Nighthawk’s signature pistols are designed to meet the no-nonsense requirements of the late Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper — a Marine veteran, shooting innovator, college professor and editor at Guns & Ammo. Cooper passed away in 2006 at the age of 86.
Cooper opened the American Pistol Institute in Arizona near Prescott in 1976. The 2,000-acre, year-round facility now is called Gunsite Academy. It trains thousands each year, including civilians, law enforcement and special forces personnel. It offers courses in basic firearms use, close quarters combat and long range rifle shooting.
Guns & Ammo and Gunsite employees collaborated to build what they thought would be Cooper’s ideal 1911 but with some features modern users have come to expect, Stone said.
Phil Schreier, senior curator of the National Rifle Association’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., said despite its being more than 100 years old, the 1911 pistol is considered by many to be the perfect handgun and Cooper was an advocate of its virtues.
Richard Mann, a writer for Guns & Ammo, studied Cooper and interviewed experts to come up with the gun’s features, including a smaller frame for easier concealed carry. Cooper often said the most important factor in a gunfight is having a gun.
The pistol also lacks cocking serrations on the front of the slide, since Cooper felt it was unwise for shooters to get their hands anywhere near the muzzle of the weapon. A low profile, nearly invisible, lanyard loop, a feature Cooper considered desirable but not often seen on modern pistols, also is part of the new pistol.
An idea to use the distinctive orange lettering often seen on Guns & Ammo’s cover to highlight the engraving on the pistol’s slide was scrapped, Stone said, adding it looked heinous. Instead, the magazine’s orange is represented on the pistol’s fiberoptic front sight.
Mann said in an email that Nighthawk embraced the spirit of the project, as well as the philosophy of the Gunsite Academy and was the perfect choice to build the signature pistol.
“Seemed like the perfect fit,” he wrote.