Updated to 1.19
What is the best melee weapon? This is a question that Minecraft players have been asking themselves for years. Swords used to be the only choice many years ago and they are still considered the best one in combat, but Axes deal more damage in the Java version. Damage is not the only concern, there are many factors to take into account before choosing which one is better.
Today we are here to see Axes and Swords differences in their crafting recipes, durability, damage, attack speed, available enchantments, and then we are going to try to answer the question. Let’s start!
You can craft both of them using Sticks and one of the following materials:
The Axe will “cost” you one more of the chosen material. That alone doesn’t say much to se which one is more expensive to craft, the weapons durabilities have to be considered as well.
Both weapons have the same durability (considering an Axe and a Sword of the same material). For example an Iron Sword and an Iron Axe both have a durability of 250.
The real difference is that, when used to hit enemies, a Sword loses 1 durability while an Axe loses 2 durability. So an Axe will break twice faster.
This means that it will costs you 2 Iron Ingots to make an Iron Sword, and it will costs you 6 Iron Ingots to make two Iron Axes to hit enemies for the same amount of times.
All this considered, Axes are 3 times more expensive than Swords for the same amount of hits.
Note: it is not important for chosing which one is the best weapon, but note that Axes only lose 1 durability when used to chop wood.
Damage (without enchantments)
Minecraft Java edition
Axes deal 2 more damage than Swords, considering both weapons of the same material. For example, a Diamond Sword will deal 7 damage and a Diamond Axe will deal 9 damage per hit.
Axes also disable the enemy’s Shield for 5 seconds after the hit.
Minecraft Bedrock edition
In the Bedrock edition Axes deal 1 damage less than Swords (considering same material once again).
Axes also lower the durability of enemies armor and Shield faster.
Minecraft Java edition
All Swords have a recovery time of 0.625 seconds, which means that you need to wait 0.625 seconds after every hit before being able to hit again. That’s significantly faster than Axes recovery times, which are as follows depending on the Axe’s material:
- Wood: 1.25 seconds
- Stone: 1.25 seconds
- Iron: 1.11 seconds
- Gold: 1 second
- Diamond: 1 second
- Netherite: 1 second
Minecraft Bedrock edition
There is no difference in attack speed in the Bedrock edition.
You can enchant an Axe with:
(See also Best Minecraft Axe enchantments in 2022)
And you can enchant a Sword with:
- Bane of Arthropods
- Curse of Vanishing
- Fire Aspect
- Sweeping Edge
What immediately comes to attention is that the Axe obviously has some enchantments that aren’t of any use in combat: Efficiency, Fortune and Silk Touch. That is obvious since the Axe is also a tool other than a weapon.
The Sword on the other hand has some combat enchantments that are not available for the Axe:
- The Knockback enchantment will increase the knockback that the enemies receive when they are hit by the enchanted Sword.
- Fire Aspect will add fire damage to the Sword. It is compatible with Smite, Sharpness and Bane of Arthropods, that means that you can have two damage enchantment on the same Sword, something that you can’t have on an Axe (see also: Smite vs Sharpness in Minecraft: which one is better?)
- Sweeping Edge will increase the sweep damage, making you deal more damage to crowds of enemies.
- Looting increases the loot that you get when killing mobs.
If looked from the combat point of view only, Swords have a slight advantage in enchantments because of Fire Aspect: the possibility of applying two different damage enchantments is very valuable.
The other three enchantments are a plus. Knockback and Sweeping Edge are not a must have, Knockback in particular is quite situational. And Loot can be very useful for gathering resources, which is nice to have but not always necessary. It can help in case you want to gather a specific item by killing many mobs that drop it, but this is again situational.
If you want to know how to get all these enchantments you can check How to get Silk Touch easily in Minecraft?. The methods explained there work with all the other enchantments as well.
Which one is better?
In the Bedrock edition few players would prefer to use an Axe in combat. It just deal less damage and the ability to lower armors durability does not make up for it.
In the Java version there’s no real answer to this question, since they can be better or worse than the other depending from the situation you find yourself in.
- A Sword can be very useful when you need to kill crowds of mobs, like when farming mobs of a Mob Spawner. Enchantments are definitely better, if you are only interested in combat.
- Axes cost more in terms of crafting and repairing materials, something that should be kept in consideration. Their ability to neglect Shields can be very useful in PvP.
Other than these observations, it all comes down to if you prefer to land few high damage hits with an Axe or if you prefer the swiftness of a Sword.
In Minecraft Bedrock edition Swords are the best choice for combat. In the Java edition the choice is not so immediate. Axes deal more damage and disable enemies Shields, but they are also slower and they have less combat enchantments. It’s up to the players to decide if they prefer to deal few harder hits or to use the higher DPS provided by Swords. Thank you very much for reading the article this far and I hope I’ll see you again around here. See you and take care!