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.
MARVELING AT THE NIGHTHAWK
I recently ordered a Bob Marvel from the Guns.com 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.
NIGHTHAWK CUSTOM COMPANY
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
GUN OF YOUR FANTASIES
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.
SO IS THE MARVEL WORTH IT?
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.