Shooting the Desert Eagle .44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum Desert Eagle is a formidable pistol by anyone’s standards, but is it a practical weapon for self defense or hunting?

If you aren’t familiar with these guns, click the pictures for a larger image. This is the left facing profile.

The big Desert Eagle has been immortalized in a lot of movies and this could why it has permeated popular culture so deeply. This scene from Charlie’s Angles, Full Throttle, is one of my favorites. Demi Moore sports two gold Desert Eagles.

Hornady Critical Defense 240gr. hollowpoint clocked at 1430 fps. with the big .44 Magnum. This is about the same speed as the .50AE version of the gun with a 300gr. bullet, but the .50AE is even more gun to tame, much more expensive to shoot, and of little practical additional value.

This was my first outing with my new Ransom Rest. Apart you can see the premise of how it works. The grips are removed and the inserts lock into the rest.

The Desert Eagle .44 Magnum locked into the Ransom Rest and ready to fire.

I shot video of the gun in the rest when I shot this group of about 2 inches at 25 yards, and later when I slowed the video down I noticed that though it looked 100% stable at the time, the plywood mounting of the Ransom Rest was not secure enough and flopped with the recoil. We will return with an update on how good this gun can actually shoot with all of the human factors removed.

The trigger on the Desert Eagle is adjustable and from the factory it broke at a reliable and crisp six and a half pounds, perfect for a single action.

The safety on the Desert Eagle will take some getting used to for 1911 shooters. You push it instead of dropping it.

This is how the gun field strips. You don’t need to have the slide locked back or the magazine out. It works on a quick release and the barrel slides out by lining up that lug on the bottom with spaces in the slide rails.

The quick release is on the trigger gaurd. You push the back side and slide it, then the barrel lifts right out.

Getting the gun back together is easy once you understand that this pin on the end of the dual recoil spring holds in the gas piston. Then you just drop the barrel back in and lock the quick release.

The Desert Eagle is suprisingly reliable with .44 Magnum shells. They have an extended case rim so they can be held in revolver cylinders, and a lot of attempts at rimmed cartridges in autos have failed over the years. With the right hold and physical strength, the Desert Eagle works great. This is the 8 round magazine that comes standard.

Even in computer generated graphics there is no gun as awesome as the sight of a Desert Eagle, and the .44 Magnum version is an extremely practical and useful gun for many situations if you can handle it as well as Demi.

Magnum Research

Do you want a shock? If you have an Android phone, go into the Marketplace and search for the word “guns.” Hundreds of apps will appear relating to every angle on guns and shooting you can imagine. What I found interesting was that by far the most common picture of a gun chosen for the thumbnail is none other than the Desert Eagle. As guns go, the Desert Eagle is not that common, but maybe due to video games, or movies, or just plain old coolness, it is one of the most notorious guns of all time.

Most people think of the Desert Eagle in the most famous .50AE (Action Express) caliber, but when it comes to actually buying a gun to shoot, I would suggest the far more affordable .44 Magnum. Brass is plentiful, and you can buy the ammo on the shelf at Wal-Mart or Bass Pro Shops. Ballistically, the .50AE is overkill in a pistol and rocks your world far too much to be an effective weapon anyway. It is more of a novelty cartridge that a functional participant in shooting sports, unlike the .44 Magnum that is used extensively and successfully in self defense, handgun hunting and as a backup for dangerous game. Note that you can hot swap a .50AE barrel and magazine with the .44 Magnum ones on the gun. The .50AE utilizes the same rim as the .44 Magnum so it is the same extractor. The extra magazine and barrel can be purchased directly from Magnum Research.

To understand the difference in ballistics of the two cartridges, the standard 300gr. bullet in a .50AE travels at roughly the same 1400fps. that a 240gr. bullet travels in a .44 mag. In muzzle energy this equates to a 50% advantage for the .50AE, 1449ft./lbs vs. 971ft./lbs. for the 44 mag. With a similar weight 300gr. bullet, the .44 mag comes in at even less, at 881ft./lbs. But when it comes to hand cannons, how much is too much? Even against a Grizzly, the ability to aim a follow up shot quickly should you miss is more important that eeking out every foot-pound of energy from a gun when you are limited to carrying a pistol.

This is why I ordered a test gun in .44 Magnum. As romantic as the “Big 50” may be, I wanted to see what it was like to shoot this famous and enormous gun with a practical cartridge. My perspective is, most .44 Magnum shooters shoot revolvers, Smith & Wesson Model 29s, Ruger Super Redhawks, etc. With a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle, you have 8+1 rounds, not just six, and you can slap a mag if this isn’t enough to get the job done, or if you need to be ready for the next threat. Compared to a revolver the Desert Eagle is far more firepower, and let’s face it, the gun is among the coolest on the planet. It looks like a Battlestar Gallactica blaster for heaven’s sake!

Weighing in at nearly four and half pounds (70.5 oz.), the Desert Eagle .44 Magnum still has a good deal of recoil and muzzle flip. It may not be the biggest boy on the block anymore, but the .44 Magnum is still a beast of a cartridge. I would not call it punishing though. I have fired lightweight alloy J-frame revolvers with .357 Magnum loads that were a lot more unpleasant to shoot than this.

Using the gun successfully takes some practice though, and Magnum Research provides a picture guide to help you save frustration. The Desert Eagle is not a gun you can just take out of the box and shoot properly. Many of the good habits you may have developed from shooting large revolvers don’t apply to the Desert Eagle, and you have to consciously change them or the Desert Eagle doesn’t work so good.

With a big, .44 Magnum revolver, like a Ruger Super Redhawk, (for a right handed shooter), you hold your left hand under the grip to apply two handed counter pressure to shoot the gun. When you shoot it, you allow the revolver to roll backwards with the recoil. If you do this with the Desert Eagle, the next round won’t lock up correctly and it will behave like a standard failure to feed correctly. Two things about this you have to consciously change.

First, you don’t put your left hand under the grip, or butt, of the gun. The Desert Eagle magazine is “floating” and needs to self position. It actually hangs out of the gun an 1/8″ or so on my test gun. If you hold your left hand under the magazine, pushing up, it exerts pressure on the bottom of the barrel and the slows down the action, absorbing some of the force needed to strip the next round and lock it up reliably. Put your left hand on the left side of the gun and around your right hand fingers on the front of the grip, the way you would grip a 1911.

You also don’t let the gun roll backwards with the recoil. Just the opposite in fact. The Desert Eagle prefers that you muscle the recoil down as much as possible. Any limp wristing or failure to absorb the recoil will, again, make the gun fail to correctly lock up. It isn’t that the gun is unreliable. It is just quirky and requires a lot of physical strength and size to work good. . A firm stance, a firm grip, muscling the recoil ,and the Desert Eagle works flawlessly.

The first generation of Desert Eagles that came into the country were known for failures, so it is important to get one of the second generation guns that are currently being made. They have the rail on the top for a handgun scope. This is a gas operated gun, not purely recoil operated, so you have to keep it clean. The back of the manual has several warnings to clean the gas piston and inside the chamber, and to keep it lubricated. Unlike a revolver, all of that force in the .44 Magnum cartridge moves stuff around in the Desert Eagle, and the violence makes for a high maintenance gun, as modern guns go.

One of the nice things about the Desert Eagle is its quick detach barrel system. You just push the button, flip the lever, and the barrel lifts up and out. You don’t need to have the slide locked back or the trigger pulled, or even the magazine out. So to clean the gun is simple, and once you understand how it works (took me a bit), getting it back together is just as easy.

As you can see from the pictures, I was able to test the Desert Eagle with my new Ransom Rest. If you don’t know this great tool, it is a machine rest for handguns. The vice mechanism is meant to replicate the way a gun works in the human hand. It works quite well, but I was not able to utilize it to its full potential. The groups you see in the pictures, just about 2 inches at 25 yards, are much better than I could do offhand, but when examining the video of the shots, I noticed that when I slowed it down the board that the rest is mounted to was not as stable as I had thought.

Fortunately Kahr, who owns Magnum Research and the Desert Eagle, has allowed us to hold on to this gun for a while so we will return with better results in the future. Even with these results it is clear that if you can handle the big Desert Eagle .44 Magnum, and if you are able to fire it accurately, it is in fact a precision firearm and won’t let you down in the accuracy department.

The Desert Eagle isn’t for everyone. It is a huge gun, not terribly concealable, and requires a large physique (or a small physique with freakishly large hands) and a good deal of brute strength to operate properly. The .50AE version is the most famous, but from a gun guy standpoint, I consider this more an ego gun or novelty more than anything else. The .44 Magnum version, however, is a viable alternative for handgun hunting, dangerous game, and personal or home defense for the person who can handle one. It is an elegant gun in many ways and there is no other gun like it. If you have a chance, see if you can find a rental Desert Eagle and give it a try. You may find that the gun everyone finds so fascinating is your new favorite gun toy. It is mine.

Magnum Research

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • Andy March 23, 2018, 10:01 pm

    I have average size hands and love running my DE 44/50. other than a slide bite that caught my thumbnail, I quickly learned to grip thumb over thumb like gripping a revolver, I have had no issues with it. All in all I have had 1 fail to eject after running about 50 rounds of Winchester white box, and none in 100 Remington rounds. I have run 60 rounds of 50ae with no issues but a sore palm. I have learned to lock my wrist and allow my shoulder to absorb the recoil. My 357 snubbie has more of a kick than my DE.

  • Gunther Zimmermann February 22, 2015, 8:59 pm

    I have a .44DE and I love it. This weapon is not intended for someone with small hands and that’s due to the size of the pistol

    grip, not to mention the weight. The only drawback is the fact that I have not been able to obtain a second magazine. Since I
    reside in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, I realize I will not be able to obtain one from any US Dealer. If there is someone who
    can put me in contact with a Canadian Dealer, it would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou. Gunther

  • R Smith December 23, 2014, 1:27 pm

    the only problem I have had with my DE in 50 cal, is with hand loads sometimes the last round will not chamber all the way.
    Other than that I have had no problems with mine. yes its a big gun and you need big hands to shoot it. I am thinking of getting a 44 or 357 to shoot for fun and save money. I have taking it hunting but never have used it. I am going to upgrade my grips to the soft rubber ones as they give you a bit more grip on the weapon/ I am also going to get some night sights for it. I do find that I sometimes . or should say I like to rest my thumb on the slide lock and of course that can cause the lilde not to lock back. other than that I find it a really great weapon to shoot. I will be keeping my DE 50 cal till I die.

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  • David Moore November 30, 2013, 10:37 pm

    It has been quite some time since the article was written. Did you ever use the Ransom Rest on it? I would love to see the results finally posted.

  • David Moore November 30, 2013, 10:36 pm

    It has been quite some time since the article was written. Did you ever use the Ransom Rest on it? I would love to see the results finally posted.

  • Dave August 12, 2013, 4:02 pm

    Just curious, how does the leverevolution ammo work in the shorter barrel of the Eagle? Worth it, or not worth it?

  • Rockyvnvmc August 5, 2013, 3:35 pm

    I don’t know about you, but I’m sticking with my M1911A1 .45 cal. It’s been a tried and proven weapon, for over 100 years !

  • Mike August 5, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Well, in answer to your question, “where else…DE used in crime?”, I would have to say it is being used in a crime every day in New York State. The crime being that the unknowing, led by the ignorant, are unconstitutionally and arbitrarily depriving the citizens of NY State of their right to bear arms. These so called legislators are making the rules as they go along. They want something to be illegal, they make up a category of firearm without a definition and then they brand that undefined category as illegal. What is included in that category of “assault weapon”? The answer is as simple as the people who made up the category. The answer is ‘anything they want to be in it’ .

  • Paul August 5, 2013, 7:52 am

    However, here in New York State it is now illegal to purchase a Desert Eagle. Why? Because our “elected officials” are trying to keep us safe by declaring that any handgun that weighs over 50oz is an “assault weapon”. That’s correct, they have written into law that the difference between a military feature of a handgun and a civilian version of the same handgun, is a weight cutoff of 50oz. No other evil features need be present, no evil forward grips, no evil threaded barrel or flash supressor, nothing but the mere fact that it weighs over 50oz makes it an “assault weapon”. My son and I have DE’s in 50AE and 44Mag, we can keep them only if we register them as “assault weapons” and we can not transfer them to anyone in NYS. That includes the fact that I can’t give him mine, he can’t give me his….. they have to be disposed of out of state. These politicians are getting their ideas from the movies, where else have you ever seen a DE used in a crime?

  • James June 24, 2013, 4:11 pm

    I have a DE 44/41 Mark VII. The 41 has the 14″ barrel and I am dying to shoot it. The problem is when I got the gun, I was told that all you do is change the barrels. Found out that wasn’t true and that I need a bolt assembly for the 41. Since Magnum Research hasn’t supported the 41 for year – this is one tough cookie to find. Would anyone know of someplace(s) that I can look for one of these? I’ve searched high and low. The 44 shoots great with one hand or two and I’ve heard many shooters rave about the qualities of the 41 magnum, but without the bolt assembly – all I can do is admire it. Anyone have any input? Thanks

  • James June 24, 2013, 4:05 pm

    I have a DE 44/41 Mark VII. The 41 has the 14″ barrel and I am dying to shoot it. The problem is when I got the gun, I was told that all you do is change the barrels. Found out that wasn’t true and that I need a bolt assembly for the 41. Since Magnum Research hasn’t supported the 41 for year – this is one tough cookie to find. Would anyone know of someplace(s) that I can look for one of these? I’ve searched high and low. The 44 shoots great with one hand or two and I’ve heard many shooters rave about the qualities of the 41 magnum, but without the bolt assembly – all I can do is admire it. Anyone have any input? Thanks

  • BwB January 5, 2013, 11:10 am

    So you say to only buy a latter model weapon; does that mean my Mark VII is junk ?

  • Brian December 31, 2012, 11:39 pm

    Have the mark seven DE, made over seas and put together in the U.S. the gun will function corectly with the proper ammo. The gun comes with a list of ammo to use , If you video tape super fast action (Shooting) it looks like and sounds like 3 rounds, on a 8+1 dump, as far as holding the gun correctly I will try. And for all you DE owners out there just make sure you keep it super clean and use modern oils, as you would all your guns.

  • Naomi Connley October 1, 2012, 8:30 pm

    I want a 22 Mag pistle that has two magiznes, Can you hlp me? My gun was stolen from me. I want it back becuse it was beautiful to me to protect me.

  • Happy Shooter March 22, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I love the 44Mag I have had for over 20 years now. And it is always a show stopper at the range. Unlike many other weapons it fires from a locked breach and goes BOOM! instead of bang. For my money I really like 180g JHP’s for the much higher velocity than heavier rounds. Subjectively 180g through a 10″ barrel yields much tighter groups from a bench and sand bag. Without A scope I can generally maintain 5″ groups at 50 yards and 2″ groups at 25 yards. I’ve never tried it with a scope or laser, but would love a laser sight…..

  • JB February 21, 2012, 2:27 am

    OK good reads, my 2 cents is that the DE 44 in 6″ is a all around gun capable of just about every aspect of handgun shooting. I collect 44cal firearms, & I must say the DE 44 is way up there in the fun factor.
    The 44 Automag is smoother but high tendency to break parts (now a safe queen).
    The LAR Grizzly in 44 mag (yes they made a few of them) is more pleasant to carry put is a handful in off hand shooting, not to mention it is a pain loading the mags with a special aliening pin you must use.
    My Prob with the .50 is (Had one & sold it) Why ? Other than novelty, I’d rather use a ,44 mag, 454 or 50 S&W for Handgun hunting (& Do).
    If you really want a big bore that stands out, just get a pistol gripped 12g & shoot slugs = more umph & cheaper to shoot, not to mention beyond the intimidation factor 😉

    I love the 2 DE 44’s all but my bedside & CCW, I use a 2 1/2″ ported custom trigger worked 44 mag Astra revolver for Bedside.
    I have a Lew Horton 3″ S&W 44 mag for my CCW.

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  • James Kerns December 20, 2011, 12:15 am

    Loved this and all your other reviews, especially all the comments from across the board. I am a US army veteran, from a family that is service oriented, and a country boy too boot, so i grew up with a gun in hand you might say. I still shoot something at least a couple days a week. My youngest son and i shoot off the back porch when no other adventure can be found. I have to comment on the “DEAGLE”lol, although i dont own one of those i do have another big handgun from Magnum Research that is quite interesting. I have a BFR revolver, 10 inch stainless, in 45-70, with a .450 Marlin cylinder thrown in. The 45-70 is actually fun to shoot with the handloads a cowboy action friend of mine made up with some 322 grain cast lead slugs and 26 grain Accurate 5744, if i read his tape on the box right. The Hornaday Leverevolution ammo is hot of course, but i made a clean 1shot kill on an 8pt. buck at 136 yds.last year, impressed the hell outa me for a handgun. The .450 Marlin’s are wrist breakers though, i dont know what i was thinkin there. Anyway, keep up the good work and i will keep readin on and shooting straight.

  • andy November 30, 2011, 12:05 am

    I have deer hunted for 10 yrs with a red hawk so I wanted to change so I got me a 44mag deagle I sent about 4 hrs sighting it
    in 1 round at a time 40 yds 5 shots 4 of them touching each other. so I think its time to load 3 rounds and let it rip it wouldnt
    cycle. so I work and cleaned just couldnt get it to cycle. so i went to the gun shop and got different bullets I was using 240gr ammo blazers with a alum case. the new one are 240gr with a brass case and they worked just fine it cycled perfect must not
    like aluminum with this new round the gun shot 6″ high so I started over sighting it with the new round deagle is one of the best guns Ive shot smooth and easy to shoot just like any new toy you have to learn how to use it. deer hunting this weekend Im to excited to sleep

  • Jason November 28, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Phoenix, awesome choice on weapons. I used to have that 458 in the Ruger#1, also a 375H&H. #1 is great gun. I currently have Remington model 700 375H&H Mag Limited Safari Edition #1 of 100. And of course 44 Magnum Desert Eagle. I had to have my mom buy me this gun because I was under 21 when I got it. (Michigan has goofy laws about being 21 to buy from a store and only 18 to buy from a person) . Anyways I grew up shooting an uncles Smith, a model 29 44 mag,8 3/8 barrel from about 12 years old. I had shot thousands of rounds through this gun and others like it and I was a very good shot. I had the fortune to buy this gun when I turned 18. Then when I was 20 a buddy bought a 41 mag Desert Eagle because if the movie”The last action hero” He couldn’t shoot it and wanted me to try. I put all 8 rounds in about a four inch group at about 60 yards. It was the smoothest shooting most comfortable gun ever. I went and bought mine that night in the 44. All of the peoples problems that I have read about are because they didnt know the correct operation of the gun or use the right ammo.

  • The Gerk November 26, 2011, 5:46 pm

    “The first generation of Desert Eagles that came into the country were known for failures, so it is important to get one of the second generation guns that are currently being made.”

    I have an “ancient” original Israeli made (IMI) Mark I .44 Magnum gun. S/N 30XXX
    The gun has run flawlessly for decades, from my recollection, the major problem folks had with original DE guns was not using appropriate ammunition in the guns, and adjusting to the required firing methods needed to make the gun perform reliably as designed.
    The guns also require a “modicum” of cleaning and lubrication to keep up on the track operating reliably.
    I know people who returned the guns because they couldn’t cock the damn things.
    The DE platform is not for the uninitiated or “pedestrian shooter” for sure.

    Even the magazines for the gun function today as if they were new after cycling thousands of full house Handloaded 300 grainers through the gun.

    I also would agree that as a hunter the .44 Magnum is better suited, the sectional density is better using heavy 300 grain Jacketed than the 50DE
    The 50DE is truly a “novelty” gun
    The 50DE performance is also limited due to the fact that the caliber is limited by what will fit into a DE magazine, hence the cartridge COL similar the .44 Magnum.
    This “sizing limitation” also limits 50DE bullet weights (This affects sectional density) tremendously.
    For the expense laid, applying those resources to a “true” 50 caliber X-Frame Smith would be a wiser choice for sure.
    Good Luck All

  • skwish November 25, 2011, 4:43 am

    I have both a .44 and the .50 Desert Eagle. The .50 is a handful, but the .44 is a breeze to shoot. I shoot it one handed on a regular basis, and I’ve never had a failure with that gun. I normally use 240gr jacketed bullets in it. I have fired 185 gr rounds which give less recoil, but as a whole, I find the 240 gr more accurate. The .50 is a 2 handed gun. I’d be hesitant to try it one handed. They are both a hoot to shoot that’s for sure…I love ’em!

  • J. Seals November 24, 2011, 7:37 pm

    I try to spend a couple of weeks each year in Alaska, and in the past my bear defense was a mod 58 SW 41 mag. Last year I bought a Deagle in 44 mag and added the barrel and mags in 50AE. My next trip to Alaska will include the Deagle with both barrels for my bear defense.

  • Rick Dalton November 5, 2011, 9:21 pm

    Shot the .44 Eagle back around ’90 or so. I have always used revolvers, nerver self loaders as reloaders do not like to chase brass. We were at River Bend Gun Club of Atlanta and using the sitting bench rest to test the Eagle. My first shot went down range as aimed, but I failed to release the trigger and the second round went up thru the roof hiting a wooden joist and putting a football sized hole thru the metal roof. Before I could release the trigger it fired again hopefully towards the targeted area. That cured me and I was glad the only folks on the range were people I knew.

  • Dr. Dave October 21, 2011, 10:34 am

    Thank you for the article. I’ve been looking into buying a .44 mag handgun for hunting and have heard numerous comments (pro-con) regarding the DE. Issues regarding weight, wieldiness, recoil recovery for next shot and price have been a common theme. The comments regarding field testing this firearm before purchasing seems the most reasonable and prudent response; however, I’ve never encountered a store that offers such an opportunity. Also, I do not know anyone who owns such a firearm. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Thank you

    • Administrator October 22, 2011, 8:46 pm

      Just get a super redhawk and call it a day for now.

  • Juan October 16, 2011, 12:40 pm

    I liked your article about the Desert Eagle. The only thing I disagree with is where you state that you have to be a physically strong or big person to handle the gun. You are wrong sir. When my youngest son was 10 yrs old he not only held the desert eagle himself he also shot the full eight round mag by himself! Granted he held the gun with both his hands as it was to big for him to hold one handed. But he did it and he was 10 yrs old at the time. Made me really proud! Thank you for a great article. Keep them coming.

    • Administrator October 16, 2011, 3:58 pm

      I wouldnt put that in your babysitting job application or mention it in the custody hearing lol. Not the most shining moment of your child rearing years.

      • Dale August 11, 2013, 5:41 am

        Uhh…what’s wrong with taking your kids shooting? I started taking mine out to the range when they were 3 – 4 years old. The younger a child is when he/she starts being taught to safely handle a firearm, the LESS LIKELY they are to have a firearms mishap! Sure, you don’t just had a 3 yr old a gun and let them go to town, but a ten yr old shooting a firearm under direct parental supervision? Come on, NOTHING wrong with that!!

  • herbert gilberto Lopez Cordon October 14, 2011, 11:52 am

    Buenos dias, estoy viendo los comentarios que hacen referente a esta arma aguila del desierto, se mira muy linda yo soy de guatemala y me gustan las armas desde que tenia 3 años de edad, he disparado con todos los calibres ya que soy federado de tiro, me gustan las armas como el mejor deporte de mi vida, esta arma que estan presentando es muy linda tuve la oportunidad de dispara con una de ellas en calibre .44 de un amigo y tiene una potencia de fuego bastante grande, lo unico que la repeticion es muy dificil de controlar a la hora que se quiera tener rapidez en cualquier movimiento. La verdad me Encanta esta arma. saludes a todos.

  • MARK October 14, 2011, 9:07 am

    I’ve had a DE .50AE for years now and it’s proven it’s reliability time and again, so long as you don’t “limp-wrist” the shots. Don’t let anyone tell you that the .50AE isn’t awesome-the guys at the range all come running when I fire it, not because out of interest (but it IS,lol!), but simply because they CAN’T shoot when I am. Yes, it is huge, doesn’t carry well at 7.4lbs empty, is hard to swing around in a hurry, but this gun was developed by the Israelis for a reason-Uzi’s won’t stop cars, trucks or low-flying aircraft in a hurry, but the .50AE will. Period. So, next time you have something you wanna stop in a jiffy, maybe throw in body armor as well, you’ll be well served by it. No, it won’t penetrate body armor, but it has the same effect- it WILL liquefy any and all body organs within a 6″ arc of impact (that’s 12″ across and 16″deep)…impressive, most impressive.

  • Frosty October 14, 2011, 9:02 am

    Boys I sure wish I could afford to buy a DE, but I am a disabled veteran living on a pension, don’t get me wrrong, I live in KY and own my fair share of guns , glocks 1911’s and such and a few long guns as well but I have found thru personal experiance that if you are wakened at night due to a home invasion at night you wake up a little foggy I do and did on a particular night 5 years ago that in this situation Ialways keep it beside the bed, that my my remington 870 tactical three and half magnum load work for me in my foggy state of mind I did not even have to aim just point and squeeze it stopped everything immediately by cutting the S.O.B. drug addict literaly in two just a piece of skinon his left side left. 3 and a half inch magnum double ought rounds are what I keep in it, he was after my prescription pills that I have to have, morphine if U must know. but I would love to be able to afford one of those big DE’s you guys are talking about , I hae shot one a couple of times and love the feeling.

    • Rockyvnvmc August 5, 2013, 3:51 pm

      Welcome Home Brother.

      As you well know, the VA is trying to take away Veterans firearms, if they can find any excuse. My exact reasoning for choosing Not to file for PTSD, even though I could be successful with that sort of claim. I much prefer to be allowed to own my weapons, rather than a bump in my VA benefits.

      It’s been shown that a 12ga, short barreled pump shotgun, with an extended magazine, is the all round best home defense weapon, which won’t also endanger your sleeping children/grandchildren in the next room, or even your neighbors, in an apartment setting.

      I have both a pistol gripped pump gun, as well as a 1911 immediately available, should I be thus awakened, for defense purposes. The onetime I got to fire my co-workers AE .50 cal. it almost got me in the nose… I wasn’t expecting the recoil to be as much… Then it cost about $1.50 per round to shoot, causing him to learn to reload, as well.

      I’ll stick with my M1911A1, thank you very much.

  • JLA October 14, 2011, 6:56 am

    There’s another big auto out there that is also quite underrated: the Grizzly Win Mag from LAR Grizzly Firearms. It’s basically an overgrown 1911 that’s chambered for the .45 Winchester Magnum, and it’s a very well built gun. It’s also pretty rare. The only one I’ve ever seen fired belongs to a friend of mine in Idaho; he uses it as his back-up gun in Grizzly country. (Seems appropriate.) It’s a bit lighter than the Desert Eagle, although it’s still quite a hand full.

    The smallest, and likely the most practical of the big bore magnum autos, is the 1911 in .460 Rowland. It has almost the power of the .44 Magnum, but comes in a standard 1911 package. The only one I know of that’s currently in production is the “Hunter” model from Wilson Combat. It’d make a darn good sidearm in black bear country, and probably hold its own in grizzly country as well. I certainly wouldn’t feel undergunned with 9 rounds of .460 Rowland on my hip & ready to go!!! It also has the unique advantage in this group of being compatible with Crimson Trace Lasergrips, a definite plus.

    Still, if I had to choose just one…give me a Desert Eagle. It’s not the coolest pistol of all time for nothing!!! For any of you lucky suckers out there who already have a Desert Eagle, I ran across a new set of adjustable sights for them a while back that look pretty darn nice. Here’s the link to where you can find them:

  • Maxposner October 13, 2011, 9:53 am

    I love my 50AE’s both of them! I have loaded the cartriges down to about 1100 fps and the kids like them for plinking the 300 yard gong. I have also loaded them as high as 1600fps and penetrated fairly heavy steel, car doors and other obstacles to lesser rounds. My first one was a gift from a beautiful woman and the second was too good to pass up. I have a 10″ barrel for hunting and had it dual ported at MagnaPort, it is a sweet shooter. The only down side I have ever felt was the amount of powder I go through reloading.

  • B Spence October 13, 2011, 8:35 am

    I’ve owned a brushed chrome Mk VII for over 20 years and have put thousands of rounds through it over that time. You didn’t mention it, but don’t use anything in it but jacketed preferably hot ammo for long term reliability. I had some tell me they use gas checked ammo and, technically, that will work but I’ve never taken any chances with it and just stuck with jacketed. Due to the fixed barrel, it is incredibly accurate for the kind of gun it is and I also have the scoped 14″ barrel that, shooting over a sandbag, will group inside 2″ regularly at 100 yards and is always an attention getter at the range. I’ve killed 3 whitetails at 50 yards or less with the 6″ barrel and they all went down like they were hit with a hammer. I have my Glocks, Rugers and S&W’s, but this Desert Eagle is without question the most fun handgun I own. It’s not my nightstand gun (that’s my Glock 23’s job), but I love it!

    • Bud Hartrampf October 14, 2011, 6:15 pm

      Lead rounds gas checked or not, could foul up the gas system, by pugging the gas hole in the barrel. I have never shot them through a DE because of this, just a thought.

  • Bill October 13, 2011, 3:56 am

    I have a 44mag Desert Eagle and the kick is far less than I expected and less than my 44mag Smith & wesson with a 4″ ported barrel. I think it’s a great gun.

  • JamesP October 13, 2011, 12:14 am

    Great article but I would like to comment as a Desert Eagle owner/former owner (I’ve owned all 3 calibers 357,44 and 50 AE) that I’ve routinely popped down steel plates @75-100yds with all of them, and the recoil isn’t all that bad (even for someone my size 5′-10 164lbs) and I believe the size and weight of the gun helps there. I love my Eagles, it’s just too bad 50AE rounds are so expensive and very hard find. I regret selling the 357, because Desert Eagles in themselves are tough to come by and expensive($1400-$1800 used) in Massachusetts.

  • ORTOOSSI October 12, 2011, 11:42 pm

    I like my Desert Eagle .44 and .50AE. The design truely masters the cartridges strenghts and accuracy is fine from the pistol on my good days. Big as it is, this firearm can be incorporated into any scheme an operator is willing to train for. I have seen individuals excel in varied disciplines and swear by the Eagle when one would swear the weight alone should exempt the big gun. Turns out the weight and spring rate is the sweet science in this machines equation. This must be felt to be believed. I remember my first time…. not your fathers revolver.

    • Doug B October 19, 2011, 9:29 pm

      I agree, I also have a .50AE along with several other guns. For house protection its a little extreme , but the bad guy will find a whole new meaning of lead poisoning.

  • Bob October 12, 2011, 10:27 pm

    S&W model 29 not 39

  • Doug T October 12, 2011, 9:46 pm

    I have fired several Desert Eagles from .41 to .50AE. I have owned several other semi-auto handguns. My favorite is by far the .50AE DE. It is big, beautiful and fun to shoot. The Eagle gets a lot of attention at the range. Everyone stops what they are doing to see it being fired. I have hit targets at 75ft without a bench rest. It is the most accurate pistol that I have had the pleasure to own. The .50AE has been the only static item as everything else in the safe has changed. I don’t use it for carry. I can, but I find the Springfield XD .45 much more practical for self defense. If I ever decide to sell the .50AE it will be for a .44 Mag Eagle.

    Thanks for the great write-up.

  • Craig Schooley October 12, 2011, 9:39 pm

    As far as beauty is concerned, the DE doesn’t compare with the beauty of the Auto Mag. However, I think it does win on reliability. The Auto Mag also uses two recoil springs.


  • Jim Lowe October 12, 2011, 6:09 pm

    Nice article. One minor item/typo. In your 4th paragraph you mentioned S&W 39’s (a 9mm semi-auto) but you probably meant to type 29’s (their wonderful 44 mag revolver).

  • Mark Biggs, retired Army Infantry SFC October 12, 2011, 4:52 pm

    I used to own a Desert Eagle chambered in .44 Magnum. It is on my list to own again. One thing that I discovered is that unlike every other semi-automatic pistol you might name, the Desert Eagle has not one but two recoil springs. What this means to your shooting it is that you must buy or handload some hot cartridges. If you try to shoot some light or medium loads in it, the slide will not travel all the way to the rear and will not strip off and chamber the next round. This is something I learned after buying “K-Mart” ammo and having to pull back the slide for every round.

  • TED SOTTERY October 12, 2011, 3:37 pm


  • SP Clark October 12, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Yeah, I bought my 44DE used several years ago when I was more into handguns. Of those I still take out of the safe now & then for some exercise my 44 is one of the favorites. Intimidated folks at my local club a little when I was using it for competition at 25 yards… or maybe it was the 1″ groups with stock iron sights & my hand loads.

    Mount a 10″ barrel, then load up with cartridges built with 23 grains of Alliant’s 2400 behind a 180 or 200 grain jacketed HP at an indoor range sometime if you want to knock the cobwebs out of the baffles…

  • Tracey J. Terrill October 12, 2011, 2:45 pm

    AS a Desert Eagle owner and shooter, Im glad someone finaly relizes its more than just a movie prop. I have the MKVII in 44mag with the 6 inch and 10 inch barrels both have optics mounted and both routinely shoot 1″ @ 50yds with their prefered handloads. I adjusted the trigger to break cleanly @ 3.5# . I have taken both white tailed Deer and wild hogs at ranges from 4 feet to 125 paces with no problems. Its never let me down and I have had this gun since 1992.

  • Bob Everman October 12, 2011, 1:39 pm

    As always , you make a gun every one loves, and the shame of it is. Our economy is so screwed up that it’s very hard for the people to ever buy one at the prices you have, we need some or alot of places that sell the guns to do it on the payment plan. This way it’s affordable and when it’s payed for you get it. Even if you buy it through the company that makes it, the need to make it available to a person with the payment plan with out haveing to owen a credit card. They could also charge a reshelving charge if the person got into trouble and could not continue to pay for it , then give the money back minus the shelving charge. Hey what do ya think about that ………………………… I say make it happen, and let me be the first customer. Thank you very much for allowing me to comment

  • D.J Coates October 12, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Enjoyed your piece on the Desert Eagle .44 and appreciate the heads up on how it functions. As a young sprout I was prone to carrying M1 Garands or souped up 1903 A1’s into the field for deer hunting. Time marched on and it became increasingly difficult to see the tips of my shoes as I looked down so I was forced to sell off my venerable .06’s and take up the handgun for deer hunting. My choice was a numerous 6″ model 29’s over the years. Freakishly accurate and diabolically deadly with the right hand load, my .44 was about all I needed or ever used. I think the Desert Eagle would be a wonderful choice for me if it’s anywhere as accurate as my model 29 but I’ll reserve judgement until I have the opportunity to try one out. I’ve yet to ever find a S&W I couldn’t shoot fairly well with, from the J frame to the N frame. Love em’ all. No, I’m not biased against auto’s. Got a safe full of em. I love my two Kimbers and I have at least one of all the GLOCKS available. Not the easiest gun to shoot but absolutely unparalleled for concealment and reliable function. Again, thanks for the piece on the DE from Magnum Research.

  • Douglas October 12, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Just purchased the .357 w/ 10″ barrel and pistol scope.. Reason: with a scope mounted, it is not practical to grab and retract the .44 or .50 slide….

  • William Bolton October 12, 2011, 12:34 pm

    The robber had a .44 magnum and wanted the money at the KAYO gas station. The attendant killed the robber with a baby Browning .25 auto. Talking guns is great and each has their appeal. The fact is that when you’re talking defense or combat, HITS COUNT! Being able to bring your weapon to bear instantly and hit without hesitation is what saves lives. Rimfire .22 or 20mm, it isn’t worth anything if you miss.

    • Administrator October 12, 2011, 12:36 pm

      I will take the Deagle thanks lol.

    • JLA October 14, 2011, 6:15 am

      I agree with the Administrator; I’ll take the Desert Eagle over a Baby Browning every day of the week. I have personally witnessed a .25ACP slug simply bounce off of a pine 1″x4″ covered with old, half-rotted indoor/outdoor carpeting. It barely left a dent in the wood! Even the .22lr makes a better choice as a self-defense cartridge than a .25ACP.

      I was recently reading a book called “The Best Defense” by Robert A Waters. It is about situations where people used successfully firearms to defend themselves from violent attacks. In it there is a chapter about a woman who was attacked in her home in Florida by a guy that was considerably larger than her and intended to beat her to death. He very nearly succeeded, but she was armed with a little .25 Auto that was given to her with the warning that she needed to get a bigger gun as soon as she could because that one was too small. Well it was too small. During the fight she shot her attacker at least 4 times, one of which damaged his heart and another of which took out a testicle. It still took him the better part of an hour to finally collapse & die. During that time he beat her almost to death, a beating so severe that even after several reconstructive surgeries (and a depleted insurance account) later she was still unable to eat anything that requires chewing. Yes, the .25ACP is lethal, but our intention in a self-defense shooting isn’t to kill. It is to stop, and to stop right the hell now!!! That’s something that the .25ACP, even when the bullet is put in exactly the right place, simply can not be counted upon to do.

      Still, as they say, nobody likes to leak, and I certainly don’t know of anyone who’d be willing to be shot with one. If a .25 is all you’ve got it’s better than nothing…barely.

      (Mr. Bolton, I do realize that your comment probably wasn’t intended as an endorsement for the .25ACP as an ideal carry gun. So please don’t take this as an attack.)

      • David February 10, 2013, 4:26 pm

        Only a pimp in a New Orleans brothel would carry a .25.

    • wardoc May 28, 2013, 10:46 am

      My experience with .25 auto is that I spent about 30 minutes in an ER dissecting the .25 bullet out of the forehead of a cop who was shot with it at point blank range. It was imbedded in his skull about 2-3mm. The cop had a mild contusion, a 3mm laceration that i sutured and that was it. Had it been a 44, his brains would have been splattered all of the sidewalk and I would have sutured nothing.

  • phoenix_epoch October 12, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I have a DE in .44 Mag it is a backup for a Ruger #1 in .458 Mag.
    Both of these are very loud and not easy to shoot but both function flawlessly.
    At the outdoor range people sort of give me lots of room when they determine what I shoot.

  • Travis Faulk October 12, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I own a DE in .357 magnum with the very rare 15″ barrel. I’d love to see an article on this pistol in this caliber! Your comments on the DE gripping techniques and shooting characteristics are completely correct however. This pistol behaves unlike anything else out there I’ve ever shot. One thing to note with the DE in .357: it will only cycle correctly with “hot load” .357 ammo…so buying ammo for it can be tricky.

    • Mark C. August 5, 2013, 9:51 am

      I hear ya. My ammo of choice is 180gr Federal Hydra Shock. Never had a single issue after switching to that round.

  • chicagogunsmith October 12, 2011, 11:51 am

    I’d pay to see someone the size of Demi Moore shoot a Desert Eagle with her weak hand. (refrencing the last pic on the page).

    By the way for the webmasters, this page doesn’t display properly with IE8 on Windows Vista. I beelive the text box is higher up on the page than intended and interupts the images.

    • Administrator October 12, 2011, 12:01 pm

      If you slow down the video you will see the gun eject full cartridges. It is 100% cg.

  • Norman October 12, 2011, 11:46 am

    Very good article. I had the fortune of buying a used Desert Eagle with both the .44 mag Bbl and the .50 AE Bbl, in extremely good condition. In addition, it came with 1500 rounds of Re-Loads in both .44 mag & .50 AE. What fun I/we have had at the range. Everyone, everyone, stops shooting when they hear the “Roar” of this big piece and come down to my position to see what it is. I will admit it is necessary to NOT let your wrist “Roll” back with the recoil. You will experience a “Jam.” Not so much a problem with the .44 mag, but with the .50 AE it will be more frequent. It takes sending a few Rounds down range to get the “feel,” but the Gun is accurate and fun to shoot. Cleaning is easy, but care is necessary in re-installing the gas piston. Not difficult, but closer detail is required. I love to take it to the range! At night it is even more “exciting.” The muzzle flash is spectacular but does effect your night vision, so be careful, as always with any firearm. The gun is too big, in my opinion, for personal “carry.” But, the sight of it alone is intimidating.

  • Subsonic October 12, 2011, 10:57 am

    Just checked my target from last week: .44 DE with longer barrel and 2x scope (not really good enough for these longer shots onto paper) shows 6 rounds into under than 4 inches at 100 yards. I’ll take it deer hunting tomorrow.

  • JGus October 12, 2011, 10:22 am

    The Desert Eagle is a great gun and a lot of fun to shoot…in 44magnum. I own a XIX 44mag, and bought the .50AE barrel and magazine to convert to .50AE. While I definitely DON’T regret buying the Desert Eagle (it’s one of my all time favorite guns), I do regret buying the .50AE barrel and .50AE magazine. Yeah, it was fun to shoot the .50AE the few times I have, but hen you factor in the costs for the conversion to .50AE and the cost of the ammo, it’s just very, very expensive.

    I would highly recommend buying the Desert Eagle, but just in 44mag. In my opinion, the cost and practicality to shoot the 44mag outweigh the .50AE.

  • M-P October 12, 2011, 8:52 am

    Great write-up. As a Desert Eagle owner myself, it is good to see the pistol get some good press for a change. One thing you might could add to a follow up is that you can “hot swap” between the .44 Magnum and .50 AE cartridges. Because the rim of both cartridges are the same, the same bolt assembly will work for both calibers. All you have to do is take the .50 AE barrel and magazine out, put the .44 Magnum barrel and magazine in, and you are good to shoot. That way you can have the novelty round and the practical round. Granted this isn’t a cheap option because spare mags are $46 each and the extra barrel is $392 directly from Magnum Research.

    • Administrator October 12, 2011, 9:13 am

      Thanks nice tidbit we will add it in.

    • JLA October 13, 2011, 4:23 am

      Also by simply swapping out the bolt, in addition to the barrel & magazine, the Desert Eagle can also be converted to .357 Magnum. A good friend of mine a four barrel set: 2 each, a 6″ and a 10″, in both .357 Magnum & .50 Action Express. He uses the .357 barrels for practice & recreational shooting, and the .50AE barrels for hunting. It’s a really sweet set-up!!!!! The .357 bolt assembly runs $218 from Magnum Research.

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