Choice of Two Weapons

A great many characters take one weapon and stick with it. This makes a lot of sense, seeing as you often need a lifetime of practice to be fully proficient with a weapon. Training with more than one would just leave you weak in both areas. That said, some heroes decide that flexibility is better than specialisation, realising that however skilled they are in their current field, a sword is still going to lose to a bow at long range, so it's a good idea to have a bow in reserve. This makes them something of a Red Mage when it comes to fighting, as they can do two things at once, making them very flexible fighters.

It's also damn cool to be able to wield two completely different styles of weapons at will.

These come in various combinations, but a bow and a sword is the most common, as it balances range with close-quarters protection.

Historically this was common. Knights rode into battle on horses with lances, several lances in fact, in case one broke, but you wouldn't catch them dead without their signature swords. (Later on this gave way to maces.) Archers would wield swords if they could afford and use them, and daggers if they couldn't. Spearmen often had swords and daggers in reserve, but the absolute king of this trope in reality was the Vikings. A bow for long range, then a light throwing spear, followed by a long-handled axe, a shorter axe, and then the sword, a last desperate defence when fighting got really close.

Storing all of these may require a Hyperspace Arsenal.

Common combinations (and possible tropes) include:
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord. This is probably the most popular ancient cross. Usually these characters are flexible souls, and they usually wear light to medium armour. One character you won't find with a shield, as they need to be able to swap from bow to sword fast. This combo makes sense as it gives a character range and protection, though they tend to be lightly armoured.
  • The Musketeer: A gun and a sword (or other melee weapon) combo. Typical combination for characters and armies on the advent of gunpowder, the ranged weapon in this case is often more of a throw-away weapon used to down an opponent before closing to meet with the rest. Bayonets are a special case, a type of multi-purpose weapon that originally functioned as a spear which happened to fire something before you used it, until the gun part of the weapon became more important with the advent of accurate and fast-firing rifles.
  • Multi-Melee Master: A character who carries more than one melee weapon. Frequently, carries a short ranged and a long reach weapon (such as a sword and a spear, or a sword and a bigger sword). That or a weapon that is good for offense and defence. They tend to have trouble changing between them though as it means they have to draw the new weapon and dispose of the old one somehow.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: A character who carries more than one ranged weapon. Frequently, carries a short ranged weapon and a long ranged weapon. That or a bullet-hose coupled with a precise weapon. Faces the same challenge as a multi-melee wielder in that they have to quickly get rid of their current weapon if they want to use their other option. More common in modern settings, with it being a standard Truth in Television to soldiers in this day.
  • Emergency Weapon: In more modern times, a first-person-shooter protagonist is likely to wield some kind of back-up melee weapon just in case the main blaster runs out of juice. The traditional example is a crowbar or some other Improvised Weapon. Professional soldiers usually carry knives. And of course, there are the futuristic weapons like lightsabres and chainswords. Desperate FPS protagonists may show some rather startling boxing skills.
  • In Working Order: A character in a war between two different intelligent species who both use radically different weapons to each other, who is able to pick up the other side's apparently "alien" weaponry and use it themselves.
  • Magic Knight: The character is either a warrior who took some time to learn a few spells, or a spellcaster who learned a non-magic attack to defy the Squishy Wizard trope.

Having a multitude of weapons is a sign of being well-prepared, and probably well trained to boot; that requires diligence and flexibility in your talents to be able to pick up both schools of training. Characters like this tend to have the experience to both learn a new weapon and to have learned the need of having two weapons to rely on. As a result, these characters can be slightly older... or not, but it is a potential application of the trope in a story. Two weapons can often symbolise two different things; a sword and bow for a noble soul born from humble circumstances, or, the opposite, someone of high birth either fallen on hard times... or low on morals.

Note that both in real-life and in fiction, this trope needn't be limited to individuals. Vehicles, from airplanes to mecha to battleships, normally carry at least 2 varieties of heavy weapon. The most common arrangement in real-life is a heavier, longer-ranged one meant to act as the main damage dealer, which is supplemented by a weaker but quicker firing one for use against targets which aren't worth a short from the main weapon (either because of limited ammo or because the pilot/crew can't afford to waste precious time loading and aiming another). Interestingly, this is often reversed in fiction, especially video games: the weaker, simpler to use rapidfire weapons is more likely to serve as the main mode of attack while the more powerful, homing or explosive one would be relegated to the role of a "special weapon" for those "special occasions". Examples include tanks carrying machineguns to supplement their cannons, fighter planes carrying chainguns to supplement their missiles, or a fictional starship carrying powerful torpedoes to supplement its lasers (a reverse example).

For characters who use two different weapons at the same time, see Guns Akimbo, Dual Wielding, Sword and Fist, and Sword and Gun. Contrast Weapon of Choice. When a character uses one of the above as their primary weapon and any randomly acquired instrument as their secondary, compare Improvised Weapon. In video games, this trope is often implemented in form of a Real Time Weapon Change. Take the trope to its Logical Extreme, and you get Walking Armory.

The below example space is for examples that cover more than one of the above combinations. (Like Guts of Berserk, who covers Bow and Sword, in Accord and The Musketeer.)


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     Anime and Manga 

     Fan Fics 

  • In The Tainted Grimoire, there is Cheney who as a Hunter uses both a hunting knife and a bow.
  • In Ah! Archfall!, Lind has her halberd and a seax knife. Jago has a lot more.

     Game Books 

  • In Way Of The Tiger you can be challenged to a duel by Aiguchi the Weaponsmaster. He uses a bow with distracting humming bulb arrows at range but switches to a Naginata if you get up close. Should you manage to break that, he pulls out a Nunchuka to continue the fight.

    Tabletop Games 

  • A pistol and (power/chain)sword-combo is very common in Warhammer 40,000. In addition, Chaos Space Marines and Space Wolves carry a gun, a pistol and a sword, so they can both shoot effectively and fight in close combat. In older codexes where the characters are allowed to pick a certain points worth of items from the wargear list it was possible (but not very practical) to buy multiple ranged or close combat weapons. In the newer codexes characters can only pick certain items listed on their profile and the choices tend to be mutually exclusive (so one on range weapon from the list of available options etc). However there are some exceptions; for example Huron Blackheart has a power weapon and a powerfist (he can't use them both at the same time, though).
  • Most characters in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons are proficient with broad categories of weapons, and carrying at least one for melee and one for ranged combat was generally wise. Because of the way damage reduction worked in 3.5e, some characters carried weapons that did bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, made from adamantine, silver, or cold iron, and were holy, unholy, axiomatic, or anarchic, in various combinations, sometimes jokingly referred to as a "golf bag" of weapons.
    • 1st and 2nd edition were less strict, but even then, veteran players will often suggest carrying at least a dagger and club regardless of your class, if only because daggers have great utility and skeletons (virtually impervious to non-bludgeon weapons) tend to be plentiful adversaries. 4th edition eliminates the weapon resistance issues, but a melee character is still advised to have a ranged option in reserve against those enemies that stubbornly refuse to fight face-to-face.

    Video Games 

  • Your hero from Fable I is both Bow And Sword wielder and a Magic Knight. The second game swaps the bow and sword combo for The Musketeer, the hero wielding a pistol or rifle.
    • Or a crossbow, but no one cares about those.
    • Fable 3 phases out crossbows completely, besides a few owned by poorer Npc's. The also add the hammer as the melee equivilent of the rifle. Of course, you can still be a Magic Knight also.
  • Just about any non-gunpowder related combo is possible in The Elder Scrolls. Sword and bow? Check. Sword and sorcery? Positively recommended. Two swords? Take your claymore for beating up those slow, easy to dodge enemies, and your sword and shield for light, fast guys who won't stay still.
    • Though there is only one type of ranged attack in Oblivion unless you count magic.
    • Each of the two weapon skills in Oblivion grant you competency in at least two types of weapons. Long and short swords as well as daggers for Blade, and the fairly similar axe and mace for Blunt.
    • In Morrowind, the diversity of weapons was much greater. Swords were the usual primary weapon, but your second weapon could be throwing stars, a bow, a crossbow, or even a spear or a different kind of bladed weapon... assuming you had built up more than one type of weapon skill.
    • There is also the possibility to use hand-to-hand combat as one of your "weapons," although it's not always an effective choice.
  • In Halo, the player characters can carry two weapons at a time, in addition to some grenades plus one equipment/armor ability of his/her choice. From Halo 2 onward, a Musketeer style approach was possible if you had an energy sword or gravity hammer. Too close for comfort? Take one of them out and continue the slaughter close-up. It's better than the butt of a gun.
  • Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, and Bloodborne all feature two inventory slots for each hand. Typically this results in the player having two different weapon sets to switch between. Bloodborne does it one better by even having transforming weapons with two modes.
  • In Age of Empires III, all non-artillery or vehicle units have a melee weapon to defend themselves close-up. Most are only competent in one area, aside from; the musketeers who have a ranged attack to help soften up melee units and a bayonet melee attack to beat cavalry and to use against ranged units, longbowmen who use swords that make then better in melee against most other ranged infantry.
  • Ranged units in the Total War series will either come under Bow and Sword, in Accord or The Musketeer, depending on whether they are archers or gunners. The weapons vary, low level archers use knives, wealthier ones may have swords.''
    • A few melee units carry javelins as well, and there are a few units who both carry javelins and can hold their own in melee.
  • The Legend of Zelda gives us Link, who wields a sword as his primary weapon, but also carries a bow, a boomerang, bombs, a whip-like weapon, and various other weapons, occasionally including magic. Justified in that Link has had no prior training in any of these weapons, meaning he hasn't had time to specialise. Of course, this just brings up another trope...
  • The majority of units in Battle for Wesnoth carry two different types of weapons, often one each of ranged and melee.
  • Left 4 Dead allows you to swap between a pistol (or two) and a larger weapon. Left 4 Dead 2 allows you to make this selection to be between a larger pistol or a melee weapon and a large gun instead.
  • Oni gives us the option of a ranged weapon and Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • Mario can punch enemies or use a hammer in Super Mario RPG.
  • Might and Magic series uses this frequently, not bothering to stop with only two different weapons, but three and even four in some cases.
    • Everyone can learn to use the bow in addition to their primary weapon (with other weapons being very class specific, the primary weapon is often something other than a sword).
    • Mastering sword or dagger makes it possible to dual wield with another weapon, such as a spear or a mace. Now add also a bow.
    • There are classes that focus on fighting, but can learn some basic magic as well. Some of them are also capable of learning the aforementioned dual wielding. Plus, of course, the bow.
    • Not to mention that all the magic focusing classes can get two weapons - their primary weapon plus the bow.
  • After reaching level 4, in Victor Vran, Victor can carry any two weapons and switch between them at will.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night lets Alucard equip a weapon in each hand, with a separate button assigned to each. Handy for areas where enemies have varying weaknesses as it keeps the player from having to constantly hit up the subscreen.
  • The Hunter class in Salt and Sanctuary begins with a whip and a crossbow.
  • Most of the classes in Team Fortress 2 have some combination of long(er) range weapon, mid-range weapon, and melee weapon in their slots. Given the variety in the unlockables, this makes for very interesting combinations.
  • God Eater Burst features a transforming weapon that switches from melee to firearm. The player has several choices for each slot, but must have exactly one of each before embarking on a mission.
  • Monster Hunter typically only allows one weapon at a time, but some of them have two modes. The Switch Axe transforms into a greatsword, the Bow conceals a blade for melee attacks, and the Lance can fire bullets.
  • Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics let you carry two weapons in your hands and switch between them without the penalty associated with digging into your inventory during combat. Most players would just carry two guns, say a long-range sniper rifle and a close-range bullet sprayer. You also had the option of carrying a gun and a Super Sledgehammer or two melee weapons. And then there's the Hyperspace Arsenal you're carrying around in your pants that costs a few AP to access. Finally, if you left either (or both) slots open, you had access to two different sets of hand-to-hand attacks.
    • Fallout 3 works in a different way: you can hotkey items from your inventory, but as the game is not turn-based there's no penalty for digging into your backpack in combat. It still uses the trope, though: you could place your skills to be specialized in two (or more) types of guns, or a gun and one of the other types of weapon. You're limited, however, by how much weight you can carry. Assuming you have good armor (read, heavy), you're not likely to be able to carry around too many different weapons unless you pump a lot of points into your strength rating and get a few different perks at level selection. Fallout: New Vegas ups the ante with hardcore mode, where even ammunition has weight! So in that case, you're really hard-pressed to specialize!
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura characters can be built to switch between guns or bows and melee weapons, but carrying multiple weapons of your chosen type is also common because Breakable Weapons is in effect and swords are no good for breaking open stubborn chests.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 3, 4 and 5, all characters can switch between their normal weapon and a bow. The bow is more or less useless, though.
    • In Strikeforce, you can have two different weapons to fight with. One is your main weapon which has a unique moveset while the secondary can be anything you want. Of course, some characters are better with certain weapons than others and some enemy units may shrug off a certain weapon while keeling to another.
    • Dynasty Warriors 7 takes a page from Strikeforce in that all characters can equip almost any two weapons, with the only real limitation being that male characters cannot equip chain whips, and female characters cannot equip great swords. Characters do have their preferred weapons, however, and will be able to execute their unique EX attack if they have it equipped. 8 uses a similar system but removes the gender restrictions (and gives every one of the 77 characters a distinct Weapon of Choice).
    • In the Arslan crossover game, all characters carry more than 1 weapon type into battle, with some characters carrying up to 3 weapon types. The game's charge-shift mechanic allows characters to freely switch between weapons at any time.
    • In Hyrule Warriors, many characters possess more than one weapon moveset. However, they cannot freely switch between them during battle, so the weapon must be equipped before a mission.
  • It's a fairly good idea to have this set up in Diablo, at least in the first game. Warriors occasionally find themselves needing to shoot at something (or, in the case of enemies trapped on the opposite sides of portcullises, want to pick enemies off at a distance.) A rogue often finds herself needing to resort to hand-to-hand if fast enemies are encroaching, so having a sword and shield and the strength to use both available helps. Straying out of Bow and Sword, in Accord and into Magic Knight, magic is helpful to the rogue as well, though the warriors maximum magic is so low that its barely worth his while. The sorcerer is pretty damn awful with both bow and sword, but its worth giving him a bit of strength and a light sword and shield in case he runs out of mana (True, you might be screwed if this is the case, but its better than nothing).
    • This became vastly simpler to manage in the sequel's Lord of Destruction expansion pack, which added two extra weapon/shield slots that could be toggled to and back with a single keypress (as well as providing more Inventory Tetris space, natch).
  • In Mount & Blade, you have four weapon (and shield) slots to fill as you please. Bow and Sword, in Accord is the obvious combination (though heavy on the skill points for archers), but there's three types of melee weapon and three types of ranged, and among those subsets, many different tools for many different tasks; you may want a heavy damage-dealing two-hander, a one-handed weapon and shield for shieldfighting, a bludgeoning weapon for prisoner-taking, a polearm for lancework (which is likely to be different from the polearm you could use for two-handed damage or shieldfighting), a bow or crossbow and arrows or bolts if you're a primary ranged fighter, or a brace of thrown weapons (such as javelins) for a backup ranged weapon. Since you have only so many spaces (unless you return to the baggage train), you need to prioritize (fortunately, many weapons fill more than one role).
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Raven counts since he's wielding both a bow and a dagger at the same time.
  • In Rogue Galaxy, each character has access to two distinct weapons, generally a main one for melee and a less-cool one for ranged. Of course, the ranger switches that around with a cool bow and a lame melee weapon, and the rogue dual-wields daggers with the back-up weapon being her shoes (for kicking). In practice, there are only a handful of bosses in the game where the ranged weapons are necessary, and the overpowered hero has a special ability that lets him use his sword at range.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Richter Abend wields a sword and an axe. At the same time.
  • In the earlier XCOM games, UFO Defense and Terror from the Deep, your soldiers had two 'hand' inventory slots, where you would need to put weapons in order to use them. Most larger weapons such as rifles or rocket launchers suffered big accuracy penalties if both hands were used, but pistols did not and so having some troops wielding pistols and grenades or stun rods or thermic lances saved valuable APs by not swapping weapons when confronted with suitable situations.
    • Notably, whilst dual wielding pistols or melee weapons was not penalised in any way, there was also absolutely no benefit to doing so as it took the same number of APs to use a single weapon twice as it did to use two similar weapons once each. Having two grenades handy might save a few APs, but was not as useful as a gun, and reloading took up few enough APs that having a backup pistol ready wasn't really worth it.
    • On the other hand, wielding two pistols essentially doubles magazine capacity - a real-life revolver trick known as the New York Reload: since revolvers take a long time to reload, you just pull out another revolver if you run dry.
  • In Tales of Graces, Hubert uses a weapon that is a two-ended swordlike weapon, that he can seperate to wield as either twin swords or twin guns. In his second hi-ougi and Accel Mode (in F), he can use it as a bow as well. Even characters in game comment on how odd his weapon is.
  • While there are other occasions in the Final Fantasy series where characters can wield more than one weapon, it would appear that Noctis Lucis Caelum from Final Fantasy XV takes this trope Up to Eleven. The first trailer showed him wielding swords, spears, axes, multiple types of firearms, magic, and a primary weapon consisting of a falchion with an engine built into the hilt.
  • All characters in Gungnir are capable of wielding two types of weapon.
  • In Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, Izuna can fight effectively with either a sword-and-gauntlet combination, or a set of clawed gloves. Its sequel, Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns, expands the playable character roster and the arsenal of available weapons to include bows-and-arrows, dolls, battle boots, boomerangs and yo-yos. Most player characters are able to use at least two types. Mitsumoto, being the series' Chew Toy, can use all of the weapons, but can't use any of them more exceptionally well than others. The only character who can't is Fuuka, who is limited to using the battle boots.
  • In Bastion The Kid can bring two weapons with him into the field. While this makes him something of a master of many weapons, whenever you first leave the armory with a given weapon combination, The Stranger will provide a commentary on the advantages of the combo, and the versatility it would provide.
  • In Fate/stay night, Archer ( and by extension Shirou) laughs at your Choice of Two Weapons and raises you the ability to wield any weapon he has ever seen with nearly the same skill of the original user, giving him the ability to wield spears as easily as swords as easily as bows as easily as axes as...
  • In the Etrian Odyssey series, most of the combat-oriented classes have two different weapons they can equip, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. EOIII adds the ability to Subclass, making it possible to master more weapons (if that class has a 'Mastery' skill they can train in). It's up to the player whether any given guildmember focuses on one weapon profenciency over the other or learns how to wield both effectively.
    • Etrian Odyssey IV changes this up a bit. All characters can equip two weapons simultaneously upon unlocking Subclasses, though without the right skill, it's closer to this trope than Dual Wielding. Normally they'll still attack with only the "main" weapon, but switch to the "secondary" if they use a skill requiring that type of weapon.
  • In Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, each player character has two weapon slots which can be filled by any combination of mêlée weapon, firearm, and offensive spells (the homing pigeon to request artillery strikes also uses a weapon slot).
  • Any Adept Rogue in Dot Hack GU is capable of doing this after various Job Extension quests. Interestingly, this is also the main reason why Adept Rogues are considered in-universe to be weak in comparison to other classes.
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning the Fateless One can equip any combination of longswords, hammers, greatswords, staves, scepters, chakrams, daggers, faeblades and bow & arrows.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 

  • The Immortals of the Achaemenid Persian Empire were the embodiment of this trope. Being the professional elite of the Empire's army, and the true ethnic Persians/Medes of nomadic ancestors, they were expected to excel in both melee and ranged combat. They carried a spear with a special apple/pomegranate-shaped butt made of gold or silver as a mark of distinction that could also be improvised as a mace; at least two kinds of large shield, a composite bow, and a sidearm such as the kopis (Falchion-like blade), akinakes (long dagger), or sagaris (axe/hammer with a pick-like side). Even though individual equipment would depend on the designated role in combat, the company as a whole employed the whole array of weapons in an highly disciplined and coordinated fashion, so every Immortal had to be well-versed in all of them to assume different roles in different situations. On top of that, the best men fought as cavalry.
  • Roman legions carried javelins as an opening weapon before moving in with their signature sword and tower shield combo, while Greek armies and armies of Macedonian descent preferred using the spear as their primary, but could switch to swords when necessary.
    • Greek hoplite spears often snapped in combat. When this happened, hoplites tended to flip around the part of the spear they were still holding, and use the spear's butt-spike as their secondary weapon. The short sword they carried was actually more of a tertiary weapon, used only as a last resort - it was not considered part of the equipment that made a man a hoplite.
      • Swords of the era were expensive and made of bronze, which tended to bend very easily and could barely hold an edge. By the time the Romans were marching around the Med, working with iron had become commonplace.
  • Landsknecht mercenaries would mostly carry a pike as main weapon, but some, called Doppelsoldner, carried halberd or two-handed sword. But all of them had a short sword called Katzbalger, the cat-gutter, for close range clinches.
  • Subverted during the English Civil War. Musketeers were issued with swords to use if the enemy got too close but almost all preferred to use the gun as a club instead.
  • Samurai used either a naginata (glaive), yumi-ya (bow), yari (spear) no-dachi (two-handed sword) or teppo (arquebus and later musket) on the battlefield as their primary weapon. If things got up close, they switched to the katana. If things were too close up even for a katana or the samurai dropped the back-up weapon, they had yet another weapon called the Wakizashi, which was basically a short-sword shaped like a katana.
    • The wakizashi's signature use has long been ritual suicide, but it did originally enter the samurai kit as a back-up weapon.
    • The original samurai were mounted archers, with everything else as back-up weaponry.
  • Warriors from several East-African tribes including the Samburu and the Maasai carry a range of throwing weapons. When an animal attacks they first throw their stick (also used for herding cattle as well as ritual fights with other warriors), then their spear (also their preferred weapon for hunting) and then their rungu (a short club that also has ceremonial uses). Their last weapon is a short sword for melee combat. (During wartime other weapons saw use, including bows and shields.)
  • Common practice in many current military units; where soldiers will carry at least two guns - e.g. a rifle and a handgun, with often with a few other weapons as well.