Sonic Pistol vs Heavy Gauss

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I often say that the Sonic Pistol is just a miniaturized Heavy Gauss that is better in every way. After cobbling together this article, it turns out that the difference between the two weapons is much more disproportionate than the basic Ufopaedia stats will first lead you to believe. My assumption is therefore quite incorrect - they are most certainly not an even pairing.

Anyhow, to illustrate this, let's see how the third generation Gauss weapon fares against the first generation Sonic weapon.

Please be aware that this article is comparing the original Heavy Gauss. Not the XComutil "Enhanced" Heavy Gauss, which is not a canon cannon.

Performance Comparisons

Stopping Power

Let's start off with the simplest but most prominent characteristic that sets these two weapons apart - stopping power.

Damage (Avg) Damage Range
Heavy Gauss 75 Gauss 37 - 112
Sonic Pistol 80 Sonic 40 - 120

The Sonic Pistol has a small 3 - 8 point lead, which doesn't appear to be that major a difference. However, raw power just scratches the surface. Let's consider the resistances and vulnerabilities of the various units.

The following table shows the percentage of damage that is applied to the amount of total damage that is dealt by each weapon before armor is deducted. A 0% shows that the unit will take normal damage from the attack.

Note that the first listing is for group of units covering unarmored X-COM units, Aquatoids, Civilians and Zombies.

Damage Deduction/Addition
Unit Type Heavy Gauss Sonic Pistol
Unarmored Humanoid 0% 0%
Plastic Aqua Armor -20% 0%
Ion Armor/Mag Ion Armor -30% -10%
SWS/Displacer -40% 0%
Deep Ones -10% +10%
Gill Men 0% +10%
Tasoth -30% +20%
Calcinite -10% +10%
Tentaculat -10% +10%
Lobstermen -70% -50%
Xarquid and Bio Drone -30% -10%
Hallucinoid -20% 0%
Triscene -20% -10%

Even with the small difference in damage power, we can see that the Heavy Gauss is at a significant disadvantage thanks to the consistent low damage modifiers that it gets, and this has widened the damage difference considerably.

Shot Aptitude

Damage aside, we now move on to the accuracy and speed of the individual shots.

Firing Cost
Type Aimed Cost Aimed Acc. Snap Cost Snap Acc.
Heavy Gauss 80% 90% 40% 50%
Sonic Pistol 50% 85% 30% 65%

From the figures, we can see that the Sonic Pistol lets you fire three snaps a turn, one snap and one aimed, or two aimed. The Heavy Gauss on the other hand can only fire two snaps or one aimed shot a turn.

The Sonic Pistol clearly edges out the Heavy Gauss with its overall speed and snap accuracy. The Sonic Pistol gives you plenty of options to choose from while leaving you sufficient room to be mobile at the same time.

The Heavy Gauss is 5% more accurate when aimed, but this loses quite a lot of impact thanks to its heavy firing cost, allowing it to only be fired once per turn.

Physical Characteristics

Physical characteristics include the dimensions/shape, grip, weight and ammo capacity of the respective weapons.

Physical Comparison
Type/Characteristic Dimensions Gun Weight Clip Weight Grip Ammo
Heavy Gauss 3h × 2w 18 4 2-handed 10
Sonic Pistol 2h × 1w 3 3 1-handed 20

The Sonic Pistol is small and can fit on an aquanaut's belt. It's light and the one-handedness allows the aquanaut to actively operate some other device in the other hand without suffering a -20% accuracy penalty. This means that you can have something like a drill or Sonic Pulser to assist when a direct ranged attack will not do or when more power is needed, or even a Medikit.

Additionally, the Sonic Pistol carries twice as much ammunition than the Heavy Gauss. More on this in the next section.

The Heavy Gauss on the other hand is the complete opposite. It's large and heavy and the two-handed grip limits your use of the other hand. The size forces you to stow the gun away in your backpack if you need to put it away and this is a costly action. It's not an easy weapon to handle.


Cost here refers to the costs in producing the weapons and their respective ammunition clips.

Weapon Production Costs
Type Build Hours Work Space Cost Extra Materials Sell
Heavy Gauss 700 4 $32,000 None $61,000
Sonic Pistol 600 3 $56,000 Aqua Plastics × 1 $84,000

From the above, we can see that the Sonic Pistol is faster to build, but much more expensive in costs and requires Aqua Plastics. The Heavy Gauss wins this battle.

To be more sensible about it, you'll probably never have to build a Sonic Pistol in order to use it, as you'll be able to capture a few while it's still a staple alien weapon during the early part of the game.

Ammo Production Costs
Type Build Hours Work Space Cost Extra Materials Sell
Heavy Gauss Clip 70 4 $4,000 None $3,220
Pistol Power Clip 60 3 $2,000 Zrbite × 1 $4,400

The Sonic Power Clip is quick to build and costs less than the Heavy Gauss clip. However, each clip requires the use of your most precious commodity: Zrbite. Even though the Heavy Gauss is more expensive in terms of the monetary costs, the rarity and usage you can get out of the Zrbite is worth much more than its price tag. This means Heavy Gauss clips are much cheaper to manufacture in large quantities.

Are the Pistol Power Clips really that expensive? Perhaps not entirely. One way to look at it is to consider the capacity of the ammo clips and the damage each round is capable of doing. Assuming damage against 100% susceptible units, the Heavy Gauss Clip has a potential of dealing 370 - 1,120 points of damage. The Pistol Power Clip does 800 - 2,400.

Despite that, most players will be governed by their own Zrbite stockpiles. Those with low supplies will prefer to invest in projects that are worth more in the long term, thus the Heavy Gauss clips much more easier to produce. Those with large Zrbite stores on the other hand won't notice a thing.

Quick Pro/Con Summary

Heavy Gauss Pros:

  • Has more accurate Aimed shot
  • Doesn't use any exotic materials in construction or ammo
  • Starting point of research path is available right away
  • Research path has useful "interim" benefits - Gauss Pistol and Rifle
  • Research path completes 75% of the Gauss Cannon = major economic benefits


  • Lower Gauss damage modifiers
  • Heavy
  • Large
  • Two-handed
  • Low Ammo Capacity
  • Slower Build Time
  • Can only be manufactured
  • Available only after the gun portion of its interim research path are completed
  • Higher total research (1350 scientist days average - 690 beyond Gauss Rifle)

Sonic Pistol Pros:

  • Higher Sonic damage modifiers
  • Smaller
  • Lighter
  • Faster
  • Powerful
  • High ammo capacity
  • One handed
  • Gun and ammo can be collected for a limited time
  • Once obtained, can be researched directly
  • Lower total research (1000 scientist × days average)
  • Worth 33.33..% of the Sonic Oscillator = major tactical benefit.


  • Sample must be gathered before research can be started
  • Ammo must be manufactured with Zrbite or collected until alien stocks dry up.
  • Gun must be manufactured with Aqua Plastics (or collected)
  • No "interim" benefits whilst researching


Even though not everything was covered in the above extensively (such as early availability and research time), it is clear that the Sonic Pistol is superior to the Heavy Gauss in performance despite its higher production cost. It's a pocket cannon - if you will.

The Heavy Gauss on the other hand is easier and cheaper (on exotic materials) to mass produce. The heavy imbalance caused by the damage modifiers is what damages it from being a cheaper equal to the Sonic Pistol.

See Also

Weapon Analysis