Hunter 101: Hunter Stats

Posted: by Frostheim

Once you begin leveling your hunter beyond the starting zone, you’re quickly going to have to start making decisions about gear — which gear to take and which gear to sell to the vendor or on the Auction House. One of the sad truths of the World of Warcraft is the vast majority of gear the drops anywhere is total garbage. We have a name for this kind of junk gear: not hunter gear.

Precise state weights and balance is a concern for the endgame only. When you’re leveling, you mostly just want to pay attention to what is a hunter stat and clump a few of them into more important vs. less important. In all honestly, as long as a new piece of gear is a higher ilvl and has hunter stats on it, it’s probably an upgrade.

Hunter Stats

The following stats are beneficial for hunters and this is the kind of things you want to look for on your gear:

  • Agility
  • Hit rating
  • Crit rating
  • Haste rating
  • Mastery rating (eventually, when you’re higher level — I’m mostly including this just to keep people from commenting that I left it out, and inserting this parenthetical to keep people from commenting that it’s not available at low levels. Once you become a well-read WoW blogger you find that a shocking percentage of your words are written just to prevent nitpickers from picking nits.)
  • Ranged Weapon DPS: this is the dps number on your gun, bow, or crossbow

Equally important is knowing what stats are not hunter stats. If you see the following stats on an item, it’s probably a strong indication that the item is not great for hunters. Do not equip items with any of these stats, otherwise people will make fun of you. They will call you a noob and a huntard, and possibly even suggest that your sphincter burns with acid that hurts their man parts.

  • Strength
  • Expertise
  • Intellect
  • Spellpower
  • Spirit

Those stats are all entirely useless to hunters. There are a couple of other stats that technically help us, but we don’t really care about that much. The actual Armor of your gear is something we hunters don’t care much about, since if we’re getting hit that means we’re doing our job wrong (or, perhaps, our pet is doing his job wrong). The only real benefit of armor is that our pets inherit a percentage of our armor. Similarly we don’t care a whole lot about stamina — all things being equal more stamina is better since the more stamina we have, the more our pets have (they get a percentage of our stamina as well) — but it’s not something we really optimize for. Go for the most damage and let the stamina work itself out.

Finally, we don’t care at all about the dps of melee weapons — swords and axes, polearms and staves. We are sophisticated and technologically advanced. Millenia ago the hunters of WoW danced around the Monolith and evolved, and we no longer hit things with sticks. The dps of a melee weapon only helps when you hit things with a stick, and so it doesn’t help us.

The Best Stats

The number one best stat when you’re leveling is hit rating. Collect all of the hit rating that you can. In fact, when you’re leveling hit rating helps you even more than it does in the end game. This is because hit rating does all sorts of fantastic things: it increases the chance that we’ll hit our target, it increases the chance that our pet will hit, and it makes it so our pet is less likely to be dodged or parried.

At the end game we don’t have to worry about the pet getting dodged or parried, because it attacks from behind while another player is busy tanking. But when leveling our pet is tanking for us, and the raw dps increase from our pet not being dodged or parried is pretty huge indeed. Furthermore it also increases the amount of threat our pet generates, which is also good news.

On top of that, it’s always possible that we’ll be fighting things of a higher level than us, sometimes much higher, and hit rating is vital in those situations. There is no “goal” you’re trying to reach with hit rating while you’re leveling. More hit rating is always better, and every time you gain a new level it will take yet more hit rating to maintain the same percentage increase in hit chance.

The top 3 stats, in order, for a level hunter are:

  • Hit rating
  • Agility
  • Ranged weapon dps

After that don’t worry a lot about the haste or crit, or mastery when you get there. Just focus on continually increasing the hit rating and agility, and always take the ranged weapon that has the highest ranged dps, and you’re gear will get you where you need to go.

Leather vs. Mail

When we start out as wee hunters we can only use cloth and leather armor. You want to use leather, by the way.

But when we reach level 40 we suddenly get access to mail armor. The great advantage of mail is that it gives us more armor… which we’ve already noted we don’t really care about. We do, however, get an agility bonus (5%) if every piece of gear we have is mail (meaning your head, shoulders, chest, wrist, hand, waist, legs, and boots) so we definitely want all mail eventually. However, it’s not very important to rush out and replace the mail right away. Just wait until you find a mail piece that has better hit rating/agility or other stats and replace it then. No rush.


Okay, that is the rundown of hunter stats. Again, the balance and priorities all change once you hit the level cap and we care a lot more about details and minutiae then, but while you’re leveling you get to work in broad strokes as you blaze your way through the game leaving the support classes in your dust.

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  1. Berron says:

    You forgot to mention that the best lvling pet out there is the sporebat… :)

  2. Alan says:

    This should be required reading for anyone rolling a hunter. you can’t make it any clearer than this.

  3. Chrth says:

    Regarding Leather vs Mail, you may want to note that the bonus doesn’t kick in until level 50, so you have 10 levels to convert.

    Regarding stats you shouldn’t have, my latest Dwarf Hunter is currently wielding a reforged expertise trinket because I’ve just been that unlucky. I doubt you want to get into reforging since it’s a max level concern, but it does happen. Fortunately, nobody has complained yet, and if they did, I’d just point them to recount anyhow.

  4. Steelhide says:

    Any hunter worth his salt can pick off those nits at 40 yards.

  5. Zeherah says:

    One common mistake I’ve seen hunters of all levels make, is thinking that the best way to judge gear is by swapping it in and seeing if their dps numbers on their character screen go up. It might help to put in a clarification about this particular issue. The character screen dps numbers will only reflect your autoshot, and do not include crits or other modifiers, or anything that might affect shots other than autoshot. So basically gains in ranged weapon dps, agility/AP and haste will change that number, but gains in hit, crit or mastery will not.

    As a result, using the dps number on your character screen to judge gear upgrades is relatively useless.

    You also might want to note that when looking at your stats in the character screen, you should look at the ranged section, not melee, and that you can rearrange the sections to whatever order you like.

  6. Fradin says:

    Great Post foir any new hunters out there on a side note the realm is going down for 7 hours tonight for maintenance looks like the patch is on its way tonight for or morning for the people in the USA

  7. quori says:

    I would argue that while Hit may be the most valuable stat, it is the hardest to come by in Vanilla and BC gear. Once you hit (no pun intended) Wrath content, it is widely accessible amongst the mail gear we have drop and is craftable.

    Now, up until that point Hit is scare and in limited quantities on many leather and mail items. Blizz never retro updated those items to include or transfer stats to hit for us.

    My point here is this…Is Hit important…YES. It always is at any level….BUT…the gear items available pre Wrath will not allow you to get ENOUGH hit to be useful to you compared to the Agility, Crit, and Attack power you are going to find on those items.

    So, use some common sense and adjust accordingly based on what Blizz has available at your level. This might be self explanatory Frost (et al), but seriously…there are some folks who will take what is here as law. They will gem, and gear for hit even if it means a serious detriment to all other stats.

  8. sheppo says:

    I’ve recently re-rolled and levelled a tank, and i’ll say a guide like this should definitely be required reading. I’d say the levelling balance of bad to good hunters is around 9:1. I think the two largest mistakes i saw during that process was
    1) not using a pet
    2) firing flares at mobs being attacked by the tank – thankfully only saw this once.

  9. Lumchan says:

    hmmm, quick question. With our stat sticks becoming eye candy and no one else able to use range weapons (I’m assuming this excludes thown weapons), will tank range weapons have their stats changed to be hunter weapons or will they keep their current stats so that we still see the occasional gun with strength?

  10. Lornehil says:

    Agility is actually a higher stat weight than Hit. You shouldn’t gem hit over agility unless you are getting a good socket bonus. 1:2 agi:hit ratio or better is good enough (eg: 20/20 agi/hit gem with a 10 agi socket bonus).

    • Frostheim says:

      That’s true for endgame, but not for leveling. The bonus dps from your pet not being dodged or parried (which only happens if your pet is tanking) can be as much as a 20% dps boost to the pet, pushing hit well over agility, plus the added threat bonus from the extra pet dps, plus the fact that you’ll be fighting things of higher level, and you’ll be leveling all the time, which then degrades the existing hit (making effectively no realistic cap).

  11. EvilynneRose says:

    Thanks for this, omg it has taken me forever to find a description of levelling a hunter that actually made sense. :)

  12. wrangle says:

    Thanks for these awesome guides! I’m a very inexperienced lvl 29 hunter atm, so I apologize in advance if this is a really stupid question…

    Since critical strikes cause dps spikes that can draw aggro, would it be a good idea to actually avoid gear that has crit rating altogether? I know that violates the cardinal rule that “more dps is always better”, but wouldn’t it be preferable to have more consistent dps?

  13. Boklung says:

    An experienced hunter on WoW recommended this site to me. Thanks for all the info. I’m a level 74 MM Hunter (Night Elf). I’m a casual player, and I like to solo on quests. Hit Rating, Hit Chance, and Miss Rating confuse me a little. Should my goal be to get my Miss Chance down to 0.00% for all levels of opponents/creatures, or should I continue to go further than zeroing out the Miss Chance, such as continuing to find gear/weapons that increase my Hit Rating # and Hit Chance %? I ask this because I find certain items increase my agillity and ranged dps but adversely affect my Hit Rating. I know how frustrating missing my target can be, but should I always keep Hit Rating as my main priority? I really appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks again!

    • Frostheim says:

      For leveling hit rating is your most important stat; however, once patch 5.0.4 hits your leveling stat priority will change to agility > hit & expertise.

  14. Tacticalman says:

    isn’t stamina also beneficial for hunters?

  15. Alwyn says:

    Thanks for this! Do you have advise for lv 50+? Or do I just keep adhering to these guidelines? I am not an experienced player so I still feel a bit lost sometimes :S what advise for a soloing casual blood elf hunter? Also, do you have pet advise? I still have my good ol’ white bear but I’m not sure if I should grab a new one and/or what would be good to have for soloing? Thanks!!

  16. miguel says:

    i hav a 74 worgen hunter, and i dont know if my gear is the correct, i havethe PVP gear and i use it for everything, because in numbers i think its better, my gear is the one of my level, brutal gladiators set. any advice?

  17. dadonka says:

    So what does expertise do? is that a pvp stat or what?

  18. Biscuit says:

    Okay, first, spot on excellent and helpful. Second No shit .. nitpickers out of the woodwork…. just saying. This is a beginners guide not the definitive thing it gave me what I needed when I needed it.

    So THANK YOU ^_^