I Carry: Nighthawk Custom Thunder Ranch Combat Special in a Milt Sparks Holster

posted on April 3, 2020
Nighthawk Custom Thunder Ranch Combat Special (MSRP: $3,399)
 
I already know this video is going attract the 1911 naysayers, those who would “never own such an expensive firearm,” and of course a barrage of “Boomer” comments. I say, bring it on, because this is without question one of the best-shooting, best-looking and most comfortable carry rigs likely to be featured in this series—and, deep down, I know you’d all love to have one.

Starting off, we’ve got a really cool collaboration between Nighthawk Custom and Clint and Heidi Smith of Thunder Ranch, dubbed the Combat Special. It’s a custom 1911 hand-built from fully machined components, but there is a lot of old-school cool built into an otherwise very modern rendition of the platform. 

Some of the standout features include the gold-bead front sight paired with the tactical-ledge rear; the wide, angled cocking serrations fore and aft, the nub-style thumb safety, and the inclusion of a lanyard loop in the checkered mainspring housing. Also, the Smoked-Nitride finish paired with the dark-green, linen micarta stocks give the gun a very cool, almost aged appearance, but of course they actually add to the guns durability and utility.

It’s a gun I’ve tested extensively for American Rifleman, and I can attest to its accuracy and reliability in both .45 ACP and 9 mm Luger, as I have today.
 
Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 (MSRP: $135)
 
The Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 is truly one of the classic holster designs, particularly when it comes to IWB carry. It's a fairly low-riding rig with an FBI-style cant and two leather straps with snaps for belt retention. Featuring distinctive, rough-out cowhide construction, I’ve found also helps anchor, through friction, the holster into position. Other features include the sewn-in sight rails, the extended garment or skin guard, reinforced mouth, which ensure the holster doesn’t collapse after the firearm has been drawn.

Since capacity is often cited as a shortcoming of M1911 platforms, I’ve also got two #17 Magazine Carriers (MSRP: $65) which ride close and comfortably, and bring on-body ammunition up to 30 rounds. And, just to stay on-theme, all the leather is stamped with the Thunder Ranch logo
 
Buck 112 Slim Pro Folder (MSRP: $100)
 
Rounding out the lineup is a knife that I’ve personally carried for more than a year, the Buck Knives model 112 Slim Pro Folder. Based on the classic 112 Ranger, the Slim Pro does away with the Ranger’s heavier handles and bolsters in favor of G10 or Micarta panels. The knife is a lock-back design with a 3-inch, stainless steel blade, bilateral thumb studs and a reversible pocket clip. With a weight of less than 3 ounces, it’s an ideal everyday carry companion.

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