I’m asked, all the time by readers, and students who take some of my handgun training, what is my “favorite gun.” Well, I think most of the time, they mean “handgun” and not just “gun.” Well, I honestly can’t give a pat answer to that question…usually, whatever I have strapped on my hip is my “favorite” gun – at the moment. And, what’s right for me, may not be right for you. I can’t pick a gun for you, it’s a pretty subjective issue as far as I’m concerned.
Folks also ask me what kind of handgun they should get for “survival” – and once again, I can’t give a simple answer to that question. When you say “survival” what do you mean? Are you planning on surviving on the Plains of Africa, where there are lots of dangerous game? What about surviving in the big city? Or surviving out in the country? Or surviving an end of the world event? Once again, I’m not trying to dodge the question, there simply isn’t just one handgun for all purposes.
Now, given a choice, I always fall back on the good ol’ 1911 .45ACP – made by any number of gun companies, and in any number of configurations. Now, my favorite 1911 is a “Commander” sized 1911 – with a 4.25-inch barrel – this model just seems to balance better for me, and I can shoot it faster than I can a full-sized Government model or one of the Officers-sized compact models. I carried a Colt Combat Commander in 1976, when I was in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and never once felt undergunned – it was my constant companion in a Safariland vertical shoulder holster. And, I’ve owned a lot of “Commander” sized 1911s over the years.
Enter the Magnum Research, Desert Eagle 1911C and their entry into the “Commander” sized 1911 field. A few notes on the Desert Eagle 1911C – it is made in Israel, by BUL, and they have been making 1911s for some time now, for different companies…and they manufacture some really great 1911s in my humble opinion. The Desert Eagle 1911C has a 4.33-inch long barrel – so it’s a tad longer than the Colt 4.25-inch barrel – and other makers have Commanders with barrels a little shorter and some longer…so, Desert Eagle is right in the ball park when it comes to barrel length. The 1911C has a bull barrel on it – it flares out so it is thicker on the receiving end of the gun…and it has no barrel bushing, either – nor does it need it. It has a one-piece recoil spring guide rod – and I can take or leave them, but without a barrel bushing, you have to have this type of recoil spring guide rod.
Weight of the 1911C is 33.9-ounces, a slight bit heavier than similar sized guns, but that comes from the bull barrel. On the slide we have hi-profile sights, and this is one of my minor complaints. Us old guys need three dot sights on our combat or self-defense handguns. Still, the sights are very useable, and I like the rear sight – very non-drag in nature. I applied some white paint to the front sight, and placed a dot of orange paint in the center of the white paint on the front sight. On the rear sight, I applied two drops of orange paint to the rear of the sight – on either side of the rear sight notch – and it works just great for me. The rear sight is adjustable for windage only, but I didn’t have to make any adjustments. However, when I get a few bucks ahead, I’m going to have either 3-dot white sights installed on this gun, or night sights. The slide also has slanted and deeply grooved grasping grooves on the rear of the slide. The ejection port is also flared and lowered, for sure ejection of empty brass, as well as loaded rounds. Make sure you carry gun will cleanly eject a loaded round – don’t wait to test it when you “need” to remove a round that didn’t fire and find out, the round won’t eject cleanly – it happens.
On the frame, you’ll find a skeletonized combat type trigger, and my sample broke cleanly at 3.5-pounds. In the past, you’d pay a gunsmith $100+ to put a trigger job on your 1911 as nice as this trigger pull was. We also have a skeletonized speed hammer, and beavertail grip safety, that is stainless steel – the balance of the gun is matte blue in color. The main spring housing is metal and checked. The magazine release is slightly extended compared to standarned buttons, but I’m going to replace it with one a little bit longer. The 1911C also came with a beautifully checkered pair of wood grips. And, once again, one minor complaint here, while I loved the beautiful wood grips, there were just a little bit too thick for my liking. I replaced them with a pair of my designed “Code Zero” 1911 grips from www.mil-tac.com – which I prefer to all other 1911 grips.
The thumb safety is an extended combat style and it clicked on and off with authority – fitted perfectly. The slide release is standard, and I like it that way. Folks who put on extended slide releases are only asking for their slide to lock open during a gun fight – avoid them!
The slide to frame fit was exacting on my sample, no up and down play between the slide and frame, and no side-to-side play. However, after more than 500-rds testing, there is ever so slightly a little movement between the slide and frame. Yes, I shot this gun a lot…it was addicting, to say the least. Right out of the box, the gun functioned without a hitch, and no matter what ammo I fed it, or if I mixed the ammo in different brands of magazines, the gun just ran without any problems at all. The 1911C also comes with two magazines, too – made in Israel. The magazine well is ever so slightly beveled to aid in reloading those empty magazines faster, too.
During the on-going ammo shortages, and higher prices, I’ve been trying to limit my firearms testing to about 200-rds. However, this Desert Eagle just keeps calling out to me, wanting me to shoot it. So, I fired more than 500-rds of ammo through it in my testing. From Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com I only had their 230-grain FMJ and their 200-gr SWC loads – which were outstanding in the accuracy department. From Buffalo Bore Ammuniton www.buffalobore.com I had a good assortment of ammo to test. I had their fairly new 160-gr standard velocity Barnes All-Copper hollow point load, as well as their 160-grain load in +P – same Barnes All-Copper hollow point bullet. I had their 200-grain JHP +P load, their 185-grain JHP +P load, and their 230-grain FMJ FN +P load. I’m growing very fond of the Buffalo Bore 160-grain standard velocity Barnes loading…it gets you back on-target fast, and it will penetrate deeply and it stays together and will expand at velocities as low as 750-FPS. Of course, Tim Sundles, at Buffalo Bore, had to come out with the same bullet, at +P velocities, so I’m still playing around with this load, but I’m starting to lean towards it – heavily – as my carry load. From Winchester Ammunition www.winchester.com I had their USA brand 230-gr FMJ load, and I’ve found this load to be a great range, or target load, and use a lot of it for my function testing or when breaking-in a new 1911 in .45ACP.
My accuracy testing was done from 25-yards, with a sleeping bag rolled-up, and resting on the hood of my SUV… With most loads, I was getting 3-4 inches – about average. However, the Black Hills 200-grain SWC load was giving me 2-inch groups, and I believe the gun is capable of even better accuracy than that – with that load. During a good number of range sessions, we had rain and fog, and the weather was not the best for getting the most accuracy out of the 1911C. The Buffalo Bore 230-gr FMJ FN +P load broke the 3-inch group mark a few times for me, if I did my part.
I carried the Desert Eagle 1911C for more than a month, during my testing. And, “yes” I really do carry the handguns that I test-fire, to see how they ride and conceal. I was using a Blackhawk Products http://www.blackhawk.com/product/SERPA-CQC-wMatte-Finish,1145,1410.htm SERPA concealment holster. I like this product, because it not only allows the gun to ride high and close to your body, it also has the SERPA locking mechanism. This allows the gun to automatically lock in the holster, every time you holster the gun. And, to release the gun, during a natural draw, your index finger automatically slides right on the release button, and a simple push, on the button, releases the gun as your draw it. I place a small tab of skate board tape on the release button, so I know my finger is right on the button. I also carried the 1911C with a spare mag, in a Blackhawk Products spare mag carrier on my left side – if you carry for self-defense, PLEASE carry a spare magazine!
Magnum Research teamed with BUL in Israel, to come up with a full-featured 1911, with many of the features you’d want on a carry gun, and nothing you don’t want. Some of these features would easily cost you $500+ if you had a gunsmith fit and install them on a basic plain Jane 1911. The Desert Eagle 1911C has a full-retail of $874 and it can often be found for quite a bit less than that. As always, I try to get the most for my hard-earn bucks…and if you’re in the market for a new 1911, or you’re a first-time buyer looking for a 1911, take a close look at the Desert Eagle 1911C and if you want a full-sized model, check out their 1911G model. Now, as usual, I have to justify keeping this sample…which means coming up with the money to buy it – but buy it I will – it’s not going back to the company…it’s a great buy, in a full-featured 1911 “Commander” sized gun in my book. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio