The description of the Defensive Duelist feat says (PHB, p. 165):

When you are wielding a finesse weapon with which you are proficient and another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

Does wielding ranged finesse weapons (e.g. a dart) trigger the Defensive Duelist feat?

I note that many other references to "wielding" specifically refer to wielding melee weapons, while the text from Defensive Duelist just mentions finesse weapons with no mention of melee involved (except on the enemy attack).

I'm wondering if there's anything RAW that invalidates this interpretation.


4 Answers 4


By RAW: you can use a dart with Defensive Duelist. It just asks for a finesse weapon, not necessarily a melee weapon.

However, personally I would rule that it would require a finesse melee weapon, and I imagine it would probably be changed in a future version of the Errata to specify finesse melee weapons. Darts just aren't something you'd expect someone to even attempt to deflect a blow with.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have tweeted Jeremy Crawford, and will update the answer once he responds. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanderh
    Jul 11, 2015 at 8:02

Yes, it's perfectly fine.

Both by RAW, and Rules As Interpreted, it makes logical sense:


Defensive Duelist
Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher
When you are wielding a finesse weapon with which you are proficient and another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

As stated in other answers, RAW says as long as it has the finesse tag, you can use defensive duelist.

Rules As Interpreted:

Instead of worrying about the potential for parrying with a dart, consider that the limitation to finesse weapons is likely in part due to the weight. All of the finesse weapons weigh less than or equal to 3 pounds. You don't have to block an attack for it to not cause damage, and based on the text in the feat, it even specifically states that it is "potentially causing the attack to miss you." So consider that the finesse requirement exists so as to allow for classes like Monk to have both melee and ranged weapons in which they can utilize a way to gain an AC bonus on their reaction. After all, a monk gets this bonus simply by holding a dagger, and he/she doesn't ever have to actually do any damage with that dagger thanks to their ability to substitute their unarmed damage instead.

As an interpretation goes, Defensive Duelist does not emphasize parrying but rather avoidance. As such, the ability to block is completely irrelevant as the focus is on dexterous reaction, especially considering that the feat is triggered as a reaction.


I would also say, that yes, given the R.A.W. that's an accurate assumption.

Personally, I would say that you should be allowed, and regardless of future changes, I would always allow my players to so so, because what a lot of GM's forget is that the rules as written are more guidelines to give balance, since there is no way they can conceivably cover every possible situation or eventuality.

Additionally, the weapon lists are very non-creative, primarily covering the basic weapon types, and if your players want something that is not on the list, or less complicatedly, something which could fit under the stats of something on the list, whilst being aesthetically different, then that opens up more logically sound options.

E.g. Throwing knives could be statistically darts, and therefore easily conceivably able to parry a melee attack.


As a dissenting view, also by RAW:

No, you can't use a ranged finesse weapon this way

You must "wield" the dart; the definition (Oxford English Dictionary) of wield is "hold and use". Common sense dictates that it must be wielded as a weapon to use the feat, that is the weapon must be used in some way to increase your armor class.

A dart is a Simple Ranged Weapon - it is not a melee weapon; the distinction between ranged and melee weapons is on p. 146:

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.

Further, the dart has the "Thrown" property (p. 147):

Thrown. If a weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon to make a ranged attack.

To use the dart as a dart it must be thrown; if you do not throw it then you are using it as an improvised melee weapon (pp. 147-148)

If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack ... it also deals 1d4 damage.

... and it does not have the properties of a dart - specifically it is not a finesse weapon when used this way!

So, you can give the player a choice - they can throw the dart at the opponent with no chance of hitting to gain the finesse trait and increase their armor class or they can keep it in their hand and not use the feat because a dart used as a melee weapon is an improvised weapon and does not have the finesse trait.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Where does "hold and use" exclude throwing? You pick up a dart (hold it) and then you use it (throw it). \$\endgroup\$
    – Argamae
    Jul 15, 2015 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Argamae so your ruling is that after using defensive dualist I have thrown the dart? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Jul 15, 2015 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dale M - Only if you're arguing that you're not wielding a longsword unless you're actively trying to slash or stab someone with it. In that case, you're not 'wielding' the longsword, except during your normal turn. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2015 at 21:02

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