The Nail in Hollow Knight is the traditional weapon of the denizens of Hallownest. The Nail is a bladed weapon used by The Knight, the game's protagonist, as the primary means of dealing damage in Combat. It can also be seen wielded by some Enemies, Bosses and NPCs. Typically used much like a sword, the Nail is a versatile weapon with which a practitioner can use slashing strikes to get the better of one's opponents. The Knight's Nail can be upgraded a number of times after locating the Nailsmith and providing him with the necessary resources in order to increase damage output. Powerful techniques known as Nail Arts can also be learned from Nailmasters, experts in Nail combat, offering different ways to approach battles.


Hollow Knight Nail Combat Mechanics Overview

In Hollow KnightThe Knight's attack moveset is comprised of seemingly very basic slashes with the Nail, allowing him to deal damage and defeat his opponents. Despite their simplicity, these attacks are very responsive and snappy, contributing to the game's highly nuanced and precise combat mechanics that demand mastery of The Knight and his Nail's fundamentals.

Basic Slash

slash attacks hollow knight wiki guide

The Knight's bread & butter move is the standard slash attack performed on the ground. It hits directly in front of the Knight, in whichever direction he is facing. Fast and efficient, this move actually has two animations: — an up swing and a down swing which can be chained indefinitely. Its range and speed can be improved with certain Charm combinations. The arc of the swing can hit opponents that are slightly higher or lower than the knight, and this arc's size and hitbox can also be improved with charms. The Knight can also slash while in the air.

Upward Slash

upward slash attacks hollow knight wiki guide

The Upward Slash is a basic slash that can prove invaluable for hitting opponents above the Knight. It is performed by attacking while pressing up on the analog stick or D-pad. Just like the standard slash, it can also be performed while in the air and while its swing arc is more vertical, it can still hit targets that are on either side of the Knight, especially when range Charms are equipped.

Down Strike

down strike attacks hollow knight wiki guide

The Down Strike can be performed by attacking while pressing down on the analog stick or D-pad whilst in the air. This is a very versatile move that not only allows the Knight to deal damage while jumping over enemies, but also allows him to bounce off of them and redirect himself to safety. When timed properly, the Knight can perform bounces on enemies indefinitely which allows for various strategies in combat. The Down Strike also has applications in the exploration and platforming aspects of the game.


These three attacks with the Nail make up the basis for Hollow Knight's combat and give way to more complex mechanics. The Knight will also gain access to Spells and other abilities which he can weave in with these three fundamental attacks, while supplemented with the proper Charm combinations in order to best the toughest Enemies and Bosses.

The Knight can also use the Nail to perform more advanced techniques pertaining to combat and exploration:

Charging the Soul Gauge

soul gauge hollow knight wiki guide

Every attack successfully landed on opponents will fill up the Soul Gauge, depicted as a large mask-like icon next to your health masks in the top left of the HUD. This gauge fuels your Spells. Each of the Knight's Spells use a portion of this gauge and can be cast as long as the gauge is sufficiently filled, indicated by its white color. This gauge is also used for healing via the Focus Spell.

Parrying Attacks

parry attacks hollow knight wiki guide

The Parry is a highly advanced combat move that the Knight can perform by timing his swings to collide with the attacks of opponents. This will result in a bright flash as the Nail deflects the attack, rendering the Knight invulnerable for a few short frames. Every single one of the Knight's basic attacks can deflect, whether performed on the ground or in the air and nearly every attack can be parried, including those of Bosses. Skillful use of the parry is rewarded by negating damage from the most deadly attacks, while allowing the Knight to weave in counters of his own.

Pogo Jumps

pogo jump attacks hollow knight wiki guide

Using the Down Strike, The Knight can "Pogo Jump" off of enemies, as well as breakable objects in the environment such as jars and lamps. This is a very important technique not only for combat, but for exploration and platforming as well, allowing the Knight to get to ledges and paths that would otherwise be out-of-reach. Some objects in the environment such as the purple mushrooms in the Fungal Wastes can be used to jump even higher by using the Pogo Jump technique. Furthermore, it can be used to traverse hazardous sections of the environment such as long stretches of thorns or spike pits that would normally deal heavy damage to the Knight on contact.

All Nail Upgrades in Hollow Knight

The Nail in Hollow Knight can be upgraded a total of 4 times by locating the Nailsmith in the City of Tears. The Nailsmith is a craftsman who survived the fall of Hallownest through his sheer obsession with his craft. Often working in seclusion and with little care for the world around him, the Nailsmith is fully dedicated to his hopes of one day forging the most powerful of Nails. Upon meeting him, you can commission him to upgrade your Nail in exchange for geo currency hollow knight wiki guide 62pxGeo and Pale Ore.

  • The first upgrade requires geo currency hollow knight wiki guide 62pxGeo only, but every upgrade thereafter will also require Pale Ore, a rare resource that will require thorough exploration to obtain. Each subsequent upgrade will require more of these resources.
  • Each Nail upgrade increases its damage output which can further be modified by equipping certain Charms.
  • Each Nail upgrade also changes the weapon's name, as well as its appearance. However, the appearance change is only visible in the equipment menu.

hollow knight wiki old nail icon
Old Nail

A traditional weapon of Hallownest. Its blade is blunt with age and wear.
Damage Requirement/s
5 Default Weapon


hollow knight wiki sharpened nail icon
Sharpened Nail

A traditional weapon of Hallownest restored to lethal form.
Damage Requirement/s
9 hollow knight wiki geo icon250


hollow knight wiki channelled nail icon

Channelled Nail

A cleft weapon of Hallownest. The blade is exquisitely balanced.
Damage Requirement/s
13 hollow knight wiki geo icon800, 1 Pale Ore


hollow knight wiki coiled nail icon
Coiled Nail

A powerful weapon of Hallownest, refined beyond all others.
Damage Requirement/s
17 hollow knight wiki geo icon2000, 2 Pale Ore


hollow knight wiki pure nail icon
Pure Nail

The ultimate weapon of Hallownest. Crafted to perfection, this ancient nail reveals its true form.
Damage Requirement/s
21 hollow knight wiki geo icon4000, 3 Pale Ore



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