Nighthawk Custom: Artistry in Firearms

— Kat StevensCADRE Dispatch

The name Nighthawk Custom has long been synonymous with excellence in custom firearms. Nighthawk’s deserved reputation for excellence is evident in every gun they design and manufacture. And while their focus is on the 1911 platform, they do occasionally lend their artistry to other firearms, such as revolvers.

The company is well-known for their incredible dedication to unmatched quality and fitment, but how much do you know about their background? We’re here to share the story of Nighthawk Custom with you and explain why their guns are well worth the investment.

nighthawk custom shop gunsmith
Nighthawk Custom’s slogan is “One Gun, One Gunsmith.” (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

Nighthawk Custom: About the Company

Nighthawk Custom is owned by Mark Stone, who’s been the sole proprietor since 2014. The company was founded in 2004 by four men who left another manufacturer and wanted to focus on superior custom-quality guns.

Stone was one of those four, and when the business shifted to have him as the sole owner, he told members of the media that he’d been “truly blessed” by the many opportunities he’d been given. He continued to state that the company’s success was thanks to the “…people, our customer service, and the quality of our product.” That quality is important to Stone and to each and every member of the Nighthawk Custom team.

Nighthawk Custom 10mm
The gun maker produces numerous custom firearms including this 10mm chambered 1911. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

The renowned gun maker is located in Berryville, Arkansas. Berryville is one of the county seats of Carroll County and is the largest city in the county as well. The city is known for its involvement in the poultry industry — and, of course, for being the home of one of the most successful custom firearms manufacturers in the gun industry.

“One Gun, One Gunsmith”

To make their commitment to excellence clear, Nighthawk operates by the slogan of “One Gun, One Gunsmith.” Unlike the vast majority of manufacturers, Nighthawk’s firearms are made from start to finish by one gunsmith. The guns are made on an assembly line or pieced together in various stages by different people.

One set of skilled hands takes responsibility for building the firearm of your dreams from the very first component to the last. But it isn’t just the assembly of those 46 parts that one person handles. The same gunsmith who builds the firearm also finishes it, including deburring, any necessary hand bevels, and test firing.

How do you know who made your gun? Gunsmiths at Nighthawk have their own personalized stamps. The stamp is made with the gunsmith’s initials, and upon completion of the firearm, the gunsmith stamps the gun under the left-side grip panel. These handcrafted firearms are works of art that are signed by the artists, making them truly one-of-a-kind.

Nighthawk Custom pistol
The guns are made with incredible attention to detail. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

How many guns does Nighthawk Custom make in a year?

Although the number of pistols produced annually does vary, Nighthawk Custom reports building approximately 3,600 pistols each year. Those thousands of pistols are created for customers with one of 40 base models as the starting point, each of which is customizable. Of course, Nighthawk also makes guns based on specific customer requests, so you wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say the sky is the limit.

Are Nighthawk Custom good guns?

Firearms made by Nighthawk Custom are exceptionally well-made. Fitment is of the utmost importance; there won’t be any unwanted wiggling or shifting of components on a Nighthawk gun. Guns are machined from bar stock billet steel. During those early stages of production, the frames are purposefully made to be oversized. This allows the gunsmith to precisely hand-fit the parts during the building stage.

Building a custom 1911 is about more than making an aesthetically appealing firearm, although Nighthawk’s guns are certainly that as well. These guns are made for reliable cycling, comfort in the shooter’s hand, and amazing precision on target. This means everything must be carefully fitted together, from the bushing to the grip screws. The result is a beautifully made gun the owner can rely on for years to come. After all, the most important part of any handgun is being confident it will fire when the trigger is pulled — with accuracy.

So what does Nighthawk do if there’s an issue with one of their guns? The Nighthawk Custom lifetime guarantee is how the gun maker promises to keep guns running smoothly. Their website states all the details, including the following:

“Nighthawk Custom stands behind each of our firearms with pride and honor. If you ever feel your Nighthawk Custom 1911 is not functioning to your standards, or ours, please contact us for immediate assistance.

** A common issue is improper lubrication. The 1911 should be lubed with a good quality gun oil, no grease, before each trip to the range. Make sure the recoil spring is fresh, call if you have any questions. Government length springs need to be changed every 2000 rounds and commander length every 1500 rounds. Government and commander sized pistols with a flat wire spring system can go around 5 times longer between recoil spring changes. Officer length guns (3.5” & 3.8” barrels) with flat wire springs need to be changed every 1200 rounds. Verify the issue with all your magazines and three different brands of ammo; also, have at least two people shoot the weapon to verify the issue.”

the Nighthawk Custom Sand Hawk

Nighthawk Sand Hawk
The Nighthawk Sand Hawk has an FDE finish. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

The Nighthawk Custom Sand Hawk is a Government-sized 1911 chambered in 9mm. Being a Government 1911 means it’s full-sized and has a 5.0-inch barrel and full-size frame. It’s a double-stack 1911 with a 17 +1 capacity, which makes it a fantastic option for defensive use.

To make the gun more effective for concealed carry, Nighthawk dehorned the Sand Hawk and also hand-blended the grip safety. The gun has an FDE (flat dark earth) Cerakote finish, which is a great color match for many of Safariland’s FDE holsters.

Features of the Nighthawk Custom Sand Hawk include an integrated compensator, polished feed ramp, and hand-fit firing pin stop. The gun has angled serrations at the rear of the slide for smoother manipulation and a serration at the front for cases where the shooter would like to rack the slide using the forward end of the gun. Grips are textured for a firm grip during live fire. Standard sights are a Heinie Ledge black rear sight and a 14k solid gold bead front sight. It’s designed so the additional weight at the forward end of the slide decreases muzzle rise which, in turn, increases accuracy.

the Nighthawk Custom TRS Comp

nighthawk trs comp
The TRS Comp has unique dimpled cocking serrations. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

The Nighthawk Custom TRS Comp is the first 1911 the manufacturer created based on a double-stack design. It’s a Government 1911, meaning it’s full-sized and has a 5.0-inch barrel. Although the TRS Comp was certainly created to offer gun owners greater capacity in a custom 1911, it’s also made to deliver a superior performance overall. The TRS Comp has an integrated compensator with a port to reduce muzzle rise and also has a match-grade barrel. This pistol is made to perform, and it does just that.

This double-stack 9mm has a capacity of 17 +1. It has a throated barrel and polished feed ramp. Additional features include dimpled cocking serrations at the back of the slide, an ultra high-cut front strap, and a lightweight aluminum Nighthawk Custom flat-faced trigger. The TRS Comp has a Heinie Ledge black rear sight and a contrasting 14k gold bead front sight to draw the eye and improve target acquisition. This is a flat-shooting 1911 designed to be both comfortable to fire and precise in its results.

the T3 pistol

Nighthawk T3
The T3 is a compact model that’s ideal for concealed carry. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

For a size that’s more friendly to concealed carry, there’s the Nighthawk Custom T3. This pistol has an Officer-sized frame and a Commander slide, meaning it’s more compact than the full-sized Government. It has a barrel length of 4.25 inches — standard for a Commander—and a height of 5.21 inches thanks to its Officer frame. The pistol weighs 34.6 ounces. Nighthawk makes the T3 pistol available in either 9mm or 45 ACP. Whichever caliber you prefer, the T3 is a fantastic option for daily carry.

Features of the Nighthawk Custom T3 include slim serrations at the rearward portion of the slide, G10 Alien grips, and checkered front and back straps. The slide stop is shortened and the frame is beveled. And, of course, the T3 is dehorned to make it ideal for carry purposes.

The T3 is easily concealed using an IWB (inside waistband) or AIWB (appendix inside waistband) holster but could also be carried OWB (outside waistband). When fitting a Safariland holster to the Nighthawk T3, go by the slide width of 0.92 inches and the Commander-length barrel.

Should you get a Nighthawk Custom pistol?

If you’re interested in getting a high-quality, custom-made 1911 from a gun maker with an incredible reputation, you should be looking at Nighthawk Custom. These guns can be used for everything from self-defense to hunting, depending on the caliber. Nighthawk offers guns chambered in a variety of calibers including 9mm, 38 Super, 40 Smith & Wesson, and 10mm.

Visit the Nighthawk website and look at the custom shop list of features. You’ll see just how impressive the options are, and we think you’ll be hooked. There’s nothing quite like a Nighthawk Custom pistol.

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