The large-framed, gas-operated N99 was selected as the standard issue conventional sidearm of the United Statesmilitary, following the phaseout of the N80 in 2051. The long-barreled pistol remained in service for 26 years, until the Great War destroyed the United States. The pistol is designed to withstand the most extreme conditions, which was one of the requirements for a new service sidearm. It can also be repaired easily by anyone with even the most basic technical knowledge. This includes both clearing misfeeds and restoring a unit to working condition after long exposure to elements without maintenance.
These features also make it popular with wastelanders, who appreciate the ease of maintenance. It remains a common weapon, as even though many civilian units were ruined, they can easily be restored by anyone with some repair knowledge. Even damaged units can be used reliably, though they will offer subpar performance and jam frequently. The number of manufactured pistols means that parts are easy to come by, however.
The pistol uses 10mm ammunition, commonly found in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding wasteland. It is similar to the Colt 6520, which is more common on the West Coast. It is also the first actual gun available in the game, and can be found in many other places around the game world.
The 10mm pistol is almost always a superior choice to its counterpart, the Chinese pistol. It has a faster, more predictable fire rate, much greater accuracy, and better damage. It is also a generally more common find.
Silenced 10mm pistol - While not unique, the silenced 10mm pistol is a suppressed version of this weapon. Although weaker, it does not give away its user's position when fired while sneaking.
Sim version - A sim-only version of the weapon which has been re-skinned to appear newer and less worn. It also differs in health, with a whopping 999,150 hit points, essentially preventing the gun from ever degrading. This weapon is not normally accessible outside of the simulation.
Sonora Cruz's 10mm pistol - a unique pistol found on Sonora Cruz. It deals a whopping 100 damage, but Sonora always flees from enemies and never uses her pistol.
The following is based on Fallout 3 cut content and has not been confirmed by canon sources.
10mm alloy steel pistol - another version of the weapon that was cut from the Operation Anchorage add-on, it differs from the standard 10mm pistol in appearance only, using the same new skin as the sim only version.
End of information based on Fallout 3 cut content.
This is the first real gun available in-game, as Amata offers one to the Lone Wanderer at the beginning of the quest Escape!, who can then choose to accept it or tell her to keep it. The pistol is also in perfect condition, and will be useful to low level player characters. It belongs to her father, whom she stole it from.
↑The Lone Wanderer: "Your gun is jammed? Can I take a look at it?" Pek: "Sure, I guess. Can you fix it?" The Lone Wanderer: "Sure can. Here, just pull this back to clear the chamber." Pek: "Wow... that's... that's easy. Now at least I can shoot back at those mutant bastards. Are you ready?" (FFDCFallsChurchBoSLostInititate.txt)
↑ 2.02.1Citadel terminal entries: N99 10mm Pistol: "The 10mm N99 sidearm was standard issue military gear following the phase out of the N80 in 2051. The N99 was known for its ability to survive in the harshest of conditions and in many tests, the weapon was able to reliably be restored to working condition after an extended period of time exposed to hard elements and without maintenance. The N99 proved to stand up to its claims and as a result, is one of the most common weapons found in use in the Wasteland. While many civilian weapons were ruined beyond use in the exterior conditions following the war, the N99 is commonly able to be easily restored to working order by anyone with the most basic knowledge of firearm mechanics. However, an N99 in poor condition can often deliver low target and armor penetration, frequent jamming, and greatly reduced accuracy. Fortunately, the weapon was produced in great numbers and units are available for replacement parts."