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Review: Baby Desert Eagle II

by Patrick Sweeney   |  January 6th, 2012 21
firing the Baby Desert Eagle II

Due to its all-steel design, the Baby Desert Eagle II is one soft-shooting pistol—even with stout loads.

It may surprise you to discover that there was a 9mm handgun that actually drew praise from the late Jeff Cooper, that pistol being the CZ-75. Back when the pistol options were few and polymer was only for use in consumer electronics the 75 offered several benefits: You could carry it cocked and locked; you could ease the hammer down and use it double-action on the first shot; and it held a lot of ammo.

 

Baby Desert Eagle II and Winchester ammo

The pistol exhibited good accuracy, helped by the excellent DA/SA trigger.

The best part was the grip. The CZ-75 possessed the most ergonomic handgun grip to be had, but it was made by a then-Communist country, Czechoslovakia, so you couldn’t get one here for many years.. However, it was so popular that handgun makers who could export to the U.S. simply copied it and shipped clones here.

 

One of those was a company known as Israeli Military Industries, now known as Israeli Weapon Industries or IWI. It’s the manufacturer behind the new Baby Desert Eagle II, which is imported by Magnum Research, and it’s a gun that owes a ton to the CZ-75.

 

IWI has a couple of decades of experience at making this model, and it shows. Available in 9mm or 40, the Baby Desert Eagle II is listed as being 38 ounces. My sample weighed 41 ounces with empty magazine inserted, and that’s a lot if you’re accustomed to polymer-frame pistols that weigh on the order of 22 to 24 ounces.

 

However, sometimes a bit of heft is a good thing—like when you’re shooting your handgun. Some of the USPSA/IPSC Grand Masters are known to shoot handguns even heavier than the Baby Desert Eagle II.

Baby Desert Eagle II controls

The pistol’s safety drops the hammer and also de-links the trigger from the firing system, so if it’s in the down/Safe position, the gun will not fire.

 

The weight is also increased by the recent addition of an accessory rail, a place to park a light or laser. It too is steel (an integral part of the frame) and certainly adds a couple of ounces to the total. There is room enough there for most any light or laser, and a really compact one would be barely noticed.

 

Up top we have a slide that rides within the frame rails. Unlike the 1911 and other Browning designs, the slide rail grooves are inside the frame, and the result is an interesting combination. For its size, the Baby Desert Eagle II’s slide is a bit lighter than, say, a 1911, and the axis of the bore is closer to your hand than it would be in a 1911.

 

On top of that slide we have combat sights (low and ramped) set into transverse dovetails. If you need to adjust, you simply drift them from side to side. The top of the slide is grooved between the sights to draw your eye and align the pistol as you present it on the draw.

 

The barrel is built with an integral ramp, and the locking and unlocking are done by means of a kidney-shaped slot cut into the lug under the chamber. Rather than use a separate link, or an open slot like the Browning Hi Power (and all the derivatives thereof), the Czech designers went with an enclosed slot, the kidney-shaped cam slot.

 

The barrel and slide design also dispenses with a bushing, the slide is bored for the barrel, and the barrel diameter is matched to the slide. It is a precise way to make slides and barrels, although it does rather limit the options of a gunsmith. The barrel has polygonal rifling. The extractor is a simple external extractor, pivoting on a pin driven down into the slide and actuated by a spring at the rear.

Baby Desert Eagle II trigger

The curved trigger helps you pull straight through in double-action mode. The front of the trigger guard is squared and grooved.

 

The safety is on the slide, ambidextrous, and is a hammer-dropping and de-linking safety. That is, it blocks the firing pin and drops the hammer, and if you leave it down, it takes the trigger out of the firing mechanism linkage—leaving you with a pistol that won’t fire.

 

Inside the slide, the firing pin has a passive locking block, so unless you’ve pulled the trigger, the firing pin isn’t going to doing anything it isn’t told to. In short, it can’t reach the primer without your permission. It also won’t go off if dropped and so forth.

 

The frame has a trigger guard with a squared profile, and the front face of it is grooved. My shooting buddies and I experimented with getting our support hand up on the gun and putting that index finger around the trigger guard. What we found was that, for most of us, it didn’t help. But if you find it helps, the trigger guard is there for you.

 

Behind the trigger guard is a magazine button, right where you’d want it. And inside is a swoopy-curved trigger. Remember, the Baby Desert Eagle II is a traditional double-action pistol, and for that curved trigger is better than a straight or straighter one. As your trigger finger cams the mechanism back, your finger slides on the trigger, and the geometry of the finger/trigger relationship stays the same.

 

With a straighter trigger, you’d likely find the changing geometry causing your front sight to move, or at least I do. Stroking through on double action, the front sight for me stays right where I want it to. And on subsequent single-action shots, the shape of the trigger makes no difference.

 

The grips are a hard polymer, with a non-slip pattern in them, as well as the IWI logo. Inside, the Baby Desert Eagle II uses the standard CZ-75 magazine, a magazine you can get anywhere, and which in its standard form holds 15 to 16 rounds.

 

When I first fired the Baby Desert Eagle II, I was using mild-recoiling factory 115-grain full-metal-jacket ammo, which is really soft to shoot in lighter handguns. In the 41-ounce Baby Desert Eagle II, the low bore axis, and the mass of the pistol, combined to make it feel as if I had fired a .22 LR or something.

 

Accuracy shooting was fun, and the trigger made it easy, too. The DA/SA mechanism is quite nice. You take up the slack, and then there is a small amount of rolling resistance as the trigger cams the sear off the hammer hooks. Like a good double-action revolver, there is no way to predict the hammer fall, so all you can do is focus on the front sight and follow-through, almost always for a good hit.

 

I’ll admit, as a daily concealed-carry pistol, the Baby Desert Eagle II would be a lot to carry. It might even be too much. However, as an open carry, duty or military sidearm, it would be exemplary.

 

Compared to my traditional favorite, the 1911, the Baby Desert Eagle II with two loaded spare magazines would have the same weight as a Government model and its two spares. But you could have 46 to 50 rounds of 9mm, versus 25 of .45 ACP.

 

Plastic may be fantastic, but there’s a reason steel is still with us. And there are good reasons for all-steel handguns. The Baby Desert Eagle II is an example.

Fast Specs

  • Type: double-action/single action semiauto
  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Barrel: 4.52 in.
  • OAL/Width/Height: 8.25/1.13/5.75 in.
  • Weight: 41 oz.
  • Construction: all-steel
  • Finish: black oxide
  • Grips: molded polymer
  • Sights: 3-dot
  • Safety: trigger-blocking, hammer-dropping
  • Trigger: 10 lb. double-action
  • Price: $630
  • Importer: Magnum Research

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group: 115 gr. Hornady FTX—2.0 in.
  • Largest avg. group: (tie) 115 gr. Michigan Ammo TMJ, 115 gr. Winchester Ranger +P JHP, 124 gr. Zero FMJ—3.5
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (9 types)—3.0 in.
  • Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards off an MTM K-Zone shooting rest.

 

 

 

  • Bungameng

    What is missing: how does the Baby Eagle II compare to the contemporary original CZ models?

  • Dean C.

    One of my favorites. I have a 941 from when KBI used to import them. Definitely a gun you can shoot all day, glad they're back as I'm suggesting this gun to some friends.

    • Jim

      I have the same one and I love it to. It was my main carry weapon for several years. Don't you wish we could still get .41 AE ammo?

  • iqbal

    nice ……..but contemporary model to old

  • AMS

    I have the compact version of this gun and I carry frequently in the waistband. I love this gun, I would get it again if I had a do over. My Baby Eagle replaced an ultra carry polymer 9mm and I hardly notice the extra weight. Reliable 20rd magazines can be found easily and work great for range or home defense use.

  • Franklin

    I have a standard steel "Baby Eagle" . Era 1993 , IMI made. I called Magum research afew years ago and was told the pistol was not suitable for shooting +P or +P+ ammo. You tested the new model "Baby ll" with +P ? What the fact's on my model? Hope to here from you , this is my best handling 9mm pistol. The weight is great and carries well in a shoulder holster for concealed carry with two extra mags off side. Your info on my question would be helpful. Thanks, Franklin – mcknztank@aol.com

  • Tom L.

    I recently purchased the .45 acp steel model and I put 100 rounds thru it with no problem at all. I used Federal Champion 230 grn. fmj. The first DA trigger pull is long and stiff, but SA is sweet. I love this gun.

  • Alan_T

    I used to have an all steel Para P14 ( back when they were still made in Canada ) , my wife had a P 13 with an aluminum frame ….. gee …. guess which one she wanted to shoot . Yes , I know I'm talking about a pistiol other than the Baby Eagle but my point is , if all we're talking about is shooting , I'll take steel everytime !

  • Jim

    I have the original version, the Jericho 941. It was an AWSOME handling weapon when i bought it back in the early 90's when KBI was importing them. I just wish the .41 AE ammo was still available.

  • asapmil

    It is a nice pistol. I also have one of the original Jerico 941's and it is my favorite pistol. It was a present to me from my family when I got back from Desert Storm in 1991. It is accurate, has been very reliable with the almost 8000 rounds I have put through it (half of them reloads), and I prefer it to all the other 9mm's I have owned (Walthers, Astras, S&W's, etc). I carried it daily for work for a couple of years, in all kinds of weather, with no issues. A current source of .41 AE would be nice. Either that, or a way to convert that slide & barrel to the 40 S&W caliber.

  • JMB

    I purchased the Baby Eagle last month in 9mm, and it does live up to it's hype. Trouble is it doesn't work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

    • Herzl

      LOL… but it can should it save a life.. It's a torah law!

  • guest

    jmb that sounds borderline anti-semetic

    • JMB

      It's ok I'm a MOT

    • Chava Katz

      Not anti-semitic; clever! I’m a MOT too!

  • Guest

    I still have mine from Magnum Research – first 500 that were shipped over here when offered in the US. Still enjoy looking at that letter from the stork and the diaper it came with; LOL. This gun is definitely my favorite still. With over 6000 rounds through it, has been sandy and dirty, I have yet to have it jam. A little heavy, but deadly accurate and still feels great in the hand. I like the "beefyness" of it. I wish I could convert to a 40 cal, but my 9 is fine.

  • Virg c

    I have the Desert Eagle (IWI) 9mm Poylmer FRAME MODEL.with out the finger groves. can't seem to find magazines for it .the last i ordered from MR #(MAGFA915) They are 1/4": to short and to fat for the mag well and the base angle is way off. any Ideas who or where I can find Mags for this Pistol??
    Thanks for any Help
    Vc.

    • Turbo guy

      Virg, just use the CZ75 magazines.

      The baby eagle uses the same magazines whether its the metal or polymer.

  • Texas

    I have the 9mm (.45 Acp/ .40 S&W. It really is a good gun. Wouldn't mind getting 9mm 2

  • WillN

    to asapmil, they only interchange with 9mm in that version. the new ones are 9mm, 40s&w, and .45 interchangeable. and that's to anyone with the old jericho 941 (941 = 9mm and .41 AE interchangeable.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/MethodMan81 Adam Christensen

    I have the polymer 9mm and have shot everything including +p and +p+ never misfired yet. I use hornady critical duty +p 137 grain, and 156 grain. For self defense.

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