The Baby Desert Eagle .45 ACP Pistol

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms

When the great handguns of modern times are discussed, the go-to list of reliable handguns I completely trust is short. The Colt 1911, FN High Power, Czech CZ 75 and the GLOCK are among these. There are many copies and clones of these handguns; some are ironmongery, others are excellent firearms. Among the close copies of the CZ 75 that has earned a good reputation worldwide is the Israeli Jericho pistol.

Black Baby Desert Eagle, barrel to the right on white background

Handsome and reliable, the BDE II has much to recommend.

The pistol is marketed in the United States as the Baby Desert Eagle. Since Magnum Research offers the Desert Eagle—a self-loader chambered for Magnum handgun cartridges—the Baby Desert Eagle moniker makes sense. The present rendition of the Baby Desert Eagle is offered in both steel frame and polymer variations and in 9mm, .40 and .45 caliber.

Although the Baby Desert Eagle is based upon the CZ 75 design, the original CZ 75 is a rule beater in many ways. Designed and manufactured while Czechoslovakia was still under communist control, the CZ 75 proved a reliable, well-made pistol with many vocal supporters. This handgun certainly shows inspirational design. The CZ 75 features a double-action first-shot trigger. A long initial trigger press both cocks and drops the hammer. After the first shot, the CZ 75 is cocked for subsequent single-action fire. The pistol features a safety that allows cocked-and-locked carry, which is hammer cocked and safety on. The author feels the primary advantage of this safety is the pistol may be placed on safe during tactical movement. After the first shot is fired and you are in a gun battle, you would not wish to decock the pistol. The CZ allows a superior tactical safety and features a slide design that rides inside of the frame rails rather than outside the frame rails. This allows for greater contact between the long bearing surfaces and greater accuracy potential. These design features are maintained in the Baby Desert Eagle pistol, which is a close clone, although not exactly the same as the original.

Black Baby Desert Eagle, barrel to the left on white background with focus on the safety

Unlike many modern handguns, the Baby Desert Eagle has the option of on-safe carry.

The Baby Desert Eagle Features

The Baby Desert Eagle features a frame that extends farther toward the muzzle than the original pistol, which gives it a unique appearance. The pistol’s fit, finish and the materials used show attention to detail and high quality. The pistol has an appearance more in keeping with a high-end civilian pistol rather than a mass-produced military pistol.

  • The Baby Desert Eagle’s full-length frame rails and high-grade finish make for a feeling of exceptional smoothness when the slide is cycled by hand. The slide rides lower in the frame than conventional handguns and lowers the bore axis, resulting inless muzzle flip.
  • The iron sights are excellent combat-style designs with a white, three-dot insert.
  • The barrel is 3.9 inches long. The Baby Desert Eagle is supplied with a polygonal rifled barrel. Polygonal rifling is cut shallower than conventional rifling. Adherents feel that this rifling imparts less damage to the projectile and produces a better gas seal behind the projectile. Theoretically, accuracy may be improved although this is difficult to demonstrate. A caution when choosing ammunition… this type of rifling is NOT friendly to lead bullets. There is little depth for lead deposits to build up. When deposits build, pressure may be greatly increased. Lead bullet handloads or commercial reloads must be avoided with this class of handguns. Plated or jacketed bullets are the choice for practice ammunition.
  • The Baby Desert Eagle features bushingless barrel lockup and an angled camming wedge for lockup.
  • The safety departs from the CZ 75 in that it is mounted on the slide rather than the original position on the frame. The slide-mounted safety is also a decocker. This safety mechanism seems the preferred type for institutional sales. The Baby Desert Eagle incorporates a positive firing pin block into the action.

On the Range

Baby Desert Eagle Manual Safety and Decocker on white background

The manual safety and decocker is positive in operation and handles quickly.

When handling the pistol, the first impression is good. The trigger action is smooth enough with a double-action press of about 12 pounds, and single-action press at 4 pounds. The double-action press is smooth, and the single-action trigger is free from creep. The single-action trigger exhibits the modest backlash common to CZ derivatives.

The frame features good hand fit. Despite the double-column magazine, the grip isn’t overly large or bulky. The S-curve of the grip fits most hands well. The metal portion of the grip strap is checkered for additional abrasion and the grips are pebbled. The grip tang is extended compared to the original CZ 75.

Most who fired the pistol found it more comfortable than the original CZ 75 due to modest improvements in the grip design.

  • The pistol has a solid feel.
  • The weight distribution and heft are good.
  • Due to the low bore axis, the pistol’s recoil is straight back.
  • Muzzle flip is subdued.
  • Despite a relatively compact grip frame the Israeli produced pistol features a 10-round double-column magazine. It was difficult to load more than nine rounds although it is possible. For most of the test program, I loaded nine rounds for convenience.
  • The magazines are of high quality, with well-designed followers and strong coil wire magazine springs. This ensures that feed is positive.
Baby Desert Eagle Light Rail on a gray background

The light rail offers many options.

The primary advantage of the new Baby Desert Eagle over the old is the ability to mount a light or laser. The Viridian combat light proved to be an ideal match for the compact .45’s rail. As for leather, Don Hume has been up and running on most of the Baby Eagle Line for years.

During the initial firing test, the pistol was fired with the Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ. This is an affordable loading, always reliable, with good accuracy and a clean powder burn. Personal defense drills were conducted by drawing and engaging combat-style targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. The double-action trigger is smooth enough that rapid center hits were possible with good speed. Once the first shot was broken, the subsequent shots were fired single action.

The Baby Desert Eagle exhibits excellent control in the single-action mode. It was no mean feat to empty a magazine of .45 ACP into one ragged hole at seven yards.

Baby Desert Eagle Front Post Sight on a gray background

The front post sight is dovetailed in — it isn’t moving.

The cadence of fire is never set by how quickly you are able to press the trigger, it is rather how quickly you are able to realign the sights after controlling recoil. The pistol’s relatively low bore axis, good sights and smooth trigger allowed good control. During these drills a number of rapid magazine changes were attempted. The magazine latch was quickly actuated, and the double-column magazine is tapered to allow rapid insertion of the magazine.

The Baby Desert Eagle handles as quickly and as well as any double-action first-shot pistol.

In moving to personal defense loads, several jacketed hollow-point loads were fired. The Baby Desert Eagle never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The Federal 230-grain HST proved accurate and controllable. I decided to try at least one +P loading. Many otherwise reliable handguns short cycle or fail to function with +P loads. What occurs is that the slide’s velocity outstrips the ability of the magazine spring to feed.

The Baby Desert Eagle was fired with the Speer Gold Dot 200 grain +P, which This load exhibited 950 fps from the Baby Eagle’s polygonal rifled barrel. Function was excellent in firing two magazines of this loading.

Accuracy Results

  • Firing from a solid bench rest shooting position
  • Five-shot group at 25 yards
Load Group
American Eagle 230-grain FMJ 3.0 inches
Federal 230-grain HST 2.0 inches
Speer Gold Dot 200-grain +P  2.5 inches

Handloads

Load Velocity Group
 Nosler 185-grain JHP, Titegroup powder  930 fps  2.25 inches
 Montana Gold 200-grain FP, WW 231 powder  920 fps  2.5 inches

Overall, the function and handling of the pistol cannot be faulted. In firing the handgun from a solid bench rest, the Baby Desert Eagle exhibited excellent accuracy potential. In short, this is a quality firearm with much to recommend.

Those wishing to own a quality handgun of traditional material that is accurate and pleasant to fire will find much merit in this handgun.

You ready to get your own Baby Desert Eagle? Tell us about your plans and what impressed you in the comments section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (26)

  • vicki

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    Ive had my baby eagle for about five yrs now. Ive owned various makes of handguns and found i enjoy this hand gun the most. The gtip is comfortable for my med to lg woman hands. I found a set og Hogue grips for it. I enjoy bragging about the virtual lack of kick. My old hands arent as strong as they once were and i find the slide sometimes difficult to move. Certainly not a two finger process. In spite of that fact, the BDE will be my handgun of choice fron here on out. Im taking my CCP class this weekend and look forward to showing off my Baby.

    Reply

  • Jim

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    This review is wrong. You can NOT carry this firearm cocked and locked, the safety is a de-cocker, as in when you put the safety of, the hammer comes forward without firing a round.

    And before anybody refutes me, I actually own one of these

    Reply

    • Matthew Donaldson

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      When it was talking about the cocked and locked safety I believe it was referring to the CZ 75. The article states later that this pistol’s safety does de-cock it.

      Reply

  • Tony

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    Great review. I’ve read a lot of about the baby eagle .45 acp and just bought one, can’t wait to fire it. Only gripe I have is you cannot find any after market custom grips for the .45, only the .40 and 9mm. I would love to slap some rubber or possibly wood grips on it. Only one thing I read in the manual is that this gun is NOT rated for any +P or +P+ ammo it would void the warranty

    Reply

  • Thor

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    But where is the 10mm? Or the S&W 3rd Generation SS pistols? I could take a S&W 1066, slip in a 10mm wimp barrel (oops, make that .40 S&W) and fire all the .40’s I want. Not that I would. I checked out the FeeBees long ago and decided my 3rd department would be in a city with a real police department. This seems to ignore the Made in America desirability that every LEO should put foremost. Thor

    Reply

  • Wolf

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    I looooove my Baby Desert Eagle! I have large hands and no other pistol grip has ever fit me like this on does. It’s like custom made for me. The gun handles and shoots very well. Recently I’ve added a laser, which makes it even more interesting, especially for self defense purposes. I bought this gun used and I had to have the sight readjusted, which Kahr Arms did free of charge. They even paid for the shipping back and forth. This one gun I will keep!

    Reply

  • Pete in Alaska

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    @Bob,
    I don’t know how I missed this blog!?!?!? I must have been traveling or something.
    I would have to add the Springfield XD and XDm series amoung any discussions of the “Great” pistols of modern times but can’t faul your noted choices even though I’m not a Glock fan!
    But, to the topic at hand! I was gifted and all steel Baby Desert Eagle Compact chambered in .40 and it is indeed one of the finest, most reliable, accurate auto loaders that exist. One of the “greats”? Yes Sir, it is. IMI has done a serpurb job with this platform. There are few that can compair straight out of the box. Mine is now nearly as well traveled as my HiPower and XD’s.
    BROVO on this choice!! For those of you who thought that the Desert Eagle was only a very large auto Magnum that is spends yo by and feed …. Look Again! The Baby DE’s in 9mm, .40, and .45 are affordable and live up to and beyond their larger brothers heratige. If you get the opportunity to shoot one don’t pass it up. If your looking for something new and great and a pleasure to own then consider the Baby Desert Eagle.
    Bob, sorry I missed this when it came out, most likely nobody will read this late to the party comment but a great write up deserves comment.

    Reply

    • Pete in AK

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      I’m really getting pissed off with “Spell Check” and the so called “Auto Correct”!!!
      Para3 / line 3 should read;
      … Is expensive to buy and feed ….

      Reply

  • Collin MacMillan

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    I don’t see a polymer frame variant listed by Magnum Research (Kimber) in 45ACP. Likewise, the polygonal rifling was changed to conventional in the 2005-2007 time frame. Magnum Research specs conventional rifling on all the Baby Desert Eagle II line now.

    I have the early 941/Jericho/Baby Eagle in 9mm – back when the .41AE kit was available. It has polygonal rifling and full steel frame. No reviews I’ve seen on the conventional bores rate them at a disadvantage against the poly; it’s my understanding the polygonal process is simply more costly with little realizable benefit (although maintenance is much better with poly barrels.)

    Reply

  • rockyvnvmc

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    I’ve only heard a little about polygonal rifling. Is it possible to compare ‘rifling’ with other rounds, shot from other polygonal ‘rifled’ barrels and procure a ‘match’, as with conventional rifling ?

    Reply

  • Griphon21

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    When he says that about the safety he is still talking about the original CZ 75, not the Baby Eagle. The CZs can be had in either a safety or a decocker only model (designated BD in standard 75 or Tactical in SP-01). The Baby Eagle safety does indeed decock the hammer when engaged, and also disconnects double action until switched back to fire. My preference is for the CZ style decocker, which resets automatically after being pressed, allowing for immediate double action fire. When I use my Baby Eagle I just have to remember to immediately return the safety to the fire position after engagment. This leaves me decocked with a double action first shot ready to go.

    Reply

  • W. Dowd

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    I own 2 of these, both in 40sw and love them. Mine are both the first version, pre tactical rail. One item in the article I take exception to:

    “The pistol features a safety that allows cocked-and-locked carry, which is hammer cocked and safety on.”

    This just isn’t true. With the hammer cocked, engaging the safety immediately decocks the firearm. Any attempt to re-cock the firearm with the safety still engaged results in the hammer returning to the uncocked neutral position. There is no physical way in which to have a cocked hammer, and safety on.

    Reply

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