The rear adjustable sight is a Millet with white outline set in a standard dovetail mount. As a target pistol this setup is easy to change for different types of ammo with different points of impact. This is set up to be a target pistol, but the rear sight is fairly low and not really snaggy, suitable for careful duty or conealed carry.
It carries an extended slide stop and thumb safety, as well as a skeletonized hammer and trigger. The beavertail safety has the extra bump for a sure disengagement.
The new Iver Johnson company is located in Florida, but these guns are made to spec for IJ in the Phillipines from specifically sourced parts suppliers and CNC cut forged slides and cast frames. The guns are clean as a whistle for an inexpensive 1911. No sharp edges on the whole gun, and she’s nice and tight.
The trigger pull on the Eagle breaks clean at just over 6 lbs. consistently. The reset was most surprising. It is about as short as they come, 1/10th of an inch or so, and completely clean with no scratchiness in the entire trigger cycle. Someone put some care into the design and assembly of these firearms.
This is a classic top break Iver Johnson from the hardware store gun days. Even nice and clean this gun is listed on GunsAmerica for under $200.
Even in a hot and snappy carry ammo like this Federal Gaurd Dog the Eagle is completely manageable and doesn’t require any muscling down of the muzzle whatsoever. The full sized 1911 was designed for the .45ACP and in 9mm is very tame.
Of all the ammo we tested, this gun liked Fiocchi canned heat the best. Even in off-hand shooting it was easy to keep the gun into 2.5 inches or so at 25 yards, when it didn’t flip brass into your face, which was really the only issue with the gun.
The Eagle looks a lot like the Springfield Armory Range Officer but not only is it 9mm instead of .45ACP, it just isn’t in the same league, but at $200 less, the Eagle isn’t a bad risk and will most likely be considered a good purchase, even though at this price many of the parts have to be from scattered suppliers in Asia. Could you build a competition gun on it? Yes, but you may end up spending as much in replacement parts as you would have spent originally on a higher end gun. Unless proven otherwise, the IJ should be considered a high quality entry level 1911 and a lot of gun for the money.
Iver Johnson 1911 Series – The 9mm Eagle
Now that the year 2011 has passed and we are handily into 2012, enough has been said about the 100 year anniversary of the 1911 pistol. We should all be able to just return to shooting these classic and ergonomically near perfect firearms for the next hundred years. The question remains, however, can you buy a bargain priced 1911 and have a good reliable firearm. The folks selling guns under the Iver Johnson name these days would answer that question with a resounding “yes.”
We were able to test their 1911A1 “Eagle” in the 9mm version, and our answer isn’t that far from a resounding “yes” either. Overall the gun is a pretty good buy with really only one minor quirk, and it seems to be a good honest buy on a good honest 1911. The Eagle worked mostly as expected, never failed, and was pretty accurate out of the box. With all the 1911s out there, very few come in under $600, which is where this gun is priced, and the Iver Johnson Eagle seems a lot of gun for the money.
If you aren’t familiar with Iver Johnson, this is a name in the firearms world that has been with us since the late 1800s. Hardware stores, five and dimes, and even the Sears catalog used to sell Iver Johnson revolvers that we now call “top breaks” for generally under ten dollars. They are called top breaks because, like a Smith & Wesson Schofield, the gun “breaks” at the rear of the topstrap and flips forward to expose the cylinder for loading. Top break revolvers don’t get a lot of press, and even in good shape an old Iver Johnson won’t fetch much more than a couple hundred bucks. Over the years the brand has come and gone under a variety of ownership, and you will find the name Iver Johnson on just about every type of firearm you can name, pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, everything but an AR-15, so far. Sirhan Sirhan used a top break Iver Johnson .22 to kill Robert Kennedy, or at least that is the official story.
These 1911s are the latest from the Iver Johnson company currently located in Rockledge, FL. They are made in the Philippines from a forged CNC cut slide and cast CNC cut frame, and specifically sourced parts. What makes the guns unique is that they custom created to spec, by Iver Johnson. It isn’t a case where they are buying containers of guns that are being sold elsewhere under different names. An Iver Johnson 1911 is an Iver Johnson 1911, custom made for them and imported exclusively by them, and I think that is why if you Google around on the guns, you will find almost all positive reports. The street price is generally under $600, pretty cheap for a 1911, and if our tests are any indication, they aren’t a bad gun to take a risk on. If your dealer doesn’t already have one on the shelf, you can ask that they custom order you one from either RSR, or directly from the company.
This particular model, the Eagle, is only available in 9mm and carries several special features. It has a Millet adjustable rear sight, extended slide stop and thumb safety (not ambi), front and rear slide serrations, and slightly flared ejection port and mag well. The trigger and hammer are also lightened, and our full sized 5″ barrel all steel test gun weighed 41.8 ounces empty with the magazine. There are currently a total of seven 1911 models offered by Iver Johnson in both full and officer sizes, some in .45ACP and some in 9mm like our test gun.
For this model, the Eagle in 9mm, in over 500 rounds of range and carry ammo in our tests with five different shooters of various hand sizes, frame sizes and genders (we stopped at two on that one), the gun never failed to go boom once. For 9mm, in an all steel gun that was created for the more hefty .45ACP, the recoil is completely manageable even with light, hot carry rounds. Because it is a cut rate gun I didn’t bother to Ransom Rest it, but overall the Iver Johnson Eagle 9mm gun we were able to test shot close to point of aim out of the box and in informal rested shooting from a bag at 25 yards easily kept into 2 1/2 inches, not the best I can shoot, but close to it. Other shooters had similar experiences.
The nice thing about buying a bargain priced new 1911 is that you don’t have to worry about the long term viability of the company and the ability to find parts for the gun. This version of the old Iver Johnson name could move on from 1911s in a few years to go make an AR-15, or they could even go back to the old Iver Johnson Bicycle Works, you never know. Fortunately it doesn’t matter. The 9mm 1911 platform is very common and parts are always available for any standard sized frame, of which the Eagle is one. The magazine on the Iver Johnson is actually a Mec-Gar, the most prolific aftermarket and OEM magazine company in the world, so those will always be available, and the skeletonized trigger, hammer, and all the internals are hot swappable with most standard 1911 parts on the market. Both the front and rear sights are standard dovetails, and the rear sight on this Eagle is adjustable. Iver Johnson seems to be taking a lot of pride in getting you good parts for your investment, but even if one of more of the parts eventually need to be replaced, you still ended up with a nice, clean, and accurate 9mm 1911 for short money regardless.
“Formidable” was the term that came to mind shooting this gun. A lot of people find the recoil and muzzle blast of the.45ACP unmanageable even in a full sized 1911, and if 9mm is your preferred flavor, this budget priced 1911 might be a great choice. We did have one problem with the gun, but it was mostly within the first few mags. The extractor on this Eagle was ejecting brass right back into your face. As the gun seemed to settle in, ejection became more random to the right of the ejection port, but an occasional round did still flip back in your face. I felt it affected my ability to shoot the gun well, because I was aware of the possibility of the brass bouncing off my shooting glasses.
This told me that that the gun was probably not test fired at the factory, or if it was the QC department may have been out to lunch. It isn’t a big problem for a gunsmith to fix, and I’m sure the company would fix this for you if you sent it back. Personally I would rather a gun company send us in a review gun from off the top of the pile without cherry picking and find a minor issue like this than have them send us a slicked up gun that has been gone over and that isn’t representative of a gun you buy off the shelf. Iver Johnson is sold out of their .45ACP guns right now so they only had a 9mm to send us, so this one was clearly just off the top of the pile and exactly the gun that the next customer in line would have received. Nice gun!
Integrity builds success on itself and I feel that this is an integritable gun made by an integritable company. To some degree, you get what you pay for, but that only reaches to a certain level. I’m quite sure that the parts in a Springfield Armory Range Officer, which this gun resembles outwardly, are of a higher quality and from much more reliable sources than the Iver Johnson, and the RO is not only .45ACP, but also a couple hundred bucks more expensive. If you can’t afford a more established 1911 and you aren’t going to beat the gun up in competitive shooting, this is our first look at a gun from the new Iver Johnson and it looks like a winner. It seems to function well with various kinds of ammo and it is a nice, clean, tight and accurate firearm with some higher end features, for under $600. You can spend that much on Spirit Air plane tickets and they still want to get you for a carry on. So fly Jetblue instead, and go buy an Iver Johnson 1911.