Range Review: Micro Desert Eagle .380acp


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OnPointFirearms
August 13, 2009, 05:11 PM
Let's face it: the firearms market has been absolutely saturated with concealed carry guns chambered in the feisty little .380acp. The most popular thus far has been the inexpensive Ruger LCP. Unfortunately, the LCP has been affected by a safety recall. Some early units were not drop-safe-- not exactly a good proposition for a gun that is supposed to hurt the bad guy and not you or a friendly in the process. My personal experience with the LCP is that it does not reliably feed the 6th round from the magazine. Lightly coating my rounds with CLP was an easy stopgap solution, but I want bulletproof reliability in a concealed carry weapon. So, I passed on the LCP.

And Ruger is not the only resident of 380 Recall Land. Sig Sauer's new P238 hasn't been on the market for long and is already on recall-- and the situation is even more dire. Deactivating the safety lever may cause the gun to fire! Thousands of P238s recently arrived at one of our suppliers and every unit had to go back to Sig as a precaution. Also, the aluminum grip panels that were shown on the gun at Shot Show are now made of plastic-- causing an uproar among buyers. Frankly, once a gun has been involved in a safety recall, especially of this magnitude, I can no longer trust it for defensive carry. So, the Sig Sauer P238 is off my list too.

Kahr's new PM380 is ultra compact and easily has the best trigger of the bunch. Kahrs have always been known for their buttery smooth double action trigger pulls. Reliability will probably be ahead of the curve too. Once we get one of these in, we'll certainly take it out for a range test.

Walther debuted its new PK380, but it's rather large for a .380acp. In this form factor, you're probably better off with the excellent and super slim Walther PPS in the more potent 9mm cartridge. This leads us to what is, in my opinion, the best new .380acp on the market: the Micro Desert Eagle by Magnum Research.

The Micro Eagle is the only steel gun in the group and a stunning piece of engineering artistry. The proprietary nickel Teflon finish that Magnum Research uses is very attractive, slick, and resistant to corrosion-- not unlike hard chrome. Of course, this is an important attribute for a concealed carry firearm considering the amount of sweat the gun will be exposed to during its service life.

I took the Micro Desert Eagle to the range this morning with 50rds of ancient ammunition that I found at the shop. Recoil is refreshingly light thanks to its robust steel construction. However, the trigger is 14 days long and over 8 pounds-- something you'll have to learn to live with it. My accuracy at 25ft is on par with other micro .380acps that I've fired (see target) and nothing to brag about. I've found it best to shoot the Micro Eagle single-handed because the large trigger guard makes your weak hand placement incredibly important-- lest you want to lose a digit during fire. In fact, the slide had a big orange sticker from the factory reminding you of this potential danger!

The Micro Eagle's sights are miniscule, but useable. Although the price point seems high ($439), you're getting a steel-framed handgun and you get what you pay for. Take down is fascinatingly elegant. Simply drop the magazine, clear the weapon, move the slide to the rear so its takedown line synchs up with the takedown line on the frame, rotate the barrel clockwise, and the slide comes forward off the frame. It's actually pretty fun to field strip the little bugger! And its most important feature of all: the Micro Eagle is not on a safety recall-- which seems like a rarity when you consider the woes Sig Sauer and Ruger have shared lately.

"If" I wanted to carry a .380acp right now, I would probably select the Micro Eagle. It serves its purpose as a mouse gun, but if you can carry a bigger gun, you should. I'm hard pressed to be in a situation where my little Glock 26 can't tag along with me. When that's the case, I'm usually in a Speedo or spandex bike shorts. That in itself is more of a deterrent than any .380acp in my opinion! I'll leave you with that unpleasant visual! Bwahahaha!

Have a good one and God bless.
-- Evan

http://www.onpointsupply.com/images/micro_desert_eagle_review_1.jpg
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http://www.onpointsupply.com/images/micro_desert_eagle_review_4.jpg
http://www.onpointsupply.com/images/micro_desert_eagle_review_5.jpg

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OnPointFirearms
August 13, 2009, 05:15 PM
http://www.onpointsupply.com/images/micro_desert_eagle_review_7.jpg
http://www.onpointsupply.com/images/micro_desert_eagle_review_8.jpg
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HardShell
August 13, 2009, 05:19 PM
Let's face it: the firearms market has been absolutely saturated with concealed carry guns chambered in the feisty little .380acp. The most popular thus far has been the inexpensive Ruger LCP...

I'm sure the folks over at Kel-Tec will find that interesting. ;)


I played around with one of these Micro Eagles in a shop recently (they were asking $519, FWIW) and my first impression was the same (only, really) complaint I had with my NAA Guardian -- it's just too heavy for what it is/the size it is.

Other than that, it appeared to be very well-made and of high quality overall. I haven't had a chance to fire one yet, but I look forward to trying one out.

Erich
August 13, 2009, 05:37 PM
Thank you for the review and the very informative photographs. They resolve questions I'd had about whether this gun was a striker-fired gun (nice to see a hammer there) and whether it was a locked-breech action (it's not). Also, the quality of fitment really shines through from your photos - I had not imagined this gun would be so nicely done.

Thanks! :)

OnPointFirearms
August 13, 2009, 06:05 PM
Sorry, I meant the LCP is the most popular of the new .380acps coming to market since Shot Show 2009.

Heavy in a little poppy .380acp is actually a good thing. Recoil is lessened. The Micro Eagle, albeit heavier than its polymer competitors, is still not heavyweight. It's a lightweight pistol perfect for pocket carry.

-- Evan

HardShell
August 13, 2009, 06:19 PM
... Heavy in a little poppy .380acp is actually a good thing. Recoil is lessened. The Micro Eagle, albeit heavier than its polymer competitors, is still not heavyweight. It's a lightweight pistol perfect for pocket carry...

I agree completely -- if I wore jeans everyday I'd want a pocket-pistol/BUG this heavy or heavier.

But I wear lightweight dress slacks/suit pants 6-7 days a week and have to go places where being armed is not permitted (not illegal, mind you, just against policy) so printing/sagging/etc. in any form simply isn't an option for me -- thus the thinnest/smallest/lightest is my only option (short of changing jobs or not carrying at all, neither of which appeals to me at the moment ;)) when I'm on the clock.

When I said "too heavy" above I should have qualified it as "too heavy for my purposes/for the "invisible" pocket-carry I require." :o

This little gun does, as I said, seem to be of very high quality though.

M2 Carbine
August 13, 2009, 06:55 PM
I bought the MDE in May, $440.
I immediately began shooting it, using mostly Brown Bear FMJ.

Accurate and reliable but kicked BAD. Now I'm not recoil sensitive at all but I had to wear a thin glove to shoot the gun.

Except for the bad recoil everything went along good for about 150 rounds.

I have a thing about shooting small guns at some distance, standing, two hands.
At 52 yards I have a 2x2 foot steel plate for the handgun target.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v135/Bell406_206B/52yards38Smith.jpg

Since the MDE has good sights and is accurate I thought I'd see how it does at a little distance.

At 52 yards I shot three magazines +1 round, while standing, using two hands.
I did not shoot a spotting round to check for bullet drop from the short barrel as the first bullet rang the steel, so I continued to shoot.
It seems that I wasn't aiming high enough and two bullets went under the target, although one bullet did clip the bottom of the target.
Mostly the little gun made a decent, but low, group.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v135/Bell406_206B/MDEat50yards.jpg

Now here's the surprise.
Sometime during those 19 rounds the slide cracked.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v135/Bell406_206B/MDEcrackedslide.jpg

I called Magnum Research. They were very co-operative and apologized several times for the inconvenience. They said they would take care of everything and they did. They paid for shipping and got the gun back to me in what must be record time.

Since then I have shot about another hundred rounds.
Funny thing is the gun doesn't kick much any more. Yesterday a small lady was shooting it with no trouble.
And she was tearing up the target.:)

The MDE is my pocket carry gun now, replacing the Kel Tec 32 and 380.
I do miss the laser though.

OnPointFirearms
August 13, 2009, 08:12 PM
You, my friend, are a mouse gun pistol sniper! That deserves a "well done!" coin. Freaky slide crack though. That goes in the record books. Nice pics, brother.
Evan

Lone_Gunman
August 13, 2009, 08:18 PM
50% of Micro Desert Eagles reviewed on this forum have experience slide cracks/failures.

Andrewski
August 13, 2009, 08:19 PM
It looks like a great pistol, but I am very wary about the slide - it's so low on the gun that it looks like a good way to split your thumb web. Especially since I grip high.

Erich
August 13, 2009, 09:17 PM
50% of Micro Desert Eagles reviewed on this forum have experience slide cracks/failures.

Wow. :eek: Okay, having had such issues with another small gun, I think I'll pass.

Lone_Gunman
August 13, 2009, 09:29 PM
Well keep in mind the sample size is very small.;)

M2 Carbine
August 13, 2009, 10:16 PM
50% of Micro Desert Eagles reviewed on this forum have experience slide cracks/failures.
Mine is the first one I've heard of but the man I talked to at Magnum Research said they got some bad slides. He didn't ask me where mine cracked, he already knew, so mine certainly wasn't the first.
Since a couple friends also bought the MDE I asked if they knew the serial number of the guns with the bad slides. He said they didn't know. He didn't offer the information about how many bad slides there were.

In any case I like and trust the gun now but I will keep an eye on it as I will be shooting it a lot.

m2steven
August 13, 2009, 11:15 PM
A friend of mine just finished a statistics class. Small sample with 1 out of norm result will skew the results in error. 50 percent of the results being "damage" probably means the gun has a problem. It's easy for a small sample to have an out of range result. It's difficult as the guns were probably purchased from different dealers and represent a random selection of however many "runs" of this gun there were. Perhaps all the guns were from the same run. In this case - the run was really bad. If this sample includes many batches or runs, the gun has design flaws.

I think the trigger pull (other than broken slide) is a big problem with this gun. It's too well made to have a bad trigger like this. They should license Kahr's design.

m2steven
August 13, 2009, 11:17 PM
I forget to add that i love the gun's design and feel however. They's figure out the design problem and fix it.

mec
August 13, 2009, 11:26 PM
[the man I talked to at Magnum Research said they got some bad slides
That's encouraging. Frequently, gun industry types will say, " This is the first time we've ever heard of that happening"-even when a problem has already become public knowlege.
Magnum Reseach seems to be taking a straightforward approach to it.

RevolvingGarbage
August 14, 2009, 12:42 AM
It looks like something ive drawn in the past while bored and then said to myself "Nah the proportions are all wrong, that would never work." Seems I was wrong. I want.

M2 Carbine
August 14, 2009, 01:16 AM
That's encouraging. Frequently, gun industry types will say, " This is the first time we've ever heard of that happening"-even when a problem has already become public knowlege.
Magnum Reseach seems to be taking a straightforward approach to it.
Yeah, that "Gee that's the first time that's happened" crap really irritates me.

The fellow at MR was totally up front with, "We got a batch of bad slides and we will do what it takes to correct the problem". Which they did.

I'll stress test it for them. I'm not one of these, carry it a lot but shoot it little guys. If I carry it, it gets shot a lot.:)

Snowdog
August 14, 2009, 01:37 AM
So what kind of velocities are we looking at with that 2.2" barrel? I'd imagine the muzzle energy of some rounds might dip into the double digits with such a barrel.

BTW, your photos were great! Good job and great review!

M2 Carbine
August 14, 2009, 02:38 AM
So what kind of velocities are we looking at with that 2.2" barrel? I'd imagine the muzzle energy of some rounds might dip into the double digits with such a barrel.
Here's a couple I chronographed a few weeks ago.

MDE
CorBon= 798 FPS
Gold Dots= 751 FPS
Brown Bear= 763 FPS


As a comparison with the P3AT
CorBon= 864 FPS
Brown Bear= 853 FPS

Snowdog
August 14, 2009, 03:28 AM
Thanks for those real-world chrono results, M2 Carbine.

The velocity loss as compared to the P3AT doesn't appear to be as sharp as I was expecting.

Lone_Gunman
August 14, 2009, 08:14 AM
A 50 fps velocity loss can be critical in determining whether or not a hollow point expands.

Expansion seems to get real iffy at about 750 fps.

NGIB
August 14, 2009, 09:07 AM
I seriously compared one of these side by side with an NAA Guardian and I chose the Guardian as it just plain felt better in my hand. While the trigger pull on the Guardian is a mite heavy, it was considerably less than the MDE. As I'm usually in jeans or Dockers, the weight in my pocket doesn't bother me a bit...

http://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj183/dave_dgf/IMG_NAG-X.jpg

M2 Carbine
August 14, 2009, 12:02 PM
A 50 fps velocity loss can be critical in determining whether or not a hollow point expands.

Expansion seems to get real iffy at about 750 fps.
I can't resolve the .380 bullet from the short barrel thing.
FMJ penetration? JHP expanding or not? JHP expansion reducing penetration?
Who knows??

So, I do what I hardly ever do in a defense gun. I load both FMJ and JHP.

Worst case, at least half the rounds will preform as good as possible from the short barrel.

Best case, all the bullets will be effective.:)


NGIB, I looked at the Guardian. Offhand I can't remember just why I didn't get it. Let us know how it does.

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