New 1911’s From Iver Johnson

Eagles In 9mm and .45 ACP

The Iver Johnson Eagle 1911 in our test is chambered in 9mm. Why the recent move toward 9mm 1911’s? Easy, they’re fun to shoot, offer little recoil, are accurate and ammo is cheap. What else do you need? Going back to the original 1911 — and I have one commercial model which was manufactured in 1914 — there are two attributes which needed serious attention. First and foremost, the sights are extremely small and nonadjustable on my original version. This Iver Johnson Eagle has exceptionally good sights, with a post front in a dovetail matched up with a fully adjustable rear sight which appears to be a Millett. The rear notch is square and outlined in white for easy pickup.

The second problem in the original design, at least for me, is the fact the hammer loves to pinch the back of my hand as the gun is fired. Iver Johnson has addressed this with a beavertail grip safety with a memory bump. Everything else just adds to the desirability of this pistol which, like all Iver Johnson semi-automatics, is made in the Philippines.

The finish is matte blue, the slide is tightly fitted to the frame with no perceptible movement side to side, there are front and rear cocking serrations on the slide and the hammer is skeletonized as is the trigger with three holes from side to side. The thumb safety on the left side is extended as is the slide stop lever. Grips are exceptionally nicely checkered walnut of the double diamond pattern with the Iver Johnson owl head lasered into the center of the grip. There is nothing I would add to or remove from this 9mm 1911 to make it a suitable carry gun for self-defense or simply to use as an everyday working gun. The one change I would make, and I don’t find this absolutely necessary, is to take the trigger pull down from 51/4 pounds to right around 31/2 pounds; however I would have no problem living with it as it is.


The 9mm Eagle was as accurate as the .45 ACP version, and John enjoyed the
lower recoil and controllability of the 9mm chambering in a 1911.

I shot 17 factory loads testing this Iver Johnson Eagle 1911, which of course has a standard 5″ barrel, locking up tightly in the bushing. The most accurate loads were Remington’s and HPR’s 115-gr. JHPs, clocking out at 1,144 fps in the former and 1,172 fps in the latter, with both putting five shots in 1″ at 20 yards. Right behind these two at 1,178 fps and a 11/4″ group is the Hornady XTP-JHP. Should I desire penetration over expansion, the Black Hills 115 FMJ provides the same accuracy at the muzzle velocity of 1,210 fps. If I were to carry this gun daily — and I certainly would not hesitate doing so — I would use it with 115 jacketed hollowpoints backed up by a couple 115 FMJ’s.


The 9mm Eagle delivered guilt-edged accuracy with some loads.


The 9mm Eagle carries well in leather by Zack Davis while the long slide .45
is packed in a belt slide holster by Derry Gallagher.

A .45 ACP Too

I felt somewhat obligated to make a case for the 9mm 1911, however, the second new Iver Johnson Eagle 1911 is chambered in .45 ACP and this is a given. People may still be debating Global Warming and will continue to do so as long as there is money to be made, but when it comes to the best self-defense pistol the argument is long over, the debate is finished, and the .45 ACP 1911 is the number one choice. There is nothing to argue here as this combination has never been bettered.

These two new Iver Johnson pistols are basically dead ringers, except for the obvious chambering, and one other difference. The .45 ACP Iver Johnson Eagle is the new XL model with, I assume, the XL standing for extra length as this is a long slide .45 ACP with a 6″ barrel and companion slide. Way back when AMT was producing stainless steel semi-automatic pistols, I did have a long slide 10mm. However, at the time I couldn’t afford to purchase it and it went back to the factory. I’ve wanted one ever since. Well none of that matters now as I do have an exceptionally well-made Iver Johnson Model XL.

Everything said about the 9mm version applies to the .45 XL. They have the same all around features including the same sights, same safeties, same matte blue finish and same grips. Just as with the 9mm version this long slide .45 could benefit with a trigger job to cut its 51/2-pound pull by two pounds.

The main advantage of the Iver Johnson XL is the extended sight radius, but carrying this pistol could present a problem as all of my 1911 holsters are either made for the standard 5″ Government Model or the 41/4″ Commander-style. However one easy solution is the belt slide style holster which will carry this long slide .45 quite easily.

I fired 11 different loads testing the .45 XL, six factory and five handloads. Both the Black Hills 185 jacketed hollowpoint and 230-gr. jacketed hollowpoint loads proved to be accurate enough for everyday carry, clocking out at 978 fps and 828 fps, respectively. My most accurate load proved to be my handload consisting of the Speer 200 JHP over 6.9 grains of the new Hodgdon’s CFE Pistol powder for 852 fps and a group of 11/4″. I also shoot a lot of Oregon Trail’s 200 grain SWC over the old standby Bullseye powder. With 5.0 grains of Bullseye the muzzle velocity is right at a very potent 900 fps while my “Old Man Gun Load” using 4.0 grains is a very pleasant shooting 722 fps. Both of these group in 11/2″ and I was pleasantly surprised to find the lighter load work the heavier slide reliably.


Essentially twins, but with the long slide Eagle XL being in .45 ACP
and having a 6″ barrel/slide.


The long slide Eagle XL proved its mettle, delivering consistent, tight groups with
a range of .45 ACP ammo. John liked the longer sight radius.

And …?

Iver Johnson has only been offering 1911’s for a relatively few years and they are providing an excellent line-up of reliable performing pistols. Both of these examples proved to be 100 percent reliable with all ammunition tested; no stoppages, no failures to feed. Earlier I reported on the original Eagle with adjustable sights, the 1911 with fixed sights and the Commander-sized Hawk. This was followed up with a report on their Officers Model-sized Thrashers. They are also providing 1911’s with several interesting pattern finishes including Snake finishes such as Water Moccasin, Boa Constrictor and Copperhead. My article on these three .45 ACP’s is already in the pipeline.

Both the 9mm Eagle and the .45 ACP Eagle XL come with two magazines and are packed in a lockable plastic box. They both have the standard bushing, recoil spring and recoil spring plug as found on 1911’s since 1911, and they disassemble exactly as the originals. Iver Johnson warns against using +P ammunition as well as issuing the normal restriction on reloaded ammunition as the use of either will void the warranty. They are warranted against defects in material and workmanship for one year from the date of purchase to the original buyer.

There are more 1911’s made in the Philippines than any other country. Those offered by Iver Johnson are excellent examples of the original design which is now well over 100 years old and shows no signs of becoming any less popular.
By John Taffin

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