Range Review: Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911G

The Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911G is one of many 1911 pistols Cheaper Than Dirt! sells for less than $1000, but choosing between those extensive offerings can be difficult. We all want to get as much for our money as possible, and we would like to have a good idea of what we can legitimately expect from a pistol when it arrives at our receiving FFL. To help with that decision, CTD had a chance to put a Magnum Research DE1911G through its paces. It features a number of upgrades than can help the operator shoot faster, safer, and more comfortably.

The 1911G features a 5-inch barrel on a full-size frame, precision cast and machined from carbon steel. The matte-black slide is machined from steel billets and deployed front and rear grasping grooves. It offered a flat-profile checkered aluminum mainspring housing below a high-ride beavertail grip safety. The thumb safety was only on the left side. The front strap was smooth. The aluminum trigger face was grooved, and the trigger body was relieved. There was an overtravel stop to improve reset time.

We noted the Desert Eagle’s matte-black finish was evenly applied on the frame, along the top of the slide, and down to the skeletonized hammer. The polished slide sides offered an attractive contrast. Stainless-steel accents—the barrel, Allen screws on the grip panels, and an enhanced, polished beavertail grip safety—also look nice and do not detract from the gun’s understated look.

Functionally, the cocking serrations were wide and easy to grab. The front sight blade was grooved side-to-side to reduce glare and was dovetailed into the slide top. The low-profile, snag-resistant rear sight, drift-adjustable for windage, was also dovetailed into place and is secured by an Allen screw. The sight’s rear face lined up with the rear edge of the slide for maximum sight radius.

The Desert Eagle uses a full-length guide rod, but the stainless-steel guide rod was short enough the gun could be easily field stripped. Turn the barrel bushing from 6 o’clock to about 8 o’clock, remove the recoil spring cap, align the takedown notch with the slide-stop pin, and push the slide-stop pin out from right to left. Then slide the top end off the frame. Before reassembly, we fully lubricated the barrel lugs, barrel link, slide and frame rails, the hammer relief beneath the slide, the trigger disconnector, and along the sides of the hammer. Reassembly was uneventful. With the slide locked back to expose the barrel, our last point of lubrication was the surface area that would contact the bushing during lockup.

With the pistol properly lubed, we were ready to evaluate some of the features that separate DE1911G from a GI-level 1911—extended magazine release, extended thumb safety, enlarged ejection port, beveled magazine well, and double-diamond checkered wood grips.

Using sandbags, we shot the 1911G from a distance of 25 yards with a budget target round and a premium defense load. Our break-in budget round was Winchester USA’s 230-grain full-metal-jacket round-nosed ammunition. The premium round was a 230-grain jacketed hollowpoint from Black Hills. From the bench, the Desert Eagle shot Winchester FMJ ammunition into an average group size of about 1.7 inches at 25 yards. The best group firing the Black Hills hollowpoints measured about 2.4 inches across. Getting these groups centered left and right required some patience drifting the rear sight, and for this test, we didn’t adjust the front-sight height for elevation, instead just leaving some light below 6 o’clock.

On action targets, we found the magazine release was initially balky, but within five mag changes that smoothed out. The Desert Eagle offered a clear sight picture that could be read quickly. The trigger didn’t present creep or a too-long pull, and the magazine could be released quickly once broke in.

The Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911G offers several features (previously only found on custom models) in an affordable, accurate handgun.

What are your thoughts on the DE1911G? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (32)

  1. On the subject of locking the slide back to drop a round into the chamber – don’t do it. According to Walt Kuleck in his 1911 “bible” (The M1911 Comete Owner’s Guide) it plays havoc with the extractor, exactly as mentioned in a coue of other comments before mine. “The extractor is not to move outward enough to readily “snap” over the base of the cartridge case on it’s way to engaging the case’s extractor groove. The extractor may be damaged thereby. Always chamber a round from the magazine only.

    A similar injunction is offered against dropping the slide on an empty chamber, which “may damage the sear/hammer engagement surfaces. One Hope’s that the sear/hammer engagement of one’s pistol is not so tenuous that an occasional “slide drop” will damage the sear/hammer surfaces, but one should not make this a regular practice.”

    Both cautions seem reasonable to this one, who now heads them and avoids such practices.

  2. I love my 1911 Desert eagle, it has a great feeling, trigger pull is nice crisp , mag release is quicknown , barrel is tight and it feels as if it was sent out to a gun smith for extra can’t find anything wrong with it..It’s a great gun for the price..

  3. Had to perform some rear sight adjustments out-of-the-box, but, now I’m on the mark. Also replaced the less-than-desirable factory mags with Chip McCormick Power Mags (Well worth the reliability if your life depends on it!). I’ll tell you, when (not if) the balloon goes up, this is the sidearm I’m reaching for…OooRah!!

  4. This could have been written by me. Every point you made I have told anyone who will listen for 2years .I have had many 1911s (over 30) 8 kimbers several Performance center Smith’s. Springfield TRP and RO. Sig gsr and tacops etcThe only 1911 i have had that I thought was a all around better gun is a Dan Wesson valor.I bought mine new with trijicon nightsights for 600 plus tax 1600 malfunction free rounds later it is still 95 percent as tight as it was new I had told many people it is the most underrated 1911 on the market I think most don’t know what to look for Thanx for confirmation that I’m not crazy great article

  5. I have owned at least one or more of just about every 1911 made at some point. Dan Wesson, Kimber, Colt and the list goes on. When I purchased my Desert Eagle I must admit I was truly impressed with the quality and features. No mim parts, series 70 trigger and safety just to name a couple. Keep in mind only a few gun makers still make a series 70 1911, the preferred series by most serious shooters. Dan Wesson being the other. Don’t get me wrong it is a basic 1911, no front checkering and less then ideal sights. It just can’t be beat for 850.00 dollars. Fit and finish is as good as Colt if not better. It is made in Israel and the Israelies are very, very good at making firearms. I have yet to find a tactical product made in Israel that was anything less then spectacular. So as long as it doesn’t bother you that it is imported I would not hesitate to add it to your collection. Keep in mind that even Winchester, a quintessential American manufacturer of rifles and firearms, imports most of their shotguns from Turkey.

  6. I have owned a lot of 1911s,kimbers,colts ,springfields(Still have range officer)sig stainless 1911,i dont know if i just got lucky,but this gun is tight and will bullseye at 20 yards,even my wife can hit stuff with it.

  7. I have had this DE 1911G for 2 years now. I absolutely love it. We had a vendor fair at a local range and tested Wilson Combat, Springfield, Remington, Rock Island, Sig, and Colt. I out shot them all with the DE demo. The one I bought shot just as well as the demo i tried so it wasn’t just a lucky demo gun. I have had no issues with it. Price was not a concern when I decided on what I wanted. The best gun purchase I have ever made. If I could only have one gun it would be that one. I would keep the Glock, The S&W, the Walther, the Springfield all in the safe. This DE 1911G is the most underrated gun ever. Demo it and see for yourself.

  8. I just got the 1911G, and overall it seems like a quality weapon. Havent fired it a lot yet, so I cant comment on that. The fit-and-finish is a little lacking in a few key areas, and the folks at BUL / DE could serve themselves well to easily resolve….the grip safety has a very sharp edge at the bottom of the apparatus that could be rounded off to feel better and snag less. The thumb safety tends to hang down just a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, but enough to feel it when you hi-grip the weapon in your left hand.
    Overall I think its a smart buy, we will see for sure once we send a few downrange.

  9. The Desert Eagle 1911 is a wonderful pistol loved it from the first time I held it. It feels better than my Colt 1911. Shooting it in competions have yet to have it jam.

  10. I would like to see/read a comparble between the 357 Magnum to this 1911G, both having the same length barrels and both Magnum Research Desert Eagle models. I did own a 357
    Desert Eagle I purchased used and replaced it with a 45. I have a feeling I made a big
    mistake, that 357 shot like a dream. It was my first center fire auto and none I have acquired to date have shot as well.

  11. @donwann, true. With the slide locked back and dropping the slide forward, it *is* hard on the extractor. It’s also *really* hard on the round.
    I do much the same (don’t drop from a locked slide, but from about halfway), but I keep a spare extractor handy *and* change out that round when it starts getting burrs on the casing.

    For me, it’s a habit from military operations, one can *never* have enough rounds available instantly.
    On the civilian side, it’s rather a bad habit. How likely is it that one would meet even seven attackers that need to be put down?
    But then, I’m a combat veteran, I’ve fired in combat and am well accustomed to stress reaction that turns marksmanship into garbage for the uninitiated or untrained.
    I also raised our children in a rather lousy neighborhood. It was all that I could afford on military pay.

  12. @Stephen, I do the same thing, but I rack the slide with my weak hand, strong arm locked. I can also inspect my weapon for a round in chamber the same way by tilting the weapon and inspecting the port, only pulling back a quarter inch or so.
    But, I’ve carried an M1911 for over 30 years, a fair amount while I was military. Hated the 9mm, was thankful when command reverted us back to the M1911.

    @stan, I have zero clue what you are talking about. I re-read my comment again, I suggest you re-read it again as well. There are precisely three chances I’d carry my M1911 with the slide locked back.
    Slim, fat and none. That is a quick way to entanglement with clothing, failure to feed due to clothing residue or even catching skin when the slide rams into battery while I’m trying to get the weapon out!
    When I carry, I carry with one in chamber, half-cock safety engaged. If I suspect trouble is at hand and have time to prepare, I put the weapon at condition one, full cock, slide safety on.
    I seriously think you misread what I said. Glad to clear that up, lest someone actually get injured doing something unsafe.
    What I *did* say was, racking the slide from the front can leave one at the risk of losing the small finger if one has an unintended discharge. I see at least one report of such per month in the news.
    Also knew a gunsmith who blew the tip of his thumb off with an M1911. There are three chances I’d let him handle any of my firearms.
    See the above three chances.
    A gunsmith should know what I know, never stick your fingers, or any other part of your body in front of the end that fire, brimstone and thunder come out of, lest a bullet precede them and ruin your weekend plans.

    BTW, I’m a range safety nazi. I’m also a general safety nazi as well. Witnessed far too many general training accidents over my near three decades of service to not be so.

  13. one other thing i failed to mention in my previous comment. you are telling us that you carry a gun with the slide open???? now if i read your comment correctly, that is how i have understood it. there is absolutely no way i would ever carry a semi with the chamber exsposed. you are just asking for trouble. im over 60years old. i never heard or saw anyboy carry with the slide back and the chamber open. now, if i am wrong, if there are people out there that carry a semi with an open chamber, please write in and make a comment on it. i would seriously want to hear from all of you and get all the input you have as to why and where did you get the idea , anything at all to enlighten me… thank you, stan

  14. i guess i really do not know nearly enough about guns but i have had a ruger 45 and a browning 45 both were a 1911 type of semi auto, however, it does seem to me that the way that you carry that gun of yours is dangerous wzrd1. i know that in the case of a kahr 45, if you tried to do that particular manuever, your gun would jam either before or right after the first shot and there would be a real chance of you just plain breaking some of the small parts. but the real case im trying to make here is i know that you have worked this system out with your particular weapon. you have a right to be proud of the way you have over time mastered this unloaded chamber carry with the slide back. but i would not broadcast this technique. its just too dangerous for someone that doesnt have that amount of know – how to go out and start to try to figure out. its irresponsible. you wouldnt trust a dangerous gun, would you??? why give some inexperienced guy a dangerous method??

  15. Stephen, your practice of dropping a round in the chamber while the slide is locked back is hard on you extractor and continued used of this practice will cause a premature extractor failure. In an 1911 the extractor is designed in such a way that as a fresh round feeds in it slides up between the breach face and extractor before chambering.

  16. Wzrd1, I rack my slides to the rear using the front of the slide with my left hand holding the pistol parallel to my body with the pistol in my right hand. I’m a CHL holder and often carry one chambered out in town. I don’t insert one by inserting the mag and racking, I lock the slide back, drop one in, release slide, safety, and insert full mag. Using the front of the slide with my left allows my right thumb easy access to the slide catch. There’s method to my madness bud.

  17. JUST ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW….. well, i have owned 2 high point 45 cal. autos i sold the first one to help finance a browning practical…what a mistake. i fired at least 5ooo rounds through it and it was accurate enough to gut shoot a person at 30 yards. i bought it as a “floor gun ” to keep in my delivery truck. Then i bought another one for my daughters soon to be husband and between the 2 of us we shot at least 3000 rounds through it so far. absolutely no problems. it is accurate. i would trust my life to it as a personal defense weapon any day. however the 45 does have a problem that everybody wants to overlook and not talk about. have you ever shot a 45 in your house in the dark at night when everybody was sleeping???? dont worry, you will only need one shot. you and whoever you shoot will be left temporarily blinded and deaf!!! i perfer my p380 kahr!! for personal defense. no sense blowing ALL the windows out!!! however, about the 45 hi point…if anything does go wrong with my gun…i just ship it back to high point they clean, lub., and repair it for free. for the life of the gun. not the owner. oh, i almost forgot…the price for the gun, transferr, taxes..just under 2 hundred dollars…it may have gone up a few dollars over the last 3 or 4 years.

  18. Wzrd1….the forward serrations on the slide are for administrative chamber checking and performed from under the slide with the fingers. If you are not performing a chamber check after an administrative reload you can’t be confident your first trigger pull will produce a bang. Using the front of the slide for this provides more control and reduces the likelihood of a creating a type 3 malfunction. Without serrations this is very difficult if not impossible to perform reliably. So, for this reason, I like them and would like to see more pistols with them.

  19. I think the desert eagle 1911 is a great 1911, but at that price point you can find a used Sig Sauer 1911, or save up another $100, and get a new one. For the price you get better fit and finish, all forged internals, a forged stainless steel frame and slide, better finish, and front strap checkering. Sig Sauer is an unbeatable value, and I believe if you are interested in the desert eagle, you are better off saving some money and getting a rock island armory 1911 and buying some ammo, and stepping up to the Sig Sauer.

  20. Before I bought mine I shot one at the range and was very impressed with the crisp trigger pull. Since I got it back in August I have fired over 100 rounds without a missfire or stove pipe with average range ammo. But what I am impressed with the most is the accuracy. Free standing @ 20 yrds and holding 2″ groups. For me I have never held those kind of patterns with any handgun including the ruger, springfield and taurus 1911s. My expectations have certainly been met and then some.

  21. @Dave W, 230 grain says it all. .44 magnum comes in an assortment of bullet masses, but 240 grain is the closest to the 230 grain bullet, with is a .45 ACP bullet.
    .45 ACP tends to be most popular in the NATO 230 grain FMJ, some hollowpoints are in 230 grain and 185 grain FMJ and more frequently, 185 grain hollowpoints.
    That said, there are a range of grain masses available for .45 ACP, from 125 grain to 255 grain, but they’re a bit oddball compared to the majority of ammunition out there.

  22. I own one along with a Kimber that I have had for about 5 years and I really like shooting my Desert Eagle much more and now use it as my primary carry gun instead of my Glock 19. The article is right on about the crisp trigger pull , I would and may just buy another.

  23. Curious what caliber you were using. I own one in .44 mag, and getting groupings in 2″”or under are no problem at 25 yds. It’s great to shoot, has a decent recoil in this caliber.

  24. Like Stephen, I noticed the front grooves. Unlike Stephen, I dislike them.
    First, it’s not a great practice racking the slide from the front. One time of poor safety practice, find oneself missing a small finger.
    Second, I prefer to keep those few additional ounces up front. Every little bit helps keep the pistol down when firing. Granted, the recoil is not especially punishing in a 1911, but it does lift one’s arm up and away from the target.

    Still, I’m personally a largely mil-spec 1911 guy. I’ll tighten it up a bit, put a match barrel and tighter link in, get a flared well model or have the well flared, but overall, I’m quite happy with a stock model.
    But, that is me. Others are more comfortable with additional changes.

    I suspect that the author will get even tighter groups after a few boxes are fired downrange and more fully breaking in that pistol.

    For my next pistol, I’m considering a BFR in 45-70, just so my pistol uses the same round as my hunting rifle.
    May heaven have mercy upon my hand. 😉

  25. If you think about the producer for a moment, it should come as no surprise that an Israeli arms manufacturer knows how to make firearms. 2000+ years at war in some form, usually helps with any “kink” removal, but I digress. I happen to own a custom shop in the Tulsa area. This is relavent because I picked up one of these handsome devils fully expecting to have to rework the whole thing. I was inherrently surprised when, right out of the box, I shot a 5 inch group freestanding at 25 yds. The trigger, mind you, is one of the best I have ever seen on a less expensive production 1911 and I did very little to improve it (perfectionist). Zero creep and very little over travel is not something I find on most factory 1911’s on any manufacturer. The slide to frame fit was also exceptional in comparison to other 1911’s and I had to make no adjustments at all in this dept and was smooth as glass even after removing all of the factory “oil”. Barrel and bushing fit was also top knotch on my particular model. All I have added was a beveled magwell, ext slide release and safety, then replaced the front site with a contrasting fiber optic. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer my sub 1.5 inch springer TRP, but this is Absolutely fantastic firearm for the money. I have since used it to consistently outshoot others at the range with much “fancier” 1911’s than this and most of them can’t believe I’m doing it with a desert eagle. 🙂 this little bulls eye wrecker will never leave my collection.

  26. I’ve had my 1911g for about a year now with over 2000 rounds through it with out a single hick up. One thing I’m surprised has not been mentioned is that the desert eagle has the best trigger I have felt in a sub $1500 gun! I changed out the grips and would like to change out the front sight, but could not be happier with it.
    If anyone knows of direct sight swap options please let me know.

  27. I bought the 1911G almost a year ago and have not been disappointed yet. I have ran several hundred rounds through it without a single jam. I have since replaced the sights with Trijicon tritium sights, bought wilson combat elite magazines for it and installed a Wilson combat polished magazine well on it. I replaced the grips with Crimson Trace master series laser grips. All these add-ons just made this pistol that much better.
    You won’t be disappointed.

  28. interesting, but still just another 1911 trying to copy but subtly add minor differences (not necessarily improvements) to the original John Browning designed COLT. I have 2 1911 pistols, a 1980s Government and a 1942 Army that are both dependable and accurate. Never a misfire with many different brands of cheap target ammo.
    Regarding Magnum Research, I had always been fascinated with the Desert Eagle, and last year when I was shopping for a 9mm I found a slightly used “Baby Eagle” at my favorite gun store. When I took it to the range, every other first shot did not fire. Watching the field stripped lower showed that the trigger mechanism would stop short at least every 4th double action pull. The gun store I purchased it from could not understand why, and agreed that even if their their gunsmith could fix it I would always have it in the back of my mind that the gun could misfire, so I traded it for a Sig Saur SP2022.
    I am sure this handgun is adequate, but if you are going to spend $1k why not purchase a Colt? The main reason to buy a 1911 clone to save a couple hundred dollars. Just my experiences and opinion.

  29. Reading through the article, what caught my attention most was the front grasping grooves, I hate using the rear grooves.

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