Green Beret Blows Up Stuff with a Lightweight .50: The Desert Eagle L6—Full Review.

To learn more about the Desert Eagle L6, visit

To purchase a Desert Eagle .50 AE on, click this link:

Picking up a Magnum Research Desert Eagle .50 cal. instantly conjures stories from Hollywood, or maybe Lara Croft if you were raised in the Playstation age. If the bad guy in a movie is carrying the DE, you know he is BA. (That’s bad ass for our older readers without a twitter account.) I myself can’t look at the gun without my subconscious whispering “because yours says replica, and mine says Desert Eagle point five oh.” It is certainly an instantly recognizable icon, and sure to stand out in a crowd.

The Desert Eagle L6 is a behemoth of a .50-cal., but MRI managed to shave a full pound of weight off of it.

The Desert Eagle L6 is a behemoth of a .50-cal., but MRI managed to shave a full pound of weight off of it.


  • CHAMBERING: .50 Action Express
  • BARREL: 6 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 10.75 inches
  • WEIGHT: 3 pounds, 7 ounces
  • GRIPS: Rubber
  • SIGHTS: fixed
  • ACTION: Single-action
  • FINISH: Stainless steel slide, matte-black alloy frame
  • CAPACITY: 7+1
  • MSRP: $2,054.00

I am decidedly pretty boring when it comes to firearms. Everything I own is practical, and the closest thing I have to a peculiar caliber is my 10mm Glock. I was actually a bit concerned when this gun came to me for review; because it is nothing I would even entertain purchasing. I have revolvers in magnum calibers, but I have never really cared for ultra-powerful handguns. One cylinder of a .454 Casull was enough for me, and they can keep the .500 S&W. I don’t hunt (except people), so before I moved to the Pacific Northwest even 10mm was a bit much for critter control. So, what are the practical purposes of a Desert Eagle .50 Action Express? Well, the only one I can think of is for hunters/fishermen in Grizzly territory, that don’t like revolvers. Which is a pretty limited segment of the population. I am happy to report that this opinion changed after I took this bad Johnson to the range.

Practical can sit down and shut its dirty mouth. A degree in accounting is practical, but you don’t see kids dressed up as Mr. McGillicuty from the local CPA office on Halloween. We want to tour with Spinal Tap, with all the drugs, booze, and groupies promised to a shooting star Rock God. And that is what the DE brings. It is fun to shoot in a way that is hard to describe with words. You had to be there, man. You had to be there. I giggle every time I spark this big bastard off. That has been true from the first shot to the last. I am absolutely unapologetic about the fact that I flinch every third shot. Most times when I pick up a pistol I feel its weight, or balance, or craftsmanship. When I pick up this .50, I feel destructive power. And it feels good.

Now, the most significant element of this new model, dubbed the L6, is the fact that it has a lightweight alloy frame. But, light is really a relative concept, isn’t it? The Desert Eagle .50 L6 is no small fry still for sure, but MRI has managed to shave some serious weight off the platform. The other DE .50s in the line-up weigh in at 4 pounds, 7 ounces, so we have dropped about a pound here on this new gun. That is quite a gain in a pistol of this size.

Made in Pillager, MN. That just about says it all!

Made in Pillager, MN. That just about says it all!

The .50 AE cartridge (right), next to a 9mm (center) and a .44 Mag. (left).

The .50 AE cartridge (right), next to a 9mm (center) and a .44 Mag. (left).

I must also admit, I didn’t know much about the caliber .50 Action Express when I received this gun. I assumed it was a lot like .50 GI, which you can convert a Glock or 1911 to shoot. Why do you shoot a .45? Because they don’t make a 46! .50 GI is essentially just slightly larger diameter 45 ACP. To me, that is a solution looking for a problem. Not so the .50 Action Express. This thing is a monster. I almost loaded my shorts when I first popped open the Hornady box. The cartridge is comparable in size to Off The Res 6’s thumb. 350 grains of kick-your-ass moving at 1,320 FPS is serious business.

The author ran some Hornady 300-gr. ammo through the L6 for testing.

The author ran some Hornady 300-gr. ammo through the L6 for testing.

For testing purposes, we used both Hornady 300 grain and MRI 350 grain. Both cycled equally well, and the Hornady XTP adds new meaning to the phrase “chucking ashtrays.” The abyss they call a hollow point on this bullet is absolutely massive. The MRI ammunition was a soft point FMJ, which would be more than adequate for social work in this loading. The MRI averaged about 1,320 FPS as mentioned, while the 300-grain Hornady was 1,385 fps.

How was the recoil you ask? It was present, to say the least. I credit the dual recoil springs that are present in the Desert Eagle design, and they are quite heavy, with eating a lot of that. But if you were concerned about recoil, you wouldn’t be looking at this gun. I did manage to empty the gun (7+1 rounds) in under two seconds, mostly on target, but you will feel it. Trust me.

How did it do on paper? I didn’t even bother. I already admitted I flinch a lot shooting this gun, so that is kind of unfair to the group size. And for me personally, shooting 300 grain Hornady XTP at paper would be sacrilege. Why would you shoot at paper, when you can shoot at things that explode? The closest I came to an accuracy test was golf balls at 10 meters. The answer is 1.) yes, it is accurate enough to do that and 2.) the result was hilarious.

The barrel of the L6 has an integral Picatinny rail, as does the alloy frame.

The barrel of the L6 has an integral Picatinny rail, as does the alloy frame.

How about reliability? I did have a couple times when the slide didn’t go all the way into battery with the next round in the magazine. No failures to eject, but a few failures to finish the cycle. I will assume all fault for that, it was literally raining soda and pieces of fruit when I was testing. No gun was meant to be subjected to that. Also, I am not too proud to admit I may have been limp-wristing the gun a bit after 200 rounds in an afternoon. That is a lot of bang in a man-sized caliber.

I also liked that Magnum Research went ahead and milled full-size Picatinny rails on both the frame and slide. With a gun this big, why not? I first put a full sized Surefire Scout Light on the pistol in jest, but it did fit. And if you are carrying something this big, why not? Ditto for the Aimpoint I put on top, and a 1×6 wouldn’t have been out of place.

The way the MRI 50 works is a pretty marvelous piece of engineering as well. One drop of a lever and the entire barrel comes off, and it is a pretty serious barrel. The “upper” weighs as much as most pistols, and you wouldn’t want it any lighter.

By far the most unique part of the DE .50 is the fact that it is gas operated rather than recoil operated and employs a rotating bolt. That it actually uses a true bolt is quite different in its own right. The bolt looks like a modified AR-15 one, and it rotates in the same way to lock and unlock the action. If nothing else, it is at least very cool.

The dual-recoil springs look like they have been scaled down from a MK 19 Grenade launcher. That being the full-auto, belt-fed grenade launcher in use for decades in the US.  They certainly work, and it adds to a military feel to the design of this weapon. I was a bit less in love with the springs after I spent an hour putting the gun back together the first time, but they do mitigate recoil quite well.

The frame in this lightweight version is all aluminum, and it is remarkably light with the slide off. We will have to wait and see how durable this frame is with such a heavy round, but if aluminum is good enough for mach-speed aircraft, it is probably good enough for this. Rounding out the frame is a very large rubber, one-piece wrap around grip, that your hands will thank you for. I was quite happy with how the grips felt during use.

The DE .50 is a single-action-only gun. The safety is slide mounted, and is a safety only, not a decocker. The only part of the Desert Eagle I didn’t care for was this. I would have preferred a “down to fire” safety, even if it was slide mounted. Pushing a safety up while assuming a firing grip is not a natural action for those of us used to American handguns, and it is a bit awkward on a gun of this size. The trigger is pretty good, as it should be in a single-action-only gun. The test model broke consistently at 4 pounds, 7 ounces, with just a small bit of take up, and a small bit of creep. It’s not a 1911, but it’s not bad all things considered.

The L6 breaks down into its primary components quickly and easily.

The L6 breaks down into its primary components quickly and easily.

The .50 AE Desert Eagle L6 pistol employs a dual recoil spring system.

The .50 AE Desert Eagle L6 pistol employs a dual recoil spring system.

An M16-style rotating bolt is employed by the gas-operated pistol.

An M16-style rotating bolt is employed by the gas-operated pistol.

So, overall, what was my take away from the gun? It was extremely fun to shoot, and that is a purpose all in itself. I haven’t had that much fun shooting since I got my first semi-automatic shotgun, at which point I just walked around my range for an afternoon shooting down saplings and auto glass. I smile every time I shoot this Desert Eagle, and that is quite a value in itself. I might be smiling less if I had to feed it at $2.00 per round, but it is a great toy. And certainly unique. If you are already bought up on TEOTWAWKI guns, this makes an excellent edition to your collection. Like a lift on your Prius, it is certainly a head turner, and if you have the means, it is hard to pass up.

To learn more about the Desert Eagle L6, visit

To purchase a Desert Eagle .50 AE on, click this link:


About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

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  • Chuck M December 19, 2016, 12:10 pm

    All`s I can say is DANG!

  • Joel November 15, 2016, 9:35 pm

    I love my Deagle .50! It runs like a deer. I have owned at least 5 desert eagles and each one functioned beautifully. My current 50 had issues with the sear reset but it was easily fixed with some polishing of parts. If you’re desert eagle does not run it obviously has a problem that needs attention, One should give it that. As for the $1800 of junk mine has the extended compensator is the stainless model and I bought it for 1200$, most likely because of the sear issues that were easily fixed. I like shooting it far better than the big bore revolvers, no pain at all, great grip and compensator makes a big difference. I also found ammo for it at only $1.16 per around delivered from cheaper than dirt I bought all I could possibly afford! That is almost cheaper then reloading especially when I can’t find appropriate projectiles for reloading available. The video was awesome and fun to watch I miss the bowling pin hits as well!

  • Pseudo November 15, 2016, 6:59 pm

    While there may in fact be some mechanical issues encountered, there may not mechanical issues in all cases. I know on page 14 of my manual itveven states and shows photos which says not to shoot like a revolver type is normally fired. Take recoil with your shoulders and do not let the barrel rise like a revolver does. As has already been stated by another poster and is also shown in Clay’s article the 50 AE is a rotating bolt system and when firedalliwung the recoil toballiw the barrel to rise can create issues with cycling function.

  • Pseudo November 15, 2016, 6:38 am

    So far I have not had any issues with the 50AE, and I believe this is in their manual? Anyway I read someplace that the 50AE needs what is known as a 60/40 hold when firing to prevent FTF or FTE, 60 percent more push with 40 percent pull, if right handed this means to push a bit harder and pull a bit less when firing. And no I have not idea how they measured the 60/40, I myself just push a bit harder with my right hand and pull a bit less with the left.

    Just guessing but I believe this is necesssry due to the double springs and resetting the slide bolt assembly when firing to prevent “limp wristing.”

  • billybob November 14, 2016, 11:30 pm

    MAGNUM RESEARCH BFR .45-70 GOV\’T 7.5\” BFR45/70 PISTOL 999.00

  • KurtW November 14, 2016, 9:18 pm

    Ummmmm…… Gotta LMFAO at the mere idea of “limp wristing” a DE. Kids, it’s Gas OPERATED. It’s the gas working against a piston (at the front of the slide, effectively the bolt carrier). There IS NO inertial force resistance from how it is held, just as with an AR, AK, or similar. That’s the point of the design.
    If it’s failing to complete its cycle, either the rails; contact surfaces are not worn-in, or they are and the recoil springs are worn-out. Easy fix to replace those springs (which really do wear-out, like with a media/promo gun).

    Mine have been very reliable when tended to.

  • JCitizen November 14, 2016, 3:18 pm

    I was so looking forward to a slo-mo shot of one of the bowling pins! WHAT HAPPENED!!

  • JoshO November 14, 2016, 11:29 am

    Lara Croft carried twin HK USP45Match.

    • clay martin November 14, 2016, 8:41 pm

      video game or movie? cause I’m pretty sure I saw her with twin DE’s. maybe I was focused on some other twins instead

  • billybob November 14, 2016, 11:22 am

    I have both the 44 & 50ae desert eagles and they both stove pipe and jam also !
    My Glock 10mm /My S&W 500 & 460 WORK EVERY TIME !

    • Tj2000 December 19, 2016, 6:13 am

      Billybob you are right. I have a couple of 10mm’s and a couple of S & W 500 Magnums. The .50AE is not a true .50 like the S & W. I owned 2 DE 50AE’s and got rid of both of them because like ALL semi auto’s they have a punishing recoil on the wrist. The X frame on the Smith is contoured to allow the recoil to flow with the arm in an upward direction.
      The DE is cool to look at I have the .357 & 44Magnum, both that I love to shoot a few rounds through. But that is just my opinion and my preference.

      • KEN March 5, 2019, 10:17 am

        What are you calling a true 50. The bullets are .500 diameter, so a true 50 is .510 then. A 500 s&w is still .500. The 50 ae is not .499. Even a 44 is not a 44 cal, but .429 and I have a few. Have good range day too all!

  • Tripwire November 14, 2016, 11:21 am

    I had to go see how much they are and as old John D said “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” ! true words! But Clay’s video’s are outstanding, I have a hate factor about the reviewers who wouldn’t say “Shit” if they had a mouth full of it.

  • Alan November 14, 2016, 11:19 am

    Wow! Two GRAND for that?!
    Lets see, my Blackhawk hunter was around $800, so that’s a lot of ammo and holster for the difference.
    Not to mention the cost of the .50 ammo
    And frankly, I’ve known many DE’s to jam, so I just don’t see the point.
    But hey, to each their own.
    Variety does make for a fun little world.

    • billybob November 14, 2016, 11:26 pm

      Both of my 50ae & 44mag DE jam more than they shoot ! 1800 junk

      • BoomBoom November 9, 2017, 1:10 pm

        I have one of the older DE .44s and DE .50 AEs. Both guns were shit when they were new. After a break-in period of 500 rounds of factory ammo things got better but not by much. After 1000 rounds they got to about 2 failures per 50 rounds. I got tired of factory ammo and started loading my own. It took a little tweaking but I have loads for .44 magnum and .50 AE that never fail. These guns are a lot of work and a lot of fun. You just got to keep them clean and oiled, get away from factory ammo and work up your own loads, and last but not least get rid of the flinch and limp wristing. I still have both of mine made in 2004 and they work fine now. I haven’t tried the newer models and I’d never pay the price for them. Mine were $800 and $950 brand new. It took some work to make good guns out of them but I like them and they were worth the trouble. Keep on shooting fellows and have fun.
        Boom, Boom.

  • David D Hartman November 14, 2016, 10:13 am

    Great review and loved the video. But, I do want to speak out for us older folks that don’t use Twitter (at least very often anyway). At 64 I grew up watching The A-Team so I had no problem understanding what BA stood for (Mr. T played the character BA in that series).

    • clay martin November 14, 2016, 8:42 pm

      Now that BA was legit! I was epically pissed off when they made an A-team movie, and changed the characters to Rangers. What do these dolts think A-Team means?

  • Mke November 14, 2016, 9:29 am

    Great video.

  • Victor November 14, 2016, 7:47 am

    Loved the Video. You want to do something FUN? cut small hole in a bunch of Pumpkins, Fill with water or better yet Catcup, and have FUN. They explode when you hit them with that 50AE

  • SteveK November 14, 2016, 7:10 am

    Great, except for the matte Stainless slide. Yuck! What a waste of stainless steel. Polish that sucker!

  • STEVE HOLTER November 14, 2016, 6:15 am


  • DRAINO November 11, 2016, 4:26 pm

    LOL!!! “TEOTWAWKI”…..took me a second but I got it….lol! Cool Gun! Cool article. Well done. Wonder how many people will claim you are biased on this one…??…LOL!

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