New All Stainless Desert Eagle–Gun Review

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For me the Desert Eagle has always been an obsession. I grew up awed by its Hollywood presence and its legendary destructive power. I wanted a Desert Eagle, lusted after it, but never pulled the trigger, so to speak, on a purchase. It is a big gun, and my hands aren’t big. I’d shot the DE and the recoil from the .50 AE was intense. I loved the gun, but I’d always thought of it as a range toy.

The stainless steel will be much easier to maintain than the blued versions, or chromed versions.

The stainless steel will be much easier to maintain than the blued versions, or chromed versions.

When I first saw the press release for the latest Desert Eagle .50 AE, my heart skipped a beat. All those years of waiting finally paid off. Magnum Research now builds what looks to be the Perfect Desert Eagle.

The latest incarnation of the classic Desert Eagle is nothing short of a masterpiece. The practical benefits of the stainless steel combine with an aggressive in-your-face aesthetic that makes an already iconic gun even more impressive. And the new integral compensator makes it easier to control. And it has a tacticool factor that’s off the scale. It’s a gun that is sure to please both the armchair operators, and enthusiasts like me.

Keeping with proven form and function, the new features of the Desert Eagle make manipulation easy and cut out some of the muzzle flip. I am not naïve enough to think this will be my next carry gun. But this is the Desert Eagle I’ll eventually own.

Model                    DE50SRMB
Type                       Gas-operated, rotating bolt semiautomatic
Caliber                  .50 A.E.
Barrel Length      6”
Overall Length    10.75”
Bore Diameter    .495”
Height                  6.25”
Slide Width          1.25”
Finish                    Stainless Steel
Trigger                  Single action, 4 lb. pull
Trigger Reach      2.75”
Sight Radius         8.5”
Sights                     Combat type, dovetail sights
Polygonal rifling, right hand twist, 6 lands & grooves, 1/19
Weight                   4 lbs. 7 oz.
Magazine               7 rounds
Disassembly is easy, and the DE is easy to service and clean.

Disassembly is easy, and the DE is easy to service and clean.

The New Desert Eagle

Glancing at the new pistol you might not think Magnum Research had changed much. There are Desert Eagles with stainless parts and chrome finishes. And there are DE’s with compensators. The overall shape and style of the gun have remained the same, but departing from last years newest model, we see improvements in functionality. By adding an internal compensator the Desert Eagle stays the same length, and actually reduces its weight. The compensator reduces recoil and helps to alleviate the monstrous muzzle flip of the .50 AE. It is also important because this compensated pistol can be holstered in standard Desert Eagle holsters, unlike its compensated predecessor.

This may well be the best rail on a traditional pistol on the market today.

This may well be the best rail on a traditional pistol on the market today.

Another new feature is the addition of an integral1913 rail. Full length and stainless steel, this rail has got to be the must rugged rail on any pistol in production today. This handsaw of a rail can be used for mounting a light, laser, or could also accommodate a bipod. If you would like to take some longer-range shots with this hand cannon, a scout scope and a bipod will make accurate shots out to 100 yards fairly easy.

The frame, slide, and barrel of the New Desert Eagle are constructed of stainless steel. Stainless is the material of the workingman’s gun. Resistant to corrosion, the pistol is made to better serve its user no matter the environment or condition of the weather. Aside from its corrosion resistant properties, the stainless steel also resists scratching and blemishes that are all too common on blued guns.

Shooting

Shooting the Desert Eagle is not for the faint of heart. The deafening blast of the .50 AE, paired with the shear force of the slide slamming to the rear this gun, can be sensory over load. Once you get over the initial shock and awe of this pistol, you will quickly realize that you’ve got this under control. It becomes an aggressive walk in the park, but still a walk in the park. As intimidating as the gun may look, pop culture has this behemoth pegged all wrong. It is a joy to shoot. Seven rounds of .50 AE Slam down range with precision and ease. Felt recoil is minimal, and muzzle flip is nearly tamed by the internal compensator.

desert eagle5

Manipulation of the controls is one area where this pistol requires a little creativity. Disengaging the safety requires the use of your support hand (if you intend to maintain your shooting grip on the pistol). Actuating the slide release is also a bit of a stretch. Again, I find it easier to use two hands. The same goes for the magazine release. Shooters with exceptionally long and strong fingers may have no difficulty running the gun one handed, but the rest of us have to meet it on its own terms.

Close up detail on the sights.

Close up detail on the sights.

Though running this pistol requires unorthodox manipulation, it does not really effect how it shoots. Like all new guns, the Desert Eagle requires that you train and then the foreign tasks will become habit.

Though the gun is as heavy as two loaded 1911s, there is a reason for all this weight. The recoil of the .50AE is pronounced, even when the gun is compensated. If the pistol didn’t weigh as much as it does, every shot would punish the shooter.

At the end of every magazine something chaotic happens. It is easily seen in the video segment of this review. As the slide parks itself in the rear position, the momentum does a number on your grip, nearly ripping the gun from your hands. It is unlike any other gun I have fired, and only occurs when the slides locks back. This pistol is manageable because of the slide slamming forward, which pushes the pistol back onto target. The amount of help the returning slide provides is remarkable.

All of my groups started off strong, but spread as the weight and recoil took its toll. What both of these targets show is that the gun shoots to point of aim very well.

All of my groups started off strong, but spread as the weight and recoil took its toll. What both of these targets show is that the gun shoots to point of aim very well.

When we discuss the accuracy of well made pistols, I like to acknowledge that accuracy has more to do with the shooter than the gun. The Desert Eagle is capable of great things, if you are. On average, my groups started out as one ragged hole, then open up slightly as the weight of the gun and the kick take their toll. A three shot group at 10 yards standing is beautiful at .75 inches then destroyed as it opens to just over 1.5 inches. At 15 yards my first three shots printed at 1.3 inches. The next two rounds opened up to 2.5 inches. This is how it went. If I’d stopped by every few minutes and took a clean shot, I’d likely have better pictures to show. As is, I had a hell of a time keeping the last rounds centered.

This just goes to show the stress .50 AE puts on the shooter. I would hate to see my groups with the non-compensated version. I am not a bull’s-eye shooter. I don’t claim to be anything more than combat accurate, but this gun’s four-pound single action trigger pull lends its self to superior accuracy. And its weight makes it easy to hold on target, at first. Yet that same stabilizing weight begins to feel more like an anchor after a couple of shots.

Criticisms?

You have to take the Desert Eagle for what it is. It would be unfair to everyone involved to say that the recoil is too intense, or that the gun is too heavy or too big. These are givens. And we didn’t have a single malfunction with the gun related to extraction. No double-feeds. No real issues at all with operation once the gun was ready.

But there is one thing that anyone running a Desert Eagle should be aware of. If the slide is locked back and you slam a magazine home, the magazine may extend too far up. When you drop the slide, it may catch the back of the mag instead of the back of the first round. The problem is easy enough to solve, as you just push down on the mag from the top end and the slide falls. At the range, this isn’t a big deal. During a tactical reload, it could be serious.

The .50 Action Express sells for $1.25 on the low end.

The .50 Action Express sells for $1.25 on the low end.

The .50 AE

Shooting Hornady 300 grain XTP hollow points from the Desert Eagle’s six inch barrel is impressive: an advertised 1,475 feet per second at the muzzle. That’s 1,450 foot pounds of muzzle energy. In comparison a 5 inch 1911 shooting Hornady 200grain XTP HP will give you 900 feet per second at the muzzle and 360 foot pounds of muzzle energy. Let me spare you the math—that’s four times the muzzle energy. The .50 AE Is extremely impressive both on paper and in practice.

In concept the Desert Eagle is great. It supplies its owner with enjoyment at the range, and recognition in the community as the guy or gal who owns one of the most powerful handguns in the world. Just don’t expect it to ever be completely practical.  The ergonomics are a stretch. And the single stack magazine’s limited capacity is also a draw back.

Still. It is a solid gun, and too much fun. The Desert Eagle XIX 50 AE Stainless with Integral Muzzle Brake is shipping now. With a MSRP: $1,931.00 start saving your pennies now. If you ever get your hands on one, you’ll  want to add it to the collection.

Hollywood

I ‘d alluded to it earlier, but it bears repeating. Much of how we see guns comes from the iconic way they’re presented on the big screen. So we’ll close on this note.

Not that I’m endorsing the actions depicted in the clip below, but it is an amazing scene from an epic film. La Femme Nikita, or just Nikita (if you’re a cinema snob), is one of the best action films of the 90s. To set it up… Nikita, who is an unwilling assassin, has been given a task. What she thought was going to be a romantic dinner turns out to be a hit. She’s just been handed a wooden box and given instructions….

Gun companies often pay real money to get their guns featured in films like this. One iconic on screen appearance can set up a gun in the collective unconscious. The Desert Eagle makes this scene. The overkill seems wholly appropriate for the situation.

The compensator takes some of the bite off of the muzzle flip.

The compensator takes some of the bite off of the muzzle flip.

When the slide locks back, the DE tips up dramatically. It will make you work on grip technique.

When the slide locks back, the DE tips up dramatically. It will make you work on grip technique.

The back of the slide is sharp, but there's a large beaver-tail that prevents slide bite.

The back of the slide is sharp, but there’s a large beaver-tail that prevents slide bite.

The fixed barrel allows for more weight to remain forward. If the whole slide moved back, it would be ridiculous.

The fixed barrel allows for more weight to remain forward. If the whole slide moved back, it would be ridiculous.

The new all-stainless version is a ruggedly handsome gun.

The new all-stainless version is a ruggedly handsome gun.

The slide opens up nicely, which helps increase reliability.

The slide opens up nicely, which helps increase reliability.

The whole gun comes in over 10 inches, and weighs as much as two 1911s.

The whole gun comes in over 10 inches, and weighs as much as two 1911s.

The wide grip favors shooters with large hands. And this is a single stack!

The wide grip favors shooters with large hands. And this is a single stack!

Get a rock solid grip on the Desert Eagle before you pull the trigger.

Get a rock solid grip on the Desert Eagle before you pull the trigger.

Worried about recoil? Wear a helmet. A quick YouTube search will show you novices managing recoil with their foreheads.

Worried about recoil? Wear a helmet. A quick YouTube search will show you novices managing recoil with their foreheads.

The hard hitting .50 AE makes steel sing.

The hard hitting .50 AE makes steel sing.

The stainless steel will be much easier to maintain than the blued versions, or chromed versions.

The stainless steel will be much easier to maintain than the blued versions, or chromed versions.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Bigduke613 January 6, 2015, 12:52 am

    RIP..
    .PLEASE…No “Clip” terminology!!! MAGAZINE!!!! But I agree with the .44mag preference. Be well.

  • Rob January 5, 2015, 11:59 pm

    I have shot a .454 Casull, and loved it. I carry my S&W .44 mag hunting, travelling and when working. I have also shot a DE .44 mag but the draw back was the size(I have fairly small hands), so this monster is probably out just because of its size alone.

  • Oleg January 5, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Another Eagle for my collection. Got the first one over 20 years ago in chrome. Now I have the .50 in 3 finishes and all calibers including the baby Eagles. What fun guns.

  • Nate January 5, 2015, 5:30 pm

    I just got my DE in 44 mag for Christmas. Totally thrilled with the purchase. I’ve put fifty thru it already between two range visits. The recoil is very manageable due to the weight. Just for funsies I tried a one hand shot at 18 inch steel@ 100 yds, and hit once…. I can hit as accurately with it as I can my XD-M 40 S&W.
    Those of you with color issues will scoff at me, but I’d been trying to convince my wife she NEEDED a good tiger stripped one. She kept saying no. Then, we happened to find one in stock at the lgs. I think it looks terrific. My friends either laugh or drooI.
    No safe queen for me. I’ll shoot it as often as I can afford, learn to reload for it, maybe wear it on a date sometimes. It will also be going with me to hunt pigs one day. Or more.

  • Norm January 5, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Nice review, love the SS version. Desert Eagles have traditionally had heavy gritty triggers so glad to see the 4 lbs here. I’d buy one all day in .44 mag if that is still an option (plus I’m setup to reload that caliber pretty economically) but would never shoot .50AE. Even reloading it would cost you a fortune, and the utility is greatly diminished. If I want that kind of power for that kind of price I’ll take a gorgeous Freedom Arms .454 Casull that could also handle .45 LC.

    • Mike Cross January 6, 2015, 2:37 am

      I got the S&W .460 it can handle .454 Casull & .45 colt.

  • Rip January 5, 2015, 12:56 pm

    Very nice! While shooting the DE in 50 AE Rocks your senses. I prefer popping off 44mag and 357 rounds. The 50 for me only because I have medium size hands limits my enjoyablity.I’m good for about one clips worth as long as I’m wearing a glove, after that I,ll whip out my Redhawk and have hours of fun. How much oomph will the compensated version take out of the shot would need to be tried.I would however purchase this in 357 magnum.

  • Will January 5, 2015, 12:24 pm

    It’s called a “target assessment” to ensure there are no other looming threats in the immediate area. Its a tactic we employ in law enforcement training. You are scanning and assessing the areas in your 180 degree view.

    • Damon January 5, 2015, 12:40 pm

      Do you train to do it after your weapon is out of battery?

  • Gary January 5, 2015, 11:21 am

    That left/right glance is a tactical move taught recently in some places and makes sense once explained. To fight target fixation, you train to do this to keep from being attacked by the perp’s partner ambushing you from the side. I guess people have gotten killed by just focusing on the first one they encountered, then shot when blindsided from another direction. This day of multiple criminals in home invasions makes this more likely these days. And you won’t remember to do this if you don’t always do it. Just like the reload in front of your face you see these days. Not necesary at the range, but has to be done when practicing or you won’t do it when the situation is real.

  • Me January 5, 2015, 9:30 am

    Why does the shooter keep looking left and right? Its looks dumb………please stop……..

  • Rich McIntyre January 5, 2015, 8:49 am

    Really, what is with the glance left-glance right now scowl thing. I see the X-box commandos do that at the range and it makes me laugh. My friend you were being filmed, nobody was sneaking up on you.

    • Russ January 5, 2015, 9:37 am

      How funny, I was thinking the same thing.
      A bad guy or children playing could be moving up on him.
      Don’t we all know a guy like that?
      Sorry Jacob, keep up the good training.

    • Damon January 5, 2015, 12:38 pm

      I wondered the same. Wouldn’t the time to scan for threats be BEFORE the slide locked back?
      Oh well, we all have our rituals and fetishes.
      Nice gun.

  • Steve K January 5, 2015, 6:25 am

    I’m very interested. I hope they didn’t use that aluminum lookalike “matte” stainless steel. From the pictures it looks to me like it’s half matte and half polished? I’d buy one if it’s satin or polished stainless, but matte is NOT welcome in my safe.

    • Roy January 5, 2015, 9:57 am

      To each his own. I have a stainless over matt (two-tone) DE41 in my safe and it is beautiful. Yes – you read that right, I said forty-one. DE made a 41/44 frame in the Mark VII, the problem is finding the 41 barrel and bolt. I happen to be one of the lucky ones. That said, I always shied away from the .50AE because of the size of the gun, when the muzzle break barrel came out for the Mark XIX, I started drooling, now that the barrel is back to the standard 6″ and still compensated, this just made my must have list. (I also own the DE1911, and two BE9900’s (the baby eagle 9mm). My wife says my gun safe is now a condo for Italian and Israelie immigrants. 🙂

    • Dennis W Johnson January 5, 2015, 10:20 am

      Gee whiz Steve, you’re buying a firearm, not a fake Monet. I just cannot imagine discarding the thought of purchasing any piece (much less THIS beautiful pistol) because of the fact that it’s not finished in a manner congruent to your lofty tastes. If it were an optional finish that you were eschewing, I’d agree, but this is how the gun comes. You’re allowing some aesthetic sense of style rule your shopping. Certainly hope you aren’t this entrenched in other facets of your life (food, wife, cars, house, etc).

    • kmann January 6, 2015, 12:06 pm

      Get a dremel tool and polish yours.

  • DANIEL JOSEPH HULL January 5, 2015, 5:51 am

    I have got the wants, really BAD about TWO guns, I will own, in the next two years ! ! ! ! ! ! ! They are for one, is the SS Desert EAGLE .50cal. I got to burn a bunch of ammo through a .44 MAG, Desert Eagle, Now I could not bet the farm, on it being .44 MAG, but I’m 99 % sure ??? BUT never have pulled the trigger on any thing else, that has left the I got to have one some day, and now is time, after seeing it in Stainless Steel, made it worse!!HA!! Then ther is a little SIG SAUER, MPX, and after having a little SIG .40 They know what they are doing, about making a Semi Auto, just a Delight to shoot !!!!!!!

  • Mark January 5, 2015, 5:25 am

    I WANT 1 !!! 🙂

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