How To Create A Pistol Build In Fallout: New Vegas

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There are dozens of ways to build your character in Fallout: New Vegas and this feature is one of the things that makes the Fallout franchise so unique. Pistols are a great choice of weapon, especially since they work well both with and without stealth.



Related: Fallout New Vegas: All Base Game Skill Book Locations

There are lots of little things you need to know to create an effective pistol build, such as which SPECIAL stats to invest in and what armor to wear. If you like pistols and want to know how to build a character exclusively around them, then you’re in the right place because you’ll find an in-depth guide on pistol builds below.

Updated August 9, 2023, by Sean Murray: Ready to take on the wasteland as a wild west gunslinger? We’ve refreshed this guide with improved formatting and more breakout tips to make using pistols in Fallout New Vegas that much easier.

How To Play A Pistol Character

Pistol builds are versatile, and you can play them in a variety of ways. You can incorporate stealth into your playstyle if you want, but it’s not necessary to create a powerful character since it’s easy to aim with a pistol in the heat of combat. However, stealth will give you a boost to damage because of sneak attacks.

You can sneak up to your enemies or run into the battle with your weapon drawn, but either way, you should prioritize the use of VATS since this build includes a high Agility stat. You’ll have lots of Action Points to work with, and you’ll easily get headshots.

The Strongest Gear For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Aiming A Pistol In First Person

The gear you’ll need for a pistol build isn’t complex, simply a pistol and a sturdy set of armor. However, there’s some gear that easily outperforms others, so here’s everything you should strive for with this build.

The Strongest Ballistic Pistol

New Vegas Joshua Graham Talking To The Courier

A Light In Shining Darkness is one of the strongest pistols in New Vegas. It’s a unique .45 Auto Pistol that deals 33 base damage, has a higher critical chance, and features less spread. A faster fire rate is another great trait of this firearm. You can get A Light In Shining Darkness by killing Joshua Graham in Zion or after finishing the Honest Hearts questline.

The Strongest Energy Pistol

New Vegas Sunset Sarsparilla Headquarters On The Map

Pew Pew is a unique Laser Pistol you can earn by talking to Festus inside the Sunset Sarsaparilla Headquarters after you have 50 Sunset Sarsaparilla Star Bottlecaps in your possession. Pew Pew deals 75 base damage per shot, but in exchange for its incredibly high damage, each shot consumes five Energy Cells, and you have to reload after every two attacks.

This weapon is particularly strong if you want to one-shot your enemies.

The Strongest Armor For A Pistol Build

New Vegas X-13 Resaerch Facility On The Map

The Stealth Suit Mk II is very useful while wielding pistols for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a medium armor piece, which is the ideal armor type for a pistol build since it’s not too heavy, but still provides decent protection.

Second, the Stealth Suit Mk II increases your stealth speed by 20 percent and your Sneak skill by 15 points simply for wearing it.

Along with all of the advantages above, this suit will even heal you automatically using Stimpacks when your health gets low. You can acquire the Stealth Suit Mk II by visiting the X-13 Facility in the Big Empty inside the Old World Blues DLC.

You’ll also need to complete a few tests to improve the Stealth Suit Mk II, so it’ll grant you all the bonuses listed above.

Related: Fallout New Vegas: Every Way To Get Into The Strip

Stats For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Character Aiming A Revolver At An Enemy

There are lots of stats you need to know about to build a powerful pistol build, including skills, perks, and traits, among others. Here’s every stat you need to adjust while using pistols as your primary weapon type.

The Best SPECIAL Stats For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Perception Special Stat During Character Creation

Agility is the most essential since it governs your damage with ballistic weapons, and the majority of pistols are ballistic. However, Perception and Luck are also useful if you plan to use VATS and critical hits regularly.

Here’s a suggested spread of SPECIAL stats to start with:


Number Of Points















The Best Skills For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Skills Menu After Leveling Up

You’ll have the chance to select three skills after creating your character. Each of the selected skills will gain 15 points, which is quite a boost. Additionally, you earn ten skill points to allocate every time you earn a level, plus an extra point per every point of Intelligence you have.

Each skill can reach up to 100. The most powerful skills you can use for a pistol build may vary slightly depending on your preferences, but overall they’ll usually be the same. Guns or Energy Weapons are the first two skills you should prioritize since they increase your damage with pistols.

The Repair skill is also useful so that you can repair your pistols when they break. Finally, it’s worth considering the Sneak skill because you may want to combine pistols with stealth for the extra sneak attack damage.

The Best Perks For A Pistol Build

New Vegas One Way Or Another Perk In Level Up Menu

Perks are a powerful tool you can use to improve your build further. You earn a perk every two levels you gain, so there’s a lot of room to improve your character with them. A lot of perks are universally useful regardless of your build, but not all of them.

There aren’t many perks that fit a pistol build exclusively, but there are quite a few that are uniquely useful for this weapon type.



Number Of Stages


The Professional

Level 6, Sneak 70


Grants 20 percent extra damage from critical hits with submachine guns, revolvers, and pistols.

Run ‘N Gun

Level 4, Guns Or Energy Weapons 45


Grants half the spread while walking or running and wielding a one-handed ranged weapon.


Level 6


Grants 25 percent extra accuracy with all one-handed weapons.


Level 8, Melee 45, Guns 45


Grants 25 percent extra damage with Hatchets, Knives, Dynamite, Revolvers, and Lever-Action Rifles.

Math Wrath

Level 10, Science 70


All Action Point costs are ten percent less.


Level 10


Grants a five percent critical chance.


Level 12, Perception 6, Agility 6


Grants a 25 percent extra chance to hit an enemy’s head inside VATS.

Better Criticals

Level 16, Perception 6, Luck 6


Grants 50 percent extra damage with all critical hits.

Grim Reaper’s Sprint

Level 20


Restore 20 Action Points whenever you defeat an enemy while inside VATS.

Grunt (Honest Hearts)

Level 8, Explosives 20, Guns 45


Grants 25 percent extra damage with 9mm Pistols, .45 Pistols, 9mm SMGs, .45 SMGs, Service Rifles, Machine Guns, Carbines, Launchers, Combat Rifles, Grenade Rifles, and Frag Grenades.

The Best Traits For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Fast Shot Trait Inside Menu

Traits offer a trade-off, a beneficial effect at the cost of a negative effect as well. You can choose two perks at the beginning of New Vegas, but you can also decide not to select any traits or only take one. There are two traits that fit a pistol build perfectly.

The Fast Shot trait increases your firing speed by 20 percent, which is perfect for a soldier wielding pistols. Additionally, the cost of Action Points in VATS will reduce by 20 percent. However, you’ll also now have 20 percent less accuracy.

Four Eyes is another interesting trait that works quite well with pistols and helps offset the negative effect of Fast Shot. Four Eyes increases your Perception by two points while you’re wearing glasses, but reduces your Perception by one point by default. As long as you continue to wear glasses, Four Eyes doesn’t have a negative effect.

The Best Implants For A Pistol Build

Fallout New Vegas Medical Clinic On The Map

Implants offer another way to increase your abilities after creating your character. You can travel to the New Vegas Medical Clinic and speak to Doctor Usanagi to purchase implants using Caps. You can install one implant for every point of Endurance you have.

The Optics Enhancer, Reflex Booster, and Probability Calculator are all good options for a pistol build. These implants raise your Perception, Agility, and Luck by a single point instantly, while each costs 4,000 Caps to install.

If you plan to use stealth, then the M-5 Implant is also a good consideration since it increases your stealth speed by 20 percent. You can install the M-5 Implant at a cost of 10,000 Caps at The Sink in the Old World Blues DLC.

The Best Companion For A Pistol Build

New Vegas Black Mountain On The Map

Companions can aid your character in combat and make your overall experience much easier. Raul Tejada is by far the best companion for a pistol build since he wields a .44 Magnum Revolver. As such, Raul can become your cowboy sidekick.

You can recruit Raul as a companion by rescuing him from Black Mountain, which is on the map above.

Next: Fallout New Vegas: Every Use For Fission Batteries

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