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Dual wielding is a gameplay mechanic that allows players to hold two items or blocks[Java Edition only] simultaneously.


The off-hand slot highlighted in the inventory

This section is missing information about how to use things in off hand. 
Please expand the section to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page.

Players can equip an item to the off-hand slot from the inventory, similarly to armor. Players can also select an item and press F to automatically equip it. The off-hand slot then appears beside the HUD opposite from the main hand. If the player is in first person view, then the off-hand appears in the screen along with the held item. Whichever hand should be the main hand is configurable in the Skin Customization menu.

The off-hand can use the item it holds when there are no usable items on the main hand (e.g. swords), or the item held on the main hand cannot be used directly (e.g. shovel or hoe with no grass nearby). Otherwise, the main hand takes priority over the off-hand. Players also cannot break blocks or attack with the off-hand, even if nothing is held in the main hand.


A player holding a shield and an iron sword.

Arrows held in the off-hand are prioritized over other arrows in the hotbar and the inventory. Players can equip a specific arrow in their off-hand slot to fire it with a bow. If the bow is on the off-hand, then the arrow selected on the hotbar (with the main hand) is prioritized. Shields can be held in the off-hand as defense.

A player can also equip a bow, crossbow or trident in their off-hand. So far, these are the only weapons that can be used in this slot or in conjunction with another weapon. This allows for higher damage output as players no longer have to switch between a melee and distance weapon; however, it disables the use of a shield. Players can left-click to attack with the equipped melee weapon, and right click to attack with the ranged weapon.

Tool use[]

When a tool with a right-click function is held in the off-hand with another tool or weapon selected in the hotbar, right-clicking on a block that is relevant to the off-hand tool uses that off-hand tool unless the selected tool in the hotbar can also be used on the same block, in which case the hotbar tool has priority.

When an firework is in the off-hand slot and is being used with a crossbow, right-click and hold to charge and when ready, right click again to fire a firework. Fireworks can be fired from crossbows only when in the off-hand slot.

Bedrock Edition[]

In Bedrock Edition, only a select few items can be placed in the off-hand slot and be dual-wielded. Some are related to combat, like shields, arrows, tipped arrows, firework rockets or the totem of undying, while others are for exploring, like filled maps or explorer maps, and for aesthetic such as sparklers and nautilus shells.


Java Edition Beta
10 July 2011Jeb states that "Notch is working on dual-wielding of items" during an interview.
1.6Test Build 3Added maps, which require both hands to hold.
Java Edition
1.9May 28, 2015Nathan Adams tweets a picture of dual-wielding fish.
June 4, 2015Nathan Adams tweets a short guide explaining how the dual-wielding system works.
15w31a Added dual wielding.
1.16pre3Swap item in hand now works while hovering over an item in inventory.[1]
Pocket Edition
1.1.0alpha Added the off-hand slot, which can be used by totems of undying and arrows only.
Bedrock Edition
1.2.0beta player can now use maps in the off-hand slot.
1.4.0beta player can now hold sparklers in the off-hand slot.
1.5.0beta player can now hold the nautilus shell in the off-hand slot.
1.8.0beta player can now hold firework rockets in the off-hand.
1.10.0beta player can now hold shields in the off-hand slot.
Legacy Console Edition
TU53CU43 1.49 Patch 231.0.3Added the off-hand slot, which can be used by maps and arrows only. It currently does not use an inventory sprite.
TU54CU44 1.52 Patch 241.0.4The player can now hold the totem of undying and use firework rockets in the off-hand slot.
TU69 1.76 Patch 38The player can now hold the nautilus shell in the off-hand slot.
1.90 The off-hand slot now uses the sprite in the inventory.
The player can now hold shields in the off-hand slot.


Issues relating to "Dual wield" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.


See also[]


  1. MC-84610 – "Off-hand hotkey doesn't work in inventories" – resolved as "Fixed"