The Magnum Research Desert Eagle is a semi-automatic large-frame pistol chambered in .357 Mag., .44 Mag. and .50 AE. The Desert Eagle is a popular line of pistols that was introduced in the early 1980s. What put it on the map is it fires large caliber revolver rounds. Such powerful rounds weren’t typically chambered for pistols because pistols rely on multiple moving parts whereas revolvers are, more or less, one solid piece. Desert Eagles don’t have a typical pistol design instead it uses a gas-operated rotating bolt, which is a trait more common for rifles. It has a fixed barrel and front end, so the bolt blows back instead of a slide.
Features include an ambidextrous safety and when engaged it disables the trigger and blocks the firing pin, so even if it drops it won’t discharge. It is available in numerous finishes like gold, silver, titanium, etc. It has a rail to mount a scope and plastic composite grips.
|Caliber:||<br />.357 Mag.<br />.44 Mag.|
|Capacity:||<br />9 and 8|
|Scope:||Rail to mount a scope|
|Weight:||3.9 pounds<br />4.19 pounds|
|Twist:||1 in 14"<br />1 in 18"|
|Caliber:||<br />.357 Mag.<br />.44 Mag.<br />.50 AE|
|Capacity:||9, 8 and 7|
|Scope:||Rail to mount a scope|
|Barrel Length:||10"<br />6"|
|Twist:||1 in 14"<br />1 in 18"<br />1 in 19"|
The Borrowed Gun
Several years ago, in my wilder younger days I had the opportunity to guide wild boar hunts. As a rule, I never went on these hunts without a hefty and powerful handgun attached to me. Ordinarily I would carry a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 magnum with a Leuopold 3x Scope, but in my haste to put it in a storage case, I damaged a scope ring and had to send it in to be repaired. Replacing my Ruger for the day, I borrowed a relative’s Magnum Research Desert Eagle .44 magnum. Just as with my Ruger, holstering the Desert Eagle was a challenge and required me to use a chest mounted scabbard. It held the monstrous handgun snug and secure against my chest and allowed me to do my job.
During the course of the morning, my hunter bagged a young Russian Boar. We field dressed it and had a truck transport it out of the woods. While walking back to our own truck, the hunter and I were surprised by an extremely large Russian Boar at a distance of about ten paces. His rifle unloaded and slung over his shoulder. Meanwhile this boar meant business. If you’ve never been scared of anything, you should hear boar’s tusks being clacked together in anticipation of attacking you. Reflex and self-preservation kicked in and I drew the Desert Eagle and fired one shot. The boar went down cleanly and instantly.
So it’s hard to rag on the Desert Eagle too much, but it does have some positive attributes, but also the negative ones that tend to turn the Hollywood types on. It’s big and flashy and only practical for movies and TV, but in the real world, it’s another story.
There is no question that any red-blooded guy who ever saw James Bond battle Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun would want one of these hand canons. It has a Terminator look while possessing truly simple lines. It is available in the standard black, nickel (polished, brushed or matte), and chrome, but also in the MTV-like 24karat gold, Titanium Gold and most bizarre – Titanium Gold Tiger Stripe.
It’s huge! It is great for an ego boost if that’s what you’re after. Though, you probably should have large bear-like hands to say it fits you well. But for more comfort, you probably should add in a high quality Hogue or similar grip. Other than the grip, it feels very well balanced. It doesn’t have that tilt toward the muzzle that you might expect.
Obviously the weight of this handgun severely retards recoil and makes it a little more manageable, but the same muscle strain received from heavy recoil is also received from holding up this heavy hunk of steel.
Yet, it is a smooth operator from racking, cycling to shooting. And it isn’t some great feat of strength to chamber a round either. It operates using a rotating bolt, which assists with a sturdy lock when chambering and firing. In the end, it fired smoothly, ejected the spent casing with grace (with quite a distance away I might add), and it always accepted a fresh mag without much effort.
I used the Hornady .44mag 240gr XTP for test firing.
I engaged targets at 20 feet, 25 yards, and at 50 yards, firing three shot groups at each and standing in the Weaver stance.
Magnum Research claims the maximum effective range is 200 meters. Please excuse me while I clear that hairball from my throat. Yeah right, only in the movies. The concept of being able to engage a target effectively, unless it is the size of Hoover Dam, at 200 meters with a handgun is laughable. The round has a potential in inflict significant damage at 200 meters but effective is a very misleading term to use.
We all know now, as I have just explained, that the Desert Eagle is a huge handgun, being heavy and somewhat awkward. However, when faced by that wild boar (which weighed in at right at 400 pounds with 5” lower tusks) that canon weighed nothing and the recoil was not felt at all. I do believe it prevented the hunter and me from receiving grievous injury that day.
That day, I would give the Magnum Research Desert Eagle five stars, but having fired it on the range afterward and again for this review, it only earns three stars. This Israeli made pistol, while solid and well constructed, is just too heavy for anyone to carry around.
Chief William Gillespie portrayed by Carroll O’Connor in the famed television show In the Heat of the Night was frequently seen drawing his chromed Desert Eagle. While a futuristic and intimidating weapon, no police officer in his right mind would carry one as his primary sidearm. It’s entirely impractical.
While not a bad handgun, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle is not one to be purchased on a whim.
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