The Jericho 941 has the distinction of having been the Israeli Police’s service pistol until it was replaced by the Glock 19. While I’m sure that part of the reason it was chosen was that it was indigenously-manufactured, it’s difficult to deny that Jericho is an excellent handgun strictly on its own merits. Over the years, the Jericho 941 has been imported to the US by KBI/Charles Daly (defunct), Mossberg (“Uzi Eagle”), and Magnum Research (“Baby Eagle”). But, there’s a catch: only the slide safety/decocker model has been imported in great numbers. The frame safety model is very difficult to find as a result.
Through the power of Gunbroker, though, I was able to acquire a Jericho 941F – with no import markings or “Baby Eagle” rollmark. What do I think about it? Read on.
My particular Jericho 941F was described as an Israeli police trade-in gun, and I believe this is accurate. I am unaware of the IDF using the Jericho 941F, and the lanyard ring on this gun doesn’t really scream “military!” to me. It was dirty and had holster wear, but seemed little-used otherwise.
The Jericho is a variant of the Tanfoglio, which was a clone of the CZ-75, which was based more or less on the Browning High Power action. That’s an outstanding lineage for a pistol, given that all three of those predecessors are respected and successful firearms.
It turns the stomach and blows the mind that Magnum Research decided to call these “Baby Eagle” pistols. I understand that they were trying to capitalize on the whole “Desert Eagle” brand, but good G-d, why not use “Desert Hawk” or “Desert Lion” or “Mountain Eagle” or some other brand name that doesn’t have the word “baby” in it? Even Mossberg got this right when they went with “Uzi Eagle”. While I’m not saying I’d turn down a review sample, I am saying that I much prefer hunting up early imports or these police trade-ins because of the branding of the current imports. One can only hope that IWI-US will start importing these with the original branding one day.
I don’t know the year of manufacture of this gun. Presumably, it is pre-2005, due to the IMI markings (vs IWI). The barrel, however, has non-polygonal rifling, and there seems to be some dispute on the Internet about when such models were manufactured. The full-length guide rod in this gun is found in older Jerichos, according to my research. My feeling is that this is a 90’s era gun.
From a collector’s standpoint, you want guns marked IMI when you’ve got the choice. IMI privatized its small arms manufacturing division, whereupon it became IWI. Therefore, no new IMI guns are being produced. Personally, I love those grips with the IMI logo, too.
The frame-mounted safety variants are far more rare than the slide-mounted safety/decocker variants in terms of importation to the US. I assume this is because the original Jericho 941 is using the slide safety/decocker, and thus has a sexiness factor to it, perhaps aided by the selection of the Beretta 92FS for US Army service. There is some irony in that decision, given how many American shooters seem to despise slide-safeties.
The Jericho, internally, looks like every other small-frame Tanfoglio I’ve seen. Notice the captured-spring full-length guide rod, which I found to make reassembling the gun much less painful than, say, the Browning High Power. On the other hand, I had somewhat more trouble field stripping the gun to begin with, due to the slide release being tricky to push out (I like the disassembly safety notch on the BHP!).
The first thing I noticed when picking up the Jericho 941F: “this is a heavy gun”. It’s a real steel gun, and weighs 2.2lbs unloaded. It’s substantially larger and heavier than a Browning High Power (BHP), albeit it feels pretty comfortable in the hand.
Speaking of which, the Israeli Police’s previous service pistol was the BHP. Why would they move to the Jericho? Some potential reasons:
- The Jericho is double-action, which is a useful thing in a combat pistol.
- The Jericho holds 16rds of 9mm; the BHP only holds 13rds.
- The Jericho has a full length dust cover, which protects the slide more (and also provides a spot for a rail in some variants).
- The Jericho should be capable of greater accuracy due to the slide being inside the frame.
- The Jericho has no magazine disconnect safety. The BHP’s mag disconnect safety gives it an atrocious trigger pull.
- The Jericho can use a slide-mounted safety/decocker, which is useful for carrying in condition 2. The BHP has no such option.
Taken as a whole, I think I can see why the Israeli Police found the Jericho to be an improvement over the previous BHP. I’m less certain why they went with a steel frame vs an alloy frame, given how much weight they might have saved. The “941FBL” variant of the Jericho has an alloy frame, but it’s definitely less common. My suspicion is that this model was discontinued in favor of the polymer frame Jerichos (1.8lbs).
I found the controls on the Jericho 941F to be a mixed bag. The frame safety was not that easy to manipulate (albeit more easy than a slide-mounted safety). The slide stop, on the other hand, was rather a pleasure to use, and lent itself well to being manipulated with my support hand. I think I would have preferred a slightly larger magazine release, but it was still usable.
The sights on the Jericho are a simple three dot setup, and they were clearly designed for rapid usage within about 30 feet or so. I think they’re a bit crude as such sights go, and the rear sight is relatively high. To be fair, this may be a feature-not-bug situation, because the rear sight really lent itself to being grabbed for manipulating the slide, and you can EASILY cock the pistol one-handed by shoving the rear sight down on the edge of a hard surface. Your mileage may vary, I suppose. If you want something more refined, Meprolight makes night sights for this pistol, but they won’t be as good for the “cock against the table”-style moves that I previously described.
On the range, the gun performs as expected. Magazine insertion and release is smooth and snag-free. The single-action trigger pull is not overly heavy – I’d guess 7lbs – and the double-action trigger pull is usable, but not pleasant. Given that this model can be carried in “cocked, locked, and loaded” condition 1 status, shooting the gun in double action mode is probably not going to be a usual occurrence.
Accuracy was really rather good at 7yds, and I had no trouble putting the rounds into a 2″ group during slowfire. The rounds used for testing were Freedom Munitions 147gr round-nose subsonic 9mm (this is my preferred load for just about all of my 9mm guns). No feeding issues were experienced. Recoil was very manageable, as it should be in a heavy pistol.