When you get a chance to review a Nighthawk pistol like the Counselor, you don’t say no. And so that is how I ended up testing the personal pistol of the Nighthawk’s CEO Mark Stone.
The Counselor is an aluminum-framed, officer’s-sized Model 1911 chambered in 9 mm Parabellum. Nighthawk took the Officer’s frame and added its Flush-Fit magazine well funnel—one that does not add length.
Each Nighthawk pistol is built, start to finish, by a single gunsmith. At Nighthawk, one person does it all on a given pistol, and thus ensures all the parts and details fit properly.
Nighthawk pistols are custom-built on an as-ordered basis. You can order extra details added onto a standard model. Since sending me a test gun would entail asking a customer to wait, the CEO had his personal build sent to me as soon as it was finished. And as such, the gun I tested has some extras. The regular rear sight has been machined and fitted, not to the slide, but to a detachable panel that is itself fitted to the slide. A second fitted panel holds a red-dot sight and back-up rear sight. This is its Interchangeable Optic System (IOS). You can get this as well, if you like.
Now, describing this gun (or any Nighthawk) is a little like trying to describe a Ferrari while hoping the reader grasps that all of the details mentioned add up to both a work of art and a highly functional machine, but here we go.
Nighthawk cuts the frame on the Counselor shorter than usual and machines channels into the bottom of its frame. They designed it so the funnel slides onto the frame from the front—it also holds the sear spring in place.
Above that, they install low-profile grips made of G10, a nearly indestructible epoxy material. These are machined with an aggressive non-slip pattern that are left flat-topped so they won’t abrade hands or clothing.
They undercut the top of the front strap to allow a person’s hand to ride higher on the frame and to reduce muzzle rise during recoil.
They put a speed bump on the bottom to ensure your hand properly engages the grip safety when you take a firing grip. The grip safety is also pared down, so it is less likely to “print” when you carry, yet it still protects your hand.
On the right side of the frame, the slide stop pin has been machined flush to the frame. This detail keeps your trigger finger from potentially pressing the slide stop out of alignment when you have your finger out of the trigger guard.
On the left side the thumb safety is fitted to click positively up and down, and the lever on the safety is crafted to be only as big as is needed. The slide-stop lever is similarly deburred, and moves positively. The magazine button is checkered.
The slide is sculpted in an interesting and useful way. The rear-cocking serrations are flat-bottomed slots—forward of the ejection port Nighthawk has added “positive serrations.”
Instead of machining grooves into the slide, they machine the slide to produce square-profile ridges for your cocking “serrations.” Nighthawk machines the bottom edges of the slide with an aggressive bevel, and the recoil spring tunnel area is given a short but sharp-appearing ball-end cut.
The barrel has an integral feed ramp, is made to match dimensions and is fitted without a bushing but with a deep crown.
The standard sights (as if anything on a Nighthawk is standard) are Heinie Straight-Eight Slant Pro, with a tritium insert front blade.
The frame is given a black anodized finish, and the slide and controls are treated with a black nitride process after the pistol has been built.
The pistol’s optics plate is available for three different red-dots: the RMR, Shield RMSc or Vortex Viper. The iron-sight plate is a standard Novak dovetail, so you can have any Novak-compatible rear sight there. The optic plate also incorporates an iron rear sight, so in the event that your red-dot quits on you, you still have an aiming option.
The Counselor comes in a Nighthawk marked durable cloth carry case, complete with (in this case) an iron sight plate with Heinie sight and magazines.
The Parabellum is shorter than a .45 ACP, and as a result a magazine for them has to reflect that. There are two ways to do it, and Nighthawk has opted for creasing in the front of the magazine tube to both make the interior the correct size and to add feed guidance for the cartridge.
The trigger was the expected perfection. It was clean and crisp, and the hammer fell at 3 pounds, 4 ounces with minimal overtravel.
As far as accuracy was concerned, the only hard part about shooting small groups was managing recoil. A compact 9 mm pistol, even at 28 ounces, does not always want to cooperate in the marksmanship process. The flat grips and high hold the frontstrap cut allows makes the task easier and more consistent.
If you want more, Nighthawk can do that. You can have the frame checkered; you can have an ambidextrous thumb safety; you can have the slide left bare or have custom block lettering of your choice….
Comparing daily firearms carry to daily driving, many of us drive Fords, Chevys or Hondas in our daily commute. Moving up from those to a higher-end vehicle entails spending tens of thousands of dollars. And in five or ten years, that vehicle will be used up. This isn’t so with a pistol such as the Nighthawk Counselor. The cost isn’t tens of thousands and, if treated properly, this is something you will leave in your will to your grandkids.