I have seen both the "What action type is switching two items between hands" question and the Master at arms feat referenced within.

My question is: Suppose I have an elven cleric with both a mace or a two-handed sword and a bow. She has the sword in hand, and the bow across her back. What kind of action, if any, would sheathing the sword and equipping the bow be?

From the feat I can assume that, if possible, it should normally be a standard action, and it also makes sense. OTOH, the rules might have it as a move action. Any reference welcome.

I couldn't find this info in the Heroes Of books or the DM Book, and I don't have the Rules compendium with me right now.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually had this come up recently in a game I was playing! The player in question opted to not take a Move action and turn it into a second Minor action. Though, she probably just should have dropped the weapon as Wax Eagle pointed out! \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2011 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also note Quick Draw is a nice feat to reduce the actions spent sheathing and drawing weapons - with an initiative bonus as well. It does require a Dex 13 though, so your cleric may not have access to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 26, 2011 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does this feel like a duplicate? \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    May 26, 2011 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Iszi I have no idea. I couldn't find a question that answered my doubt. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2011 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Iszi - are you perhaps thinking of this one rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/7082/… \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    May 26, 2011 at 22:22

3 Answers 3


Page 237 of the Rules Compendium states:

Minor Actions

Draw or sheathe a weapon

So to answer your question, your Elven Cleric would have to take two Minor actions; 1 to sheathe her sword and another to draw her bow (with a Free action to load it.)

On a related side note: your Elven Cleric could take the Master at Arms feat (Heroes of the Fallen Lands page 316) which allows the PC to use a minor action to both sheathe a weapon and draw another one.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I mentioned the feat on the question itself :) \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2011 at 14:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ And as @Wax Eagle noted: It is a Free action to just drop a weapon, saving you 1 of the Minor actions! \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2011 at 14:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Be careful dropping weapons though! Just today our fighter lost his +2 Flaming Greataxe to an invisible Quickling. I think the DM decided he had dropped it one too many times :) \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 27, 2011 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpatchery - That's quite hilarious! Quicklings, man, they are the devil! \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2011 at 5:16

According to Page 289 of the Player's Handboook, 2 minor actions. Unless you have a feat or power that allows you to do it as part of a standard or as a free action, sheathing a weapon is a minor, unsheathing is also a minor.

In your example, the first action is spent sheathing the sword. The second action is spent equipping the bow.

However, dropping a weapon is a free action, and picking it up again is a minor. If you are short on actions you can always drop your melee weapon and use a minor to pull your bow, then pick up your weapon on your next turn (another minor action), provided you are in the same space where you dropped it.


It would be 2 minors. My players regularly work around this by dropping a weapon when they want to switch to another, as dropping the weapon counts as a free action. This allows them to move, drop, draw a new weapon and perform a standard action with it within a single turn.

They may pick it back up as a minor action in another turn, and sheath it with an additional minor. It's a tactical decision since they might have to leave it on the ground to retreat and will then have to remember to pick it up later, assuming they even have the opportunity to come back.

A good analogy to this is the use of a speed reload versus a tactical reload when using firearms.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good first answer! People in my party do this all the time too. As you say, it is an interesting tactical decision because you will be more reluctant to run away or pursue an enemy if your weapons are lying behind you. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    May 27, 2011 at 19:39

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