When addressing the number of 1911 handguns on the market, many of us continue to be surprised at the introduction of new models. The price point is important in this lucrative market, but so is quality. A good product at a fair price will sell. A mid-priced handgun with much merit is the subject of this review. With an $839 MSRP, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 Commander is affordable range for a good quality carry gun.
According to the gun’s manufacturer, Bul Transmark, the Desert Eagle 1911 is manufactured to strict standards and nothing that I have seen counters that statement.
After evaluating this Commander-sized 1911, I find the pistol reliable, workmanlike and well suited for personal defense. The pistol maintains the good attributes of the 1911 handgun. These include a straight-to-the-rear, single-action trigger compression, low bore axis that allows little leverage for muzzle flip, grip that fits most hands well, a combination of a slide-lock safety and grip safety, and unequaled speed to an accurate first shot.
Specifications and Features
The pistol is a steel-frame Commander type, which means that the slide and barrel are 4.25 inches long, or 0.75-inches shorter than the Government Model. Thankfully, the model I reviewed has no forward cocking serrations. The pistol uses a full-length guide rod. Debated by some, the full-length guide rod is desirable for reliability and accuracy potential and keeps the pistol from going out of battery if you bump the slide on a barricade.
The cocking serrations are well done. The fit of the extractor is good. There was no movement or clocking of the extractor during the firing test.
The two halves of the feed ramp show the requisite 1/32-inch gap necessary for reliable feeding. The hammer is skeletonized. The flat mainspring housing is well checkered.
The ejection port is lowered or scalloped for enhanced clearing of the spent case, or clearing a cartridge during administrative handling. The barrel is well fitted. When you press on the barrel hood, there is minimal spring back. The well-fitted barrel bushing requires a bushing wrench for removal. This is fine on a personal handgun rather than on an issue handgun.
By the way, the Magnum Research website tells us that the 4.33-inch C version features bushingless lockup. This isn’t true of my model. A pistol shorter than 4.25 inches generally needs bushingless lockup due to the barrel tilt, but this pistol uses the proven barrel bushing design.
The sights are excellent. The front sight is a low-riding post dovetailed in place. This is an improved arrangement over the GI pistol’s staked-in post. The well-designed rear sight has a spiral pattern on the rear I have not seen elsewhere. Very well done! The sights offer an excellent sight picture.
The slide lock safety is positive in indent, unlike other 1911s I have tested a that exhibited a mushy fit in the safety—an acceptable trait in a defensive handgun. The memory-groove, upswept Beavertail grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger about half way into compression. This safety is stainless steel and one of the pistols outstanding features.
Trigger compression receives high marks. The trigger breaks at a clean 4.5 pounds with no creep and rapid reset. This is an ideal trigger for all around use.
The nicely checkered grip panels offer excellent all-around abrasion. When firing the handgun adhesion is good. The proven double-diamond pattern is not only attractive, but it also adds strength in the screw and bushing portion. Referred to as a Series 70 design, the pistol does not have a firing pin block.
I wished to proof the pistol with loads the reader may also use, so I selected a number of practice loads for initial evaluation, as well as an eclectic choice of popular defense loads.
I began with the Winchester USA 230-grain ball load. This is one of my favorite rounds—clean burning, accurate and reliable. While most of us prefer a modern JHP for defense use, the old ball loads are plenty effective— leaving a big hole in a long wound channel and a sizeable exit wound.
The pistol came out of the box shooting. There was no break-in period—there seldom is with a modern 1911 built on CNC machinery. The well-regulated sights and trigger aid in controllability and placing hits rapidly in offhand fire. I fired 50 rounds of 230-grain hardball without any type of malfunction.
I added modern defense loads to ensure the Desert Eagle 1911 feeds reliably. The first was the Hornady 200-grain XTP. A highly respected load, the XTP offers an ideal balance of expansion and penetration and excellent accuracy potential. Results were good when I fired two magazines in rapid fire. This load seems to generate less recoil than the 230-grain Winchester ball loads.
Moving to a fast-stepping 185-grain load, I fired HPR 85-grain JHPs. Recoil was not a problem. Finally, I added what is likely the most popular JHP load for personal defense—230-grain jacketed hollow point Winchester Personal Defense. It gave good results with two full 8-round magazines fired.
This isn’t a complete sample of modern defense loads, but represents a cross section of bullet weights from three makers. The Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 was reliable with each. After firing the combat course, I settled into a solid benchrest firing position, resting my arms across a padded range bag and taking every advantage for accuracy. The single best group was a 2.5-inch five-shot group at 25 yards with the Hornady 200-grain XTP. None strayed to more than a 3.8-inch group. Clearly, this handgun is accurate enough for personal defense. Later, I added other loads including the Remington 230-grain UMC and the HPR 230-grain XTP load. Good results continued, and the pistol maintained its reliability with every loading.
There are no frills and it isn’t perfect, however, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 Commander has promise. The demerits are a result of personal preference only. For example, I would like to have a checkered front strap, but then again this isn’t a $1,200 handgun. I am not faulting its performance. The pistol is affordable, without cutting many corners. After all is said and done, the Desert Eagle 1911 is a suitable handgun for personal defense. I am adding this handgun to my personal defensive battery.
Do you own a Magnum Research 1911C? Tell us what you like and don’t like about it in the comment section.