Custom, located in Berryville, AR, makes some of the finest
1911 pistols available available today. We have been familiar
with Nighthawk Custom for years, and have previously reviewed
their excellent Falcon and Thunder
Ranch Combat Special pistols. Their craftsmanship is
superb, and they are a fine bunch of folks.
Nighthawk Custom is a full-line custom shop; their
slogan, "One Gun - One Gunsmith" is at the core of
their operation. They have many Master gunsmiths in-house, with each pistol
being the creation of a single Master gunsmith,
who fits every part by hand. This results in very consistent
quality, as each gunsmith invests his name and personal pride
into each pistol, rather than merely doing piece work as part of
an assembly operation.
Marvel is a name that will be familiar to aficionados
of the 1911 pistol, by reputation
as a pistolsmith. Bob Marvel is a man who knows his
1911s, and who knows what it takes to create the ultimate 1911
carry/competition pistol. In conjunction with Bob Marvel,
Nighthawk Custom offers their "Bob Marvel" 1911
pistol, a Commander-size, custom-crafted pistol with a long list
of features to enhance reliability, accuracy, and practical beauty.
The Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel 1911 pistol
is available in 45 ACP (as tested, and as God and John Browning
intended) or 9mm (nothing wrong with that either, but a 45 is,
you know, a 45). The Bob Marvel is also available, as a $100
option, chambered for the wonderful 10mm Auto cartridge. Any of
these calibers would be a fine choice in a 1911 pistol,
depending on your needs and preferences.
Beginning with the pistol's frame, the Bob
Marvel 1911 is machined from forged steel and finished in Black
Nitride. As the Bob Marvel is a fully custom pistol, hand-crafted by
one Master gunsmith one at a time, many options are available;
we opted for an all-stainless pistol at a $200 upcharge, for its
weather-resistant qualities. The grip's front strap and
mainspring housing are checkered at 20 lines per inch (LPI),
making for a very firm and positive grip that will not squirm in
the shooter's hand under recoil, and
the mainspring housing also incorporates a generous mag well as one
The slide is a Commander-length Bullnose
unit, also forged from stainless steel. The slide is
hand-stippled along its entire top and back surfaces to reduce
glare and yield a unique beauty; also as a beauty enhancement,
the stippling along the top edge is set-off by a French border.
Slide serrations fore and aft are angled, and configured in a
distinctive "double-line" pattern. The ejection port
is lowered and flared, and the entire slide is fully dehorned,
making racking the slide and handling the pistol much more
comfortable. The Nighthawk Custom logo is tastefully engraved
into the port side of the slide, and at a modest cost, we had
GUNBLAST.COM engraved into the starboard side; this touch of
personalization was very neatly executed, with the lettering
size and font nicely complementing the style of the pistol.
The barrel is a Commander-length (4.25
inches) Match-Grade two-piece bull barrel. The barrel design
allows for tighter fit to the slide and frame without
compromising reliability, and requires no bushing to tightly fit
the barrel to the slide.
The recoil spring assembly is Nighthawk
Custom / Bob Marvel's "Everlast" Recoil System, which
uses a captured flat wire recoil spring, along with a specially
designed full-length guide rod and plug contoured to the slide's
bullnose. The Everlast system creates a constant-force recoil
resistance, as opposed to the classic 1911 recoil system, which
increases spring pressure as the slide compresses under recoil.
Nighthawk claims that this constant-force resistance of the
Everlast system reduces muzzle flip, making follow-up shots
quicker and easier, and my own shooting bears this out. The Bob
Marvel 1911 was noticeably quicker to get back on-target, and
muzzle flip did seem decreased from what I am accustomed to on a
Commander-length pistol. Nighthawk also claims a 15,000-round
life for the Everlast Recoil System; I cannot vouch for the
validity of this claim, but as I have found their other claims
for the Everlast system to be as-advertised, I would not dispute
One note about the Everlast Recoil System, as
it relates to field-stripping the pistol: READ & FOLLOW
the pistol's Instruction Manual before attempting to strip the
weapon. Since I have been shooting 1911 pistols for over 40 years, I did not bother to read the manual first, and ran into
some difficulty in this regard, as the Everlast system strips
differently. The Bob Marvel uses no barrel bushing, as is often
seen on 1911 pistols with bull barrels and full-length guide
rods. My preferred method of stripping
a 1911 eschews removing the bushing first anyway, by
removing the slide with the recoil spring & plug still in
the slide (when doing this, be careful to hold your thumb
against the recoil spring as you remove the slide, or you may
never find the recoil spring!), so that part was no mystery. The
Everlast system has a pin hole in the guide rod, into which an
included pin (a paper clip will do) must be inserted to retain
spring tension so that the Everlast unit and barrel can be
removed from the slide once the slide is free. This is a simple
and easy task, but if you fail to do this, the Everlast unit and
barrel cannot be removed from the slide. Once I consulted the
manual, disassembly and reassembly of the Bob Marvel presented
no problem whatsoever. It is always a good idea to read the
manual before using any firearm, but all too often this is
ignored, and I am as guilty of that as anyone.
The hammer is a stainless skeletonized part,
which perfectly nestles into the upswept beavertail grip safety,
and I experienced no hammer bite on my large hands. The grip
safety also features a well-engineered "memory bump",
which works better than most I have used to aid in properly
depressing the grip safety, especially when the shooter's thumb
"rides" the thumb safety. The thumb safety is
serrated, is just the right shape and width, and comes standard
on the Bob Marvel as right-hand only; an ambidextrous safety, as
on our review pistol, is available as a $120 option. The slide
release is scooped-out on top and easy to operate, and the
magazine release is extended and finely checkered.
The trigger is a solid (non-skeletonized)
aluminum Nighthawk Custom unit, vertically serrated on the face,
with an overtravel adjustment screw. There is no slop in the
trigger's fit, either vertically or horizontally, and the pull
is crisp and clean, free of creep or overtravel, releasing at an
average of 2
pounds, 6.8 ounces as measured by my Lyman
Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.
Standard grips on the Bob Marvel pistol
are G10 Black/Gray spiral-cut grip panels with Nighthawk Custom logo;
as a $50 option, the Railscale / Carbon Fiber grip upgrade
offers a very positive feel and unique appearance. Crimson
Trace Laser Grips are also available, and highly
recommended for low-light shooting.
While on the subject of low-light shooting,
the sights provided on the Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel are
excellent. The rear sight is a Nighthawk-branded, low-mount,
dovetailed, fully adjustable unit with two dots consisting of
Tritium vials with a white surround. The front sight is
dovetailed into the slide, with a similar Tritium / white dot.
The sights are very quick and easy to pick up in either high or
low lighting conditions, yielding a classic
"three-dot" sight picture.
Specifications - Nighthawk Custom "Bob Marvel" 45 ACP 1911 Pistol
||45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm ($100.00 Upcharge)
||Commander Size, Forged, Checkered Front Strap
||Checkered, One-Piece Mainspring Housing & Mag Well
||Black Nitride (Many Options Available)
||Bull Nose, Hand-Stippled Top & Rear, French Border, Completely Dehorned for Comfort, Everlast Recoil System
||4.25 Inches, Match Grade 2-Piece Bull Barrel
||Fully Adjustable Nighthawk 2-Dot Tritium Recessed Rear, Tritium Front
||Solid Aluminum Nighthawk Custom Trigger
||2 Pounds, 6.8 Ounces (Average)
||G10 Black/Gray Spiral Cut with Nighthawk Logo (Options Available)
||Regular (1.2875 Inches)
||Single, Right-Hand Only (Ambidextrous Available)
|Base Price (not inclusing
options shown) as of March
Shooting the Nighthawk Bob Marvel 1911 was a
joy. The pistol proved to be 100% reliable with all ammunition
types tried, with zero malfunctions of any kind, as is vitally
important on a pistol intended for Social Work. Accuracy was
superb, with initial and follow-up hits on target being as
automatic as any device affectable by Human Error can be.
Although the Nighthawk Bob Marvel is as
accurate as any target 1911, its primary purpose is as a
defensive tool. As such, it will usually be carried concealed on
one's person for protection against Things
That Go Bump In the Night, so proper gun leather is in
order. There are many options available for various 1911 carry
modes, but because I wear overalls most all the time and thus
seldom wear a belt, my preferred carry method is a shoulder
holster. My favorite concealment shoulder rig for many years has
"Miami Classic" Shoulder System. Based on Galco's
original "Jackass" rig, the Miami Classic II
carries the pistol horizontally; it is lightweight, perfectly
balanced, and comfortable enough to wear all day without
fatigue. The Miami Classic II system retails for $259.00, is
fully modular and available to fit a wide range of handguns, and
has many off-side ammo carry options available.
The Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel 1911's
inherent accuracy, excellent sights, balance, and handling
qualities combine to make this pistol one of the easiest 1911s
to shoot well that I have ever encountered. These are by no
means "cheap", but the Best never is; there are no
compromises in the design and craftsmanship of this pistol. For
defensive shooters or 1911 aficionados who are willing and able
to invest in the Best, the Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel 1911
would be hard to beat.
Nighthawk Custom - Berryville, AR: www.nighthawkcustom.com.
Marvel's Custom Products: www.marvelscustomproducts.com.
Buy Ammo Online at Lucky Gunner: www.luckygunner.com.
Double Tap Ammo: www.doubletapammo.com.
Lehigh Defense Ammo: www.lehighdefense.com.
Federal Premium Ammo: www.federalpremium.com.
Galco Gun Leather: www.galcogunleather.com.
Lyman Products: www.lymanproducts.com.
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