Player's Handbook page 195:

Two-weapon fighting
When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand. You don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.
If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

What if a character:

  • holds a light weapon in one hand, and nothing in the other hand
  • fights with bare fists (not being a monk)

Can they use the bonus action for a second attack?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this has been asked before... \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


A light weapon is specifically a weapon with the light property. For example, if one were to look up a Shortsword in the Player's Handbook, it lists "light" as one of its properties.

An unarmed strike is not a weapon, so it is not a light weapon.

Given that Two-Weapon Fighting requires a "light weapon," an unarmed strike cannot be used with the Two-Weapon Fighting feature listed in the Player's Handbook as you have cited, because an unarmed strike is not a weapon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth noting in your answer that, otherwise, unarmed strike does count as a melee weapon attack for purposes of triggering class features. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude Sure! The more extensive version of the rule is that there are two types of attacks - a "weapon attack" and a "spell attack," which are Physical and Magical attacks, respectively (but a spell attack may be physical too) A weapon attack doesn't have to be with a weapon and a spell attack doesn't have to be with a spell. An unarmed strike is still a weapon attack. The general rule is that an attack counts as a "weapon attack" unless it explicitly tells you to make a spell attack (e.g. Fire bolt), so a punch is a melee weapon attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo Izen
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 5:00

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