sidearm guide


Sidearm is a secondary weapon, used as a backup or to complement a specialized primary weapon choice. Most sidearms are classified as pistols, and there are all kinds of them: automatic pistols to spray down targets at close range, high powered revolvers to blow people’s heads off and plain semi-automatic pistols.

Unlike shotguns, sidearms have some faction flavor to them: Terran Republic sidearms come with lots of bullets, New Conglomerate pistols focus on damage and doing it properly, Vanu Sovereignty aims for versatility and adaptability and Nanite Systems offers classic design of revolvers and other low-tech weapons.

Ultimately, the sidearm choice comes down to what you intend to do with it, your class, gameplay style and other loadout pieces. Due to large variety in sidearm field, there are many ways they can be used:

  • As a fallback weapon, when you were caught while reloading your primary weapon, and you can’t escape to reload. Usually this happens at close range, so burst pistols are the best for this.
  • As a finisher, when you’ve emptied your primary weapon at the enemy, and he needs just a bit of help dying.
    • These two points are especially important when using a weapon with low damage per magazine, like an SMG.
  • As a primary weapon for situations where you have completely run out of ammo for primary weapon, and for some reason you don’t want to redeploy or retreat to look for ammo. The main trait required from the sidearm in this case is damage per magazine – it has to be high enough to reliably kill a full health enemy. Second important trait is power, either in DPS, or damage per shot.
    • Stalker Infiltrators also use sidearms this way, as they are restricted from using primary weapons.
  • A suppressed sidearm, used in a loadout with unsuppressed primary, can serve as a silent way of killing unaware enemies at close range without giving away your position and without risking to get close to use a knife.
  • A sidearm with Darklight Flashlight can be used to search for infiltrators in deep cloak, while still using rail attachment slot on your primary weapon for something more versatile.
  • To complement primary weapon choice. E.g., a burst pistol can give a bit of close range power to a sniper. Or the Blackhand – a pocket semi-auto sniper rifle – can give a shotgun or SMG loadout a bit of a kick at range.
  • For utility – certain sidearms can open new abilities to your class. For example, Hunter Crossbow’s detect bolts give the motion spotting ability to any class, but at the cost of losing sidearm slot.

As you can see, a lot of these uses are very specific, and often can be avoided, so it’s perfectly normal for a player to rarely if ever use his sidearm. If that’s the case for you, then you may as well stick with your faction specific starting sidearm and don’t think too much about it. The rest, I welcome to my sidearm guide.

Sidearm Mechanics

sidearm mechanics

Sidearms obey the same Weapon Mechanics as other weapons, but they share these main features:

Short Equip Time of 0.25 seconds
(with the exception of NS Crossbow and its variants)

This means that most of the time it will take 0.5 seconds to equip a sidearm, since Unequip Time of most weapons is also 0.25 seconds.

Equipping and firing a sidearm is:

  • 2-3 times faster than equipping a primary weapon
  • tenths of times faster than reloading a primary weapon
  • if the enemy survived a quick knife swing, equipping and firing a sidearm is at least 36% faster than doing another swing or firing a primary weapon

So in any situation when you need a weapon and your primary weapon is not readily available, equipping a sidearm is the fastest way.

Fast reload. Most sidearms reload in ~1.5-2.0 seconds. NS Revolvers and Crossbow are notable exceptions. 

  1. Reloading 4 rounds more more.

Excellent hip fire accuracy and 75% ADS speed. These traits make sidearms good weapons for close quarters combat. Hip fire accuracy also makes sidearms good for panic situations when you don’t have time to ADS.

Already good starting hip fire cones of fire can be further improved by laser sights, which is the default attachment choice in most situations.

Huge bloom per shot. For comparison:

Weapon Damage per bullet Bloom per shot (hip) Bloom per point of damage done
TRAC 5 143 0.1 0.1 / 143 = 7 * 10-4
TX-1 Repeater 112 0.2 0.2 / 112 = 18 * 10-4


This means that compared to most primary weapons, sidearms become inaccurate during sustained fire very quickly. This is less noticeable on semi-auto pistols with high rate of fire.

Suppressed sidearm remains effective, but only at very close range. Almost all sidearms have access to Suppressor. It provides all the usual benefits of the Suppressor at the cost of these penalties:

  • reduces projectile velocity by 40%
  • reduces maximum damage range by 5m
  • reduces minimum damage range by 20 to 25m (depending on particular sidearm)

These are rather harsh penalties, and they will have a severe effect on sidearm’s ability to engage enemies 15-30m away. That said, sidearms are mostly used within 10-15m, and within that range Suppressor will just increase the number of bullets-to-kill by one.

Iron Sight Mechanics

  • Most iron sights are bulky and can interfere with aiming.
  • Center of the cone of fire is always in the exact middle of the screen, but iron sights wobble all around. In other words, your gun is not shooting where your iron sights are pointing. This is especially hurtful for slow-firing sidearms that have to rely on accuracy.

It’s recommend to upgrade to custom Reflex Sights as soon as possible, if you intend to ADS with your sidearm at all.

Terran Republic

terran republic sidearms

Terran Republic sidearms are very spammy; they have high potential rate of fire and large magazines. They fall a bit short when it comes to effective range and damage per shot, but NS sidearms can take care of that.

TX1 Repeater

TX1 Repeater

repeater stats

Repeater is the default sidearm for Terran Republic. It’s a burst pistol with super high potential DPS of 1577, which exceeds some of the low DPS primary weapons. Moreover, this potential DPS is easy to reach simply by spamming left mouse button at the rate of ~5 clicks per second. It’s basically a pocket SMG, almost strong enough to go against primary weapons.

High rate of fire and damage per second give Repeater incredible stopping power at close range. There are two downsides to keep in mind:

1) Short effective range due to bullet spread from bursting. You will have trouble killing targets by 15m, and by 20m a full 21 round magazine often won’t land enough shots to kill.

2) 21 rounds can evaporate quickly – so make each burst count. Sloppy use of the TX1 will leave you with an empty magazine and a half dead and angry target.

The upsides of the TX1 make it very powerful in the right hands. Sneaking up behind a target will allow you to fire two bursts for the knife kill, even through nanoweave. Depending on how many shots in each burst lands, you can kill most targets in 4 bursts, sometimes 3 if you are very close and get a few hits to the head. I recommend aiming for the center mass, as bursting to the head will result in just as many misses as headshots.


You can switch to single shot fire mode, but the only reason to do so is to destroy enemy mines and other deployables, as burst fire can make it tricky to hit a small target.

TX2 Emperor

TX2 Emperor

emperor stats

TR’s idea of an accurate ranged sidearm. Emperor has much better damage degradation stats than most pistols, so it has comparatively long effective range. However, it deals little damage and requires A LOT of hits to down a full health opponent. 

For maximum DPS you need to click ~7 times per second.

TX2 Emperor does more damage per shot than other TR sidearms. High rate of fire allows for rapid, but controllable fire, and gives the user effectiveness at both close and mid range engagements.

I found the magazine size forgiving enough to be used liberally in hectic encounters, avoiding the problem I had with the TX1 needing to reload while the target is still alive.

It has less stopping power at close range than the TX1, and thus the TX2 is best for finishing wounded targets, preparing for a knife kill (3-4 shots) or engaging beyond 10-15m.

TX2 is the most well-rounded TR sidearm. There are few situations where I am left wishing for something else.


TS2 Inquisitor

TS2 Inquisitor

inquisitor stats

Inquisitor features highest damage per magazine among all sidearms by a large margin, comparable to a primary weapon.

Inquisitor has very little recoil, and with its 2x burst mode, can be spammed accurately up to medium ranges. It’s basically a hybrid between Repeater and Emperor with a huge magazine.

Large ammo pool can come in handy for Stalker Infiltrators, who have to rely on their sidearms to kill enemies, and they frequently run out of ammo. In general, the ease of use and accuracy of this gun make it a good substitute primary, but it’s somewhat lacking in raw damage.



T4 AMP Stats

Fully-automatic pistol with short effective range and lots of firepower within that range. AMP has the highest rate of fire among all small arms, and does almost the same DPS the Repeater can, but without the requirement of clicking for each burst, so more convenient to use.

T4 AMP vs TX1 Repeater

These two pistols are very similar to each other. T4 AMP was released later, and it’s clearly balanced to not be any stronger or weaker than the Repeater. They are nearly identical in all categories, and for most intents and purposes are interchangeable.

TX1 Repeater has slightly more Vertical Recoil per Second, and slightly less horizontal shake, so it takes a bit more effort to compensate for its recoil, but it can be potentially more accurate. It also has less Cone of Fire Bloom in ADS mode, which further increases potential effective range.

In return, T4 AMP is easier to use to its full potential due to it being fully automatic, as with Repeater you still have to click fire properly. T4 AMP also has slightly less Cone of Fire Bloom when hip firing. T4 AMP also has more spare ammo.

All that said, both pistols are primarily close range spam weapons, and whatever differences between them shouldn’t be taken too seriously. 

New Conglomerate

new conglomerate sidearms

New Conglomerate sidearms, as everything in their faction, pack a punch, but require a bit of care to handle properly.

NC4 Mag-Shot

NC4 Mag-Shot

magshot stats

Mag-Shot is the default sidearm for the New Conglomerate. It’s a versatile and well-rounded semi-auto pistol, with good damage per shot, rate of fire and magazine size.

Mag-Shot’s only disadvantage is that in close quarters it gets hard countered by nanoweave, as it increases bullets-to-kill from 5 to 7 (40% increase from 20% damage reduction). Though this is noticeable only when going against full health targets, and can be somewhat mitigated by going for headshots. 

For maximum DPS, you need to click ~6 times per second.

LA8 Rebel

LA8 Rebel

rebel stats

NC’s idea of an accurate ranged sidearm. Features slightly higher damage per bullet than Mag-Shot, and damage degradation starts at 15m instead of 10m, but only 10 rounds per magazine and lower rate of fire.

Rebel has a weird combination of damage per bullet and rate of fire:

  • Damage is not high enough to down a target with just a few hits – you will need 4-5 hits on a full health target.
  • But the rate of fire is low enough to make misses very punishing. If you try spam click, you risk losing A LOT of your damage output due to missing. Rebel just doesn’t have a large volume of fire. And if you spend time on carefully aiming each shot, you will not do a lot of damage either. Rebel’s damage per shot is not that high.

Between revolvers and burst pistols, Rebel seems to have worst of both worlds, and best of none.

That said, there is one thing that Rebel does well – kills with headshots. Rebel kills a target within 15 meters with just two headshots, regardless of nanoweave, since headshots ignore it. Or one headshot and one knife swing. Or one headshot after hitting the enemy with an EMP grenade. 

And, unlike with revolvers, you can put a Suppressor on Rebel, which then becomes very quiet.

For maximum DPS, you need to click ~4 times per second.

LA3 Desperado

LA3 Desperado

desperado stats

NC burst pistol. Remains very stable during sustained fire. Within 8m, Desperado has a scary 3-headshot kill, if you can pull it off. Desperado is a strong, reliable and easy to use sidearm, even when suppressed, but it has somewhat limited magazine capacity.

For maximum DPS, you need to click ~4 times per second.

NC08 Mag-Scatter

NC08 Mag-Scatter

magscatter stats
Outdated picture, Mag Scatter has 5 rounds per mag now.

Shotgun pistol. Can’t use suppressors, but has access to Smart Choke barrel attachment, which increases pellet spread while hip firing, and reduces it while aiming down sights – presumably by 0.5 degrees in both cases.

Mag Scatter also has access to Extended Mags attachment, which increases magazine size by 1. In case of Mag Scatter, extended mags > laser sights. 

Here are some posts by CuteBeaver with tips on how to use Mag Scatter as stalker infiltrator: 1, 2, 3, 45 (keep in mind MagScatter received some buffs to fire rate and magazine size since that time)

Hegeteus has 17.4k Mag-Scatter kills and counting, and he had this to say:

  • I personally use it as Stalker Infiltrator, without smart choke and – mostly – without aiming down sights. 
  • Mag-Scatter has short range and low firerate, but high damage. This gives you opportunities to quick-knife between your shots while making almost no hindrance to your firerate. So I set up my key bindings so I can shoot and quick-knife in quick and precise succession. 
  • I advise players to play more calmly with mag-scatter. It is a punishing gun if you miss your shots.
  • When you are a stalker and someone runs towards you, it can be safer to engage them head on instead of waiting them to run past you (because you get to use quick-knife).
  • EMP-Grenades are a good and obvious choice with mag-scatter, though it’s hard to throw one without hitting yourself or your enemies being too far for mag-scatter.

Mag-Scatter is not something you use for an easy time as a stalker, but with that and knife you can execute some crazy group kills with it. It doesn’t always go that way, but it’s the possibility that makes mag-scatter so incredibly appealing to me. it’s just a fun gun.


Mag-Scatter doesn’t do enough damage per shot to reliably perform one body shot + one knife strike kills against enemies with full nanoweave armor. You can sidestep this issue by going for headshot opener, or just shooting the enemy again if he survived the knife strike after the first shot.

Vanu Sovereignty

vanu sovereignty sidearms

Vanu Sovereignty sidearms are all over the place. Some of them may seem unoriginal, while others are perhaps too original for their own good. It’s worth noting that VS sidearms do not have bullet drop, which is the reason for their below average projectile velocity.

Beamer VS3

Beamer VS3

Beamer stats

Beamer is the default pistol for Vanu Sovereignty. It’s an inside-community joke to call Beamer “the worst weapon in the game”, however the joke is overused to the point that some people start taking it seriously.

In reality, Beamer is very similar to TR’s TX-2 Emperor, which has earned the reputation of a versatile and reliable sidearm. Beamer isn’t as effective at range as Emperor due to stronger damage drop-off and lower velocity, but it’s more spammy.

For maximum DPS you need to click ~7.5 times per second. Such high click rate is another reason why some people may consider Beamer weak and hard to use properly, but the simple truth is you don’t have to reach maximum RoF to kill effectively. 

Manticore SX40

SX40 Manticore

manticore stats

Manticore is almost a direct copy of NC’s Mag-Shot. The only difference is that Manticore sacrifices some projectily velocity to gain VS’ no bullet drop trait.



Cerberus stats

A sidegrade to NC’s LA-8 Rebel. Cerberus has a bit higher rate of fire, but reduced maximum damage range: 8m compared to 15m of Rebel.

Basically, it means that Cerberus is better in 0m – 8m and 15m+ ranges, while Rebel is better in 8m – 15m range.

For maximum DPS you need to click ~5 times per second.



spiker stats

Spiker is the most unique pistol, both in terms of looks/animations and functionality.

By default, it uses a burst mode, and then it’s comparable to Desperado with some minor differences: a bit less consistent recoil, lower CoF bloom per shot and lower damage at range.

In alternative firemode, Spiker’s Damage Resist Type is changed to Type 40, same as for  Anti-Materiel Rifles, which means it becomes capable of dealing damage to heavily armored vehicles, and deals bonus damage to MAXes. 

In alternative firemode, you can hold “fire” to charge up a more powerful shot that will also deal splash damage to infantry in a small radius.

Charge Level Charge Time,
Ammo Direct Damage
(Type 40)
Indirect Damage
(Type 6)
0 0 1 50
1 2 2 200 50
2 4 4 400 150
  • Direct Damage is the same at all ranges (no damage degradation over range).
  • A fully charged shot is roughly equal to an Archer shot within its max damage range.
  • While charging, Spiker emits an audible sound, and you can’t charge while sprinting or cloaked, but you can charge it while flying on the Jet Pack.


Nanite Systems

Nanite Systems’ sidearms can be used by all factions.

NS-44 Commissioner

NS-44 Commissioner

commissioner stats

Commissioner is just what you would expect from a magnum revolver: damaging and accurate, but slow to fire and reload, so if you miss you’re pretty much screwed. It has low rate of fire by itself, and you need to shoot even slower to carefully aim all of your shots.

Despite requiring a lot of skill to use properly, Commissioner has had booming success over the years, and earned love and adoration of the community.

Commissioner is known for its consistency and overwhelming headshot damage. 

  • 1 headshot within 8m will instantly kill an Infiltrator without Nano Armor Cloaking
  • 2 headshots will kill a Heavy Assault through any kind of overshield, creating an unprecedented time-to-kill of just 0.35 seconds. 
  • 1 headshot and 1 bodyshot will kill infantry in full nanoweave within 22m. 
  • 3 body shots will kill infantry in full nanoweave within 13m
  • 1 headshot and 1 quick knife swing nearly instantly kill most infantry targets

While Commissioner certainly takes skill to use effectively, its devastating damage per shot cannot be overstated. Huge alpha damage is what makes Commissioner so deadly and popular. Considering excellent hip fire accuracy of sidearms, it is not that hard to land a shot or a headshot, taking 45-90% of enemy’s health in an instant. The potential destructive power of the Commissioner is simply disgusting for a mere sidearm. 

Commissioner is relatively accurate and more effective at range than most sidearms, thanks to high damage per shot. Commissioner still loses a lot of damage over range – at 39m, it requires 5 (!) body shots to kill an enemy without (!!) nanoweave armor. If you do want to engage an enemy at range, you should start with a headshot, and then follow-up with body shots. This technique is demonstrated in my Red Baron shotgun video at 1:30 and 3:11.

To find out if Commissioner is right for you:

Find yourself a good fight, then trial the Commissioner, and just use it as if it was your primary weapon. if you get a decent number of kills, then you’ve found yourself a pistol.

If it’s a little too slow and kicks a little too hard, then try the Underboss the same way. If those don’t work out, then you’re probably gonna be best off with another pistol.


NS-357 Underboss

NS-357 Underboss

underboss stats

A snub-nosed, lower caliber variant of the Commissioner. Underboss is noticeably more spammy than the Commissioner, but lower damage per bullet reduces kill consistency:

  • kills in 3 body shots within 16m, if the enemy has no nanoweave
  • kills in 4 body shots within 20m, if the enemy has full nanoweave – out of already small 6 round cylinder.
    This increase is substantial, and makes nanoweave a hard counter to Underboss.

However, there is a way to make Underboss consistent and deadly: headshots.

  • kills in 2 headshots within 39m, regardless of nanoweave
  • kill in 1 headshot + 1 body shot within 11m, assuming full nanoweave

Due to the speed of that double tap, Underboss is very lethal if you can manage to get those headshots.

Compared to Commissioner, Underboss has 30% higher rate of fire, 20% higher recoil decrease and 20% lower recoil.

All of this combined substantially increases recentering speed of the Underboss. You can make follow-up shots almost without a pause, because Underboss returns aim to you faster. In essence, Underboss rewards faster and better aiming than what Commissioner allows. But since Underboss packs less damage before reloading, misses are punished more, especially against targets with nanoweave.

Commissioner vs Underboss ADS Recoil Animation

Both Underboss and Commissioner have heavy recoil animation when aimed down sights. The gun kicks upwards and obstructs your field of vision for a moment. This is notably different from faction-specific sidearms, and makes it challenging to take rapid follow-up shots.

Timeline after you fire the first shot:

  1. Your aim will be kicked up by recoil, but the gun itself will not move on your screen. 
  2. Then, the gun model will kick upwards, obstruction your field of vision. 
  3. Then, the gun will return and you will be able to see your target once again, and take a more or less accurate follow-up shot.
  4. If you don’t take another shot, your aim will return to its original position on target. 

Here are the time values, according to my rough testing:

Commissioner Underboss  
117 ms 83 ms First recoil
233 ms 167 ms View obstruction
200 ms 167 ms Recoil recovery
352 ms 271 ms Weapon refire time

The point to take away from this, is that not only Underboss fires faster, it also allows the user to take accurate follow up shots faster, because its recoil animation is ~40% less obstructive. 

NS-357 IA

DAMAGE 250 @ 2m – 167 @ 30m
PELLETS / SPREAD 2 / 1.25 HIP, 0.75 ADS
VELOCITY 300 m/s
AMMO 6 / 42
RELOAD TIME 2.55 sec / 3.55 sec


NS-357 IA is a special modification of the Underboss: it fires two shots at the same time, though each shot deals less damage than usual, and the rate of fire is reduced to be roughly on the level of the Commissioner.

The only available attachment is Darklight Flashlight. NS-357 IA has no scope attachments, and is forced into using unusual side-mounted iron sights.

NS-357 IA is one of the possible item rewards for winning a Critical Mass Alert, this is the only way to obtain it.

NS-357 IA is created and named in honor of TheDeringer, creator of Instant Action Podcast and otherwise a prominent member of the community. He made a video demonstration of the weapon.

NS-44L Blackhand

NS-44L Blackhand


A long-barreled “sniper” variant of the Commissioner. Uses only 4x scopes. Has unusually high bullet velocity for a sidearm and increased accuracy, but holds only 4 rounds.

Due to strong damage degradation, Blackhand has weak body shots and gets hardcountered by nanoweave.

  • needs 3 body shots against no nanoweave target within 85m, and 4 shots at 86m+.
  • needs 3 body shots against full nanoweave within 27m, 4 from 26m to 99m, and 5 at 100m+.

To consistently kill enemies at range you will have to go for headshots:

  • kills in 1 headshot and 1 body shot within 68m, assuming full nanoweave. You can start with a headshot, and then perform a quick follow up body shot.
  • kills in 2 headshots at any range.

Tip: you get a boost of accuracy for crouching, and for staying still, so remember to do both when fighting at super long ranges.

Tip: by default, Blackhand comes with a terrible crosshair scope, that suffers from same issues Iron Sights do. Get a reflex scope as soon as you can.

Blackhand serves well as a perching long range weapon at virtually any distance you can land a headshot. It truly shines on Light Assaults, who can easily snipe people behind cover from an elevated position. Blackhand also helps in a situation where an enemy is out of reach of your primary weapon, like SMG or a Shotgun.

Blackhand can be used as a backup sidearm in a pinch, but punishingly small magazine makes it a bad substitute primary, when going against full health targets at close range. 4x scope makes aiming in close quarters harder, and even with laser sights Blackhand has bad hip fire accuracy, so it will be weak in the crucial 2-10m segment, where sidearms are usually used as backup weapons.

Wrel’s review: (outdated, Blackhand now does 275 minimum damage)

NS-44L Showdown

This is a unique variant of NS-44L Blackhand. The only way to obtain is to get it as a random Alert Reward. Visually, it’s a Blackhand without scope, and it has a similar set of stats, with following differences:

  • Lower Rate of Fire: 120 vs 170
  • Different Cone of Fire statistics:
    • Hip CoFs: 1.5 / 1.5 / 1.5 / 1.5 / 0
    • ADS CoFs: 0.1 / 0.1 / 0.1 / 0.1 / 7
  • Low ADS Movement Speed Multiplier: 0.25x vs 0.75x
  • 0.2 sec longer Equip Time
  • 50% more pronounced Projectile Drop
  • Stronger Vertical Recoil: 3.0 vs 1.8
  • The only possible attachment is Darklight Flashlight

Overall, Showdown is weirdly slow and hip-fire centric. It has 0.5 better Standing Moving CoF than Blackhand with Laser Sight, and no hip fire Bloom, but the lower RoF more than compensates for it, and the Hip Fire is still not quite good enough to freely hip fire a 4-shot weapon. 

Showdown is mostly a prestige and novel weapon, rather an actually combat effective option. Video of gameplay by a lucky owner.

Hunter QCX

Hunter QCX

hunter crossbow stats

Hunter QCX Crossbow is a unique weapon, more of a weak primary than a sidearm. It fires slow, but silent and powerful bolts, and needs to be cycled after each shot. The crossbow is the premiere weapon choice for Stalker Infiltrators.


  • Crossbow deals high and consistent damage, with the damage model 650 @ 35m – 525 @ 60m and 1.5x headshot multiplier
    • this means that crossbow can drop most targets with two hits, and can OHK infiltrators on a headshot within 45m.
    • consistent two body hit kill against full nanoweave targets within 40 meters
    • almost always can finish a target in just one body shot after it has been hit by an EMP grenade, which completely drains shields
    • can destroy all deployables in one shot at any distance
    • consistent 1 body shot + 1 knife swing kill against targets without overshields, regardless of nanoweave. This “crossbow combo” can kill a target almost instantly.
  • access to scope attachments of 1x through 6x, including HS/NV
  • sort of “suppressed”, i.e. has no muzzle flash and when you shoot you show up on enemies’ minimap only within 10m
  • available to all factions, so when enemies hear the shots they can’t be sure if it’s an ally or enemy shooting
  • has barely visible tracer


  • needs to be “cycled” after each shot, much like a pump shotgun or bolt action rifle. Cycling takes 1.02 seconds, which puts a high penalty on misses.
  • takes 0.8 seconds to equip, which is 0.3 seconds longer than for most other sidearms. This means that Crossbow is hard to use as a quick-draw weapon in panic situations when you need a backup weapon.
  • low projectile velocity and strong projectile drop make it hard to use in a direct firefight, and hard to hit moving enemies at range.

The crossbow has an interesting interaction with quick melee attacks. In short, if you want to perform a melee combo with the crossbow, you should wait at least 0.17 seconds after the shot before you quick melee. That will let you perform the quick melee during the crossbow’s rechambering animation, and shave off ~0.5 seconds off the recovery time before you can fire again.

Hunter QCX has exclusive access to special ammo types in addition to default bolts, that transform the crossbow to a different purpose.

Detect Bolt. These barely do any damage, and function similarly to Infiltrator’s Recon Detection Device darts, but last only about 10 seconds. Then again, Crossbow does have a lot more bolts than Recon Detection Device. Detect Bolts are destroyed by Infiltrator’s EMP Grenades. Overall considered weak and rarely used.

Explosive Bolt. As the name suggests, changes ammunition to explosive bolts that do minor splash damage to infantry and minor damage to vehicles:

Direct Damage: 450 @ 30m – 270 @ 55m (could be 50m)
Direct Damage Type – 3 “Explosive Bolts”
Indirect Damage: 200 @ 0.35m – 85 @ 2m
Indirect Damage Type – 6 “Common Explosion”

Explosive Bolts are moderately effective against MAXes, and without taking damage degradation into account require 8 hits to kill without Ordnance Armor.

Smoke Bolts. These deal less damage, and reduce Crossbow’s ammo capacity to 2 / 8. On impact, they will produce a thick cloud of smoke. Smoke lasts for about ~9 seconds.

NS-61 Emissary

NS-61 Emissary

emissary stats 2

Emissary is a fully automatic pistol with very little recoil and large magazine, but low damage per bullet and comparatively low rate of fire and low damage per second.

Emissary is intended as easy to use sidearm that can substitute a primary weapon for classes that sacrifice primary weapon slot, like Stalker Infiltrators and Archer Engineers, and to give an accessible ranged option to shotgun users.

Emissary puts emphasis on accuracy and effectiveness at range, combined with ease of use. “Baby NS-7 PDW” (c) Wrel.

To effectively engage with Emissary, you have to continuously hold aim on target, which is different from other sidearms, which either require a few precise shots, or capable of being spammed in the general direction of the enemy. 

Unusual Headshot Damage multiplier of 1.8x
Most weapons have 2x. This means that Emissary requires 5 headshots to kill within maximum damage range.

Notable attachments:

  • Extended Mags, increase magazine size by 5 rounds.
  • Supressor: reduces maximum damage range by 5m, minimum damage range by 20m and velocity by 12% (unusually small velocity penalty)

You can check out some of the Emissary gameplay by Moukass in this video, and Wrel’s review below.

NS-45 Pilot

DAMAGE 200 @ 8m – 112 @ 42m
RATE OF FIRE 750 Burst / 441 RPM
VELOCITY 350 m/s
AMMO 12 / 60
RELOAD TIME 1.85 sec / 2.35 sec
UNLOCK COST 1000Certification Pointsor 799 Daybreak Cash

3x Burst

NS-45 Pilot is a compact, high-caliber burst pistol. It fires 3 round bursts at a high Rate of Fire, but there is a forced delay between bursts, so overall Rate of Fire is lower. While 12 round magazine may seem small, it amounts to roughly the same damage per magazine as for other burst pistols. 

It takes the Pilot only 0.16 seconds to fire off a burst that deals up to 600 damage. Headshots with Pilot are truly devastating. Landing a whole burst on the head will kill standard infantry targets, giving Pilot the shortest potential TTK among all sidearms. 

That said, landing a whole burst on the head is actually quite challenging outside of point blank range. 

When going for bodyshots, Pilot gets hardcountered by nanoweave, same as all other 200 damage weapons. Pilot requires 5 bodyshots (2 bursts) against standard infantry target, but full nanoweave targets will require 7 bodyshots (3 bursts), which significantly increases TTK.

It’s not a big deal when finishing off wounded enemies, but when going against full health targets, it’s better to try and work in a few headshots to offset the potential nanoweave.

Pilot requires a steadier hand than other burst pistols. You need to be careful about spamming this gun in close quarters, as every missed shot will be extra costly. If the enemy is being the least bit evasive, it’s a good idea to take an extra moment to properly aim each burst and let CoF reset in the meantime. 

Pilot is mostly a close quarters sidearm, but remains potent within 20m or so, if you can get good ADS hits on a stationary enemy. Outside of that distance, damage degradation and strong Vertical Recoil will make it hard to kill an aware target. 

A useful habit is to start pulling the mouse down the instant you click to fire, without waiting to actually see the recoil. 

Overall, for most intents and purposes, Pilot is simply a sidegrade to faction-specific burst pistols, like Repeater and Desperado. It’s sort of a middle ground between burst pistols and revolvers. Pilot even has a perk over the Commissioner – the 100% headshot TTK. But it’s hard to pull off consistently. If you’re already good with the Commissioner, you don’t have much reason to switch to Pilot.

You can watch some Stalker Gameplay with NS-45 here.

Auraxium Pistols

The President

The President

The Executive

The Executive

The Immortal

The Immortal

Auraxium Pistols are prestige copies of default sidearms: Repeater, Mag-Shot and Beamer. They can’t be purchased with certs or station cash, and can only be acquired through Directives. To get one of these, you have to complete the auraxium tier of sidearm directive.

Auraxium pistols have a unique “alive” camouflage shader for showing off, as well as a unique attachment: Special Suppressor. It carries no penalties to Maximum Damage Range and Projectile Velocity, and additionally reduces the CoF Bloom while Aiming Down Sights by 50%, which considerably increases the accuracy of sustained fire. There is still a penalty of -20m to Minimum Damage Range.

As a downside, these sidearms have reduced magazine size: by 3 rounds for President, and 2 rounds for Executive and Immortal. They also cannot equip Laser Sights. 

It’s clear they are built around stealth and sustained fire while aiming down sights, which is a rather niche application for a sidearm. 

Holiday Sidearms

All of these are considered Exceptional Directive weapons. Normally they cannot be purchased, but become available each year for a few days.

NS-Deep FreezeNS Deep FreezeSnow-ball gun. Sold during winter holidays.

NS Candy Cannon 3000NS CandyCannon 3000
Cracker gun. Sold during Halloween holidays.

Patriot Flare Gun
NS Patriot Flare Gun
Fireworks gun. There are NS and faction-specific versions, each fires flares of different color. Sold during 4th of July holidays.


HeartstringCosmetic variants of Hunter Crossbow. Sold for DBC during St. Valentine’s holidays. 

While technically Flare Gun, Deep Freeze and Candy Cannon are classified as weapons and they do damage, they are extremely hard to kill with, so it is not a wise idea to try to auraxium them to complete the Exceptional Weapon directive. It is possible and it has been done, but it requires immense dedication and time investment.

Promotional Sidearms

  • Platinum versions of NS-44 Commissioner, Underboss and Hunter Crossbow.
  • FB versions of default sidearms (gold trimmed). Facebook promotion.
  • AE versions of NS-44 Commissioner (faction colors and logos). Sold as part of 3rd Anniversary Bundle. 

All of these are considered Exceptional Directive weapons. Normally they cannot be purchased. Maybe they will eventually become available for a short time. If you want to know when that happens, be sure to follow PlanetSide 2 on all social media – links are at “Community” section of the main site menu.

Developers are also known to give away a few of these weapons during Twitch streams.

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