Whenever anyone finds out that I’m a gun/knife/outdoor writer, the first question out of their mouth is “What’s your favorite gun…?” Quite often, when I’m hanging out at the local gun shop, a customer will ask about a certain handgun, and one of the sales guys will point them to me, and I get this same question over and over again “What’s your favorite handgun?” I don’t try to side-step the question, but it’s just impossible to answer, for many reasons. If I’m going out big game hunting with a handgun, I’ll probably grab a revolver in .44 Magnum. If I’m just going out to do a little fun shooting, I might grab a .22 LR pistol. For target shooting, maybe I’ll pack-up a hi-cap 9mm of some sort. Walking the mean streets of America, it could be any number of handguns that I might select to carry.
I won’t get into a debate as to which caliber is “better” than another for self-defense, and lots of folks try to sucker me into this conversation. The 9mm is a good stopper in +P or +P+ with a good JHP bullet; the .40S&W is a proven stopper, again with a JHP bullet, as many police departments issue handguns chambered in .40S&W; and lastly we have the .45ACP, which is another outstanding stopper with JHP ammo. I don’t recommend carrying FMJ ammo in your handgun for self-defense; it’s just not a good stopper. However, if I’m packing a 9mm of some sort, I will usually stoke the spare mag on my belt with a FMJ FN round, in the event that I might be forced to shoot through light cover at an attacker.
I hope the time never arrives when we might be forced to only own one handgun for the rest of our lives, but you never know these days, with all the gun control going on in the background by this Administration. So, I often find myself, in deep thought on this situation asking myself what would my pick be, if I could only own one handgun, for the rest of my life? It does send shivers down my spine, to be sure. Anyone who has been a handgun shooter for any length of time will readily have their choices, keeping in mind that no one handgun/caliber is a do-all gun/caliber for every situation you might encounter. First of all, a handgun is a compromise; if I know I’m heading into deep trouble, I’ll grab an AR or an AK as my first line of defense and not a handgun! However, we do have to make compromises in life and arm ourselves as best we can for whatever perceived or real threats we may encounter.
When it all comes down to the bottom line, I’ll more than likely pick a quality-made 1911 pistol in .45ACP as my one and only handgun. There, I said it! My favorite 1911 is some kind of light-weight “Commander-sized” pistol. They seem to balance well, are easy packing, and will get the job done. There are more 1911 manufactures than I can even begin to count these days, and most are turning out pretty decent handguns that are affordable and reliable. From there, you could easily spend thousands of dollars for custom-made 1911s. I’ve had a few, and they were works of art, to be sure.
All this brings us to the Magnum Research www.magnumresearch.com line-up of Desert Eagle 1911s. I’ve tested several of these guns and found them to be a great value for the money as well as totally reliable. A little background is in order on Magnum Research, before we get too far along. Kahr Arms, www.kahr.com, actually owns Magnum Research as well as owning Auto Ordnance Corp www.autoordnance.com too. Another little bit of trivia is that the owner of all three companies is a brilliant young man by the name of Justin Moon. Justin’s father was behind the well-know “Moonies”– something of a cult religion– back in the 1960s and beyond. However, The Rev. Moon has nothing to do with Justin’s firearms companies in the least. So, let’s put those rumors to rest right now!
The Desert Eagle 1911s siblings, under review today, aren’t actually manufactured by Magnum Research. Instead, they are manufactured by BUL Ltd, in Israel, to Magnum’s specifications. The BUL name may not be familiar to many; however, they have been turning out some really nice 1911s for quite a few years. In the past, Springfield Armory, Kimber, Charles Daly, and even Wilson Combat used 1911 frames from BUL; most used a polymer frame, but for whatever reason they just didn’t catch on. I guess we 1911 diehards insist on metal frames for our 1911s in either steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. However, I’ve owned some BUL polymer framed 1911s in the past and didn’t have any problems with them. If you know anything about firearms manufactured in Israel, you know that they turn out the best firearms they can.
The Desert Eagle sibling models we are looking at today are their stainless steel 1911G and the stainless steel 1911U. The “G” is the full-sized “Government” model, while the “U” is the sub-compact “Officers” sized model with an aluminum frame. The “G” model has an all-stainless steel frame. Additionally, you can find the same guns made out of carbon steel from Magnum Research, too.
The “G” model has a standard, 5″ Bbl, whereas the “U Model has a short 3” Bbl for better concealment. Both guns have a checkered front strap, which is a nice touch; it’s machined but still nice. The flat checkered mainspring housing is on both guns, as is an extended beaver tail grip safety, an extended combat thumb safety, speed hammer, and extended magazine release, too. Additionally, the little “U” model comes with fully adjustable serrated rear sight. While I don’t mind a fully adjustable rear sight on a full-sized 1911 model, I don’t care for it on the “U” model. However, the “U” model is meant for self-defense, so I don’t see the need for an adjustable rear sight on such a small handgun. Both guns have throated barrels and polished feed ramps, too. You can check the Magnum Research website for all the other details on both guns. I don’t want to bore our readers with such things.
Both the “G” and the “U” models have some of the most beautiful, checkered walnut wood stocks (grips) on an 1911 I’ve ever seen. However, I found the stocks to be too thick to my liking, and I replaced the stocks on both guns in short order. When I removed the grip screw on one side of the “G” model, the grip bushing came off the frame. That’s not good; it wasn’t staked or properly Loc-Tited into the frame.
The match-grade triggers on both guns broke right at 4-lbs. Yes, you read that right– 4-lbs– which is outstanding! That’s about as light of a trigger pull as you want for a street carry 1911, if you ask me. Both trigger pulls were crisp and clean as well. Additionally, both guns are of the Series 70 (Colt) style– no firing pin safety. YES! The barrel on the “U” model is bushingless, a bull barrel, whereas the “G” model has the traditional barrel bushing. The “U” model ships with two 6-rd magazines. I replaced them with 7-rd mags from Mec-Gar, and they functioned flawlessly, too. The “G” Model came with two 8-rd mags. I had no problems with those mags, either. I like that the Mec-Gar “Officers” mag extends a little below the slightly beveled magazine well; it gives my pinky finger a little something more to hang on to.
So, how did the guns shoot? That’s an important question, isn’t it? Well, after cleaning the packing oil off the guns and lubing them with my favorite gun lube– Italian Gun Grease www.italiangungrease.com– I hit one of my usual shooting spots. I didn’t receive both guns at the same time, but I waited until I had both in-hand for testing, before getting out there for some serious shooting fun.
I had a great assortment of .45ACP ammo on hand, too. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition www.buffalobore.com I had their 230-gr FMJ FN +P load, 200-gr JHP +P load, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point in +P, and the same load with a 160-gr bullet. Also, their 160-gr Barnes TAC-XP standard velocity load– low recoil! From Black Hills Ammunition, www.black-hills.com I had their 230-gr FMJ load, their 230-gr JHP load, and their 185-JHP load. So, I had a good assortment of ammo to run through both guns. However, I was advised by Magnum Research that they do NOT recommend any +P ammo in any of their guns. Still, we are doing a gun test, right?
The little “U” model had a very, very tight slide-to-frame fit, and I thought I might have some malfunctions. It didn’t happen. This little gun ate up everything I put through it. Ditto was true for the full-sized “G” model. There was not a hint of a malfunction, and I fired more than 500-rds through both guns over several shooting sessions. I did have to lower the adjustable rear sight on the “U” model; it was adjusted up as high as it would allow. I lowered it as low as it would go, and it was hitting where it needed to hit. All shooting was done at 25-yards, over the hood of my pick-up truck, on a rolled-up sleeping bag.
None of the loads tested exceeded more than 3½ inches for 5-shots on-target. That’s more than acceptable accuracy from a factory 1911. However, there were a few surprises in store for me. The little “U” model constantly outshot the full-sized “G” model in the accuracy department; it was not by much, but it always beat out the “G” model. Sometimes, those shorter bull barrels will do this in a 1911, but the “U” model was just more accurate than the “G” model with all the loads tested. Go figure.
Was there a clear winner in the accuracy department? Yep, the little “U” model, which loved the Buffalo Bore 160-gr Barnes TAC-XP standard velocity low-recoil load. If I did my part, I could get groups under three inches all day long. The “G” model loved the Black Hills 230-gr JHP load the best, and it was hot on the heels of the “U” model in the accuracy department. At the start of my testing, I would have bet good money that the “G” model would have been more accurate than the little “U” model. Such was not the case. I would normally fire the “U” model at 15-yards, as it’s meant as a close-up, self-defense pistol, but I wanted to run it side-by-side against the bigger, sibling brother with the 5-inch barrel, just for the heck of it.
Anything negative in my testing? Well, sort of! Both guns have a white dot on the front sight, but there is no two dot white sights on the rear sights. There are actually little “holes” on either side of the opening of the rear sight on the “G” model, so I guess you could paint dots on there, but I believe this should have been done at the factory. I noted the same thing when I tested the blue steel guns some time ago, as there were no white dots on the rear sight. I mean, it’s easily “fixed”, but I think most shooters would prefer two white dots already on the rear sight. Also, the thick wood grips were too thick for my taste. Other than that, I can’t find anything to fault with any of the Desert Eagle 1911s I’ve tested from Magnum Research.
Full-retail on the “G” model is $904, and the little “U model is $1,019. You can usually find these 1911s marked down a bit at many gun shops. They are hot sellers. Every Desert Eagle 1911 my local gun shop gets in-stock usually sells right away. They are a great value for the money, and I wouldn’t hesitate to carry either one of these 1911s for self-defense or duty purposes.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio