December 04, 2023
I will admit, I can’t decide whether “Night Stalker” is a great or terrible name for a pistol, but it certainly gets more attention than its subdued appearance. If you’re under 40, Night Stalker probably sounds like the nickname for a serial killer. It makes me think of “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” the short-lived TV show starring Darren McGavin that inspired “The X-Files.” In this case, Night Stalker is a distinctive Model 1911 imported by TISAS USA.
If you are just, let’s pick a term, say, “casual connoisseur” of firearms, you might not have heard of TISAS. The name is actually an acronym for “Trabzon Silah Sanayi AŞ,” and thus properly capitalized “TISAS.” Trabzon Silah was founded in 1993 in Turkey. Trabzon is on the northern coast of Turkey, which is an area that’s home to a lot of small and medium manufacturing. I’ve been there before to visit other Turkish firearm makers and these companies are all using top-of-the-line CNC machines, no different than firearms manufacturers anywhere else in the world. CNC machines don’t change quality based solely on what country they’re in. TISAS can afford to sell these pistols at comparatively lower prices because production costs in Turkey are less than half of what it is in the U.S.
TISAS produces more than 50 models of pistols in calibers ranging from .22 LR to .45 ACP, and it exports to more than 30 countries. Through the years, TISAS products have been imported to America by various distributors and sold under other names. As of 2022, TISAS USA is the U.S. distribution hub located in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Night Stalker series is available in 9mm, 10mm or .45 ACP. All three models are identical but for caliber. They even have the same retail price. These are full-size, i.e., “Government Model,” 1911s with a 5-inch barrel and a frame rail. Part of what makes these pistol distinctive is the finish; officially it is Cerakote’s “Platinum Grey.” In person, I would call it a “flat medium gray,” and the remaining parts are finished in black for contrast. Guns & Ammo received a .45 ACP version of the Night Stalker for testing.
Details, Then & Now
As every day there are people new to guns, and gun magazines, let me provide a basic bit of data about the Model 1911 before diving into the details of this one. The M1911 was named after the year it was adopted by the U.S. military, and most pistols sport elements stemming from the improved M1911A1, but everyone just refers to these guns as “1911s.” Originally, the 1911 was chambered in .45 ACP, a cartridge specifically designed for use in this design. Both pistol and cartridge were the product of the most successful American firearms designer, John Moses Browning. This 1911 was created on a single-action-only (SAO) operating system, which means that if the hammer is not cocked, the pistol will not fire.
The Night Stalker mimics the size of the original Government Model 1911 in that it has a 5-inch barrel and a full-length grip. However, improvements have not stopped since its introduction. The Night Stalker includes most of them. Both the frame and slide are forged steel, generally considered superior to cast pieces, and, unlike the original, these are provided with two eight-round blued steel magazines from Mec-Gar USA. Rather than a cardboard box, the buyer find the Night Stalker in a lockable case with cutouts for the gun and magazine, as well as a polymer bushing wrench.
The hammer-forged barrel has the traditional swinging-link lockup, and the assembly mates nicely to the polished ramp. The chamber mouth was also beveled to aid reliability, both throated and polished. Compared to the original GI 1911s, the ejection port on the Night Stalker has been lowered and flared to aid reliability.
The classic 1911 slide had a rounded top. The Night Stalker has a somewhat narrow flat top with angle cuts above the sides. On those angle cuts, between the ejection port and the front sight, you can’t miss the four relief cuts on each side. The barrel is not ported, though, so these cuts don’t vent gas or push the muzzle down. They may lower the weight a few ounces, but they only add some style and show off the black barrel as if they were windows. If you want to get technical, the cutouts are parallelograms with rounded corners.
The serrations at the rear of the slide seem to match the slide cuts in style. They are flat-bottomed and widely spaced. For as “tactical” a 1911 as this pistol appears, I was surprised that TISAS didn’t add forward cocking serrations. I almost never like the way they look, but I love the functionality. That said, the matte Cerakote finish is rough enough that it helps to work the slide.
For a pistol in the $750 price range, the Night Stalker has superior sights. The Hi-Viz front night sight is steel and dovetailed into place. The tritium insert glows green in low light, but it’s surrounded by a high-visibility orange ring. Such a day/night front sight is the best choice for a pistol meant for personal defense, in my opinion.
The drift-adjustable rear sight is secured in a Novak-pattern sight cut with a locking screw. When aligning the sights, the rear U-shaped notch sits within a black serrated face. The front of the rear sight is aggressively vertical, so you can use it to rack the slide one-handed, if necessary.
The sights are great, but not perfect. I first carried a 1911 more than 30 years ago. If I had to be picky, there’s not enough daylight around the front sight. Generally, to help get that “equal height, equal light” sight picture, we want a front sight that is the same width as the rear notch — or narrower. The front sight of the Night Stalker measured .160-inch wide, and the notch was only .125 inch. As complaints go, this is minor and borderline nitpicky.
The slide-to-barrel-to-frame fit was interesting, too. It’s exactly how it should be done on a pistol meant for defensive use as opposed to target shooting. There is a little play between the slide and frame, but just a “little.” The barrel lockup, on the other hand, is tight, and done with a bushing that is loose enough to be removed with your fingers. The bushing wrench TISAS included wasn’t needed. This gives us the best of both worlds: An accurate gun loose enough that it’ll run fine, even when somewhat dirty.
When I first started shooting 1911s, none had accessory rails on the frame. As a result, I don’t like the way rails look because they’re not traditional. They are definitely functional, though; there’s no easier way to mount a light. However, rails tend to add weight to an already heavy gun. According to my scale, with an empty magazine inserted, the Night Stalker weighed 42.4 ounces. You’ll appreciate the weight when you start touching off .45s, but this model is bigger and heavier than most people are able and/or willing to carry concealed.
Both the frontstrap and the flat (steel) mainspring housing have texturing that is somewhere between chain links and checkering. I like the look of it, but in use it is not as aggressive as checkering is.
TISAS advertises that the Night Stalker has an undercut triggerguard. Most companies crowing about the undercut triggerguards on 1911s are selling pistols that don’t actually have undercut triggerguards; it’s simply that there is less of a curve where the triggerguard meets the frame. With the Night Stalker, there is an actual undercut. A small radius comes up toward the magazine release.
At the rear of the frame, the Night Stalker has the familiar beavertail grip safety, protecting the hand from the cocked skeletonized hammer. There’s a bump at the bottom of the grip safety helping to ensure deactivation. Gripping the pistol depresses the grip safety by pivoting a fixed bar out of the way of the trigger bow.
Between the beavertail and the undercut triggerguard, I was able to choke up high on the gun, about an eighth of an inch higher than if it were GI-profile frame. This drastically increases control, especially if you shoot with a proper thumb-high hold, i.e., with your thumb over the top of the safety. Now, about that safety.
At the rear of the frame is an extended ambidextrous thumb safety. Up for safe, down for fire, and with the safety engaged the slide is locked into place. The clicks on the safety were not that positive, but I’m opinionated when it comes to 1911s.
When Browning first designed the 1911, it didn’t even have a manual safety. It was added at the request of the U.S. Army. By the end of the century, the thumb safety was an integral part of how this pistol should be carried and employed defensively. As the pistol is inert when the hammer is down, the proper carry technique involves the hammer being cocked with the thumb safety engaged, as in “cocked-and-locked,” otherwise known as “Condition One” with a round in the chamber. Carried in such a manner, you can draw and disengage the thumb safety as part of the drawstroke. A cocked hammer might look intimidating, but the 1911 is mechanically safer than many striker-fired pistols.
Trigger & Frame Work
Internally, the Night Stalker uses an original trigger system, now known in shorthand as a “Series 70” type. The 1911 has the trigger pull against which all others are judged: The single-action pull is short and crisp, and the 1911s sliding — not pivoting — trigger smooths and lightens the experience even more. A bad 1911 trigger pull is usually still lighter and crisper than that found on most striker-fired guns. This matters because a good trigger pull is perhaps the best component in fast and accurate shooting.
The trigger of the Night Stalker had some takeup before a relatively crisp break. The total trigger travel was just more than a tenth of an inch. The trigger wasn’t light, though, measuring 5 pounds, 12 ounces, compliments of a mainspring that seemed to be full power, and then some. Unlike a lot of plastic triggers, credit goes to TISAS for incorporating an aluminum trigger with a flat serrated face.
TISAS definitely went for a certain style with the Night Stalker. I have to say that I like the black parts against the gray frame and slide, but I’m conflicted about the grips. The grip panels are aluminum and they have an elongated diamond shape, narrowing almost to a point at the front. I really like the profile of the grips, which make the pistol feel narrow and point naturally. And they look great. However, I am no fan of the slick, near-mirror finish. I could feel the heels of both my hands trying to slide around on the grips when shooting this gun. Your experience, as they say, may differ, but likely not. When I handed this pistol to my wife, she complained that it felt greasy. It wasn’t greasy at all; that’s just how slick the grips felt. The great thing about 1911 grips is that they are easy to swap. You just need a screwdriver (or an Allen wrench, in this case). There are plenty of aftermarket options available to suit your taste.
At the base of the frame, you will see a modest magazine well that flows into the beveled opening within the frame. If you want to reload a 1911 with any speed at all, an oversized magwell is a necessity, and the unit on the Night Stalker worked very well. It doesn’t add much length to the gun. The magazine well is steel, adding to the weight of the gun, but, as some would say, “at least you’ll never be able to wear it out.”
My time at the range did not reveal any surprises. The Night Stalker was very accurate and completely reliable with ball and several types of hollowpoints. Recoil was stout, but controllable.
Turkish guns are known for being inexpensive. In the past, they were also known for less quality. Times have changed. The TISAS 1911s are more accurate than they have any right to be. With TISAS, you get more features for the same price.
The complaints I have with this gun may seem minor: Slick grips, clicks not positive enough when thumbing the safety, not enough daylight around the front sight. This list wouldn’t be minor if it cost $1,500, but with a retail price of $750 the Night Stalker is a stand out.
TISAS 1911 Nightstalker
- Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm, 10mm, .45 ACP (tested)
- Capacity: 8+1 rds. (.45 ACP)
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Overall Length: 8.75 in.
- Height: 5.5 in.
- Width: 1.3 in.
- Frame: Forged carbon steel
- Slide: Forged carbon steel
- Sights: Tritium and orange day/night (front); notch (rear)
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 12 oz. (tested), single action
- Safety: Grip lever, thumb lever
- Weight: 2 lbs., 10.4 oz.
- MSRP: $750
- Importer: TISAS USA, (865) 604-6894, tisasusa.com
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