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
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.
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.
|Maximum Grip Width
|Firing Pin Safety
|Magazine Disconnect Safety
|MSRP as of January 2017
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.
|Barnes XPD HP
|Buffalo Bore HCL
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore FMJ
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|WCC 1911 Ball FMJ
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.
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.
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.
out the extensive line of custom 1911 pistols online at www.nighthawkcustom.com.
locate a dealer in your area who sells Nighthawk Custom pistols,
click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
quality ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com,
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