attack, is a wand a ranged weapon? Specifically a wand that can cause a ranged spell attack (such as Wand of Winter from Hoard of the Dragon Queen which can cast Ray of Frost).

A rogue casting a spell wouldn't be able to trigger sneak attack since the attack is not "[using] a finesse or ranged weapon".

I'll note that magic weapons do usually have the "range" keyword if they are usually ranged weapons (e.g. Oathbow), so perhaps that is a point against a wand being a ranged weapon. I'd appreciate any other Rules-As-Written to support either ruling.


2 Answers 2


A weapon is only a ranged weapon if it is listed as a simple/martial ranged weapon. Every such weapon also happens to have the Range property

Note that fifth edition defaults to Standard English when something is not defined in the rules; however, what a ranged weapon is, is defined. The section on "Weapon Properties" includes the following:

Every weapon is classified as either melee or ranged. A melee weapon is used to attack a target within 5 feet of you, whereas a ranged weapon is used to attack a target at a distance.

Range. A weapon that can be used to make a ranged attack has a range shown in parentheses after the ammunition or thrown property. The range lists two numbers. The first is the weapon's normal range in feet, and the second indicates the weapon's long range. When attacking a target beyond normal range, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. You can't attack a target beyond the weapon's long range.

If something requires a heavy weapon this doesn't mean the weapon needs to reach some arbitrary weight but that the weapon must have the Heavy property. Unfortunately this analogy doesn't hold for figuring out what ranged weapons are because it is not the Range property that matters but simply whether or not the weapon is classified as a ranged weapon.

We can look at the description of the wand and its statblock and see that no part of it states that the wand is a ranged weapon, nor is it listed on the weapons table as a ranged weapon.

Another way we could deduce this is from the fact that every single ranged weapon has the Range property and since the wand does not have the Range property, it can't be a ranged weapon (proof by contrapositive). But be careful, weapons with the Thrown property also have a range listed despite some of them not being ranged weapons; having the property is necessary but is not sufficient to show that something is a ranged weapons.

Ultimately, if something is a ranged weapon, it will appear in the ranged weapon section of the table, unless it is an exceptional case such as the Storm Boomerang, which is not on the weapon table and exists in a module for the game released well after the Player's Handbook and its weapon table. (Princes of the Apocalypse to be exact).

That said, a wand is not even a weapon

Wands are not listed in the Weapons Table and their statblock does not call them weapons so they are not weapons. For some more reading there is also the following Q/A:

  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't true. A weapon is considered a ranged weapon if it's in the list of ranged weapons. Thrown weapons aren't considered ranged weapons: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/87563/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Dec 28, 2019 at 8:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ typo: "it's weapon table" → "its weapon table" (Can't edit it myself: edits must be at least 6 characters) \$\endgroup\$
    – Cœur
    Dec 28, 2019 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ But if Every weapon is classified as either melee or ranged does that mean a wand is a melee weapon? \$\endgroup\$
    – Daron
    Dec 28, 2019 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: That sounds like a much shorter answer: You cannot do sneak attack with a wand since a wand is not a weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daron
    Dec 28, 2019 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gnudiff A wand could be used as an improvised weapon, but that use would be as a bludgeon or just be thrown at a target, so the wand's spell still wouldn't be an option for a sneak attack. As for whether or not an improvised weapon can be used with Sneak Attack, have a look at rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/144233/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Dec 29, 2019 at 0:32

A wand is not a ranged weapon. Ranged weapons are on the Weapons table in the equipment section. Wands are not, they are in the Adventuring Gear section. That means that a wand, by itself, is not a weapon.

Spells are also not weapons, so while you're making a ranged attack with a spell, it is not using a ranged weapon.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that not every weapon is listed on the weapon table. For example the Storm Boomerang, though that's the only example I know of so this is probably irrelevant \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27, 2019 at 21:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ True. I think it'd be clearer to point out that all weapons are specifically defined in the game as such, whether by appearing in the Weapons table, by being a magic item that is explicitly categorized as a weapon, or by being explicitly listed in another book (e.g. Tomb of Annihilation) as a weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 27, 2019 at 23:15

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