Hunter 101: Gear and stats

Long story short, if it’s an item in the game, it’s for a Hunter

I almost didn’t even write this post since all loot in the game is Hunter loot™. But since the other support classes might find that unfair [for whatever reason], I thought I would go ahead and write up a guide on what to look for, should you want to be a kind and benevolent Hunter and give lesser gear to the support classes.

“Hunter weapon… Hunter weapon…. oh! This was made for a Hunter.” — ancient Hunter proverb

In all seriousness, though, we Hunters are pretty lucky when it comes to gear. A lot of the gear in the game works for us and it’s relatively easy to find really good gear at low levels.

Agility, a Hunter’s third love (after our pets and our guns)

Agility is the #1 stat for a Hunter. Agility increases ranged attack power and chance to crit, so if an item has less agi but more crit, you’re probably better off sticking with the piece with more agility. When you’re leveling, you’ll want to keep an eye out for “of the Bandit” and “of the Monkey” gear, as it is itemized for Hunters.

At lower levels, you’ll find a lot of gear with seemingly random stats on it. If you find an item with more agility, but it’s also got spirit or strength on it, wear it. As long as it’s got more agi, it’s always an upgrade. Keep in mind Hunters used to use mana, so you will find a lot of legitimate Hunter gear with int/spirit on it at lower levels.

What the heck are these new secondary stats?


Grants you a chance for your abilities and auto-attacks to activate up to two extra times at 30% of normal effectiveness.


Yeah, it’s confusing. Here’s an example:

Let’s say your Arcane Shot normally deals 1000 damage and you have 60% Multistrike rating. When you deal damage with Arcane Shot, you have two separate 60% chances to immediately deal another Arcane Shot that does 300 damage. For free.

Bonus: Multistrike has a 100% cap, so theoretically, it’s possible to have guaranteed extra free damage every time you cast something!


Grants you an increase to your damage and reduces damage taken.

Versatility is more straightforward than Multistrike in the sense that 1% Versatility rating gives you a 1% increase to your damage dealt, while providing you with a 0.5% reduction in damage taken.

This is a straightforward, obvious upgrade to your primary role of dealing damage, but also gives you a significant boost to your survivability, which is always key, especially with class mechanics that encourage us to not move… basically just encouraging us to stand in some bad doodoo in the name of doing more DPS.

Blizzard has stated they do not plan to tune Versatility to be anyone’s highest secondary stat, but it will be close.

Don’t worry, your other secondary stats didn’t change!

Critical Strike

For those who are not fully clear on what crit does, a critical strike deals double damage.


Mastery rating increases the effectiveness of your specialization-specific Mastery.


Haste increases attack speed, spell casting speed, and resource regeneration.

Stat priority

RDPS >> Agility > Crit > Haste > Multistrike > Versatility > Mastery

RDPS >> Multistrike > Agility > Versatility > Crit > Haste > Mastery

RDPS >> Agility > Multistrike > Crit ≥ Versatility > Haste > Mastery

When should you stop wearing leather?

The joke is “it’s all Hunter loot™”, which is sort of true since we can utilize such a wide variety of items in the game… but don’t loot whore when in random dungeon groups. Once you get past 40, try not to roll on leather against a Feral Druid or a Rogue without checking with them first. I know it’s tough to find good gear at that level, but they’re trying to gear up, too. Don’t be “that guy”.

Sometimes that piece of leather really is the best you’re going to find at your level, though. I know while leveling my Holy Paladin, sometimes I’d equip cloth or leather gear because I simply wasn’t finding healer mail or plate. But if it’s a quest reward, have at it! That is DEFINITELY hunter loot.

Something else to keep in mind is: as a Hunter, you should be able to run content without any gear at all and still survive. You have more than enough tricks up your sleeve to keep aggro on your pet while you safely pew pew from a distance.

What do you mean I don’t need loot?? You just said all loot is Hunter loot™! I can’t do anything without gear! I need that leather chest piece!!

You really don’t, though! Don’t believe me? Remember the Ironman Challenge?

It’s a challenge started in Cataclysm where you had to level from 1-85 with no gear better than a grey or white item (that means not even heirlooms), no enchants/gems/reforging, no talents/glyphs/specs, no professions, no consumables, no groups, no guilds, no dungeons or raids, no RAF, no addons, and most importantly: NO DYING!

Impossible, you say? Not even close! The first person in the world to complete the Ironman challenge was none other than infamous Hunter Kripparrian!

Still don’t believe me? Check out The Naked Troll Project.

This guy leveled a hunter from 1-60 without ANY gear back in classic!. So next time you want to get caught up in a loot fight with someone in your group, just think of the naked troll and remind yourself, “I’m a hunter, I don’t NEED loot to be good.” Let the other guy have that gear, you’ll be just fine without it.

Past level 50 when you get Mail Specialization, don’t wear leather unless you have absolutely no other possible gear options. Even then, you probably shouldn’t wear leather. Besides, mail looks way cooler anyway. And seriously, the way gear has been redone and considering how you get a free blue with every random dungeon you do, if you’re still actively seeking out leather at this stage, you’re doing something wrong.

Bottom line, your biggest gear upgrade is your ranged weapon

So you really don’t need to be worrying about whether or not it’s okay to take a piece of leather from a Rogue anyway. The biggest gear upgrade for a Hunter, nine times out of ten, will be your ranged weapon. If the weapon has more RDPS on it, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s better than what you are currently using. It doesn’t matter what the stats are on the weapon, if there’s more RDPS, it’s better.

Since there are no longer weapon specific stat bonuses, we’re no longer punished for being a troll if a raid tier happens to not have any good bows or being a dwarf if there aren’t any good guns.

Remember to keep in mind that gear accounts for less than 50% of your overall skill and DPS

The top guilds that raid on the bleeding edge of progression don’t have better gear than everyone, they generally clear content with LESS gear than the average player. Their ability to quickly down bosses comes from a superior knowledge of their class and a mastery of boss mechanics, not from over-gearing the content.

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