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This article is about an older version of DF.
Medieval crossbow bolts.

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 are a weapon, not a craft, so 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 them.

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 stress penalty for the loss of a masterwork is divided by the number of remaining masterwork items made by that dwarf (see thoughts for more information).

Weapon traps[edit]

Bone bolts are not advisable for weapon traps as only a stack of 5 will be stored per crossbow, making frequent restocking necessary.


  • 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 - 25 per dwarf is more than enough). Disabling bins in ammo stockpiles may avoid this problem.Bug:2706
  • If a squad is assigned multiple ammo types, dwarves with "individual choice ranged" carry the 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.
"Bolt" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: alåth
Elvish: ene
Goblin: okom
Human: thora
Ranged and ammunition
Blowgun and blowdart · Bow and arrow · Crossbow and bolt
Edged (slashing)
Edged (piercing)
Dagger · Morningstar · Pick · Pike · Spear
See also: Attack types