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What’s the Best VALORANT Pistol? A Guide to Pistol Rounds

Scott Robertson

Nothing is more frustrating than the agony of choice, and in VALORANT the biggest decision you can make, outside of your agent selection, is what to do during pistol rounds. With five different sidearms to manage as well as abilities and armor to consider, it can be a little nerve-wracking for new players. Especially if you’ve been watching pro matches and keep hearing about how important winning pistols is.

VALORANT pistol

No better way to start a game than with a successful pistol round. Image via Riot Games.

But have no fear, we’re here to assist you in navigating through the first round of any VALORANT match. Here’s a brief overview of each of the five pistols, including their price, their damage, and the best spots to use them.

The Classic

VALORANT Classic

The Classic pistol option, free of charge. Skin: Songsteel. (Image via Riot Games)

For a default weapon that costs nothing, the Classic pistol is a decent option for the pistol round. Considering it’s non-existent cost, it’s a good choice for players looking to spend their opening credits on armor and abilities. Especially considering the somewhat recent price increases for nearly all abilities, the Classic is almost a go-to for any player wanting a full ability kit at the start of the pistol round.

The Classic’s primary and alternative fires make it a viable choice at either short, medium or long-range. While other sidearms are attuned to one particular range, the variability of the Classic allows it to stand out. Headshots from the Classic deal 78 damage if from less than 30m away, so two headshots could drop a fully armored enemy. A headshot with a body shot could kill a non-armored enemy as well.

For players that like to get real up close and personal during pistol rounds, the right-click burst fire that the Classic has is great for dealing with pesky corner campers. But it’s useless for long-range fights and eats up more ammo, so don’t spam the right-click in any long fights.

The Ghost

VAL ghost

One of the more popular pistol options, the Ghost. Skin: Depths. (Image via Riot Games)

Between its tremendous damage output at range, the reduced firing noise due to its suppressor, and its easily manageable recoil, the Ghost is arguably the best option for pistol rounds. At a 500 credit price point, it allows most players to purchase an additional ability outside of their signature one, giving them extra flexibility when it comes to utility.

Aside from missing the right-click burst fire, the Ghost is an upgrade in all categories when compared to the Classic. It’s damage output in the 30-50m range for head, body, and legs is higher than the Classic is at less than 30m. At less than 30m, the Ghost deals 105 headshot damage, meaning any player without armor in a pistol round will fall to a single headshot. It’s only one of two pistols that can do that. The Ghost’s fire rate is the same as the Classic’s, but it has larger magazine, a quicker reload time, and less spread on the first shot.

The Ghost should be your primary option if you plan on taking long-range fights in any pistol round. Whether you’re taking control of Mid on Icebox, Long B on Haven, or virtually anywhere on Breeze, this is your pistol. It’s a viable choice during saves or ecos as well, in addition to rounds where you’re flush with credits. It’s also good to have if you’re using the Op, just to have peace of mind by having a more reliable sidearm.

The Sheriff

VALORANT Sheriff

One-tap machines will love the Sheriff. Skin: Lightwave. (Image via Riot Games)

If you’re a firm believer that a single headshot should kill your opponent no matter what armor they have equipped, then I have the pistol for you partner. The Sheriff, inspired by the Desert Eagle from CS:GO, is a pistol that packs an absolute punch, and will definitely have you feeling yourself after hitting a crisp headshot.

From short to medium range, up to 30m, a Sheriff headshot will deal 159 damage, which will kill any player regardless if they have armor or not. From 30-60m, a Sheriff headshot deals 145 damage, which will kill any unarmored player or any armored player who’s taken virtually any damage. Back-to-back body shots at any range will kill an unarmored player as well, which is very ideal in any pistol round. The high damage on a short-range headshot makes the Sheriff an optimal choice for save or eco rounds as well.

The Sheriff’s shortcomings are its massive kickback, its slower fire rate, and its smaller clip size and total rounds available. It also costs 800 credits, meaning you can’t buy any armor or additional abilities along with it during a pistol round, unless a teammate buys for you. That being said, its raw damage output makes it the Sheriff worth it for the one-tap players looking to shut down the opposing team by themselves.

The Frenzy

VALORANT Frenzy

Not an automatic kill, but deadly up close. Skin: Monarch. (Image via Riot Games)

On the opposite side of the range spectrum from the Ghost and the Sheriff is the automatic Frenzy. Between 0-20m, the optimal range for the Frenzy, it deals 78 headshot damage, 26 body damage and 22 leg damage. Four direct body shots or a headshot plus one additional connected shot will kill any unarmored opponent, at a superior 10 rounds/second fire rate.

Before its price increase as part of patch 2.03, the Frenzy only cost 400 credits. At that price, the overwhelmingly popular pistol round strat was to just buy a Frenzy and half-armor, and full send into sites. With the increase to 500 credits before going back down to 450 credits, that meta is gone, but the Frenzy is still a very viable option, even with its moving accuracy nerfs.

With a 13 round clip and only 39 rounds total, it’s easy to burn through all the Frenzy ammo quickly, but it’s great for holding close angles. Especially with an agent that has abilities that let them escape a rush after getting one or two early kills, like Reyna and her Dismiss, or any agent with a flash. Highly recommended for players having an off aim day.

The Shorty

Shorty

I see you Shorty. Skin: Monarch. (Image via Riot Games)

You enjoy making people miserable. You’re a rat that likes to hide in the corners. You get enjoyment from baiting your teammates. All jokes aside, the Shorty is the small shotgun sidearm that is only effective at short-range, and only costs 150 credits. Its semi-automatic fire mode, similar to the Judge, makes it useful for double-tapping enemies at close range, but it’s handicapped by its two-shot clip size.

From 0-7m, each pellet deals 24 head damage, 12 body damage, or 10 leg damage. And with a 15 pellet spread, getting up close and personal pretty much spells death for an enemy regardless of their armor. With only a 150 credit cost, players will be able to shore up their stockpile with half-armor and potentially even an extra ability, depending on the cost.

One strat that’s fun to play with is to buy both a Ghost and a Shorty during a pistol round, dropping one before purchasing the other. This way you can do damage to enemies at long angles, then tuck yourself into a corner. If the surviving enemies rush your corner, it’s time to break out the Shorty you little rat.

Scott Robertson
Scott Robertson

Freelance writer primarily focused on CS:GO and VALORANT. Big dreams and bigger memes. Too embarrassed to reveal his VALORANT rank.

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