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Red Dead Redemption 2: How to upgrade the bow and arrows

If you're hoping to upgrade your bow and arrows in RDR2, look no further.

There's only one bow in Red Dead Redemption 2 and it's one of the most effective weapons available.

It might seem a bit odd that in a game that features multiple pistols, revolvers and a backpack full of hatchets and knives, that's there's only one bow to use. But the Longarm Back Bow is one of the most versatile weapons in the game, whether it's used for hunting animals or causing absolute chaos against multiple enemies.

Unlike most weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2, you can't upgrade the bow, but you can upgrade your arrows, which really takes it to the next level. Here's exactly how to upgrade the bow and arrows in Red Dead Redemption 2.


How to upgrade the bow and arrows in Red Dead Redemption 2

As mentioned above, you cannot upgrade the bow in Red Dead Redemption 2, but you can upgrade the arrows that you are using with it.

You'll be handed the Longarm Back Bow during the very beginning of your adventures. If you can't find it on your weapon wheel, then it's in your horse's stash. Make sure you take it by pressing L1 by your horse, and equip it to Arthur's inventory. Not sure if you're carrying it? You'll be able to see it slung over Arthur's back if you are.

You begin with standard arrows that are useful for stealth kills and essential for hunting - you want to kill animals with the least amount of damage so you can sell on their pelts and not scare off surrounding creatures.

As the story progresses you'll be able to create special arrows for different animals, as well as arrows that deal serious explosive damage.

Red Dead Redemption 2 arrow upgrades

Here are the different type of arrow upgrades you can get in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Improved Arrow

This arrow does more damage than the standard arrow and can be crafted from the beginning of Chapter 2 in RDR2. As you can see in the video below, there's a fair bit of difference in penetration.

Regular arrow versus Improved from r/reddeadredemption

You'll just need some arrows and feathers (acquired by hunting birds) to craft them.

Small Game Arrow

The Small Game Arrow deals less damage than other arrows and thus can be used to bring down smaller birds and animals when hunting. Use this on all birds, but also snakes, rats, chipmunks, bats and toads.

Much like the Improved Arrow, Arthur will already know the recipe for the Small Game Arrow after the beginning of Chapter 2. You'll need arrows, feathers, and shotgun shells to craft them.

Poison Arrow

You can get the recipe for Poison Arrows from one of the fences in Red Dead Redemption 2, though, it appears as though it'll only become available after experiencing certain story events. Not only does this arrow poison humans, but it also brings down average sized animals quicker. Use it on animals such as the coyote, wild pigs, and armadillo, and the bigger birds such as the eagle, hawk and condor.

Just bear in mind that you will need arrows, feathers, and oleander sage to craft these arrows. Oleander sage can fortunately be found by foraging for plants in the Lemoyne area of the wild west.

Arthur visits a fence location to purchase pamphlets containing arrow recipes in Red Dead Redemption 2
Arrow recipes, and recipes for other useful items, can be purchased from a Fence throughout Arthur's story. | Image credit: VG247/Rockstar Games

Fire Arrow

You get get the Fire Arrow recipe once Arthur reaches Chapter 2. These fiery arrows are ideal for using on our human enemies, as they'll only damage the meat and pelt of animals when hunting. They can also be great for starting and spreading fires which you'll need to do during story missions, and can also do to prevent lawmen or other gangs from pursuing you.

To craft Fire Arrows, you'll need arrows, feathers, and animal fat.

Dynamite Arrow

You can get the Dynamite Arrow recipe from the Wapiti Indian Reservation, but it'll also become available for sale at a fence after specific story events in RDR2. You want to use Explosive Arrows to cause chaos against multiple enemies or for taking out anyone near a Gatling gun.

Obviously, don't use it on any animals unless they're particularly large and troublesome; just be mindful that you likely won't receive a perfect pelt by doing this.

Explosive Arrows will need arrows, feathers, and dynamite to craft.

How to craft arrows in Red Dead Redemption 2

You know exactly what arrow upgrades are available for your bow in Red Dead Redemption 2, and you even now know what their recipes are and how to get them, but how exactly do you craft these arrows?

Fortunately, crafting arrows in RDR2 is easy. Simply have Arthur rest wherever he is and set up camp. If you can't set up camp because of nearby activity, try setting it up via your horse's inventory instead.

Arthur sets up a camp in the wilderness to rest and craft at in Red Dead Redemption 2
You can craft any recipes, including arrows, while resting at a temporary camp. | Image credit: VG247/Rockstar Games

From camp, you can then open up the crafting menu and see all available recipes for crafting here. Navigate to the arrow you want, and provided you have the items needed to craft it, you'll be able to do so here. Voila!

Some items for crafting, such as dynamite, will need to be purchased from one of the various fence locations around the wild west.


If you're new to Red Dead Redemption 2, then check out our guides on how to level up and use Dead Eye, and where to find the best horse.

You can also check out our guide to the best weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2. And while you're at it, take a look at where to hunt legendary animals, and our complete Red Dead Redemption 2 walkthrough here.

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