Nighthawk Custom Falcon 45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

january 12th, 2016

 

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 

Flared mag well.

 

 

 

 

Heinie Straight-Eight Tritium night sights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumb safety (top), slide lock (canter), magazine release (bottom).

 

 

 

 

Back in my younger days, if a person wanted a new 1911 pistol, he bought a Colt. Colt was the only choice short of a custom gun, and after purchasing the Colt, it had to be massaged by a talented pistolsmith to make it work reliably with the hollowpoint ammunition preferred by most serious shooters at the time. Today, things are different. I will not even try to count the number of firearms manufacturers, big and small, that are now building 1911 style pistols. The hardest part about buying a 1911 these days is choosing from the vast number of pistols available. Shooters in the United States have never had it so good. 1911 pistols are available in many configurations, from plain 1940s mil-spec to custom hand-built works of art, embellished with fancy engraving and gold inlay.

For many shooters, a simple, inexpensive imported 1911 serves their needs well. The pistols fire and function properly (most of the time), and they can be bought on the cheap. For most shooters, a US-built 1911 with better fit and finish is preferred, and can still be purchased without selling the farm to do so. Then there are other shooters who desire and can afford to buy the best there is, and for those people, the pickins’ are slimmer, but companies such as Republic Forge, Cabot, and a few others build pistols to fit the bill. One of the best in the business is Nighthawk Custom, and their Custom Falcon pistol is the one featured here. Nighthawk pistols are built by hand, one-at-a-time, by one gunsmith. Top-tier quality takes time, and time is money, so let’s get the price tag out of the way up front. The MSRP on the Nighthawk Custom Falcon is $3645 US. Now, if you are the kind of guy who says “…but I can buy a Glock for a lot less”, then this review is not for you. This is for the man (or woman) who knows quality when he sees it, and wants to buy the best that he (or she) can afford.

This is similar to the person looking at a Mercedes S-Series and stating that he can buy a Kia for one-tenth the price. That is true. The Kia Rio will deliver a person to the same place as the S600, but it does not deliver the same experience while getting there. Same with motorcycles. A Chinese scooter will provide transportation to the same place as a Harley-Davidson Road Glide, but nobody gets a Taotao tattoo, at least not here in the US. While guns are tools, they are and always have been more than that to many shooters. The pleasure of shooting and owning a finely-crafted rifle, pistol, shotgun, or revolver is more than the few dollars’ worth of steel from which it is made. Nighthawk Custom provides this level of craftsmanship in a 1911 in much the same way that Freedom Arms does in a revolver, and Connecticut Shotgun does in a shotgun.

The Custom Falcon shown here is built primarily from stainless steel, and wears a Black Nitride finish. The trigger is lightweight aluminum, with the trigger pull set to a perfect, crisp three pounds, as measured with my Lyman digital gauge. The top of the slide has longitudinal ball-mill cuts, and all edges have been smoothed. The rear slide serrations allow for a positive grasp, while not being abrasive. The VZ G10 grips provide for a secure hold in any conditions. The beavertail grip safety sits the pistol low in the shooter’s hand, and is very comfortable. Fine-line checkering is applied to the front strap and the mainspring housing, as well as to the rear of the slide. The extended thumb safety is single-sided, but I am certain that Nighthawk can install an ambidextrous safety, for those who need one. The sights are the excellent Heinie Ledge Straight-Eight Tritium night sights. I like these. The front sight is properly thinned to provide an excellent sight picture, with plenty of “daylight” on either side, as viewed through the notch in the rear sight. The pistol is tight. I mean not just tight, but really tight. The fit of the barrel to the slide and the slide to the frame can only be described as perfect. There is no discernible movement between these parts, yet the pistol functions flawlessly.

The Nighthawk pistols are machined from forged parts, in-house. No MIM parts are used in their pistols. The Falcon wears a match-grade barrel, fitted perfectly to the barrel bushing. The barrel wears a recessed crown, with both barrel and bushing left in-the-white. The bottom of the frame wears a Nighthawk one-piece beveled magazine well, and the pistol ships with two eight-round mags.

Critical specifications for the Custom Falcon are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest points. The maximum width is measured across the grip panels, and includes the thumb safety. The height includes the sights and magazine base. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. The weight includes the empty eight-round magazine. Length is measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip safety.

Chambering 45 ACP
Weight 40.8 ounces
Height 5.84 inches
Length 8.62 inches
Slide Width 0.912 inch
Maximum Grip Width 1.22 inches
Frame Width 0.753 inch
Maximum Width 1.38 inches
Trigger Pull 3 pounds
Trigger Reach 2.75 inches
Barrel Length 5.01 inches
Firing Pin Safety No
Magazine Disconnect Safety Hell No
Material Blackened Forged Stainless
Grip Material Black G10
Sights Heinie Straight-Eight Tritium
Magazine Capacity 8 rounds
Magazines Supplied 2
MSRP as of January 2017 $3645.00 US

I tested for velocity with my chronograph set at ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature of sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of sixty-one percent. Not bad for mid-January! Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level.  Velocities are listed in the chart below. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. DPX and XPD are homogenous copper hollowpoint bullets made by Barnes. Glaser is a specialty pre-fragmented core inside a copper alloy jacket. PB is Pow’RBall. LWSC is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. UHD is Remington Ultimate Defense hollowpoint ammunition. HCL is a hard-cast lead bullet. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Armscor FMJ 230 836
Atomic HP 230 908
Barnes XPD HP 185 984
Buffalo Bore HCL 255 1002
Buffalo Bore JHP 230 1012
Buffalo Bore FMJ 230 1009
Buffalo Bore JHP 185 1156
Cor-Bon JHP 200 1077
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1131
Cor-Bon JHP 230 997
Cor-Bon DPX 185 1145
Cor-Bon PB 165 1199
Cor-Bon Glaser 145 1211
Handload LSWC 200 998
Remington FMJ 230 813
Remington UHD 230 820
WCC 1911 Ball FMJ 230 806

As mentioned above, the Nighthawk Falcon ran perfectly. Every type and brand of ammunition tested functioned as expected. I was at first a bit concerned that the pistol might be fitted too tightly, but that was not the case. The parts are fitted so well that they work as they should, without any kind of interference or binding. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected flawlessly. Accuracy was superb! Firing the pistol secured into my Ransom Master Series machine rest, firing on paper at twenty-five yards, even inexpensive ammunition such as the Armscor Full Metal Jacket performed like match-grade ammunition. Many groups fired measured under one in at twenty-five yards for five shots, while no group exceeded two inches.

As stated earlier, the Nighhawk pistols are not for everyone. They are not intended to be. However, for the shooter who wants only the best, who wants a pistol built one-at-a-time by one gunsmith, the Nighthawk is an excellent choice in a 1911 pistol.

The Nighthawk Custom Falcon ships with a quality zippered case, bushing wrench, two eight-round magazines, decal, and instructions. All Nighthawk pistols are built in the USA.

Check out the extensive line of custom 1911 pistols online at www.nighthawkcustom.com.

To locate a dealer in your area who sells Nighthawk Custom pistols, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

For quality ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.midsouthshooterssupply.com, www.doubletapammo.com, and www.luckygunner.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

The Custom Falcon ships in a padded case with two magazines, bushing wrench, decal, and instructions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each Nighthawk pistol is stamped with the initials of the craftsman who built it.