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This tutorial will help you become familiar with dual wielding, a mechanic added in the Combat Update.

Note that dual-wielding in Bedrock Edition is much more limited. Most items cannot be put into the off-hand slot.

Main hand & Off-hand[]


You can change your main hand in the options. This might be handy for players who are left-handed.

Before we begin the tutorial, it is important to recognize these two terms: main hand and off-hand. By default, the main hand is the player's right hand. Respectively, the player's off-hand is their left hand. Keep in mind that there is an option located in Skin Customization labeled "Main Hand" to swap the main hand and off-hand. This option may be helpful for players that are left-handed.

What is it?[]

Dual wielding is when you hold two weapons, one in each hand, during combat. Despite the fact that dual wielding is not widely practiced in real life, it is used in various action and role-playing games, and is generally designed to provide the player more effectiveness or convenience in battle. Dual wielding in Minecraft can be used in combat, but it also can be used in other everyday activities, such as building, mining, and eating. It does have a few major limits, but learning through them and applying dual wielding to practical use can give players a large boost in productivity and a greater advantage above other players in PvP combat in-game.

How to equip something to your off-hand[]

diamond Axe

The off-hand slot is highlighted on the bottom-right corner of the player avatar.

In the inventory, there is a slot in the bottom-right side of the player avatar that looks like an outline of a shield. This is called the off-hand, hand slot. When you put something in it, you should see it being held on your off-hand (your left hand on default). Your other hand should also appear on the screen in first person view (you should see two hands on the screen). You should also see an extra slot with the off-hand item appear beside your HUD hotbar; this should be on the opposite side of your main hand.

For easy equipping to the off-hand slot, press F by default in Java Edition. This is configurable in the Controls settings. Using this, you can quickly equip something into your off-hand slot in your inventory and switch between the items in your hotbar and off-hand.

How the off-hand is used[]


"The use key will throw the ender pearl, because the sword doesn't have a 'use'."

The off-hand can use the item it holds when there are no items in the main hand, or the item held on the main hand is not usable, e.g. swords and pickaxes.

Arrows that are held on the off-hand take priority over arrows in any other slot when you shoot a bow. This allows you to fire a specific arrow by selecting it using your off-hand. Conveniently, you can do vice-versa and hold the bow on the off-hand with arrows selected on your main hand. This also allows you to fire a specific arrow by selecting it using your main hand.

If you have a crossbow and some firework rockets, though, you can put the latter in the off-hand slot and (even if you have normal arrows) fire just that.



"Attacking only swings my main hand. The off-hand can't be used for attacking."

You cannot dual wield weapons. Well, I mean, you could, but you can only attack from your main arm so it'll be pointless.

Dinnerbone [1]

Though putting two weapons into your main and offhand is pretty useless as stated, the Mending effect is still used, meaning you can grind XP and repair tools.

Players cannot use both hands at the same time, and there is always a slight delay between using the main hand and off-hand. Thus you cannot instantly perform two actions together, such as placing and breaking blocks simultaneously or shooting two bows at once.

The main hand always takes priority when trying to use an item. For example, if you had stone in your main hand and dirt in your off-hand, you will always place the stone. The item in the off-hand will only be used if the item in the main hand lacks a use, or if it's holding nothing. If the item in the main hand cannot be used due to certain circumstances, then the off-hand is used. For example, if you have a block equipped on the main hand and a snowball on the off-hand, face anywhere you cannot reach a block (e.g. into the sky), and then press use, the snowball will be thrown instead of placing the block. This is because the block cannot be placed anywhere, and so your off-hand is used instead.

The main hand is also the only hand that can hit or break, even if there are no items in the main hand. This means that items in the off-hand lose their left-click function, making most weapons and tools unusable in the off-hand, with the exception of ones that have a use function.

Weapons that can be used on the off-hand in Java Edition:

Tools that can be used on the off-hand in Java Edition:

Tools that can be used on the off-hand in Bedrock Edition:

The Nautilus Shell can also be put in the off-hand slot in Bedrock Edition. This is most likely a bug and serves no purpose.


  • Players can now use both hands to do different actions with the left and right mouse buttons.
    • For example, if a player has a pickaxe in their main hand and a torch in their off-hand, right-clicking will place the torch.
      • This happens because a pickaxe lacks a right-click use, and therefore the game tries to then treat the other item as if it's being right-clicked.
  • Players can put an item on the "off-hand slot" in their inventory to hold it on their off-hand.
    • It is distinguished by an outline of a shield like symbol.
    • Pressing F (by default) will switch whatever item is selected in the hotbar with the item in the off-hand (including no item).
    • The off-hand slot is displayed next to the HUD when it's not empty (left for right-handed players and vice versa).
  • Only the main hand can be used for attacking or breaking.
    • An exception is items which do damage upon using them, such as bows or splash potions.
  • Bows determine what type of arrow to shoot based on the player's inventory and off-hand.
    • Arrows in the off-hand take priority over arrows in any other slot.
      • Otherwise, the closest stack of arrows to the first slot is used.
    • If the bow is in the off-hand, the selected hotbar slot takes priority.
    • If there are multiple arrow types and none held on the off-hand or main hand, the arrow on the first hotbar slot will shoot first.
  • The off-hand is invisible in first person view while it's empty.

Final note[]


Dual wielding a pickaxe in the main hand and a torch in the off-hand. This reduces the time lighting up tunnels when mining.

Dual wielding is a useful addition to the game with many applications. It is entirely optional for players whether or not they want to utilize dual wielding; players can completely ignore the off-hand slot and, with few exceptions aside, continue to play like it was before 1.9. Some players who use dual wielding may experience efficiency and relief, but others may just experience more setbacks. Some may only use dual wielding to its minimal extent. Ultimately it is up to each player and their own style of playing to employ this mechanic into their gameplay.


Below is a list of practical dual wielding uses.

Category Use Main Hand Off-hand Description
Basic Eating Empty/
Food Having food in your off-hand can cut a large amount of time in your gameplay. Simply holding right-click will eat the food in the off-hand slot, regardless of what item is in the main hand, saving time as the player does not have to select the food in the hotbar. Food is not wasted as you can't consume food when the Hunger Bar is full. Having your food in the off-hand also frees a space on your hotbar, so you can put another item to use.

Equipping a Golden Apple on your off-hand allows you to quickly eat your apple before going immediately into combat with your opponent, but do note that you can consume a golden apple while your hunger is still full, so this method may be reserved until you are certain that you will go into battle soon.

Teleporting Empty/
Ender Pearl/Chorus Fruit Use ender pearls in the off-hand to escape a fight or travel long distances without having to switch between items in the hotbar. Chorus fruits can be used for teleporting in enclosed spaces or caverns.
Combat Blocking Sword/Axe Shield Equip a shield on the off-hand for protection while having a melee weapon equipped on the main to attack. Left-click to hit and block attacks by right-clicking. Shields are unusable with ranged weapons like bows as they both require right-clicking.
Arrow swapping Bow Arrows Any arrows in your off-hand is used up first when you fire your bow. Switch between different arrows by selecting them on the hotbar with the main hand and pressing F to swap them with the arrows in the off-hand.
Arrow swapping (alternative) Arrows Bow This alternative method works as well, since any arrow in your main hand (selected on the hotbar) is prioritized first when you fire a bow with your off-hand. This method is actually more efficient as you can simply scroll between the arrows in your hotbar to select your desired ammunition.
Melee-ranged set Sword/Axe Bow You can fire a bow with your off-hand and hit mobs and players with your sword or axe at close range, giving you dominance throughout the entire battlefield. Additionally, mobs killed by the bow this way are affected by the sword's Looting enchantment.
Imbue/Cure effects Weapon Potions/Milk Have a potion readily equipped on your off-hand to drink it and boost you with status effects right before going to battle. Alternatively, have milk buckets equipped instead to quickly cure yourself when you get inflicted with a harmful effect.
Heal easily Weapon Healing Item Healing items in your off-hand like Golden Apples can quickly be used if your health is starting to drop. However, some situations will leave you vulnerable if you stop to eat or drink a healing item. Splash Healing potions are ideal if you are facing a lot of Undead mobs because it will heal you and damage the zombies attacking you at the same time.
Automatic Revival Anything Totem of Undying Have a Totem of Undying in your off-hand at all times means you will be instantly revived if you take fatal damage no matter what you are doing. This is extremely important on Hardcore mode, as a sudden creeper explosion or fall could otherwise end your world.
Construction Pillaring with ladders Ladder A block Ladders can only be placed next to a block, so your off-hand will place a block on the ground first before you place the ladder on it. Moving forwards while holding right-click will repeatedly place blocks and ladders while simultaneously climbing up.
TNT destruction TNT Flint and Steel Run around your objective while right-clicking, and once you can't place anymore or run out of TNT, you'll proceed to ignite each of them with the Flint and Steel.
Farming Plowing and planting crops Hoe Seeds Players can right-click and hold to hoe dirt into farmland then instantly plant a seed on that block. Since seeds cannot be planted on anywhere else except farmland, players don't have to worry about accidentally misplanting elsewhere.
Carved Pumpkins Axe Shears Right-click to carve the pumpkin (with the shears) and then left-click to quickly harvest the block (with the axe).
Bonemeal crops Bonemeal Seeds If there is already a patch of farmland, players can plant seeds then instantly grow them to crops if they hold bone meal on their main hand with seeds on the off-hand. This also works the other way around, as bonemeal cannot be used on empty farmland.
Herding animals Anything Food Hold a specific food item on the off-hand to herd or breed animals, while freeing up the main hand to perform other tasks. Players can also hold two different foods on each hand and effortlessly lead multiple types of animals.
Breeding animals Tools Food Hold a specific food item on the off-hand to breed animals, while using the main hand to perform tasks on the animals. For example shearing Sheep and breeding them simultaneously.
Information Mini-map Anything Map Maps held on the off-hand shrinks down to a mini-map that is displayed on the bottom-left or right corner of the screen. This is extremely helpful for players who want to record a map or indicate themselves in the world while performing other tasks with the main hand.
Keeping time Anything Clock Clocks held on the off-hand can be used to conveniently display the time on-screen.
Tracking the spawn point or a lodestone Anything Compass Compasses held on the off-hand can be used to display the direction of the spawn point or a lodestone.
Mining Lighting up caves Pickaxe Torch Having a torch in the off-hand saves a considerable amount of time by eliminating the need to switch back and forth from your pickaxe when lighting up dark caves. It also saves a slot in the hotbar for another item.
Cooling lava pools Pickaxe Water Bucket Players can quickly dump and refill water above pools of lava with a Water Bucket while mining in the lower levels of caverns without having to constantly switch their tools.
Nether mining Pickaxe A block Mining in the Nether is dangerous enough, until the player encounters one-block lava pockets. Lava in the Nether flows much quicker than in the Overworld, so players need to act fast when blocking it before it comes to contact. Having a block already equipped on your off-hand can potentially save precious seconds from a possible fiery death.
Transport Flying Any, but wear an Elytra Firework While in the air, flying with an Elytra, fireworks placed in the off-hand slot can save you lots of hassle, without having to switch items. It can also save you a lot of reaction time as well, such as when you have fallen a great height accidentally.