When one thinks of revolvers, the name Korth does not usually spring to mind. Maybe it should.
Located in Ratzeburg, Germany, this arms maker has been producing extremely high quality revolvers for about 50 years. People who want the best revolver, and who can afford to pay for one, often choose Korth because of the company’s reputation for making fine guns.
According to Korth’s website, about 70 percent of the operations performed in the manufacturing of its revolvers are done by human hands. The remaining 30 percent are done by machine. Korth says its guns are flawless.
Nighthawk Custom has not been around as long as Korth, but Nighthawk’s reputation has grown to where it is now considered one of the finest custom gunsmithing shops in the U.S. Nighthawk is proud that its guns also are created by skilled gunsmiths and not just assemblers who take parts and put them together.
However, Nighthawk’s specialty has primarily been building 1911s. Now working with Korth, Nighthawk has entered the high-quality revolver market.
These Korth Nighthawk revolvers are made with fully machined parts that are hand fitted by Korth in Germany and then shipped to Nighthawk in Arkansas where they are tested and inspected to ensure they meet Nighthawk’s standards. Although Nighthawk’s gunsmiths are capable of building the revolvers in Arkansas, they take advantage of Korth’s expertise and act as a second and final inspection point before a customer takes delivery.
Why a Revolver?
While the time when revolvers dominated the handgun market has passed, many shooters still want a high-quality revolver with a smooth action and features that set it apart from the typical mass-produced specimen. Korth revolvers certainly fit that niche.
At first glance, the similarity to Smith & Wesson revolvers is obvious but that similarity is primarily cosmetic. When pulling the Korth trigger it becomes clear this is not a typical revolver. Korth’s strays from the S&W design with a trigger wheel that greatly reduces friction and results in an extremely smooth, nearly stack-free pull. But while most Korth owners are satisfied with the pull, some shooters want a trigger that can be staged just before let-off. So Korth offers other trigger wheels that alter the trigger pull by introducing some stacking and a staging point to allow a pause in the trigger stroke for the purpose of refining the sight picture.
Another major difference is the quick release cylinder. A button on the right side of the frame just in front of the trigger guard allows the crane/cylinder assembly to be removed from the gun. Open the cylinder, press the button and pull the assembly forward to remove it. This makes cleaning the gun much easier and also allows cylinders to be changed.
As mentioned earlier, the Korth is hand-fitted for the tightest of tolerances. Some parts are machined from billets while others are machined from forgings, but all are hand-fitted during final assembly. This makes for an elegant, smooth shooting revolver.
A Mongoose with a 3-inch barrel was received for testing, but the gun is also available with a 5.25-, 6- or standard 4-inch barrel. The gun is chambered in .357 Magnum, so .38 Special rounds also can be fired. The advantage of shooting .38 Special is lower cost and less recoil, although the recoil when shooting .357 Magnum rounds was not punishing in the least.
This Mongoose came with an optional 9mm Luger crane/cylinder assembly that had been fitted to the gun. The frame of the gun bears a serial number, and the .357 Magnum cylinder has a matching serial number. The 9mm Luger cylinder has a different serial number, but the serial number of the gun to which it is fitted is imprinted on the crane.
Changing cylinders to switch cartridges took less than five seconds. With the extra cylinder it’s possible to practice with low recoiling and inexpensive 9mm ammunition. And thanks to a special extractor with claws that extend from the extractor star to hook the rim of the cartridge case when the ejector rod is pressed, moon clips are not necessary. The extra cylinder is a particularly nice feature, but it’s expensive.
As is expected, the fit and finish on the Mongoose were outstanding, except for the Hogue monogrip that had some proud spots. That is certainly not a criticism of the gun, it’s just that the grip is a mass produced product that can’t really be fitted to the gun like other parts can be. The gun has a smooth matte black finish called Diamond Like Carbon (DLC). It is extremely corrosion resistant, very hard and has low friction characteristics. It looks great.
When shooting single action with the hammer cocked, the trigger broke cleanly at just over 3 pounds with no grit or take-up and no overtravel. In double action, the pull weight measured just under 9 pounds using a spring gauge. There was some barely discernible stacking, but the pull was extremely smooth followed by a sudden break. If needed, the trigger pull weight and overtravel can be adjusted with a screwdriver.
The trigger face is polished smooth and the hammer spur has an unusual shape with holes in it to reduce weight and add visual appeal. When the trigger is pressed, the hammer springs forward and strikes the frame-mounted, spring-loaded firing pin. But then the hammer springs back a fraction of an inch and is blocked so it cannot strike the firing pin unless the trigger is released and again pulled.
The cylinder release is in the usual place, on the left side just behind the recoil shield. It is pushed forward to release the cylinder, and the rear face is grooved to lessen the chance that the finger slips. The ejector rod has a cone-shaped end that is not abrasive to the skin when it is sharply slapped to eject spent casings. And the stroke is long enough that most of the time, depending on the loads used, even the longer .357 Magnum brass was fully ejected.
The underlug extends the full length of the 3-inch Lothar Walther barrel, which has polygonal rifling with a 1-in-16-inch left-hand twist. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation by turning screws, and sports a .160-inch-wide square notch while the .157-inch-wide front blade has a genuine gold bead. That gold bead is classic and will not tarnish like a brass bead can. Also, it seems to glint, and even in low light will reflect any light in the area making it a sort of night sight. Whether using the gun for self defense or target shooting, there is enough light on each side of the front sight to make sight picture acquisition fast enough for emergencies, and yet there is not so much light that centering the front sight in the rear notch for precision shooting is difficult.
Frankly, this gun shoots more accurately than I can. I just couldn’t get the accuracy out of it that it is capable of. Nighthawk test fires each gun at 15 yards off a bench and includes the test target to attest to the accuracy. The group size measured .10 inch. The best I could do off the bench at the same distance was .44 inch. Still pretty good, but the guy they have at Nighthawk who test fires these guns must be part machine rest. Overall average group sizes in my tests ranged from 1.20 inches up to 1.99 inches at 15 yards.
A word of caution though, and this is also expressed in Korth’s instruction manual: Tolerances are so close that care must be taken to keep the gun clean, and this means that any unburned powder that gets under the extractor star can keep cartridges from fully seating in the cylinder. During testing, a few times it was not possible to close the loaded cylinder before brushing beneath the extractor star to remove debris.
Korth revolvers are suitable for self defense or competition, and Korth Nighthawk has three offerings. The Sky Hawk 9mm starts at $1,699 and is a short barreled snubby. The Mongoose reviewed here starts at $3,499, although with the extra cylinder is listed at $4,449. Then there is the Super Sport in .357 Magnum which is a competition gun with many special features including rails on top and both sides. It has a rear sight that includes an adjustment for the width of the rear notch and four preset elevation adjustments. The Super Sport starts at $4,799.
If you have some well-off customers, you should tell them about these guns. And even some who are not so well off may just feel the need to scrape together enough money to get one.
A former Contributing and Field Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine, Doug Larson’s articles have appeared in many top firearm publications. He has completed hundreds of hours of firearm and self defense training provided by some of the finest world class gun fighting instructors and schools. He has experience with handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns and other crew served weapons.
Featured image: Nighthawk Korth