DESERT EAGLE SPREADS ITS WINGS AGAIN – With the New .429 DE Magnum!

Perhaps the most iconic profile in all of the handgun world. The Desert Eagle is now in version Mark XIX.

There are a lot of handguns that can be called “iconic”, but that word seldom applies more accurately than when used to refer to the Desert Eagle by Magnum Research. First patented in the mid-1980s by IMI (Israel Military Industries) based on an American design, the pistol skyrocketed to almost instant fame and recognition when Hollywood nearly jumped out of its shoes to feature it in one action movie after another. It quickly became the “must have” hand cannon if you wanted the word ‘badass’ associated with your movie. And while it may not be featured as frequently as it once was (after all, Hollywood is nothing if not fickle), its instantly recognized profile continues to awe and inspire the newest generation, who see it prominently displayed in video games.

Yes, the Desert Eagle is one that sits at the head table of handgun badassery. And yet, somehow yours truly has managed to tiptoe carefully through life without ever having fired one. Oh, it’s been consistently on the list – bucket or otherwise – I’ve just never made it happen. But when Magnum Research (now a part of the Kahr Firearms Group) announced a brand-new caliber developed exclusively for the Desert Eagle – to take full advantage of its strength and ability to handle insane pressures – I leaned in for a closer look.

A new inscription and a new caliber – the .429 DE Magnum. The tested copy included the integral muzzle brake, which dampens recoil at the expense of additional blast.

The new caliber is called .429 DE Magnum. The DE is, of course, the initials of the Desert Eagle. For those unfamiliar with ballistic specs, .429 (or four hundred twenty-nine thousandths of an inch) is the actual diameter of the .44 Magnum bullet. Okay, I’m a big fan of .44 Mag, but so what… you can already get Desert Eagles chambered for that cartridge… what’s the big deal? The big deal (thanks for asking), is that this .429” diameter bullet is sitting on top of the Saturn 5 of handgun cartridges… the .50 AE!

Magnum Research builds a monster of a gun and a beast of a caliber – the .50 Action Express – but those laurels have been sat upon for so long, they may be wearing thin. The folks at M.R. wanted to figure out a way to take that cartridge and squeeze more out of it – or if not more, at least something new and different. So, by creating a necked-down cartridge that starts as a .50 caliber and winds up as a .44 caliber (.429”), you can push that 240-grain projectile faster because you have more space for higher powder charges. Also, because of the new configuration the .429 DE headspaces on the 30-degree shoulder, not the case mouth.

One of the main reasons the Desert Eagle can handle such high-pressure ammo is the rotating bolt design.

Magnum Research talks about the .429 DE Magnum as being faster than the .44 Magnum and delivering more energy at the target. This piqued my curiosity to do a side-by-side test to not only witness for myself if this is true, but also as a way to evaluate the degree of punch that this new cartridge possesses. So, after getting word from Kahr that the .429 DE handgun was on its way, I made separate arrangements for a .44 Magnum barrel and a couple of magazines.

In for a penny – in for a pound. Now, don’t get me wrong – no one needs to justify to me the need or practical use for a new caliber, especially if it sets off nearby car alarms when fired. “Because we could”, is a perfectly acceptable rationale. But I wanted to see the velocities, feel the recoil, and witness the accuracy for myself – knowing that some might be skeptical.

Here’s the caveat: ballistics is a science. I am not a scientist. For instance, the .44 Mag barrel I have is solid, not ported or braked. The .429 barrel has an integral brake. The overall length is the same – ergo, the .44 Mag has propellant driving it a bit longer than does the .429 DE. Those details make my testing less than a direct comparison – but still very close.

Swapping to the black-finished .44 mag barrel created a beautiful two-tone piece of art.

THE MARK XIX DESERT EAGLE

If no one is looking, and you want to admit that you’re in my category of never having shot a Desert Eagle, then it’s likely that you don’t inherently know much about it beyond its iconic profile and that it makes large projectiles go fast. So, here are the general features of the Desert Eagle, now in the Mark XIX version. The gun is operated by a gas system that uses a piston to trap the expanding hot gas from the cartridge and divert a portion of it to drive the slide rearward. It also has a rotating bolt that contains the firing pin and extractor, rather than a fixed breech face as conventional semi-autos have. The bolt is very much like those found in AR-15s and is one of the best ways to work with large caliber – extreme pressure ammunition. The gun has ambidextrous safeties, which are slide mounted. This is one case where I think that is the best place for them – up high and out of the way.

The safety is ambidextrous and like every part of the Desert Eagle, very stout. It allows for a ‘Condition One’ mode.

The safety disengages the trigger, rather than making a physical barrier to trigger or hammer. This means you can perform every normal function of the handgun while the safety is on – racking the slide, manually cocking the hammer, loading the pistol, etc. What the safety does not do is drop the hammer. The trigger is better than I expected, and while it’s large like every other part of the gun, it is well placed and has a crisp break. The reset is a bit squishy – but if you’re interested in doing double and triple taps with a Desert Eagle, you’re a better man than I. I just hope you have a very high berm. The stock sights are decent – giving a black on black sight picture with a combat presentation. The magazine release looks like the head of a pin on the side of the pistol, but it is really about the size of a 1911 button. It functions very smoothly, and the high-quality mags drop free nicely.

A normal-sized control such as the magazine release looks miniature on the Desert Eagle. However, it’s a smooth operator – as is the trigger, which is rated at 4 lbs.

The slide stop/release lever is large and very good, though I cannot operate it one-handed – my hands are just too small to wrap that far around the 2×4 sized grip. That grip wears a synthetic (rubberized) cover and bears a smooth front strap. The takedown is easy for cleaning or swapping barrels, though because it is a gas operated pistol, expect it to be filthy. Picatinny rail adorns the top of the barrel and the underside of the frame on the .429DE’s brushed stainless steel surface.

Design and construction of the Desert Eagle are top-notch in every aspect.

All-in-all, the Desert Eagle is just a masterpiece of modern design and workmanship. The fit and finish are first rate and every part of the gun feels “tough” and a bit over-engineered.

SHOOTING THE .429 DE

As I mentioned, I’m a fan of the .44 magnum and have fired it in many different sized guns. All revolvers of various configurations and barrel lengths. I also know my way around other big-bore hand cannons, so I was curious how this new wildcat would feel. For starters, the gun weighs as much as a ’69 VW Beetle, so that will help. I dry fired the pistol a few times to get a sense for the trigger break, then loaded five in the 7-round magazine. The first shot made an impression. It wasn’t so much the recoil – which is significant but well mitigated by the weight of the gun and tough springs. What got my attention was the concussion and the noise of the blast. You feel the shock wave hit you like you’re in an invisible pillow fight. And if your ear protection is not up to snuff, you’ll find out fast.

Magnum Research recommends a very firm grip and an isosceles-type stance with the strong hand pushing out with a locked elbow and forward shoulder, and the support hand tightly pulling back toward the body in the opposing force method. Limp-wristing is a common malfunction inducing problem with the Desert Eagle pistol. I’ll confess – none too proudly – that I experienced this issue first hand more than once while shooting this behemoth – even while on rest. This could also be an indication that some break-in is required, but I did experience several feeding malfunctions with the .429 DE rounds. So, with the jury out on the reasons for that, I will presume that I am at least half the cause if not all of it. When I focused my grip and locked my elbows, it ran quite well. It’s easier said than done, to keep a locked isometric grip on the gun after the first shot – because the flinch instinct can be strong, and the desire to bend the elbows to cushion the blow equally strong. But bleeding off just a little bit of that energy by doing so can interfere with the cycling of the action and cause the next round to short-feed.

The author is new to shooting the Desert Eagle and experienced the well-known ‘limp-wristed’ learning curve that many do. Even with .44 mag as shown here, too soft a grip and stance can induce a feeding failure.

The .429 DE cartridge is not SAAMI certified as yet, so to my knowledge, there is only one supplier of the ammunition, Glacier Ridge by Magnum Research. It is available in two bullet weights, a 240-gr. soft nose, and a 210-gr. JHP. The latter claims a higher velocity. I didn’t have a supply of comparable .44 magnum for the lighter bullet, but since I did chronograph both weights, we’ll take a look at those results.

Magnum Research’s boast of significantly increased velocity and energy versus the .44 magnum seems well founded. My simple testing revealed the same weight (240 gr.) bullet travels about 19% faster and packs a whopping 41% more energy. Its numbers put it between the 7.62×39 (AK-47 round) and the .243 Winchester rifle rounds. Hand cannon – indeed! The 210-gr. hollow point version moves considerably faster yet and despite its lesser mass, delivers very nearly the same energy.

The synthetic grip combined with a smooth front strap makes a nice combination for shooting this beast. In this case, the less abrasive surface against your skin, the better.

In addition to the cartridge being new, uncertified, and exclusive – it is also expensive. Obviously, the cost of the components is significant – particularly the bottle-neck brass case. If you shop around a bit online you might find a box of 20 for as little as $32, or about $1.60 per shot. But then, I doubt anyone is considering any Desert Eagle model because it makes good sense for their budget, and especially so with a new boutique cartridge. Over time that will come down a bit, but not much. There is still a lot of raw material there.

ACCURACY

To test the accuracy of the Desert Eagle, I rested it at 20 yards from a target and compared 5 shots of .44 Magnum to 5 shots of .429DE, both with 240-grain bullets. Since the behemoth I was testing is over the top, I thought I’d go over the top too, and mounted an Aimpoint PRO – intended for rifle use – on the gun. After a quick sight-in with the .44 barrel, I shot 5 rounds of SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammo, then swapped barrels to the .429DE and shot 5 more rounds. Seems the configuration of the barrels is different enough that it sent the .429 rounds about six inches high – but luckily still on paper and well separated from the .44 group. The group with the .44 mag barrel was extremely impressive – with three of the five shots touching. The .429 printed a larger group, partly due to flinching on the part of yours truly. I also found that even rested, one must concentrate on the grip or feed problems can result.

The fixed barrel of the Desert Eagle makes it inherently accurate – even with some shooter flinching!

JUST MY OPINION

This is the part of the review where I often try to define the practical use for the firearm. Is it best suited for home defense, concealed carry, competition or perhaps hunting and sporting use, etc. But the Desert Eagle fits in all boxes and no box all at the same time. It is unique among handguns, and its justification for being is simply that it exists. And we’re glad it does. Once thought of as a novelty gun, the Desert Eagle has matured into one considered synonymous with high quality and high power. Everybody secretly wants one. It is perhaps the ultimate barbeque gun – especially if you got the bling package with gold plating and tiger stripes! But that doesn’t mean it has no practical application. I would hate to be a wild hog on the property of a Desert Eagle owner. Indeed, even more traditional game could be taken with it. Defend the home? You bet it would. One shot would do it – you’ve either eliminated the threat, or the threat is eliminating all over itself as it runs away. But the real reason for the Desert Eagle is the best reason of all. The “just because” reason. And it is in that spirit that I think the folks at Magnum Research said “what if…” and developed the .429 DE Magnum. It lives up to the hype in terms of ballistic performance.

One of the best aspects of the Desert Eagle is its ability to be quickly changed from one caliber to another by a simple barrel swap – and maybe a different magazine. So, you can take it to the range with the .44 magnum or .357 magnum barrel, and bring it to the barbeque with the new – and conversation starting .429 barrel. The Desert Eagle is an expensive gun, and not likely the most practical. But, check just about any gun guy’s wish list and you’ll find it – probably near the top. The .429 DE is likely to rejuvenate interest, and it is worthy of the name. I think Magnum Research has a new winner here.

The Desert Eagle is design and machining achievement that is also art. The new 429 DE is the next step in its journey of innovation.
As if not big enough already, with the slide locked back the DE takes on otherworldly looks.
Shooting rifle velocities from a rifle-weight gun might as well use a rifle optic! The author used the Aimpoint PRO for some of the testings.

For more information visit Magnum Research website.

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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Brian July 26, 2019, 10:03 am

    Perfectly happy with my .454 Casull Raging Bull. I can do top quality reloads for .65 each. I wouldnt be surprised to see this ammo going for 3+ bucks a round and most folks dont reload. Unlikely any reloading co’s will go for for round dt low demand. I also have an M-444 .44 mag which is fun too. Also have various 9/10mm, .40. Fave carry though is my Smith .380 Bodyguard for those rare times I go to a dodgy area.

  • Mike Cornett July 17, 2019, 9:54 pm

    LOOKS LIKE DE DESIGNED THE 429 AFTER THE RUSSIAN TOKAREV 7.62 x 25
    IT IS ALSO SOME VERY FAST AMMO AND IS NOW EASY TO FIND.
    I’LL WAIT TILL SOME STUPID GUN MFG MAKES A 45-70 SEMI-AUTO PISTOL…..THEN I’LL BUY…..LOL

  • Gary July 12, 2019, 4:23 pm

    429 HOT LOADS!!! Desert Eagle is Asking for something go wrong.

    TO MUCH POWER TO MUCH COST FOR BULITS. I enjoy my

    older 9mm Desert Eagle, it works for me. IN THE WRONG

    HANDS THIS GUN WILL KILL EVERYTHING !!!! QUICKLY.

    GOOD LUCK 429 DEREST EAGLE ???

  • Jeffrey Nix July 12, 2019, 11:11 am

    In my opinion, the Dedert Eagle should come standard with a fully adjustable rear Bomar-style rear sight…and I don’t mean Millett!

  • Walks Fletcher July 9, 2019, 12:51 am

    Had a Mark Vll, 30yrs ago. Sold it to finance Cowboy Shooting. Shot well, but not to POA. Had to load 180gr bullets to hit POA at 25ydrds, 240gr was for 50yrds.
    And the brass was always “dimpled” because the outdoor range I shot at was made of asphalt.

    Don’t really miss it. But this is a way for Residents of states like CA, MA, HI and others that have outlawed .50 Cal Cartridges, to have a Handgun with that Power again.

  • Charlie BROWN July 8, 2019, 6:13 pm

    I don’t know if it is old age or what? It just does not float my boat and I have no desire to go out and buy every new gizmo that comes down the road. Now a nice checkered handle mdl. 29 in .44 mag you bet,or better yet if we really had our 2nd amendment rights still a sub machine gun, or a .50 browning on a mount, ya that would really be exciting to me still.

  • Michael Ray Cornett July 8, 2019, 5:57 pm

    All the power in the world is not going to help you unless you can shoot accurately.
    Many shooters cannot handle a big recoil. Just shoot the caliber that is best suited
    for you. Personally, only shoot 22’s, 9mm’s & 45’s. I can handle all these with a great
    amount of accuracy. I have shot 44 mags and other high powered handguns, but I’m
    not that comfortable with them. My 9mm Canik Stingray (A CZ 75 Clone) is perfect
    for me as my home protection firearm and I shoot it very well.

  • Billy M July 8, 2019, 4:03 pm

    The .50, .429, and .44 use the same bolts so you only need to change barrels (and mags in the .44). The gun is fun to shoot. As far as follow up shots, in the .44 double taps are doable with practice. But you really need big hands to shoot comfortable. A friend of mine had to hold with his left hand and use the right hand as the support hand and actuate the trigger. Actually found it easier to shoot (in the .50) one handed standing perpendicular to the target. It doesn’t hurt the hand or wrist but the barrel is point straight up after recoil. I am interested in how well the muzzle brake works on the .50. Would consider purchasing a new .50 barrel if recoil is reduced.

  • Me July 8, 2019, 10:34 am

    I can only think of this being used for hunting, but it would have to get closer to what the .44 Mag was doing before it would be huntable. If accuracy improves it would make a good longer range hunting handgun.

    • Bo Dalton July 8, 2019, 6:56 pm

      What everybody continues to forget is that Elmer Keith proved that the good old .41 Remington Magnum has and will out shoot all of them !. 1.40 inch at 50 yards, 1264 ft/lbs. Kieth always said he wished he would have found the .41 Mag before he made the .44 mag so popular !!

  • Alan L Robinson July 8, 2019, 9:53 am

    Another bottle necked pistol cartridge. PITA to reload, when compared to straight wall.

    • Zupglick July 8, 2019, 5:29 pm

      No harder to reload than a rifle round.

      • Alan Robinson July 9, 2019, 9:26 am

        I disagree, the 400 Cor-Bon and .357 Sig are very particular to the shoulder and A.O.L., much more than the average Rifle cartridge.
        In addition, as I pointed out, I was comparing it to the relatively easier loading of straight wall cases, especially when using a carbide die.
        Obviously, straight wall pistol cases are far more common than bottleneck, and in MANY cases, the advantage of a bottleneck case (if there really are any) in a pistol are somewhat negated by the issues in reloading, for a reloader of course.

  • missourisam July 8, 2019, 9:40 am

    A well written article that proves that because we can, does not necessarily mean it should be done. At some point there is reached a threshold where a rifle is called for over a handgun. I carry a Ruger Blackhawk with hot loads in bear country. I may be under gunned, but it never fails to go bang when I need it. I’ll grant you that without the proper grip it hurts, but I don’t have to go through a mental check list each time I shoot it. The lack of power my get me killed some day, but at least it won’t be because I forgot to remember the right grip or stance, making my gun a club. And if I’m killed I’ll at least die knowing I badly hurt what killed me

  • Altoids July 8, 2019, 9:22 am

    Ok so what could you do with this that you couldn’t do with a Mod 29, or a Ruger Redhawk since handgun hunting would be its only practical use?

    • PhilMW July 8, 2019, 11:38 am

      I have DE41 Mag ~ mine came with the 6″ and 10″ barrel.
      I have a shoulder holster that accommodates the 6″ and two mags comfortably.
      I have the 10″ barrel fitted with a muzzle brake and a red dot sight.
      It takes less than 10 seconds to swap barrels (taking your time).

      You can’t swap calibers and barrel lengths like that with the Super Redhawk…
      PLUS ~ you have 8 rounds and a reload that only takes a few seconds…
      Great Hog gun.
      I also have a Super RedHawk in 480 Ruger.
      Desert Eagle cool factor +++++

    • Zupglick July 8, 2019, 5:21 pm

      Gator hunting.

  • Roy July 8, 2019, 8:48 am

    Clay:

    You did not mention this so I have to ask – swapping calibers between .44, .429, and .50AE is just a barrel swap isn’t it? if I understand correctly, the 50AE has the same cartridge head as a 44 Mag, that would mean the .429 also shares the same head and all three calibers would use the same bolt in the DE.

    Owning a DE is akin to climbing Mt. Everest – you do it because you can, bragging rights, and because not everyone has. I understand some shooters will say “just not practical” but this is a gun designed from the start to throw practicality to the wind and make going the range an experience. I own one of the rare DE41 models and I am desperately searching for a 440 Carbon barrel because . . . well, I can, so I will likely add the the 429 for the same reason.

    • CREED September 6, 2019, 10:47 pm

      The .429 AE IS basically the .440 Corbon, but improved. I believe the headspacing was not on the shoulder with the 440, a major disadvantage for accuracy, but I doubt anyone could tell the difference between the two cases at arms length.

  • Rocky Jackson July 8, 2019, 8:26 am

    Iconic?….LOL…The worlds only “crew served” handgun

  • Marcelino July 8, 2019, 8:17 am

    Nice gun. But useless when speed counts.

  • Mike Straughan July 8, 2019, 8:16 am

    This new cartridge is not new, its only a 440 Cor Bon. Magnum Research has been making the DE in 440 Cor Bon for years. Cor Bon made this round in 1998.

  • George Jones July 8, 2019, 8:14 am

    But what if a person already had a .50AE Deagle with a 10” barrel putting out 1850 ft/lbs of energy?

  • srsquidizen July 8, 2019, 8:13 am

    Guess this is what you need if you go where the grizzlies fight in gangs. if I had to deal with some critter that a 9mm will just make madder I think I’d rather have a .454 Casull wheel gun. It would dispatch the 5 or 6 bullets it’s got with similar force even if my wrist should go slightly limp from the prospect of being eaten.

  • wtsane July 8, 2019, 8:02 am

    Nice review, but no thanks. A pistol one cant conceal, that requires one be in a proper stance at all times, is useless for the actual job pistols are designed for. It’s a little like the dodge hellcat: Its for the guy with something to prove, I’m just not sure who he’s proving it to.

  • Alfonso Alfredo A Rodriguez July 8, 2019, 7:08 am

    Too big an of little practical use unless hunting big Alaskan bears is on the menu. Limited application for just plinking and too expensive. I shoot 445 Super Magnum in a Fan Wesson revolver with same limitations at max loads. Being a revolver cartridge, the 445 can be down loaded with Trail Boss and I can shoot 44 Special, 44 Mag hot and light loads. Desert Eagles are novelty guns without practical applications and too expensive for what they offer to serious shooters.

    • PhilMW July 8, 2019, 12:48 pm

      “little practical use”
      …interesting choice of words.
      Desert Eagle .50AE ~ you can have 3 calibers with just a 5-second barrel change.
      With a bolt/barrel kit you can have a .357 Mag.
      You have a versatile gun that fits “your” needs ~ that’s what it’s all about…

  • Bill Megale July 8, 2019, 5:34 am

    Send me information on new products like this whenever possible.
    Also how does it stack up to the S/W.500 pistol I own? Is I even close to the King of Pistols ?
    Thanks

  • Rane July 8, 2019, 4:44 am

    I would love to see a PCC that uses DI or piston in this caliber. My guess is that this caliber would do very well in an SBR format, but would be curious of the velocities out of a 16” barrel as well. It’s like the .458 socom’s little brother. Very cool concept on cartridge design. I’m just not a fan of the DE handgun. It’s just too big for most situations. I’ve shot the 50 version of the gun and I’ll admit it was fun and surprisingly accurate, but just not practical. A gun that size and weight and that basically uses a rifle operating system may as well have a butt stock and forearm. But I get it, it doesn’t have to be practical to be fun and there are some practical uses for this behemoth such as hunting and bear protection. Great write up!

  • Jordan winders July 7, 2019, 7:02 pm

    Imciteful, I appreciate that “just because” is a valid reason to pick a firearm.

  • Mike Schultz July 7, 2019, 6:22 pm

    Woo, I bet that cartridge is gonna be stupid expensive.

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