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Thread: Nighthawk Custom Vickers Tactical by Western Arms

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  1. #1
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    Nighthawk Custom Vickers Tactical by Western Arms

    We all know that the Nighthawk Custom Vickers Tactical was the fruit of collaboration between the nice folks at Nighthawk Custom and Larry Vickers, a decorated veteran that served his country for over 20 years as a Green Beret and member of the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force.

    Most of you members also know that I happen to be the lucky owner of a lovely Nighthawk Custom John Caradimas Talon Special , a special NHC model, made to my specs by the Nighthawk team and one of the very few NHC pistols made, which is entirely treated with Black Diamond, the famous treatment that is both extremely durable, hard wearing and self-lubricating.



    Since I have fallen in love with my Talon, ever since I first touched it, and since it is almost impossible for me to ever be able to get another Nighthawk pistol due to the interesting Greek Laws, it was very difficult for me not to order this airsoft version of the famous Vickers Tactical from Western Arms, as soon as I saw it in WA's site.

    So my friend Mike Cripps at Elite Shooting Center received an order for a NHC Vickers Tactical, which soon arrived at my door.

    Upon opening the usual brown box in which the SCW3 pistols are packaged these days, this is what I found inside.





    OK, to be honnest, this was not what I found inside. The Vickers was delivered with the same ugly, egg-shell like grips that the Kimbers MARSOC was shipped with (see the MARSOC picture below).



    These grips look so fake, that they had to go, even before I bothered shooting the pistol, that's why I do not have a picture of the Vickers with these grips on it. Thank God, I had a set of original Nighthawk grips, the ones with which my Talon was shipped to me, so I decided to use these on the Vickers. One small problem: the ugly egg-shell grips are hollow on their back side, to conceal a pair of weights, which give the airsoft model the heavy weight of the real pistol. Without them, the pistol feels very muzzle-heavy and light, so I had to find a way to install those weights inside the real Nighthawk grips. Well, some time spend with the good, old Dremel, made a cavity at the back of the real grips, to house the weights.



    With the grips issue resolved, I started studying my new acquisition.

    First impressions: the WA Vickers looks very much like a reak NHC pistol treated in Black Diamond.



    The Nighthawk emblem and the Vickers logo are clearly marked on the left and right side of the slide.



    The slide stop, trigger, thumb safety, hammer and grip safety are also very authentic, just like on the real pistol we have tested in our E-zine. Even the stupid red dot on the slide, next to the safety notch is there (why? Who knows, I've never met Larry personally to ask him why he felt this was a necessary feature of this pistol). One thing that really got me puzzled, was that this airsoft model had the same serial number with the Vickers Tactical we tested in the E-zine, LV00024!!! Did Western Arms used our review for making this pistol?? Then they owe us!! LoRL.



    So is the characteristic treatment at the muzzle end, with the barrel being cut flush with the bushing and crowned towards the inside. The recoil spring cap is also flat at the front, with no checkering, just like on the real pistol.



    The top of the slide is serrated (just like on my Talon),

    In the picture above, you can also see one of the two features of the pistol, which is not authentic with the real Vickers, the thumb safety. Western Arms has used the same safety they install on their Wilson models, not at all the same as the one on the Nighthawks. I think I found the proper safety in an airsoft site in HK, so Mike is going to try and get it for me.



    while the frame's front strap is checkered. Note the taller than normal mag release button, just like on the NHC uses on the real gun. The second, not authentic feature of the pistol, is this adjusting screw inside the trigger. The real Vickers doesn't come with that screw, its trigger is adjustable for overtravel only from the inside (gunsmith adjustment).



    The rear sight is a Novak fixed one, with two white dots. The rear of the slide is also serrated, just like on the real pistol.....



    while the front one is also a dovetailed Novak sight, with a white dot. The only problem with this sight, was that the edges of its base were left square, which of course is not something NHC does on their guns. So I removed the sight from the pistol and filed down its edges to match the curvature of the slide. Some Birchwood Aluminum Black was used to make the sight look good again.



    The pistol's magwell is also treated in a manner very similar to the one on the real Vickers Tactical...



    and it also incorporates a lanyard pin, just like the real one.



    Two final touches, just like on the real pistol. The serial number is inscribed inside an oval shape, while the edge of the slide stop on the right side is machined slightly flat.

    Finally, the magazine supplied is also looking exactly like the real Nighthawk magazines, and holds 23 BBs.

    Overall, the pistol looks very much like the real Vickers Tactical we tested in our E-zine. If the egg-shell grips were green instead of the stupid sand color, if the thumb safety was of the proper shape and if the front sight was rounded on its edges, it would be a perfect copy of the real Vickers Tactical as it came from the box. What more could one ask for? (The answer is an airsoft version of the T3, but that's another story).

    Please proceed to Page 2 of our review.

    [break]

    Disassembly

    Nothing strange here, the pistol (just like the real one) comes with a short guide rod, so it is stripped very much like any other WA 1911.



    Pull the slide back until the slide disassembly notch is aligned with the slide release, and press the slide release out, from the right side of the frame. As it happens with most Western Arms 1911s, the slide stop can be a pain to remove, use the bottom of the magazine to press it in, if it is really stubborn. Then, remove the slide from the frame, remove the guide rod and spring and finally remove the recoil spring cap from the rear of the slide. Rotate the barrel bushing counterclockwise and remove it and then the barrel can be removed from the front of the slide. Reassembly is in reverse order.



    Shooting

    I shot the Vickers expecting the results to be the same with any other Western Arms pistol I've tried and I was fully rewarded. Accuracy was in the 2-3" grouping, if the shooter did his part.



    Powerwise, the Vickers was again the same as almost all other Western Arms pistols, the fired BB penetrated one side of the can, burst the other side, but didn't exited.


    Overall

    I liked the Vickers Tactical. I believe it is one of the most authentic looking 1911 pistols produced by Western Arms, and if you can't afford to buy the real thing (and at $3,250 it's not really a very affordable pistol) or if Nighthawk won't build them any more (they have announced that this pistol will soon be dropped from their line), the Western Arms model is a nice replacement.

    Maybe, when I get rich, I'll invest in a full-metal kit for this gun. It surely deserves it, but the few kits made for it cost in excess of 400 Euros (about 600$), so I am not sure I am willing to spend that much money for a frame/slide kit.

    Note on Gas

    With all Western Arms pistols, you are supposed to use the HFC 134A gas. Using Green gas in them, will cause problems, premature wear etc. HFC 134A is giving slightly less performance (lower BB speed), when compared to Green Gas. Green Gas should not be used in unaltered pistols made in Japan, like the WA ones.

    With the above warning noted, I have to admit that I am testing all pistols using ... propane. Green Gas is in reality propane, with a little silicone oil added, to lubricate the pistols. So instead of paying for Green Gas, I bought a canister of propane, like the ones sold in US for the camping stoves, or flame torches, and a special valve adaptor, which allows me to use the much cheaper propane instead of Green Gas. In this site, you can read more on this issue:

    http://www.airsoft-innovations.com

    The reason I am ignoring the manufacturer's recommendation, as far as gas is concerned, is two-fold. First, I want to have consistent environment for all the tests (some of the pistols we'll test here use HFC 134A, some use Green Gas), and second it's plain difficult to find HFC 134A in Greece. Also, I plan to upgrade all the standard pistols (like this one) so that it is safe to use Green Gas (and thus propane) with them.

    Rating

    Accuracy: 3
    Upgradeability: 4
    Training Capability: 5
    Realism: 5
    Quality: 5
    Power: 2

    Overall: 24
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 08:22.


  2. #2
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    Very cool "propane" pistol. The detail really is great. I heard that Vickers was dropping his name from the NH team, who knows if its true or not but I was told that. Maybe you have a collector there. Enjoy. Now take your 4X4 out and play in the snow.

  3. #3
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    I was really astonished to see that this pistol had the same serial number as the one we tested in our E-zine some months ago! That was really funny!

    And yes, I took the kids up in the rear-by hill for some off-roading, not much snow though. We got some more this afternoon, but again, nothing to write home about.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 17th February 2008 at 13:11.


  4. #4
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    John:

    As I have a Vickers Tactical from Nighthawk, I would love to aquire this airsoft version. I can't find a U.S. distributor with them on the internet. I did find this company in Hong Kong: UNCOMPANY

    Are you familiar with them or could you recommend another source for this pistol (that ships to the U.S.)?

    Thanks!

  5. #5
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    I would go with :

    Guns & Guys: http://www.gunsnguys.com/home_ns.htm

    WGC Shop: http://www.wgcshop.com/

    Never bought anything from UNCompany before.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John
    I would go with :

    Guns & Guys: http://www.gunsnguys.com/home_ns.htm

    WGC Shop: http://www.wgcshop.com/

    Never bought anything from UNCompany before.
    Thanks for your help!

  7. #7
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    I love how you describe the laws with the word 'interesting'.. I'm sure you can think of more colorful wording

    I'm going to have to have a word with the Elite Shooting Center, maybe they can ship to Norway without the ugly colors the UK authorities are mandating nowadays..

  8. #8
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    I am sure they can, the colorful guns are for UK only. If the gun is sold abroad, it doesn't have to be ... the Pamela Anderson Glock.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  9. #9
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    UNCompany is a very safe company to order from. I have purchased more than a few pistols from them in the past.

    For US Customs they use a decent orange only on the outer barrel, and they can putty the trademarks. Some time in the sun and it peals right off. Since the Vickers is an approved copy (I do believe) you can also have them ship it with nothing covering the trademarks.

  10. #10
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    I do not know if they will ship to US or not, but in general I have heard good things about them. Did you try our Sponsor Airsoft Extreme? They may be able to help. Call them and ask for either Andrew or Peter. Tell them who send you.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

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