Pistols are your average, basic weapon. They are slightly more versatile than any other weapon, but they lack the speed of an assault rifle, the range of the sniper rifle, and the stopping power of a shotgun.

The benefit of pistols is that they can be used at virtually any range, but are best at mid-distance, and can be an interesting alternative to assault rifles if you plan to gain shotgun proficiency for the end game. Using the Marksman ability will aid in your survival, as does using pistols in their intended manner - for quick targeting and shooting on the move.

Close-Quarters Combat Edit

If your opponent has an assault rifle or shotgun, melee them if they get too close. Either of those weapons pose a significant threat to you at this range. A melee should knock them down (except krogan and better-armoured geth) and give you a chance to get more room while still pouring on the damage. Against geth or krogan, however, it is maybe best to...

Mid-Range Combat Edit

... take cover and fire either between enemy shots, or whenever you can see them but they can't see you. Generally, most other weapons would be better suited for this range, unless the enemy you're facing is fast-moving (Geth Hoppers, Thorian Creepers, etc.), in which case Proton Rounds or equivalent can be useful here, so that every shot counts and you damage even when shields are up.

Long-Range Combat Edit

Marksman is a must here. This is the pistol's worst range, but it is not entirely useless. With Marksman activated, you can fire away and be guaranteed that some of your shots will connect. Other than that, just aim carefully and watch for your reticle to turn red.

Tips For Any Combat Edit

Pistols do not overheat quickly, and therefore don't lose accuracy as quickly as other weapons. Don't be afraid to open a magazine on someone who really deserves it. (Not recommended for krogan or other shotgun wielding enemies.) Pistols can also draw enemies out for a sniper to kill faster. Also, because of the infrequency of overheated pistols, attachments like the Large Caliber Barrel and other heat generating attachments are a safe choice on account of the resulting increased power and negligible risk of an overheat in combat.

Soldiers using Pistols on High Difficulty Levels Edit

Pistols have some significant advantages over assault rifles in the early game; they start out a lot more accurate, are less prone to overheating and are better to fire on the move. One viable strategy for soldiers, particularly if you plan to gain shotgun proficiency (which need many points to be effective) for the end game, is to ignore assault rifles completely and add points in pistols to start with. Later when you have points to play with you can add to max out shotguns. Until then and through to the end game, pistols remain strong for any ranged enemies you need to take out, particularly with a Marksman / Immunity combination.

Commando and Pistol Edit

For either the Soldier or the Infiltrator who chooses the Commando path, pistols can become extremely deadly. With the combination of the Pistol Expert achievement, the Assassination Specialization ability, and at least one Medical Exoskeleton X, it is possible to keep the rank 3 Marksman ability running indefinitely. When the reduced heat and increased rate of fire of Marksman are added to the damage of an HMWP X, and coupled with Snowblind X / 2x Scram Rail X, you achieve a "heatless" weapon with the highest overall damage (Carnage and Assassination burst damage tapers off due to overheating) in the game as well as the best boosted accuracy rating in the game. While this pistol configuration is by itself "heatless" and can be used by any class, the reduced rate of fire makes the weapon slow, cumbersome, and difficult to use in fast paced situations when it is not offset by rank 3 Marksman. Without the cooldown bonus of Assassination Specialization, the gap in the usage of Marksman becomes an issue.