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Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk.

TO ME, A GUN MEANT FOR daily concealed carry should be an easily concealable gun with a flat cross-section. It must be utterly reliable, have good ergonomics, sport easy to manipulate controls and have "fast" sights. Last but not least, it should be chambered for an authoritative cartridge. The Nighthawk Custom Lady Hawk 9mm meets all these qualifications.

It's also one of the most attractive 1911s I have seen in some time. Everything about it bespeaks quality, fit, finish and function. Designed in conjunction with master 1911 pistolsmith Richard Heinie, the Lady Hawk was built from the ground up to provide a 1911 that is light, slim, well-balanced and easy shooting.

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As its moniker makes obvious, it was originally intended for women, smaller people or those who might have trouble handling the recoil of larger cartridges. But I believe any shooter--regardless of gender or physical size--will be impressed.

It all begins with a carbon steel, Commander-length slide adorned with a set of Heinie Slant Pro Straight Eight sights. The front blade has a tritium insert surrounded by a white circle, making it visible in bright or low light. The fixed rear, which is angled to cut down on glare, has a single tritium insert below the square sighting notch. To further reduce glare, the top of the slide is ribbed and the rear is finely serrated.

The ejection port has been flared and lowered to improve functioning, and all edges have been radiused. A 4.25-inch match-grade barrel is hand-fitted to the slide and held in place by a fitted, oversize muzzle bushing. The muzzle is aggressively recessed and crowned to protect what is one of the most critical parts of the pistol when it comes to accuracy (plus it looks really cool).

The frame has been narrowed wherever possible, including extensive radiusing of the frontstrap and mainspring housing to reduce its girth and make it suitable for shooters with small hands. Both of the aforementioned parts feature Heinie's signature scalloping for a positive grip.

The Lady Hawk features Nighthawk Alumagrips. Made from hard anodized aluminum, they are ultra thin and feature a fine checkering that allows a firm purchase. I measured the grips of the Lady Hawk against my Nighthawk 10-8; the difference was 1.09 inches vs. 1.32 inches. Metal has also been removed from under the trigger guard to allow a high grip on the pistol for enhanced recoil control.

Controls consist of a Heinie tactical magazine release, extended safety and hammer, slide stop, skeletonized trigger with overtravel stop and a beavertail grip safety with palm swell. At the very bottom of the slightly shortened grip frame you find a contoured magazine well for smooth, snag-free reloading. Each pistol comes with two Mec-Gar nine-round magazines.

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The Lady Hawk is finished with a high-tech titanium blue against which the hard chromed controls provide an attractive contrast.

I ran the Lady Hawk through her paces at my gun club on a brisk afternoon. The first chore consisted of the mandatory accuracy testing from an MTM Predator rest at 25 yards. As can be seen from the photos and the accompanying chart, the Lady Hawk was a real performer, producing five-shot groups ranging in size from 1.13 to 2.25 inches, all of them nicely centered.

I then set up a pair of IPSC targets, belted on a Black-hawk CQC Serpa holster and proceeded to send 9mm projectiles downrange from five, 10 and 15 yards.

I took this opportunity to use some of the new Wilson and Cobra 10-round 9mm magazines. Both brands functioned 100 percent in the Lady Hawk.

Thanks to its excellent ergonomics, balance and weight, the Lady Hawk proved a fine-shooting, soft-recoiling pistol, and I had little trouble perforating the pair of targets. I did not experience a single failure to feed, fire or eject regardless of the bullet style, weight, ballistics or brand of magazine.

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I believe that the Lady Hawk could be a real multi-tasker and would not only be suitable for concealed carry and home defense but would serve equally well for competing in IDPA or USPSA's Single Stack division. After all, just because it was designed as a serious combat handgun doesn't mean you can't have some fun with it.

My only criticism is that I'd like to see the option of an arched mainspring housing. In my case I find that 1911s thus equipped point better and shoot faster, and I've installed them on all my 1911 pistols.

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Aside from that I found nothing about the Lady Hawk that was not well thought out, well-fitted, beautifully finished and eminently practical. While it carries a high tariff, you get what you pay for. And in the case of the Lady Hawk, it is worth every cent.

TYPE: 1911 semiauto

CALIBER: 9mm Parabellum

CAPACITY: 9 + 1

WEIGHT: 38.5 oz.

BARREL: 4.25 in. stainless steel match grade

OVERALL LENGTH: 7.87 in.

HEIGHT: 5.38 in.

WIDTH: 1.25 in.

FINISH: titanium blue slide and frame; hard chrome controls

SIGHTS: Heinie Slant Pro Straight Eight

GRIPS: Alumagrips

PRICE: $2,895

MANUFACTURER: Nighthawk Custom, NIGHTHAWKCUSTOM.COM, 877-268-4867
ACCURACY RESULTS | NIGHTHAWK LADY HAWK

                            Bullet      Muzzle       Avy.
                            Weiyht     Velocity      Group
9mm Parabellum               (yr.)       (fps)       (in.)

Winchester SuperClean NT      105        1,174        1.8
Remington JHP +P              115        1,258        2.0
Atlanta Arms JHP              125        1,044        1.4
Federal Hydra-Shok            135        1,018        1.8
Hornady TAP                   147          996        1.6

Notes: Group size is the average of three five-shot groups fired
from an MTM Predator rest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of
five rounds measured 15 feet from the muzzle with a Chrony
chronograph. Abbreviation: JHP, jacketed hollowpoint
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Title Annotation:FIRING LINE REPORT; hand gun
Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Handguns
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Aug 1, 2009
Words:956
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