Nighthawk Thunder Ranch Combat Special: Classy and Dangerous By: Tom McHale


Range Performance

Let’s talk about recoil. There isn’t any. Just kidding, but this is one easy shooting gun, and the recoil and muzzle flip associated with any of the 9mm full power defense loads was basically nil. Steel, plus a large pistol with superb grip ergonomics and a “slick as buttered-glass” action, all add up to one enjoyable sensation when pressing the trigger. This is one of those pistols you will gleefully shoot all day long. A thousand rounds wouldn’t cause any undue discomfort.

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Speaking of the trigger, the solid face with vertical serrations travels a hair under 1/8? of take-up before a breathtakingly crisp break. Time after time, I measured precisely 3 1/2 lbs. of pull weight.

I shot the TR with a variety of 9mm, and, just for kicks, chronographed it all. For the ballistic geeks among you, here’s what you get from the 5? barrel: Federal HST 124-grain, 1,184.5 fps; Federal Syntech 124-grain, 1,193.3; Norma MHP 108-grain, 1,204; Black Hills FMJ
115-grain, 1,172.3; Federal Punch 124-grain, 1,187.7; and Speer Gold Dot Carry Gun 135-grain, 1,149.7. The fun one of the bunch was Liberty Defense’s Civil Defense screamer. With its 50-grain projectile, I clocked an average of 2,063.5 fps. Smokin!

As for accuracy, I found group size limited only by my eyesight. It would be great fun to stick an optic on this pistol and shoot it at 50 or even 100 yards for accuracy, but the rail-less configuration and my lack of a grip-attached scope mount prevented that. So, iron sights at 25 using a Ransom Multi-Caliber Rest it was. Even still, the HST printed .77? while Speer Gold Dot came in at 1.08?. The other loads ranged from 1.26? to 1.94?. Except for violating the speed limit, the Liberty Civil Defense behaved well and printed 1.36?.