July 23, 2013
This year sure feels like the year of the Commander, what with all the new Commander-style 1911s that have been introduced. One that Shooting Times is first to review is the brand-new Falcon Commander from Nighthawk Custom. Getting right to the point, this new 1911 is a premium pistol in every sense of the word.
The heart of this new semi-custom 1911 is the upper. Its features include a 4.25-inch, match-grade barrel (precision crowned and available in either stainless steel made by Nighthawk or in carbon steel made by Kart) and Nighthawk's distinctive Falcon-style slide. The Falcon slide's trademark styling is the recessed areas on both sides where front serrations would be located. Other nice touches to the slide include three full-length ball-radius cuts on top of the slide (designed to direct the shooter's eyes to the front sight), unique rear cocking serrations made up of eight ball-radius cuts per side, and 40 lines-per-inch serrations on the rear of the slide that match the serrations on the face of the rear sight.
Speaking of the rear sight, the Falcon Commander comes with Heinie's Ledge rear sight. It was designed to allow one-hand racking of the slide by pushing the rear sight against something sturdy, such as a door frame or your belt. The rear sight has one dot, as does the front sight, but they are slightly different in size and make the familiar figure eight that Heinie sights are known for. The sample pistol's dots have tritium inserts.
Another key component of the Falcon Commander is the new one-piece, fully machined mainspring housing/magazine well. According to Nighthawk, the piece is cut from a 2.5-inch block of tool steel, and its base is rounded for comfort and to reduce printing through clothing if carried concealed.
The G10 grips have what Nighthawk refers to as a "golf-ball dimple pattern" and come in coyote tan, black, or olive drab green with or without the Nighthawk Custom logo. Our sample has the OD green grips.
MSRP starts at $3,295, and the review sample came with the optional ambidextrous safety upgrade, which adds $120 to the price.
When I examine a 1911, I always check the trigger pull and how tightly the slide and barrel lock up. In these respects, the Falcon Commander ranks very high. Trigger pull was extremely crisp and clean and consistently broke at 3.5 pounds. There was very little variance in the five times that I measured it with my gauge — 0.5 ounce to be exact. And the pistol's slide barely moved at all from side to side when in battery, and the barrel didn't budge even a tiny bit when I pushed down on its hood.
As for its accuracy, the Falcon Commander did not disappoint. In our recently published newsstand special publication the Complete Book of the Model 1911, Bart Skelton wrote that he is of the mind that defense and duty 1911s should be more accurate than the old standard of 4 inches at 25 yards. Well, this new Commander-style pistol is all that and a lot more. With the five factory loads I put through it for this report, the Falcon Commander's overall combined average was just 2.81 inches at 25 yards. That was with bullet weights ranging from 185 to 230 grains. The results are listed in the accompanying chart, but quickly, the most accurate load on average was Winchester's 230-grain SXT, which went 2.50 inches for three, five-shot strings.
No doubt about it, the Falcon Commander is a fine 1911. Expensive, yes, but premium in every other way, too. To my way of thinking top-notch accuracy, fantastic fit and finish, distinctive styling, and well-designed features make the Falcon Commander a great gun.
Unique features of the Falcon Commander include three ball-radius cuts on the top of the slide, 40 lines-per-inch serrations on the rear of the Heinie Ledge rear sight and the back of the slide, eight ball-radius cuts on the sides of the slide, and 25 lines-per-inch checkering on the one-piece mainspring housing/mag well.