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The Crossbow Expert feat (PHB, p. 165) states that you ignore the loading feature of crossbows, but does that mean you still need a free hand in order to reload it?

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According to Sage Advice, yes

The article is here:

https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/sageadvice_feats

And the relevant quote is here:

What does that all mean for a hand crossbow? It means Crossbow Expert makes it possible to fire a hand crossbow more than once with a feature like Extra Attack, provided that you have enough ammunition and you have a hand free to load it for each shot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 18 at 20:59
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Yes, the feat only affects loading time and allows you to improve your rate of fire through class features like Extra Attack.

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