U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- When I heard that Nighthawk Custom offered a drop-in 1911 trigger (DTS – Drop-in Trigger System), I was actually kind of surprised. I shouldn’t have been though. The concept of a captured or modular drop-in trigger system is actually very old. And frankly speaking, the concept is a solid one.
One of the first drop-in triggers I was exposed to was the Chip McCormick AR-15 trigger many moons ago. Chip sent me a large pin flat shoe unit for my Colt when I was working up a trigger comparison article over on AR15.com. This dates me somewhat, but that was back in 2007. The industry has continued to innovate, and while I should have been able to predict drop-in triggers would be offered across the board in weapons that could accept them, I never considered the 1911.
I don’t know how many trigger jobs I’ve performed on 1911s over the years, but it may be into the 1000s now. They are a bit labor-intensive but the results are fantastic for the shooter. Most customers I have are looking for the same basic things. All want a consistent pull, and many customers prefer a lower pull weight. It isn’t uncommon to see those pull weights range from 3.5 to 4.5. Some lighter yet. Most want a short take-up and short reset. Most of all, creep be gone. My shop, Controlled Chaos Arms, can and does provide all that.
So when I heard about the Nighthawk unit, I was really excited to try one. The good folks at Brownells sent me one to try. I’ve got a 1911 I assembled and fit from the ground up for my son. Granted, when I put this together he was only three years old, but you need to think ahead, right? So this bobbed 1911 that’s only been shot a few times was a great contender to drop the Nighthawk trigger into. I could then compare it side by side with a trigger job I’d done myself.
My son is now 8, so it was necessary to take this out to the range and blow the cobs out. I had forgotten how much I love a bobbed 1911 with thin grips. Granted, I have big mitts, but my boy isn’t going to be a big kid, so this will work well for him. After I reacquainted myself with the weapon, I tore the frame down on the bench to compare parts and begin the Nighthawk installation process.
As expected, the Nighthawk DTS appears well made with a heavy emphasis on fit and finish coupled with function. Breaking from my usual routine, I actually read the instructions. Why? In part, I wonder, because they were so short and straightforward. Essentially, you take the guts out of your frame, install the DTS, pop in the sear pin, then rock the DTS against slight spring pressure and pop in the hammer pin. Next, you’ll use their supplied sear spring. Reassemble and smile. I don’t remember seeing “smile” in print anywhere, but it was certainly implied.
The Nighthawk Custom site has some nice context and a full complement of support videos they hosted on YouTube. The original trigger I had romanced was set at a shade under 4lbs. The Nighthawk DTS weighed in at 4.5lbs. The DTS was crisp with a reasonable reset and very little overtravel. Frankly, I found it to be a well-balanced trigger for just about any application. Granted, I’m not looking to run myself out of business, but there is some merit to a trigger like this beyond what a smith offers. You could swap this from gun to gun, as some folks buy, sell, and trade routinely. That’s a lot tougher to do with individual parts that all hold a relationship with a frame, whereas the DTS is enclosed in a subframe if you will. I can set up a trigger any way you want it. I’ve done some absolutely crazy stuff on request before. But, if you want a very consistent and ‘standard’ trigger I truly think Nighthawk just offered up a genuine option. The price point puts it in the running. By the time I choose good parts and put some time into the stoning of each part, along with hand fitting, the DTS is similarly priced.
The DTS doesn’t actually speak to the trigger (shoe) itself. So any reset lengths, stoning of the trigger, bow, stirrup, and frame would still need to be addressed if you wished.
What I can’t speak to is the issue of longevity. I only put a few hundred rounds through this. By the way, the Nighthawk folks made it clear there was some ‘break-in’ involved and a true settling of performance and weight might not be seen until closer to 500 rounds. I noticed a slight decrease in trigger pull weight, to a bit over 4lbs in this span of 240ish rounds. The overtravel and reset were the same.
I like the concept, and for a person capable of detail stripping their 1911, this is a legitimate option. I like buying things from Brownells, so I’m glad they sent me one to try. I’ll buy more there. I would recommend the Nighthawk DTS, especially since it is likely to fit most any 1911 or 2011. You can run a block off plate or keep your firing pin safety if your model has those parts. The DTS appears to accommodate the Series 70, Series 80, or Swartz Style 1911. I swapped my original parts back into my son’s gun, but the DTS performance makes me want to keep it. After all, I do have a daughter, and I can’t have them squabbling over guns, right? I reckon I need to build up a gun around this Nighthawk DTS, if for no other reason than family peace. Dangit, I have a wife too. Looks like I need to order another DTS…
About Michael Ware:
Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.
Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.