I plan to play a character with class levels and natural weapons, such as claws. Specifically, I'm interested it making her claws her primary weapons. What feats or class features would (or wouldn't) be usable with claws? Do claws qualify as "melee weapon attacks" or as "unarmed attacks"? Do other natural attacks such as a bite qualify as the same?

Bonus question: Would spiked or clawed gauntlets likewise be treated the same?

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    \$\begingroup\$ [Related] Is an Unarmed Strike considered a Weapon attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ladifas
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ What source are you getting claws from? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Hoard of the Dragon Queen, item "Insignia of the Claw" ... but I am not sure if that's what is being asked about. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 1:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect it's about the claws some races get, but there's no way to be sure, which is why I asked. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


In general, natural weapons, including claws and bites, are not unarmed strikes. This is confirmed by Jeremy Crawford here.

However, in Volo's Guide to Monsters, the Tabaxi and Lizardfolk races both have natural weapons that count as unarmed strikes, claws and a bite respectively.

Cat's Claws (Tabaxi, pg. 115) states:

...your claws are natural weapons which you use to make unarmed strikes

Bite (Lizardfolk, pg. 113) states:

Your fanged maw is a natural weapon, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

Since specific beats general, your natural weapons can be used for unarmed strikes only if the description of the natural weapon explicitly says so.

As for a gauntlet, or other such item, it would be DM fiat. There is no such item in the game so far that I am aware of, so such an item and all of its properties, including whether it counts as an unarmed strike, would be homebrew.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Crawford reconfirms this interpretation here: "The words “natural weapon” refer to a natural weapon. The words “unarmed strike” refer to an unarmed strike. One has no relation to the other unless a rule makes an exception, as in the tabaxi." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 1:25

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