Magnum Research Compact 1911

Obsolete Arms and Ammo By Bob Shell

Magnum Research Compact 1911
Magnum Research Ultra-Compact Desert Eagle 1911U
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Apache Junction, AZ –-( The 1911 45 ACP is one of the best known and best handguns for a reason.

They work.

The 1911 has been around for over 100 years and has a great track record. I just received a Magnum Research Compact 1911 with a 3” barrel and was excited to see how it will stack up against the 5” barrel model in accuracy and velocity.

Many companies make 1911 models in various sizes and it might be difficult to select just one since the vast majority are well made and reliable. I have worked with quite a few full size models but never a compact that was any good.

Magnum Research Compact Desert Eagle 1911U
I did have a couple of shooters comment that they thought that the checkering on the frame was a bit aggressive..?

Here is the Quick Low Down on my Review Gun. The .45 ACP DE1911U has 6+1 round capacity, an overall length of 6.85″, height of 5″, and weighs just 25.8 oz. It comes standard with two 6-round magazines. It is a lightweight gun weighing 25.8 Oz with the 3” barrel MSRP is $946If you shop around you might find a better price. Here are some of the features that come standard with this gun.

  • Ships with two 6 round magazines
  • Skeletonized Hammer
  • Extended Magazine Release
  • Extended Thumb Safety
  • Checkered, Flat Mainspring Housing made from Aluminum
  • Stainless Steel Full-length Guide Rod
  • Bushingless Barrel

For the past 3 years, Magnum Research has offered the 1911G Government sized model with a 5″ barrel, the 4.33″ 1911C, and now they offer Undercover model DE1911U with a 3″ bull barrel featuring an 11-degree muzzle crown. The DE1911U is built on an ultra lightweight frame made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and features a 4140 high carbon steel slide and adjustable rear sight for windage and elevation. Standard features include checkered front and back strap, double diamond checkered wood grip, and stainless steel hex screws. The DE1911U also has a high-rise beavertail safety, skeleton hammer, and an aluminum trigger. True to the earlier 1911 variants, this model is a Series 70 configuration. The .45 ACP DE1911U has 6+1 round capacity, an overall length of 6.85″, height of 5″, and weighs just 25.8 oz. It comes standard with two 6-round magazines. The DE1911U will be ready for shipments beginning in January 2014. MSRP is $946 This gun has adjustable sights but I would like to see a little white on them as that would help a shooter acquire them quicker. The trigger has some travel but breaks cleanly once the travel is done. It has the beavertail to prevent hammer bite. The grips are sharply checkered which would aid in gripping. I did have a couple of shooters comment that they thought that the checkering on the frame was a bit aggressive. The magazine holds 6 rounds plus one in the chamber and there are numbers and holes to let you know how many rounds are in it.

In spite of all of the hoopla about high capacity magazines if you can’t take care of your problem with 7 rounds you probably need something more then a handgun. No I am not against high capacity magazines but I would depend on skill rather then how many rounds are available to me.

It comes with a spare magazine and anyone who carries it should have a couple of extras which is true of any semi. Usually the magazine fails before anything else on a quality semi. It comes with a nice carrying case. It has the typical 1911 safety and it is easy to work. You can release it with the hand holding the gun which might be important in some instances. The Winchester ammo that I used was both accurate and consistent. As expected it lost some velocity in this 3” barrel gun as opposed to a 5” model. However, it performed well and I would recommend it as an option. For more info you can go to The grip is comfortable and recoil wasn’t bad in spite of its lighter weight.

We ran a variate of rounds through the Magnum Research model 1911 U
We ran a variate of rounds through the Magnum Research model 1911 U

Reloading for the Magnum Research model 1911 U If you are a reloader you are in luck with the 45. Everyone makes bullets of all styles and weights and even with the problem of getting material for the bullet selection is still quite good. There are many powders that work well and there should be something on the shelf of your sporting goods store that will work. Since it is a low capacity case fussiness is not an issue.

With a little attention to detail most 45 autos will feed some case bullets.

If you carry a 45 or use it for personal defense reasons factory ammo should be utilized and handloads for practice and target work. Due to the size and weight lightweight bullets may be better options. A company called CMA ( ) makes an interesting 125 grain HP. It shoots well in other 45’s I have worked with and he makes some interesting bullets in various calibers. If you are looking for something interesting to shoot give these a try. The Hornady Wad Cutters fed well and was pleasant to shoot. I had a few home made hollow points with a lot of exposed lead and they also fed. I had some 200 grain plated hollow points and had a couple of jams. My thought is the seating has to be adjusted because the shape is good and they feed in everything else I have tried.

Anytime you have a feeding problem with bullets that should feed try adjusting the seating depth before you give up on them.

With the Magnum Research model 1911 U’s 3” barrel there is a definite loss in velocity as opposed to a 5” model with the same loads which is to be expected. One good feature that came to light is its ability to digest light loads. That enables shooters particularly recoil sensitive ones to shoot a lot without developing a flinch. Of course you have limited options on what you can do with any semi auto due to the mechanics but the more flexible the better. Shooting the gun is a pleasure and everyone who tried it liked it. Recoil is very manageable even with the 230 grain loads. Accuracy at 7 and 15 yards was outstanding with most loads. The better shooters could keep them in a 2” circle at 15 yards shooting offhand.

5 shots 7 at yards
5 shots 7 at yards

My friend’s wife can put 5 shots into a 1” circle at 7 yards with that. There are two things to keep in mind. She is one of those folks that can pick up anything and shoot it well and of course the gun is capable of delivering that accuracy. Anyone who would be stupid enough to break into her house will have an excellent chance of narrowing the gene pool. The magazines are easy to load and there wasn’t any functional problems except for the magazine mentioned.

My friend's wife is deadly with the Magnum Research Ultra-Compact Desert Eagle 1911U.
My friend’s wife is deadly with the Magnum Research Ultra-Compact Desert Eagle 1911U.

Among the bullets tried, cast were included. They are inexpensive and easy to obtain so they should always be included in testing. The reason that they are more available is many shooters turn their noses up with cast bullets which is a mistake. Sometimes with cast bullets you might have to play around with seating depths more so then the jacketed verity but the end result is worth it. Also if you polish your loaded ammo in a rotary tumbler with torn up newspaper it will frequently make them more reliable. It makes the lead smoother hence easier feeding. As with any gun, you should try several brands of ammo and bullets if you reload. You will come across the one you should use for self defense.

For legal reasons your carry ammo should be factory fodder but you can handload a similar load to practice with.

In my view the Magnum Research model 1911 U’s size and power makes it an ideal carry piece but for the night stand I would still have the full size model. I shot these loads in more then one 3” model and these are the velocities that you can expect.

Note that load 1 and 2 show a ½ grain increase of powder but the velocity jumped a lot. With the smaller capacity handgun cases that is fairly normal. That is why when working up loads be very careful on how much powder increase you use.

Because of the guns smaller size I focused mostly on the lightweight bullets. They are good self defense bullets for the most part and they do reduce the recoil. The company CMA who makes some novel bullets in various calibers. Their 125 grain HPs shoot well and there is a noticeable reduction in recoil. The 175 is one I have been making for some years and is a half jacket HP. For info on the unique CMA bullets you can go to Anyone who knows anything about ammo has heard of Hornady. They have been making high quality bullets and ammo for many years and their products should be tried in any gun. For info you can go to The Double Tap ammo company has been around for a few years. They are growing by leaps and bounds and one of the reasons is their quality. Also if you are looking for warm ammo then this is where you should start. For info you can go to Another good source for good 45 ammo is Federal. They have been around a long time and anytime I test their ammo I get good results. For more info you can go to These are just some of the sources that supplies ammo and reloading components so you have an excellent chance to find ammo or bullets to suit your needs. LOAD BULLET VELOCITY COMMENT

  • 7.5 X 231 125 grain CMA HP 1053 potential
  • 7.5 X 231 125 grain CMA HP new design 1088 ok
  • 8 X 231 125 grain CMA HP 1212 great load
  • 7 X 231 175 gr HM HP 996 accurate
  • 4.5 grains of 231 185 grain Hornady WC 567 consistent
  • 5 X 231 185 gr Hornady WC 722 super accurate
  • 7.5 grains of 231 185 grain Remington HP 969 good load
  • Winchester 185 grain FMJ FP 827 nice
  • Hornady XTP 185 gr 832 consistent
  • Hornady Zombie 185 gr 881 consistent
  • Double Tap 185 gr 971 consistent
  • 6.5 X 231 185 gr XTP 973 ok
  • Hornady Z Max Zombie 185 gr HP 1005 consistent
  • Hornady Critical defense 185 gr HP 1018 consistent
  • Hornady 200 gr Tap FPD 902 accurate
  • Double Tap 200 gr Bonded JHP 989 consistent
  • 8.4 X HS-6 200 gr Berry HP 782 mild
  • 5.4 X Tite Group 200 gr Berry HP 821 consistent
  • Double Tap 230 gr FMJ match 743 accurate
  • 6.5 X Herco 230 gr cast RN 756 ok
  • 6.5 X Herco 230 gr Ranier RN 722 decent
  • 6.5 X Herco 230 gr Rem FMJ RN 739 nice
  • Federal AM Eagle 230 gr FMJ RN 723 consistent
  • Federal HST 230 gr HP 719 nice
  • Winchester 230 gr ball 723 ok
Shooting the Magnum Research model 1911 U Compact
I had some family youths shoot the Magnum Research model 1911 U Compact with great success.

During the testing one of the magazines started to stick when you tried to remove it. Sometimes it was very difficult remove and a major problem in a defensive handgun. I notified Magnum Research and they immediately sent two new ones which work well.

It is evident that they take customer service seriously and that in addition to their good products makes them a good company to deal with.

Bob Shell
Bob Shell

I had several people shoot it to get varying opinions on how it feels and shoots. A youth and female shooter were involved and both liked it and was able to handle it. Recoil wasn’t a major complaint and of course light weight bullets will mitigate that to a fairly large extent. CMA makes a nice 125 grain HP that you can get to a velocity of 1,000 to 1,200 FPS without excessive recoil. Such a bullet would be effective in a social situation. With such a bullet, velocity can be increased a couple hundred feet per second but it would increase the recoil and for the most part I don’t see the advantage.

If you are looking for a serious 3” 45 for self defense I would highly recommend the Magnum Research model 1911 U .

About Bob Shell A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit:

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Many people write and reply about “my 1911 jams up while shooting.” My input is this. The minute I get the 1911 home I immediately field strip it and check the feed ramp to barrel fit. If the feed ramp is not polished like a mirror, I polish it with the dremel tool and some jewelers rouge. If the barrel and feed ramp need aligning this can also be done with a dremel. Check the youtube videos on how to do this. No hollow point will catch or jam when you bevel the feed ramp to barrel fit and/or polish… Read more »


Also would like to add that I have fired approx 1000 rounds through this pistol and already have had to replace 2 guide rods due to both of them breaking. Magnum Research has been good enough to replace them, but I just broke another and they have requested me sending them my pistol to look at it. I told them that there was nothing wrong with it as I only shoot 230 gr reloads in it and have never fired any hot ammo through it at all. They are discussing what next to do about this while I wait on… Read more »


Recently purchased a 1911 Desert Eagle U. It was very accurate and I don’t shoot often. I did have a problem with rounds jamming but I have only used one magazine with it. I also had a problem with the magazine sticking in the gun and being very difficult to get free since along with a stuck mag I had a jammed round. I could not tell if it was the feed ramp or magazine. Someone mentioned adjusting something and I would appreciate more info there along with a good source and recommendations for after market or Desert Eagle U… Read more »

Richard Cunningham

Last month I purchased a Desert Eagle 1911U pistol. I found it to be very nice and since I’m a great believer in the 1911 I found it comfortable to carry though it’s not all that easy to carry concealed. I do have a problem with it though. When I loaded it and started to chamber a round the magazine literally fell apart. Haven’t contacted anybody yet but feel the magazine should be replaced and I’m finding it difficult to contact anyone about this. Really doesn’t say much about Desert Eagle.


You say, “I would depend on skill rather then how many rounds are available to me”. Have you ever considered how that skill would help you handle an attack by a gang consisting of more than 7 members? I guess you could always club the leftovers with your compact pistol once you run out of ammo and they’re too close to allow a reload.


Have you ever considered that if there’s that many gang members coming at you then they are just going to tackle you and kill you. Do you seriously think your rambo? Do you think that you can out fight more than a few people? Many of these guys posting have carried and used their weapons for self defense so quit trying to prove your weapon is better than the 1911 based on some mythical fantasy you dreamed up. By that logic what if there are 30+ gang members? Should we all carry ar15s with beta mags? Arm chair commandos drive… Read more »

Rick Reynolds

I’m a Vietnam vet Ranger, 24yrs law enforcement, long time firearms instructor and CCW too. Been in 7 shootings as law enforce. and civ. Been Carrying concealed for over 42 yrs. Always had 1911’s of some model. I now have 8 in my collection to include a new U model. Today I fired 200 rds. of all brands and types loaded in assortment of 3- 6 rd. mags. 3 jams caused by the mag. None from gun. Bad sights but I don’t use them. Sharp checkering on front of frame is a bit much. I am replacing my Kimber Super… Read more »

Chip Metzger

Rick – it’s almost two years late, but I’d like to commend your post. Shot a 1911-frame first in 1955 – a Service Model Ace that my father gave me. Stuck with them ever since. There is a very practical reason for keeping with this platform – memory, including of course muscle memory. Every one of my semi-autos, upon which I would rely in a life-threatening situation, has the exact same configuration – the slide lock, magazine release, thumb safety are all in the same place regardless the caliber or size (I have 1911s is .380, 9mm and plenty of… Read more »

K Walker

Saw and handled one today for the first time. Was very impressed with its weight and feel. Definitely considering buying a easily concealable .45 and currently this one is at the top of the list…the price on the one I looked at was $599 & considerably below the MSRP of $900 plus shown.


Where do you find for $599 ? I’d like to buy one at that price , thanks …

Ward Jackson

This firearm does what it was intended to do and that is fire on target without problems. I have two other 45s, a WWII Remington and a Colt combat commander. After 37 years in LE I
have not shot anything I liked better. The DE1911U is a great one for undercover.



David M.

As a retired US Army military police for 22 1/2 years, I carried a 1911 with complete reliability. I still carry a 1911 (Sig STX). I will be purchasing one of these in two days. 45acp or bust.


I recently purchased a Magnum Research 1911 Undercover and have read several reviews and no one has mentioned anything about holsters for this pistol. I intend to use it as my carry weapon and would appreciate holster ideas/recommendations. If you own one, what type of holsters would you recommend? I’m RH and will be carrying on my right side. Any thoughts? Thanks,
Wylie, TX

Daniel S.

What’s with the mile long beavertail? I’d be fine with the whole satin steel extension removed. Definitely would have to modify that. Needs a bobbed heel, otherwise I like it.

John Altizer

Thanks for the write up Bob. I appreciate you mentioning my bullets and I enjoyed shooting it myself. In honor or your mention, I will be happy to offer 10% to anyone who mentions reading your article who would like to try some bullets or my ammo at That was a sweat shooting little gun. I am a 1911 man myself and was a fine Gun. Much better than any of the original General Officers Models I worked with at the AMU. It was a real pleasure to shoot.

R Fondren

I would love to have one of these as I am up in years and I believe this would be my perfect carry gun. Now on to facts when some one makes a perfect carry gun for a older person they make it beyond reach price wise and when you are on a tight budget you have to smile and say I wish. So this old guy will have to get by with less.

L. Mulligan

Nice looking little package, IMHO, needs optional mags with ++ capacity, and a sharper pencil on msrp. At present, too little for too much. The XDS by Springfield and SR-9C by Ruger offer a lot more for a lot less.


Sorry, but I’m old school 1911.
That is what I grew-up with both in old TV war movies and at home.
Range might not be the best, but a shorter barrel, not buying it.