Parts Gun Rebirth

Nighthawk Custom Builds Your Dream Gun!

Back in the ’70s and early ’80s it was routine to buy a new Colt Series 70 (or later on, a Springfield Armory 1911A1) and immediately send it for custom work. A pistolsmith would tighten slide/frame fit, install a match-grade barrel, replace lockwork components and tune the trigger pull, fit a beavertail grip safety, extended/ambi manual safety, extended mag release, high-visibility sights, mag chute, and maybe a rust resistant finish.

Paying for a bunch of parts, only to throw them away and replace them with other parts, seems goofy in retrospect but it was just the way we did it. Then Kimber (and some semi-custom gunmakers) made the astute decision to build guns the way shooters wanted to start with, and the modern 1911 was the result.

One of the best of those semi-custom makers is Nighthawk Custom. Nighthawk offers several well-designed models using their own frames/slides and other components. Sometimes we need to be reminded Nighthawk is a true custom shop. They can work on a pistol you already own, anything from a basic trigger job to a full-house custom.

There are thousands of basically sound, traditional 1911-style pistols which can be made more shootable with some custom work. The Nighthawk website indicates they will build on your Colt, Springfield Armory or Kimber pistol. This isn’t because other makes are deemed unworthy, but because these manufacturers made considerable numbers of pistols known to be made to close tolerances, of quality steel properly heat-treated.

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5 thoughts on “Parts Gun Rebirth

  1. Niels Barks

    I’d start with Novak sights, come up with a unique pattern of slide serrations on the rear, G-10 or Micarta grip panels with checkering or serrations to match the slide, flatten and groove the sight plane on the slide, round off the butt of the frame, and maybe do a High-Power cut to the front of the slide. Finish it all off in a high sheen blue and it’ll be a gem.

    1. Dave Anderson

      Niels, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to click on the “Giveaway” page above, vote for the features you would like and register for the draw. Depending on how others vote it might not come out exactly the way you want, but it will still be a gem!

      Dave Anderson

  2. Morris

    Good article and a most interesting idea. Will be fun to see what the gun finally looks like. I know I wouldn’t mind winning it.

  3. Richard C. Clark

    Good, low profile, 3-dot sights, are a must. Wilson, Novack, and some others are available. And I’m with you Dave; a beaver tail is a must. I would like a slanted, or slooped mainstring housing because it fits my hand better than a arched one. And improved magazine release bottom, thumb safety release, and slide release are helpful.

    My all means fit the slide and install a good barrel ( if the colt barrel is suspect.)I would install a spring and buffer kit, a good combat trigger and hammer, then do something to the front strap to help with slippage.

    This a carry gun. One that you want to have with you on the night, under the most inconvenence conditions, you face the situation were you need a gun- NOW! I have seen it happen in my career as a police officer. Some of these people went home, OK. However, some of them went to the M.E.’s office, also.

    Great project! I am proud to be a part of it, small though it may be.

    Richard C. Clark
    Plano, Texas

    1. Dave Anderson

      I’m sure a fitted match barrel will be part of the package. This isn’t because of a flaw (Colt makes good barrels) but because it was not hand fitted to this particular slide and frame.

      A match barrel is made oversize in critical areas (e.g. the bottom lugs, the barrel hood) so it can be precisely fitted to a specific slide/frame. Along with a match bushing at the front this provides consistent lockup which is essential to top accuracy.

      Good suggestions, nice to have input from a law enforcement perspective. Thanks and stay safe!

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