The Gunner feat was introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and although not a jaw dropping or overpowered feat by any measure, it is a feat that feels like it needed to be there for campaigns that were introducing gun powder. Especially as more 5E books were printed that brought in newer locations where technology was advancing with magic such as Eberron.
The gunner feat applies directly to any character who wants to forego the bow or crossbow for the gun. While this feat fits like a glove for the new Artificer class, they’re not the only ones who can use it.
The gunner feat is a good feat for any distance combat fighter who wants to use firearms as opposed to bow or crossbow. This makes it best for classes like artificers, rangers, and distance fighters. This isn’t an especially strong feat in 5E, but it’s necessary for firearms combat.
Is this a feat that is worth your time or ideal to just ignore? We’re up for another 5E feat deep dive so let’s get to it!
Important: You will need a copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide as it gives the basic outlines and functions of firearms that can be expected to possibly be found in some D&D worlds. The Player’s Handbook does NOT have this section, so be aware of this prior to opening this can of worms.
Breaking Down the Gunner Feat
Up to this point a lot of firearms content pretty much had to be homebrewed, or was homebrewed despite the guidance given in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This feat from Tasha’s makes firearms more mainstream.
Directly from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything:
You have a quick hand and keen eye when employing firearms, granting you the following benefits:
- Increase your Dexterity (DEX) score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- You gain proficiency with firearms (see “Firearms” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide).
- You ignore the loading property of firearms.
- Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
So how do these benefits break down?
Benefit #1: Increase your Dexterity score by 1 up to to the player maximum of 20.
Since firearms are a ranged attack based on dexterity scores, this is a necessity and it also gives that little bit of recovery from giving up a full ability score for a feat.
Benefit #2: You gain proficiency with firearms.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal, and in some practical terms it’s not, it’s certainly not wowing, but it does take care of all the mechanics of bringing in firearms where your character can apply any feat that calls for proficiency without having to worry about it (such as the sharpshooter feat).
Benefit #3: You ignore the loading property of firearms.
Very important, as without it the loading times mean only one attack per turn no matter how many attacks your character class would usually have.
For the gunner many DMs aren’t going to allow multiple shots from a musket (which let’s be honest, makes sense) but it does allow a firearms proficient fighter to switch from musket to pistols to keep in the style and flare of the story so you can have 2-3 attacks if you’re a 4 attack per turn fighter assuming you have the loaded firearms to switch to.
This prevents you from losing out massively to bow and crossbow based distance builds because you can only attack once per turn.
Benefit #4: Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
Very important, as any ranged fighter can attest to how much an optimized ranged fighter struggles when a barbarian or creature breaks through to force melee with your not min-maxed backup weapon.
Again, if you toss in the flare of being able to switch weapons and keep on attacking you can have a lot of fun with the style, the description, the flare with which you attack and defend yourself in close combat.
Though from a mechanical perspective it’s the same as what you see from feats like crossbow expert, just with firearms instead, it was definitely a necessary feat to make firearms more viable in the 5E world.
5E Classes That Work Well with the Gunner Feat
Gunner is a bit more challenging as a feat because it doesn’t necessarily tie so much to class as it does to creating a specific firearms wielding character, which is a build that can work with multiple classes depending on the direction you choose to go. So even in classes under the normally “always take this” section, it ONLY applies if you are dead set on creating a firearms based ranged combat character.
So if that is your jam, or you’re looking to figure out options for creating a mechanically effective pirate in an upcoming 5E campaign without having to resort to homebrew rules, here are your best options with this feat.
Artificer. This should be obvious. The artificer class is just made for the gunner feat and the ability to make multiple long distance attacks in addition to creating technological weapons or companions for use creates a natural fit for the new gunner feat as this class and feat just go hand in hand.
What are the other good options?
A Dex-based fighter (think the popular Fighter-Archer build) and the ranger. These are classes that are based in combat, can attack from a distance, and if you have a DM willing to change +2 archery in the Ranger class feature to +2 firearms for a gunpowder based ranger (aka frontier mountain man) then you really have some great potential build options.
Since these are the classes that are most designed to be distance fighting specialists, it makes sense that these are also the classes that are going to do best with the 5E gunner feat, as well.
5th Ed Classes that should always consider taking the Gunner Feat:
- Fighter (Dex-based)
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Gunner Feat
There is one class and one sub-class in particular that really sticks out as being potentially effective options with the gunner feat. A rogue could be an intriguing build. Distance attacks qualify for sneak attack, and a highwayman outlaw would often be described as a “dashing rogue.” Daggers or a scimitar make sense as a backup weapon, as well as back up pistols for when things go wrong.
Rogues also get one more ability score improvement than all other classes with the exception of the boost-heavy fighter, letting them slip this in while still getting the full array of other feats and ability score boosts that they’re looking for.
Now the rogue does take some suspension of disbelief as a sneak attack with a gunpowder firearm is…interesting in trying to pain into a story even if the mechanics technically work. However, there’s no reason it couldn’t work, especially with the rules as written.
The college of valor bard is another one that can be molded to make an interesting daring and dashing character who uses magic, and the multi-attack options of the college of valor to wield multiple pistols. Again, like a dashing rogue of a highway man.
These will not be perfectly optimized builds, but they can create very interesting and still potentially scene-stealing 5E characters wielding their fancy new gunpowder weapons.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Gunner Feat:
- Bard (especially College of Valor)
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Gunner Feat
If you’re not building a musketeer or firearms specialist there really isn’t a good reason to take the gunner feat. And the flowing classes just really never have a reason to take the gunner feat.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Gunner Feat:
Final Feat Grade for 5E Gunner
Gunner Feat Grade: B-
Is the 5E Gunner Feat Worth It?
Simply put, if you are dead set on building a character who uses firearms versus bow and crowssbow, then you NEED the Gunner feat. If not, then you should skip it. While trying to navigate the movement between the old arms and the new gunpowder technology they’ve done well to make it playable but as any min-maxer will note: it still makes more sense to go with the bow or crossbow if max damage and attacks are actually your focus.
A necessary feat that does a good job of adding value (unlike some, starting at you, worthless 5E Athlete Feat), this opens up options and gives some very needed guidance to players and DMs who didn’t want the headache of arguing over homebrew setups, but at the end of the day this feat is more utilitarian as opposed to anything special.
A necessary, solid, but not spectacular feat.
Gunner Feat FAQ
Does the gunner feat ignore reload?
The gunner feat ignores reload, allowing a firearm wielding character to attack multiple times in an action which is not allowed (by the rules as written) to those who have to reload or switch weapons to fire again.
Are firearms martial weapons in 5E D&D?
Firearms are considered martial weapons according to the rule books in 5th Ed Dungeons & Dragons.
What does the gunner feat do?
Aside from a +1 Dexterity boost the gunner feat makes gun-wielding builds more viable by ignoring the reload action, allowing multiple attacks in an action, and removing combat penalties for close range fighting.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.