A pistol is a very basic and weak weapon. Its maximum damage can't kill in one shot, its range is one of the shortest, and it only has a seven-round clip.
However, if used by a high-rifle soldier (usually an officer), it can turn deadly. When your officer, or any other unit with a pistol, gets 50+ exp, they will usually have 50+ rifle skill also. At this high a rifle skill, a pistol will shoot as fast as an M3 Grease Gun and be deadly accurate.
Also, it reloads pretty quickly, so the unit with the pistol can efficiently get back to blasting lead into people.
This gun was designed by John Browning and has seen mass production of at least 1.5 million units by other manufacturers during WW2 alone. It is a very popular weapon within many armed forces, police forces and even for private/civilian use in the US. The M1911A1 was the standard sidearm for American soldiers in WW2. It is highly reliable, and its large and slow .45 ACP round is superior in stopping power and lethality compared to the German 9mm. It is somewhat heavy, although that did not severely impair it's combat effectiveness. It has decent accuracy up to 50 yds. Today, this pistol is highly popular in self-defense and competitive shooting, and is perhaps the most loved American pistol of all time. The Colt .45 has been in use in the U.S Army from WWI all the way to Iraq while seeing only very minor changes from the original design.
It has been phased out for the Beretta M9 pistol, but is still highly popular within the US defense forces and police forces, mostly for its high stopping power . The phase out of the Colt 1911 in favor of the Beretta M9 pistol was due to the introduction of the NATO standard 9mm Parabellum cartridge to be used in the new standardized platform.