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On Weapon Categories says, "A melee weapon with the heavy thrown or the light thrown property counts as a ranged weapon when thrown" (Player's Handbook 215). (Similar text is absent from the Rules Compendium, but I'm not familiar enough with 4e to know if this absence is an issue.)

With this in mind, if a character who has proficiency with military melee weapons but lacks proficiency with military ranged weapons throws a handaxe—a military melee weapon with the heavy thrown property—, does the character still receive his proficiency bonus on the attack roll?

That is, when a military melee weapon is thrown does the military melee weapon remain a military melee weapon therefore the character above gains his proficiency bonus with it? Or does the thrown military melee weapon now count as a military ranged weapon therefore the character above does not gain his proficiency bonus with it? Or is this even more—or less!—complex than I'm imagining?


Note: My level 3 battlemind who has Strength 10, Dexterity 12, proficiency with simple and military melee weapons, but proficiency with only simple ranged weapons will still plans to make his ranged basic attacks with daggers—preferring accuracy to damage—, but I want to assess my future options. Also, I know I'm late to the party, and I apologize if this is a topic that's already been discussed to death elsewhere.

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The Handaxe is listed as a Military Melee Weapon. But in addition to that it has the Heavy Thrown property, and the Heavy Thrown property (Rules Compendium 260) specifies that

A thrown weapon is a ranged weapon that is hurled from the hand, rather than used to launch a projectile.

Thus, the Handaxe is both a melee and a ranged weapon. It can take enchantments for melee weapons, axes, and ranged weapons, and proficiency with military melee or military ranged weapons gives proficiency for all weapon attacks with it, because it doesn't cease being a melee weapon when used for a ranged attack or a ranged weapon when used for a melee attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. That is interesting! I must've overlooked that in the RC. Thank you. So, by extension, a character who's proficient with military ranged weapons but not military melee weapons is also proficient with military melee weapons that possess a thrown property no matter how those weapons are used? (I've grown to have a great deal of respect for 4e because of its almost incomparable clarity so I wish this idea were simply stated outright rather than it being left to the reader to infer!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 10 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's correct. It's sort of like the Gouge, which is both an axe and a spear- you can enchant it with a Spear only enchantment, but get proficiency via Dwarven Weapon Training (which gives proficiency for all axes and hammers), and use it with both spear and axe feats. \$\endgroup\$ – JLan May 10 at 17:30
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The Player's Handbook only refers to adding “Your weapon's proficiency bonus (if you're using a weapon you're proficient with)” (page 274). Every other mention of determining attack bonus in the Player's Handbook and the Rules Compendium uses “appropriate bonuses” and such, not more specific language.

It seems simplest to allow it, since they are proficient in the weapon and using it in an intended manner because of the thrown property.

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