Upgrading A Stock 1911

Nighthawk Custom's 'Drop-In' Parts Assure Success!

Nighthawk Custom’s Vice President 1911 shows off some of their remarkable machined parts.
Most are available to the DIY home gunsmith too.

Whether your heart lies in upgrading an existing 1911 you have, or a complete build from scratch, starting with quality parts is a must. I’ve seen too many botched jobs by amateurs and professionals trying to “make do” with inferior or just plain crappy parts. Barrels, hammers, triggers, sears, ejectors, extractors, mainspring housing and all the other small bits and pieces all play critical roles in how a gun fits and runs. Trying to save a bit of money on a build or improvement is not only a silly waste of time and money — it can also be unsafe.

Those boxes of gun-show used and worn parts, or even “new” cheaply made knockoffs are hard to resist. I know because I’ve failed to resist them myself. But I honestly can’t think of a single instance where buying a knockoff, imported, or cast “who-knows-what-it-is” metal part ever paid off in the long run. It’s almost invariably followed up with the purchase of the better part you should have bought initially. I speak from loads of experience on this, trust me.

Equate it to the $5 socket set — another hard-to-resist purchase. “But I may only need it once.” Exactly, and that’s why you need to buy a good one or risk the busted knuckles when the cheap socket splits or the wrench slips on the pot-metal ratchet. Do I make my point here?


While many makers offer high-quality aftermarket parts for your favorite 1911, I wanted to specifically address the exceptional new line offered by well-known custom shop Nighthawk Custom, from Berryville, Ark. They’re made of solid steel, with the grade and specific type dependent on the part. You won’t find Metal Injection Molded (MIM) parts here.

From slides and frames, barrels of all sorts, bushings, safeties, sights, triggers, guide rods and plugs, pin sets, sears and other action parts, even grip screws and bushings, Nighthawk has it all. I’ve used virtually all of their parts in guns I’ve built personally and have never had a single issue with anything — ever. While their mainstream machined parts are marvelous, there’s one new offering I’m especially enthused about, and it’s perfect for any 1911 shooter — an instant upgrade to the trigger pull of your existing 1911.

The rise of suppressor popularity means changes to the classic
1911 design to accommodate them. Nighhawk’s new “drop-in”
parts include pre-threaded barrels.

Drop-In Trigger System!

Custom pistolsmith Mark Dye has worked with Nighthawk to finalize his design of an amazing, completely modular, drop-in trigger unit. The result is a chassis-based system containing the hammer, sear, dis-connector and spring dropping right into your factory-stock 1911. It uses the existing hammer and sear/disconnector pins due to the clever “hollow” pins in the unit. The key here is the fact the drop-in system allows the hammer/sear/disconnector relation-ship to be rock solid, so a reliable 3.75–4-lb. trigger pull is assured. It can be used on a new build, but excels in upgrading an existing gun.

The actual swap takes about three minutes and can be done by anyone who can detail-strip a 1911. You can also install the kits in several guns so you have the same press in each. The system is machined from 416 bar stock and can be had in a silver stainless look or black Nitride. It works with 1911 Series 70, Series 80, 2011 models as well as the “Swartz” safety-style. The unit also comes with an unusual looking single-pronged spring replacing the stock three-pronged sear spring, since the drop-in unit has its own internal spring for the sear. The replacement spring just controls the grip safety. The unit is CA-legal too.

The average cost of a full-custom trigger job (with parts) can easily hit the $350 mark, not counting the wait, shipping the gun and risking it getting lost or stolen in transit. If you’re comfortable detail-stripping your own 1911 — or can build a gun from fitted parts but are uncomfortable with fitting action parts — this is the way to go. I tried my test unit in five different 1911s from Ruger, Springfield, Colt, a custom one, and even one from Armscor, and the Drop-In Trigger System worked fine. Nighthawk does say “minimal gunsmithing skills” are necessary, but so far, I didn’t need to do any additional work to get mine to function safely. The MSRP is just $299.

I invite you to study Nighthawk’s offerings as you contemplate an upgrade to your favorite 1911 — or a full custom build!

For more info: NighthawkCustom.com

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