Baby Desert Eagle is a rather large handgun to be called
a baby, but a diminutive handgun compared to the full size
Desert Eagle .44 Magnum pistols.
Still, the Israeli pistol has much to recommend and the
connection with the larger and justly renowned Desert Eagle does
not harm the pistol’s reputation.
After all each is a product of Israel Military
Industries (IMI). Most users call the pistols ‘Baby
Eagles’. I think
I will resort to the nickname in this article for brevity. The
pistols have also been marketed as the Jericho, as they
are called in Israel, and even the Uzi pistol. They are
the same rugged reliable handgun.
Baby Eagles are based upon the CZ 75 design.
While the CZ 75 owes much to John Moses Browning
for its locked breech configuration and is loosely based upon
the Browning High Power, the Czech built pistol is a
fresh design with much to recommend it.
Colonel Jeff Cooper himself remarked that it was
embarrassing the pistol was designed and manufactured in a
communist country. Our
friends in Czechoslovakia, despite being enslaved by a
totalitarian regime, showed flashes of brilliance and innovation
in both the CZ 52 and the CZ 75.
Like most successful pistol designs the CZ 75 was cloned
or copied in other countries.
Sometimes the clone is a poor second but other times the
pistol is well made. The
CZ 75 pistol was difficult to come by in America but the Tangfoglio
clones from Italy were widely available beginning in the 1980s.
These pistols varied considerably in quality, fit and
finish. The EAA
Witness is now the most common and is generally a reliable
most shooters agree the Baby Eagle is the superior CZ clone and
the only pistol of the type other than the original to have seen
extensive military and police service.
main complaint with the CZ pistol is the caliber. While a fine reliable handgun with excellent ergonomics the
CZ 75 was chambered in 9mm Luger cartridge. Americans demand
considerably more smash from their handguns. The .40 CZs are of
a different design than the original pistols and the .45 caliber
CZ 97 an oversize, unwieldy pistol in my opinion.
In this regard, the big bore Baby Eagles are much
superior handguns. While history is interesting and we like to
know where the handguns come from, history is irrelevant unless
the handguns are of high quality.
The Baby Eagles are of the highest quality.
In fact, the type has been the standard issue of many
Israeli units, even the Israeli Special Forces.
I feel a strong affection for the birth place of my
Savior, and a strong empathy for those fighting a common enemy.
The Baby Eagle is a proven pistol in every regard.
Baby Eagle pistol is assembled, fitted and finished in Israel
from parts supplied from Tangfoglio in Italy.
The pistol differs considerably from other CZ types. Many CZs feature a frame mounted safety.
The frame mounted safety is much handier if you will be
using the handgun as a single action design and carrying the
handgun cocked and locked.
A weakness is that the safety cannot be placed on when
the hammer is down. The Israelis felt that a double action
pistol would be well served by a decocker to allow the hammer to
be dropped safely without touching the hammer or trigger.
Israeli policy demands that the pistol be carried chamber
empty, or on some occasions be carried chamber loaded and safety
off, ready for action. I
can live with the Baby Eagle system.
I carry the handgun ready to go, chamber loaded, with the
safety off in complete confidence.
If you can rapidly manipulate the safety, then carrying
the pistol safety off is a viable option. Compare the long
trigger action of the Baby Eagle to the short Glock trigger
or the SIG and you will agree the Baby Eagle has a degree
of safety in this carry mode.
Israelis have specified changes in the CZ type that allow the
pistol to be easily downsized into a compact model or enlarged
to chamber big bore cartridges such as the .40 Smith and Wesson
or the .45 ACP. Many
of you may remember the original big bore Baby Eagle, the
Jericho 9mm marketed with a .41 caliber Action Express barrel.
Today, the pistol is offered in reasonably compact .40 and .45
caliber versions. There are full size mid size and compact pistols. The pistols
closely follow the design of the original CZ.
The pistols are a locked breech design, using angled
camming surfaces. The
pistols are double action first shot pistols. After the first
shot the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent
single action shots. The controls include the usual slide
mounted safety/decocker, a slide stop/slide lock, magazine
release and take down lever.
The pistol strips quickly and easily by locking the slide
to the rear and bumping the slide stop out, allowing the slide
to run forward off the frame. Interestingly, the Baby Eagle
slide runs inside the frame, the opposite of the 1911 and
Browning High Power. This
should produce superior accuracy due to full contact of the
slide and frame the complete length of the slide.
Also, the Baby Eagle features an enlarged dust cover that
runs to the end of the slide, giving the pistol a silhouette reminiscent of the original CZ 52 pistol.
This change over the original CZ gives the appearance of
the handgun designed to handle very powerful cartridges. The
pistol also features a lengthened grip frame or beavertail that
makes for more comfortable firing with full power cartridges.
pistol features high visibility fixed sights with white dot
inserts. The sights
are prominent and not only give a good sight picture, they would
be a benefit for those of the high speed low drag class that
practice one hand clearance drills. These drills involve
snagging the sights or ejection port on your belt or hip and
racking the slide. For
the purposes of this evaluation, I obtained two Baby Eagles. One
is a full size version chambered for the popular .40 caliber
Smith and Wesson cartridge.
The other is a semi compact .45 caliber, with the full
size grip frame but a short 3.7 inch barrel. This handgun and
the .40 arrived in lockable padded plastic cases complete with
trigger lock and instructions.
Both pistols display a high level of fit and finish.
Barrel to slide fit and slide to frame fit is tight, but the
slide functions smoothly. All
surfaces are finished in a subdued matte black.
Each trigger showed about thirteen pounds double action
compression, while the single action trigger on each broke at 4
pounds according to our RCBS trigger pull gauge.
The double action trigger is especially smooth, due to an
internal drawbar as opposed to the external type used on the Beretta
and Taurus pistols.
Interestingly, while CZ pistols often have good trigger
actions, the single action press of both Baby Eagles was free of
the modest backlash exhibited by every other example of the CZ I
have handled. The .45 caliber pistol had a bit of roughness in
the double action trigger that disappeared after the first fifty
grips of the pistols were comfortable to hold and in firing.
My average size hand was not stretched and I could reach
the controls without shifting my hand. The sights provided a
good clear image when the pistols were brought on target. I prepared to test the handguns with an eclectic supply of
ammunition. Since I
thought the full size .40 caliber would be more pleasant to
fire, I used it first. I
had on hand several boxes of
Fiocchi ball ammunition. This ammunition has
proven accurate, reliable, and clean burring, overall a good
training resource. I began with the 180 grain full metal case
bullet. I placed several Shoot-N-C targets at 15 yards and
began doing double action drills. I found I could hold the gun
on target well and that recoil was minimal, subjectively as if
firing a mild 9mm load. The weight and shape of the Baby Eagle
certainly make for a pleasant firing handgun.
I found I could quickly fire the handgun and place all
ten rounds in the target at moderate ranges.
( My pistols were each supplied with ten round magazines
(high capacity types will hold fifteen .40s and thirteen .45s.)
Firing slow fire, with deliberate single action fire,
groups of three inches were obtained.
I also fired a few 170 grain MAJOR rounds.
This is the Fiocchi SWC that allows the .40 caliber
pistol to make MAJOR rating in IPSC shooting.
This is a strong round, breaking over 1,000 fps.
Accuracy is excellent.
found the Baby Eagle delivered the goods as advertised, offering
good comfort and accuracy. There were no malfunctions of any
type when firing several magazines of Fiocchi ammunition. Recoil control, comfort and sight regulation are good.
I elected to run a few ‘combat courses’
will full power ammunition.
I switched to the Fiocchi 145 grain JHP and took aim at
several full size silhouettes at ranges of seven to fifteen
yards. The pistol
distinguished itself by earning the shooter a majority of Xs in
rapid fire. Transition
from double action to single action fire was not difficult.
Overall, I was
impressed. While the .40 is considerably more effective than the
9mm, I had the
impression of firing a 9mm pistol.
switched to Double Tap Ammunition.
Double Tap specializes in the 10mm cartridge but also
offers good quality .357 SIG and .40 caliber Smith and Wesson
ammunition. The Competition Electronics chronograph
showed impressive results with the Double Tap loads:
1060 fps with the 180 grain Gold Dot load and 1170 fps with the 165 grain Gold Dot load. This
is very strong for the .40.
I had the impression of firing a powerful handgun with
these loads. Control was good but you had to maintain a good
hold on the pebble grained grips.
These loads maximize the .40 and are a good option for
personal defense. As
the accuracy table shows, they gave good results.
We performed the obligatory 25 yard accuracy shoot with
the Baby Eagle and it acquitted itself well.
such good results with the .40,
I expected excellent results with the Baby Eagle in my
favorite caliber, .45
ACP. Generally, the
results obtained with the .40 were mirrored.
The double action trigger of the .45 was equally smooth
but showed rough spots in mid action at first. This roughness
disappeared with use. I
suffered two shooter-induced malfunctions.
During the initial firing stage,
using Fiocchi ball ammunition,
I failed to properly grip the handgun and suffered a limp
wrist malfunction. Later, when firing +P ammunition, I allowed my support hand to contact the slide stop during
recoil and locked the slide open.
By maintaining a solid locked thumb grip,
I was able to prevent any further malfunctions of this
type. The shorter pistol came onto the target more quickly at short
range, giving an advantage in nitty gritty combat shooting.
The sights are well regulated for
230 grain ammunition and the pistol is mild to shoot.
Momentum was greater when firing the .45, but the pistol was not uncomfortable. Overall, I enjoyed firing the short .45 very much.
To qualify the pistol for combat loads,
I used the Fiocchi 230 grain JHP and Georgia Arms 185
grain JHP +P. The
Fiocchi load is known to produce higher velocity than most 230
grain JHP loads, an advantage when using a short barrel .45. The
Georgia Arms load uses the Gold Dot bullet, an excellent
choice. The 230
grain JHP load struck about two inches high at 15 yards, the 185
grain load was dead on the money.
Control and accuracy was good with this handgun.
the test program was impressive.
I would feel comfortable, even well armed with either
pistol. The full
size variants are easier to shoot well and usually demonstrate
more practical accuracy, while the compact pistols are handier
to carry concealed. I
found the short .45 especially comfortable when carried in the
appendix position. As the test program progresses,
I now have over five hundred cartridges through the
pistols, with no malfunctions attributable to the pistols or
their design. Once
I locate good quality leather for each - and there are a few
makers who offer holsters for these handguns - they will become
a part of my defense battery.
The .40 will likely be a home or truck gun.
The .45 is good enough to take it’s place beside my
that is something to write about!
bench rest accuracy results
|Fiocchi 145 grain JHP
|Fiocchi 170 grain MAJOR
|Fiocchi 180 grain Ball
|Fiocchi 180 grain JHP
|Double Tap 165 grain JHP
180 grain JHP
|Fiocchi 230 grain ball
|Fiocchi 230 grain JHP
Arms 185 grain JHP
more information, contact Magnum Research at:
University Avenue NE
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