Nighthawk 10mm Heinie Long Slide

By Oleg Volk

A Formidable Tool for Hunt and Defense

The Nighthawk Heinie Long Slide 10mm pistol is the logical conclusion for the long development of the semi-automatic hunting pistol. A high-performing, non-mainstream cartridge makes the most sense in a weapon that makes the most of its potential accuracy and terminal performance. With most 10mm auto loads, performance gains beyond 6-inch barrels are minimal, while handling longer pistols becomes less convenient. The 40-ounce weight in a self-loading action is sufficient to tame the kick of full-power hunting ammunition, and the long radius of tritium sights permits careful alignment for deliberate shots.

A typical hunting revolver suffers either from burdensome weight or from excessive recoil. Self-loading pistols along the lines of the original, slimmer .357Mag and .41AE Desert Eagle solved the weight and the recoil problems at the expense of bulky grip and fat slide. At 1.4-inch maximum width and only 0.9 inch in the slide, Heinie Long Slide is comfortable to carry and hold in hand. It can be reliably fired one-handed without concern over stove-piping from a loose grip—the extra inch of slide and three pounces over the standard M1911A1 producing a rather better-behaved gun. The choice of chambering makes good sense because of the sheer variety of specialized loads available, from very fast expanding and frangible bullets for medium game, to controlled expansion projectiles for large game up close, to highly penetrative hardcast or jacketed solids for punching through thick skulls or gristle plates of dangerous species. The relatively mild muzzle flip permits the entire 9+1 ammunition reserve to be expended rapidly and accurately. While 10mm Auto is “just a pistol cartridge,” it performs as well as or better than the classic 44-40 loaded full strength and fired from a carbine.

On the light side, the 10mm is loaded with 135gr to 155gr frangible or highly expanding bullets loaded up to 1600 fps from the 6-inch barrel. While producing moderate muzzle flip, these loads are fairly bright and flashy. On the heavy side, 230gr flat point, hardcast bullets approaching 1200fps punch deep straight-line holes; just the recipe for getting a hostile bear or hog to stop dead in its tracks. While long for a pistol, the Long Slide 10mm is tremendously easier to keep close to hand and to deploy while climbing rocks or hiking cross-country. The mid-range 175-180gr loads are available with a wide variety of projectiles and in two power levels: one matching 40S&W; the other closer to the true 1983 Norma specifications for 10mm Auto. The difference is about 300 fps, with the corresponding improvement in terminal performance at the expense of frequency of follow-up shots. For social purposes, the lighter loads may well be preferable.

From my perspective, the 10mm Long Slide fits the definition of a serviceable all-around sidearm. Meant for hard use, it is finished with corrosion-resistant, hard black nitriding. The recoil is moderate enough to permit extensive practice, and the ammunition, while not mainstream, is readily available and fairly easy to reload thanks to the straight case. For a 6-foot, 1-inch person, the extra inch of slide length poses no issues with quick unholstering, while the improved balance and sight radius make accurate, rapid shooting practical. Having shot much less expensive single and double stack 1911-type competitors of the Nighthawk, I learned that they do not have either the rested or free-standing accuracy of the Heinie model. While some ammunition shot smaller groups than others, it’s very clear that the mechanical accuracy of this pistol is superior to the ability of most shooters. Unlike many accurized 1911s, Heinie uses a conventional, easy-to-take-down short guide rod, proving by example that a full-length guide rod isn’t required for match accuracy.

With the budget-grade alternatives, the pistol was very much the limiting factor; with the Heinie Long Slide, it was the shooter’s skill. Excellent adjustable Trijicon three-dot sights and crisp 4-pound trigger definitely help. The sight configuration on the test pistol uses same-size tritium inserts ringed prominently with white, which makes the front sight seem smaller relative to the closer rear dots for best accuracy. The currently offered Heinie uses two-dot sight optimized more for speed, suggesting that defensive focus has won over its hunting uses with likely buyers. Having carried this pistol, as well as a Glock 41, GP X-Caliber, .357 Coonan and Guncrafter Industries 50GI Long Slide, I can attest that the sturdy belt and good holster make the minor weight and length difference from the regular M1911 to be completely unnoticeable. And, when the time comes to put bullets on a target, these longer pistols allow repeated accurate hits more easily and quickly.

Nighthawk offers extensive customization options. For sights, fiber optic, gold bead front and tall with tritium for suppressed use are available. An optional threaded barrel is also available. Given the mechanical accuracy of this pistol, the option to install an RMR red dot sight is quite helpful, especially for hunting at extended ranges. Other noteworthy upgrades include serrations for reducing glare off the top and the rear of the slide. Since the pistol comes without dust cover rails, Crimson Trace laser grips would be a helpful feature, for defensive use in particular. For those who prefer a front-mounted light or laser, a rail is available as an option. An ambidextrous safety upgrade is also available.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N8 (October 2017)
and was posted online on August 18, 2017


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