Shooting illustrated | Evaluation: Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Pistol
I know what’s coming. People will see a review of a $ 4,500 gun and complain why we can’t look at cheaper options. I understand, really; Most people don’t even have nearly $ 5,000 to turn in on a single gun purchase. But some do. Whether you recently got a promotion at work and you want to party, crack a scratch card at the local grocery store, or just put a few dollars aside each week to buy something really nice – that might be the thing.
During the recent pandemic and related lockdowns, one of my escapes saw old episodes of the UK auto show Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May examine a large number of European cars – but mainly focus on exotic cars such as Bentleys, Ferraris and the like. They too get viewer complaints about cheaper cars not getting rated (and if you’re familiar with the show, Clarkson usually responds in his inimitable, crude manner).
Well, there’s a common streak here. Auto magazines and TV shows don’t focus heavily on the Honda Civics and Toyota Camrys because they are common as dirt. If you don’t personally own one, you probably know someone who does. You will likely see a dozen or more on your way to work. You don’t need to hear much about them because you know them. In the world of firearms, replace a Glock G19 or a SIG Sauer P365 for a Civic / Camry and I think you get an idea of where I’m going with that.
If you’re a firearms enthusiast, you likely own, or at least know someone who does, a Glock or SIG. You can most likely find an assortment to rent one from. And we’ve featured them many times on the magazine’s pages and on our website. But what if you’re looking for a next level firearm like the Nighthawk Custom Agent 2? You’re unlikely to be sitting at the rental desk for your local range like you can’t go to Hertz and rent a Bentley Azure for the weekend.
However, there is a fundamental difference between high-end automobiles and high-end firearms. With the exception of certain boutique weapons (think the 1911 Meteorite and bespoke shotguns), the vast majority are affordable to some point. Even insanely expensive guns like the Barrett 107A .50 BMG rifle are less expensive than a used car or new motorcycle, so these firearms are within reach for most (at least in theory, I don’t recommend buying one without first checking with yours to advise loved ones first …).
As I mentioned earlier, for the Nighthawk Custom here, if you don’t go out for dinner once a month, you can save up for Agent 2 in a couple of years. It’s not a big sacrifice.
There is another fundamental difference between guns and cars: durability. If I cashed in my 401K and bought a Corvette (or, given the current market situation, a used Kia), in 10 years I would have a used vehicle worth a fraction of what I paid for it. With regular use, the value would decrease further and the expenses would increase.
Not true for a high-end pistol – you could take the Agent 2 out every week, crank 100 rounds, and it could require new feathers once a year. And you could do this until your grandchildren retired; most likely longer. I have one 1911 in my 1917 collection. My grandfather bought it sometime in the mid-20th century and shot two barrels from it when he owned it. It still runs like a top.
Anyway, enough of the price. We just keep it simple that we review high-end pistols and rifles along with cheaper variants for good reason, and even if you never plan on buying a functional piece of art like the Nighthawk Custom Agent 2, you can appreciate it for that Engineering wonder it is.
And it really is. The special thing that caught my attention when I took the Agent 2 out of the Nighthawk Custom bag was the incredibly smooth operation of the slide. When you reverse the slide it feels and sounds like nothing else – to call it buttery soft doesn’t even do it justice. If “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” the Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 made a great first impression indeed. While it’s a mundane stereotype to say, “You get what you pay for,” there is a crux of the truth, and Agent 2 is positive evidence.
Visually, the collaboration with Agency Arms, who produced the film and worked with Nighthawk on the print, is particularly striking. The Agent 2 is a pistol type that “collides worlds” – there is Nighthawk’s old-school philosophy of a gun, a gunsmith, combined with the state-of-the-art push work from Agency. The model we received had Nighthawk Custom’s proprietary visor for a plate for a Trijicon RMR red dot sight, which adds to both utility and modern convenience.
But Agent 2 isn’t just a pretty face. Every facet of this pistol is designed to perform exceptionally well, delivering quick, accurate shots that can only be blamed on the operator for anything outside of the 10 ring. Starting with the Railscales G10 shafts and the matching texture on the front and back straps, the Agent 2 simply feels on the hand. The flat-face trigger, as mentioned, is a collaboration between Nighthawk and Agency and has a smooth, crisp feel that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate. It’s just that good.
Above, of course, the Agency slide has some aesthetic improvements; This is a pistol designed to shoot well and look good doing it. Sight, should you opt for iron over a red dot, is a Heinie bar sight with a fiberglass tube at the front. Nighthawk offers the so-called Interchangeable Optic System, in which the back of the slide is milled for a specific optic holder (currently RMR, RMSc and Viper).
This allows the shooter to quickly and efficiently switch between red dot and iron sights without zero loss, per Nighthawk. For redundancy reasons, the company places a backup visor in front of the optics.
Shooting with the Agent 2 is simply the best way to fully appreciate this weapon. The weight, while 9mm on the heavy side for a single stack, reduces recoil to maybe a .22 mag. It’s really easy, good, and quick to shoot. While we could not run quite as many laps as we would have liked under the current ammunition shortage circumstances (with Agent 2 the correct answer is “Everything. Every last lap”), there were no failures at our time. Jacketed hollow points, heavy subsonic loads, super-light, ultra-fast projectiles; it all feeds, fires, and ejects cleanly, just as you would expect.
Since it is a Commander, it is well suited for concealed carry. We paired Agent 2 with a beautiful Milt Sparks Axiom holster for an upscale episode of our “I Carry” video series, and with a lightweight protective garment and solid gun belt, this is a device you can easily wear all day, everyone Day. Carrying a $ 5K pistol is, of course, an individual choice; However, from the standpoint of reliability and accuracy, it is difficult to argue with Agent 2. It will work when you need it and you will be able to get solid hits with it. It’s definitely built tough enough to withstand long workouts.
Quite simply, the only downside we had when reviewing Agent 2 Commander was that we had to send it back.
Ultimately, choosing the Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is a personal decision. The shooter who chooses this pistol is not looking for his first 1911, and most likely not even his second or third. This is a “grail cannon”, a reward, a brass ring to grasp. And this is where the high-end pistol really shines. At $ 4,500 to start off, the Agent 2 is definitely one of the more expensive pistols out there, but it’s more accessible to shooters than, say, a Lamborghini Huracán to most drivers.
“Is it worth?” That’s the question my friends ask me the most when a super high-end gun comes out. A question that is both simple and incredibly complex to answer. Agent 2 worth it? You ask yourself: “Is the price appropriate for the level of craftsmanship, technology, testing and reliability?” Because then the answer is certainly “yes”. The time, talent, and experience that goes into a pistol like the Agent 2 is extensive and evident. Fit and workmanship are exactly what you should expect from a weapon of this level.
Are you asking “should I search my kid’s college fund for one?” Well, that’s harder to answer – and only you can decide for yourself.