Best Weapons to Use and Why - Kenshi
Kenshi has over a dozen different melee weapons to choose from, 6 different categories of weapons and 15 different weapon qualities. Just to prevent any confusion, for the rest of this guide whenever I talk about weapons I am refering specifically to the melee weapons in Kenshi unless I specifically say otherwise. I'll address Crossbows too but they are a whole different breed of weapon and work differently than melee weapons.
There are a variety of "best weapons" that you can choose from depending on what category of weapon you're using and what you want to accomplish. For example, if you want the highest pure DPS main hand weapon then you should choose the Falling Sun. If you want the best AoE damage you'll want a Fragment Axe but if you want the best defense then Foreign Sabre is the best choice.
With that said, there are some weapons that are just plain superior to others which are the ones that made the list on this page. For those of you who want to see the math check out this reddit post and specifically this google doc. It's the most detailed synopsis that I could find online. Anyone that wants a second opinion for ranking the weapon tiers should check out this reddit post or this youtube video. My guide here is an amalgamation of all this information.
Weapon Tiers (From Worst to Best): Rusted Junk, Rusting Blade, Mid-Grade Salvage, Old Re-Fitted Blade, Re-fitted Blade, Catun No. 1, Catun No. 2, Catun No. 3, Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Edge Type 1, Edge Type 2, Edge Type 3, Meitou
To immediately cut to the chase, I believe the 2 best melee weapons in the game are Desert Sabre and Foreign Sabre with Falling Sun coming in at #3. I prefer defensive weapons because not dying is great, Desert Sabre is a nice middle of the road weapon which does good damage and offers good defense and Foreign Sabre is all out defensive. Falling Sun is amazing single target DPS so I throw that onto a couple of characters too.
Usually I always default to using Desert Sabre on all of my characters with some of my melee DPS using Falling Sun. For Sidearm weapons I typically use Jittes or Guardless Katanas, with Jitte probably being the one I prefer because of the defense. The biggest drawback to using Desert Sabres is when you deal damage with cutting weapons it will use your Dexterity stat to determine how much damage you deal. When you deal damage with blunt weapons your Strength is what will determine your damage.
It's a lot harder to raise Dexterity in Kenshi than it is Strength which is the reason this is a drawback. To raise Strength you really only need a base, you can load up character's inventories with all sorts of items and have them walk around training Strength. Truthfully you'd probably deal better damage with a Strength based weapon for the first half of the game because of how easy it is to raise that in comparison to Dexterity.
With all that said, below you will find my list of the best weapon types in Kenshi and why.
Best Weapon Types in Kenshi:
Guardless Katana: Light and effective sidearm weapon
Jitte: Great defensive weapon for indoors
Spiked Club: Best bleed & damage sidearm weapon but also can get quite heavy
Short Cleaver: Great damage and armor penetration but very short range
Desert Sabre: Well rounded weapon for people who are lazy and don't like weapon swapping for different encounters
Foreign Sabre: Best defense outdoors of all weapons
Paladin's Cross: The best weapon you can use against Robots
Falling Sun: Best pure damage weapon in the game. You can buy the recipe for this weapon in the Scraphouse shop in Deadlands.
Fragment Axe: Deals the most AoE damage and has the most range of all weapons.