Gun Review: Magnum Research MR9 Eagle

Travis Pike for TTAG

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? If that’s so, the Walther P99 should be very flattered, though it’s an oddly popular gun to clone.

The Turks cloned it via the Canik, and Smith & Wesson teamed up with Walther to produce the SW99. Another partnership between Walther and an American company is the Magnum Research MR9. The MR9 is the result of a partnership between Walther and Magnum Research to produce a licensed clone of the P99

Walther actually built the frame of this gun, but the frame looks more akin to a PPQ than a P99. The trigger guard is more squared off. The frame features different markings and grip texturing than the P99 and also sports a 4-slot rail similar to the PPQ versus the GLOCK-style rail the P99 utilizes.

While the MR9 wears Magnum Research markings you will find the Walther logo if you decide to ever change out the backstrap.

The MR9 differs in a few ways from the P99. The most notable is the stainless steel slide which is a stylish touch I appreciate. The slide and barrel are made in America by Magnum Research. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

The MR9 falls into the realm of ‘compact’ handgun and is roughly the same size as a GLOCK 19. It features a 4-inch barrel, uses a 15-round magazine, and weighs 24.8 ounces.

There is an MR40 in .40 S&W as well and the stats for it are slightly different. There is also a model with a 4.5-inch barrel that has a dash of Desert Eagle styling to it. 

What Sets the MR9 apart 

We are and have been, swimming in a sea of striker-fired, 9mm, polymer-frame pistols for decades now. Even companies that held onto hammer-fired designs like SIG and CZ have bent the knee to demand for striker-fired, polymer frame, handguns.

What sets the MR9 apart from all these other striker fired guns is the trigger system. If you know anything about the P99 you are already familiar with this system. 

This is a striker-fired gun, but it’s a true DA/SA design as well. Like any DA/SA gun the first trigger pull is longer and heavier and follow up trigger pulls are lighter and shorter.

The gun also features a de-cocker button positioned on top of the slide. It’s quick and easy to press and gives a loud thunk letting you know the gun is now in double action mode. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

There is a third mode called the anti-stress trigger and only occurs when you run the slide. When you rack the slide, the gun reverts to single action mode, but the trigger never moves.

What happens is you now have a two stage trigger. It’s a light single action pull with the length of a double action trigger. The first stage is very light and when pulled the trigger will move rearward into a standard single action pull length. Even when released the trigger stays at this single action length. 

The system can create room for confusion. Is the gun in double action or in anti-stress mode? Well, luckily there’s a simple way to tell. On the rear of the slide, you’ll see a small channel. When in single action or anti-stress mode the rear of the striker (it’s painted red) is exposed. You can look at or feel this striker to know what mode your gun is in instantly. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

It’s an interesting design, but if I carry this gun I typically run in double action for the first shot. I’m quite accustomed to DA/SA guns so it’s more natural for me. There is no manual safety for this gun. That’s not an issue for me, but some may find that an important factor. 

What’s in the Box 

The MR9 comes with two 15 round magazines and the gun is compatible with P99 magazines. The gun has three backstraps and numerous front sights that are all at different heights.

The sights are plastic and not especially impressive. It’s a standard three dot set-up. The rear sight is adjustable for windage as well.

The good news is that the gun is compatible with P99/PPQ sights so they can be easily changed. You get an instruction manual, a gun lock, and all that jazz as well. Pretty stock standard for a modern handgun. 

Taking the gun apart is simple. Verify that it’s clear, hit the de-cocking button and then pull the tabs beneath the ejection port downwards. Push the slide forward slightly and now you can remove it from the rails and take out the recoil spring and barrel. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

Because of the de-cocking button, there’s no need to pull the trigger to disassemble the gun. Some may see this as an added safety bonus, but as an adult, I’m capable of verifying a gun is clear before taking it apart. 

Getting Frisky with the MR9 

One of the big reasons I love Walther handguns is their ergonomics. They fit in the hand wonderfully and the MR9 is no different. It fills the hand and is perfectly rounded in the right spots. It has a very 1911 frame grip angle. The trigger guard has a high undercut that allows you to get your hand way up on it. What’s not quite a beavertail protects your hand well from slide bite and encourages a nice high grip. 

When the trigger is in DA mode it’s a long reach and guys and gals with tiny hands may be hard-pressed to comfortably reach it. The SA trigger is very short and easy to reach. You can cock the striker by slightly pulling the slide rearward just a hair if you need to. 

What people are going to either love or hate is the magazine release. It’s that famed European style paddle trigger guard release you’ll find on lots of HK and Walther pistols. I personally like it, but I can see why many would not. The problem with the MR9’s magazine release is that it’s an older short paddle release design. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

If you look at modern Walthers the trigger guard magazine release paddles are much longer and easier to reach. I’ve grown accustomed to that magazine release and have no problems activating it with either my thumb or trigger finger. 

The slide lock lever is nice and large, very easy to reach and my big thumbs often hold it down when using a high grip. The slide lock is textured and easy to push down or up when needed. Ergonomically the gun is very sound, but there is a minor downside. 

The only slide serrations are on the rear of the slide. They are about half the size of a standard gun’s serrations to leave room for the de-coking button. The serrations are somewhat shallow and they don’t allow the best grip when racking the weapon under stress or with wet or gloved hands. 

Range Time Game Time 

The MR9 Eagle is a fun gun to shoot. What makes the gun so much fun is its absolutely lovely trigger. The double action pull is long, a little heavy, but incredibly smooth. It’s a brilliant DA design and better than most hammer fired DA/SA guns I’ve experienced.

The single action pull is the star of the show. The trigger pull in single action is incredibly short and very light. 

One of the constant mantras I remember from boot camp is that the trigger should surprise you when it breaks. This trigger will surprise you. It’s quite light and very smooth. The reset is short and tactile. Managing double taps and failure to stop drills is simple. 

Recoil is very mild and is exactly as you’d expect from a close-to-full-size 9mm handgun. The pistol’s ergonomics allow for a high grip which makes it easy to keep the gun on target through the recoil impulse. The grip design is brilliant and extremely comfortable. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

It allows you to extend your control over the gun comfortably and you’ll easily keep your sights on target round after round. You’ll never feel pain or discomfort during long range days.  

The MR9 is plenty accurate and it can make tiny groups, and that’s great. What’s impressive is that the combination of an excellent trigger and great ergonomics makes it easy to make tiny groups when shooting the gun rapidly.

The MR9 Eagle is very controllable and easy to manage package. It’s a gun I like to use in classes with new shooters. It’s so simple and comfortable to shoot it allows a new shooter to gain a degree of confidence with a firearm during the glass. 

I’ve owned the gun for two years now and have run a variety of different loads through it. For the sake of this review, I went with some standard Remington 115 grain brass cased goodness and my ammo box of random self-defense ammo. My LGS gets a lot of samples of self-defense ammo, often 10 rounds or less and I frequently end up with these small sample sizes which eventually get tossed in an ammo can with old JHPs for gun testing. 

It ate 300 rounds of the Remington 115 grain flawlessly. It also functioned with 124 grain Speer Gold dots, some 147 grain Ranger JHPs, some 135 Grain Hush ammo, and some 90 grain Underwood ammo. The gun can use +Ps, and Magnum Research warns it may wear out the firearm faster and also warns users not to use +P+ ammo. 

In my two years of ownership, I will say this gun does not like steel cased ammo. Brass is fine, as is aluminum, but steel case will not run reliably.

When I first started shooting the gun I noted a 10% failure rate with steel cased ammo in which it would fail to extract from the chamber. This is something I’ve noticed with Walthers in general. My PPX, PPS, and PPK/S do not like steel ammo, nor does my SW99 compact. 

Travis Pike for TTAG

Outside of steel ammo, I have not had issues with any other brand or type of ammo. It seems like ammo prices are bottoming out recently so I’m happy to stick to brass ammo these days. 

The bad news is that it seems like Magnum Research has discontinued these guns. That always sucks, but they can still be found floating around here and there for a price of around 350 bucks. For that price, they are well worth the cost and are awesome little guns. My only regret is not picking up the 4.5-inch model when I could. 

Specifications: Magnum Research MR9 Eagle 9mm Pistol

Caliber – 9mm
Capacity – 15 rounds 
Trigger – DA/SA Striker fired
Sights – 3 Dot sights (P99/PPQ Compatible)
Length – 7.13 inches
Barrel Length – 4 inches
Width – 1.28 inches
Height – 5.31 inches
Weight – 24.8 ounces 
MSRPDiscontinued, but the pistol can be found for around $300 to $350 online

Ratings (out of five stars): 

Style: * * * * *
This is a sleek looking gun. The stainless steel slide looks fantastic, and the black polymer frame is seamless. The MR9 is more squared off and more Americanized than the P99, but it looks fantastic. 

Reliability: * * * *
I’m torn on how to rate this. Part of me wants to give it three stars, but the fact remains if you use quality ammunition, the gun runs fine. Steel cased ammo is a big no-go with this gun. JHPs, aluminum cased, brass cased and everything else runs like an absolute champ. 

Accuracy: * * * * *
This is an awesomely accurate gun. It’s very easy to shoot, and the trigger is absolutely outstanding. It’s a gun I can give to beginners to teach to shoot and have them hitting paper very quickly. 

Customization: *
You can change the sights…and that’s about it. As a discontinued gun it can be hard to find holsters for it. My suggestion is the Phalanx Defense Stealth Operator, it fits perfectly. 

Ergonomics: * * * *
The gun feels excellent in the hand. It’s comfortable and shows the ergos Walther is known for. The one downside is the serrations on the slide which are rather small and shallow. 

Overall: * * * *
The MR9 is an excellent handgun. It’s affordable, well made, and has brilliant ergonomics. It’s a shame the gun has been discontinued because the only thing better than a P99 is a stainless P99. 

 

comments

  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    While I love my Glock, the P99 will always be my first ever handgun and probably my favorite pistol if they modernized the design to allow optics mounts and came out with higher capacity magazines. (I find ~20 to be just about right.) Sadly, I don’t know how you would square mounting an optic on this thing with the de-cocker button, but it would be awesome to have something with a bit better ergonomics and more functionality than my Glock brand tactical brick.

    There’s a lot to be said for DA/SA designs and I wish they weren’t exclusive to hammer fired guns.

  2. avatar pg2 says:

    Not bad. STill like the classic Walther .380 tho.

  3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Yay, gun reviews!

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    Me like…mebbe one will show up in a LGS.

  5. avatar jonndoe says:

    It’s really sad that the gun manufacture’s have gone way of the auto Industry…IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME NOW.

  6. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Mr. Pike, you gave a through and informed review. But to quote Elmer Keith, “What’s it good for?” We’ve already got more plastic pistols than we know what to do with.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I was thinking the same thing: yet another striker-fired polymer handgun.

      What I do like is the single-action/double-action capability AND a decocker. I wish more handguns had that.

      My only question is whether or not this particular handgun has second-strike capability. Now that would be the cherry on top of the sundae.

      1. avatar SouthAl says:

        It does, at least the P99 does. Can’t imagine they would have dropped that.

  7. avatar dph says:

    Magnum Research should name one of their guns “The Pillager” in honor of the town where they are based and manufactured.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I wanted one the instant I saw “Pillager” on the slide. I’m not sure there’s a better word you could possibly put on a gun. And even better, it’s a real place! Maybe I’ll move there.

      1. avatar dph says:

        I’d almost say that it has to be better than Washington, but it’s Minnesota, so I’m not so sure about that.

    2. avatar TommyJay says:

      I had not heard of Pillager, MN but it’s close to Brainerd. Go Bears!

      1. avatar Kevin says:

        Fargo, my favorite movie!

  8. avatar MouseGun says:

    Ah yes, the Walther P99, the most ‘90s handgun ever. It wouldn’t look out of place in a small town cop’s holster, or in the hand of a cyborg yakuza member in some neon-soaked cyberpunk distopia.

  9. avatar Xanderbach says:

    Had a P99 and a PK380… As well as a P22. Sold all 3. No complaints about them, they just didn’t fit me. The odd magazine release probably did it.

  10. avatar B.D. says:

    Holy crap that thing is ugly. It’s like the Chevy Avalanche of polymer guns.

  11. avatar "keep yur hands off my dead guy" possum says:

    That’s a lot of fire power for $300.

  12. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    Walther could have had a real winner here but most people who design handguns are not owners of handguns nor do they carry them. The reason this gun has never caught on as well as it should have is that it must be carried in the double action mode to be safely carried. If Walther had only added a manual safety the gun would have been a real winner because you could have carried it in single action mode with the safety in the on position but alas this was never to be.

    In all fairness the double action pull of my P99 is so smooth that even a double action hater like myself can still hit targets out to 25 yards in the double action mode and at 7 yards even with my weak hand and if the danger is a longer distance I can pull back the slide just slightly to get it into its single action pull providing you have two hands free at the time to accomplish this.

    One word about the totally weird 3rd trigger mode of carry. The above article naturally did not tell the truth about it. When the weapon is in this mode the trigger is all the way forward and could even fool you if you forget that it is not really in the double action mode. When the trigger is pulled there is almost no resistance at all and I mean almost zero making the gun unsafe to carry in this third mode as its really no different than carrying the gun in the single action mode and of course when it is in the single action mode you can tell at a glance that your going to have a very light pull because you can see the trigger in the rearward single action mode but not so when its in that weird 3rd mode of carry which again you could easily under stress think your in the double action mode which could lead to disaster in more ways than one. I have often wondered whether or not Walther deliberately designed this weird 3rd mode of carry or whether it was simply a by product of the striker fired double/single action design. I would have loved to have talked to the Engineer who designed this gun to find this out.

    Beware this gun, like the Glock has a weak ignition system and it would not fire off a high primer when I experimented seating a high primer in an empty case. It failed 3 times in a row just like several of my glocks did (3 of them). My Walther P88 which is hammer fired had no such ignition problems with high primers which means you must not carry hand loads in these pistols and they must be kept very clean and only lightly lubed with a good low temperature oil like Break Free CLP which is synthetic not the other Break Free that is not synthetic. Striker fired guns that are pre-loaded and not internally at full cock often are operating on the margin of reliability when it comes to their ignition systems and this is something the disingenuous gun writers never dare tell you. And it also shows you what fools Glock owners are when they claim how reliable Glocks supposedly are because in realty they are not, far from it. There open firing pin channels and the hole in the bottom grip of glocks are also problems waiting to happen letting in dust and water and other contaminants. I always laugh when big mouth glock owners like Mad start screaming about Glock perfection. It is anything but.

    To show you what a poor investment plasticky handguns are at the time I bought my P99 for a round $400 I could have bought one of the last Walther P88 Compact guns for around $500. Today the P88 compact is worth easily $1200 while the P99 is not worth any more than what I paid for it 20 some years ago.

    The P99 has a longer grip than the Glock 19 and is not a good concealable summer gun. My own Walther P99 has a tight chamber as compared to the sloppy chamber on my Gock 19 making the Glock way more reliable with dirty ammo or hand loads but also way less accurate than my P99. This does not mean the P99 is not reliable with factory ammo but it can give you fits when hand loading for it and if you think that is bad the Walther P88 has a chamber so tight handloads are a real challenge in this pistol.

    I have thought about getting rid of my Walther P99 but its such a weird oddball and it is accurate and fits my had very well which results in my just keeping it around because I like it. I have never carried it and probably never will.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Cool story, bro.

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        saved me the trouble.
        “walther could have had a real winner here…”
        it’s not a walther.

    2. avatar Dan in Detroit says:

      send your p99 here. i’ll give it a loving home. if you bought it 20 years ago, then it’s probably the first gen one with the ski hump in the middle of the trigger guard, and I don’t have that early model. but i have the 2nd gen AS, the compact, and a whole lot of the ppq and p22/g22 series.
      really, send it here, it will have a lot of family to bond with.

    3. avatar B.D. says:

      Do you just comment to make yourself feel better? Nobody reads your rants, and nobody cares about you – as a human being. You just suck at life.

  13. avatar TommyJay says:

    Nice review. Except nobody needs to shoot steel case ammo, unless they’re really pinching pennies.

    My first handgun was a nice plastic 9, with an good aftermarket trigger. But the gun itself is not particularly accurate even when fired from a bench rest. My second was a Walther P22, which was not a good out-of-box experience; but with some work its shoots very reliably and is amazingly accurate.

    Looking for a better 9mm, I really wanted a P99 but the Peoples Republic of CA won’t allow that. I ended up with a CZ-75B, which is very accurate from the bench, but I really struggle to shoot it well from a standing position. The stock trigger on the CZ is decent, but still I struggle.

    One day at the range I went from shooting the CZ to shooting the P22. Holy crap, that P22 is soooo easy to shoot well. Next outing I’m going to try some timed and rapid fire with the P22 just to see how easy it is to shoot well.

    Why the difference? The CZ has a much longer sight radius.

    My tentative theory is that the odd looking Walther hump backed grip might just be magic. You could call it a hooked grip given that both the frontstrap and backstrap have a sharp kink. The MR9 has it too. Most handguns have a little curve to the backstrap but rarely the big hump or kink.

    I think the key is that you don’t want to support the lower part of the grip with that soft fleshy part of the palm at the pinky’s edge. The Walthers put the lower grip support at the lower part of the hollow of the palm, where there isn’t much flesh.

  14. avatar BusyBeef says:

    The Canik is fantastic and has been flawlessly reliable for me.

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