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Big magazines for the right guns only!
Hey choomb, you have a curved mag in that pistol!

I'll keep this post short. I think that rifles and smudges are criminally underutilized compared to pistols. I think this is a FAIRLY simple solution: stop letting pistols be loaded with extended magazines. Period.

No, no, it's not that simple. My idea would have different "tiers" of magazines. Is there a 9mm pistol and rifle? Yes! Is there a 10mm pistol and smudge? Yes! They can both be loaded with normal or extended magazines, which is a little...odd. Don't even get me started on drum mag pistols...

A pistol should have the following:

A 'standard' magazine of 10+1 (maybe even 7+1 on a .45?)

An 'extended' magazine of 15+1.

Rifles and smudges should have a new type of magazine: the 'curved' magazine. This would replace the standard extended magazine, plus option drum magazine if you want even bigger capacity.

I cannot stress enough that by making rifles and smudges the only weapons that can fit 30 rounds in them (which is very realistic), we'll make players look towards them as a skill more.

I like this. Think it would help make firearms be more of a rock paper scissors game like Short Blade/ Long Blade/ Melee is.

Pistol is discrete, can have a bunch of mods, small mag

Rifles/Shotguns is longer range, one shot at a time but can be large mag

Smudges are more bullets, less range.

There may be some balance benefits but there aren't really realism benefits.

I see a lot of guns in my day job and 30 round magazines in pistols are common. Folks on the street call them "poles". Drum magazines are rare in pistols but I still see a pistol with a drum magazine maybe once every 2 months or so.

Most people who are regularly using guns to shoot other people are not very well trained with them, since they can't go to a gun range, so they rely on (often ridiculous-looking) extended magazines to put more bullets downwind. Folks on the street very rarely are carrying reloads like someone in the police or military might so once they are out they are out.

Even if it was true that pistols is a less popular skill than SMGs or rifles, what is the benefit exactly of making a skill stronger than another just to tilt more player numbers into it?

Balance doesn't mean equal usage, it means having all skills be good choices.

@0x1mm No, at all skills are equal. They aren't supposed to be. I'm not saying that pistols should be made weaker, just that they shouldn't be fitting curved 30 round mags or drum mags. If you want a pistol with high capacity, get two pistols. There are benefits and disadvantages to dual wielding, which you cannot do with rifles.
But limiting pistols to 15 rounds does make them weaker, a lot weaker. That's potentially 2-3 magazine swaps in large fights, which seems like a big hit under the justification that long guns are not as popular... especially since I'm not sure it actually follows that pistols being nerfed would make long guns more popular, I'd say it'd make skills weak again pistols more popular.
What about making pistols with high capacity magazines not concealable?

My limited understanding is that one of the benefits of pistols versus other types of firearms is that they can be concealed.

Limiting their concealability when equipped with a high capacity magazine might be enough to entice people to go the SMG route instead.

Personally I think that SMGs and rifles are not more widely used is due to perceived availability and cost issues.