Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle .380 ACP Pocket Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 8th, 2009




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We are blessed. Shooters today have a greater variety of weapons from which to choose than ever before, whether the gun chosen is for hunting, competition, plinking, or for the more serious purpose of self defense. With more people realizing that they are ultimately responsible for their own protection, sales of concealable handguns are at an all-time high. One of the great benefits to this high demand for concealable handguns is that we now have a proliferation of good handguns that are easy to hide. I am a firm believer that in a fight, bigger is better. If I knew that I was heading into a fight that I could not avoid, I would choose a shotgun or rifle. Any handgun is a compromise between stopping power and portability. When choosing a handgun for concealed carry, it is important to choose a gun that can ALWAYS be with you, no matter what. No one knows when he might be cornered and have to defend himself. Therefore, the gun must be within reach, or it is no good to you. A forty-five in the glove box is useless if you are away from your vehicle. I am a proponent of keeping a large handgun in the pickup truck, or even a rifle. Having both available is a good idea. However, I also firmly believe in keeping a handgun concealed within easy reach at all times. For that purpose, I like pocket guns. I can always have a small pistol or revolver in my pocket. I sometimes carry larger guns, such as a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, or my Lightweight Colt .45 Commander. However, most of the time, I just keep a pocket gun handy, as do most others who carry everyday. This explains the extreme popularity of small lightweight revolvers and pocket autos. Today, we have several good ones from which to choose, and in the auto department, the .380 ACP has risen to the top of the popularity heap. The modern .380 is lightweight, reliable, easy to hide, and has adequate power when stoked with the proper ammo. One of the newest on the market is the Micro Desert Eagle from Magnum Research.

For those who pay attention to such things, the Micro Eagle is immediately recognizable as being very similar to the ZVI Kevin from the Czech Republic. Magnum Research has licensed the rights to produce the pistol from ZVI, making minor design and cosmetic changes. The Czechs are famous for innovative and reliable gun design. The Micro Desert Eagle is made in the US by Magnum Research, and has a novel gas-delayed blowback system that, like the ZVI Kevin, has two small ports just ahead of the chamber which direct powder gasses both upward and forward to delay the slide under recoil. This allows the Micro Eagle to use a lighter weight slide and softer springs than if it was a standard blowback design. The pistol weighs in at 13.5 ounces with an empty magazine, and has a shorter barrel and slide than any other pocket .380 of which I am aware. The pistol is also pretty thin, and very flat on the sides, without protrusions of any kind. No manual safety is needed, as it has a double-action-only trigger. There are other unique features as well, such as the twin recoil springs. Instead of one spring and guide rod under the barrel or a spring surrounding the barrel as in other designs, the Micro Eagle has twin guide rods with recoil springs on each side, at the bottom of the slide. The action bar for the double-action-only firing system is on the right side of the frame, partially covered by the right grip panel. The sights are large and easy to see in good light, but a little fluorescent paint on the front would help, and hopefully, Crimson Trace will design a Lasergrip for this dandy little pistol. As stated above, this Micro Eagle is a small pistol, smaller than even the Kel-Tec and Ruger .380 autos. The critical dimensions are listed in the chart below. All measurements are listed in inches. The overall height includes the sights and magazine base pad.

Overall Length 4.552
Barrel Length 2.3
Slide Thickness 0.872
Frame Thickness 0.629
Grip Thickness 0.886
Overall Height 3.72
Weight 13.5 Ounces
Trigger Pull 8.3 Pounds

The steel slide of the Micro Eagle has a nickel Teflon finish , with the frame made of a non-ferrous alloy, probably aluminum, but it has a very hard and attractive finish to match the slide. The barrel and other steel parts wear a black finish. The trigger travels approximately one-half inch, and the pull is very smooth stacking gradually to the eight pound, four ounce release. The trigger guard is large, and very well-suited for use with a gloved finger. The magazine release is on the left side, just as it should be. The magazine base pad allows another finger to get a hold on the pistol, and the frame is very well-contoured to comfortably fit the human hand. I wear a size large glove, and could still get two fingers on the front of the grip and mag extension. The magazine holds six cartridges, for a loaded capacity of seven.

Disassembly of the Micro Eagle is very easy, and like no other pistol that I have fired before. Lining up the two marks on the right side of the frame and slide, the barrel is rotated about one hundred and eighty degrees, and the slide is moved forward off the frame. Very simple. It is almost as easy to reassemble. The Micro Desert Eagle has a relatively large hammer, which ensures reliable ignition. I fed the pistol every type of .380 ammo that I had available, and it never stuttered. It fed, fired, and ejected every round without hesitation. I used standard factory hollowpoint and full metal jacket ammunition, high performance factory hard cast, hollowpoint, and specialty type ammo, and some of my hollowpoint handloads. The pistol also exhibited good accuracy for such a small weapon. At seven yards, I could easily keep them all in the bull rapid fire. As can be seen in the picture, I had a lot more lateral dispersion than vertical. This was due to my difficulty in seeing the nickel front sight, as the sun was behind me. Still, very good performance. Backing up to twenty five yards, I found that the Micro Desert Eagle shot slightly to the left in my hands, but plinking at a four inch steel swinging target was pretty satisfactory, with me hitting more than missing. Keeping all shots in the kill zone of a half-size human silhouette at twenty-five yards was no problem, firing from a standing position. That is good performance for such a small pistol, with me holding it. Velocities from the short barrel were very respectable, especially from the high performance premium ammunition. Velocities are listed in feet per second (fps) in the chart below. HP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. FMJ is full metal jacket. HC is a hard cast lead bullet. Glaser is a specialty round with compressed lead shot in a bullet jacket topped with a plastic ball. PB is PowRBall, another specialty load from Cor-Bon. DPX is a load using the Barnes X homogenous copper hollow nose bullet. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities were recorded twelve feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore HC 100 968.1
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 900.7
Buffalo Bore HP 90 969.5
Cor Bon PB 70 1092
Cor Bon DPX 80 854
Cor Bon Glaser 70 985.6
Cor Bon HP 90 792.5
Handload HP 90 925.1
Remington FMJ 90 785.8
Remington HP 88 726.5

Like most of the new breed of pocket .380 ACP pistols, this new Micro Desert Eagle is a good one. It weighs a few ounces more than the lightest ones, which may be a negative, or may be a positive, depending upon your desires. While still pretty light weight, the extra heft helps control recoil, and gives the little Micro Eagle a “real gun” feel to, for lack of a better term. It is very comfortable in the hand, and very comfortable to shoot, while still being smaller than some of the other pocket .380 pistols. It has a unique design, and appears to be very well-crafted out of quality materials. It is not the cheapest pocket .380 on the market, nor was it intended to be. “Cheap” is not the main factor when choosing a fighting gun. Still, it is a good value, built right, and made in the USA. I like it, and would depend upon the Micro Desert Eagle as a daily carry gun. It is what a pocket auto should be; compact, rugged, easy to shoot, and rock-solid reliable.

Check out the Micro Desert Eagle online at

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To order the Micro Desert Eagle online, go to

Jeff Quinn


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The Micro Desert Eagle holds seven rounds of .380 ACP ammo.



Trigger travels about one-half inch.





Pistol hides well in the front pocket.





To disassemble, simply line-up markings on frame and slide, then rotate barrel.





The Micro Desert Eagle performed flawlessly using a variety of ammo.



Seven yard rapid-fire target.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Micro Desert Eagle .380 pocket pistol from Magnum Research.



Pistol comes with hard plastic case, cleaning tools, cable lock and instruction manual.





Micro Desert Eagle compared to a Ruger LCP.





Sights are large and easy to see in good lighting conditions.





Red paint on extractor serves as a loaded chamber indicator.





Frame is contoured for comfortable hold.



Robust barrel lug rests in a recess in the frame.





Hammer is large and reliable.



Dual recoil springs and guide rods.



Two small ports just ahead of the chamber direct powder gases upwards and forwards, delaying blowback.