A pistol was a type of one-handed firearm that was generally smaller and less powerful than a rifle or carbine. Pistols had a lesser range than rifles, but they could be wielded in one hand. Pistols varied in size and power from the ubiquitous blaster pistol to its cousins the larger heavy blaster pistol and the much smaller and easily concealed hold-out blaster pistol. Other types of pistols included the slugthrower pistol, which fired bullets and similar projectiles; the ion pistol, which was used to disable droids; the stun pistol, designed for nonlethal crowd control; and the deadly disruptor pistol, which was able to disintegrate its targets.
Pistols, especially blaster pistols, were manufactured by thousands of companies and found everywhere in the galaxy in virtually every era. They were used by nearly all types of persons, including nobles, soldiers, bodyguards, bounty hunters, law enforcement agents, merchants, and anyone in need of basic firepower, personal protection, or a backup weapon.