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Honest Review: Nighthawk Custom 1911 Drop-In Trigger System




Getting a trigger job done on a 1911 has always been an arduous task. In the past, you only had two options at your disposal. The first was to send it out to a gunsmith and have him/her do all of the required polishing and stoning of the engagement surfaces. Of course, afterward, they would hit you with a bill that might make you question why you didn’t buy a custom 1911 in the first place. Now of course you can always attempt to do it yourself, but gunsmiths are gunsmiths for a reason.

In the early years of my firearms ownership, I was piss-poor and impatient. Couple those qualities with the bravado of youth and I quickly painted the illusion that I “knew what I was doing” and tried my hand at some trigger work on my very first handgun, a Springfield M1911A1. Sure, I was able to lighten it up about a pound but I certainly didn’t make it any cleaner, let alone crisp. I also completely bubba’d my gun in the process and made the safety anything but usable. So, at the end of the day, I had a slightly improved trigger in an okay gun that I couldn’t do anything other than take to the range for stationary target practice. Hindsight is 20/20 but this was a losing endeavor for me, even if I don’t factor in the amount of time I spent basically wrecking my gun. Fast forward about 20 years and we don’t have to live like this anymore thanks to Nighthawk Custom and their drop-in trigger system.

The Nighthawk DTS (Drop-in Trigger System) is a 100% gunsmith-free solution for a better trigger and takes about 15 minutes to install. Best of all, the only tools required are a punch (or nail if you’re where I was 20 years ago) and a screwdriver for your grips. This self-contained unit replaces your existing hammer, hammer strut, sear, disconnector, and sear spring. You’ll just reuse your trigger bow, trigger shoe, and the pins that held in the original parts.

Installing it is as simple as removing these parts and then hooking in the drop-in system. From start to finish there are only 13 steps—and that included a warning to wear safety glasses and to make sure your gun is empty. If you are a visual learner there is also a great video on their website that you can start and stop as you follow along. I underwent the process from the comfort of my desk and it was pretty pain-free.

A helpful hint is to clean the gun first before you start putting in the new parts. The reason I say this is because Nighthawk has made this kit so precise that there isn’t any room for grit or carbon buildup. Once I realized this and gave the ol’ shootin’ iron a wash it was smooth sailing. The last bit that gave me a little trouble was getting the mainspring housing back in, but that was because the grip safety spring wasn’t seated properly. Be sure to examine things if you meet resistance—never try to solve reassembly with brute force! After driving the mainspring housing pin back in it was just a few minutes of reassembling and a quick safety check before I was off to the range.

On the firing line, I gauged the trigger with my digital Lyman Scale and to my amazement, it was cut down to half the weight. Originally the trigger pull weight was 6lb-10oz, after the Nighthawk was dropped in decreased to just a hair over 3.5 lbs. The trigger broke without even a hint of creep and felt just plain good to squeeze. Reset was dramatically improved as well, as it had a far better “snap” forward and this took place within a quarter-inch of forward travel. The skeletonized hammer cut down on lock time and even tightened up my groups a bit. All in all, this trigger was 15 minutes of my life well spent, now all that’s left is to apologize to my poor 1911 for the way I’ve treated her in the past (and maybe even try and find those grip screws). MSRP $300;


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