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Stand at attention for the militaristic guide to the best feats for Fighters in D&D 5e! I’ll reveal the battle-proven feats to acclimate your Fighter to the harshest scenarios of your TTRPG. Feats are powerful customizations when coupled wisely with class abilities. Some feats are better than others, so I’ll direct you to Fighter feats that are worth your character’s time to learn. Additionally, Fighters get the most Ability Score Improvements of any class so that they can select heaps of feats!
Feats are spread out through several books, making it difficult to settle on 5e’s best Fighter feats. I’m guiding your Fighter to the best feats and dropping out the worst. My feat recommendations come from officially published sources, such as the PHB, TCoE, XGtE, etc.
How to Select Feats for Your Fighter
One of the best aspects of playing a Fighter is the seven opportunities to boost your stats or select feats. If you’re a Variant Human or Custom Lineage character, you’ll get an additional feat at level one. Your challenge is not rationing feats like MAD (multiple ability-score dependent) characters; you must choose feats that will synergize for greater combat power or cover your weaknesses so you can go the distance.
Not only are your feats plentiful, but your bonus actions are often free real estate. Sure, several Fighter subclasses have bonus action options that crown their action economies, but the Fighter is mostly a blank slate for bonus actions. The same goes for reactions.
It’s common for Fighters to multiclass because the Fighter is vanilla compared to the many spellcasting/smiting/raging/skulking classes in the game. The Fighter is an excellent multiclass option because of its Fighting Styles, proficiencies, and Action Surge at low levels. My Fighter feat recommendations focus on the core Fighter class, not the many multiclass combinations available. Having said that, I’d welcome suggestions in the comments at the end of the article about overlooked feats that are worthwhile with multiclass or subclass concepts.
Fighter Ability Score Improvement Levels
Your Fighter has opportunities to select feats or boost stats at these levels:
- Six (most characters don’t get ASI here)
- Fourteen (most characters don’t get ASI here)
You may also receive a feat at level one if your DM allows it as a house rule (I commonly hear this house rule) or if you choose Variant Human or Custom Lineage for your character race.
Defensive Sword & Shield Fighter Feats (Tactical Tank)
These feats are for Fighters specializing in being durable while locking down enemies. They probably use heavy armor and shields, and they’re interested in feats that improve their hitpoints and defenses. Tanky Fighters also want to set up their allies for successful, brutal attacks. You can protect allies by disincentivizing enemies from attacking anyone but you. The Cavalier and Rune Knight Martial Archetypes are effective subclasses for this function.
Strapping a shield on your arm is useful, but this feat makes it even better. Shield Master improves your teamwork and your durability against Dex-based AOE damage. If your character already utilizes its bonus actions, you might pass over Shield Master for other feats.
After you complete an Attack action, you’ll have the option to shove with your shield as a bonus action (I call it a “shield bash”). Shoving a creature knocks it prone or pushes it five feet. You or an ally can grapple a prone creature, rendering it helpless to stand up without first breaking the grapple. This is because the grapple condition reduces a creature’s speed to zero, and standing up from the prone condition requires half of a creature’s speed.
The shield bonus to a targeted Dexterity saving throw sounds good, but there aren’t heaps of hazards that specifically target a creature and force a Dexterity saving throw. The Disintegrate spell is an example, but most Dexterity saving throws from spells are areas, not targets. Since that bonus won’t come up often, the main defensive benefit will be the ability to reduce Dexterity saving throw AOE damage to yourself, such as from a Fireball spell. Taking no damage instead of half damage is a worthy use of your reaction.
You can scale your defenses as you level up by using your reaction with Defensive Duelist while wielding a rapier or other finesse weapon. The AC bonus scales with your proficiency bonus, and it can be used against a single attack each turn. This won’t be as useful against hordes of enemies, but single combatants will find it problematic for their attacks.
You can afford to use finesse weapons with smaller damage dice because DPR is not your primary focus. Besides, the Duelist Fighting Style can augment your one-handed weapon damage output with a flat +2 bonus, which I believe is better than unreliable damage from larger damage dice. If feats like Great Weapon Master didn’t exist, using a sword and shield would be my preference almost every time. Remember, using a finesse weapon doesn’t mean you must use Dexterity for your attacks; you can focus on Strength and heavy armor because the finesse weapon property gives you a choice between your Dexterity or Strength for attacks.
Heavy Armor Master
Boosting your Strength makes this feat easy to justify choosing. Your heavy armor becomes extremely useful for reducing the damage of incoming weapon attacks. The -3 reduction to incoming damage is fixed, so it doesn’t scale as you level. This means Heavy Armor Master is most effective at level one when creatures’ damage may be reduced to zero or close to it. It’s a good level-four feat, but it’s instrumental at level one if you’ve chosen Variant Human (PHB) or Custom Lineage (TCoE) for your character’s race/lineage.
Creatures are less likely to have magical weapons and attacks at low levels, too. This feat doesn’t help you against magical attacks, so this is one more reason to get the most use out of this feat at low-level play as possible.
You can’t always rely on your Armor Class alone. Bolstering your saving throws is important, too. The Fighter’s Indomitable feature is great for this, but it only gets you so far. The Lucky feat is an excellent way to improve your saving throw reliability. Though Lucky can bolster your attacks and checks or thwart enemy attacks, saving throws are the most important rolls to save luck points for.
This feat is another tool for bolstering your saving throws. Your armor won’t protect you from many of D&D 5e’s threats. Saving throws will be your bane if you don’t have contingencies against them. The Resilient feat boosts your stat of choice while giving you proficiency in that stat’s saving throw. Fighters lack proficiency with Dexterity and Wisdom saving throws, which are two of the critical saving throws you’ll need to pass. If you’re not using the stat boost to make an odd stat even, this feat is still worth your selection.
Dwarven Fortitude (Dwarves Only)
This feat is designed extremely well for D&D 5e. Dwarven Fortitude takes two less-used mechanics (the Dodge action and Hit Dice) and incentivizes players to use them more often. As a character focusing on defense, there will be times when attacking is less important than staying alive to soak up damage at a chokepoint of the battlefield. The Dodge action is what you want to use in that situation.
This feat allows you to roll one of your Hit Dice when you use the Dodge action, healing yourself based on the number rolled plus your Constitution modifier. That’s a godsend for your playstyle if you’re a Dwarf. Remember, this feat also boosts your Constitution stat by one, making it increasingly easy to justify taking this feat for your Dwarven wall.
Deadly Heavy-Weapon Fighter Feats (Striker)
This fighter archetype specializes as a striker. Its job is to ensure it’s making as many attacks as possible and pumping heavy damage into those attacks. It isn’t focused on defense unless you want to round it out with defensive feats and tactics. Abilities that grant advantage or additional ways to boost attack and damage rolls are essential for this Fighter.
This is the standard for weaponizing a Fighter’s bonus action. You can freely use your compatible polearm’s opposite end for bonus-action attacks. The 1d4 damage may seem negligible, but your Strength modifier makes the damage more substantial. Other features may enhance your attacks further to enhance the damage, such as Superiority Dice with Battlemaster Maneuvers, the Great Weapon Master feat, and class features that add damage to weapon attacks.
This feat pairs with Sentinel to lock down enemy movement with your ten-foot-reach opportunity attacks. It’s tempting to have a pair of characters in the party who both have Sentinel and Polearm Master so they can surround and completely stall an enemy’s movement without taking a scratch of melee damage. You can reduce enemy movement speed to zero with your opportunity attack for the remainder of their turn while keeping them away. However, creatures with ranged attacks or reach attacks won’t be as inconvenienced.
This is a feat that can frustrate DMs. For example, it’s not limited by creature size when it reduces a creature’s speed to zero. You can nearly guarantee opportunity attacks by ignoring the Disengage action, and Sentinel pairs well with other feats. Polearm Master pairs with Sentinel for locking down movement, and Great Weapon Master can benefit from secured opportunity attacks because every attack has potential for +10 damage.
It might not be the first feat you choose, but Sentinel will certainly be a strong consideration for any melee Fighter functioning as a striker. Defensive Fighters can also utilize Sentinel to keep enemies in place and force them to deal with you.
Great Weapon Master
Cut through enemies like hot butter… if you hit them! This feat is the standard for dealing big damage with a large weapon. The conditional attack on a kill or crit at the cost of a bonus action is really nice, but the damage gamble is the core benefit of this feat. You can selectively apply the -5 to hit against enemies with low AC or when you have advantage on your attack roll. Hitting enemies even after taking -5 to hit will result in +10 damage. That’s massive at low levels and high levels of play.
Coupling this feat with the Polearm Master feat allows you to gamble for +10 damage with the d4 attack, reducing the value of GWM’s conditional bonus action attack. At level five, this combination could potentially score you +30 damage if your attacks are successful.
This feat is an easy sell since it includes a boost to Strength or Constitution by one. I prefer this feat over Slasher because I like forced movement. Knocking enemies around is too fun to pass up. I’d only choose it if I were not specializing in polearm weaponry, though a quarterstaff would allow you to synergize Polearm Master with Crusher.
Landing critical hits can increase your damage output further if you have the Great Weapon Master feat. The attack advantage helps to secure +10 damage per attack. Your allies, too, can benefit from the advantage until your next turn.
Like Crusher, this feat boosts a stat by one. You can select Strength or Dexterity. With this feat, you have more weaponry options if you also use Polearm Master, giving Slasher an edge over Crusher since it can use weapons with larger damage dice. The speed reduction of Slasher can stop enemies from fleeing faster than your pace. While attacking with a reach weapon, you can keep slowed enemies from keeping up with you as you attack and move away.
This one comes with a qualifier. Your DM must be ok with you riding a creature while wielding a weapon with two hands (instead of holding reins). If your DM will allow you to hold reins but draw your weapon as you attack, or if this issue is hand waived as nothing to worry about, that’s your green light.
The reason I suggest this feat for a heavy-weapon user is the ability to gain advantage for using Great Weapon Master reliably. Mounted combat is useful on its own, but gaining advantage on creatures smaller than your mount is a massive benefit. You can keep mounts alive with greater ease when you have Mounted Combatant.
Ranged-Attack Fighter Feats (Archer)
D&D 5e facilitates many ways to play an archer. The Fighter can make an excellent Archer when the proper feats are chosen, especially with subclasses like Battlemaster and Samurai.
This feat is a must-have for archers. You can deal massive damage by gambling with -5 to hit and +10 damage. The Archery Fighting Style +2 to ranged weapon attacks slightly offsets the -5 gamble. Gaining advantage will further manage the risk. Each time the Fighter’s Extra Attack feature is improved with additional attacks, this feat effectively scales. Abstain from the -5 to hit if an enemy’s Armor Class is high. If you miss, you don’t deal damage. Dealing less damage is better than dealing none.
Shooting through a crowd or otherwise aiming around cover will be easy for you. You can avoid disadvantage because this feat allows you to ignore the maximum range that would normally cause disadvantage beyond the normal range. You’ll ignore any cover less than full cover. This value increases as you play with experienced players and DMs who remember how cover works.
Like Polearm Master for melee weapons, Crossbow Expert feat is the 5e standard for weaponizing an archer’s bonus action. You can ignore the loading properties of your hand crossbow, and you can make ranged attacks against melee-range threats without suffering disadvantage. You may prefer a longbow for the massive range, but hand crossbows are preferred in close quarters. This feat cements the hand crossbow’s role as the close-quarters archery tool, though it’s great for longer range (beyond one hundred feet). However, you might avoid this feat if you’re already using your bonus action each turn with other character features.
Arrows and crossbows will benefit from this feat to boost average damage output, and the feat still boosts Strength or Dexterity. I’d pass on this feat if it didn’t include a stat boost, but it has it. Your critical hits will become brutal with an additional damage die, and a reroll is fantastic. On average, rerolling dice isn’t fantastic, but the stat boost and critical hit effects are enough to make this feat pickable for an archer.
Elven Accuracy (Elves Only)
Elven Accuracy makes advantage super effective for your average damage. Gaining advantage on attacks with Sharpshooter -5 to hit is even better when you can roll three times instead of two. You can boost your Elven character’s Dexterity, too. This Elven Accuracy feat is an excellent supplement to any Elf character.
One of the greatest pleasures of playing an archer is keeping enemies away while your arrows fly. Mobile allows you to attack close-quarters enemies, so you don’t need to disengage. Your speed will be higher than many humanoids, so you can kite your enemies while moving and attacking. Paired with Crossbow Expert, you can shoot enemies within five feet of you so you can freely move away without Disengaging.
Fighter Subclass-Specific Feats
As I considered the best feats for Fighters, a few of them gave me pause. These feats have a place with particular Martial Archetypes of the Fighter class. Subclasses have different needs and specialties.
Special thanks to Shard for helping me fill this section out.
Arcane Archer: Fey Touched
Since Arcane Archers need to use arrows, Crossbow Expert isn’t great, so we need another way to help with damage. Fey Touched allows the use of Hex or Hunter’s Mark to amplify attack damage.
Battlemaster: Martial Adept
This feat expands the Battlemaster’s known maneuvers and gives it additional Superiority Dice. Those dice scale with the subclass, so it’s a great fit. If your short rests are frequent and plentiful, this feat is probably unnecessary.
Cavalier: Mounted Combatant
This subclass can be beastly on horseback dropping opportunity attacks repeatedly due to its feature to allow multiple reactions when conditions are met. Polearm Master and Sentinel are synergistic with this method, too.
Eldritch Knight: War Caster, Ritual Caster
War Caster: Eldritch Knights can use Booming Blade as an opportunity attack if they have the War Caster feat. They can also maintain concentration with ease since they’ll have advantage on Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration if the saving throw was prompted by damage. Fighters have proficiency in Constitution saving throws, too.
Ritual Caster: The Eldritch Knight learns few spells, and the subclass lacks the ability to cast spells as rituals. Adding ritual casting to the character can open up many possibilities for spellcasting expansion. Phantom Steed is a ritual spell that would be an excellent option for an Eldritch Knight.
Rune Knight: Prodigy/Skill Expert
Gaining expertise in Athletics enabled you to grapple enormous creatures when you increase your size as a Rune Knight. Knocking enemies prone while grappled will mean they can’t get up with their speed at zero. They’ll need to break your grapple first, and your grapple rolls will be mighty.
Samurai: Elven Accuracy
A Samurai’s Fighting Spirit is often paired with Action Surge to gain advantage on many attacks on a turn. Elven Accuracy can make all of those rolls incredibly accurate and likely to land critical hits. Sharpshooter and Piercer are also beastly with a Samurai archer.
Top Ten Fighter Feats Overall
Now that I’ve covered the niches and bundle packs for particular feat strategies, here’s my top ten list of Fighter feats. These feats are the most important to consider for Fighter character builds:
- Great Weapon Master / Sharpshooter
- Polearm Master / Crossbow Expert
- Piercer / Crusher/ Slasher
- Heavy Armor Master
- Shield Master
- Resilient (Dex/Wis)
- Defensive Duelist
- Lucky / Alert
As someone who often experiences analysis paralysis, the Fighter class is a godsend. I love the freedom to increase stats and take feats since the class receives two additional ASI opportunities. Multiclassing is common with Fighters, but I believe they stand on their own just fine.
My recommendations will turn your Fighter into a disciplined student of combat! The roleplaying is up to you. Combining strong roleplay with viable combat options will make your character fun for many adventures.
While my recommendations are grounded in experience, game mechanics, and metagame knowledge, I recognize the subjective nature of feat recommendations. I’m confident that you’ve learned how to choose Fighter feats wisely by exploring my summary, but there’s always more to learn from readers like you who leave insightful comments! I welcome feedback on my blind spots.
Tell me, which feats have I been fair or unfair to? In the comments section below, cast Message to communicate if you emphatically agree with my recommendations or passionately disagree.
Thank you again for reading. I hope you’ll share this article with your friends to get a discussion started.
Before you go, your Passive Perception has shown you secret passageways to discover more content about feats and character concepts! Here are some of our articles on similar topics:
4 thoughts on “<b>Best Fighter Feats by Specialty</b>: D&D 5e Feat Regiments”
I think you missed one. Alert.
Super important for the tank since no sneak attacks work on him.
Really useful for the archer, since they will almost always go first, potentially killing a bunch of minions or a main baddy before anyone else can do anything. In fact, any Dex-based fighter will almost always go first with Alert.
You’re right. I’ve recently come around to the power of Alert.
what about psi knight?
Anything that doesn’t crowd the action economy. Telepathic and Telekinetic are on theme.