Pistol rounds are the most important rounds of the game and mastering them can net you 4 free round wins each game. Which in turn increases the chances of you winning the game by a large margin. The most important aspects of winning a pistol round are economy, movement, and warm-up.
How to win pistol rounds in Valorant?
Planning your economy starts from the gun round
At the start of pistol rounds, every player starts with 800 credits for pistols, utility, and armor. So make sure to not save them but rather invest them. We all know that if you win the pistol round, and don't get eco’d, winning the 3rd round is great for your economy.
The enemy will never buy an Operator or a full loadout in the next few rounds because of it. You can even force after you have won the pistol round, buy weapons like Vandals, Phantoms, and Spectres on round 2, play slow, frag everyone, and keep or get better weapons.
Pistol rounds gun choice
To do this you need a solid strategy for your investment and the most important factors are the map you are playing on, the agent you are playing, and the fights you will be taking.
Classic with light armor and some utility is a great middle-ground for all agents on both offense and defense. You can't go wrong with the Valorant pistol which is also very powerful while having survivability and utility. Remember, if you die the utility stays for the next round but the 500 credit ghost doesn't. You can also do max utility with a classic and be a total headache, especially on defense. Sage with a wall and two slows or Killjoy with 2 grenades come to mind, which are both great setups on defense.
The classic is good at mid-range and is especially overpowered in close-range combat with the right-click. On offense, you might be better off using it only on mobile agents who can get in range for the right-click, but it's really good on defense. It's free and very good in all scenarios, unlike the upcoming guns that struggle on mid and long-range duels.
The shorty is dirt cheap at 150 credits, which is the in game currency, and it one-shots enemies at close range but is useless outside of that. You can buy a Shorty and keep your Classic for rotating, if drop your classic, buy a shorty drop it as well, and equip a classic again. Take close-range fights or use it on Jett, Raze, Neon because you can get in range with them. Similarly, Controllers like Viper and Omen might hide in their smokes with them and combined with a blind or a molly, wipe out entire teams on pistol rounds.
A risky strategy on Jett is to buy a Shorty on pistol round and save on the second round so you can get an Operator on round 3 even if you lose both rounds. Having an Operator on round 3 can win the game, especially in low elo, where they are not expecting it or know how to counter it without a Controller on their team. Also, Jett is probably the best agent that can handle retakes with a Shorty while saving extra credits, so if you have enough game sense and good positioning, this can be a busted strategy.
The Frenzy is the ultimate run and gun weapon for entry fraggers like Jett who need to get in your face and frag you before you frag them. It has a small magazine but the rate of fire is unmatched on pistol rounds and can be a meat grinder if your team walks into 2 frenzy's holding an angle.
The ghost is the best all-around pistol because it has enough ammunition, it one taps enemies who didn't purchase light armor with shots to the head, and does decent damage at all ranges. A common mistake we see players do is crouch and spam left click with the ghost, which is horrible.
The Ghost has a good first shot accuracy but the follow-up is horrible, so your best bet is to slowly tap while strafing back and forth. It's rather expensive as it costs 500 credits and you get only 1 ability with it without armor.
Buying the Sherif on pistol rounds leaves you with no utility or armor but frags enemies with no armor with two shots. It's also a single headshot inside of 40 meters at every point of the game, which makes it a great gun round buy even versus enemies with half armor.
Many pro players suggest using it on eco rounds because one shot is all it takes to win the round. There's not a lot to talk about the Sheriff, if you can aim, this is the best gun at almost all times.
Practice gun rounds and movement
Apart from your gun choice, movement is more important than aim on pistol rounds. The main objective on gun rounds should be to hit while not getting hit, and using pistols helps with that. Valorant is a dynamic game with different outcomes on pistol rounds for both sides based on multiple factors, but one thing remains true. You move faster with a gun than a rifle, and you should abuse that.
Practice tap firing with a gun and strafing left and right to not lose control over your weapon while dodging shots. In the Open Range, you have a ton of moving targets on which you can warm up and finish with the Eliminate 100 Bots while strafing at different ranges. As we said, winning gun rounds can give you 3 to 6 easy round wins so don't take them for granted, practice and focus on winning them.
Choose the right agent for the right map
The optimal loadout on pistol rounds is different for most agents, but also depends on the side you are playing. But a bigger factor in deciding your loadout is the map on which you are playing and what kind of fights are you willing to take. For long-range flights and on bigger maps like Breeze and Icebox, you might want to buy a Sherif.
Is light armor worth buying on pistol rounds in Valorant?
This table shows how many shots you need to hit with a Classic and light armor, on different body parts, and from different distances, to get a frag on an enemy with no armor, who can buy these guns. It also shows how many shots they need to hit on you, so we can figure out if buying light armor is worth it on pistol rounds.
That is if you aren't holding a close corner with a Shorty in the smoke. Shorty, Frenzy, utility, and a Classic should win you most rounds on maps like Bind, Split, and Haven, just don't push the long sightlines. Fracture is a mixed bag, and getting caught with a Sheriff on site is a horrible experience so I advise you buy the Ghost pistol on it.