A handgun, also known as a pistol, is a firearm designed to be handheld, either in one hand or both.
Kinetic Projectile (Lethal) Type
Kinetic projectile-type handguns are capable of lethal damage; while not the most powerful weapons in the games, they can still reliably neutralize an unsuspecting guard with a single head shot. Many are capable of a noise suppressor upgrade.
- Springfield Operator - A customized variant is used by Old Snake throughout the Guns of the Patriots Incident. Equipped with a laser sight and accessory rail, in addition to a threaded barrel for suppressors. It is an all-rounder handgun.
- GSR - A M1911 pattern pistol used by the PMCs in Liquid Ocelot's Insurrection. Equipped with an accessory rail, and has more ammo capacity than the Operator, though it lacks the laser sight and the capability to attach a suppressor.
- Mk.23 SOCOM - Offensive handgun weapon system developed for the Navy SEALs. Equipped with a laser aiming module (LAM), that combines a laser sight with a flashlight. Can be equipped with a sound suppressor, but the gun is generally procured without it. Once attached, the suppressor's effect is permanent and it cannot be removed. Fires .45 ACP rounds from a double-stack 12-round magazine.
- USP - A handgun originating from the basic design of the SOCOM. It came equipped with a flashlight made specifically for the USP, Insight Technologies M2 UTL . Fired 9x19mm Parabellum rounds from a double-stack, 15-round magazine. The USP was used by Olga Gurlukovich to fight Solid Snake during the Tanker Incident.
- M1911A1 - Standard .45 ACP handgun in service with the United States military. Naked Snake gets a custom-made version from EVA after his original one is dismantled by The Boss, but loses it towards the end of Operation Snake Eater. It fires .45 ACP rounds from a single-stack 7-round magazine. The fully customized version can accept a suppressor due to its threaded barrel.
- Type 17 Mauser - EVA's weapon of choice during both Operation Snake Eater and Liquid Ocelot's Insurrection. The first semi-automatic pistol to see major deployment, the Mauser C96 was first manufactured in Germany in 1896. It was used by the German Army during World War I, but it was never formally adopted. The Chinese, however, manufactured copies of the Mauser chambered in .45 ACP, which they named the Type 17. The Type 17 was the preferred sidearm of China's military for the first half of the 20th century. It was sometimes held sideways in a technique called "Bandit shooting"; the idea is to aim at the right-most target and use the muzzle jump to guide your aim to the next target. This also countered the Mauser's awkward upwards ejection. According to Sigint, the Japanese were said to fear the technique when Chinese combatants used it. EVA demonstrates the lethality of the Bandit shooting technique in her first appearance by slaughtering a squadron of AK-47-equipped Soviet GRU troops. The Mauser comes in many calibers and capacities, but EVA's gun fires .45 ACP cartridges from a 10-round, non-detachable magazine. She reloads using a stripper clip speedloader device.
- Glock 18 - Fatman's weapon of choice during the Big Shell Incident. It is a fully automatic Machine Pistol chambered for 9x19 Parabellum.
- Single Action Army - Revolver Ocelot's weapon of choice since Operation Snake Eater. While much older and more primitive than other handguns found in the series, the SAA's .45 Long Colt rounds can ricochet off of hard surfaces. Its biggest drawbacks are its slow Rate of Fire, high recoil, and small six-round capacity.
- Race Gun - A double stack 1911 pistol, designed for competition use. It is unlockable in MGS4 after beating the game, and takes the role that the SAA normally fills. It has a very rapid reload and large, 18 round magazine, but its .38 super chambering lacks punch and range. However, like the SAA, its bullets ricochet to hit enemies behind cover. It cannot accept any accessories.
- Makarov PM- Standard-issue Soviet sidearm, firing the 9x18mm pistol cartridge from a single-stack 8-round magazine. The Makarov was notable for its small size and reliability; its few moving parts meant that it jammed less often than the older handguns it replaced, and it was easier to dismantle and clean. It served as the standard Russian Army sidearm from its adoption in 1951 until it was replaced by the Yarygin PYa in 2003, which could hold seventeen rounds of the more common 9x19mm P cartridge in comparison to the Makarov's eight. A modernized version, the Makarov PMM, was developed in 1990; it was designed to utilize double-stacked 12-round magazines and higher-pressure ammunition, which made it deadlier than its predecessor. All of the guards in MGS3 carry a Makarov as a backup weapon in case they lose their primary weapon. It was Ocelot's weapon of choice until Naked Snake personally advised him that his method for absorbing the recoil by twisting his elbow was suited to revolvers. He thereafter replaced it with the Single Action Army.
- Desert Eagle - Meryl Silverburgh's weapon of choice. The Desert Eagle is a modular, magnum-caliber semi-automatic pistol, manufactured by Israeli Military Industries and created by Magnum Research. The Desert Eagle is a massive handgun mainly designed for hunting and silhouette shooting, capable of firing extremely powerful .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or .50 AE rounds. It was never meant for combat and is considered far too powerful for any military purpose. While the powerful magnum rounds are capable of killing a man in a single shot, the gun is heavy, bulky, and possesses immense recoil. In addition, the gun's small magazine capacity limits its effectiveness. Meryl's Desert Eagle is chambered for .50 AE rounds, and carries seven of these huge rounds in a single-stack magazine. She obtains one from the Armory during the Shadow Moses Incident, and carries it, as well as a modified 9-inch barrel version equipped with a scope, in Metal Gear Solid 4.
- Thor .45-70 - A "hand-rifle" found in Metal Gear Solid 4. It was created by using 1911 pistol parts and a dot sight and was developed for competitive shooting and hunting. Using 500-grain .45-70 rounds at a velocity of 1500 ft/s, the Thor is an incredibly powerful pistol that can tear through armor and eliminate guards in a headshot, as well as destroy a Dwarf Gekko. However, the gun's power comes at a price; it is essentially a rifle inside of a pistol. In other words, recoil is incredible, the amount of sound it generates can attract nearby guards, and it can only hold one shot at a time. Liquid Ocelot was seen using the Thor .45-70 during Act 3, in which he killed the 'Big Boss' body with the pistol after the FROGS defeated the marines blocking the Volta River.
Tranquilizer (Non-Lethal) Type
Tranquilizer guns fire sedative darts that put enemies to sleep without harming them. Guards will not raise an alarm when a tranquilized guard is discovered. The main disadvantage for all tranquilizer guns is that the player is forced to cock the gun after every shot, since the slide is locked after the dart is fired. Because of this, it is even more important to make each shot count. However, clearing the game using only tranquilizer weapons will give the player a higher score.
- Beretta M9 - Standard-issue sidearm of many NATO countries, including the United States. Comes with a suppressor, a laser sight, and a double-stack 15-round magazine. It is modified to fire tranquilizer darts rather than lethal rounds. It uses a slide-lock mechanism, enhancing the suppression effect but reduces the Rate of Fire of the weapon.
- EZ Gun - Special-purpose tranquilizer pistol developed by Sigint especially for FOX. It has a laser pointer to make aiming easier and keeps your camouflage index at a minimum of 80%. It also reduces stamina consumption. While the gun can only hold one round at a time, it can be reloaded in less than a second and fires silent ammunition, meaning that the wielder never has to worry about the suppressor wearing out.
- Mk.22 Hush Puppy- Modified Smith & Wesson Mk.22 Mod 0 "Hush Puppy" that uses tranquillizer darts instead of lethal rounds. It holds eight rounds in a single-stack magazine and uses a slide-lock mechanism, enhancing the suppression effect but reduces the Rate of Fire of the weapon. This however, is not much of a worry since the slide is cocked in less than 1/2 a second. The Mk.22 lacks a laser sight, but has been fitted with taller iron sights so the gun can be used more easily with a suppressor.
- Mk.2 Ruger - A suppressed .22 Long Rifle pistol, given to Old Snake along with the Operator in the beginning of MGS4. It has a laser sight built into the grip and the suppressor never wears out, but it cannot accept any accessories. It can use special emotion darts, along with conventional tranquilizer ammunition.
- Wu Silent Pistol: A special tranquilizer pistol utilized by Big Boss during 1975 and in service of Diamond Dogs. Comes in two varieties, with a built-in suppressor, or with a detachable suppressor.
During both the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater, the two main pistols, the M1911 Custom and the Mk.22, both have detachable suppressors. With a suppressor attached, only have a certain number of shot can be uses in which the suppressor will remain effective. There are a limited number of suppressors for each gun.