Return Of The Baby Eagle

The 10-shot compact .45 ACP from Magnum Research.

Following the acquisition of Magnum Research by Kahr Arms and emergence of Israel Weapons Industries as a private entity separate from the government owned Israel Military Industries, the Baby Eagle is again available in the United States. The Baby Eagle is imported in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP with a total of 11 variations on the basic CZ 75-based theme.

The line includes full-size pistols, semi-compacts and compact models as well as a choice of metal or polymer frames. Baby Eagles are a variant of the IWI Jericho pistol and while some imported versions of the Jericho have frame-mounted safeties, the Eagles have historically featured slide-mounted, hammer-drop safeties and this remains the case with the current imports. Since the .45 ACP is of particular interest to American shooters, this is the model we chose to review.

The .45 is a semi-compact with the only frame option being steel. Basic function is double action first shot and single action thereafter. Applying the safety drops the hammer whereupon the safety remains engaged until released by upward rotation. With the safety engaged, the slide travels freely allowing maximum safety when chambering a round. Since the pistol has an internal passive firing-pin block, the half-cock step is supernumerary unless the shooter elects to carry the pistol with the hammer in this position to reduce the length of the initial double-action pull. This is a jarring concept to users of traditional Browning-type single actions but, due to the positive, trigger-actuated firing-pin block, it is a viable option.

The sample Eagle came with a 12-pound double-action and 5-pound single-action trigger. Closely spaced double-to-single-action pairs were quite controllable and landed center-mass on the B27 target out to 15 yards. Shooting 1-handed, slow-fire at 25 yards, I found the weight of the single action challenging and never quite overcame a tendency to anticipate my trigger release and toss the occasional stray out into the 8-ring of the B27. The all-steel construction and a well-configured grip had the expected positive influence on recoil and recovery with the premium +P ammunition on hand. The pistol functioned 100 percent with the assortment of loads ranging from CorBon 160-grain DPX, designed with moderate recoil in mind, to loads from CorBon, Black Hills and Buffalo Bore with a variety of 185-grain bullets. Buffalo Bore supplied a 230-grain +P JHP.

I also had a supply of the very interesting Black Bear Protection load from Buffalo Bore. All of the 185-grain loads produced velocities that were about what would be expected from full-sized pistols chambered for .45 ACP. The Buffalo Bore Bear load features a 255-grain lead flat point intended for the .45 Colt revolver which, before the moderating influence of the Cowboy Action game, was listed at 870 fps. The Buffalo Bore load fired from the 3.9″ Baby Eagle trumped the old Colt load by 49 fps.
The slide inertia provided by the double recoil spring system seemed unremarkable but spent cases from all the loads took a flat trajectory from the port and landed a surprising 25′ to 30′ distant. By contrast, the final cases, ejected over an empty magazine follower impacted the port, landed only a few feet away and were mutilated beyond the ability of a sizing die to return them to use. Nevertheless, the pistol delivered perfect reliability and the 25-yard benchrest groups were within expectations, ranging from 1.7″ to 2.5″. Maintaining the usual Patridge sight picture with the front blade centered and level with the top of the rear sight, this pistol hit several inches low at 25 yards. When I aligned the white dot array on the sights, point of impact was centered both to windage and elevation.

Dismounting for routine cleaning requires retracting the slide until dots on the slide and frame align and then pushing the slide stop out right to left. Recoil spring/guide rod assembly and then barrel are lifted out in the usual manner and the whole thing goes back together without any surprises.

Holsters makers usually list their models as IWI Jericho/Baby Desert Eagle. The Zahal online store has several models specifically listed for this pistol and Fobus lists an adjustable, kydex paddle holster.

Historically, the Israeli Arms Industry and Magnum research are highly regarded by their customers for the design and execution of their products. Both concerns have a good track record of after-sale customer support as does the new Magnum Research parent company, Kahr Arms.

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