Handguns (which include pistols or revolvers and are also referred to as side arms) are a type of secondary weapon in the Call of Duty series. Handguns usually have moderate stopping power and are able to pull off many shots in quick succession. Lower caliber handguns usually have higher magazine capacities, while the higher caliber handguns are louder, have more recoil and a smaller magazine capacity. In general, semi-auto pistols are less powerful than revolvers.
Compared to other weapons, handguns can be drawn the fastest, and switching to a sidearm is always faster than reloading. When aiming down the sights they have the fastest ADS time, have no zoom, and they retain full "look/aim" movement speed when doing so. However, handguns have moderate damage (if it's a revolver) and low if any damage if it's a pistol with a magazine (such as the M1911) outside of their usually short ranges. The low magazine size and semi-automatic nature limits them to ADS outside of point-blank ranges. Since their hipfire spread tends to be relatively poor, the user will often find him/herself running out of ammunition should they attempt to kill an enemy without aiming. Additionally, players cannot simply "sweep" the crosshairs over an opponent while continuously holding down the trigger and expect a kill, as every shot must be fired manually. There are some exceptions to this though, which include handguns with a high rate of fire combined with high magazine capacity.
In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, there is a glitch where when using the Akimbo attachment on Handguns, if one were to empty all ammunition leaving one shot in the right, and only right pistol, then press the L2, R2, and Triangle buttons at the same time, the left pistol will break it's firecap and immediately empty all ammo in less than a 1/4 of an in-game second, faster than what a RF controller can reproduce. Confirmed by IW and Sledgehammer. (Confirmed on the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions)
Modern Warfare 3 is the first Call of Duty game to feature two revolvers, the MP412 and the .44 Magnum.
After a recent hotfix on Modern Warfare 3, it is possible to kill another player with a single shot from a pistol if they get shot in the foot.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II features the most handguns of all Call of Duty series. In addition, it has three revolvers, more than any other game.
Black Ops II is the first game in the series to feature the Reflex Sight as an attachment for semi-automatic pistols.