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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/PAYDAY2 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/punchpackingpistol.png]]]]

In RealLife, there are very good reasons why the militaries of the world unanimously arm their soldiers with rifles and carbines as primary weapons. These firearms are ''far'' more accurate and ''far'' more powerful than any comparable pistol - while range, penetration, and other factors make universal rules tricky to apply to terminal ballistics, a standard intermediate-power rifle round (such as the 5.56mm NATO) is generally considerably more lethal than anything short of a .44 Magnum pistol round. A full-power rifle round (such as the 7.62mm NATO) is considered superior to even the gigantic .454 Casull, .50 Action Express, or even .500 Smith and Wesson pistol rounds, novelty ammunition largely disliked by even strong, veteran shooters for their titanic recoil and ludicrous price per bullet.[[note]]To note: these big novelty calibers are monstrous, ''for pistols''. When put in a long gun like a rifle or carbine, their performance is mediocre at best.[[/note]]

But in video games? Not so. It's incredibly common for both {{First|PersonShooter}}- and ThirdPersonShooter[=s=] to offer the player a [[StandardFPSGuns 'heavy pistol']] or {{revolver|sAreJustBetter}} which is [[ArbitraryGunPower vastly more powerful per shot than their standard automatic rifle]], usually capable of taking out mooks with a [[BoomHeadshot single headshot]] while the rifle might only plink away at them even ''with'' those same headshots.

Why does this happen? While having one weapon be overwhelmingly superior might be realistic, it doesn't make for particularly fun gameplay. If video game pistols were as comparatively weak as they are in Real Life, players would come to the same conclusion real militaries do: that there's little reason to ever use them when an automatic rifle is available. Developers want to give players a ''variety'' of more-or-less balanced weapons and tactics to choose from, and dramatically boosting the power of pistols allows them to stay fun and useful weapons, despite their lower capacity and (in games where you can aim weapons) harder-to-use ironsights, without making any glaring inaccuracies to the average player.

Contrast RangedEmergencyWeapon, when the pistol is the weakest gun in the game instead, as well as SortingAlgorithmOfWeaponEffectiveness where the starting weapons gets outclassed quickly. See ShotgunsAreJustBetter for a similarly "basic" weapon being among the most effective of a game. Not to be confused with a [[PowerFist punch-triggered pistol]].


* ''VideoGame/AllPointsBulletin'' has the Obeya ''FBW'' pistol. It looks like your typical 9mm handgun, but it is very accurate, has a good magazine size and can fire very quickly, 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.
* ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'''s pistols can get a HollywoodSilencer 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 {{armor piercing|Attack}} ammo allows you to deal with bosses with contemptible ease. And that's ''before'' one adds in Chain Shot, a TimeStandsStill GunFu 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.
* In ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura'', pistols are lame and similar while larger guns are quite assorted, but the most powerful firearm is Droch's Warbringer, a LostTechnology pistol which has the same power as the [[{{BFG}} Elephant Gun]], but is [[LightningBruiser 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 the components and crafting recipe lay in the penultimate dungeon and are guarded by high-level monsters. [[spoiler:But if you know where it is and bring along some Invisibility scrolls, it may become a DiscOneNuke or even a GameBreaker.]]
* In ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'', [[BribingYourWayToVictory 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!
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}''
** While most repeating pistols are fairly weak, the procedural weapon generation system means you may stumble upon one with quite heavy damage, an elemental effect, or both. Some unique pistols like the Firehawk (very high fire elemental tech, procs for ''six times'' the regular damage) and Krom's Sidearm (3-round burst when sighted, 3x shock element) are notable examples. Knoxx's Gold, which is typically VendorTrash since it's fully random what parts you get, certainly classifies as a punch-packer when it gets a high damage or high accuracy barrel and an elemental accessory (boosted by the Gold's defining trait, its material).
** Law revolvers work as this more than the {{Hand Cannon}}s that other kinds of revolvers tend to be. A Law's base damage is lower, but they can pop three to four caps in the same time that a Justice, for example, can shoot only once or twice. Couple it with a fast reload typical of Tediore guns, and as long as its cylinder is not a two-shot like most Laws not made by Tediore, even a common white Law trumps the majority of repeaters, even decent ones.
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}''
** As a rule of thumb, pistols trump assault rifles. Not only do they have a better swap speed and faster reloads, they ''outdamage'' AR's of the same manufacturer. (To be fair, all assault rifles in the game are pretty terrible, regardless.)
** The game also continues the tradition of having revolvers, ''especially'' Jakobs's ones, be among the most powerful and reliable weapons in the game, as well as being an excellent primary weapon choice for [=Zer0=]. It helps that you can fan them for up to (theoretically) an insane ''[[MoreDakka 15 rounds per second]]''. [=Zer0=] is especially nasty with the Vladof Infinity, a legendary pistol with unlimited ammunition - every round is the first out of the mag, effectively, and so every shot benefits from up to a 60% bonus damage from [=0ne Sh0t 0ne Kill=].
** Vladof's machine pistols have similar fire rate to submachine guns, despite having much higher damage and larger magazines than even assault rifles. Essentially their only disadvantage is poor accuracy/recoil, which you can make up for by using them close-range, or if a Vault Hunter's lucky, using one with the shoulder stock accessory. They're wonderful choices for Salvador and Gaige, given their abilities.
** The legendary "Unkempt Harold" and Moxxi's unique Rubi revolver are almost compulsory for Gunzerker and Commando builds. The legendary "Maggie" is no slouch in Anarchy Gaige builds, either (it's a revolver that fires buckshot, and in the hands of a Mechromancer with 400 Anarchy stacks and Close Enough 5, a guaranteed 900 damage from a level 17 Maggie as long as it's pointed somewhere in the same room as the enemy - for comparison, the Morningstar, a sniper rifle seven levels higher, only deals about 730 on a non-crit).
** The Sheriff's Badge [[spoiler:unsurprisingly dropped by Nisha]] turns pistols from being above average into obscenely powerful guns, rivaling assault rifles and SMG's in DPS. Especially combined with the aforementioned Unkempt Harold (turning it effectively into a "weak" rocket launcher) or the Infinity, which has infinite bullets and gains a fire rate and damage superior to SMG's as long as the user can deal with the fixed pattern spread. If pistols are primarily used in your build, the Sheriff's Badge is superior to every other relic in the game by a wide margin.
* ''VideoGame/BorderlandsThePreSequel'' lets Nisha dual-wield any pistol. She gets bonuses for using Jakobs revolvers too, but nearly all designs can work. If Claptrap uses a certain class mod that lets him have pistol bonuses, he can make use of this trope as well.
* ''Franchise/DeadSpace'' 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 doing so actually makes the game ''easier'' - you only get ammo drops for weapons you have equipped, so if you only have the one weapon 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 like upgrades.
* ''VideoGame/{{Destiny}}'' has a class of weapons known as the [[HandCannon Hand-cannons]], which are rather large [[RevolversAreJustBetter revolvers]] roughly the size of a sawed-off shotgun. They are difficult to use in PVP, but they hit like a truck.
** Sidearm secondary weapons in the House of Wolves expansion pack. This expansion introduced a measly two Sidearms (a normal one, Vestian Dynasty, and a much rarer Exotic one, Dreg's Promise), but they are remarkably effective, since they fire and reload fast, have mags of 15 (Dreg's Promise has 18), hit decently hard and the player can carry lots of ammo for it.
** The Taken King expansion gives us more Sidearms.
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx''
** 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 you with the pistol. This is especially so when combined with the LaserSight upgrade, which in the unmodified game completely negates aim spread if it's not attached in tandem with a scope.
** ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' 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|sAreJustBetter}} that can be upgraded to shoot [[HandCannon explosive rounds.]] As many players found out (to their delight), 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, more powerful ammo for boss fights and robots.
* The ''Project Brutality'' {{Mod}} for ''[[VideoGame/{{Doom}} Doom 2]]'' beefs up the dinky pistol into a powerful side arm, capable of being suppressed for silent headshots or [[GunsAkimbo used in both hands]] reducing accuracy but increasing damage and fire rate. Seeing how most of the monsters in game can be killed with a few shots to the head, this can save you ammo when your bigger guns are low or you're trying not to have that Revenant attack you.
* The [[https://empiresmod.com/ Empires Mod]] generally has such vast expanses that the scout's ability to zoom in remains decently useful, but the AntiInfantry rifleman is almost completely made obsolete by the pistol available to every other class, it being capable of your basic InstantKill BoomHeadshot and accurate to the pixel when [[CrouchAndProne crouching]] (for at least one shot every several seconds). Made worse by one of the game's very few aversions of CosmeticallyDifferentSides, in which only Brenodi forces have access to a burst-fire variant that is practically automatic in fire rate.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'': ''Honest Hearts'' introduces [[ImplacableMan Joshua]] [[BadassPreacher Graham's]] AceCustom M1911, A Light Shining In Darkness. Despite being a small handgun that shoots quite fast, it is absolutely deadly, particularly the NPC version he uses. Even the standard 1911 you can get with the DLC is obscenely powerful, especially with the "Grunt" perk that increases your damage with "military"-style weapons like it, with only [[HandCannon ridiculously-huge handguns]] like the 12.7mm pistol or 5.56mm "That Gun" being able to beat it in damage per shot.
* ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.]]'' has two examples:
** The first game, ''First Encounter Assault Recon'' and its Vivendi-made 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 [[GunsAkimbo 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/anti-armor 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[[note]]think a single gun with a 36-round mag[[/note]]. On top of that, two to five headshots will down '''any''' human enemy short of the [[MadeOfIron absurdly durable]] [[DemonicSpiders Nightcrawler Elites]] from ''Perseus Mandate''[='=]s endgame, 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 [[BulletTime Slow-Mo]], since semi-automatic weapons like it actually fire faster in Slow-Mo. Having dual AT-14s in your inventory is practically essential for the first game's [[ZergRush last level]], which the game helpfully insures by [[BagOfSpilling stripping you of everything except a single pistol]] when the Nightmares really kick into overdrive.
** ''F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin'' (and the ''Reborn'' [[DownloadableContent DLC campaign]] make this better and worse with their version of the basic pistol, the Seegert [=ACM46=]. It can't be paired up anymore to double its fire rate and capacity, but it's still about as powerful as before, and in fact that same power is more useful now with less-armored enemies like ghosts and Armacham goons[[labelnote:+]]against whom the armor-piercing ammo of later weapons is far less effective for example, the 14mm HV Hammerhead is devastating against {{Heavily Armored Mook}}s like Heavy Armors and elite soldiers, but each shot is only about as powerful as a pistol round against a Remnant or ATC mook[[/labelnote]] being more common across the entire game. Plus, the game has [[LimitedLoadout one more weapon slot]] than the first one does, and while ammo does get rare later on, it doesn't ''completely'' disappear - in particular, just about any enemy can be made to drop a pistol in certain circumstances.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'':
** For some reason, the same 9mm cartridges are more accurate and do more damage when fired from the Glock than when fired from the [=MP5=] (this was changed in the sequel and in the ''VideoGame/BlackMesa'' FanRemake). Also, the Glock is given the [[AluminiumChristmasTrees miraculous ability]] to be fired underwater[[note]]which it has in real life, though water resistance would lower the gun's effective range to about 5 centimeters[[/note]].
** The [[RevolversAreJustBetter Colt Python]] is an interesting case. It was originally meant to be an even larger Anaconda in .44 Magnum, but was changed at some point in development to the .357 Python... but its damage values weren't notably lowered to fit the lower-powered cartridge. It's got a slower fire rate and only a third of the capacity of the Glock or USP, but that doesn't matter when the six bullets it gets are still [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid more than enough to kill anything that moves]]. It is also pinpoint accurate; use the zoom function to aim and then fire once. The round will go exactly where you pointed it.
* The basic VICE 9 pistol in ''VideoGame/SaintsRow2'' has 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 with one shot to the head.
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' 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 HollywoodSilencer increasing its accuracy, or the .45 Shepherd with its slightly smaller mag size and [[StuffBlowingUp explosive ammo]] making it good against everything short of a tank.
* A few examples in ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** The [=M6D=] Magnum from ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'' had a scope and ridiculous power. Thanks to the way the game was coded, headshots were instant kills on unshielded enemies, and even the [[GiantMook Hunter's]] exposed parts were flagged as "head" for damage purposes. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in-universe as firing "[[HandCannon 12.7x40mm]] [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot Semi-]]{{Armor Piercing| Attack}} [[StuffBlowingUp High Explosive]]" Rounds - bullets even bigger than the infamous .50 Action Express used by the frequent-trope-offender Desert Eagle. Not surprisingly, ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'' weakened the pistol and removed the scope so it wouldn't be a GameBreaker when combined with the ability to go GunsAkimbo; ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'' brought back some of the power, but [[{{Nerf}} lowered the rate of fire and magazine capacity]].
*** Note that this isn't just GameplayAndStorySegregation, unlike most examples of this trope. The [=M6D=] is also shown to be more powerful than the assault rifle per shot in books and movies, taking down energy shielding in fewer shots and inflicting larger wounds on flesh. Again, this would be justified by the enormous round, which would actually have more kinetic energy than the bullets the assault rifle uses, assuming similar muzzle velocity to a modern Desert Eagle. On the other hand it would be inferior at piercing armor due to being fat and stubby, but non-Brute Covenant armor is [[ArmorIsUseless consistently worthless against even pissy little SMG rounds anyway]]... though being a high-explosive round makes a fat and stubby design moot anyway.
** The pistol got both its scope and rate of fire back in ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'', and has kept them ever since, with the exception of ''VideoGame/Halo5Guardians'' lowering the firing rate again. Even with the just-mentioned nerf, the pistol post-''ODST'' is still nearly on par with primary weapons such as the DMR, since ''Halo 5'' also ''increased'' its already respectable firepower, magazine size, and accuracy.
** Additionally, ''Halo 5'' introduces some special pistols that are only usable in the "Warzone" multiplayer mode and cannot be equipped permanently; the "Whispered Truth" is a silenced magnum that fires three-round bursts capable of killing a fully shielded Spartan in only two headshots, while the "Void's Tear" is a special plasma pistol that can fire ''miniature black holes''. A later update also brought back the original [=M6D=] Magnum in all its overpowered glory, with it now even giving its wielder a speed boost.
* In both ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' games, the ordinary pistol is quite an effective weapon, particularly when used GunsAkimbo. The original even has an achievement for completing an entire campaign with only them. ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' then ups the ante with a [[HandCannon 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 where they stand.
* Zig-zagged across the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series:
** Pistols in the original ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' have the lowest damage per shot, but can be used by all classes, have low heat production and are easy to use whilst on the move. It should be noted, though, that the pistol skill (Marksmanship) is far and away better than the assault rifle skill (Overkill) so with a proper build (Commando Infiltrator) you essentially have permanent Marksmanship and pistols do more damage.
** In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', however, the trope is played straight, with the addition of "heavy pistols" and "hand cannons", which all deal more damage per shot than the galaxy's standard military-issue assault rifle, as well as an "elite" battle rifle and a rare light machine gun. But they have inferior DPS due to their low rates of fire, and very low spare ammo capacity, limiting their usefulness to sidearms and anti-armour weapons. The trope is played especially straight with the M-5 Phalanx, a DLC pistol that (when you go into aim mode) has a LaserSight that is very accurate at long ranges and can punch messy holes in just about anything, giving you what is essentially a SniperPistol. 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 ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', where pistols can 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 two of the actual shotguns. The Carnifex is an accurate HandCannon that kills most enemies in one or two headshots, depending on whether or not they have DeflectorShields. It outperforms all but a few of the sniper rifles. The Paladin is an even more powerful variant of the Carnifex that is only outperformed by the game's four 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.
** Mass Effect is actually a {{Justified}} example of this trope, with GameplayAndStoryIntegration explaining it, for three reasons:
*** One: unlike modern firearms, barrel length is largely irrelevant to mass accelerator weapons, since they're coilguns. Theoretically, all you'd have to do to make a pistol as powerful as a rifle is stick a more powerful generator in it- though this would likely be more expensive, and you'd still have to deal with recoil. Lo and behold, heavy pistols are generally more expensive than the equivalent assault rifles in-game, something which is sometimes mentioned in the codex (e.g. the Carnifex's description).
*** Two: the pistols are absolutely ''enormous'', looking comically over-sized in the hands of most characters. [[https://www.projecttriforce.com/index.php?p=product&id=16 Per the official dimensions]], even the basic Predator is considerably more voluminous than a modern Desert Eagle. The third game's weight system doesn't forget about this: the pistols usually vary in weight from 0.5 to 0.75 units (with a couple going beyond), or 50%-75% of the basic assault rifle (Avenger). Assuming the Avenger weighs 4 kilograms (same as a loaded M-16), that easily puts every pistol in the game as being as heavy or heavier than a Desert Eagle. [[RealityEnsues Which would be useful]] for handling the recoil that would be generated by having such a small weapon with muzzle energy comparable to much larger ones.
*** Three: despite the above justifications, this trope is still realistically averted. Compared to the equivalent rifle (e.g. Eagle vs Avenger, Carnifex vs Viper, Paladin vs Valiant, Phalanx vs Mattock), heavy pistols almost always have higher recoil, lower firing rates as a result of the latter, less ammo capacity, and slightly lower damage ''in addition'' to being more expensive to buy and upgrade. While high-level pistols can easily outperform mid-level rifles (like those the enemies use), if you invest similar cash and mods into both then the only real advantage most pistols have is weight. [[CompetitiveBalance Which can be a pretty big advantage of its own to certain classes.]]
* The Hi-Standard Silenced from ''VideoGame/MedalOfHonor: Allied Assault'' kicks ass and wrecks face. It's a OneHitKill even on a body shot, [[SniperPistol can hit a target a full city block away]], and [[HollywoodSilencer the silencer makes it all bt inaudible to NPCs]]. Not bad for a .22 Long Rifle gun, huh? Its only downside is that it has to be cycled manually after every shot.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGear'':
** For every game in the series, as soon as you can find a [[HollywoodSilencer silencer]] for your pistol, it instantaneously becomes your best weapon. This is especially true when the series introduced firing your weapons from first-person view in ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 2|SonsOfLiberty}}'', 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.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'' 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 the custom 1911 five minutes into the main portion of the game, Naked Snake goes on an extended monologue about how awesome the pistol is, and if you call [[MissionControl Sigint]] later, he'll go [[UpToEleven even more in depth.]]
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'' 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 Solid Snake's WeaponOfChoice) and the [=M1911A1=] that Naked Snake used in the third game, each gun being better than the last.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVGroundZeroes'' and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' finally downplays this trope by adding bullet drop to all weapons. Pistols are heavily {{Nerf}}ed in terms of effective range and reserve ammunition capacity, though the [[StunGuns tranquiliser pistol]] is still a useful tool throughout, as the main purpose of the latter game is to recruit new soldiers.
* Handguns are the best overall weapon in ''VideoGame/ParasiteEve'' 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.
* ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'':
** In a game taking place in 2076, [[NewOldWest McCree's]] main weapon is a slightly modified Peacekeeper revolver. Doesn't sound impressive, but every bullet from this gun deals 70 damage - over 3 times more than Soldier: 76's assault rifle, and enough to kill an average hero in 3 shots, or 2 if one's a [[BoomHeadshot headshot]]. On top of that, his weapon is perfectly accurate and has enough effective range to qualify as SniperPistol. Especially when it's [[LimitBreak HIGH NOON]].
** [[TheMedic Mercy]] and [[GamerChick D.Va]] (when out of her mech) both wield automatic pistols as {{Ranged Emergency Weapon}}s. While they have the drawback of firing [[PainfullySlowProjectile fairly slow projectiles]], they both deal damage per shot on par with 76's rifle (though with slower fire rate), and unlike him, they don't suffer damage falloff, meaning they're just as effective in close range as they're when shooting across the map. They're also capable of headshotting, so opponents expecting an easy kill might be in for a nasty surprise.
* ''VideoGame/PAYDAY2'':
** The Judge is a {{revolver|sAreJustBetter}} that fires {{shotgun|sAreJustBetter}} shells. The gun's damage output is absurdly high - on par with the strongest primary shotguns, the double-barreled Mosconi and Joceline or the lever-action Breaker - and it has great concealment due to its small size, which makes The Judge a perfect weapon to use for stealth as a backup plan if stealth fails or for Dodge-based builds that require high concealment in open combat. 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 that the latter is particularly necessary if you're going for stealth, since its sights are already really good, if a little small). Not only that, but because The Judge is a revolver, all the shells are reloaded at the same time, and faster than any other mag-fed shotgun as well because it shares its animations with the Bronco .44 revolver. The only downsides to the gun is extremely poor base accuracy (which isn't much of a hindrance, unless you're using slugs), it shares the same sort of low capacity as the other super-strong shotguns (40 shells maximum, and that's assuming you don't use alternate ammo types that you can carry less of), and it costs over $700,000 to purchase.
** A weapon rebalance that came along with the 2015 Crimefest event and wasn't fixed until around Christmas turned almost every pistol into one of these. Even the smallest, weakest pistols with suppressors and other mods to reduce their damage were still strong enough to floor security guards in one bullet, dealing the exact same damage as an assault rifle; slightly-bigger ones like the Crosskill and Interceptor were powerful enough that you almost didn't ''need'' a primary weapon below Overkill difficulty because they killed ''everything'' short of specials in one shot, even without going for the head (and going for the head let you kill at least one special per magazine). Even after all the weapons in that class were given a nerf, they're all still really good in the right hands, particularly [[RevolversAreJustBetter the other non-Judge revolvers]], the Deagle, and the "Baby Deagle" (pictured above dealing three times the damage per-bullet of an AK); later patches and additions exemplified this even further with things like the Broomstick's Precision Barrel and the 5/7 AP or Parabellum pistols, which deal damage on par with the weakest of the sniper rifles.
* ''Videogame/PlanetSide 2'''s [=TX2=] Emperor - a sidegrade pistol from the [[TheEmpire 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 [[HandCannon Commissioner revolver]], but it's ''far'' more controllable and forgiving.
* The Settler Pistol in ''VideoGame/{{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 ''[[OneHitPolykill with one shot]].''
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'' gives you a 9mm handgun at the start that you can make very powerful through upgrades, such as having five times the likelihood of getting a critical headshot. Then another pistol comes around eventually with better stats but lacks the increased critical headshot, which you could sell your original gun for a lot of money towards if you want to go for that one.
* ''VideoGame/{{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.
* ''VideoGame/ResonanceOfFate'': 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.
* In ''VideoGame/SoldierOfFortune II'', pistols are nothing to scoff at. They're dead-on accurate, kill with one or two headshots, and can be fired fairly fast. That's a very good thing, as some of the endgame levels are of the BlackoutBasement variety, and the Mk. 23 is the only gun to mount a ''very'' necessary tactical flashlight[[note]]you can use other guns in conjunction with the Thermal/NightVisionGoggles, but said goggles are AwesomeButImpractical: they restrict your field of view, make reading subtitles impossible, and the visual effects may distract you from minor movements indicating enemy activity, and by then it'll be too late to react before you lose over half your health and all your armor, provided you manage to retreat to cover at all without being killed first[[/note]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Unreal|I}}'' has not one, but two.
** The Dispersion Pistol is the first gun you get. At first, it's a wimpy RangedEmergencyWeapon 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 [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking 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 HandCannon: bulky, slow-firing and '''powerful as all hell'''[[labelnote:*]]in the unpatched retail version, it can OneHitKill a [[DegradedBoss Stone Titan]], an enemy that otherwise takes more Eightball rockets you can carry to kill. Even patched, it's still strong: it guzzles a Skaarj Berserker's entire 320 HP in three shots[[/labelnote]].
** A subtler example is the Automag, the second weapon available. This 20-round handgun has to reload every once in a while, but ammo is extremely plentiful, its shots hit a lot harder than the [[GatlingGood Mini]][[MoreDakka gun]] (which uses the same ammo as it does), and in primary fire, it's pinpoint accurate. Its secondary fire is a GangstaStyle 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 HitScan 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.
* Your starting pistol in ''VideoGame/UrbanChaosRiotResponse'' 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 SniperPistol). Just about the only situation it can't adequately handle is a close-up gang of bad guys.
* For ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' characters who don't specialize in combat, the late-game [[RevolversAreJustBetter 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 ''VideoGame/{{Warframe}}'' you can buy a Lex pistol very early on. It's a vicious HandCannon; in terms of per-shot damage, it's matched only by the Seer (a literal SniperPistol), the Angstrum (which shoots [[StuffBlowingUp pencil rockets]]), or the Marelok family (powerful, but expensive). Accuracy is high, modding it is easy, and it focuses on puncture damage, effective against most of the game's more dangerous threats. The only reason not to keep it around is to eventually replace it with the [[InfinityPlusOneSword Lex Prime]].
!! Non-Video Game examples

* ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'', Most standard sidearms have the same power and armor penetration rating as that army's standard infantry weapon, albeit having shorter range and a lower rate of fire. Some squad leaders, commanders, and special characters however have significantly better options. Most commonly seen with Plasma Pistols. They follow the same trend as other pistols, compared to a Plasma Rifle, but are still much stronger compared to what most basic troopers and even some elites carry. At the risk of a 1/6 chance of them overheating and injuring the user, they are very good at handling most potential threats save the largest of monstrous creatures or heavily armored vehicles.
** And its various TabletopRPG including ''TabletopGame/DarkHeresy'', ''TabletopGame/RogueTrader'', ''TabletopGame/{{Deathwatch}}'', ''TabletopGame/BlackCrusade'', and ''TabletopGame/OnlyWar'' play with this even more, having variously detailed weapons. Starter grade las, auto, and snub pistols tend to be weaker than their large basic gun versions, having lower range, penetration values, and flat additional damage. But they tend to be popular due to their ease of use, acquisition, and special ammo options. In most cases, a Bolt Pistol is considered the highlight for most players, as it is significantly stronger than most other common weaponry, without being so rare and hard to acquire ammo that it avoids crossing into TooAwesomeToUse territory. The Hellpistol (AKA: Hot-Shot Las pistols) is just below that, being BoringButPractical option with slightly stronger damage than standard Lasguns and Autoguns but being able to rip right through most body armor, while being even easier to acquire ammo for it.