One can fare in battle with only pistols, I do it all the time. For the last year I have been using single shot pistols as my primaries in Nerf battle. The Catch...They are Ultra Match pistols. However if you want to wield pistols in battle one must understand where they have a place in battle in order to win.
Advantages of pistols as primaries:
1. You don't have to reload a magazine, as long as you use the right ammo (not standard streamlines in Triads for example) you can just pick up ammo off the ground and keep firing what they are firing at you. Virtually no chance of running out of ammo completely.
2. Simpler operation makes for lesser likelihood of jamming.
3. Reserves your clipfed and hopper based blasters for more intense close range battles while your enemies throw away ammo like candy all the time.
1. Lower Rate of Fire.
2. Lesser likelihood of a follow up shot.
3. Typically lesser ranges, unless your me ;)
1. MUST have a clipfed as a backup, Preferably a backup primary as well, especially when you are taking that long learning curve on how to shoot Old'e school again. My recommendations are the Stryfe and the Retaliator on a holster type rig like I carry. If you need the clipfed every battle, your still learning in my book.
2. Pistol Primary, if single should shoot at least 120 fps in Modded stock with elite darts and at least 150 fps in a NIC war with domed stefans. Most people who try using a pistol as a primary don't try it with a decent enough pistol to be a primary, which is why most who try quit. Doing this gives you a pistol to pick people off with at and above 100' or a fast piston nobody can dodge under 100' giving welts as souvenirs ;)
3. Pistol Primaries, if dual Wielded should shoot at least 90-100fps and repeater. Your best platforms I have seen in battle are dual Strongarms, dual Stryfes, dual Magnus's and dual Triad's, dual Triad's being my favorite, but dual Magnus's looks fascinating to me. Typically these are close range assault players.
4. Your ammo must be great! You get to bring less of it to a meet, I usualy bring about 40-50 darts to a war but I have shown up with 20 pieces of ammo once and did just fine, but it better be good like Xplorer darts, Sllia domes. Trying to use Elites at long range is like trying to hit a barb wire fence with an airsoft from 120'. you shoot less so you need to make your shots count more.
5. Your blasters better be solid, no play in the barrel, no catch issues, no air leakage, no shitty darts and a way to tell yours apart from everyone elses quickly in battle (e.g. Shorter domed darts looking different than Elites).
6. Be willing to throw your blaster to the ground and quickly grab something else, if you can't, don't bother going old school.
Remember it can be done, but you really need to play around to get it right for you.