Long-Term Report: Desert Eagle 44 Magnum
/2012/01/1302438805327-300×225.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ />The Desert Eagle pistol, is to many, the holy grail of semi-auto pistols. These behemoth magnum handguns have been made famous in many movies and can be seen in many YouTube videos blazing away mercilessly at some unsuspecting target. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to pack 8 rounds of .44 Mag plus one in the pipe should you need to, say…. crack an engine block to stop a vehicle, or maybe put down a charging grizzly, or take a woolly mammoth, or at least “make someone’s day”.
Ok, so I’m kinda drawing out what I’ve heard several people say about this weapon…” What’cha gonna do with that?” I’ll be honest, it ain’t something you’re gonna conceal unless you’re wearing a hefty overcoat. It’ll bulge anywhere else you put it. I would probably never had purchased this gun myself had my father not done so years ago and had it not come to me with several other guns when he decided he was getting out of shooting sports. So what then? Well, I plan to carry it as a side arm when I go feral hog hunting this year, as those pigs can be mean. Secondly, when I finally get to do something in Alaska weather it be salmon fishing, or hunting some kind of large game, I’ll want it on my side. Besides that, it’s a very accurate gun, which is actually a pleasure to target shoot with, especially when running light target hand loads through it. It’s not cheap to shoot compared to a 9MM or 45 ACP, but it’s sure fun.
What I have is a Desert Eagle Mark I, the first in the line of the Magnum Research Desert Eagles produced. So it’s from the early 90’s. I have no record of the exact year. This example has the stainless steel frame with the blued slide, receiver and barrel. Desert Eagles are gas operated, not unlike the gas operation of a semi-auto rifle, which truly helps tame the massive recoil of the 44 magnum loads, along with it’s 4 pound weight. For comparison, and from my own non-scientific observation, this gun has about 1/2 of the felt recoil of my Ruger Super Redhawk with a 9 3/8 inch barrel which is ported and has the additional weight of a scope. Pretty neat, huh. The down side of this system is that all of the ported gasses and resulting dirt mean you need to clean the gun well as it accumulates on the internals.
The gun has an exposed hammer and an ambidextrous thumb safety, which is very easy to operate. The magazine release is on the bottom left and to the rear of the trigger guard. It has a very smooth operation. The magazines for the 44 mag have an 8 round capacity. They start at about $45 and increase based on material choices…i.e. gold plating etc. The slide release is similar to a 1911’s on the left side of the gun, albeit much harder to depress given the weight of the recoil springs. Break-down is relatively easy, requiring no tools, as illustrated in the manual (Desert Eagle Manual).
Specifications (Specs for Mark XII)
- Caliber: 44 Magnum
- Height (inches) 6.1
- Length (inches): 10.48
- Width (inches): 1.25
- Barrel Length (inches): 6
- Weight (ounces) with empty magazine: 67
- Magazine capacity: 8
- Trigger Reach (inches): 2.75
- Rifling: 1 turn in 18 inches
As mentioned, the Desert Eagle is great to shoot, especially with my hand loads. I’m using
Rainier 240 grain hollow points and 17 grains of Accurate Arms #9. This recipe produces a muzzle velocity of just over 1200 feet per second and is extremely controllable in this handgun. It has a firm trigger pull with no travel. I don’t have a scale, but I’d guess it to be at around 4.5 pounds. A few things to note though….1) the grip is pretty large, making it tougher for shooters with smaller hands, 2) the recoil springs are heavy, requiring significant effort to pull back the slide, 3) it weights over 4 pounds….this isn’t a “Saturday night special”. Here’s a video of me blowin’-off some hotter rounds through my Desert Eagle.
As for accuracy…it can print. You’re looking at a 3″ group shot off-hand at 7 yards……
look out piggy’s!
The Final Word
I’ve had this gun for years now without a single hitch. My Desert Eagle has had somewhere over 2000 rounds put through it, many of which were super-hot hand loads. My father always liked the biggest bang he could get. Through all the rounds and all of the time, I haven’t had to replace a single part. I will be buying the spring tune-up kit, which sells for about $45 bucks, to have it on hand for when the recoil springs start to weaken, but for now, it’s been a without fault. Just remember, you need to keep this gun clean to keep it reliable.
The Desert Eagle Mark XIX, which is the current model offered in 44 Mag, has a MSRP of $1594, a stout price indeed. You could certainly find a few out there on one of the auction sites for about $1000 in very good working order. So, back to the ” What’ch gonna do with that?”…or more to the underlying question of, “is it worth it?” Let me put it this way, knowing what I know, and having been able to shoot this remarkable piece for years, should my Desert Eagle
somehow up and disappear….I will get another one. And, no! It ain’t for sale!