Magnum Research Big-Frame Revolvers (BFR) are chambered for rifle cartridges like the .45/70 Government, .444 Marlin and .30/30 Winchester. The iconic Desert Eagle, of Hollywood movie and video game fame, launches big-bore handgun rounds like the .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .50 Action Express. But MRI makes guns other than shining, stainless steel, polished nickel hand cannons; also on offer are high-quality standard-frame and small-frame pistols. Here’s a look at two MRI semi-autos designed to fit the needs of shooters looking for quality concealed-carry pistols.
The Micro Desert Eagle .380 ACP
Recognizing that its customers were looking for a pocketable semi-auto that could be carried at all times and in any place, MRI licensed the rights to produce its own version of the ZVI pistol here in the United States. Originally developed in the Czech Republic, the ZVI is an exceptionally sleek, compact pocket pistol chambered in .380 ACP. After making a few minor changes to the original design, MRI dubbed the little pistol the Micro Desert Eagle.
With an overall length of just 4.52 inches, the Micro is smaller than some of its smallest competitors, including the Kel-Tec P-3AT and the Ruger LCP. Empty, the ME380 tips the scales at about 14 ounces. This means it’s a bit heavier than several other polymer-framed .380s, but whether that is a negative (for carry) or a positive (reduced recoil) depends on what the shooter is looking for.
The Micro’s steel magazine holds six rounds for a total load capacity of seven. The magazine basepad provides just enough room for a full two-finger grip. The fixed sights are large enough to be useful while remaining low profile for a no-snag draw. For such a small gun, the triggerguard is pretty roomy, leaving enough space for shooters to fit a gloved trigger finger into place if necessary.
One feature that sets the Micro Desert Eagle apart is its action. Instead of having a straight-blowback-operated action, the pistol features an unusual, but reliable, gas-delayed blowback system. Two small ports are situated just in front of the chamber to direct expended cartridge gases both forward and upward to slow the slide as it recoils. The delay facilitates the use of a slide and recoil springs with less weight than a standard blowback design requires. Twin recoil springs ride on a pair of guide rods located on opposite sides of the barrel at the bottom of the slide. The trigger-to-action transfer bar for the double-action-only (DAO) ignition system is located on the right side of the pistol, where it’s partially covered by the right grip panel. The magazine release is located on the left side of the grip frame and is set into a depression in the grip to help prevent unintentional magazine releases.
With its unique lines and design, the Micro exhibits a high level of craftsmanship and quality materials. The Micro Eagle is built to be durable and dependable, traits that come with a price. It is not the least-expensive pocket .380 currently available, but the words cheap and reliable rarely appear in the same sentence. With so many .380s on the market, the Micro Desert Eagle is a solid value that’s made right here in the U.S.A.
Baby Desert Eagle II Compact
Also known as the “Beagle,” the Baby Desert Eagle II is a double-column semi-auto pistol based on the venerable Czech CZ 75. Called the 1911 of Europe, the reliable and comfortable-to-shoot CZ 75 has been the parent pistol for a variety of clones from several different manufacturers. In 1990, Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) introduced its take on the CZ design, called the Jericho 941.
At first, the Jericho was imported to the U.S. market by K.B.I., Inc. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. MRI later adopted the design, re-christening it the Baby Desert Eagle. In 2008, with changes in business relations between IWI and MRI, the importation of the pistol stopped for a time. When Kahr Arms purchased MRI in 2011, IWI approached the newly merged company to resume importation of the Baby Eagle under the MRI label. Kahr agreed, and as a result, American shooters can now enjoy the Baby Eagle II in a a wide variety of configurations and calibers.
One Baby Eagle model that provides a balance of easy carry and comfortable shooting is the model BE9912RB. It’s a compact 9mm with a steel frame. Both the slide and the frame are treated with a durable matte-black-oxide finish. The slide is topped with low-profile, metallic, three-dot combat sights. The slide-to-frame fit is excellent, with full-contact internal slide rails providing for smooth cycling. The BE9912RB is hammer fired, with a double-action (DA) trigger pull weighing about 12 pounds and a single-action (SA) trigger pull dropping to 5 to 4.5 pounds. The ambidextrous thumb safety also acts as a decocker.
The grip frame is contoured and fitted with textured polymer grip panels for a classically comfortable fit in the shooting hand. An extended beavertail effectively protects the shooter’s hand from hammer bite. The overall result is a pistol that rests comfortably in the shooter’s hand and is easy to operate.
With a 3.64-inch barrel and an unloaded weight of 33.9 ounces, the BE9912RB Baby Eagle is compact, yet just heavy enough to keep felt recoil to a minimum.
Is a compact, steel-frame 9mm not quite what you have in mind? Never fear: The Baby Desert Eagle II is available in three sizes with both steel and polymer frames. As of this writing, a total of 19 configurations are available chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP. Whatever the model, the Baby Eagle has a reputation for reliability and accuracy while remaining reasonably priced. Double-stack magazines are available in 10- to 15-round configurations.
For more information, call 508-635-4273 or visit magnumresearch.com.