The world is full of unfortunate truths. However, as adults, we learn to accept most of them before taking the steps to persevere. One of the hardest pills to swallow is the idea that if you want luxury, you’re going to have to pay for it. But when it comes to firearms, revolvers like the Nighthawk Korth Ranger are oh so worth it.
The Nighthawk Korth Ranger .357 Magnum
Nobody likes to settle because, at the end of the day, you’re left with that feeling of missing out. Taking a road trip is fun, but it’ll never replace that remote island you wanted to visit or sitting poolside on that fancy ocean liner.
Nothing feels better than pooling all your pennies together and harpooning that white whale. And for many in the firearms realm, that white whale is a Korth revolver.
Like many high-dollar brands, I hadn’t yet heard of Korth until my first Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous. However, I was intimately familiar with Nighthawk Customs. The two have an interesting relationship as both shops operate on the “one gun, one gunsmith” model. But they are located more than 4,500 miles apart from one another.
The owners of each respective entity had barely heard of each other before they were introduced. Yet an instant feeling of kinship was generated from that first handshake, which ultimately led to a symbiotic relationship. Korth wanted their revolvers to reach the US market in the same condition they left Germany. So, the company turned to Nighthawk to accomplish the task.
The guns that make the journey are evaluated and tested before their departure and then again when they arrive. This is an expensive process, as it employs not just one master gunsmith but two.
Down to the Details
Regardless of sticker price, each Korth gets this treatment. And since each gun represents a substantial investment, models exist with different feature sets to ensure money is only spent on what the prospective owner explicitly wants.
An opulent lineup indeed, one revolver is built to a more modest price point while offering the best features associated with Korth Revolvers. This gun is known as The Ranger. After shooting it at the 2023 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous, I knew I needed to work with one back home.
The Ranger is your quintessential 4-inch .357 Magnum revolver, but it is far from ordinary. Its handmade pedigree imparts a fit and finish that can only be appreciated by top-tier wheelgun aficionados.
The easiest way to explain this is to start with the trigger, which is a work of art in itself. Your typical production revolver will have an element of grittiness to its double-action press. Furthermore, the weight required to push it through its entire path will typically begin to stack up. Thus causing it to get tougher as you complete your squeeze.
Each Korth features proprietary internals to stave off both of these maladies. As a result, comes a trigger press that is butter smooth and consistent throughout its travel. In single action, it breaks like a dry twig and is free of any pre- or over-travel. This rounds out the package nicely.
Running an Optic on the Korth Ranger
Along the Ranger’s top strap, you’ll find Picatinny slotting—ideal for a red-dot optic or even a compact pistol scope. The hardest decision Ranger owners need to make is whether to take advantage of this feature or stick with the factory sights. They, too, are like no other.
The front sight is built with a pair of removable protectors. These are important, considering it is crowned with a solid-gold bead. Between its shine and the bracketing effect of the guards, I found it was inherently easy to spot and center within the rear sight.
As you might expect, the rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. So, precision can be had with whatever sighting system you decide on.
As I’m starting to warm up to red dots, I decided to mount a Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec M3. Those who enjoy electronics will be pleased to know that the underside of the barrel also contains some Picatinny slots. Thus allowing for lights, lasers, or the next big craze with a set of buttons to come along.
Feeding the Ranger
One of my favorite parts about shooting the Ranger is that there is a 9mm Luger cylinder available for it. This allows you to shoot low-cost, low-recoil ammunition through it with the literal press of a button. Furthermore, it doesn’t require moon clips, making it just as simple, if not simpler, to feed.
As a native .357 Magnum, it can also accept .38 Special cartridges. So, I had my ammo considerations already cut out for me.
The typical user is only going to turn to .357 for protective work. So, I decided on Hornady’s Critical Defense load. These are built with an elastomer-filled hollow-point cavity that resists clogging and initiates an explosive expansion.
Classic .38 Special is a good balance between target and defense, so I chose ammunition that was likewise. Fiocchi’s Defense Dynamic load delivers a conventional jacketed-hollow point bullet at moderate velocities. This makes them soft on the wrist but hard on an attacker. They also come in 50-round boxes, allowing you to dump most at the range while retaining a cylinder or two for emergencies.
Lastly, I chose Federal’s Syntech Training Match for my 9mm ammo. Since the other two have self-defense covered, I figured it would be best to experiment with a dedicated target load.
Hitting the Range
I began my evaluation by zeroing the M-Spec and completing a formal accuracy test. Here, I realized just how much work went into the design of the Turkish Walnut grip.
Aside from detailed finger grooves, a sloped thumb relief was cut into each side to accommodate shooters of either dexterity. Ergonomic palm swells were also present to occupy any free space within your grasp. This helps you control the gun during your trigger press.
Shooting each shot in single action also gave me an opportunity to enjoy the equally smooth cocking mechanism. My groups were excellent for ammunition that wasn’t built for dedicated match purposes. This left me interested in developing a handload for it somewhere down the line.
There’s nothing wrong with spending a morning punching paper. However, being that my sample came with the optional two-port compensator, I wanted to do something a little more dynamic.
Moving over to the plate rack, I ran several cylinders of ammunition through the Ranger. I was trying to beat my best time shooting the Nighthawk Korth Ranger in double action. Although I’m no Jerry Miculek, I did better with this gun than I have with any others in the past.
Felt recoil was minimal, especially with the 9mm loads. Additionally, I appreciated the placement of the cylinder release, which was easier to operate up top than on the side.
Final Thoughts on the Korth Ranger
Like many others, my test ended when I fired my last round of ammunition—four hundred, to be exact. Throughout the process, I didn’t experience a single stuck cylinder, an issue in timing, or even a tough extraction on a fired case. Considering all of the parts involved, particularly in the 9mm conversion cylinder, that is quite a feat.
There are plenty of revolvers out there that can make this claim. However, nothing can do so with the elegance and class of a Korth. Guns like the Ranger aren’t going to be for everyone. But if you’re between buying one or saving the money for a vacation, go ahead and pull the trigger.
For more information, please visit NighthawkCustom.com.
Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec M3 Solar
Blew your wad on the gun? That’s okay; quality optics don’t cost what they used to anymore. Sightmark’s new Mini Shot M-Spec M3 got the job done for a song, fetching an MSRP of only $359.
Aside from crystal-clear glass and a crisp dot, this gets you all of the most popular features. This includes automatic brightness adjustment, perpetual illumination, and even a solar backup system.
Sightmark includes a Picatinny adapter, which made installation effortless on my Korth Ranger. Without this adapter, the M3 can be directly mounted to anything bearing the RMS-C footprint.
I ran the optic without the battery installed and enjoyed uninterrupted service, even on my cloudy range day. Rated for recoil up to .45 ACP, it handled the braked .357 with ease and retained its zero through the entire course of fire. With a street price of around $299, needless to say, I was impressed.
For more information, please visit Sightmark.com.
Nighthawk Korth Ranger Specs
|.357 Magnum/9mm Luger (with conversion)
|Adjustable rear notch; Fixed front gold bead
|$4799 (Base Model)
|Federal 124 Syntech Training Match TSJ 9mm Luger
|Fiocchi 148 Defense Dynamics JHP .38 Spl
|Hornady 125 Critical Defense FTX .357 Mag
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second, and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups from 15 yards.