I've been having a bit of a mixed experience killing pirates and other fugitives today.
On the one hand, the Eagle is a great ship for combat. With all of the upgrades I have installed, I have only had one close call and that was against a trio of (NPC) Vipers; I got one, but had to run before I could finish the second. It's been fun, mostly.
The issue is that I am really not gaining ranks too fast. I've reached Merchant rank and even my explorer is Mostly Aimless + 85%, but Combat is really taking a lot of kills to rank up. I've also noticed that while the Eagle is good against Cobras, there are too many pirates in Eagles who skip out of my gunsights if I am not careful.
Still, I will keep trying...