The pistol is mainly used at the start of the game, or later when the player has run out of ammunition for their better firearms. It is a reliable backup weapon, but not one that should be used as a primary, as it is outclassed by many other weapons in damage, fire rate, and overall effectiveness.
In GTA 1 and GTA London, the pistol closely resembles the AMT Automag II by the HUD Image, Although the GTA 1 Icon resembles the Soviet Tokarev TT-33. In GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas, the pistol resembles a Colt M1911. The pistol's magazine capacity ranges from 12 rounds (in III) to 17 rounds (Vice City onwards). All of this is despite the fact that the Colt M1911 isn't commonly chambered in 9mm and, even if it was, it still possesses a single-stack magazine design, therefore making it impossible to fit more than 7 rounds in the magazine without redesigning the weapon or using an extended magazine that extends beyond the bottom of the grip. However, the Browning Hi-Power is chambered in 9mm and holds 13 rounds, thus making it plausible that the GTA III version of the pistol is modelled after the Hi-Power, but making it impossible in Vice City Stories. In the introduction cutscene of San Andreas, where all three members of C.R.A.S.H. arrest Carl Johnson, Jimmy Hernandez and Eddie Pulaski are holding Glock 17 pistols, instead of the normal Colt M1911 pistols like the ones in gameplay. Given the fact that the in-game pistol's magazine capacity (17 rounds) is incorrect for a Colt M1911 but correct for a Glock 17, and the fact that the Glock really is a 9mm pistol, it may be that the developers originally intended the player to use the model seen in the cutscenes, but this feature was left out for some reason. The Glock 17 can be used in-game by switching and swapping the M1911 pistol's model/texture with that of the Glock's.
In GTA Liberty City Stories, the pistol resembles the Glock 17, being one of the most accurately depicted pistols in a GTA game. In GTA Vice City Stories, the pistol resembles a Beretta 92. In reality, the Beretta can carry only 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, making it impossible to carry 17 bullets as shown in game, since the magazine size is normal.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, the pistol is an incorrectly modeled Glock 17. "22" is inscribed on the slide, albeit innaccurately. It is unknown what version of the Glock Rockstar intended for this pistol, as the in-game model has the exterior of a Glock 22, but has the caliber, magazine capacity and traits of a Glock 17. The sights on the model are also incorrect; the gun's front sight is a duplicate of the twin-post rear sight.
In its original form in Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, the pistol is one of the least effective firearms, firing only one bullet every second or so, at a rate slower than a machine gun.
From Grand Theft Auto III onwards, the 9mm pistol is given generally poor stopping power, average accuracy, and a fairly short range. In GTA San Andreas the weapon is significantly more effective than it's previous iterations, having higher range, damage, and accuracy. Coupled with a one shot headshot capability, it is much more effective as a weapon.
In GTA IV, the pistol performs well. Unlike previous GTA games, in which the Pistol is soon usurped by other weapons, the pistol in GTA IV can be used effectively throughout the entire game. By using cover strategically, being patient, and making your shots count, it is possible to complete most missions in GTA IV and its episodes with just a pistol. It can be fired from cars, and its availability, ammo capacity, and higher fire rate make it more desirable for drive-bys and chases than the Combat Pistol. However, submachine guns are always a better option than pistols if available, mainly because of their fully automatic capability, fire rate, and in some cases, higher damage.
This pistol can be purchased at every gun store across Liberty City, as well as found in various locations listed below, LCPD Police Officers carry this pistol as their standard service weapon and therefore the player can easily gain control of one if they haven't yet unlocked any gun stores or are in need of more ammunition.
Willis - Can be found behind and to the left of the parking lot off Freetown Ave. This parking lot is also located to the left of the small parking space where you obtain Stevie's Comet during the mission No. 1.
Northern Gardens - Can be found in the womens bathroom of the Triangle Club. Note: this pistol should be attempted only as a last resort, because once picked up the player will receive a one star wanted level and the patrons and guards will begin shooting at the player.