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Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander 9mm is carry perfection for a discriminating few.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review
Photos by Mark Fingar

When I share the experience of handling or shooting a Nighthawk with anyone, the reaction is always the same. Joe Hitchcock, a friend and police sergeant, saw the green soft-­sided pistol case and pointed, “Wow, is that a Nighthawk?” I simply removed the new Agent 2 Commander, locked back the slide and inspected the chamber before handing it to him. He inspected it for himself and a smile grew across his face as he charged the slide and dry fired the trigger. “Oh my. That’s butter,” he said. “You can feel the money that went into this gun.”

Recapping Acts 1 & 2

The Agent 1 debuted at the NRA Annual Meetings in 2017. It came as the result of a rare industry collaboration between Nighthawk Custom, Agency Arms, Railscales and Hillbilly 223, and drew considerable attention in spite of its $4,595 price. Why? Nighthawk was only going to offer the opportunity to purchase the love child to 25 random applicants. Due to high demand, selected participants were given just 4 hours to complete their purchase.

Agent 1 was a Commander-­type 1911 with a 4¼-­inch barrel in its slide and an integral rail for a dustcover. It was only chambered in 9mm and featured Agency Arms’ front-­and-­rear cocking serrations, a Heinie Ledge blacked-­out serrated rear sight and Nighthawk’s fiber-­optic front. Inside was a full-­length guiderod assembly, a crowned, flush bull barrel, as well as Railscales’ G10 Honeycomb-­pattern grips, a flat-­faced Nighthawk trigger, and a one-­piece mainspring housing. The mainspring housing cleanly wrapped around the bottom of the frame to form a wide magazine funnel for unimpeded reloads.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The mainspring housing and magazine well are one rigid piece. It’s large enough for a magazine to easily make its way inside.

Potential customers that missed out on the opportunity to buy the Agent 1 pushed Nighthawk to develop the Agent 2, a sequel launched in 2018 as a full-­size pistol in 9mm and .45 ACP. The Agent 2 in 9mm offered a capacity of 10 rounds, while .45s could carry eight.

New for the Agent 2 was the option to add Nighthawk’s Integrated Optic System (IOS), a clever sight plate that dovetails lengthwise to the rear of the slide and allows one to swap the rear sight for an optic, such as a Trijicon RMR. Also optional, Agent 2 barrels could be ordered in stainless steel, a black Diamond-­Like Coating (DLC), or, for a golden appearance, finished in titanium-­nitride (TiN). With these select personalizations available, the Agent 2 ranged in price from $4,495 to $5,599.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
Fluted for aesthetics, the barrel is held to match standards. A supported feed ramp is appropriate for 9mm.

A Collaborative Effort

Agency Arms is best known among serious shooters for transforming Glock pistols, the Smith & Wesson’s M&P9, the FN 509 and Benelli shotguns into modern art battle pieces. Agency Arms’ flat-­faced triggers are a recognizable signature for their subtle hook at the bottom, and you’ll find this on the Agent 2.

The Agent 2 also received other such visually familiar stylized elements, like the beveled port to each slab of the slide. Behind these signature windows to view the barrel is Agency’s “A” mark, an implied stamp of approval.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The scale motif adds striking functionality.

Texture on the Agent 2 is profound in coverage and appearance, but not too aggressive. Complementing Nighthawk’s reptilian scale motif on almost every touchpoint are a set of G10 grip panels by RailScales. G10 is a high-­pressure fiberglass laminate known for its durability, hardness and moisture resistance. RailScales is better known among the black-­rifle community for is patented G10 rail covers, hand stops and other accessories. Their textures are patented and given names such as Honeycomb, Dragon, Matrix, and MiniDot. Easily missed, their company logo appears just below each panel’s bottom 3/32nd Allen-­head grip screw.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The machined accessory rail is true Picatinny spec and accepts available lights and lasers. Forged, it’s as strong as a rail can be.

The fourth partner in the Agent 2’s creation was Hillbilly 223, a small business that does lot of business with Nighthawk Custom. This is a company who established their reputation for long-­lasting custom coatings and one-­of-­a-­kind Cerakote finishes. A few years ago, Hillbilly 223 was also responsible for applying the Battle Worn Cerakote finish on Agent 1. Here, we see they’ve returned to apply Nighthawk’s Smoke Cerakote to the Agent 2 series.

Agent 2 Commander

Nighthawk Custom revealed the Agent 2 Commander at the 2020 SHOT Show. This pistol mirrors the full-­size Agent 2 in almost every detail except for its shorter Commander-­length slide and barrel assemblies.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a forged slide and frame.

Other Agent 2 Commander features not to miss are the beveled edges and flats cut at angles. Flats appear around the top of the slide and under the slide’s guiderod spring and plunger housing, and there are even three flats shaping the triggerguard. Flats stand in for curves while flanking the serrations on the front and backstraps, and they also exist around the edge of the barrel bushing. Don’t miss the small edges given to the ejection port opening or each sights’ corners.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The crowned muzzle is cut flush with the bushing, which was given flats around the edges.

The few curves that can be found on the Agent 2 Commander are in areas that make shooting comfortable: Above the trigger, around the bottom of the frame, in the scallop approaching the trigger, and underneath the triggerguard where a high-­grip relief cut has been added. The arch of the beavertail grip safety also curves to protect the web of your hand, and the combat hammer (along with the tops of the frame’s controls) still possess rounded contours.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
Few curves were left untouched by flats; even the bottom of the triggerguard has corners leading to the high-grip undercut.

Beyond aesthetics, this pistol functions flawlessly. The manual thumb safety and grip safety are reliable, the slide goes smoothly into battery every time, and the trigger pull doesn’t change. On that note, Guns & Ammo’s test sample featured a trigger that averaged just 3 pounds, 7.4 ounces for 10 pulls. For having such a light and flawless trigger, the safeties do their part to prevent the hammer unintentionally falling forward.

Accuracy with the Agent 2 Commander was absolutely incredible. Shooting a 9mm model using two hands from 25 yards, I unexpectedly grouped three five-­shot groups that measured around 1½ inches. I’ve found that if you do not suffer from vision impairments, a Commander-­style 1911 shoots just as accurately as a full-­size Government model. The only reason you’d want the Agent 2 with 5-­inch barrel would be for the inherent benefits of having a longer sight radius and more weight towards the muzzle. Otherwise, the new Agent 2 Commander is every bit as capable and easier to carry concealed.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
The rear sight is a Heinie Ledge; the front is Nighthawk’s fiber optic. Look closely and you’ll see they’ve been given flats, too.

My offhand performance inspired a return visit to the range with a Ransom Rest to determine the full capability of the Agent 2 Commander. After a full day of resetting the rest for each shot and the tedious process to change loads, this pistol produced a few near-­1-­inch and sometimes sub-­1-­inch groups from 25 yards!

Nighthawk’s mantra is “One gun, one gunsmith,” so perhaps G&A’s sample is best described as a monument testifying to the skill of an unnamed craftsman. Functionally, everything about the Agent 2 Commander was perfect. Accuracy was undeniable. Control is rock solid. Sights were easy to see, and the slide moved as smooth as greased glass along its rails. There were no malfunctions or failures to feed any type bullet tested.

One could argue the benefits of a striker-­fired pistol over a another high-­end 1911, but not this one. In fact, the person considering the purchase of an Agent 2 Commander already understands how much it costs and what shooting lifestyle they’re in for. (And they’re probably right-­handed.)

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander

I did express one gripe to Nighthawk’s Chief Operating Officer Nelson Davis while researching the Agent 2 Commander’s development history. G&A’s 9mm test pistol arrived with two 10-­round Mec-­Gar magazines. I don’t mind that they’re made by Mec-­Gar, as the magazines were reliable and leapt out of the funneled magwell with only half a ­press of the extended mag-­release button. (That button was also reshaped and given a pair of flats.) My issue is that no plastic appears on the Agent 2 Commander except for the magazine’s baseplate assembly. I encouraged Mr. Davis to have Nighthawk consider machining its own baseplates and extensions to better complement the pistol’s fit and finish. Perhaps it sounded picky, but for the asking price of the Agent 2 series, I don’t think this is an unreasonable request.

Though carrying a superb all-­steel Model 1911 with 10-­plus-­one-­round capacity can be great, my hands yearn for a double-stack frame like that found on Nighthawk’s also-new TRS series. The TRS Commander offers 17-plus-round capacity, and I hope that frame finds its way into the Agent 2 line. And if someone at Nighthawk is taking suggestions for names, allow me to offer “Double Agent.” Great action sequels usually have one.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander
Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, five- shot groups fired from 25 yards in a Ransom Rest. Velocity is the average of five shots measured by an Oehler Model 35P chronograph.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander

  • Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm (tested) or .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 10+1 rds. (9mm) or 8+1 rds. (.45 ACP)
  • Barrel: 4.25 in., stainless steel
  • Overall Length: 7.85 in.
  • Width: 1.29 in.
  • Height: 5.81 in.
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 6.6 oz.
  • Finish: Nighthawk Smoke Cerakote
  • Sights: Nighthawk fiber-optic, drift adj. (front); Heinie Black Ledge, drift adj. (rear)
  • Trigger: 3 lbs., 7.6 oz. (tested)
  • MSRP: $4,500
  • Manufacturer: Nighthawk Custom, 877-268-4867,
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