In this age of affordable polymer handguns, is the Nighthawk Custom worth the money? Well, that depends on what you’re going to be doing with it.


I personally think that the Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel is a work of art. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

I recently ordered a Bob Marvel from the Certified Used Gun Vault. When the employee at my local gun shop opened the case to make sure the Marvel wasn’t damaged in shipping, he froze. “Oh, a Nighthawk,” he exclaimed under his breath. He turned to his coworkers. "Hey guys, come check it out. It's a Nighthawk."


They gathered around and marveled at it. “That is a beautiful gun," one of them said. “Prettier than my son when he was born,” said another jokingly. The original employee looked up at me and said, “You’re a lucky man.” I smiled and nodded. "Thanks."

To be honest, I felt like a lucky man taking possession of such a beautiful gun.



The Marvel has been completely dehorned, so there are no sharp edges. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Nighthawk Custom is an Arkansas-based gun company that manufactures custom M1911 pistols, rifles, revolvers, shotguns, and tactical knives. The company was formed in 2004 when some Wilson Combat gunsmiths decided they wanted to make their own custom pistols. Nighthawk Custom has established an excellent reputation for its high-quality firearms and excellent customer service. Their policy of "one gun, one gunsmith" means one gunsmith makes one gun from start to finish.



I think Nighthawk has done an excellent job of blending the old-school 1911 design with some modern lines. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

In 2011, a highly decorated shooter named Bob Marvel teamed up with Nighthawk to make his own model 1911. He trained one of their gunsmiths to build it. The result is a commander-sized 1911 with a 4.25-inch barrel. Although it’s available in either .45 ACP or 9mm, we’ll focus on the 9mm, because that’s what I got.

The business end of the match-grade two-piece bull barrel. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

It weighs 37.6 ounces unloaded, has a 10+1 magazine capacity, and adjustable three-dot white-outline night sights with tritium inserts from Trijicon. Its single-stage trigger is crisp and the external safety is perfectly placed. It is 5.62 inches high, 7.9 inches in overall length, and is 1.41 inches wide.

A closer look at the rear adjustable Trijicon sights and skeletonized hammer. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

I personally think Nighthawk did a fantastic job blending the old-school design with modern lines. Not only do the G10 grips look good, but they feel great in the hand. The 25-lines-per-inch stippling in grip areas not only adds style but function. All of the edges are deburred, so there are no sharp edges.

The single-stage solid aluminum trigger is crisp with almost no creep. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The gun locks up nice and tight with no rattling or loose parts. The slide is smooth to operate. Press checks are effortless. Overall, the gun feels superb in the hand.

The stippled top of the slide provides some glare resistance. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Shooting the gun is almost spiritual. The Everlast recoil system employed by the Marvel not only reduces recoil, along with its weight, but it makes shooting the gun buttery smooth. The sights are nice and clear. I'm no expert shooter, but I was surprisingly accurate right out of the box, consistently hitting a 10-inch hostage target at 15 yards.



The G10 grips and fine metal stippling not only look good, but they feel amazing in the hand and provide lots of grip. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

So, as you can tell, I really like the gun. Part of me is a romantic. I love classic guns like the Smith & Wesson Model 686, a 2.5-inch .357 Magnum revolver. It just oozes sex appeal. The Marvel touches me the same way.

However, there's another part of me that is incredibly practical. That side of me sees a modern polymer handgun as the only handgun anyone really needs. In my mind, they have perfected the handgun.

The 10-round magazine capacity for the Marvel is on the small side. (Photo: Ben Philippi/



And this is where I return to my original question. In this age of affordable polymer handguns, is the Nighthawk Custom worth the money? That depends on what you want to do with it.

I don't think it can compete with modern polymer handguns in terms of practicality. The 10+1 round capacity is limited. The external safety is an extra feature to consider if you decide to carry it. It's hefty at 37.6 ounces. And lastly, you won't be able to put a light under the barrel because there's no rail, and you won't be able to add an RMR on top.

However, if you already have one or more polymer "wonder guns," and you're looking for a handgun that touches your soul, turns heads, shoots as good as it looks, has a crisp one-stage trigger, and buttery-smooth recoil, I believe the Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel will fulfill your wildest fantasies.

A Glock G45 (left) compared to the Bob Marvel (right). Both handguns have a place in your collection depending on their use. (Photo: Ben Philippi/