A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a $4K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom

in 1911, Authors, Brian McCombie, Gun Reviews, Handguns
A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
A $4.3K 1911?

Knowing that readers sometimes get upset to read a gun review, only to then find out said gun is very expensive by review’s end, let’s tackle the issues of money, value and worth upfront. 

To start, the TRS (Tactical Ready Series) Commander 1911 from Nighthawk Custom carries a hefty price tag of $4,399.00. Which has many readers asking themselves, “How the hell can any pistol be worth $4.3K?!”

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Questions of value and worth: Do you want the $90K Vette or….

Fair question. Yet the answer, at least as it seems to this writer/reviewer, is a complex one.

While the 9MM TRS Commander is very accurate, has a great trigger, and sports one of the easiest-to-operate slides I’ve ever encountered on a 1911, plus has an ammunition capacity of an impressive 17+1 (this is Nighthawk’s first Commander-sized model built on a double stack frame), does it really do anything a $500 poly-framed 9MM can’t do?


A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
…the Chevy sub-compact Spark?

But that doesn’t truly address the central issue of value or worth, and these issues, I’d argue, can only be answered by the individual firearm consumers.

Consider this comparison. The 2022 Chevrolet Corvette starts with a substantial base price of $60,900 and can be easily tricked out with accessories and performance packages to $90K or more. A Vette with the Z51 Performance Package arrives with 495 horsepower, can do 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 194 miles per hour.

Or you can buy a sub-compact 2022 Chevrolet Spark Hatchback with a base price of $13,600. Nicely accessorized, the Spark still costs under $20K.

Obviously, the Vette is a much faster vehicle and looks a hell of a lot cooler than the Spark. And yet….once you factor in speed limits, both vehicles will easily get you to and from work, the mall and the dentist’s office. In fact, the Spark can carry four people, the Corvette only two. The Spark also has impressive gas mileage (30 City, 38 Highway, when outfitted with Chevy’s Continuous Variable Transmission) and the Vette, let us admit, rarely passes a gas station without stopping.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
The TRS Commander, Nighthawk Custom’s newest Commander-sized 1911.

So, is the more powerful Vette really worth $90K compared to the $20K Spark? 

The answer not only depends upon a person’s income and tastes, but their point of view on various issues like performance, social status and how the vehicles make them feel or not feel about themselves.

Is the TRS Commander worth over $4,300? That’s not my call. But for the firearms consumer in the market for a custom-made 1911 that will probably function better than any factory-produced 1911, and carries the status that comes with custom expense? That consumer needs to take a serious look at the 9MM TRS Commander.  

Now, as the to TRS Commander’s actual performance…

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
The TRS Commander is Nighthawk’s first 1911 of this size to use a double stack magazine, in this case one holding 17-rounds of 9MM.

The solid aluminum trigger on the TRS snapped off at a very clean 1 pound, 14 ounces on average, according to my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge. It had just the slightest bit of take up before the trigger engaged the disconnector/sear, and the trigger’s serrated flat face provided a very tactile and comfortable engagement of my finger pad.

I shot the TRS outside in mid-20’s temperatures and the serrated face of the trigger always told me where my finger pad was in relation to the front of the trigger, even when my trigger finger was cold (I didn’t wear gloves) and it would’ve been easy to line up the trigger face with the first joint of my finger for less-than-optimum trigger pull and accuracy.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
The serrated face of the TRS trigger made for correct finger pad placement when shooting.

I love 1911’s and while I am in no way an expert of John Browning’s invention, I would note that many 1911’s I’ve used and reviewed over the last twenty years had slides that were very difficult to pull back. Some of these 1911’s had such tight slides, it was very easy to twist the gun and point the muzzle in a bad direction when attempting to rack the slide.

Not so with the TRS Commander. Part of that ease, no doubt, is due to the unique dimpling at the front and rear of the slides, which helped my fingers really press into the dimples and slide for a solid, leveraged hold.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Among the TRS’ custom features: a stainless-steel bull barrel that is also crowned.

Nighthawk has also produced a mating of slide to frame that is glass-on-glass smooth, and that plus the perfectly matched recoil spring created a slide that’s fairly effortless to rack back for loading. Yes, very easy even when starting with the slide forward, inserting the magazine and then racking back the slide to load the first round.

At my outdoor range and during three separate times spent using the TRS Commander, I used three brands of 9MM ammunition: Browning Train and Practice firing a 115-grain full-metal jacket bullet; Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep Personal Defense loaded with a 135-grain solid bullet featuring a center post; and, Federal Premium Syntech Range and its 124-grain lead bullet covered in a red synthetic jacket.

I also chronographed 10 rounds each of the above 9MM loads, using a Caldwell Chronograph G2 from Brownells. The air temperature was 20 degrees Fahrenheit with the muzzle of the TRS Commander five feet from the unit. With the G2 hooked to my cell phone via the Caldwell app, the average velocity results were: Browning at 1,161.2 feet per second (fps); Federal Hyrda-Shok Deep, 1,023.0 fps; and Federal Syntech Range 1,073.8 fps.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Federal’s Hydra-Shok Deep self-defense scored this five-shot group at just over 1/2 inch, at 10 yards, offhand, with shot #6 adding an inch to the group.

Of note, the Standard Deviation (SD)—or the measure of an ammunition’s velocity above and below the average fps–of the Federal rounds were especially low. An SD in the teens is pretty damn good. That SD suggests the ammunition will reliably leave the barrel at a fps fairly close to the average fps, indicative of good uniformity in performance. So, the Browning ammo’s SD of 15.5 is solid.

But the Federal rounds were even more impressive with an SD of 8.0 for the Syntech Range and an outstanding 4.2 SD for the Hydra-Shok. That level of velocity/fps consistency tells me Federal’s manufacturing and quality control processes are at very high levels.

I shot the TRS commander at five and ten yards offhand, and the pistol was extremely accurate at these self-defense ranges. One five shot group at ten yards with the Hydra-Shok Deep came in at just .56-inches. I got stupid and fired off Shot #6, and that expanded the group to 1.56-inches—still very nice! Another five-shot group with this ammunition at the same distance came in at .82-inches.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
At ten yards and offhand, Browning range 9MM ammo more than held its own in the TRS.

I got a little shoot happy with the Syntech and popped off nine rounds at ten yards, and they did a nice 1.30-inch group, while five of the shots in the lower left of the group (and my general point of aim) pegged in at .80-inches. The Browning 9MM held its own, too, with a best group of 1.12-inches for five shots, with four of those coming in at .80-inches.

Over the course of five, five round groups at ten yards offhand, the Browning averaged 1.55-inch groups, the Hydra-Shok at 1.15-inches, and the Syntech Red 1.44-inches

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Nine rounds of 9mm Federal Syntech wrecked this thug’s day.

Part of that accuracy due to the TRS’ match grade 4.25-inch stainless steel barrel. The full-length dust cover provided added weight to the front of the pistol, helping reduce muzzle flip.
Nighthawk built the TRS Commander with concealed carry very much in mind. As such, the TRS Commander comes with unique dimpling on the front and back of the slide, matching the pattern of the grip. These dimples provide a non-abrasive surface that will not hang or snag on clothing when holstering, but still provide a very solid handle on the pistol.
The tritium front sight put me on target quickly, when it was overcast as well as when the sun bounced very brightly off the fresh Wisconsin snow. The Heinie Ledge Black rear sight featured serrations on the back, which helped reduce that snow glare.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Heinie Ledge Black rear sight on the TRS.

As noted, the TRS Commander is the first Commander-size Nighthawk model built on a double stack frame, and the pistol comes with two 17-round magazines.

Nighthawk’s tag line is “One gun, One gunsmith.” And they mean it.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
TRS sports unique “dimpling” on grips and slides for a solid hold.

From the Nighthawk website: “At Nighthawk Custom, each pistol is built from start to finish by a single gunsmith….Every part used in Nighthawk Custom 1911s have been Fully Machined from bar stock billet steel and are oversized to later be hand fit. In order to create the finest 1911’s in the world, only the finest materials can be used. Starting with oversized, raw parts, our gunsmiths handcraft the pistol part by part to create a functional piece of art. All 46 parts are fit to that certain pistol, making it a unique and unrivaled pistol.”

That amount of time and precision costs money, lots of it, and in a world populated with sub-compact, look-alike pistols, the TRS Commander is definitely a Corvette. Whether or not someone wants this Vette will depend on that someone’s tastes, needs and the size of their bank account.

All I can say for sure is, this in one of the very best 1911’s I’ve ever had the pleasure to use, and I wish my income allowed me to keep it.

A Corvette or a Spark? Trying to Determine Worth with a K 1911 from Nighthawk Custom
Home defense with the TRS? For sure!

Specifications:  TRS Commander from Nighthawk Custom

Frame Size: Commander

Caliber: 9MM

Capacity: 17+1

Safeties: Grip and Manual

Height: 5.81″

Overall Length: 7.76″

Pistol Width: 1.44”

Slide Width: 0.92″

Weight Empty: 36.7 oz.

Sight Radius: 5.81”

Barrel Material: Stainless Steel

Barrel Length: 4.25″

Rear Sight: Heine Straight Eight Ledge

Front Sight: Tritium Post

Finish: Black Nitride MSRP:  $4,399.00

Nighthawk Custom

About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Buford June 10, 2022, 1:25 pm

    What a joke column. Everybody tries being a comedian once you failed.
    Both car and handgun OVERPRICED and OVERATED!
    These are made for people with too much money.
    MIM car and gun.

  • Don R June 10, 2022, 8:50 am

    Not all people with money are smart… that’s what they are counting on!

  • Michael B. Bard June 8, 2022, 10:39 pm

    Purchased my Colt Chrome Combat Elite in 2014 through the Colt Custom Shop with Novak adjustable sights, match trigger and barrel and polished ramp and deburring. It performs beyond my expectations 1.3 inch group at 10 yards. Wouldn’t trade it for any other model at any price.

  • Kenneth Koehler June 7, 2022, 5:07 pm

    $4400 and will still need to buy an adjustable rear sight

  • John June 7, 2022, 9:37 am

    I own both a Corvette ZO6 and the TRS Commander…I have the Stacatto C2 for comparison and the TRS is an absolute magnificent piece of precision machinery…you don’t buy a Corvette to do daily runs to the grocery store and you cannot compare the quality to your basic daily driver, so don’t bother! This is in a category of “want”…nobody needs a Corvette or the TRS Commander…I work hard for my money and they are just the perks of life that one can be blessed with…each of us determine worth differently…what is your life worth?

  • Lynn K. Circle June 6, 2022, 2:23 pm

    I own a Remington Recon Commander in 9mm, which has an 18+1 capacity, one more that the Nighthawk Custom. It shoots more accurately than I can ever achieve, and has an excellent trigger and sights. It ran me under $1300.00 in September of 2018. Unfortunately, Remington firearms is no more, but I’d match this handgun against the Nighthawk, and doubt there’d be a lot of difference.

  • Anthony Romano June 6, 2022, 2:19 pm

    Total waste of time. This gun at $4400 is robbery. It shoots a under an inch at 30 feet, what a joke. That is nothing to brag about.

  • rodger June 6, 2022, 2:17 pm

    Owned a nighthawk GRP and a wilson QBR sold both after shooting a DW valor. 1/2 the price same quality and Performance. Wont be as pretty as the other two but a solid well built 1911

  • Grumpy Old Biker June 6, 2022, 1:03 pm

    At a dollar less it is actually a $4.4K firearm instead of a “$4.3k” firearm as stated in this silly article about a silly plastic handgun. Think of all the good steel or alloy framed handguns you could buy for the cost of this one polymer (plastic) POS. And who thought we needed another spray-and-pray pistol with a 17+1 capacity? Especially with Joe “Let’s Go, Brandon” Biden and his ilk increasingly on the warpath because the media is hyping EVERY incident involving someone being shot.

    It’s the media’s fault we have so many mass shootings. If you’re a deranged, antisocial loser with mental issues and you want to be noticed and remembered, shoot a bunch of innocents. You will be rewarded by the media announcing who you are, what’s probably wrong with you, and telling the world exactly what you want to say. I’d the media refused to divulge the name of a shooter and didn’t intensely pursue every sordid detail, we wouldn’t have so many.

  • Don Boose June 6, 2022, 11:47 am

    Is it better than a Staccato XL or XC.?

  • Billy M June 6, 2022, 11:45 am

    OH MY GOD!! ANOTHER HIGH POWERED 9MM GUN THAT CAN BLOW A PERSON’S LUNGS OUT! Sleepy Joe has another weapon to ban.

  • Todd June 6, 2022, 11:36 am

    Sometimes, it’s not just about whether a firearm – or any item – is intrinsically, inherently or arbitrarily *worth it*… but rather; is it worth it to ME?!?

    In the case of this firearm – there is NO WAY I’m going to get over 4,000 bucks of; performance, endurance or aesthetic value from it.


  • M June 6, 2022, 10:46 am

    I have RIA’s in 1911 target 9MM and a Ultra CS .45 that shoot that good. not 17 plus 1. But, OTD my RIA’s were under $700.00 each.

    My Sig P210 Target was only $1350.00 OTD. and that will out shoot my RIA’s.

    I could afford the TRS, but why?

  • JSK Farms June 6, 2022, 10:13 am

    Love my 1911’s and have mine that were custom built by Bob Marvel who trained most of Nighthawks smiths, ergo how they obtained their legendary accuracy and butter smooth quality. That being said at this point in time it’s all about the ammo for me and I don’t carry 1911’s anymore which as I said I love mine but for me there are better option that work for me and that’s what all this is about, personal preferences and what works for YOU.

  • David June 6, 2022, 10:06 am

    “and the Vette, let us admit, rarely passes a gas station without stopping.”

    I have the same C8 Corvette and it get’s 30 mpg on the highway IF you do the speed limit. It cuts out 4 cylinders when your foot isn’t in it (which is hard to resist). Look it up

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:15 am

      Yeah, we care even less about an ugly, short, 4-wheeled substitute penis than we do about yet another plastic, grossly overpriced, ugly pistol.

  • Dump June 6, 2022, 10:02 am

    I’ll never afford a $90K Vette, but I can drive a $4300 NH. Hand fitted 2011 type 9mm pistols shoot like a dream.

  • MB (the real MB) June 6, 2022, 10:01 am

    Home defense weapon with a less than 2 pound trigger… not a chance, would end up with holes in floor, chairs, walls and maybe something else you don’t want to shoot. Just a range toy to impress the people at the range. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but last resort as a HDW.

    • PilotBill June 6, 2022, 10:10 pm

      This^…. And even if you did have nerves of steel and unflappable trigger control in one of the most tense situations and individual can face you would have to prove it in the court of law. Because that trigger weight would be used to fight for a conviction of manslaughter at the very least .

      • Mark N. June 13, 2022, 12:49 am

        If you are shooting an intruder in your home, especially an armed intruder, the prosecutor will not likely ever charge you with a crime, knowing that he will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were NOT acting in self defense. This is true in ALL fifty states. Trigger pull is therefore irrelevant as is ammo selection.

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:22 am

      Reminds me of the old TV western “Have Gun, Will Travel”. The opening of every episode features Paladin talking about his 7-1/2” Colt Single Action Army and claiming it had a “one ounce” trigger pull. Sure, Hollywood; that’s almost as ridiculous as a real-life two-pound trigger pull.

  • Joseph T Hajik II June 6, 2022, 10:00 am

    Truly I resonate with all the above comments and I to love the Wilson’s and Les baers and Glocks (examples) but at the end of the day… the tool must work. For duty…not gonna use a $4K gun…but the Glock will due as we understand to hell and back resume. Sure $4K is their price and I respect that same as a Glock price… In my case it’s like any collection really… you have your heirlooms and the run of the mill stuff. When I die the run of the mill will be sold off…the heirlooms will be passed down…

    I bought my son a wilson 1911 for making Eagle scout.. which will be used extensively and yet still an heirloom. Some of our glocks may still be heirlooms … if I bought this gun…I’d treat it like any of mine….use for necessity and keep it in good shape for any option… resale maybe a challenge but who cares. Life Is short…have a ball at YOUR decision…

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:32 am

      Seriously? An “heirloom Glock”? Such a ridiculous concept. You don’t think much of your heirs.

      Aside from the fact that a Glock is not a safe enough pistol for carrying (not a single active [user applied] safety feature, except that useless little clitoris on the trigger that is too easily defeated even without any intent), but a hideous, bulky, plastic pistol is hardly something that stirs one’s soul. Or holds any monetary value. A Glock has all the classic appeal of a rusty old hammer.

      • Willie-O June 10, 2022, 7:14 am

        Damn, you certainly live up to your handle. I’ll admit that I despised Glocks – referred to them as the “Bic lighter of pistols”. My favorite sgt heard me say that when I was still in LE and he pulled me aside. He said that in our business you need to know (1) thing and (1) thing only: when you pull the trigger, the sob will go BANG and Glocks always go BANG. He was our SWAT commander, dept armorer for ALL manufacturers and all around badass. Nobody I’d rather have with me in any situation. I took his advice and gave one a try. I’ve carried one ever since and currently own (7). I’ll give you ugly, but as they advertise – black, it goes with everything. To be honest, they look better the longer I carry ‘em. Maybe it’s just my old eyes.

        • Willie-O June 10, 2022, 7:57 am

          As for the NH, I’ll pass. I took a pseudo-1911 in on trade once. It was new at the time, around 1994. Threw it in the safe, never fired it and forgot about it. Came across it a few years later, took it to the range one day and it was a tack-driver. It was the most compact large caliber pistol available at the time – it was before the compact and sub-compact craze. All metal construction, heavy as a f’n brick and more accurate than most shooters. This one was .45acp, but they also made .40S&W and 9mm. They were all Firestars made by Star Arms (Brazil). They also made a Firestar Plus double-stack (9mm only). Liked them so much I ultimately bought (2) in .45acp, (1) .40S&W, (1) 9mm and (1) Plus. Still have all of them, but never carry them anymore. Still take ‘em for a run occasionally. Some of the best pistols most have never heard of, much less seen/fired.

  • Joseph P Gayan June 6, 2022, 9:51 am

    I think a Corvette vs. Ferrari analogy would be more accurate. Speed around a track is nearly identical but the Ferrari looks better, feels better, and has more prestige but costs four times as much.

  • Clint W. June 6, 2022, 9:46 am

    Ahhh..free enterprise, capitalism, freedom to create something and sell it. That is what it is all about. Really does not matter if the gun is worth it or not. It is written up as a very nice thing with a high price, people will buy it just to say they have one, and that is OK. Is it a practical purchase for the vast majority of folks to toss in the glove box or tackle box? Heck no, but that is not the intended market.

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:36 am

      Luckily, with the remote anonymity provided by the internet we don’t actually have to waste $4.4K in order to brag that we own one of these idiotic, overpriced, needless things. One can just post their brag in the comments section.

  • Lloyd Forester June 6, 2022, 9:02 am

    If I had the money…I would first return 10% to the Lord and then I would buy the Corvette and the pistol with a BIG house to put them in.

    The real reason I’m doing this is to spark the economy. How many workers would it take to build all of this?

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:45 am

      “Return” money to the Lord? Wrong. Jesus never issued money; in fact He never demanded money or cared about money. Only organized religion worships money as much as they do the Lord, and it was humans who arbitrarily decided that 10% tithing was mandatory to get into Heaven. You can’t buy your way in, but if it makes you feel better to waste your money by lining the pockets of some poorly run corporate church or, still worse, some slimy evangelist in a custom tailored suit with manicured fingernails and a pompadour, that is your right.

  • 2011fanboy June 6, 2022, 8:58 am

    You can have the same quality for almost half that price with a staccato C2. And have a threaded barrel. Way overpriced.

  • gdogs June 6, 2022, 8:51 am

    Are Nighthawk pistols worth $4K? No, of course not. I’m not mad at them for charging that, or their customers for buying them, but don’t get it twisted – if you are spending $4k on a Nighthawk 1911 it isn’t because the pistol is any sort of magnitude better than a $1k Sig 1911. It simply costs more. Lots of people equate cost with quality, unfortunately that is rarely the case. You could make the case that you are purchasing a piece of art not just a firearm (and that may be true), but “worth” in terms of art is completely subjective.

  • Gary June 6, 2022, 7:48 am

    “Worth” is typically defined as to what one is willing to pay or what the seller can actually sell the item for. A stockroom of product establishes what the worth is!

  • Fred Scarcelli June 6, 2022, 7:07 am

    I don’t have a budget really. I have Ferrari and a Mercedes. Screw the Vette lol. I wouldn’t buy that gun. The price is stupid and I have no use for a 9mm weighing 36 ounces empty. Crazy. Sure it shoots well but so so many of my guns.

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:50 am

      You own a Ferrari and a Mercedes? So what? I own several of each.

      See? Lying on the internet is easy.

  • John cusano June 6, 2022, 7:05 am

    I had 4 of them they made extremely well but i sold all of them there no more accurate then my colt goldcup that’s my opinion

    • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 4:57 am

      It’s difficult to decipher your opinion. You excreted several possible thoughts all in one poorly constructed, run-on sentence that is filled with errors, and nothing is capitalized. I’m not the grammar police (good thing for you, right?) but if you want to be understood you need to go back to grade school. Trying to read anything you’ve written is like trying to listen to Kamala Harris speaking in public. Huh??

  • Philip Botrel Bloxam June 6, 2022, 6:04 am

    Not worth it in my opinion..If you ever have to use it in self defense, prepare to not see it for months or maybe even years..

    • Tenbones June 6, 2022, 10:13 am

      ….or ever!

      • Larry June 6, 2022, 5:12 pm

        Yes, the first thing the local cops will do is tag your weapon as evidence. As such it will take years if ever for you to get it back. If my Taurus G2C is ever lost to the LEO evidence tag, all I have to do is open my safe and begin carrying my Taurus G3C at a lot less than $4K and still use the same holster.

  • Michael Rauls June 3, 2022, 3:51 pm

    Comparing a spark to a vette is absurd to the highest degree. It is as silly as comparing a 20 dollar ice chest to a restaurant-quality deep freezer.

    • Bill Clinton June 6, 2022, 7:20 am

      I think that’s the point ….

      • Grumpy Old Biker June 7, 2022, 5:04 am

        What are you doing here, Bill Clinton? You were the fourth worst president in the past hundred years — behind Carter, Obama and Biden, of course. They all tied for worst, with Biden favored to lead the pack soon, with 2-1/2 more years of blundering waiting to happen. .

        • Willie-O June 10, 2022, 7:28 am

          And on that we agree 100%. Brandon still has plenty of time to take the prize.

Send this to a friend