art_iwi_j01

By Rob Aught

I once joked that my ideal handgun is a CZ-75 chambered in .45 ACP that costs $1. Well, no handgun costs a buck and CZ doesn’t make the CZ-75 in .45. They do make the CZ-97, which is a great gun if you don’t mind trying to carry a howitzer. The Magnum Research Jericho series, currently called the Baby Eagle II but also known as the Uzi Eagle and Desert Eagle Pistol, is based on the CZ-75 design and takes a lot of lessons from it. The .45 ACP chambering isn’t as much of a compromise as it is in most up-chambered weapons since the original Jericho was designed to fire the now defunct .41 Action Express cartridge. While I’ve always had a fascination with the Jericho series of pistols I still did a great deal of research before making their .45 ACP version my own. Everything looked positive so I took the plunge two years ago . . .

Style:

The Baby Eagle series takes few visual cues from the CZ-75 it’s based on. You’ll notice more similarities with the EAA Witness series but even then, the Baby Eagles look sleeker. Aside from the underbarrel rail mount found on the newer models, there are no real hard angles on this weapon. Due to the slide riding firmly inside the frame, with full length rails no less, the overall design is fairly slim despite the .45 chambering. The .45 version is a little meatier on top, which just gives it some curves versus its supermodel thin 9mm sibling.

Looking closer, there’s nothing radical about the design. The Israelis didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but they wanted to incorporate what they knew would work. Modern Baby Eagles also feature a slide-mounted safety while the originals were frame mounted. The magazine release, slide release lever, and slide release pin aren’t radical designs and probably resemble what you’ve seen on a majority of similar handguns out there. Somehow the Baby Eagle manages to look compelling while at the same time familiar. It’s the exotic foreign girl next door of handguns.

art_iwi_j03

Ergonomics:

Like most CZ-75 derivatives, the Baby Eagle is a natural pointer. The gently curved trigger rests perfectly for easy purchase when the hammer is down. Trigger pull from double action is simple, smooth, but firm. I’ll throw in a disclaimer here: I do have oddball hands with long slim fingers so I can grip the thickest of handguns without a problem. With that in mind, I found the grip of the Baby Eagle to be excellent and comfortable even after extended firing. There is nothing spectacular about the controls, but they should all be familiar to experienced shooters. The slide release lever is firm, but not stubborn and the magazine release is exactly where it should be.

The trigger on the Baby Eagle is outstanding and maybe far better than it ought to be for a gun of its price. As mentioned previously, double-action pulls are smooth, but firm, though not overly long. Firing from single-action also provides a nice smooth trigger pull that can easily sneak up on you. The hammer isn’t completely bobbed, but it’s short enough to not catch on clothing if you were considering the gun for concealed carry. Yet the hammer is also long enough that you can manually engage it easily if you so desired. That’s not something I typically recommend, though, as you can only engage the hammer when the safety is off.

Serrations on the back of the slide make up for how slim it is, which can make it difficult to get a good purchase on when working the action. This is the downside to the slide riding within the frame; it’s almost too thin. Not bad enough that I’d knock it, but its worth noting if you’ve been firing more conventional handguns.

I will, however, knock it for the slide mounted safety. I admit that this is a personal preference, but if a gun will sport a slide-mounted safety, it should only take an easy flick of the thumb to disengage. The Baby Eagle’s safety is a bit smaller than it should be and definitely a little stiffer than it has to be. Fair warning: like many guns the safety acts as a decocker when engaged. That means you can’t carry the Baby Eagle in condition one. The other knock on the BEII is that loading magazines requires you to push very firmly or it won’t catch properly. This is easy to overcome but my son, who was a new shooter, struggled with this and I had to make sure he was seating the magazine properly before he began to shoot.

Accuracy:

The barrel is a tad under the standard 4” and the design is described by Magnum Research as a “semi-compact”. Despite its relatively smaller size, the Baby Eagle produces tight groups for a handgun. At 20 feet I can hit dead center mass or place head shots all day long. I let a friend fire it who doesn’t suffer from my eye problems and he was practically putting rounds on top of each other. I’ve never seen it miss or seem off that wasn’t my fault. This is one of the more accurate centerfire handguns I’ve ever fired.

Reliability:

Roughly half the ammunition fired down the tube has been 230gr Tulammo FMJ’s. I typically shoot the cheap stuff, but I’ve fired a mixture of brands, 185gr, 230gr, FMJ’s, JHP’s, steel and brass and no issues. I stopped keeping close track of how many rounds I’ve fired through the gun somewhere around 600. I would guess I’m still a little shy of 1000 rounds without any problems despite the fact that I typically shoot the dirtiest, nastiest, cheapest ammunition you can find.

Disassembly:

Breaking down a Baby Eagle should be familiar to most experienced shooters. There is a marking on the slide that you line up and then engage the slide release pin, which is actually part of the slide release lever. It does take some work to get out and can be a real bear to disengage. I’d say it was one of the more difficult slide release pins I’ve ever had to disengage. Once you have the slide release pin out, the rest of the gun field strips easily and reassembly is simple.

art_iwi_j04

In Conclusion:

I love my Baby Eagle. It has been an outstanding weapon. Sure, there are a few things I wish it had like a 12-round magazine and a frame-mounted (rather than slide-mounted) safety but there really isn’t any single feature that detracts from what it is. For the most part it does everything well.

If you’re looking at the Baby Eagle series from Magnum Research, it’s worth noting that the .45 ACP only comes in Semi-Compact and doesn’t have a polymer frame version. One other gripe is that among the Baby Eagle series, the .45 ACP version is not well supported. If that’s an issue they do have 9mm and .40 S&W that opens up many other options.

Specifications:

(All the following are the specifications for the Semi-Compact Steel Framed .45 ACP Pistol)

Action: Short recoil locked breech semiautomatic
Trigger: Double-Action/Single-Action
Caliber: .45 ACP
Weight: 37.9 oz.
Length: 7.5in.
Barrel: 3.9 in.
Magazine Capacity: 10 rounds
Sights: 3-dot sights
MSRP: $656 (Street price is usually around $525 to $600)

 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * * *
The original CZ-75 was always like the awkward update to the Browning Hi-Power. I’m happy the Baby Eagle ditches the CZ-75 and Witness stylings to make itself cosmetically similar to the Desert Eagle series. I’d say they failed at making it resemble a Desert Eagle in the least, but the result is still a work of art.

Ergonomics: * * * *
A natural pointer that feels good in the hand and an excellent trigger make for a great firearm. The small and stiff safety switch and stubborn magazine catch means I cannot give it a perfect score.

Reliability: * * * * *
Closing in on 1000 rounds with everything from low grade to high quality ammunition and not a single problem even when used by an inexperienced user. If it had even one failure in over 500 rounds I’d probably still make it a self defense piece but so far I haven’t seen a single malfunction. What more can you ask for without someone subsidizing a 10,000 round test?

Accuracy: * * * * *
Definitely shoots beyond my skills. When I do everything perfect shots go exactly where I want.

Customize This: * * * *
There is a standard rail under the barrel so it can mount quite a few different lights and lasers. There is also a custom stock available for it. Unfortunately, finding a good holster is difficult and your options will be limited. The Baby Eagle can use magazines from the EAA Witness series, which gives it some flexibility but not sure how much benefit it is that it can use magazines from another uncommon series of handguns. Despite some of the flexibility I feel compelled to knock it a star just because of its oddball nature and the difficulty of finding a holster specific to the series.

Overall: * * * *
I’m tempted to say 4 and a half but it feels like cheating. This is a great pistol but between the ergonomic issues and limitations around your options to customize I can’t give it a perfect score in good conscience. If you’re looking for a quality .45 ACP with a DA/SA set-up that won’t break the bank, the Baby Eagle is a fantastic gun.

Recommended For You

41 Responses to Gun Review: Magnum Research Baby Eagle II .45

  1. A great review.

    That being said…..if a buyers considering this gun in . 45,id take the Witness Steel over this model. The Israelis basically license built the Tanfoglio TA90 into the Jericho 941/Baby Eagle :if you search gunbroker you’ll still see the transitional “Israeli Shooting Team” surplus TA90s which pre-dated this piece.

    So, since EAA already imports a perfectly good Witness. 45 which sells for a good $100 less then this one and sports a frame mounted safety permitting cocked and locked carry versus a slide mounted one, I’d go that route personally.

    As an aside- I own the 10mm model Witness Steel, and after 200 rounds of high speed ammo on the stock recoil spring I’ve yet to see any frame or slide cracks.

    • I too own the 10mm model Witness Steel. I have had no problems with mine. My guess is this was an early issue and does not affect newer models. I would recommend the 20# wolff replacement spring for a little less hand pounding.

    • I owned a 9mm Tanfoglio all-steel Witness, and after only 1600 rounds the slide at the ejection port cracked all the way down. I had shot only factory target ammo. Went out and purchased a 9mm PT1911, and never looked back.

  2. I’m not sure what you mean by it’s not supported, particularly with a good score on customization. Would you be able to elaborate?

    • You’ll see on a lot of accessories for the Baby Eagle they will state “Supports/Fits/Works with all versions except .45 ACP”. This goes for a lot of holsters mostly, but also some internal components. The .45 ACP version only comes in Semi-Compact while the other models all have a full-size and compact version. The .45 ACP only comes in all steel where the 9mm and .40 S&W have polymer frame counterparts.

      There is still plenty out there so while I almost downgraded it out of sheer bitterness, the fact is you still have plenty of options. I consider a “5 star” customizability to be something akin to a Glock or 1911 platform. You have options but not THAT many, so no way could I give it a perfect score.

  3. This a great review. The problem it is a review by the owner of the handgun – Mr. Rob Aught and of course Mr. Aught likes this handgun or he wouldn’t have bought it. I also prefer CZ75, EAA-tanfoglio, Baby eagle, SAR K2, Tristar, Canik style framed guns. That said, each person should hold the gun in their hand and shoot it before they buy (IMO).

    • a little less than 2 years later but so what:

      “and of course Mr. Aught likes this handgun or he wouldn’t have bought it.”

      Cause no one every bought a handgun (whether they tried it beforehand or not) and then never decided later they didn’t like it…

  4. My only gripe with the Baby Eagles have always been that bulging backstrap. I simply cannot do it.

  5. Nice review. I wonder if a version without a safety is offered. I don’t want safeties on my self defense handguns.

    I also wish some target shots were included. You gave the gun 5 stars for accuracy without any test target photos or specific mention of group sizes. It isn’t had to put rounds virtually on top of each other / headshots at 20 feet with most handguns other than snub nose revolvers.

      • My understanding is that the frame safeties on Jerichos don’t decock the hammer. You want to decock, you need the slide version.

        Also, you CAN get a frame safety Jericho, but you’ve got to watch Gunbroker like a hawk. Cole’s Distributing (not to be confused with Cope’s) imports a lot of surplus Israeli police guns, and mixed into the shipments are Jerichos of various types. I grabbed a genuine steel IMI Jericho 941F with minimal holster wear, and they’ve got a fair number of the polymer Jericho FLs up there, too. Springs might need replacing, but Wolff’s Tanfoglio springs work.

        In fact, let’s go a step further: the Baby Eagle branding is just awful, and getting a used Jericho off GB for less money without an ugly-ass Baby Eagle rollstamp on it is probably an option worth considering. I am 99% sure that the Jericho would have done FAR better in the USA if it had been marketed as the IWI Jericho rather than the MR Baby Eagle.

        I am hoping the IWI dumps Kahr/MR on their ass and starts selling these through IWI-US, who seems to have a way better grip on how to market Israeli guns. (Excepting the “new Uzi pistol” debacle.)

  6. BE45 was a ‘bucket list’ gun for me, and while I would have preferred a full size I settled for the C as it was the only imported flavor in 45. I was ecstatic day I finally acquired one. Weight and balance was brilliant, ergos were just about perfect. Unfortunately, reliability was a significant issue.

    Weapon would FTF like clockwork, on one of the last three rounds of every magazine. Tried with new (and used) Magnum Research, Tanfoglio, and EAA magazines… consistently repeatable failure. Tried literally dozens of different brands/weights of ammunition, FMJ, TMJ, HP to no avail. Spent many wasted hours online desperately searching for a solution. While I discovered I absolutely was not alone in my malfunction experience with the BE45C’s (small comfort) I never did remedy the problem to even a modicum of satisfaction. As I don’t need another range-only pistol, she went the way of all things frustrating.

    Damn shame, and it still makes me a little melancholy. Beautiful pistol. Would have been a lifetime keeper.

    Salt in the wound is the full size (not imported) does not suffer from these issues, reportedly.

  7. Do they sell a barrel/caliber swap kit for the 9mm/.40 versions? I’ve always thought the design was attractive, but never had any interest in the.41AE, which apparently is now defunct.

  8. The Baby Eagle in .45 was my first handgun purchase back in 2007. My friends all had 1911s and I saw how many malfunctions they were having so I wanted something different. I went to Academy and tested out a bunch of guns and gravitated towards the hammer fired guns over striker. I picked up the Baby Eagle and felt just right when so it went home with me. I was not a great shot with a pistol but the gun made me feel like a pro. It is a very accurate pistol.

    Zahal seems to be the best place to find accesories for the gun that I have found. I still need magazines so thanks for the heads up on the witness mags.

    Mine has some issues using tula. When I switch to winchester white box it has noticeably more recoil but works like a champ. I have concealed carried this gun, but it is heavy!

    I don’t shoot it much because the ammo is much more expensive than running my 9mm CZs but I still love it.

    • +1 for Zahal

      I’ve bought BE .45 accessories from them a couple to times and they’ve always arrived faster than expected (all the way from Israel). Shipping was very affordable too.

  9. I’ve owned the 9mm version for quite a while now, and while I’ve always loved the ergonomics, the trigger on mine is terrible, long and gritty and about 24 pounds in double-action mode. SA is fine.

  10. I have one of the original baby eagle imports from MR before they were discontinued. Same story as your review, just without a pic rail. They are solid guns but you really need to get used to their da/sa trigger. The first shot on SA following a double action pull will take you by surprise unless you really take the time to learn it

  11. The 97 is lighter by about hundred grams than the Jericho, granted it is almost an inch longer.

    Just nitpicking from my part.

    Looks nice, aren’t they sorta rare nowadays?

    • Were for a while as MR stopped importing. Picked it up again two or so years ago, which was when I acquired.

  12. IMHO this gun doesn’t compute since a CZ97 at at Bud’s is $625.

    Oh well … variety is the spice of life.

  13. I don’t really have time to reply to every comment though the feedback is appreciated. I do want to talk about the other CZ clones real quick because I did a ton of research before I made my selection.

    First, the CZ-97. Beloved by its owners, it has a small but passionate following and not in the same way people get hung up on Glocks. They appeared to be great pistols. They just had two major issues. One, I can always find something cheaper and for quality purposes I couldn’t find any difference between Magnum Research and CZ. Even with Bud’s selling CZ-97’s for $625 right now I can find a Baby Eagle for $540 or possibly less. The $656 figure is MSRP and the only place selling them for that price would be Gander Mountain. I don’t even think they carry these. The other issue is that the CZ-97 just seemed needlessly bulky for what it is. It’s a little bigger in every way. Length, width, and weight but not capacity. I was looking for something full-sized that I could potentially carry concealed and I didn’t see that happening with the 97. For the same size and similar price I could have gone with a FN FNX-45 with 3 rounds hotter.

    That said, it appears to be a good pistol. I’m not so attached to the Baby Eagle that I feel like I need to crap all over similar guns. The CZ-97 just didn’t quite meet my needs but I definitely looked hard at it.

    As for EAA, I do appreciate that they offer more calibers overall and I think they do a much better job than Magnum Research/IWI in supporting their various calibers. For instance, I know there is at least 2 different sizes (if not more) from them in .45 ACP. I was very close to pulling the trigger on an EAA Witness especially because of the cost difference (Typically, they are about $100 cheaper). However, the Baby Eagle is my home defense gun, which is what I was looking for. I inspected quite a few EAA’s in person and the fit and finish was just a little bit better on the Magnum Research. Initially, Tanfoglio did indeed produce parts initially but I think that relationship has long since passed.

    Now that I have two rock solid handguns I would be much less hesitant on purchasing an EAA. At the time I purchased the Baby Eagle I was getting back into shooting after a decade hiatus. If you’re going to have one gun in the house it needs to be a good one and I did a ton of research. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyplace to rent at the time and now there is. Oh well. Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I liked the looks of the Baby Eagle more as well.

    2 years later, I’m a little better informed. I still love my Baby Eagle despite its warts (already noted in the review, don’t ask) and I don’t regret passing on the EAA. Aside from some issues I’ve heard about in their 10mm platform they appear to be good guns. If the overall fit has resulted in any reliability issues I am unaware of them. I paid $100 extra for peace of mind. No regrets. Someday I’d love to do a side-by-side comparison but don’t have the funds to do that on my own.

  14. There are a couple of downsides to this pistol.

    1. It is HEAVY.
    2. It is huge, and only holds 10 rounds.
    3. The slide mounted safety is very stiff.

    The weight makes it easy to shoot, and makes it a great club when you run out of ammo. The design is nice, but it needs to be scaled down with it’s current capacity or the magazines redesigned for more.

  15. SAR K2. Tremedous pistol, cz based (witness based?), 14+1 of .45, generally about a hundo cheaper than this particular deagle.

    love mine. perhaps i’m biased. not that i wouldn’t own both…

  16. “The .45 ACP chambering isn’t as much of a compromise as it is in most up-chambered weapons since the original Jericho was designed to fire the now defunct .41 Action Express cartridge.”

    already sounding like .460 Rowland conversion material, being the Deagle’s beefy baby brother and all….

  17. I’ve been considering getting a Baby Eagle – .40S&W. I found them on cheaperthandirt.com for bout 510 bucks. They’re crazy light, like the Ruger LCR. Wondering if anyone here had any input, advice etc.
    It would be my every day carry piece.

  18. I have a Baby Eagle11 .40S&W, Semi-Compact, Polymer frame with high quality carbon steel slide,12 round magazine. This is a very Accurate and comfortable gun. This is my carry piece. I highly recommend this gun.

  19. I’ve shot firearms sense I was 12, I’m 51 now. I’ve owned quite a few 9mm’s ( Browning, S&W ) and a couple of revolvers, Dan Wesson .357, S&W .44mag model 659. As far as pistols go, long guns, including foreign and domestic “assault “weapons, I believe I can speak with a bit of experience. As the pistols go I’m considered pretty damn good by my peers. I could hit center mass all day long at 50 yards with my 9’s. I bought the baby eagle .45 about 2yrs ago (Israeli made) and am nailing it out to 70-75. Best auto pistol I have ever owned. Bar none. I let it get really dirty a couple of times and had a failure to eject. Heavy? No. But then again I’ve been a metal worker for 30yrs. Yeah, she’s the one.

  20. I just purchased the .40 baby desert eagle. only had it a week so i wont go to in depth because well that would be stupid and false info. However i bought it because i travel alot and wanted a travel companion. I have short but muscular hands so i wanted a 40 or 45 that would accomidate my grip and loved the way this gun felt. I also liked the safety drop hammer feature. I shot 40 rounds through it and it was very accurate at 20 yards, also the low recoil really suprised me. This is a very smooth shooter and so far tickeled with my purchase.

  21. Thank you all for the input. I really loved the review and have been looking at these for several years now. Sadly, unless these are in stock, such at Buds, they are pretty much non-existent now, or, my dealers I use haven’t been able to order in over a year. On a bright note, I have decided to invest with what Buds has left. Thanks again for the feedback and review.

  22. Bought a B.E. .45 about 6 months ago and love it. 450-500 rds through it and no ftf or fte. Very accurate.

  23. Like Dryw, I’ve had consistent issues with FTF. I’ve put over 300 rounds through my BE .45 and the situation has just gotten worse. I, too, cannot go through a full magazine without at least one FTF, even with FMJ ball ammo.

    Manufacturer support? With a 1-year warranty (and mine just over a year old) it would cost well over $100 including shipping to get work done on it. I really like the ergonomics and the general feel of the pistol, but what’s the use if it doesn’t shoot reliably? Guess I’ve bought myself a safe queen.

    • Hey brother Im sorry your having problems. My Jerico .45 has run anything I throw at it for the last 2500 rounds and never a ftf or fte. Its the most reliable pistol I own, That said I clean it every time I use it as I do with all my guns but still thats a whole lot of rounds with no problems.

  24. I also had an all steel BE in .45ACP. In fact I had three, one at a time. Mine would FTF about 10% of the time . I would send it back to get it worked on by the M.R. crack team and it would come back worse. They arranged to replace it twice. The first time the replacement had a misspelling from Israel on the slide, it turns out Dresert Eagle is not the name of the pistol. That one was replaced with a new pistol, after 30 or so shots the decocker lever broke in the middle of the slide and fell off. I sold it and bought a Sig P220, goes bang 100% of the time. I must say that when the BE worked it was a great shooter but as a pistol that could be depended on, not so much. Maybe IWI was saving the good stuff for their channels or there was a gremlin in my holster.

  25. I bought one of the older, full sized all steel .40 versions of this pistol when I was in college. I bought it because it was relatively cheap. $550 out the door.

    Haters can hate all they want but this is still one of my favorite pistols. It’s extremely accurate, holds 12+1 and has one of the best stock triggers I’ve ever seen. Mine has gone toe to toe with Sigs, HKs, Colts, Rugers and a variety of other high end pistols. The 941 has bested or tied them all until you get to serious custom competition pieces. Generally speaking you’re not going to find a gun that beats this pistol until you get to 3x the price of the IWI.

    Ergonomics are good IMHO, all my friends love this pistol and a number of them have tried to buy it from me.

    Reliability is not an issue, at least not with either of the two that I own. Thousands of rounds without a hiccup. They will digest any ammo you give them, FMJ through JHP. These things get filthy and still function flawlessly. The only time I’ve ever really “torture tested” the gun it fired 2000 rounds and the only problems encountered were a few dud primers. While I haven’t shot it as much, the newer compact 9mm version of this seems to be basically the same but lighter due to a polymer frame.

    Overall, I would put this gun on par with my full sized USP in terms of accuracy and reliability. The Eagle is a little heavier due to being all steel, but at half the price of a USP, I’m more than willing to take the extra weight.

    The downfalls to such a gun are that mags are not the easiest things to come by and threaded barrels for the older guns are almost impossible to find. Tranfuglio used to make one but that’s been discontinued. Holsters are kind of a pain too. The gun fits well in a holster for a Sig P228, but custom holsters just for it are available from a European company called Falco. Their roto-tilt shoulder holster system is well worth the $93 pricetag.

    • My Jerico .45 fits better in my xd .45 sub compact mod 2 De Santis thumb break mini slide holster then the XD and hugs my body a bit better no less with the same retention.

  26. My wife bought one of these (in 45 ACP) for her carry gun while I was in Afghanistan in 2013. When I saw it upon returning I had to ask “what were you thinking?” She insisted it felt good to her. Anyway… It is heavy but that makes it a GREAT shooting 45. I’m used to my Sig 226 in 40 so yes, it is heavier than that. It’s also good looking, reliable and accurate. The decocker (“safety”) on mine isn’t that difficult to operate. It is a double stack 45 mag so the grip works better for big hands like mine but again, my wife picked this out because it felt good in her hand. Wife now carries a Bersa Thunder CC in 380 for CCW, as I do, which is a spectacularly great pistol for concealed carry, up close confrontations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *