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This article is about an older version of DF.

Bolts are a type of ammunition used by crossbows. They can be made from either wood, bone, or weapons-grade metals. As with all non-siege ammo, hunting and military dwarves must be equipped with quivers to be able to carry bolts around for shooting.

Wooden and bone bolts are produced in a Craftsdwarf's workshop by a Wood Crafter or a Bone Carver, respectively. Each job will produce a stack of 25 wooden bolts from a single log, or a stack of 5 bone bolts taking a single bone from a stack. Metal bolts require Weaponsmithing (not Metalcrafting) and a Metalsmith's forge or Magma forge, creating a stack of 25 bolts from a single metal bar.

When fired, bolts have a chance of shattering on impact or bouncing off onto the ground as free-laying items. However, they are immediately forbidden after being fired (to prevent suicidal hauling dwarves from running into active battlefields), and have to be reclaimed by the player, either directly or from the stocks screen.

Given that crossbows have a maximum velocity and maximum force, the weight of bolts is generally irrelevant. Weight does not influence their effectiveness beyond 1333, which is the maximum density above which all bolts have the same inertia. Even masterwork wooden bolts bounce harmlessly off copper armor because wood is very, very weak in shear compared to copper, while iron bolts pierce without any issue due to their reasonable strength. Bone bolts are significantly better than wood, but metal bolts are still recommended for military use [1]. Adamantine bolts are effective despite their low density - it is offset by their greatly superior sharpness and shear properties, (see weapon materials), which allows adamantine bolts to tear through all metal armors, with the notable exception of adamantine armor itself. When pitted against itself, low-density adamantine bolts deflect 99.99% of the time. As comparison, bolts made out of non-adamantine metals fired at armor of equal or superior strength do not deflect and simply deal converted blunt damage instead of edge damage.

Masterwork Bolts[edit]

As with other items, high-skill dwarves can make masterwork-quality bolts. While they don't care if the bolts are fired and shatter on impact, they do get upset if a bolt gets carried off the map - say by a retreating enemy with the bolt stuck in him.

The simplest remedy for this is to simply make more bolts - a dwarf who has produced hundreds of masterwork bolts will be more annoyed by flies than the loss of a masterwork. This is because the happiness penalty for the loss of a masterwork is divided by the number of remaining masterwork items made by that dwarf (see List of Dwarven Thoughts for more information).


  • Adamantine armor seems to be less effective than even copper against bolts in this release. Copper and steel armor both deflect 98% of pine bolts, while adamantine only deflects 58%. Metal bolts appear not to ever be deflected by any armor, but testing is ongoing. Bug:5516
  • Bone bolts are not advisable for weapon traps as only a stack of 5 will be stored per crossbow, making frequent restocking necessary.

It is largely unclear what of the above constitutes a bug and what is intended behaviour.

  • Sometimes dwarves refuse to pick up stockpiled ammo, especially if you have been hauling used ammo back to your bins. Try disabling your current ammo stockpile and making a new one temporarily. Failing that: craft new bolts.[1] One workaround is to dedicate less ammo for each dwarf to increase the chances that there will be enough for everyone (m,f, use - to decrease dedicated ammo for each squad - 50 is more than enough). Disabling bins in ammo stockpiles may avoid this problem.Bug:2706
  • If squad is assigned multiple ammo types, dwarves with "individual choice ranged" carry wrong ammoBug:1374.
  • Masterwork bolts cause unhappy thoughts when they get carried off the map or melted downBug:3169. The solution to this is to make more bolts, since the unhappy thought caused by "art defacement" becomes less significant the more masterpieces a dwarf has produced.
  • If a squad is set to use two different materials of a certain kind of ammunition one for practicing, and one for combat, (an example of this would be metal bolts for combat and bone/wooden bolts for practicing.) Oftentimes the most expensive kind will be grabbed and stored inside a quiver, the dwarf then being unable to practice with the ammunition will be stuck on "Archery practice" and stand around doing nothing. Workarounds for this include only assigning one type of bolts at a time when in combat or training mode. Only assigning bone/wooden bolt and nothing else, or assign metal bolts and nothing else. Bug:4530
Ranged and ammunition
Blowgun and blowdart · Bow and arrow · Crossbow and bolt
Flail · Mace · Maul · War hammer · Whip
Edged (slashing)
Edged (piercing)
Dagger · Morningstar · Pick · Pike · Spear
See also: Attack types