The history of concealed carry is the history of the “little big gun”—the downsized handgun that’s small enough to be carried easily, yet still potent enough to actually stop a fight. From the short-barreled Shopkeeper’s Model of the Single Action Army .45 to more modern offerings like the Glock 36, there’s a unspoken understanding that big guns don’t get carried and little guns don’t stop fights. The first hurdle is making a large caliber pistol that actually works when downsized, but that’s generally been overcome—there are plenty of little M1911’s on the market that lob .45 bullets with greater reliability than we have any right to expect. Since the butt of the gun is the hard part to hide, perhaps the best of them are those that combine a short grip with a medium-sized barrel and slide.
Nighthawk Custom’s latest entry into the field is their T3, which combines the frame size of an Officer’s (which is half of an inch shorter than a standard Government Model frame) with a Commander-length slide and barrel. About 0.75 of an inch shorter than a full-size M1911, the 4.25-inch Commander top end offers a superior sight radius and better recoil control (as well as reliability) than the 3- and 3.5-inch guns. And while I say that the pistol offers less recoil than a shorter gun, let’s remember that we’re still talking about a .45 ACP, and it will kick when it goes off. Enter the T3 Comp, an integrally compensated .45 from Nighthawk that takes the T3 platform and makes it easier to manage. Cloaked in a matte black Perma Kote finish, the T3 Comp has all the features of the T3, and all of the craftsmanship you’d expect from a Nighthawk pistol.
The question of whether or not a compensator belongs on a carry gun is a complicated one: there’s no doubt that they reduce recoil significantly, making for faster follow-up shots. If fired in semi-darkness, however, the flash is blinding, and in extremely close quarters, the vertical blast from the ports can be very dangerous. If you choose to use one, you should use a carry load specifically designed to offer reduced flash, and adjust your training to make sure the top of the gun is always canted outboard when held close to the body. For purposes here, it’s assumed the reader weighed the pros and cons, and decided a comp gun is for them. With this is mind, here is a look at the T3 Comp from the top of the slide down.