Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 1 (Winter '07) - Pistol Review: Nighthawk Custom Talon

Nighthawk Custom Talon .45ACP pistol

Reviewed by John Caradimas (John, )

Two years of waiting is finally over.

Let me clarify straight from the beginning, that this is not a test of a pistol that Nighthawk Custom send us. After all, the Talon is well known by now, so a test of this model is maybe of small interest to shooters. This is a review of my own, personal Talon, as it was build by NHC for me. What makes it interesting (I think), is the fact that it was the first Nighthawk finished entirely in Black Diamond, but more on this below.

Those of you who frequent our Forums site are well aware of the adventures this pistol went through, before it arrived to me in Greece. For those who are not, let's just say that I've never waited so long for anything in my life. It started being build in October 2005, but due to a miscommunications between me and Nighthawk, it ended up being nothing similar to what I had in mind. Nighthawk was kind enough to start again from scratch and build me the second pistol, which was ready around May 2006. Since then, the bureaucracy of the Greek authorities, combined with the unbelieveable stupidity of am exporter in US, the pistol has been going back and forth between US, Germany, US again, Germany again and finally it arrived in my hands on December 28th, 2006. Santa was nice to me this year.

So let's see what this pistol is all about.


The Talon was going to be my first custom pistol, so as you understand, I was very anxious to see it.

These were the first pictures send to me by Nighthawk Custom, showing my pistol. Eight full months separated the day these pictures arrived in my Inbox and the day I first touched the pistol.

As you can see in the pictures above, my particular Talon is finished in Nighthawk's proprietary Black Diamond finish. A few words about Black Diamond. The finish is the result of a special treatment performed to the metal of the pistol, which renders it totally impervious to rust, but also makes it very hard-wearing. When I first discussed my specs with Craig at Nighthawk, we had agreed for a hard chrome pistol. However, since it is rather impossible to return the pistol to Nighthawk in case there is any need to refinish it, Craig suggested that they used their new (at that time) Black Diamond finish. He assured me that this is the hardest wearing finish he had ever seen, so I agreed to that. However, when I first saw some pictures of pistols finished in Black Diamond (BD), I thought that the pistol would look very nice if everything on it was treated in that manner. Typically, NHC models finished in BD have stainless hammers, barrel bushings and barrels and aluminum triggers. I wanted everything black. Craig said that it could be done, and above you see what the pistol looks like.

This was what I saw, when I first unzipped the green Nighthawk pouch containing the Talon. Knowing what this pistol has gone through (two trips over the Atlantic), I was very eager to examine the pistol to see that everything was as I expected it to be.

Since this pistol has been imported into Germany, before it was exported to Greece, it had to pass the CIP proofing, a mandatory test that all firearms imported in Germany should pass from. No problem there, except that the laboratory that does the proofing has to stamp the pistol with some special stamps, showing that it passed the test. I was very worried that the stamps would destroy the looks of my pistol. In the picture above, you can see the stamp on the slide of the pistol.

And here, you can see the small stamp on the barrel. Thank God these stamps are small, and they didn't really mess up the looks of the pistol. The stamps which have to go on the frame however, are much larger than these, so I was very worried about them. Thank God, those stamps were put under the right grip panel, so they don't show. Thank God for that!

As you understand, a special pistol deserves a special set of grips. And even though the grips that NHC has installed on my Talon were quite nice, I wanted something special for it. My good friend Patrick Knee at Woodgrips.com had already made up a set of grips according to my instructions. A set of light cocobolo stock, checkered in the double-diamond pattern, with flat-top pyramids and the nighhawk bird in the center of a circle in the middle.

Further examination revealed a small birght spot on the edge of the Novak Low Mount rear sight. Someone must have hit the pistol on something. What is strange though is that the bright spot shows only from a very specific angle. If you look at the pistol from any other angle, you can see nothing. That should be attributed to the BD treatment. It looks as if Craig was right, this finish is really hard-wearing. Let's see some of the features of my Talon.

The sights come from Novak and they feature tritium vials. The front one is green, while the rear vials are yellow, to better distinguish the dots in the dark. In the last picture above, you can also see the perfect checkering (40 lpi) done on the rear face of the slide. An extra extractor was also checkered to match the rear of the slide, and was shipped with the gun, just in case.

The pistol was ordered (and delivered) with a short guide rod and normal recoil spring plug, which was also treated with BD, as well as the bushing, which is very tightly matted to the barrel and the slide. However, even though the fitting is tight, the bushing can still be removed by hand, without using a bushing wrench.

A long trigger was installed (also BD treated) as well as a slightly longer magazine release button, which per my wish was also checkered.

The front strap (as well as the main spring housing) is checkered at 25 lpi.

The single side thumb safety was altered again to match my specs, which said that the safety's pad should start from the rear of the safety's surface and extend only 5 mm from the front. As you can see at the picture above, the top front corner of the safety is also filed, so that if your hand inadvertly pushes the safety up a little, while the slide is recoiling, the safety is pushed down again, instead of being hit by the slide and broken off. Nice touch. In the picture above, you can also see the lines on the top of the slide, a standard feature on the Talon.

And of course, the thumb safety completely covers the safety's hole, even when it is in the up position. Attention to detail? You bet!

The beavertail is perfectly fitted to the frame too.

Taking the pistol apart, in the usual (shall I say "traditional" manner, since there is no full-length guide rod in it), revealed the same attention to detail on the inside, as on the outside of the pistol.

No machine marks anywhere, even on the frame rails.

The internal parts were polished where they should be.

Interesting enough was the fact that the barrel lugs were still showing no wear, even though the pistol was fired. The BD is holding up pretty well, even in those areas.

One thing I liked is that the NHC mag well is a two-piece design. Do you want to have the mag well on, for speedy mag changes, fine. Do you want it off for easier concealment? Remove the mainspring housing pin and the mag well comes off. Nice touch.

Finally, one thing that surprised me but also showed me how much attention to every little detail the folks at NHC are paying. It's a well known problem, when inserting the slide stop in a 1911, it is easy (at least for the inexperienced user) to miss that sweet spot and scratch your slide. We've all seen it so many times. Well, see this little notch there? Just rest the slide stop with that notch touching the slide stop plunger, and press straight in. You will hear a small sound and the slide stop will enter the slide and go into its position, without any fuss. Neat trick guys, now where is my triangular file? I need to do the same on my other pistol too.

As a conclusion, I would say that the Talon looked just the way I imagined it, when me and Craig were finalizing its specs almost one and a half year ago.

How it performs

Obviously, looks are important, but how the pistol works and shoots is what it's all about. Since the shooting range here works only during the weekends, and I received the pistol on Thursday, it was a long wait for me until Saturday morning, when I first took the Talon to the range.

Please keep in mind, what I said in the beginning, this is not a formal test, not only because of the reason I explained above (that this is my own Talon), but also because of the restrictions applied to us Greek shooters, by our laws. We are not allowed to own any JHP ammunition, we are not allowed to reload etc. Typically, we buy ammo from the shooting club we belong to, and typically there is only one brand of ammo you can get. Whatever the club has available that day. So do not expect to see here what our testers in US do, with the pistols they try out. A variety of ammo fired over a chrono etc. No way Jose!

The day I first shot the Talon, all there was available was Magtech 230 gr FMJ, and that's what I used.

The target you see above, is the result of fast shooting at 10 m.

Me and my best man, John (another one) fired about 200 rounds of the Magtech FMJ, without a single problem. As I said, not a formal test, but remember, a box of 50 rounds of that ammo here costs about 20$ (any FMJ costs about 20$ per box here, JHP for those who can own them is about 1.5$ a round!).

Some observations:

  • The Talon trigger was sweet. I have no idea how light it is, it felt lighter than the one on my Colt or the one on my Springfield, but it broke like the proverbial glass rod. A great help when doing accuracy work.
  • I was just thrilled to hear the sound this pistol makes when loading the first round. Instead of the "ka-chank" I am used to hear from all the 1911s I've tried to far, all you can hear with this pistol is a "shlung", as if the round is not following its normal path, but it's inserted in the chamber in a different way. I guess that's why one pays 2500$ for such pistols.
  • The sights were dead on at the distance we fired the pistol. I still need to see how they perform at 25 m though.
  • Ejection was strong and consistent, all cases were gathered in an area about 1 m wide, to the right and rear of me.
  • The 25 lpi checkering of the front strap and the main spring housing proved quite functional, without turning my hand to a meatball.
  • The beavertail is adjusted just the way I like it. It releases with even a loose grip of the pistol.
  • The thumb safety has a very positive action. There is never any doubt if it is on or off.
  • The magazine release button is a little too stiff for my liking, so I'll have to trim its spring by one coil.
  • The slide stop, about which I had severe reservations when ordering the pistol, proved to be very easy to manipulate and very functional.
  • The pistol came with two ACT magazines. During our range time, we used several other magazines, ranging from el-cheapo no names to the new stainless MecGars without any issues. My trusty black MecGars with the old MecGar shoe can not be used with the magazine well in place, so I have some filing work to do on their pads.
  • The pistol is completely dehorned. There are no sharp edges on this pistol.
  • So far there are no wear signs on the pistol, except at the edge of the hammer, where it is pushed back by the slide. The Black Diamond finish has weared thin there.
  • Nighthawk used an Aftek extractor in this pistol. An extra one was shipped with it, just in case there is ever a problem with the first one. This is my first experience with this type of extractor, and so far it worked fine.


As you understand, I am very happy with the Talon. Even though I still need to put some rounds through it to fully trust it, so far, it has shown that it is a very nice, reliable pistol. I would say that the waiting was well worth it. Thanks Craig, thanks Jeff, thanks Rodney, thanks Jared, you build me a fine pistol.

If you want to discuss or comment on this ... test, please use the following thread in our Forums Site:




Nighthawk Custom
1306 W. Trimble
Berryville, Arkansas 72616

Phone: (Toll Free) 877.268.4867

E-Mail: info@nighthawkcustom.com
Web site: http://www.nighthawkcustom.com

MSRP: 2,299.55$ Black Diamond Upgrade: Frame 225$, slide 125$ (I have no idea how much they will charge you for doing the whole gun).


8448 4th Ave,
Hesperia, CA 92345

Phone: (877) 294-9327
Fax: (760) 203-0029

Email: support@woodgrips.com
Web site: http://www.woodgrips.com/

Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 1 (Winter '07) - Pistol Review: Nighthawk Custom Talon