|Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 3 (Summer '08) - Pistol Review: Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk|
Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk 9mm
A Gun Test by Steve Shields (Wichaka, )
Nighthawk Custom made a splash into the semi-custom market not that long ago, but from the noise they've been making in Berryville, one would think they've been at for many years. But then the people who are running the company and building the pistols, have been in the firearms industry for many years. Well, leave it to the boys in Berryville to come up with yet another twist on an old favorite. The Commander style 1911 has long been the favorite size for many of us on the shooting end of things. That size seems to handle a bit better, and looks more proportionate.
Now comes the Lady Hawk, which was introduced on the requests for something with a thin a grip as possible. This model is easier to grip for better control, smaller hands, or something for the ladies to use, as the available 9mm caliber helps with the problem with recoil sensitive shooters.
The left side of the pistol is completely plain and unadorned, except for the discrete Heinie logo on the rear of the slide and the Nighthawk logo in the Alumagrips stocks..
The right side is equally plain. This pistol was not set up for ambidextrous use. Typical Lady Hawk pistols include a "Lady Hawk" rollmark but, like this test example, it is available without the rollmark for the males who like the pistol but don't choose to have their "manliness" called into question for carrying a "girlie" pistol.
The features of the Lady Hawk as stated on the web site are as follows;
The gun as delivered to me came with two Mec-Gar, 9mm, normal-sized magazines, that being of a full-size 1911 in 9mm. The pistol weighs in at 2.25 lbs (1.02 kg), with an overall length of 7-13/16" (198.4 mm) which includes the grip safety tang, and a height of 5 5/16" (134.9 mm) including the sights. The slide is a true 4-1/4" (107.9 mm) Commander style length, with standard diameter barrel that is ramped and supported, along with the standard set up style barrel bushing. Also take down (field stripping) is of the standard procedure, as there's no full-length guide rod to hinder the process. The trigger pulled cleanly at just under 4 lbs (1.82 kg), with no felt creep.
As you can see from the following photos, they have done their job again. From the excellent fitted grip safety, finely serrated slide top and rear, fitted bushing and barrel recess, slightly extended magazine release, scalloped front strap and mainspring housing, funneled magazine well, to the carry bevel edges, nothing was overlooked with this model.
As usual, the gun comes in a nice single carry pouch with the embroidered Nighthawk logo. It's filled with information about the use and care of the gun, as well as safety information pamphlets, and the familiar test target with the names of who put the gun together.
For this article I decided to do something a bit different. Since this gun is touted as one for small hands, and a 'Lady's gun', I decided to round up some women shooters and get their opinion about this model. Me having the paws of a large bear, my hands wrapped around this gun a few times before coming to rest, which tells me they have really done their job in thinning down the grip of this model.
I found three women shooters who have varying experience with firearms. One has not shot much, but isn't timid around guns. One has some background, and has shot a fair amount. The third consistently shoots quite a bit. Two of the three agreed to have their photo taken for the article, while the other wanted to remain more anonymous.
So without further ado ... ladies take it away ...
Looking at the gun overall, neither of the women liked the color scheme. The overall color was fine, but they didn't like the two-tone treatment. They thought leaving the gun a single color would appeal to them more. They liked the overall looks, but they thought some of the features were not needed. And when they heard that the gun would retail for just under $2,900, they knew they wouldn't be looking at a gun like this. If they could have some of the features, and get the price down to around $2,000, all three said they would be very interested in this gun.
So we went over the features of the gun, and they pretty much re-designed the pistol. All said, they would leave off the rear and top slide serrations, as they were hard to keep clean. As Angela said "They do add a touch of class to a finely made pistol, but add nothing to the function or reliability." They said the same thing about the recessed slide stop pin. Nice touch, but not needed. All thought the scallops on the grips were useless, as the gun recoils in the direction the scallops run. They all said if the scallops ran cross ways, there was checkering or stippling, it would definitely help with overall controllability of the gun during rapid fire much better. They also pointed out the gaudiness of the Nighthawk logo on the grip panel. They said they had to look at it for a bit to tell what it was, and would be the first thing to go. They liked the barrel crown treatment, but all felt it wasn't necessary to the function and accuracy of the gun. And asked if the price would come down if that was dropped.
It appears I found some very practical women for testing?
The overall fit of the grip was very well done. They liked the grip safety and how it was precisely fit, and how well it fit each of their hands. They also liked way the thumb safety clicked on and off with just the right amount of pressure, the design of the trigger, magazine well that was funneled, the extended magazine release, and the overall feel due to the gun having a carry bevel to all the edges. The best things they loved about the Lady Hawk were the trigger pull and the sights. None had ever fired a gun with a trigger that was so crisp and clean, and all said the sights were very easy to pick up for combat shooting. One of the three asked if there was an option to have the same rear sight, but no dots. The third member of our ad hoc test cadre preferred the 3-dot set up.
How it shoots
All three women loved how it shot. When asked about the recoil and controllability, all remarked "What recoil?" They have all shot 9mm pistols before, but haven't shot a pistol that recoiled so lightly. As for controllability, they said the grip panels and scallops were good to go until your hands got a bit sweaty, then neither were any good. The grip panels, which have a recessed checkering-like surface, didn't have nearly the grip the ladies were looking for. And the scallops on the front and rear panels of the frame were useless with a bit of sweat on the hand. The women couldn't say enough good things about the Heinie sights. "Wow" Spectacular" and an occasional "OMG" was heard when shooting the gun. Between the sights, the trigger pull, the way the gun fit their hand, I had a hard time getting them to finish the testing time. Needless to say, they burned up a ton of ammo.
They did experience 2 malfunctions when using Speer FMJ ammo and the supplied Mec-Gar magazines. But a slight rap on the back of the slide got things going again.
All three ladies averaged 3+" at 15 yards, and opened up to 6+" groups back at the 25 yard line, shooting free hand. All commented how the combination of the sights, trigger pull, and hand fit allowed them to shoot the gun so well. When immediately putting a Glock or Sig 9mm in their hands, their groups opened up considerably at those same yardages.
Other than the two feeding malfunctions, the gun performed flawlessly in every way. Thanks to the thin grip, fine trigger, and great combat sights, it made better shooters out of all three of the women, and gave #3 some nice split times because of the crisp trigger pull.
Final word from the women was, and Nighthawk take note, "If Nighthawk could make a more stripped down version, without all the bells and whistles that have nothing to with the function or reliability of the gun, they would have a winner, and we think more people would be interested in it." They also thought a .45 cal version would go over well, as long as it kept the thin grip style. My thoughts are a bit different, as I look over more of the work put into the making of the Lady Hawk model. It's another example of a finely made pistol put out by Nighthawk. All the details are there that have made the Nighthawk name a respected semi-custom gun maker in the industry. If you're looking for a 9mm 1911 style pistol that will fit everyone hands, and shoot like a dream ... look no further, you won't be disappointed.
I would to thank the folks at Nighthawk for allowing me extra time with this pistol. I came up with the idea of allowing some women to pretty much do the review, but couldn't do it with the time line allowed, and they graciously gave us extra time with the pistol to do this review. This is the second pistol from Nighthawk that I've had the pleasure of reviewing, Craig and all the gang at Nighthawk have been very good to deal with.
You may discuss about this pistol, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=53578
Caliber - 9mm
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|Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 3 (Summer '08) - Pistol Review: Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk|