I was wondering which is better for different situations. I used to think that the Wrangler was easily the better choice, until I noticed that the Wrangler is useless without a sentry.

Do I go with hacking Wrangler, or do I lose the ability to control my turret in exchange for better self defense?

  • 3
    Obviously each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses and its usefulness is dependent on several factors such as the situation at hand and your play style. Without more information, it would be difficult to say which weapon is "better".
    – Aubergine
    Mar 17 '11 at 14:35

In my mind, there are two distinct ways to play engineer: defensive and combat. A defensive engineer is what you normally see (level 3 sentry at some kind of choke, level 3 dispenser close), and when I almost always use the Wrangler. I find that it allows for a whole host of better defenses.

On the other hand, when I go combat engineer, I go Gunslinger. I don't really feel that the Wrangler is very useful with the mini-sentry, because I normally am not all that close to my mini-sentry. Even if you are close to it, it doesn't do the kind of damage you need out of the Wrangler. Also, having the pistol out allows you to do a good amount of damage.

Basically, Wrangler w/ regular sentry, pistol with mini-sentry (Gunslinger).

  • I disagree about the Wrangler's damage with a mini. Even if the pistol does more damage if you hit all your shots, the Wrangler auto-aims slightly for you, and is overall more accurate at short and medium range. If someone is on top of you and you're near your mini, the Wrangler is incredibly accurate as long as you are generally pointing your cross hair at them.
    – Rosa
    Aug 14 '14 at 18:13

There are a few basic ways to do play as engineer:

1. Play with the Pistol - Set up a Sentry to protect your team or intelligence, then charge with your pistol and shotgun.

2. Play with the Pistol and Gunslinger - Get into the battle before placing a Sentry, once someone shows up, place a sentry and start attacking them with your Pistol and Shotgun.

Pistol Stats


Using the Pistol is best if you want to venture forth, however, it does less damage than a sentry even when not being used by a Wrangler.

The Pistol is the secondary weapon for the Scout and Engineer classes. Its accuracy, while not exceptional, is superior to that of the Scattergun or Shotgun. It is useful for hitting targets at medium or long range or as a last ditch effort when the primary weapon is out of ammunition. The Pistol is very useful for destroying sticky bombs and taking out unsupervised sentry guns from outside of their range. The pistol suffers from medium damage falloff, despite being a single-projectile weapon, and combined with its relatively weak damage per hit, is often neglected by many players. However, when fired at maximum speed, this weapon is formidable in the hands of an experienced player, and has an extremely fast reload speed. In combination with the First Blood buff, the pistol is an incredibly lethal tool that can kill any enemy, overhealed or otherwise, in a single magazine. Like the Revolver and SMG, the Pistol fires a single, perfectly-accurate shot before 'bullet-spread' goes into effect, so long as the player has waited at least 1.25 seconds since firing the last shot.


3. Play with the Wrangler - Set up a Sentry (hopefully in a big enough area to warrant the Wrangler) and a Dispenser (to heal, fill up Sentry ammo and health) and stay there attacking everything and anything using the wrangler.

4. Play with the Wrangler and Gunslinger - Get into the battle and once comfortable set up your Sentry and possibly your Dispenser, and just go crazy with your Sentry using the Wrangler.

Sentry Gun Levels


Note that the Sentry Gun Stats are just stats for the Sentry, the Wrangler will double the rate of fire.

Using the Wrangler, you are using the Sentry Gun as a weapon instead of the pistol. The Level 3 Sentry Gun is obviously more powerful than the Pistol, but you have to stay with it and the moment that you need to change to your wrench to fill up the ammo and health, you are defenseless for a few seconds while the Wrangler wears off.

The Wrangler also gives the Sentry Gun a shield that absorbs 66% of incoming damage, doubles the gun's firing rate, and increases the missile launch rate at level 3.

You may use the sentry missiles to Rocket Jump, this ability is particularly useful for reaching hard to get places. [1] (Also note that you can use the normal gunfire to launch yourself upwards, but you probably won't get too far without dying [2])



As Aubergine said, it's quite situational, the TF2 developers have made a concerted effort to balance all the weapons with each other. If you have a sentry gun down and you're attempting to protect it then the wrangler is the obviously the better choice, if you have no sentry as you say the wrangler is useless. It's worth remembering the pistol will do more damage at range than the shotgun because of its accuracy, so if you often find yourself at range as an engineer then the pistol would be more useful.

I personally prefer the pistol but it depends on your play-style.


I tend to use the wrangler. I find that I am rarely attacking enemies at range, and if I am, a few pistol shots aren't going to help. I'll either wrangle the sentry and take them down, or try and draw them into range of my sentry + shotgun. The engineer is typically not an offensive class, so I try and use weapons that will be most useful in the defense. The use of the wrangler also allows me to redirect focus from a Bonk!ed scout trying to draw the sentry's fire to the enemies trying to destroy the sentry.

However, for combat engineers, the pistol is great with the mini sentry due to its high rate of fire; the enemy can be killed before they even know what's happening, and the firing of the sentry tends to disorient the enemy, allowing them to be fired upon more easily.


I run Wrangler most of the time. Even a Minisentry can output a ton of damage when wrangled, and with level 3s, the Wrangler is your most powerful weapon.

The only use for the pistol is extra damage when your shotgun's clip has run out and you need the extra damage to win a one-to-one. In that case, you do not have the health or the damage to take a one-on-one against an evenly-skilled opponent. Play a scout if you want to kill people with a shotgun.

However with the Widowmaker or Frontier Justice, I would definitely recommend a pistol to avoid wasting either crits or metal, and as a backup since those weapons can be more restricting.

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