A review of the near-fool-proof 1911 Drop-In Trigger System from Nighthawk Custom.
It used to be hard to get a good 1911 trigger. Then, in the 1980s, it got a lot easier. And in the early 1990s, it got even easier. Now, it’s dead simple.
We used to stone parts. Then, we bought better parts. Later, we bought the best. Now, we don’t even have to time the parts.
Enter the Nighthawk Custom Drop-In Trigger System (DTS). They took the packet trigger idea and perfected it for the 1911.
The idea is simple: The relationship of the hammer and sear to each other depends in no small part on the locations of the hammer and sear holes in the frame. If they’re off by a few thousandths or crooked to each other, your sear and hammer engagement won’t be what you think it is. That’s where we spent our time, fitting and stoning.
So, Nighthawk Custom takes the hammer and sear, makes them to exact dimensions and fits them on pivot tubes that are in precise locations. Then, they wrap the whole thing in a sleeve and fix it together, so the precise engagement they worked so hard to create isn’t changed.
How does this fit into a 1911 frame, then?
Simple. The holes for the packet have just enough give in their size (they’re a smidgen larger than the pins they’ll ride one) that it can “float” in the frame. Their relationship to each other never changes. The packet rides in the frame, and everything is fine.
Well, almost everything. The packet design can’t use a regular three-finger sear and grip safety spring, so Nighthawk provides a special one that works the grip safety. The rest of the spring action is handled by the internals of the packet itself.
And, you’ll still have to fit a thumb safety to the packet. It’s drop-in as far as trigger pull is concerned, but the thumb safety still needs to be fitted. Compared to the work we went through in stoning sears and hammer hooks, that’s easy. And a small price to pay for a drop-in clean and crisp trigger pull.
A Good Trigger Job
Now, cutting-edge technology doesn’t come cheap. And good trigger jobs aren’t common nor cheap. The Nighthawk drop-in at $300 seems steep, but I just priced the full set of parts needed for a 1911 trigger job (that’ll still require some fitting and tuning), and they easily ran $100. Not a lot of people are willing to take $100 in precision parts and experiment with installing and tuning them, especially if it risks turning their 1911 into a runaway.
Hand those parts and your pistol over to a competent pistolsmith, and it’ll come out just fine, but that eats into the cost difference … and then there’s the time waiting. I’m reminded of a radio commercial I heard a long time ago, and I can’t help but change it a bit for this: “It’s my trigger job, and I want it now.”
With the Nighthawk Drop-in Trigger System (DTS), you can have it 5 minutes after you sign for the delivery from Nighthawk.
The hardest part is waiting.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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