Skip to main content

Review: Baby Desert Eagle II

Review: 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.

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.


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.

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.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball's Headache

The Hardball's Headache pistol drill is very similar to the El Presidente drill with a higher level of difficulty due to two added twists.

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you. At less than 14 ounces fully loaded, and barely longer than a dollar bill, the P17 is concealable for pretty much anyone. The threaded barrel, Picatinny-style accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous magazine release and three (3) 16rd magazines come standard. That's a lot of value added in such a small package.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but these six compact high-capacity 9mm pistols stand out from the rest of the field.6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns Compact

6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns

Jeff John - July 08, 2020

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but...

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you.KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot Rimfire

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

Handguns Staff - August 14, 2020

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the...

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

See More Trending Articles

More Semi-Auto

The 105-year-old Ruby pistol was heavily used in World War I, and its combat ability is comparable to the Colt, Browning and Savage pistols of its time.Ruby Pistol — .32 ACP WWI Semiautomatic Semi-Auto

Ruby Pistol — .32 ACP WWI Semiautomatic

Bob Campbell - May 28, 2020

The 105-year-old Ruby pistol was heavily used in World War I, and its combat ability is...

Magnum Research is bringing back the Baby Eagle, the little brother of the Desert Eagle, with the Baby Eagle III.Return of the Magnum Research Baby Eagle Semi-Auto

Return of the Magnum Research Baby Eagle

J. Scott Rupp - August 10, 2020

Magnum Research is bringing back the Baby Eagle, the little brother of the Desert Eagle, with...

Designed for lightweight, low recoil accuracy, the CMR30 .22 WMR features a nice, single-action trigger, ambidextrous dual non-reciprocating operating handles, ambidextrous safety and heel catch magazine release.KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot Semi-Auto

KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot

Handguns Staff - August 14, 2020

Designed for lightweight, low recoil accuracy, the CMR30 .22 WMR features a nice,...

The Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm pistol series upgrades the XD platform with four models and a number of significant new features.Springfield XD-M Elite Series – Four New 9mm Pistols for 2020 Semi-Auto

Springfield XD-M Elite Series – Four New 9mm Pistols for 2020

J. Scott Rupp - January 15, 2020

The Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm pistol series upgrades the XD platform with four models and a...

See More Semi-Auto

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now