Specialized Suppressor-Ready Nighthawk Custom GRP Recon .45 1911—Full Review.

The Nighthawk GRP Recon is designed to provide shooters with a tactical-grade 1911 capable of accepting weaponlights such as this Surefire X300 Ultra.

The Nighthawk GRP Recon is designed to provide shooters with a tactical-grade 1911 capable of accepting weaponlights such as this Surefire X300 Ultra. The .45 ACP pistol shown equipped with a match-grade threaded barrel topped off with a GEMTECH GM-45 suppressor.

For more information, visit http://www.nighthawkcustom.com/.

To purchase a GRP Recon on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=nighthawk%20grp%20recon.

When Nighthawk Custom opened their doors in 2003, some questioned if the market was big enough for “another custom 1911 shop.” I even had doubts that the market was large enough to support another high-end custom 1911 manufacturer. Now, after 13 years, let the record reflect that those who had doubts were grossly mistaken. The fact is Nighthawk has continued to grow and expand in both market share and number of models. The company’s passion for John Browning’s masterpiece is second to none, and this is reflected in the quality and attention to detail of each pistol.

The Nighthawk Custom Global Response Pistol, GRP, was introduced at the height of the Global War on Terror. The name could not have been more appropriate for the times and it quickly became a top seller. The original GRP was a standard 1911 duty-ready pistol in a traditional configuration. The company then answered the requests for a rail model by introducing the GRP Recon. The Recon is offered standard in .45 ACP and can be had in 9mm, .38 Super or 10mm. I was fortunate to obtain a .45 ACP GRP Recon for editorial purposes and, after initial testing, returned it to Nighthawk to have a threaded match barrel fitted so I could try out a GEMTECH GM-45 suppressor.

The GRP Recon comes standard from the factory with a non-threaded barrel and a Surefire X300 Ultra. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The GRP Recon comes standard from the factory with a non-threaded barrel and a Surefire X300 Ultra. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

SPECS

  • Chambering: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • OA Length: 8.65 inches
  • Weight: 39 ounces
  • Grips: Micarta
    Sights: Heine
  • Action: Single-action
  • Finish: Black nitride
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $3,195

Every Nighthawk Custom pistol is built around a forged frame and slide that is manufactured to Nighthawk’s specifications. The final machining process is completed in house at Nighthawk’s Berryville, Arkansas facility. The frame and slide are precision fitted and hand lapped to produce that “glass on glass” feel. Unlike some shops, a Nighthawk 1911 is built from start to finish by a single pistolsmith. The exception to this is the coating process. The pistolsmith stamps his initials on the frame under the stocks and claims permanent “ownership” of that particular pistol. Should the pistol be returned, the smith who built the pistol is charged with addressing any issues.

Part of the quality-control process requires the pistolsmith to function test each pistol that he builds. The pistol is first tested after the build but before it is sent to finish. The pistol is function tested a second time after the finish has been applied and the sights installed. The sights are regulated and the pistol is shot a third time for accuracy. A test target, along with a comprehensive manual and other information sheets, is included with every pistol. All of this ensures the customer will get a problem-free pistol that is in keeping with Nighthawk’s commitment.

The all steel Recon GRP is certainly no lightweight, but it brings a lot of punch to the fight. Images courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The all-steel Recon GRP is certainly no lightweight, but it brings a lot of punch to the fight. Images courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

GRP stands for "Global Response Pistol," and it was designed for rock-solid performance.

GRP stands for “Global Response Pistol,” and it was designed for rock-solid performance.

Starting with the frame, all fire components are machined from tool steel. As expected, all Nighthawk pistols are void of any MIM parts. The trigger is a three-hole design and is adjustable for over travel. The front strap and the mainspring housing are checkered to 25 LPI for a positive purchase and the mainspring housing has a recessed lanyard pin.The beavertail grip safety is properly fitted and contoured. Current production pistols also feature a high cut front strap and relieved grip safety to provide a higher and improved purchase on the pistol. The slide stop is designed with a pronounced ledge to improve manipulation when releasing a locked slide or manually locking the slide to the rear. The single-side thumb safety is nicely contoured and void of and sharp edges. The magazine well is cleanly beveled to assist in rapid reloads. Green or black Micarta stocks have a tooth pattern that ensures the GRP Recon will stay put under all operating conditions.

The GRP features a match-grade 5-inch barrel standard and has an accessory rail on the dust cover. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The slide of the GRP Recon is standard government model profile without any frills. The 5-inch barrel is match grade and precisely fitted for maximum accuracy and reliability. Front and rear cocking serrations aid in slide manipulation and a relieved and lowered ejection port assure positive ejection. A battle/duty pistol requires proper sights, and the GRP Recon is equipped with a Henie Ledge Straight Eight tritium night rear sight and a Nighthawk tritium front sight. The Heinie Ledge rear sight provides a solid point of contact for non-traditional slide operation while the figure “8” sight picture and Tritium inserts present a clean and rapid sight picture. The edges of the flat mainspring housing are perfectly blended into the frame as are the edges of the grip safety when it is depressed. The trigger pull on my test pistol measures a clean 3.5 lbs. The entire pistol has received a soft bevel to remove any sharp edges. The GRP Recon’s beveled edges, combined with the matte black nitride finish, give the pistol a stealth-like appearance that almost absorbs light. Each pistol comes with two 8-round magazines and is housed in an attractive green pistol pouch that is embroidered with the Nighthawk logo.

Nighthawk understands the nature of armed conflict and the importance of threat identification. Experience has shown that a vast majority of confrontations take place in low-light or no-light conditions. As such, Nighthawk ships every GRP Recon pistol with SureFire’s excellent X300 Ultra tactical light. The X300 Ultra is a mere 3.6 inches in length with a bezel diameter of 1.12 inches. Powered by two 123A lithium batteries, the X300 Ultra puts out 600 lumens and has an average run time of 1.5 hours. The beam is focused by a Total Internal Reflection lens that produces a tight beam for distance while also providing surrounding light for peripheral areas. The X300 Ultra uses a Rail-Lock system that is adaptable to either a Picatinny or Universal rail by changing the adapter plate. The Universal adapter is needed to mount the X300 Ultra on the Nighthawk frame. The light can be controlled by using the ambidextrous paddles or an optional DG switch that is activated by the middle finger of the firing hand.

Note the extended safety lever and the beavertail grip safety of the GRP. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

Note the extended safety lever and the beavertail grip safety of the GRP. Images courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The GRP Recon comes standard with Heine sights. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The GRP Recon 1911 .45 ACP comes standard with Heine sights.

Designed from the ground up for combat toughness, the GRP Recon is ready for any tactical role. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The GRP Recon from Nighthawk Custom features attractive micarta grips and a tough black nitride finish on the steel parts. Image courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

HANDS ON

The standard GRP Recon, without a light, weighs in at 39 ounces and is neither small nor light. When considering a holster for the GRP Recon, I wanted a holster that would accommodate the pistol with both the SureFire light and the threaded barrel. I also wanted a concealment kydex rig for both durability and positive security without any retention devices. I selected a Raven Concealment Phantom configured with a straight drop and the MD relief cut on the leading edge. I added the option of the weapon-mounted light and the threaded barrel. A double magazine pouch rounded out the Raven ensemble.

The author ran the pistol both with and without the GEMTECH GM-45 suppressor for function with no issues.

The author ran the pistol both with and without the GEMTECH GM-45 suppressor for function with no issues.

As previously stated, my GRP Recon serves as my primary suppressor host for the GEMTECH GM-45.  Introduced in 2014, the GM-45 features the patented G-Core technology that is user serviceable. G-Core is a monocore baffle that is machined from a solid block of 7075 aluminum. GEMTECH engineers used computational fluid dynamic software to optimize the dimensions of each chamber within the monocore. This engineering included adjusting spacing, angles, and shapes to make a more efficient design. The GM-45 is 6.2 inches in length (without mount) and 1.375 inches in diameter. It is a very light suppressor, weighing in at 5.5 ounces (without mount). It is rated for 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and 10mm.  Using .45 ACP ball, the factory specification rates the GM-45 at 21-23 dB reduction dry and 32-35 dB when an ablative is used.

The GRP Recon proved to be spectacularly accurate for the author.

The GRP Recon proved to be spectacularly accurate for the author.

On the range, the GRP Recon was 100% reliable both with and without the GM-45 suppressor. While the standard sights did not clear the top of the suppressor, shooting with both eyes open yielded very good results at confrontation distances. I plan on acquiring raised sights to accommodate suppressors. At 25 yards, the GRP Recon is more than capable of sub-two inch groups when the shooter does his job. See accompanying chart for my accuracy testing results without the suppressor installed. The additional weight of the rail dust cover and the X300 Ultra light also helped to dampen the recoil.   The GRP Recon performed in a manner that I have come to expect from Nighthawk Custom pistols. The crisp trigger, when combined with limited over travel, made the GRP Recon a pleasure to shoot. We engaged some small “trash” on the berm from 50 yards with no trouble. Nighthawk has taken the superb ergonomics of the 1911 and executed them to perfection. This is what a 1911 should be, in my opinion.

Shooting results

Nighthawk continues to experience tremendous growth as more customers discover the value of buying a custom pistol. The company has an on-going process to improve production schedules, deliveries, and expand the product line. While making these improvements, they are ensuring that quality and attention to details do not suffer. For those in the market for a solid, duty grade, custom pistol, give the folks at Nighthawk Custom a look.

For more information, visit http://www.nighthawkcustom.com/.

To purchase a GRP Recon on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=nighthawk%20grp%20recon.

The mainspring housing of the GRP REcon has 25 LPI checkering for enhanced grip. Images courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The mainspring housing of the GRP Recon has 25 LPI checkering for enhanced grip. Images courtesy of Nighthawk Custom.

The mainspring housing has a recessed lanyard pin in its base.

The mainspring housing has a recessed lanyard pin in its base.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Billybob August 10, 2017, 5:12 am

    If your dealer had one , and you bought one and sent off your paper work YOU WOULD STILL BE WAITING ! ATF WAIT TIME IS OVER A YEAR !

  • Gary Weeks September 2, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Maybe if we wait long enough they’ll build a gun that will aim it’s self, squeeze the trigger and come back on target without a human interface. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out the guy shooting has 10’s of 1,000’s of rounds of practice with all manor of pistols/revolvers? I buy only what I can afford and practice until the nat’s are running for their lives at 30yds, it works for me and besides outside of 30yrds is in my neighbors yard or house.

  • Steve Warren August 22, 2016, 3:53 pm

    Hmm… can buy a really nice .45 Auto for less than a thousand, or spend 3 grand on a pistol. Won’t shoot noticeably better with the expensive gun. Think I’ll buy the less expensive one and use the difference for ammo to practice with. I don’t know, just meI guess.

  • Damon August 22, 2016, 11:15 am

    I’m glad there are people out there who will pay 3K for a 1911, because it’s beautiful to look at the pictures of such. Not for me, though. I have a hard and fast rule that my sidearm can’t cost more than my rifle.

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