I know what some people might be thinking. “Nate, since you graduated from school, you must have gotten some dream job with a 6 figure salary enabling you to purchase all manner of luxury firearms items.” Well, first off I have no dream job, and second off I did not purchase this pistol myself. I told the right people I was a social media influencer, and I was immediately given one free of charge (just kidding). This particular model is on loan from Matt Landfair, who purchased this pistol with what I understand was some sort of cash monies. He was lucky enough to be able to pay for his model in between the dozens (supposedly) being handed out for free. I was fortunate enough to review it, and said review follows.
While I am not a regular user of 1911/2011 pistols (I have been shooting DA/SA guns almost exclusively for several years), I do have some previous experience with them. I shot a doublestack 1911 in USPSA Limited division for some time, have competed with a variety of STI pistols, and have taken 1911s of various varieties to several pistol classes. I consider myself familiar but not an expert. As far as background with this pistol specifically, I was fortunate enough to shoot it, alongside dozens of other pistols, in a head-to-head comparison which will be released through the P&S YouTube channel in the coming months. Besides a couple dozen rounds I shot over a couple of days through the gun, I was starting the comparison drills cold without a lot of ‘fam fire’ under my belt.
As would be expected, the Chambers gun performed very well. Comparing my runs on standard drills to my 226, it outperformed on one and two shot drills from 7-25 yards, bill drills at 25 yards, 2-reload-2 and 10 yards, as well as posting better F.A.S.T. times, and 34 points better on the humbler (700 point aggregate). The Federal Air Marshal qual was almost identical between the two guns, and the 226 was slightly better on the 5X5, as well as the closer bill drills at 5 and 12 yards. I attribute this to my much greater level of familiarity with the Sig. Clearly, as soon as distance or target size began to increase in difficulty, the Chambers gun began posting better scores.
I personally was happiest with the F.A.S.T. drill times and accuracy. Out of the six runs I did, only one wasn’t clean; a single body shot about 1” outside of the circle. I will also note that, like all previous drills, I am using a reduced size F.A.S.T. target (printed on an 8 1/2X11 sheet of paper instead of the longer 8 1/5X14 legal size paper the target is scaled for. Factoring in the target size, still shooting at 7 yards, and my average time of 5.06 seconds, I am very happy with how the gun performs, especially in a drill that tests a full battery of pistol skills; draw, accurate shots, a slide-lock reload, and speed. Speaking of my personal best Humbler score of 656, I want to highlight the accuracy of this pistol.
One of the much-touted benefits of a custom build gun is the accuracy (technically precision) potential. In my testing of the Nightfighter, the accuracy is hard to believe. Following are four targets with five round groups each with 124 grain Gold Dot, 147 grain G2, 147 grain HST, and 147 grain HST +P. The top two groups are shot from the prone position, the bottom two groups are standing unsupported. All groups were shot at 25 yards.
First, note that the worst group I fired was 2 1/2” in diameter. I did not throw out any ‘fliers’ when measuring group sizes. 1 3/8” with the 124 gold dot and 1 1/2” with both the G2 147 and HST 147 were the best standing groups, while both 147 HST (+p and standard) printed 1 1/4” prone groups. If you look at the pictures, I am obviously still holding this gun’s accuracy potential back. Throwing out a ‘flier’ as is common on the internet brings the gun easily into the sub 1” at 25 yards realm.
Many people will comment that because I (or most who shoot this gun) are simply not accurate enough shooters to realize the full potential of this gun, it would be a waste to purchase and use one. I disagree, and my 25 yard bull scores show it. Yes I am the weak link with this gun and quality (like the Speer and Federal duty ammo I was shooting) ammunition. However, I was still able to increase my accuracy performance by using a phenomenally accurate gun. I moved back to 50 yards and was hitting my BC steel target easily from the holster in the 2.5-3 second range. Backing up again to 100 yards, as long as trigger control was acceptable on my end, the hits were simply there. I can not say much more regarding accuracy except to say this has been the most accurate pistol I think I have ever shot in my life, all while maintaining excellent reliability.
Put away all the boring phrases about 1911/2011 pistols and reliability (or lack thereof). The Nightfighter was incredibly reliably through all of the testing I did, which included a half a case of ammo shot in under an hour, shooting prone in the dry dusty conditions of my range, and shooting a variety of ball and duty ammo through it.
I will note that while the magazines that came with the gun had no problems, using stock STI magazines would occasionally result in locking the gun open with a single round remaining in the magazine. I obviously do not fault the gun for this, and changing out the follower would likely eliminate this problem. I would not recommend spending all the money on this gun, then elect not to purchase the tuned magazines available for it, but having stock STI magazines available I had to try them.
As a final reliability test of the gun, I loaded up all four 18 round magazines with a variety of duty ammo. This included the four varieties previously mentioned in the accuracy test, with the addition of 135 grain Hornady Critical Duty. With 18+1 in the gun and 3 additional magazines, I fired them all essentially as fast as I could pull the trigger. I did experience one small hiccup where either the hammer did not hit the primer, or a light strike occurred. I manually cocked the hammer back, and continued without incident. The gun had fully cycled and was in battery, and I am guessing I wasn’t holding the grip safety down securely enough. Besides this single incident, I had no other issues before or after, with no cleaning, lubrication, or other maintenance done during the testing.
Practical Use of the Nightfighter
In addition to testing on the range, I carried the Chambers gun for a time in the Phlster Floodlight with Discreet Carry Concepts metal clips. The combo of the clips and holster is a match made in heaven, and I can’t find myself recommending another holster for carrying a weapon light-equipped pistol in the appendix position (especially for lefties like me-it’s an ambi design!). Even without a foam wedge that I like using, the gun still concealed very well with a magwell. It is a heavier gun, and the weight was noticeable even compared to my non-weaponlight 226 or 229 that I am used to carrying.
I am not LE or .mil, so I will not comment on viability for duty use, but on a sturdy belt carried strong side OWB, I could see the utility for someone dedicated to the platform.
I have to comment on the ease of calling shots with this gun. Especially with the extra weight of the light, I found calling shots to be easy. The confidence combo of knowing how accurate the gun is, and seeing the dot lift from the POA, I could confidently take shots and know where on the target they hit. This is such an advantage in a match setting, allowing you to leave a position knowing where your hits were. In a duty/self defense situation, calling your shots even when clothing, concealment, or other factors prevent you from seeing hits on someone is such an advantage.
While I have been singing the praises of the Chambers gun for most of the article, you will not simply purchase this gun and begin shooting on some higher level. When I didn’t get a proper grip on the gun, it bounced around and I would lose the dot and have to slow down. The gun still functioned, but if you do not do your part, the gun will not grab you and drag you across the finish line. If I shanked a shot through pre-ignition push, I would still miss (maybe just a bit closer to center due to the shot breaking a bit faster than other guns). Simply put: the gun (any gun) will not solve bad shooting habits or other issues.
A good shooter will familiarize themselves with this gun (should you end up purchasing one), and I think you will see results similar to mine; increased accuracy and slight increases in performance. If someone attempts to buy skill they have not gotten through practice by getting this gun, it will likely be a disappointment.
If you are looking for a custom crafted machine from someone who truly understands the 1911/2011 system, one that is amazingly accurate, incredibly reliable, and a work of art to look at, I can’t think of anywhere better to turn than a Chamber’s Custom 1911 or 2011.