Punch-Packing Pistol

This gun is everything. Cleanly polished, bright silver. It never jams, it has a large magazine so it barely ever needs to be reloaded. It has the stopping power of a shotgun, the fire rate of an SMG, and it can do headshots for instant kills from a mile away, and it has a scope and a laser sight to boot.

It is... a 9mm/.45 caliber pistol?

There is a strange tendency in some video games to make the starting pistol so ultimately powerful that you may never have to use anything else, since ammo is so plentiful and the gun is so practical. These are those guns.

See also: Standard FPS Guns, Hand Cannon, Sniper Pistol. Contrast Ranged Emergency Weapon, when the pistol is the weakest gun in the game instead, as well as Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness where the starting weapon gets outclassed quickly.

Not to be confused with a punch-triggered pistol.

Examples

  • All Points Bulletin has the Obeya FBW pistol. It looks like your typical 9mm handgun however, it is very accurate, has a good magazine size and can fire very quick. Making it effective both at short and medium range Also since the last major patch it has become the default starting weapon for players, which means everyone gets it permanently for free. Many players prefer it over any other secondary.
  • Alpha Protocol's pistol can get a Hollywood Silencer to deal with targets without a fuss, use tranq darts to deal with enemies non-lethally, can be used for critical hits while you're inside cover, and its Armour Piercing ammo allows you to deal with bosses with contemptible ease. And that's before one adds in Chain Shot, a Time Stands Still Gun Fu skill that allows you to fire up to five shots with perfect accuracy in less than a second and lets you clear rooms in one go, or insta-kill bosses in a single Chain Shot + Brilliance + Chain Shot combo. Like all Alpha Protocol weapons it requires plenty of skill points investment, but once you get that skill up there's really no reason to own anything else regardless of playstyle.
  • Dead Space has the pistol-equivalent, the Plasma Cutter, and many people genuinely believe it to be the most efficient weapon in the entire series, especially once fully upgraded. There's an achievement for going through the first game using nothing but the Plasma Cutter and it's actually not all that hard.
    • In fact, it actually makes the game easier. You only get ammo drops for weapons you have equipped, so if you only have one weapon equipped, then all of the ammo that drops will be for it. You'll get so much you'll be able to sell most of it without worry and spend the money on something useful.
  • Deus Ex
    • The first game is infamous for its pistol which almost perfectly fits the trope description. This trope applies to your enemies as well as you in the harder difficulties; a mook can easily one shot-kill you with the pistol.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution continues the tradition by making a silenced pistol with a laser scope and armor-piercing mod one of the best weapons in the game. Then they went even further and added in a .357 Magnum Revolver that can be upgraded to shoot explosive rounds. Those two weapons can easily carry you to the end of the game, using the silenced pistol for day-to-day wet work and saving the revolver's slightly-harder-to-find ammo for bossfights and robots.
  • Your starting pistol in Urban Chaos Riot Response packs a good punch and has above-average accuracy to begin with, but after a few upgrades it becomes the most useful weapon in the game, capable of pulling off flawless headshots at a decent range even without the optical sight (with the sight, it becomes a full-blown Sniper Pistol). Just about the only situation it can't adequately handle is a close-up gang of bad guys.
  • Half-Life:
    • For some reason, the same 9mm cartridges do more damage when fired from the Glock than when fired from the MP5 (this was changed in the sequel and in the Black Mesa Fan Remake). Also, the Glock is given the miraculous ability to be fired underwaternote .
    • The Colt Python does far more damage than one could normally expect from a .357. The damage is more in-line with a .44 revolver, which it was originally supposed to be.
  • Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation said of the basic pistol for Saints Row 2 that "your handgun can shoot accurately enough to pierce someone's nipple from across town". This was only a slight exaggeration, as the basic VICE 9 pistol did have ridiculous accuracy coupled with a decently generous 12-shot magazine and quick fire-rate to let the player easily headshot things to death from afar. The NR4 pistol was a bit slower in fire-rate but otherwise even further exemplified the trope since it was guaranteed to kill enemies in the head with one shot.
    • Saints Row: The Third continues the tradition and then makes it better with upgrades, giving the player the choice of the KA-1 Kobra with its armor piercing ammo, insane mag size and Hollywood Silencer increasing its accuracy, or the .45 Shepherd with its slightly smaller mag size and explosive ammo making it good against anything short of a tank.
  • While most pistols in Borderlands are fairly weak, the procedural weapon generation system means you may stumble upon one with quite heavy damage.
  • A few examples in Halo:
  • In both Left 4 Dead games, the ordinary pistol is quite an effective weapon, particularly when used Guns Akimbo. The original even has an achievement for completing an entire campaign with only them. Left 4 Dead 2 then ups the ante with a Magnum pistol that deals damage comparable to the sniper rifles; it even further exemplifies this trope in Realism mode, where the common infected can now survive two shots from said sniper rifles, but a single Magnum bullet to any part of their body still puts them down right there.
  • Zig-zagged across the Mass Effect series:
    • Pistols in the original Mass Effect 1 are arguably the strongest weapons, especially when fully upgraded and the Marksman ability is activated.
    • This was averted in Mass Effect 2, where pistols were relegated to sidearms. Every class can use them, but their damage has been nerfed, leaving them as mostly emergency weapons. However, the Phalanx is a DLC pistol that (when you go into aim mode) has a Laser Sight that is very accurate at long ranges and can punch messy holes in just about anything, giving you what is essentially a Sniper Pistol. This is very useful for players who picked biotics instead of technology or combat skills, because they don't have access to sniper rifles until well into the game. Even if you do have access to sniper rifles, it still beats the starting Mantis sniper rifle for rate of fire and ammo capacity and can match the later rapid-fire Viper sniper rifle.
    • Played somewhat straight again in Mass Effect 3, where pistols outclass assault rifles, sniper rifles, and shotguns that are supposed to fill the same role. For example: the Talon, a Cerberus pistol that shoots shotgun rounds, outperforms all but one of the actual shotguns. The Carnifex is an accurate Hand Cannon that kills most enemies in one or two headshots, depending on whether or not they have Deflector Shields. It outperforms all but three of the sniper rifles. The Paladin is an even more powerful variant of the Carnifex that is only outperformed by the game's two absolute best sniper rifles. And finally, the N7 Eagle is an automatic pistol that is nonetheless very accurate and easily outperforms both automatic assault rifles. It is, however, far outperformed by the heavier light machine guns and some battle rifles, which for some reason are classified as assault rifles.
  • Metal Gear:
    • For every game in the series, as soon as you can find a silencer for the pistol, it instantaneously becomes your best weapon. This is especially true when the series introduced firing your weapons from first-person view in Metal Gear Solid 2, because you can line up headshots so easily. Combine this with the fact that every gun is wildly accurate, and you can easily have situations where you line up a headshot from across the loaded map to where you can barely see the enemy textures, and it will work.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater not only skips the step of making you find the Silencers which make the pistol so effective (though they now degrade, so you can run out and need to restock them), but when you get it, Naked Snake goes on an extended monologue about how awesome the pistol is, and if you call Sigint later, he'll go even more in depth.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots almost seems to lampshade this when they give you the Operator at the beginning of the game, which is already a good gun, (according to the in-game stats) but then you can acquire the similar except better Mk 23 (the SOCOM from the original) and the M1911A1 that Naked Snake used in the third game, each gun being better than the last.
  • Handguns are the best overall weapon in Parasite Eve with having the quickest aim and being the most maneuverable. Rifles and submachine guns often have multiple shot mods attached, which split the same damage across multiple bullets, doing nothing except wasting ammunition.
  • The Settler Pistol in Rage starts out rather weak. Load it with Fat Boy rounds, and it becomes more powerful at the cost of halved ammo capacity. Load it with Fat Mamma rounds, and it becomes a monster capable of killing multiple enemies with one shot.
  • Resident Evil 4 gives you a 9mm handgun at the start that you can make very powerful through upgrades. Then, a second gun comes around with better starting stats that can be made even better. Infuriating, right? Nah, the upgrades on your old handgun make it astoundingly valuable, so you can buy the new gun and get started on upgrades. That's an overpowered pistol that breaks two parts of the gameplay system.
    • The second gun is the Red9, an old Mauser. It can be upgraded with a stock (making it insanely accurate), huge magazine (22 rounds) and the exclusive upgrade will boost it's power to 6.5, half that of a Magnum. Seeing as it's a handgun, ammo is plentiful as well. The only downside is the large amount of space taken in the inventory.
    • And that starting 9mm handgun can be upgraded to have 5x the chance of a critical headshot.
  • Resistance: The HE Magnum introduced in the second game does more damage per bullet than the M5A2 assault rifle. For bonus points, after you've shot a guy, the bullets lodged in them can be remotely detonated For Massive Damage.
  • Resonance of Fate: Breaking your pistols is actually one of the main game mechanics. It doesn't show on the models, but in the inventory screen you can see your pistol decked out with ridiculous stuff like a drum magazine for absurd amounts of ammo before having to reload, scopes stacked on top of each other, and multiple handles for decreased recoil.
  • Splinter Cell also features one of these. Even better, it's silenced from the start and never stops being that way.
    • Downplayed, though, as sometimes even a headshot isn't an instant kill. Chaos Theory onward make up for this with the extremely useful Optically Channeled Potentiator.
    • Conviction makes pistols more useful, by virtue of giving you infinite magazines. The Five seveN allows you to use the Mark & Execute function on up to four enemies, the most of any weapon in the game.
  • For Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines characters who don't specialize in combat, the late-game Colt Anaconda offers the best combo of accuracy and firepower. Even combat-based characters may find themselves using it primarily, despite the availability of automatic rifles and shotguns.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, pistols are lame and similar while larger guns are quite assorted, but the most powerful firearm is Droch's Warbringer, a Lost Technology pistol which has the same power as Elephant Gun, but is twice as fast and ammo-saving, lighter, smaller, doesn't require skillpoint investment to assemble and can be wielded one-handed. The only drawback is that components and crafting recipe lay in penultimate dungeon and are guarded by high-level monsters. But if you know where it is and bring along some Invisibility scrolls, it may become a Disc One Nuke or even a Game Breaker.
  • The Fallout series includes a .223 Pistol (based on Deckard's gun), described as a sawed-off .223 rifle. It seems that cutting off most of the barrel somehow made it almost twice as powerful. Add the same other stats, a perk for armor penetration, and being a small pistol, and there's little reason to use anything else until late in the game. note 
  • First Encounter Assault Recon and the Vivendi expansions Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate have the Rakow AT-14. When used single, it's not much more than a backup gun, but when it's dual wielded, the pistol slot grants you more ammo capacity and damage output (both per bullet and per second) than the HV Penetrator, a mid-game precision gun which you'd be really hard-pressed to find ammo for and only has the upper hand in accuracy and rate of fire even in those fields, its advantage is slight at best. The increase in the rate of fire that akimbo provides also has the advantage of the common "press fire once, shoot twice" aspect being completely averted; they're still semi-auto and single-shot. On top of that, two to five headshots will down ANY human enemy, and it disperses Nightmares with one shot; and for situations where sheer damage-per-second is necessary, the pistols are perfect for it when combined with Slow-Mo actually increasing their rate of fire. Having dual AT-14s in your inventory is practically essential for the first game's last level.
  • Unreal has not one, but two.
    • The Dispersion Pistol is the first gun you get. At first, it's a wimpy Ranged Emergency Weapon that recharges, but as the game goes, you collect power ups for it that add ten charges to its capacity, increases its damage output and triggers a cool little animation where the gun's appearance changes. By the time the fifth upgrade is reached and especially if you're using the Amplifier item, it's a straight example of Hand Cannon: bulky, slow-firing and powerful as all hell.
    • A subtler example is the Automag, the second weapon you get. This 20-round handgun has to reload every once in a while, but ammo is extremely plentiful, its shots hit a lot harder harder than the Minigun (which uses the same ammo as it does), and in primary fire, it's pinpoint accurate. Its secondary fire is a Gangsta Style mode that spews leaden death at double the speed and less than half the accuracy that wreaks havoc on any mook within spitting distance. And finally, it's a Hit Scan weapon, which means those pesky Skaarj can't roll out of the way of your shots. From the second level of the game to the very end, it'll be a sweet mainstay in your arsenal even after you get more powerful hardware.
  • In Bioshock Infinite, if the Season Pass is downloaded, the Pistol instantly becomes this. It has two further damage upgrades, which make it more powerful as you go on, and a mag size increase. Along with that, it is very accurate, can be fired as fast as the trigger can be pulled, has an extremely high critical damage multiplier, a quick draw speed and the upgrades are cheap. Once fully upgraded, it becomes a straight upgrade to the Hand Cannon, provides solid performance at all ranges and you can even take down Handymen with it!
  • The Judge gun in PAYDAY 2 is in the shape of a revolver, but fires shotgun shells. The gun's damage output is absurdly high and it has great concealment, which makes The Judge a perfect weapon to use for stealth as a backup plan if stealth fails. The Judge can also be fitted with a suppressor for stealth runs, a laser sight to aid in hip firing, and scopes for better iron sight aiming. Not only that, but because The Judge is shaped like a revolver, all the shells are reloaded at the same time rather than one shell a time that most shotguns go by. The only downsides to the gun is extremely poor accuracy, can only hold 20 shells total, and it costs over $700,000 to purchase.
  • PlanetSide 2's TX2 Emperor - a sidegrade pistol from the Terran Republic's standard issue burst-fire TX1 Repeater - has a massive magazine, impressive accuracy, good damage and rate of fire. It may lack the sheer power of the .44 Magnum Commissioner revolver, but it's far more controllable and forgiving.