This CSGO pistol guide has everything you need to know

Nick J. September 11, 2020

Pistols in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can be a mystery. We're here to help you solve it.

CSGO's pistols have spawned countless memes and headaches, but they've also made for some of the most impressive highlights the game has ever seen. Everyone clearly remembers when Nikola "niKo" Kovač dominated FaZe Clan on Cache with just a lone Deagle.

A walkthrough showing off each pistol's strengths, weaknesses, and limitations can help everyday CSGO players become just as oppressive in pistol and eco rounds as pros like niKo. This guide will begin with the three default pistols that players have access to: the CT's P2000, USP-S, and the T's Glock 18. 

CSGO default pistols are amazing in the right situation

CSGO's CT pistols win out, but the Glock is dangerous up close

All CSGO players spawn with one of three pistols, as long as they haven't carried over another secondary from the previous round. If they're playing the CT side, players have the choice in the pre-game loadout screen between the P2000 and the USP, while the attacking side only has the Glock-18 as its starting weapon. The reason CT default pistols are a bit more effective is that they are built for precision. 

Which CT pistol is better?

As far as the CT pistols go, the P2000 is a perfect weapon for defending a rush, especially when compared to its more popular counterpart, the USP. The P2000 has more bullets in its magazine than the USP, meaning that defenders can put more bullets downrange without reloading. This keeps the pressure on the attacking side and adds valuable seconds that the CT side needs to bring in their rotates.

The larger magazine also means that the defender has more chances to inflict damage before they have to reload, creating a chaotic back and forth between the two teams. The P2000 also holds a slight advantage over the USP-S in terms of recoil, where it comes in just below the alternate CT weapon.

But there's a tradeoff.

The P2000 lacks the silencer that can prove to be important when defending a site, especially when the Ts have smoked off essential chokepoints. While the P2000 gives off a signature sound when a player fires a bullet, the USP is whisper quiet. The few extra seconds it takes for an attacker to locate the source of the damage can be the difference between a kill and a failed execution.

P2000 Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 13 rounds per magazine, 3 extra magazines, 52 total bullets
  • Rate of Fire: 352 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.2 Seconds

USP-S Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 12 rounds per magazine, 2 extra magazines, 36 total bullets
  • Rate of Fire: 352 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.2 Seconds

Which CT Pistol should players choose?

That's not to say that the P2000 is better than its little brother, the USP-S. Personal preference takes over when choosing a CT default pistol. The USP is the most popular CT default pistol, and for good reason.

It's not just because of the satisfying sound it makes when nabbing the flashy headshot. The USP has marginally more recoil than the P2000 but has quicker reset accuracy. This makes it feel more responsive than the P2000. This is especially true when players can take advantage of the weapon's increased accuracy over a long range. It's ultimately the USP's range statistic that lets it dominate against the T Glocks, especially on maps with long sightlines such as Mirage's A site and middle, as well as Dust 2's long.

Additionally, the USP's silencer makes it difficult for the T side to pinpoint where the defender's shots are coming from. Add that to its legendary accuracy in the right hands and the USP-S is a fan favorite. Check out famed Fnatic pistol player Dennis "dennis" Edman in this classic clip, using the weapon to its full effect.


 

CSGO's Glock is still a powerful option

The Glock, on the other hand, couldn't be more different than either one of the defenders starting weapons. It has more than enough bullets in its magazine to kill both teams twice, but it suffers from some serious drawbacks.

In order to use the T-exclusive weapon effectively, players have to learn to use the increased magazine size to lay down enough fire to make the defenders duck for cover. Those valuable seconds can then be used to close the distance and get up close and personal with the defenders. This is sometimes a preferred strategy. 

The Glock is an "in your face" weapon. Its high rate of fire and extended magazine give it huge advantages over the slower CT weapons in close quarters combat. If Ts can close the distance, the weapon's oversized magazine should win out over the CT's more precise options. On certain bombsites, like Mirage's B site, the Glock might even be a preferable choice over its defensive counterparts due to the close range engagements around the site itself.

Glock-18 Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 20 rounds per magazine, 5 extra magazines, 120 total bullets
  • Rate of Fire: 400 RPM, 1200 RPM during burst fire
  • Reload Time: 2.27 Seconds

CSGO's Dual Berettas are just plain bad

In theory, two guns are better than one. But in practice, that's rarely the case. CSGO's "dualies" are almost a meme at this point, with most other pistols offering many more range and strategy options.

While the dualies may be effective in very specific circumstances, the weapon's long accuracy reset time and lengthy reload make them almost useless, especially on the CT side. They are effective when enemies are forced to stream through a tight choke point. Once the enemy moves through a narrow entrance, however, they're easily outgunned by a rushing team.

Retired CSGO player Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella famously tried to make them work at CS Summit 6, but the clip below showed that the akimbo pistols offered him little in the way of firepower before he was taken out.

Dual Beretta Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity:  30 bullets per reload with fifteen in each weapon, three extra magazines, 120 total bullets
  • Rate of Fire: 500 RPM
  • Reload Time: 3.77 Seconds

Ultimately, the Dual Beretta's long reload time, poor base accuracy, and massive damage drop off even at short ranges make it one of the worst pistols in Counter-Strike.

The P250 is the perfect sidearm in almost all CSGO situations

Even after the P250’s nerf in 2017, this weapon is still a fantastic option for players looking for a little more from their sidearm than the default pistols provide. It's especially popular with AWPers given the weapon’s relatively cheap price tag and high rate of fire.

These bonuses are offset by the fact that its 2017 nerf removed the P250's one-shot headshot capability on helmeted opponents. Even so, it can still have a massive impact on rounds where enemy players are already injured, as shown in the clip below.

While the P250 lacks the armor penetration of its big brother, the Five-Seven, its higher-than-average damage and high ROF make it a fantastic eco weapon, especially when paired with a flashbang or two from the rest of the team.

P250 Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 13 bullets in the magazine, 2 magazines in reserve, 39 bullets total
  • Rate of Fire: 400 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.2 seconds

The CZ-75, CT Five-Seven, and the T's Tec-9 as player options

Players have the choice between the CZ-75 and one of two other two pistols depending on which side they're setting up their loadout for. The CZ-75 is the only automatic pistol in CSGO.

Before Valve toned it down, it was the default choice for both sides, so let's take a look at this unique weapon before diving into the other two.

In today's CSGO, the CZ-75 still has the potential to be a powerful weapon, but its effectiveness appears to rely more on luck than on skill.

While weapons like the Desert Eagle reward precise aiming, the CZ's inaccuracy and its small magazine make it difficult to delay long enough for reinforcements to arrive if used on the CT side. On the attacking side, it's even less desirable. Since the weapon lacks the instant kill ability of the Desert Eagle, even a pro player's swift aim when entering into a site has trouble overcoming the CZ-75's shortcomings.

There are times when the CZ is a solid choice. The weapon still works from time to time in T executes that rely on lightning-quick entries that include flashing players through smokes to mow down unsuspecting defenders. That said, it's usually better to grab the cheaper P250 and utility rather than rely on the CZ's inconsistent fragging potential. With the addition of the CZ's lengthy draw time and animation, there are smarter options available for both the attacking and defending sides.

CZ-75 Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 12 bullets in the magazine, 1 magazine in reserve, 24 bullets total
  • Rate of Fire: 600 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.83 seconds from an empty magazine

The CT Five-Seven is the ultimate armor shredder

Out of all other weapons available in CSGO's fourth pistol loadout slot, the Five-Seven is by far the best option. It has incredible armor penetration for a pistol. It's also the only sidearm other than the powerful Desert Eagle that's able to one-shot an enemy at full health with a headshot. This makes the weapon's shortcomings, namely its low base accuracy and relatively slow rate of fire, much less of a problem. If the enemy is already dead, there is little need for a follow up salvo.

The Five-Seven is best used in headshot positions combined with a flash assist from a teammate, similar to the classic dark peak CTs commonly use on Mirage. Make no mistake, this weapon is devastating in the right hands.

After Valve made changes to the weapon to "reward defensive play," the Five-Seven has become an extremely powerful eco weapon even against T sides on full buys. The headshot potential and buffed accuracy Valve gave the weapon, especially while the shooter remains still, has created a perfect corner-camping monster. The weapon has an armor penetration value of 91.15, meaning that nearly 90% of the pistol's base damage blows straight through enemy armor, inflicting heavy damage.

Five-Seven Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 20 bullets in the magazine, 4 magazines in reserve, 100 bullets total
  • Rate of Fire: 400 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.2 seconds

After buffs, the CSGO's Tec-9 is still not great

There was a time where the Tec-9 rush was a staple of T side aggression. With near-perfect moving accuracy and the ability to kill a CT with a single bullet to the head, there were times that some players opted for the exclusive Terrorist pistol over everything else, including CSGO's famous AK-47.

But Valve eventually brought the Tec-9 back in line with the other pistols through a series of buffs and nerfs. While the weapon is nowhere near as powerful as it used to be, it isn't useless, either. One or two attackers armed with Tec-9s can spearhead an eco rush and lead to a round win against a fully-bought pro team, like Ninjas in Pyjamas showed against Team Vitality earlier this summer.

It should be noted that Vitality did have a player disconnect during the round, but even casual fans can see the power the Tec-9 can have when the entire T side is on board with the rush.

The weapon's high rate of fire makes it deadly in close quarters, especially when more than one player is putting lead downrange. Since the Tec-9 suffers from quick damage falloff and poor ranged accuracy, pairing it with a longer range pistol like the Desert Eagle is the Tec-9's key to success.

While the full Tec-9 rush worked out for NiP in the clip above, that is the exception rather than the rule. Still, it does show the weapon's strengths: the ability to exert fast pressure, overwhelming force, and cause chaos in a small area that gave NiP the advantage.

Five-Seven Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 18 bullets in the magazine, 4 magazines in reserve, 90 bullets total
  • Rate of Fire: 500 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.5 seconds

CSGO's Desert Eagle keeps its budget AWP status

While the AWP is still CSGO's most recognizable weapon, the Desert Eagle comes in at a close second. Affectionately referred to as the "Deagle" by the game's players, the .50 caliber hand cannon is responsible for some of the most impressive moments in Counter-Strike history.

Before his historic transfer to FaZe Clan, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač languished on a mousesports team that had difficulty supporting its star player. Even though NiKo didn't have enough help from his team to bring mousesports to top tier status, he still made a name for himself by utilizing CSGO's strongest pistol with plays like these.

NiKo isn't the only one. There are countless videos showing just how powerful the Desert Eagle really is. But it's the weapon's statistics that set it apart from the rest of CSGO's sidearms.

At a minimum, the Desert Eagle will inflict 46 damage to an enemy player with a direct hit, meaning that the bullet doesn't pass through any walls before it hits a player. Besides making this weapon the most damaging pistol in CSGO, its 200 round-per-minute rate of fire means that it fires quickly enough to be spammable. The combination of the Desert Eagle's damage and ROF has turned the weapon into what is effectively a shotgun, where players can spam at close ranges to confirm kills. They can also use its near 100% first bullet accuracy as a budget sniper rifle.

When used in conjunction with another friendly player wielding a Scout, the combination creates the possibility of two-shot kills that can turn an anti-eco round on its head for an unsuspecting team. While it's packs a massive recoil and is hard to use correctly, there is a reason why the Desert Eagle is one of the most well-known weapons in CSGO.

The weapon's downside comes by way of its hefty price tag, setting players back a massive $700. This can make it an unattractive option during pure eco rounds. But during half-buys, players shouldn't be surprised when they hear the weapon's distinctive shot ring out.

Desert Eagle Statistics

  • Magazine Capacity: 7 bullets in the magazine, 4 magazines in reserve, 35 bullets total
  • Rate of Fire: 200 RPM
  • Reload Time: 2.2 seconds

Ultimately, all of CSGO's pistols all have their place with the noteable exception of the R8 Revolver, especially in CSGO's current meta. While every other pistol has a situation where it performs well, the R8 has failed to make an impact. The revolver is currently a non-factor in both casual and competitive play.

Just like the rest of Valve's Counter-Strike, figuring out which weapon is right for which situation is half the battle.