The default pistol is one of the weakest guns in the GTA series, but its viability wasn't always low tier.
The pistol goes by many aliases in the GTA series. It is sometimes referred to as a 9mm pistol. Other times, it's known as a Handgun or a Colt 45. Its ammunition capacity also changes throughout the GTA series, which means that the pistol's design logically changes from game to game.
In some games, the 9mm pistol is worthless. However, there are other games where the ordinary pistol is surprisingly potent.
Predictably, this article solely refers to the regular pistol throughout the GTA series. Other variations of the pistol archetype aren't included.
The history of the 9mm pistol in the GTA series
The pistol was seen at the very beginning of the GTA series. It is an iconic gun that players almost always get at the start of the game, although this also means that it's often one of the weakest options available to the player.
The 9mm pistol was often a disappointing gun compared to the other more overpowered options in the GTA series.
The 2D Universe
The pistol is easily the worst gun in GTA 1. The Machine Gun outclassed it in every conceivable manner, so players only use the pistol if they have nothing else.
Its performance continues to be poor in GTA 2, as nothing changed to its benefit throughout the two games. Interestingly enough, both games allow pistols to have up to 99 ammo.
The 3D Universe
The pistol is more viable in the 3D Universe than it was in the 2D Universe, although most of the GTA titles here only use the pistol for the early game.
The pistol is arguably the worst gun in GTA III and GTA Vice City. It possesses average accuracy and is one of the weakest guns in the games.
Considering the fact that headshots were impossible on the console versions of GTA III and GTA Vice City, the pistol didn't have much use in these two games.
The pistol also went from 12 ammo per round in GTA III to 17 in GTA Vice City. It stayed that way for the rest of the 3D Universe games.
Fortunately, the pistol would be vindicated by its history in GTA San Andreas. This GTA title allows players to aim all weapons, which means that pistols can easily get a headshot, killing most NPCs in one hit.
The pistol in GTA San Andreas is more accurate than its previous incarnations. It can also be dual-wielded thanks to the game's weapon mastery system.
The weapon isn't remarkable in Liberty City Stories or Vice City Stories, but it is still better compared to the old days.
Even if the pistol is considered an early-game weapon from GTA San Andreas onwards, it is still viable thanks to its free aim and the fact that it is cheap.
The HD Universe
Surprisingly, the pistol's peak wasn't in GTA San Andreas. Most fans of GTA IV know how deadly and useful the regular pistol is in this game. It can be used throughout the entire game without feeling like a burden to the player.
The pistol is a shockingly good weapon in GTA IV. It can be fired from cars, unlike previous games that mandated the player to use a submachine gun.
The pistol undergoes an unremarkable experience in Chinatown Wars (although there is also another variation known as Dual Pistols, giving it some extra viability).
Considering that Chinatown Wars is largely seen from a top-down perspective, it isn't surprising to say that the pistol is largely forgettable like it was in GTA Advance, 1, and 2.
GTA 5 and GTA Online allow players to make several upgrades (such as going from 12 ammo per round to 16) to the pistol, but that's the case for most guns in the games.
There's no good reason to use the regular pistol in this game, as nearly every other gun outperforms it. Other than being a cheap gun, most players will forget about it once they have access to better weaponry.