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In the wonderful world of videogames, 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 Hit Scan.
First Person Shooter
- Doom is the Ur Example. If you pause for about a second in between each pistol or chaingun shot, it will have perfect accuracy. Of course, in an era where headshots didn't exist, this was rarely a viable tactic for killing anything but zombies and imps.
- Call of Duty: World at War. It is often possible to shoot AND KILL the sniper who hits you from halfway across a BIG 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 for taking out high-value target with a pistol shot when you'd normally be doing it with the scoped Sniper Rifle you have.
- 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 in it made it a bit more justifiable. A bit.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Half-Life: In Half-Life 1, both. In Half-Life 2, not necessarily the first pistol (for lack of accuracy), but as soon as you get the 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 pistols in Deus Ex are very accurate if you put enough skill points into using them, but their damage is lower than other weapons.
- 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.
- 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 mods lets the pistol ignore), even most late-game enemies will die instantly from a bullet to the head.
- Any game by Rare, the developers of Golden Eye 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.
- Halo: Combat Evolved, although the arguably overpowered pistol in the original game was toned down a bit in the sequels.
- Even so, the M6 pistol was always powerful, accurate, and had a scope built in - it was a literal sniper pistol. In ODST, it's one of the most reliable weapons and in Firefight will often show up as a player's weapon of choice.
- Since Marathon predates the advent of a Sniper Rifle in FPSs, the pistol(s) happens to be the best sniping weapon, possibly bar Infinity's ammo-guzzling flechette SMG.
- Since the game lacks crosshairs OR 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.
- KAEDE Smith's long-barreled semi-auto with a scope in Killer 7. 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 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 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 ROF + ammo found everywhere + most lethal headshots + accuracy of a sniper rifle on long range!
- Command and Conquer: Renegade had a rather effective 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.
- Team Fortress 2 also has pistols that 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 classes like the Scout and Engineer, the Pistol is the weapon of choice to exploit a badly placed sentry gun's limited range. For all classes crits can suddenly make the pistol a lethal long range weapon.
- 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 is pretty much made for this, trading fire 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).
- An update changed the bullet firing algorithm so that the first bullet fired with any hitscan weapon (if you hadn't fired for 1.25 seconds) is always perfectly accurate. 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.
- 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 M 1911 A 1, 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 anywhere the gun was pointed (albeit with a slight delay between the time you fired & the time the bullet hit the target) & 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 23 meters (75 feet) & it could hold six rounds per magazine, but it was manually cycled.
- Duke Nukem was inhumanly accurate with a pistol in Duke Nukem 3D, to the point you could hit a target so far away he's a mere pixel on your view. However, it may be more that the enemy attracts bullets, as trying to hit a faraway switch will demonstrate that the impact is randomized.
- It's just an autoaim feature within the game due to early controller schemes (fps + joystick = whoops) and the shifty look up/down system.
- Serious Sam did not bother discriminating between weapon accuracies for most of the scopeless guns, so you could snipe with the minigun as well as with the Schofields as long as an enemy was colouring the crosshairs. Of course, the sniper rifle's scope gives it an advantage, while the flamethrower's short reach hampers it.
- 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. Well, that's the idea; in practice, the game's
clunky unpolished bugsidiosyncracies mean that no matter how still you are when you aim, they always seem to go way off target at the most inopportune moments...
- In 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.
- 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 and scope 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. The Sleg troops use the pistol in its rifle format as their basic grunt weapon AND sniper rifle throughout the game.
- The pistols in Soldier of Fortune. Even the 9mm can take down enemies from fairly long range. Averted, of course, with the second game.
- 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.
- The Magnum is actually powerful enough to be used by many as their Primary Firearm, since you could still use it when you were downed, had infinite ammo, and is functionally like the shotgun at any range. Unlike the Pistol, it preserves the accuracy when downed. You could literally snipe a Smoker several yards away while incapacitated.
- Repeater Pistols in Borderlands are ridiculously inaccurate; that is, unless you get one made by Hyperion. 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. To be fair, just about any weapon in that game can come with a scope. Revolvers, rocket launchers, shotguns and machine pistols, they're all fair game to the gun-assembly coding.
- In the Rainbow Six series, enemies can get a headshot on you from long distances with almost any weapon, including shotguns. Leading to the most feared enemies in the game, terrorists toting SPAS-12's who can one shot kill from across the map. Note however if the player places a scope on his shotgun he can do the exact same.
- In Doom, it turns out that the first two shots from the chaingun have perfect accuracy, and recoil only appears if you hold down the button. By firing in bursts, the chaingun becomes the best long-range weapon in the game.
- Lampshaded in the Garry's Mod Gamemode 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.
- In Dark Forces, your starting pistol is very accurate and auto aims at long distances.
- The Automag in Unreal, on top of being a Hit Scan weapon.
- 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.
- The Revolver in Rage is extremely effective against all types of enemies, at any range, once it has been upgraded with a monocular and Fat Momma bullets.
- 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
- Fallout 3 has 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.
- Earlier titles have 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: New Vegas has the Hunting Revolver, which is similar to the Scoped .44 Magnum, except slightly more powerful. There's also scope mods for some of the pistols.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the first 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). 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.
Stealth Based Game
- Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots takes care of this pretty well. A scoped desert eagle  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
cheatstrategy 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. Unlike sniper rifles, it does not sway, and headshots are guaranteed 1 hit kills. There's a groove on the pistol's sight. And the bullet always goes wherever that groove is pointing. Allowing you to snipe people across segments of the rig with your starting pistol.
- A common
- The 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.)
- 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
- 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.
- For a particularly silly example, see the Air Taser in Syphon Filter, whose range is practically infinite despite being a taser gun. It's a favorite amongst fans, not the least because of its Video Game Cruelty Potential. Eventually replaced with a taser gun that has a more realistic range, but the original could still be unlocked as an Infinity+1 Sword.
- Mafia City Of The 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 And Wesson 27 make for great 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.
- 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 clips, allowing you to basically mow through any group of enemies you see.
- 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.
- In Jedi Academy, the pistol is your least powerful but most accurate weapon, to the point that if you want to kill targets at any range that could be called "sniping" the pistol is really your only option.
- Uncharted 3 introduces the Tau-Sniper, a scoped pistol that's kills most enemies in a single shot and can even kill armored enemies in a single headshot, whereas with most guns you have to shoot off the helmet first.
Turn Based Tactics
- Almost all weapons in the X-COM and UFO Afterblank games have no maximum limit to their range, so a pistol can easily shoot across the map, assuming there's nothing in the way. Soldiers do have a limited range of vision, but this is easily overcome with the use of spotters.
- 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.
- ↑ this combination sounds very odd, but the gun was originally meant to fire magnum rounds in sports shooting.