An innovation of Admiral Daro'Xen, the Arc Pistol is a scaled-down Arc Projector that only requires thermal clips, to solve its power problems. The Arc Pistol uses a nonvisible laser to ionize the air and create a path for a high-ampere electric shock. For a more damaging blast, it can be charged up.
The Arc Pistol can be found during the mission Priority: Geth Dreadnought: Tali or Xen will set it down for Shepard to take. It is also purchasable from Elkoss Combine Arsenal Supplies post-mission if it was missed or not taken.
- Despite being based on the Arc Projector, shots will not "jump" to multiple targets.
- The Arc Pistol is one of the most powerful and versatile heavy pistols in the game.
- It can be used like a semi-automatic weapon boasting the same rate of fire as the M-3 Predator. When its charged-shot feature is used, it is more damaging than some of the other powerful heavy pistols like the M-6 Carnifex, or the M-77 Paladin while weighing less than either. Fully-charged shots consume 3 ammo but deal 9 times the damage of an uncharged shot. With the base headshot multiplier of 2.5x, a single charged headshot can do 22.5x damage!
- With the addition of the Pistol Piercing Mod and the Pistol High-Caliber Barrel or Pistol Heavy Barrel, the Arc Pistol's charged shots are devastating to armored targets as well.
- Its accuracy is above-average, especially when zooming and/or sticking to cover; its muzzle climb is low; and it does not lose accuracy with repeated firing (the reticle does not "bloom").
- It also possesses a large ammo reserve and magazine size, even taking into account the fact that charged shots use up 3 ammo.
- It is entirely feasible to use an Arc Pistol-only loadout, especially for more power-focused classes who want light loadouts and who can benefit from the Pistol Power Magnifier.
- The biggest weakness of the Arc Pistol is the trade-off when using it one way or the other: when using it in its rapid-fire state it lacks the power to be competitive on harder difficulties, but when charged on a consistent basis, it is slower than any other pistol, putting a premium on marksmanship to make every shot count.
- When using the Arc Pistol, individual shots should be used to finish off severely weakened enemies, with charged shots being used in most other instances.
- A good way of utilizing its dual fire mode is to shoot a few uncharged rounds at the enemy, and when they stagger or dodge, unleash a charged shot to their head after they finish.
- Use of powers that immobilize or stun targets is a very important technique to ensure charged shots land; Overload and Stasis are particularly useful.
- The Arc Pistol's charged shots deal increasing damage the longer the charge is held, up to a maximum charge level that is indicated by the sound effect of charging coming to an end. It isn't always necessary to fully charge a shot when fighting evasive or weakened foes.
- The Arc Pistol also isn't the most effective weapon to use in tandem with powers such as Marksman or Adrenaline Rush due to its slow, deliberate style of shooting.
- The Arc Pistol suffers in the same way as the Graal Spike Thrower and other weapons with a charged-shot function: in order to do maximum damage, you can't stick to cover while charging the shots. In these situations it is better to stand behind tall cover or carry a pistol like the Carnifex or the Paladin, neither of which have a charge time. Also, unlike most other chargeable weapons, firing a charged shot with the Arc Pistol does break Tactical Cloak's invisibility, even if the shot was charged prior to cloaking.
- You can exploit the power screen (tactical pause) for sure hits with the Arc Pistol or any other charged weapon. Charge the weapon and while holding the shot, bring up the power screen, line up your shot, and release it while the tactical pause is in effect. However, this is not possible on PS3.
- Squadmates do not utilize the charged shot feature of any weapon except the Acolyte, making the Arc Pistol a poor choice for them overall.
- The Arc Pistol is a fantastic substitute for the M-77 Paladin: the Arc Pistol is lighter, deals more damage when fully charged, has a more accurate reticle that doesn't expand, and has a larger base clip size (6 fully-charged shots for the Arc Pistol compared to 3 for the Paladin). In addition, its rare classification means that it is significantly easier to acquire than the Paladin X.
- Armor-piercing ammo consumables can help mitigate the lack of penetration and even level I ammunition of said type can still do just as much damage to armor as the Pistol Piercing Mod, freeing up mod slots for other options such as the Pistol Power Magnifier or lightweight materials.