For those of you not in the know (and I am certainly not going to blame you if you fall in that category), up until 2008, Magnum Research (home of the inimitable Desert Eagle handgun) imported a firearm and sold it under the name "Baby Eagle"*; obviously Magnum Research was attempting to piggy-back the… notoriety… of their larger-barreled products in choosing that name, but regardless, the firearm is generally known as a "Jericho 941" outside of the United States. Even that, though, is not the end of the story.
While modern Baby Eagles bear the stamp of Israeli Weapon Industries, Ltd., and older ones (mine included) bear the name of Israeli Military Industries, neither organization is solely responsible for the fabrication or design of this handgun. In truth, the Jericho was based off of – and uses a great number of parts from – the Tanfoglio T95 pistol, more commonly known as the EAA** Witness here in the States. But our tale does not even end there; instead, the T95 was pretty much a straight-up clone of the Ceska zbrojovka CZ-75 handgun, with the most significant difference being interchangeable, easily-swappable caliber options (to allow for Italy’s stupid firearm laws, I would imagine).
The Israeli military (once the primary end user of the Jericho handguns) viewed this rather plagiarism-rife history as a Very Good Thing – the design was obviously tried and proven over the (at the time) 15 years of the CZ-75′s life – and while I am rather amused by the "take a good idea and run like hell with it" that seems to go on in the European firearm industry, I tend to agree with the Israelis for one simple reason: magazine commonality.
Unsurprisingly, magazine options directly from Magnum Research are both limited and expensive, with your only choices being "Kalifornistan-legal or not", and your only price being "stupid". However, since the Baby Eagle / Jericho is based off the Tanfoglio which is based off the CZ, well, what about those magazines?
Back when I purchased my Baby Eagle, I knew next to nothing about handguns except for one small detail – I intensely disliked the Beretta M9 I was forced to carry and use in the military. However, at the same time, I knew that the "training" the military gave me (basically they sent you to the qualification test until you passed, and I passed on the first go-round) was sorely insufficient if I were ever called to actually use that firearm, so I decided I should probably snag something of my own to practice with on my own time. The Baby Eagle was my first firearm purchase, and owing to my relative naiveté at the time, I did not really understand – or care about – the "Legal for Sale in California" sticker slapped on the side of the case.
Looking back, knowing what I do know, I probably would have chosen differently, though it did turn out to be for the better when my military service eventually took me to Kalifornistan. Regardless, the time has more than come and passed for me to provide my very first firearm with the types of magazines it was designed to use, so I availed myself of three of the Mec-Gar Optimum 17-round magazines and one of the ProMag 30-round magazines… just because I can. From here on out, any pictures with multiple magazines in them will have the original Magnum Research model on the left, the Mec-Gar in the middle, and the ProMag on the right.
Upon (quite quickly) receiving the magazines, I sat down for a bit and compared them against their predecessors – after all, one does not exactly remove the hammer from a 1911 and drop it in an M9, so I had a bit of trepidation about using a magazine from one firearm in another firearm, no matter the other firearm’s particular lineage. However, as you can see in the following pictures, the only significant differences between the magazines occur at the baseplates (which do not exactly matter to the firearm they are inserted into, assuming the magazine is the correct length) and in the followers – the Mec-Gar has very slight differences with the Magnum Research version, and the Pro-Mag even moreso.
So then came the "dry-firing", so to speak. I took the Baby Eagle, inserted the new magazines, and racked the slide back to see if the magazine catch would function then pushed the lever down to ensure that would work as well. Satisfied that repeated tests turned out the way they should, I also ensured that pushing the magazine release caused the magazine to drop free, which it did in all cases. Finally, I loaded up the magazines with dummy rounds (you do have dummy rounds, right?) and cycled the slide repeatedly on each magazine to guarantee – as best I could in the comfort of my own home – that feeding and extraction worked as intended.
While I was at home, I broke out the trusty kitchen scale, and learned that the 10-round magazine weighed in at 3.5 ounces, the 17 weighed 3.125 ounces (!), and the 30 weighed an even 5 ounces. For reference, a single round of 117 grain 9mm ammunition weighs about 0.375 ounces, which should give you an idea for those magazines loaded.
The end result was pretty straightforward – the ProMag unit is sold as a 30-round magazine on the site, but a 32-round magazine on its packaging, but so long as you only put 30 rounds in it, you will probably be ok. However, should you decide to see how far that little follower can be pushed into the magazine body and shove 33 rounds into it, you will be plagued with FTF (failure to feed) errors every other round for the first five or so. Personally, this does not bother me too much – like I said, I am not exactly going to carry these for self-defense purposes – but for those folks lucky enough to have a carbine that takes these magazines, you will need to bear it in mind.
However, given the less-than-stellar reviews ProMag magazines receive on average, I was not terribly surprised at the occasional hiccup. So what about the Mec-Gar magazines? Well, the first time through on all three of them, I encountered a single failure to lock back on one magazine, and a single FTE (failure to eject – in this case, a case stuck horizontally in the ejection port, so not a stovepipe), and that was it. After those slight issues, which I assume to be something of a "breaking in" period, all three magazines functioned flawlessly. The "anti-friction" coating (which honestly feels more like Teflon than anything else) allowed them to drop free seamlessly even when empty, the feeding never had a hiccup, and the baseplates line up almost perfectly with the butt of the pistol’s grip (Magnum Research on the left, Mec-Gar on the right). And I definitely love that the Mec-Gars had appropriately-numbered and -spaced witness holes down their right side; why this feature is not standard on pretty much every magazine in existence is beyond me.
So, speaking exclusively from personal experience and only in relation to Mec-Gar and ProMag magazines, CZ-75 magazines will work just fine in Baby Eagles / Jericho 941s, and being able to shop from that particular pool of accessories gives you a lot more flexibility than you would have had otherwise. They may not have worked flawlessly out of the box, but no actual modifications to the magazines were necessary, and one should never adopt a piece of hardware into your "duty rotation" until you have thoroughly convinced yourself that it does, in fact, work, ameliorating the need for a "break-in" period. I am not entirely sure what other parts are common between the two platforms, but at least now you can stock up on normal-capacity magazines (something everyone should be doing both because they can and because f*ck you) without breaking the bank.
(* – Now that Magnum Research has been acquired by Kahr Arms, they import a new, improved version of the Baby Eagle, conveniently known as the Baby Desert Eagle II, incorporating better sights, a different slide release lever, and a under-barrel rail. I have every reason to believe these newer firearms are simply the next generation upgrade of mine, and most parts (including magazines) are probably interchangeable.
** – Dear EAA: frames suck. If you need any help bringing your webpage up to the 21st century where interested people can directly link to individual pages, let me know.)
(Obligatory Piss-Off to the FTC: I purchased all of the magazines used in this review with my very own money. I reviewed them because I wanted to settle the question as to whether or not CZ-75 magazines work in Baby Eagles in as public and as plain a fashion as possible, so other folks would not labor under the belief their only magazine options were limited and expensive. Given that this review is not in the "for hire" category of this site, you are respectfully invited to kiss my shiny white arse.)