I'm currently reading GURPS4 to prepare myself for DMing. When I read about firearms I thought pistols to be vastly inferior to rifles to the point that if one carried enough armor to possibly survive a single hit from a rifle he/she would be left almost unharmed by a hit from a pistol. Now I'm thinking, what reasons would my players (and NPCs) have to ever use a pistol?
Reasons I found for using a pistol instead of a rifle:
- Easier to hide (holdout) - If you're not allowed to carry a firearm, a pistol is obviously much easier to conceal than an assault rifle
- Price - A bit less expensive
- "Just in case" - when a gunfight is not expected, but also not entirely impossible
- Style - for whatever reason, the character might think shooting pistols is way more wicked
- Backup weapon - if your main gun is jammed, out of ammo (and would take to long to reload or you really have no more ammo) or for some other reason unusable a pistol still hurts your enemies a lot more than harsh language
- Weight - a pistol is not that heavy and still is a lot more dangerous than a knife
- Mobility - most pistols have a bulk of 1 or 2, making the Move and Attack maneuver more appealing as you will suffer a smaller penalty to your attack compared with a longarm (which I can imagine is more useful in environments with plenty of cover, like indoors)
Only the last bullet point describes a situation in which one would possibly consider a pistol a better weapon for actual combat. For example, whilst knowing you can't conceal a rifle under casual clothing like you can a pistol you probably still wished you could if you'd be forced to use it.
So, do you know of any other reasons why one would prefer a pistol? At least for the moment I'll only use the Basic Set regarding available books. It is still uncertain what kind of setting we'll play, might be some kind of wild west as well as a futuristic world.