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.
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.
Type Gas-operated, rotating bolt semiautomatic
Caliber .50 A.E.
Barrel Length 6”
Overall Length 10.75”
Bore Diameter .495”
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.