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Sniper Pistol

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Have fun trying to look down that scope.

"Your handgun can shoot accurately enough to pierce someone's nipple from across town."
Yahtzee, in his review of Saints Row 2

In the wonderful world of video games, you can take out a target at a thousand yards using your pistol when your sniper rifle runs out of ammo. Sometimes it's possible to pre-aim with a sniper scope, switch weapons to a pistol, and deal out the same damage.

In many cases, this is due to accuracy being determined by recoil, along with no realistic damage/bullet drop. Rather than have the bullets deviate from the cross-hair, the weapon always shoots where it is aimed, but each shot causes your aim to shift. Therefore, carefully lining up the first shot always results in a hit, even if the subsequent shots go wide. Weapons with low damage but high firing rates, such as machine guns, will therefore be hard to aim accurately, while slower firing and more powerful single shot weapons, such as pistols, will be more effective at range so long as you take the time to line up each shot. It's often possible to get the same effect from an automatic if it has the option to switch to single-shot mode (or sometimes it will have the exact same accuracy, which makes even less sense). This is likely a way to work around the limitations of hitscan. As well, in many situations a headshot is a headshot no matter what the bullet was fired from, so a fast-firing pistol with lots of ammo is favourable next to a slow-loading sniper rifle with a handful of shots. The extreme version of this is when the pistol is not only as accurate as a sniper rifle at long range, it's as strong as one too.

In Real Life, accurately shooting a handgun at longer ranges, regardless which type of scope is used, is incredibly difficult and takes a lot of training to master, much more compared to a rifle. Getting any kind of grouping on a target set beyond 100 yards can prove really tough to accomplish.

Additionally, ranges are extremely compressed in Video Games. In real life, the effective range for the average 9mm or .45 ACP pistol is up to 100 yards, whereas even a small caliber assault rifle reaches 400-500 yards easily, not to count designated marksman rifles which hit 600 yards or true sniper rifles, which pass 2000 yards.

The ability to shoot at long range with a handgun can be heavily influenced by its caliber, as fast and flat shooting pistol calibers do much better at far distances than slow calibers.


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    First Person Shooter 
  • The Adventures of Square has paintgun pistols. They can shoot pixel-perfect shots with semi-auto fire, and you can use two of them at once.
  • In Battlefield 2, the pistols are one of the more accurate weapons in the game. In fact, snipers can quite easily use their rifle to score a damaging but non-lethal hit, and then follow with a burst of pistol fire to finish off a target... at 150 yards.
    • It's even worse in Battlefield 1942, where good players could kill snipers with nothing but a pistol, before the sniper managed to work the bolt on their rifle. The first Battlefield: Bad Company sees a lot of this too, as recon kits are the only ones to include pistols.
  • The Borderlands series:
    • The first game, Borderlands: Repeater pistols tend to be rather inaccurate if they're not Swatters or made by Hyperion (if it's both, you got a bona fide sniper pistol more accurate than the absolute majority of two-handed guns, including snipers). The Revolvers, on the other hand, can act as very useful mid-range snipers in a pinch... and as we all know, Revolvers Are Just Better. The Hunter, the class optimized for sniping, is also the pistol expert. It even gets brought up in Mordecai's back story, when he won a sniping competition... with a revolver. He was disqualified for suspected cheating, which sounds reasonable... except he didn't cheat. He's just that good.
    • Borderlands 2 has the Hyperion pistols. After a few shots to stabilize the gun, it'll have almost pixel-perfect accuracy for the rest of the mag as long as you keep firing, especially if it's named Leverage or Vision. If it also has the Hyperion scope (the most powerful zoom of all), constantly popping critical hits halfway across the map is a done deal.
      • Scoped Jakobs revolvers also qualify, with high accuracy and per shot damage and high recoil.
  • Call of Duty: World at War. It is often possible to shoot and kill the sniper who hits you from halfway across a very large map while lying down in Second Chance position, unable to move and equipped only with a pistol.
    • They are rather shameless about this trope in this game - there's an achievement in the first Soviet mission of the campaign for finding a pistol somewhere in the level and taking out high-value target with it, when you'd normally be doing it with the scoped Sniper Rifle you started out with. Note too that pistols are not dropped by enemies in this level - there is a single one of them, in one specific spot of the map, for literally no reason whatsoever other than because the devs knew someone would be crazy enough to try it even if there wasn't an achievement.
  • Taken to its logical conclusion in Call of Duty: Black Ops, where in multiplayer you have the option of attaching a scope to the revolver. Said revolver, along with most of the revolvers from World at War onwards and the Desert Eagle from the Modern Warfare games, will kill a player in a single shot regardless of the range to the target or where you hit them, with perfect accuracy, if you're playing on a hardcore server/playlist. So, you can nail a kill from across the entire map with a revolver by hitting someone who just spawned at full health in the foot.
    • Second Chance + Hardcore game modes = long range death laser.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade had a rather effective silenced pistol in single-player as well, though you needed bigger guns (or explosives) to deal vehicles and buildings. In multiplayer on the other hand, the pistol is a last resort weapon given to all classes with a woefully limited effective range.
  • The Conduit and its sequel both feature the HVS45, a powerful scoped pistol that was practically made for sniping. Even the more basic USP is highly accurate.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has the R8 Revolver, also known as "Pocket AWP" due to its absurd accuracy and firepower — at the cost of having to learn a trigger-holding minigame.
  • The pistols in Deus Ex are very accurate if you put enough skill points into using them, but their damage is lower than other weapons barring the anemic Assault Rifle.
    • Plus you could fit a scope and laser sight on it. Master-skill-level pistolwork is cheaper (thus earlier) to reach than master-level riflery, but the damage (and range) limits will hurt later in the game.
    • Due to a bug, if you attach only a laser sight but no scope to your pistol, it will be 100% accurate at any range as long as you're standing still. Combine this with the fact that the game's starter pistol does 1-hit kill headshots and you've got a Game-Breaker.
      • The Shifter Mod fixes this, making the laser account for your character's hand sway. This means you have to be able to actually see the laser dot on your target to be accurate, and eliminates the 150-yard precision accurate kills that were achievable prior to this.
    • In the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War, the pistol has rather low damage, but is still extremely accurate even when fired rapidly. One of its unique variants replaces its standard flashlight with a scope.
    • The pistol in Human Revolution can become this with the right weapon mods and cybernetic augmentations. A laser pointer means you can see exactly where your shots will land even while moving and a fully upgraded Aim Stabilizer aug will keep your reticule/laser pointer from swaying around; combined together they give perfect accuracy at any range you can see your laser dot at. The pistol's unique mod is armor-piercing rounds. Since enemies gain little health over the course of the game, instead gaining better armor (which the mod lets the pistol ignore), even most late-game enemies will die instantly from a bullet to the head.
    • The upgrade to the Revolver makes the bullets explode. Better on mechs, but much louder.
  • Doom is the Trope Maker. If you pause for about a second in between each pistol or chaingun shot, it will have perfect accuracy. But in an era where headshots didn't exist, this was rarely a viable tactic for killing anything but zombies and imps.
  • Lampshaded in the Garry's Mod game mode Trouble in Terrorist Town, an Honorable Mention Achievement being called "It's Like a Tiny Rifle", given to a player who killed many other players with the Desert Eagle. Incidentally, "tiny rifle" is a fairly accurate description of a Desert Eagle in terms of operation, if not accuracy.
  • Any game by Rare, the developers of GoldenEye (1997). Perfect Dark even gave you a scoped pistol for some levels; you could zoom in and use them just as you would a sniper rifle. In the prequel, the player's default pistol is always scoped, though they're at least not completely crazy about it as, while it does have ridiculous accuracy, it's sequentially outclassed by a later SMG and then assault rifle that, other than taking up more inventory space, do everything it does better with the addition of higher capacities (24 and 30), full-auto fire, and in the latter's case replacing its barely-worthwhile flashlight with a Grenade Launcher.
  • Half-Life: Both pistols in the original. In Half-Life 2, not necessarily the first pistol (for lack of accuracy), but as soon as you get the Magnum revolver...
    • In Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, a revolver can be used on a sniping map. Also, a zoom script can be a game-winning combination - the revolver has power on par with the crossbow, which has a scope (as opposed to every other weapon forcing the player to use the HEV suit's zoom, which prevents them from firing), and the revolver is hitscan whereas the crossbow fires a Painfully Slow Projectile affected by gravity, and as such is pretty much useless for that purpose.
    • Half-Life: Alyx fits this trope too, even letting you attach a tactical scope and a laser for pinpoint-accurate aiming at enemy weak points over surprisingly long distances.
  • In Halo, several variants of the M6-type pistol are scoped, including the ones featured below:
    • The M6D from Halo: Combat Evolved. In-universe, it fires explosive rounds. In response to its "overpowered" nature for many players, it resulted in it being replaced by the much weaker (and scopeless) M6C in Halo 2. That said, the original M6D is still fondly remembered by some fans (especially competitive Halo players), as being less of an "overpowered" Game-Breaker, and more of an Utility Weapon that helps balances out the Power Weapons (i.e Sniper Rifle or Rocket Launcher) with the niche weapons (such as the Plasma Rifle or Assault Rifle). It was popular enough to be included as a power weapon in Halo 5: Guardians's "Warzone" multiplayer mode.
    • Halo 3: ODST's version of the M6C (which, unlike Halo 2's, has a scope) is one of the most reliable weapons in the game (often showing up as a player's weapon of choice in "Firefight") due to its incredible accuracy and high rate of fire, despite its lack of power against shielded opponents.
    • Both the M6G (specifically Halo: Reach's version) and the M6H (Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians) are basically just weaker (but still powerful) versions of the M6D, complete with explosive rounds.
    • Halo 5: Guardians's "Warzone" also has the "Whispered Truth", a M6H variant which fires three-round bursts and can kill a fully-shielded Spartan in only two headshots.
    • While you can technically use the strategy of lining up the shot with the sniper rifle before nailing a headshot with the pistol, all versions of the pistol takes several rounds to down shielded opponents. It's also worth noting the pistols all deal far less damage if they're not aimed at the opponent's head.
  • In the James Bond video games NightFire, and Agent Under Fire, the basic starting pistol can be used to effectively snipe at any visible targets by a player with good accuracy. It can also typically kill any basic enemy with a single shot to a vital area, and is far more accurate then almost any non-sniping weapon. It was even covered in a Playstation Underground Cool Move.
  • KAEDE Smith's long-barreled semi-auto with a scope in Killer7. Some characters lampshade this and the supernatural nature of the Smiths may somewhat justify it, as she's apparently the only person in the whole world who can shoot like that (and yet she still fumbles with the magazine every time she has to reload).
  • In Killzone, the character Luger has an automatic pistol equipped with a zoom lens, whose secondary function is to shoot extremely precise individual bullets for which headshots are instant kills. That's the idea, at least; in practice, it seems that no matter how still you are when you aim, they always seem to go way off target at the most inopportune moments.
  • The pistols in Left 4 Dead has surprisingly good accuracy even at a somewhat longer range, plus the Bottomless Magazines can pretty much let you fire like crazy at will. The only thing stopping it from being a Game-Breaker is its low power since the pistols were designed to be used as emergency weapons if you were low on ammo for your main gun. The game subverts the trope when you are incapacitated and the accuracy for the pistols are decreased.
    • Left 4 Dead 2 ups the ante by introducing the magnum pistol, which is a one shot kill on common infected and headshot-accurate when fired from a crouch. It's actually powerful enough to be used by many as their primary weapon, since (being a pistol) you can still use it while downed and it has infinite ammo, but it's functionally like the shotgun at any range, killing anything short of a Witch in one or two bullets. Unlike the normal pistols, it preserves the accuracy when downed. You could literally snipe a Smoker several yards away while incapacitatednote .
  • Since Marathon predates the advent of a Sniper Rifle in First Person Shooters, the pistol(s) happens to be the best sniping weapon, possibly bar Infinity's ammo-guzzling flechette SMG.
    • Since the game lacks both crosshairs and on-gun sights, the pistol's low recoil and slow rate of fire make it the easiest weapon to reliably aim over long distances, once you've got it centered on a target.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has the handheld Autocannon/2 for Battlearmor. It's a bullet hose with a range of about three feet when fired fully automatic. When fired semi-automatic, it's the single most accurate ballistic weapon in the entire game. The only thing preventing battlearmor from sniping each other from across the huge maps is the need to lead shots and the lack of a high-powered zoom on the weapon.
  • A nearly ubiquitous Game Mod for online Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is the addition of a silenced Hi-Standard to every player's loadout, which can kill in a single shot from across the map. Averted with the M1911A1, which has dismal accuracy at more than a few meters.
    • A useful trick is to aim for an enemy with the sniper scope, then switch to the pistol and shoot. This trick is also common in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.
  • In Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, there was a British silenced pistol called the Welrod. Though lacking a scope, the bullet would hit exactly where the gun was pointed (albeit with a slight delay between the time you fired and the time the bullet hit the target), and would kill in one hit. However, the gun only carried one round per magazine. In real life, the maximum effective range of the Welrod was only 23 meters (75 feet) and it could hold six or eight rounds per magazine depending on the model, but it was manually cycled.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, same thing. If you're out of ammo and one kill short of a chopper, pull out your pistol and snipe. Of course, it's not really as hard-hitting as an actual sniper rifle.
    • The sequels are no different. Of course, the generally smaller maps made it a bit more justifiable. A bit.
  • The Nintendo 64 adaptation of The World Is Not Enough gives you a Colt Anaconda which is equipped with a scope. Since it's the most powerful pistol in the game, it fits this well as accurately-aimed shots can be one-shot kills.
  • The Operative: No One Lives Forever gives us a silenced pistol which is easily the best weapon of the game (except on certain occasions): silenced, high rate of fire, ammo found everywhere, headshots are an instant kill, and it has the accuracy of a sniper rifle. Later in the game you get the Bacalov Corrector, a single-shot scoped pistol that fires an explosive rifle round, based on the main villain's weapon of choice from Hard Target.
  • Generally averted in Overwatch due to damage falloff at long distances, but early versions of McCree had such long damage falloff on his revolver that he was nicknamed "McSniper" by the community until his falloff was nerfed.
  • With the right modifications, some pistols in PAYDAY 2 can become very accurate at range, allowing you to pick off cops from surprisingly far away. But while pistols can do a fairly-high amount of damage with the right perks and good aim, sniper rifles are generally better for damage output at range.
  • PlanetSide 2's NS-44 Commissioner Hand Cannon is extremely accurate when crouched and does almost as much damage as a sniper rifle (albeit with high damage drop off), allowing it to be used to finish off targets from long range. Low-power reflex sights can be affixed to it easier to use instead of using the horrible standard iron sights. The excessive recoil can still make follow-up shots difficult, however. The derivative NS-44L Blackhand is a Commissioner with a longer barrel, integrated 4x scope and with higher-velocity bullets, albeit with only four versus the Commissioner's six.
  • The Settler Pistol in Rage (2011) is effective against all types of enemies, at any range, once it has been upgraded with a monocular sight and Big Mama bullets.
  • In Red Steel multiplayer, the starting pistol has perfect accuracy and, like the sniper rifle, is an instant kill from any range if the opponent is shot in the head. Given the point-and-shoot aiming of the Wii, even lacking a scope it was fairly easy to pick off an enemy at long range (granted the four levels were all relatively small). Odd, given that other weapons lacked this feature and the pistol was otherwise a relatively weak weapon, best replaced with another gun were it not for this quirk.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein features a sniper machine pistol, the silenced Sten gun. Though scopeless, it has the lowest bullet spread of any weapon and can hit with pixel-perfect accuracy across the map, though at the cost of overheating if you fire more than seven shots at once.
    • Of course, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory's version inherits this characteristic.
  • Serious Sam did not bother discriminating accuracy between weapon for most of the scope-less guns, so you can snipe with the minigun as well as with the Schofields as long as an enemy's colouring the crosshairs. Of course, the Sniper Rifle's scope gives it an advantage, while the flamethrower's short reach hampers it. In BFE, the pistol and assault rifle have to be sighted in to be perfectly accurate; when hip-fired, they have a degree of bullet spread.
  • The pistols in Soldier of Fortune. Even the 9mm can take down enemies from fairly long range. Averted, of course, with the second game.
  • In Star Wars: Dark Forces, your starting pistol is very accurate and auto aims at long distances. This continues into the later games of the series, where the starting blaster pistol is perfectly accurate and uses less ammo per shot, but is slower and deals less damage per shot than the hilariously-inaccurate stormtrooper rifle.
  • Team Fortress 2
    • Pistols are surprisingly effective at long ranges, especially the Spy's Revolver, which has less shots per magazine than the others, but deals way more damage. For the Scout and Engineer, the Pistol is the weapon of choice to exploit a badly placed and non-Wrangled sentry gun's Arbitrary Weapon Range. For all classes crits can suddenly make the pistol a lethal long range weapon.
    • An update since release changed the bullet-firing algorithm so that the first bullet fired with any hitscan weapon (if you haven't fired for 1.25 seconds) is always perfectly accurate and at least one pellet from a shotgun will go straight down the crosshair. Which means you can technically snipe with a shotgun, though you'll only get 3 damage or so, because only one pellet will connect, and almost every weapon has falloff that reduces damage by as much as half.
    • While not a pistol per se, the Pyro's Flaregun has an an incredible range if used correctly (at least for the Pyro, considering the fact that he's meant for short range combat), as does the Medic's Syringe Gun.
    • The Spy's Ambassador was made for this, trading firing speed and damage for perfect accuracy and being the only non-Sniper weapon that gets Critical Hits on headshots (which negates the damage falloff from firing at a distance). Later updates nerfed that capability badly, limiting headshot potential to shots fired at 22 meters or less from the targetnote . The Diamondback revolver, if it has a crit stored, is a straighter example, as it has no distance penalty and doesn't need to hit the target's head.
  • All weapons in Turok: Evolution have an alternate fire that you get from an upgrade to that weapon. The standard Sleg Pistol can get a long barrel, scope and stock that swing into place or off to the side of the weapon at the push of a button, converting it into a battle rifle with a scope (concept art for it in both forms even outright calls it the "Sniper Pistol"). The Sleg troops use the pistol in its rifle format as their basic grunt weapon and sniper rifle throughout the game.
  • The Automag in Unreal, on top of being a hitscan weapon, has pixel-perfect accuracy in primary fire mode (the Gangsta Style Secondary Fire, on the other hand...). Its successor, the Enforcer, isn't as absurdly accurate, but it's still very dependable as a mid-to-long range weapon.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D is the Ur-Example. The pistol has the same accuracy and damage falloff as the other weapons, using the same ammunition. As in its successor Doom, the automatic weapons are still a straight upgrade due to More Dakka. The enemies subtly avoid this trope, as the SS troops using submachine guns have more accurate shots than the guards or officers, packing pistols.

  • Elona Shooter's Revolver-Sniper is a slower-shooting but more accurate Revolver.
  • Notrium has a literal, hard-to-make, Sniper Pistol being the strongest weapon in the game.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Using Chain Shot in Alpha Protocol allows you to hit (and most often take out) any human enemy you can see and aim at. The pistol is also generally the only weapon you will ever need, not only due to Chain Shot but also the ability to crit enemies and make non-lethal takedowns at a distance.
  • The Fallout series:
    • Fallout and Fallout 2: The .223 Pistol and Gauss Pistols for long-range mayhem. Their range is nearly as good as a rifle's and they do very good damage. However, the range mechanics of the game make them less accurate than a rifle. Until you got your Small Guns skill up to about 200, anyway. The true die-hard pistol fanatic would probably take the One-Hander trait, which greatly improves accuracy.
    • Fallout 3: Multiple:
      • The Scoped .44 Magnum and its unique variant, the Blackhawk.
      • To a lesser degree, the functional range on the 10mm Handguns and Chinese Pistols are rather frighteningly similar to those of the unnamed Hunting Rifles and Sniper Rifles, especially in VATS mode.
    • Fallout: New Vegas: The Hunting Revolver, which is similar to the Scoped .44 Magnum, except slightly more powerful. The Ranger Sequoia version is potentially several times more accurate, but doesn't get a scope. There's also scope mods for some of the pistols. The game also features "That Gun", the same old .223 Pistol returning from the classic games, which is once again not only more accurate but also more powerful than rifles firing the same rounds; combined with the fact that 5.56mm ammo gets the most variations for different situations (armor-piercing, hollowpoints, and the like), That Gun is probably the most versatile weapon in the game.
      • Note that practically all of the pistols in both games are actually quite inaccurate compared to rifles of the same tier, averting the trope somewhat.
      • Energy pistols play with this trope: almost all of them that don't shoot plasma are incredibly accurate, with the basic Laser Pistol tied in max accuracy with the most accurate conventional handgun and the Alien Blaster being the only perfectly accurate gun in the game. However, they are fairly hard to aim because most of them lack sights or have very poor ones, and the accuracy in VATS matches this—unless you take the chem Steady, then this trope fully comes into play.
    • Fallout 4 can take this trope a lot more literally, if the player chooses to. The laser gun, plasma gun, pipe bolt-action and pipe revolver can all be fitted with sniper barrels and long-range scopes. So long as you don't give them a stock, they'll remain pistols as far as gameplay mechanics are concerned, and will benefit from the Gunslinger perk rather than the Rifleman perk.
      • The Gunslinger perk itself also reflects this, as it's secondary effect after increased damage for pistols, is increased range for pistols. With a few points of investment into Gunslinger, your sniper pistols will actually have greater effective range than their rifle counterparts.
  • There's one in Hellgate: London with Rail Pistol, a railgun pistol which is designed for Hunter classes who like to shoot enemies from far away while Guns Akimbo.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, the pistol was really the only weapon you'd ever need due to absurdly good accuracy compared to every other weapon (except for possibly a fully-upgraded sniper rifle), especially when you activate the Marksmanship Skill.
      • The pistol in this game is more like a freaking machine gun than a sniper rifle.
      • Also justified in that the weapons of mass effect apparently have on-board computers that calculate firing solutions, so aiming the sight and firing will presumably work with any weapon at any distance.
    • Mass Effect 2's "Firepower Pack" DLC adds the M-5 Phalanx, a heavy pistol with a laser sight. All pistols technically fit the description given the lack of long range fights in the game, but the Phalanx always hits exactly where the sight falls.
    • Mass Effect 3 takes it a step further by adding pistol scopes, which when added to the M-77 Paladin or M-358 Talon produce weapons at least as powerful as actual sniper rifles. The Paladin and the Carnifex are also among the most accurate non-scoped weapons in the game, allowing for extreme-range kills even without the scope. If you're playing as a biotic-based class and have good pistol marksmanship, you can leave the sniper rifle slot empty, lightening your loadout and a decreasing your power cooldown time.
      • The multiplayer portion of Mass Effect 3 takes this to a new level (guns have different stats in single vs multi player). The multiplayer version of the M-77 Paladin has stats that are almost identical to the N7 Valiant, an equal-tier (both are in the highest tier) sniper rifle. Specifically, the Paladin has the same clip size, fire rate and accuracy, actually does MORE damage per shot and has less spare ammo. Players joke that it is a sniper rifle, just in the wrong category
      • Also, the Executioner Pistol. It only has one shot per clip, but if you use a High Caliber Barrel/Cranial Trauma Barrel, and a scope, you'll be dropping bad guys very quickly.
      • The Talon's obscenely effective at sniping, considering it's a pistol-sized shotgun.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • One of the Masterwork Upgrades Corvo can get for his pistol in Dishonored 2 is a honkin' great scope slapped on top of it. This neutralises recoil when in aiming mode, and also makes the pistol's shots pinpoint-accurate. And if you shoot an enemy from far enough away, they won't hear the shot (generally the big disadvantage of the pistol is its volume drawing the attention of those nearby). So in gameplay terms, your pistol becomes a sniper rifle, perfect for stealth-oriented High Chaos players.
  • The Silverballer pistol in Hitman: Blood Money can be upgraded with a scope. And, weirdly enough, you can wield two of them. They're pretty accurate with the right upgrades. Though the actual sniper rifle is still the preferred long range weapon, a scoped, silenced Silverballer is very handy in locations where setting up the sniper rifle would be impractical.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots handles this pretty well: a scoped Desert Eagle.note  Also, in multiplayer, your pistols are surprisingly accurate and pretty useful - provided you can squeeze a shot off before you get killed by your FN SCAR-H-wielding opponent.
    • A common strategy in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater prior to getting the Sniper Rifle is to use the binoculars, zoom, then switch to the weapon-of-choice (usually one of the pistols) and fire. Always hits if done correctly, unless the target moves. That said, the 1911's sights made sniping pretty easy anyway.
    • In the second game, the SOCOM pistol you get at the beginning of Raiden's mission is your most accurate weapon. Headshots are guaranteed one-hit kills, but unlike the sniper rifles it has no sway, and the sights are very, very easy to use.

    Survival Horror 
  • One of the weapons in The Last of Us is a single-shot scoped revolver known as "El Diablo".
  • Metro 2033 features a literal sniper pistol. One of the first weapons you come across is a revolver. Then you find one with a silencer. Then one with an extended barrel. Then one with a rifle stock attached. Then one with a stock and silencer. Then one with a stock, optics, and extended barrel or a stock, optics, silencer, and laser sight, allowing you to make highly accurate and silenced shots at long range. These later variants are available relatively early in the game.
  • In Resident Evil 4 (at least in the Wii version), it is possible to go through the game using the Pistol instead of the sniper rifle when required. Since almost all guns are aimed via the crosshair on the screen in the Wii version, their corresponding idle swaying has been removed entirely - your accuracy now depends entirely on how steady you hold the controller.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Control invokes this as the "Service Weapon" Jesse uses for the entire game is a handgun that can shapeshift into different forms, making it function like other weapons, including a rapid-fire machine gun or a close-ranged shotgun. Specifically, the "Pierce" form fires singular Charged Attacks that tears through walls and multiple enemies — with its slow rate of fire (making it not great for the middle of a firefight) and upgrades that increase the camera zoom while aiming, it functions as the game's equivalent to a sniper rifle.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has an interesting bug where sometimes the first shot you make out of cover is completely accurate, even while using blind fire, allowing you to get headshot after headshot without even looking!
  • All pistols in the Gears of War series are able to zoom slightly. More useful in the sequel, where people might do something else besides shotgun rush all the time.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has the SRR, which is listed in the sniper rifle category but looks for all the world like a typical revolver with a stock and sniper optics bolted on. If you remove all the accessories and use the pistol grip instead of the standard stock, that's essentially what you get. An eyebrow-raising silenced barrel is also built-in.
    • The humble 45T pistol can score a headshot at nearly the same distance as the 7.62mm 417 rifle despite being listed with a range shorter than a shotgun.
  • In Star Wars: Battlefront II, getting about 6 kills with a pistol upgrades it to the Precision Pistol, which does about as much damage as a regular sniper rifle (two shots or one headshot to down pretty much anyone who isn't a Wookie or Destroyer Droid), keeps the targeting reticule when unscoped, and has sixteen-shot semi-automatic mags, allowing you to basically mow through any group of enemies you see. Considering the sniper rifle's upgrade actually makes it worse at sniping, the Precision Pistol is very good.
  • For a particularly silly example, see the Air Taser in Syphon Filter, whose range is practically infinite despite being a taser. It's a favorite amongst fans, not the least because of its Video Game Cruelty Potential. Eventually replaced with a taser that has a more realistic range, but the original could still be unlocked as an Infinity +1 Sword. The series' actual pistols are also deadly accurate, and headshots with any weapon are a One-Hit Kill to most enemies. Bonus for the silenced ones.
    • Taken to its literal conclusion in The Omega Strain, with the Desert Sniper scoped magnum.
  • Lara's handgun in Tomb Raider is highly accurate and can one-shot kill most enemies with a clean headshot. You can also upgrade it with a Hollywood Silencer, and taking the Pistol Expert ability has a headshot reticle light up when you're on target. These upgrades make it an even better sniper weapon weapon than the bow, especially since the pistol's higher rate of fire can allow you to pick off multiple enemies in close succession.
  • Uncharted loved this trope in the first and second games with the PM-9mm, 92FS-9mm, and .45 Defender, which had a bucket's worth of ammo capacity and incredibly fast reload times. A common loadout is to have one of these to cover short and long ranges while an Assault Rifle covered medium ranges. These pistols were even good enough to cover for a specialized two-handed weapon like an RPG.
  • The Lex and the upgraded Lex Prime in Warframe follow this trope exactly, with very high damage and accuracy, but a very slow rate of fire combined with heavy recoil makes these pistols unsuitable for beginners.
    • The Marelok and its Syndicate version, the Vaykor Marelok, may also qualify.
    • Warframe also has the Seer, a literal Sniper Pistol thanks to Vor adding in a custom zoom function. That said, the Seer's bullets aren't hitscan.
    • Other scoped pistols includes the Knell, which gives you temporary unlimited ammo and increased critical damage upon scoring a headshot, and the Arca Scisco, which has a stacking crit chance bonus the more you shoot an enemy.
  • WinBack has Jean-Luc's pistol, which can one hit kill non-boss enemies with a headshot from surprising range. The dot scope allows him to accurately headshot enemies from across the map.

    Turn Based Tactics 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Guns (all of which are magic pistols) have a range of 8 squares (bows have 5) and can do elemental damage. Although they are only usable by a few classes, they basically make you a sniper wizard.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2, guns have huge range compared to any other weapon (save magical cards). Much like in FFT, there are abilities that allow you to deal elemental damage and cause some Status Effects like Stop and Charm... and some abilities use the range of the weapon, allowing you to combine the range of guns with - say - Ultima Charge to turn your humble gun into a sniper magic bazooka gun.
  • Sharpshooter characters in Steamworld Heist use sniper pistols as their default weapons. Sniper Rifles don't seem to exist in the universe, snipers just use pistols.
  • Guns in the hands of Gunners in Tactics Ogre have a range of "So long as there's nothing between me and my target," regardless of whether you're using a pistol or a rifle - using one doesn't even highlight the target range, as is done with all other attacks. In the hands of non-gunners, they're mere bludgeons.
  • Averted in XCOM 2. Pistols are close-range weapons and have an increasing hit chance penalty beyond a certain distance. Even the uniquely accurate Shadowkeeper is subject to this, unless you use Shadowfall.

    Sandbox Game 
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven: While featuring a sniper rifle, it's only found in one level and is basically only used to assassinate the target. The Colt 1911 and Smith & Wesson 27 make for great high-accuracy weapons though. However most of the game is set in fairly close environments.
    • Likewise, the first round fired from the Tommy gun is 100% accurate, despite its historical notoriety for imprecision. As long as the player is careful to only fire one shot at a time, it is possible to snipe enemies from across the map.
    • The third game allows you to obtain a scoped revolver as a favor from Vito.
  • Zero Punctuation said of the pistols in Saints Row 2 "your handgun can shoot accurately enough to pierce someone's nipple from across town". It was only a slight exaggeration.

Non Video Games examples:

     Anime and Manga 
  • One chapter of Gunsmith Cats has Rally selling a customized revolver to a rather creepy customer who uses it for this trope.
  • Justified in City Hunter: the only guy who does it is Ryo Saeba, who is noted to be an exceptionally accurate shooter and only does it with either a Colt Python (a rather accurate gun) customized for superior accuracy or, if the shoot is particularly tricky, a S&W Model 58 that, due a quirk of fabrication, is unbelievably accurate.
  • The hero Snipe from My Hero Academia is a sharpshooter that can hit small moving targets (like Shigaraki's hand) hundreds of meters away, even behind cover, using a revolver. Kind of justified by his Quirk, Homing, as it allows him to control the trajectory of the bullets, but the reach of that thing is still a bit ludicrous.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • Francisco Scaramanga of The Man with the Golden Gun uses his golden pistol to shoot a man on a sidewalk while hiding on a rooftop across the street.
    • In Spectre, Bond uses a Glock 17 in a pistol-to-carbine conversion kit when he attempts to kill Marco Sciarra in the opening scene in Mexico City.
  • The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles sets off dynamite from a few hundred yards away with a single shot of his revolver.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Lord Humongous has a scoped .44 Magnum revolver. As he only has a few precious rounds for it, he has to make every shot count—hence the need for the scope.
  • In Sharknado one character is able to save people in a helicopter by shooting a shark out of the sky with a pistol.
  • XXX In the opening, Cold Sniper Kirill kills a secret agent with one of these. Justified in that the pistol is a custom job with specialized rail attachments.
  • Wild Geese II. Alex Faulkner uses a Safari Arms M1911 pistol in 'Survivor' Rifle kit (used to modify the pistol into a bolt-action carbine) with scope and suppressor.

  • Done In-Universe in Arcane Sniper by Ha Leeha, who manages to hit targets over hundreds of meters away with a musket. To him, an ex-sniper, this is natural, but to everyone else it's absolutely insane.
  • Lampshaded in an early scene in 9 Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. Random, the weakest brother when it comes to any magic or combat, is shooting stormhounds from a moving car (on an uneven road) with a crappy pistol and each bullet kills a dog. Probably he did get occasional training, and with him being centuries old that did amount to something.
    • Or there was just so many hounds that it would be difficult to miss. He also aims for the horse his brother Julian (the handler) is riding on and misses, although Random mentions a rumor that the horse can only be killed by a silver bullet.
  • Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back did his circus trick shots with a fancy pistol, even though he had mastered shooting with hunting rifles.
  • The novelization of Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars has a scene that plays off this (with oft-mocked results), with the protagonist putting away his rifle to make a long-range shot with his pistol against the driver of a Nod vehicle. Not only does he nail the shot, but he also gets promoted for it.
  • The title character from the Ciaphas Cain series is able to do this with a Laspistol, a weapon designed with ammo capacity and mechanical reliability in mind rather than accuracy or power. The in-universe editor occasionally mentions that he seems genuinely unaware of how exceptional a shot he is, having personally seen him score headshots from well beyond what's normally considered the functional range of the weapon like it was nothing.
  • Magistellus Bad Trip: In the VRMMO Money (Game) Master, main character Kaname Suou's weapon of choice is the Short Spear, chambered in .45 pistol caliber but with an extended stock and barrel and a receiver forward of the grip. This makes it essentially a scoped carbine.

    Live Action TV 
  • In an episode of Dead Man's Gun, a Professional Killer buys an old shotgun, breaks it apart and uses the pieces to turn his pistol into a makeshift carbine. This gives him the range and accuracy to kill his victim. He easily disposes of the evidence and when he is arrested, he argues that he was too far away to make that shot with a pistol.
  • The tricked-out gun that UNCLE agents use in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., whose accessories include a scope, a stock, and an extendable barrel.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Possible with D20 Future weapon gadgets. By taking a sniper rifle, and applying the Compact and Miniaturized gadgets, you can reduce its size by three ranks. A Large (rifle size) sniper rifle becomes a Tiny (Sites M9 size) weapon, treated by the rules as a pistol. Its range and damage are unaffected. Such a gun requires VERY expensive ammunition though (since it has to be miniaturized too), that must be custom made and as such takes at least 10 hours to buy a batch of 20 cartridges.
  • Rather pointedly averted in GURPS, where pistols not only have shorter ranges than rifles, but are also inherently less accurate to begin with — getting something like a +1 or +2 to hit from taking a second to aim as opposed to most rifles' +4 or +5 from the exact same maneuver (on a 3d6 roll-under bell curve), going just by the tables in the 4th edition Basic Set.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Sly Marbo of the Imperial Guard has a special "Ripper Pistol" with sniper rifle equivalent stats.

  • NERF Brand:
    • Inverted with the sniper rifle-esque blasters. The Longshot and Longstrike shoot no farther than any other blaster.
    • Played straight with the Nite Finder, a single-shot pistol with among the best ranges for any N-Strike blaster.
      • The Elite Firestrike, being its direct plunger successor, can fire up to 75 feet, and its orange variant can even fire up to 90 feet, a pistol firing further than sniper rifles, no less.
    • The Vortex Proton and Vigilon pistols also play this trope straight, with excellent range on their disc ammo that easily outperforms most unmodified dart blasters.
    • The N-Strike Jolt EX-1 ultra-compact pistol is capable of matching the Nitefinder in performance, easily making it the most powerful and long-ranged ultra-compact pistol blaster.
      • The Elite Triad EX-3 (as well as the revised DX variant) is a variation on the same design, with three darts claimed to fire up to 75 feet.
    • The Elite MEGA Magnus and Bigshock use the larger MEGA darts, and can match the Centurion rifle in ranges from 70 to 100 feet.
    • The whole N-Strike Elite line, including XD re-releases of some older blasters, knock their range up from 75 to 90 feet.
    • The RIVAL line focuses on accuracy over quantity, and have a range on the high-end of around 80 feet. The Kronos XVIII-500 in particular is a compact pistol-sized blaster which is capable of firing up to 80 feet, which plays this trope straight.
  • Megatron from Transformers: Generation 1 turned into a Walther with scope, stock and extended barrel. Only the scope has a proper location in robot mode.

    Real Life 
  • In the 1970s, French law enforcement agency GIGN adopted a .357 revolver for sniping. It was made to provide precision fire from vantage points where a full-length rifle would be unwieldy to use or make the presence of a sniper obvious.
  • Many powerful handguns can be effective at 200 meters or more in the right hands. They are primarily used in Handgun Hunting, a sport that involves scoped long barreled revolvers or single shot pistols, and are chambered in magnum pistol calibers or rifle calibers. While pistol hunting ranges are typically shorter than rifle hunting, bagging game beyond 100 yards (91 meters) is not unusual.
  • Elmer Keith, the inventor of the .44 Magnum cartridge, was a skilled long range handgunner. When the .44 Magnum came out, Keith made the first animal hunt with it: taking down a goshawk at 100 yards and dropping a rifle-wounded deer at an astonishing 600 yards.
  • The .460 S&W Magnum cartridge boasts one of the fastest speeds among handgun calibers, capable of exceeding 2000 fps (609 mps) with a 200 grain bullet, making it a very good candidate for long range shooting.
  • World champion Jerry Miculek popped a balloon from 1000 yards (roughly 910 meters) away with a 9x19mm revolver at standing position. To put it into perspective, the 13th longest sniper shot is 1.2 km, and the maximum effective range of a modern 9mm pistol in the hands of an average soldier is 50m.
  • Pistol-to-carbine conversion kits.
  • From Mother Russia hails the RSh-12.7, a gigantic revolver that actually fires a sniper rifle round - the 12.7x55mm for the VKS Vykhlop. Its accessories can make it a good approximation of the page image - it can be fitted with a stock, a silencer, and has Picatinny rails for everything else. It is not, however, actually a sniper pistol — it was explicitly designed as a hand cannon for forced entry situations, for the off case when the entrenched bad guys have something more than the simple body armor, or somehow managed to find an armored car or such.
  • Many early semi-automatic pistols were sold with detachable stocks and adjustable sights that could be calibrated up to a kilometer or more. This quickly fell off for one ultimately insurmountable reason as to why this trope isn't an accurate reflection of reality: the simple fact that a pistol, by definition, has a relatively short barrel, which reduces the amount of rifling (grooves) in the barrel that can apply spin to the bullet or how much of the propellant in the casing can apply force to the bullet before it leaves the barrel and whatever's left over is wasted as muzzle flash. Make the barrel longer, and you either have a rifle with no stock to stabilize your aim, or a pistol that is really inconvenient — imagine trying to draw a pistol with even a 1-foot barrel (like the Colt Buntline) out of a hip holster when you're in a hurry, much less in a shoulder holster or when carrying concealed. For the record, the standard size for pistol barrels is less than half of a foot.
  • The Remington XP100 is a notable example, being a bolt-action pistol based on the Remington 700 rifle line. Chambered in the proprietary .221 Fireball cartridge, it was very accurate at long ranges.
  • Hunting pistols are a thing and they even make a large variety of scopes for them. However they are usually intended to be a backup weapon for pursuing wounded game. Most of the nicer scopes for this purpose are even raised in a way that still allows use of the handgun's iron sights, as in many situations these will have better results. The scope is mainly for long range observation but it can be used if you are skilled or feel lucky enough.
  • There is a special kind of hunting where a pistol makes sense: Poaching, because the shorter weapon is easier to conceal. Combine a scope with a small-caliber round and maybe even a suppressor for an unobtrusive way to get some meat for the pot. A typical example would be a long-barrelled breeched pistol chambered for .22lr.

    Western Animation