Magnum Research, Inc. has garnered a reputation for providing its customers with massive big-bore handguns. Best known for its iconic .50-caliber Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol, the company has gone on to expand its product lines to include BFR revolvers, polymer-framed defensive pistols, .22 rimfire rifles, and more recently, a line of imported modern 1911-pattern semi-automatics. During the three years that these pistols have been available to the U.S. market, the Desert Eagle 1911 options have consisted primarily of steel-framed Government- and Commander-style pistols. For 2014, the company has added an ultra-compact, light-weight version called the DE1911U in .45ACP, with the U standing for Undercover. Clearly, this trimmed-down take on a classic design is intended for concealed carry.
Manufactured in Israel, the Undercover single-action, semi-automatic pistol is chambered for the ever-popular .45 ACP cartridge. The abbreviated matte blue steel slide has a flared ejection port and rear cocking serrations. The sight system consists of a dovetail front sight paired with an adjustable square-notch target rear sight. The linked 3” 4140 chrome moly steel bull barrel is precision fit to the slide without a bushing. The full-length, all-steel recoil assembly employs two recoil springs, one captured and one free.
The Undercover's compact 7075 aluminum frame features a matte black hard-anodized finish and a traditional rounded dust cover. The trigger guard is also rounded and undercut for a more comfortable grip. The slide catch, skeletonized hammer, left-side extended thumb safety and the checkered magazine release button are all constructed of blued steel. Each of these controls has been enhanced with surface serrations or checkering. The extended beavertail grip safety has a memory bump and a satin nickel finish.
The skeletonized aluminum trigger, fitted with an overtravel adjustment screw, has a natural silver finish to match the grip safety. The performance of the trigger should please even the most discerning 1911 fan. Right out of the box it was crisp with a short travel distance and a clean break. A Lyman's digital trigger gauge says it requires 3 lbs., 13 ozs. of trigger pull to cycle but it feels more like a 3 lb., 8 oz. trigger.
The grip frame is fitted with diamond-checkered European walnut grip panels held in place by stainless steel grip screws. The front strap and the mainspring housing feature a deep, almost aggressive, fine-line checkering that grabs the shooter's hand to measurably improve the grip. The magazine well has been lightly beveled along its edges to allow an easier magazine insertion. Because of the reduced grip length, the Undercover accepts 6-round single-stack magazines, two of which are shipped with the pistol.
The overall fit and finish of the Undercover is excellent. The matte black finish of the steel slide and aluminum frame match nicely and were free of any dings, scratches, or blemishes. The silver coloring of the barrel, trigger, grip safety, and grip screw provide a handsome visual contrast to the dark frame. The slide was smooth and tight when cycled, and all of the controls and appointments were fit snuggly into place.
At the shooting range, the Undercover felt feathery light when pointed downrange, even when fully loaded. What weight there is sits straight down in the shooter's hands without any sense of muzzle heaviness. As a result, it’s comfortable not only to carry but to hold. Despite its low weight and reduced size, this little 1911 produced a much more manageable level of felt recoil than expected. Folks who are familiar with compact .45 ACP platforms don't expect them to be powder-puff shooters, especially when filled with defense-grade ammunition. But thanks to the configuration of the grip and the dual-spring recoil assembly, this pistol was comfortable to work with using a variety of ammunition.
The target-style sights provided a clear and usable sight picture. However, they seemed a little out of place on this concealed-carry pistol. A set of low-profile fixed night sights would probably be a better fit. But amongst its many endearing qualities, the trigger tops the list. As someone who spends a fair amount of time pulling double-action and safe-action style triggers, the short travel and light pull of the Undercover's trigger was almost surprising. It was a good reminder that shooters who are going to transition from a heavily triggered pistol to a lightly triggered model like this one will need to take some time at the range to get used to it before carrying it.
The Undercover fed, fired and ejected a variety of practice and defensive grade ammunition without a hitch. Informal off-the-bench shooting at 25 yds showed this pistol to be capable of solid, center-of-mass hits at that distance. Because of this pistol's compact configuration, the targets were rolled out to 15-yards for formal, bench-rested accuracy testing. The best single group of 2.01-inches and the best group average of 2.21” was produced using HPR HyperClean 185-grain jacketed hollow points. Winchester Defender 230-grain bonded jacketed hollow points yielded a 2.24” average, followed by Remington 185-grain Golden Saber brass-jacketed hollow points at 2.51-inches.
The new Desert Eagle 1911U Undercover has the features and functionality that make it a welcome addition to the concealed-carry market and to Magnum Research's 1911 pistol line up. Lightweight, reliable and fitted with an excellent trigger, the Undercover is an ideal option for those shooters with 1911 leanings who don't want to pay more to have their pistol tuned up or tricked out at a custom shop. This pistol arrives ready to go to work right out of the box.