Everyone in Fallout tells you that Deathclaws are bad news. Everyone tells you it would be suicide to take them on alone. But this is a game, I'm the hero and I win against impossible odds all the time.

Well, it seems they really mean what they say this time. Deathclaws are extremely dangerous. They are fast, can take an absurd amount of damage, have a very high damage threshold and they kill you in a few swings.

So a typical encounter starts like this alt text

and ends like this alt text

In Fallout 3 you could just shoot them with the dartgun and they hobbled along while you walked backwards emptying your gun into their face.

What are effective tactics for killing Deathclaws in Fallout New Vegas? I'm not really looking for exploiting glitches like bad pathfinding, but legitimate tactics to have a good chance against those beasts.

  • 10
    "I'm going to need guns. Lots of guns."
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 1:02
  • you have silenced sniper rifle ready - you are half way there. Now you just need to crouch and blow their heads off from the distance (takes 2-3 shots on highest difficulty).
    – liho1eye
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 22:02
  • 1
    I remember that Deathclaws were difficult in F3, but not so much. New Vegas taught me a hard lesson. ;) I decided to avoid them until I'm on a high level, currently I'm on lvl 20 and wondering whether I'm ready to go after them... But probably I'll do some other hunting first (the Thorn lady [Lucky Red, or what was her name?] quest - it seems to have nasty enemies getting harder and harder with each iteration up to Deathclaws)
    – DarkStar
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 14:19

23 Answers 23


Extreme range, sneak attack criticals, and armor-piercing bullets are your friends versus Deathclaws. If you're in possession of (and a decent shot with) a scoped hunting rifle or better sniper-type rifle, you can usually pick them off one at a time since they tend not to group up. If you're finding it impossible to get enough damage before they close the distance, you can always augment your plan by throwing down some mines on the path between you and the Deathclaw (make sure you back up some). Finally, it's handy to be able to quick switch to an automatic rifle to finish the job if the mines fail you.

Pulling Deathclaws one at a time like this is a slow and tedious process, but it works.

At the very least, you can always move on and come back later!

  • I used a sniper rifle with hand-loaded ammo, I think they seriously nerfed the sniper rifle in the last patch. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 18:40
  • 1
    AP reduces the DT by -15, so JSP is superior if the weapon damage is higher than 30, which it definately is for the sniper rifle. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 20:33
  • 2
    also, taking out one of their legs (crippling) will make them a lot slower so you can backpedal and slowly whittle them down
    – user9761
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 7:26
  • 1
    The Gauss Rifle with a high Energy Weapon skill works for this as well ... the Abominable perk will also help you no matter what weapon you're using. Commented Jul 3, 2011 at 17:13
  • 1
    The Gauss rifle is the way to go. Soften them up from long range with the Gauss rifle and then spam them with explosives or plasma rifle fire - all with a high energy weapons skill of course
    – imulsion
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 15:55

Killing a death claw isn't easy and there is new easy way. There a few tricks to use when encountering deathclaws:

  1. Use the Q35 rifle which I think is found in the robot factory. This rifle can be repaired with either a laser or plasma rifles I forget which one.

  2. Backpedal dropping down mines and using dynamite/explosive weapons.

  3. If you feeling brave use the chainsaw found in vault 3.

Also, pointing out the obvious crippling the legs will make your job a lot easier

I recommend the chainsaw - it's most fun :)


Improve your sneak skill and get a decent sniper rifle (or even a hunting rifle with a scope). Crouch in an area the Deathclaws can't reach and bask in the glory of your sneak attack criticals. This is a great way of clearing the quarry full of them, even in the early game.

That said, in the early game you may not be equipped to deal with the radscorpions and cazadors in the route to a safe area to fire from in the quarry. But if you can get past them, I believe you can also score some standing with the Great Khans who have an outpost up there.

Do not under any circumstances walk up to a Deathclaw intending to kill it close-range. It never works, unless your intention is dying.

  • Hmm, didn't read the dates on this question, seems I'm a few months late! :) Commented May 22, 2011 at 9:48

Cripple the legs, aim high. Use a high powered medium/long ranged weapon to take out the legs and then aim for the head/torso. Most likely you would be using a grenade launcher, missile launcher, or alien blaster. You can get the alien blaster by going to the NW part of the map, where an alien commander and two other aliens are guarding there downed ship at the top of the cliff. This can only be performed with the Wild Wasteland perk on. Otherwise a group of bandits will be there, one containing a Gauss Rifle.

  • Well. Just went up against a pack of Blind Deathclaws while headed to Bitter Springs. They vary in size, and will catch you off guard! Safe travels my friends! Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 4:41

Use plasma mines with 40-50 energy skill - 2 kill 1 death claw. A sniper is useful if they get too close.


I tend to use the sniper rifle myself, but I rarely bother with hand loaded ammo. Get as far back as you can get, take your time for a headshot, and then go for body shots as they get closer. If you have decent aim, you should be able to hit with 3-4, and that should be enough if you're good with long guns. Better crits, finesse, high luck and perception are all very useful here.

If it's not enough, stop after 2-3 shots, and switch to a close range weapon with a low AP cost. Wait till you can get an 80% or better headshot, and let 'em have it. You shouldn't get hit more than once.

I started doing this with the Cowboy Repeater, which should give you an idea of how it'll roll with the Sniper Rifle or better, though there you had to hit them with at least 2 headshots before they got close. Very aim intensive, and they'd often get a second hit during the close range part of the fight (no way to kill full grown ones from a distance with the CR).


Another close-range method of killing deathclaws is the Riot Shotgun (holds 12 rounds) plus a boost to AP (like the Action Boy perk, Jet, or Rocket). With a high enough Gun skill, you can let the deathclaw come right into range (ideally 90% to hit or better), aim at a leg, and empty the gun into him.

Close-range methods like this can be particularly useful when one or more deathclaws missed the "poker night at the quarry" memo and decide to go for a walk in the mountains, where long-range shots aren't necessarily possible, or when your steady aim has deserted you and a deathclaw has come over to see what exactly it was that you were firing at him.


Weapons of choice are the hard hitting, long-ranged ones:

Archimedes II/Euclid's C-Finder - can be used from a long distance; best if the Deathclaws are clumped together
Anti-materiel rifle - Snipe it down with the best ammo you have

Also, have at least 2 companions with you. If playing in non-hardcore mode, they won't die. They will just be "unconscious" if their hit points are zero, and will wake up soon. They could be used to absorb damage from or slow down the Deathclaws.

Then, hope that your companions and/or the Archimedes II or sniper rifle shots kills the Deathclaw(s). If all else fails, and the Deathclaw is now on its way to kill you, take out the highest-DPS weapon you have and pump that Deathclaw full of lead (or energy, if using energy-based weapons), and die in full glory (hopefully before the Deathclaw spills your guts with, in what some might say, their "claws of death").

In Ron Perlman's voice: Because war, war never changes.


I like to try to divide death claws so I can take them out one at a time. High dps weapons are the best bet, obviously at long range if possible. However, if you can't snipe them the fully auto assault rifles are awesome for shredding their health, as are the high caliber pistols, preferably with a scope. Also, don't be afraid to spend a fortune on non-surplus ammo. Incendiary, armor piercing, and hollow points are good at crippling and killing.


Or you could get the Fat Man mini nuke launcher or the sneak boy.

Fat man-? Sneak boy-in the Repcon test site


they really aren't that hard.

use an auto shotgun (with the two shotgun perks), aim for the legs. I've been able to take on about 4 at a time in this way without even taking a hit...and I'm standing 10-20 feet away from them.

Also using a grenade machine gun in sneak mode on a group usually works pretty well. At the unmarked location on the other side of the river (bottom right of map), I have taken down the 15+ deathclaws in that area with this method, also not receiving a single scratch.


I personally went for a pure melee character. Once you get the Power Armor and some good first weapon Deathclaws are not that hard to kill. Usually you will suffer 1/2 HP bar loss.

  • Try to sneak up to them, but usually they will see you.
  • Try to get 1-2 hits without VATS
  • After your initial hit go into VATS and use all your points for some "free" hits.

This should be enough for 1-2 Deathclaws. Once there are more than 2 you have to lure them one by one.

I found that sometimes it is really easy to use a Stealth Boy to kill large groups of Deathclaws. As you normally do not need Stealth Boys you should have plenty of them in your stash.


I've beaten Blind Deathclaws and Deathclaws at level 2, but I've died several times to them.

Here are some tips I've gathered in my experience:

  • Use a lot of explosives.
  • Use a decent rifle; zooming helps.
  • Don't fight in melee. Fighting in melee is practically suicide.
  • Cripple the legs. Crippling one is good; crippling two is great!
  • Keep at a distance where they can't catch you, such as by climbing to high elevations.

You can also try aggroing the Deathclaws, then using Turbo to run and lure them into a human camp.


Just find some obstructed terrain so they can't beeline straight at you. Stand behind a small boulder or by the corner of a building. The AI doesn't sprint around corners or jump over boulders. Then just unload your ranged weapon of choice and backpedal or run around the corner when the Deathclaw closes.


Anti-materiel rifle (ideally with .50 MG Incendiary) fully repaired (+ Steady) + 12.7mm submachine gun for close combat + headshots. There is no better fun in New Vegas than to take down a Deathclaw from the distance with only one headshot. As a backup I'm using E-DE and Cass (Rose of Sharon Cassidy) because of close combat (especially in caves). When you are leved-up you can take out a Deathclaw as a lamb ;-)


Long range combat is obvious (strong rifle + stealth + Distance). If you are low ranked, defend your position with mines or other explosives. In New Vegas, hobbling the legs doesn't slow down deathclaws as much if at all.

Close range combat {note if you are low ranked you will NOT survive} However, if you are desperate to try: Powerful short range weapon + turbo + Med-X + Pshycho + Compounding Aids + luck.

If you have finished the Big Empty and acquired the GRX Implant (basically like Turbo but better) you can use this to help close range combat.

Needless to say.. Save often.. Deathclaws are one of if not THE most difficult opponent in Fallout New Vegas.

  • Crippling the legs stops them from using their jump attacks. Welcome to the site. In the future, please do not posts answers like these when there are already other answers that contain more information. Suggest edits instead.
    – Ids
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 12:39

Two-step goodbye 100 unarmed and all the techniques(khan trick,scribe counter,legion assault) and high dt armor preferably power armor or elite riot gear and you will pwn any dethclaw unlucky enough to cross your path but if ranged is your style use the survivalists rifle and jet/rocket

  • you might want to organize your answer into a two part since you are suggesting it to either go melee or ranged.
    – jonleech
    Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 6:15

Melee is not suicide. Thermic lance, poison and a stealth boy. The thermic lance is a monstrous weapon when coated with poison as it ignores a targets DT. Having the challenge perk for killing abominations is useful, and the stealth girl or chemist perk (effects stealth boys and not just chems).


My Favorite toy, and one that never fails me unless they get way too close and refuse to get crippled, happens occasionally for some weird reason, is to use the .50 and either Hand-Loaded rounds, if I can get a clean shot at it's head, or Explosive rounds if I can't, aim for their hip to cripple them and troll them till you decide to put them out of their misery.


First, have the holorifle and upgrade in the DLC Dead Money, or have a Gauss rifle, or anti-materiel rifle. Next, have ED-E upgrade, have him as a companion, and also be sure to have Raul as a companion and the Ranger Sequoia pistol in his inventory and ammo, or have Boone as a companion. With these weapons and companions, I have even killed mother, alpha male, and legendary deathclaws.

  • 1
    Hey petar, welcome to the site! While this is a good explanation of the sort of equipment and companions that help to let one take on such fearsome beasts as deathclaws, it doesn't really help the person asking the question with the tactics that one should use to approach this engagement(e.g. the distance at which one should attack, any patterns to movements to minimize damage etc.), which I think is what the person asking this question was interested in. Please consider editing to expand on these details.
    – Mana
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 14:35

use gauss rifle(full repaired, max charge) plus meltdown perk plus high ground, best used against groups of deathclaws.ex grat khans encampement. took out mother deathclaw two shot plus a couple of young ones as well at quarry


1) get the CZ57 Avenger (in devils throat), best armor you can find and a lot of stimpacks

2) go to dead wind cavern (warning: legendary deathclaw) and find the gun called mercy

3) with ammo for it just unload a clip on you foes

Note: ignore this message if you don't want your fights to be total overkill (I killed 6 deathclaws, an alpha and a mother in 15 seconds with this gun... close range)


Have at least 50 unarmed, Veronica Santiago (she's an easy aquireable companion at 188 trading post) rushing water( purified water+jet if you have honest hearts add-on) Turbo, and greased lightning with all these you will unload a crapload of pain on thief friggin' faces.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .