The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Semi-automatic Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 25, 2014, 09:07 PM   #1
Join Date: February 7, 2013
Posts: 28
Desert Eagle?

At the risk of sounding like a dork, a Desert Eagle is my top priority firearm to own. The ultimate Desert Eagle for me would be a .50 AE, pre-2010 Mark XIX in either polished chrome or bright nickel. But I've yet to see a box of .50 AE in any gun or pawn shop near me in three counties, so it would be more reasonable to acquire one in .44 Magnum, even though the .44 magnum selection in my local area is slim.

I've done alot of research, seen alot of praise and alot of horror stories about them online and I have been thinking about starting to put some money aside and or do some trading around to get my hands on one.

However... They're super expensive! (as if you all didn't already know! lol)

I ain't quite ready yet to throw $1,500 - $2,000 for a firearm that I've never shot before.

What I do know is that they're heavy, I have held a few of them before. I do love the way the gun feels in my hand, surprisingly I prefer one without the finger grooves. But I don't think they're too heavy, in fact I think the weight makes me feel more comfortable when handling it, like if I were to shoot I'd feel like I'm actually holding onto it. And it feels 100 times better in my hand than my Super Blackhawk or my S&W model 19.

I know they require jacketed or semi-jacketed rounds because of the polygonal rifling and gas system, and can be rather finicky when it comes to ammo, and can be prone to jamming from poor ammo quality or poor handling.

I guess, to cut it short. I want to hear from some Desert Eagle owners, what kind of ammo you use, what kind of maintenance it requires. And if I were to find a used one at a more reasonable price, what are some things I should look into or be concerned about?

Practicality, tacticality and things like that I'm not concerned about because I'm not a Marine or an officer of the law looking for a side arm! lol I just want one to shoot and enjoy, and maybe for the occasional hike in the woods.
JSAW is offline  
Old February 25, 2014, 09:59 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: November 27, 2002
Location: ut.
Posts: 337
I've had 2 Desert Eagles. One of them was the exact gun you described. It was a polished stainless .50ae made in '03 (IIRC). It was a very powerful gun. I kid you not, it felt like my palm was being punched with every trigger pull. It first I enjoyed shooting it, but after a few months, I began to avoid it because of the recoil. I don't mind magnum guns and their recoil. I shoot 45 win mag, 450 mag express, .44 mag etc., but that .50ae was work; even for such a heavy gun like the DE. I much preferred my .44 mag DE. Now that was a fun gun.

DE's are fairly dirty shooters IME. They get plenty of soot all in the slide and frame which, if you like your guns clean, will take some time to accomplish. I enjoyed the process of disassembly, cleaning, inspecting and reassembly all the way up to my mid forties. Then, I sort of lost interest in meticulous maintenance, defaulting to a more expeditious mindset. Some guns let you do that and others do not. My DE's began to act up eventually and I sold them.

I think anyone who has an interest in them ought to give them a try. They are mega fun and very accurate. Maybe some day I'll own another .44 DE. I prefer the old style too. I still have all my .50ae brass (nickel Speer). I prepared them for reloading and they sit cleaned, sized and primed in an MTM case. Don't know why I keep them.
reticle is offline  
Old February 25, 2014, 10:08 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: DFW, Texas
Posts: 2,234
I had the best performance, being no malfunctions of any kind, using MagTech ammo. Every other brand I tried, didn't try them ALL but tried at least 4-6 different brands. They all had some kind of issue except the magtech. Once I found the magtech and it ran flawlessly, I stuck with it and didn't try any others.

I didn't reload at the time, but wish I still had that DE now that I do!
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson, 1776
precision_shooter is offline  
Old February 26, 2014, 01:48 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: May 31, 2004
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,035
I think they are much more realistic in .44 Rem mag.
Ammo will be much easier to find, recoil will be enjoyable and it can always be converted to .50 AE later on. The DE uses the same bolt for .44 and .50, so caliber conversions aren't too expensive.
.357 uses a different bolt and recoil springs than the other calibers, so conversions to or from .357 cost a lot more.
Hammerhead is offline  
Old February 26, 2014, 03:24 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: November 25, 2002
Location: Campbell Ca
Posts: 1,090
They make fine range guns

As in shooting range. I wouldn't want to strap one to my thigh and carry it more than about ten feet.

They ain't for me, but you won't allow yourself to sleep at night until you score your fix.
Why not just buy a Walker Colt and tell people it's the 'pre-quel' to the Desert Eagle?
Save you a lot of cash in the long run.
Colt46 is offline  
Old February 26, 2014, 06:55 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: July 11, 2011
Location: Kansas
Posts: 310
I own a Desert Eagle Mark XIX .44 in brushed chrome and also have a .50AE barrel for it. You can't go wrong really. This is from a post I made in a thread a while ago but it still rings true:

Why: Basically because I can. I wanted one in .44 so it wouldn't cost me a mortgage everytime I went to the range but eventually decided I wanted the .50AE version as well. I have no regrets.

Practicality: Not much really, especially for me here in Kansas, short of taking down a T-Rex, knocking the tread off a tank, or shooting down a UFO. But remember I did not buy it for its practicality, I bought it because its fun; REALLY FUN! Mine is also somewhat different in that I have an Isreali made .44 but the .50AE barrel is American made ( I bought it when they shifted production to the states) and when I shoot the .50AE the combination of Isreali frame and slide with an American barrel is very cool looking.

FUN: Speaking of fun I have yet to go to ANY range and not have someone ask to shoot it. Some people are hesitant at first and others are obviously skeptical of its sheer size and power in semi-auto form. But to a person every single one of them has had a grin from ear to ear on their face after pulling the trigger. You cannot shoot it and not have fun. If you really want to add to the specticle of shooting one take one out in .50AE around 15 minutes to dark and gawk at the 6 foot fireball.

Performance: I hear from trolls all over the place from the range to other sites that Desert Eagles are nothing more than oversized paper weights, it is worth noting that most of these people have never even held one. Magnum Research's flagship firearm might not be the most practical thing ever designed but to call it junk is very shortsighted. I have over 2,500 rounds through mine and have only had problems when using underpowered .44 mag rounds, never had a problem with .50AE ever cycling. Mine is quite fond of the Mag-Tech 240 gr SJSP. As far as accuracy it is amongst the most accurate pistols I have shot. With both barrels I can shoot a 2-3 inch pattern at 25 yards with iron sights. I even won a very small (admittedly only 8 people) local range tournament; the guy I beat in the final match was using a Kimber Pro Tactical II 1911. I used my .44 Desert Eagle.

Thats my take on Desert Eagles. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another and am even in the mark for one in .357 mag. I would post some pics but I have an amazing inability to get the post thing working...
'88Scrat is offline  
Old February 26, 2014, 10:21 PM   #7
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 17,250
I got a .357 Desert Eagle in 84. A .44 Mag in 90. I have specifically avoided the .50 in both the Desert Eagle and other gun, mainly because I didn't want to tool up for the .50 caliber. My .44s and .45s are enough to manage feeding without adding even more.

I've heard all the badmouthing the DE has gotten, and I don't care. I "discovered" the Desert Eagle long before Hollywood did, and before video games became home entertainment above the level of pong.

I like the Desert Eagle, although I have always been slightly disappointed with it. It is more "clunky" than it needs to be. Particularly in the grip.

Shooting them, however is a joy, other than holding the thing up.
Due to the 4.25lb empty weight, the .44 recoils like a snappy .45auto, just in a really big package. And in .357 recoil is actually mild, although the blast isn't.

I have a collection of magnum auto pistols, which is the primary reason I was originally interested in the Desert Eagle. Having and shooting them for a bit, you can have a lot of fun, and that makes it worthwhile, for me.

People who think they are too big and heavy to carry simply should grow stronger! Seriously, a 5lb pistol is really heavy, but its lighter than an 8lb carbine. So, if you look at it as a replacement for a carbine, not an addition to carry, you're actually a bit ahead on weight, and you have hands free most of the time.

I can't tell you what factory ammo will run best, I haven't fed mine factory ammo for decades. Sorry.

Don't know much about the current production guns in detail, but I have some experience and some opinions about the gun, if you're interested in specifics, ask.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old February 27, 2014, 04:15 PM   #8
Junior Member
Join Date: January 12, 2014
Posts: 14
MY brother and I both have them. Mine is a newer, USA made, polished chrome DE in .50AE. My brothers is an older XIX brushed chrome, also in .50AE.

My rationale for a .50 was this: They are pointless to own, other than they are a HOOT to shoot. That being said, you may as well go for the gusto! I've fed mine all kinds of ammo, including reloads, and NEVER had an issue provided that you shoot it properly. Don't limp-wrist it, one-hand it, cup the magazine, or let it get too dirty. Also, you must respect it. One time I popped it off without thinking and it came back and clipped the bill of my hat!! People laugh when I tell them that, but I've seen them do it too!

Ammo is scarce, but it is out there. I usually pay around $29-$35 a box for Hornady, but I've also paid upward of $44. I can reload them for much less.

features I find desirable on the older ones include a wider availability of sights and I also like the hook shaped safety lever better. The safety can still be purchased and installed on a newer pistol.

My brother has a Hogue finger groove grip on his which I also like better than the factory offering. These have a tendency to jump around in your hand, and I think the grooves help tame that as well.

The polished chrome finish is a pain, I wish I would have gotten the brushed finish, But the looks it gets at the range offset the difficulty in maintaining the finish. Even the local cops have asked to shoot it. You know it's a good day when a cop loses their sour face and has a giddy smile.

Last edited by Rthiel; February 27, 2014 at 04:27 PM.
Rthiel is offline  
Old February 27, 2014, 04:29 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: December 22, 2012
Location: NJ
Posts: 348
I have one like your looking for in the 44 mag. I love it. It is a well balanced machine. I got it used from a friend and he gave it to me at a great price. Which the pistols he also gave me the American eagle ammo he had that he bought when 44 mags were still $18 or so a box of 50. I took it to the range and got ready for this thing to jump out of my hand, But it didn't it was great. The only problem I had with it and I called my friend to ask him if he had the problem which he said he didn't but ever 5th or 6th round would fail to load. So im blaming that on the old ammo. I am waiting to pick up some new 44 mag when they get back in stock and see if I still have the same problem.

You could buy a 44 mag DE and if you would like you can just buy a 50 AE barrel and mag and then you will have 2 guns. And its cheaper to just buy the barrel then the whole gun, and if you don't like the 50 AE you can sell it.

In my area I have seen them new starting from $1200 and up.
Good luck
tynman is offline  
Old February 27, 2014, 11:44 PM   #10
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 17,250
You could buy a 44 mag DE and if you would like you can just buy a 50 AE barrel and mag and then you will have 2 guns.
Only if you buy the "right" .44. The early .44s require replacing the barrel & slide and mag to convert to .50. The later ones only require replacing the barrel & mag. The visual key is the barrel rib.

The barrel rib on the early guns is narrow and solid. On the later guns it is wider and had slots for scope rings.

There's good info on this, and other things in previous threads about Desert Eagles. Search and enjoy.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old February 28, 2014, 09:11 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2008
Posts: 10,529
I have a Desert Eagle XIX 44 magnum. Black. My honest opinion is that they are too expensive to shoot, unless you plan on reloading for it and shooting it a lot.

The DE is single action only; has a pretty good trigger out of the box that I am sure can be improved; is well designed and constructed; and is an accurate firearm.

I bought it sometime in the late '90's, for fear that the government would ban large caliber semi-autos. Don't ask me why I thought this was going to happen, I just did, or perhaps that was the excuse I used to justify the purchase. At the time, I think I paid about $750 for it. I really intended on buying the 440 CorBon barrel for it, but DE made so few that I could never find one.

So, I rarely ever shoot the DE - it sits sadly in my safe most of the time. I still look for the 440 barrel every now and then, have seen some, but they cost about as much as the DE itself. All-in-all, not one of my best purchases, but because I admire the design and quality, I can't seem to part with it either.

FWIW, I never had any interest in the 50AE. The high velocity of the 440 CorBon intrigued me, but 44 magnum is what I can afford to shoot......on occasion. The DE is fun to use in bowling pin competitions. However, my Stock 10mm is more fun.

Last edited by Skans; February 28, 2014 at 09:19 AM.
Skans is offline  
Old March 2, 2014, 11:07 PM   #12
Join Date: February 7, 2013
Posts: 28
Thanks for all the input, and sorry for the delayed response.

What are some things to look for with the Desert Eagle, if I were to find one used?
JSAW is offline  
Old March 3, 2014, 05:15 AM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: August 22, 2012
Posts: 1,031
Used DE's can have the gas system buggered up with all sorts of fouling. If someone shot lead SWC's thru it, there can be lead in the gas port which is pretty hard to remove and essentially ruins the function of the gun--they're gas operated sort of like AR's and other rifles.

It's not the end of the world, they can be stripped, given a bath in a variety of solvents, then refinished and reassembled to clean out the gas system, but then you're spending extra cash.

Most of the malfunctions in DE's come from people using the wrong kind of ammo and fouling the gas system and you have to be super careful about what you buy used.
OK, so not all plastic guns are bad
thedudeabides is offline  
Old March 3, 2014, 11:23 AM   #14
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 17,250
--they're gas operated sort of like AR's and other rifles.
"Sort of" is the key here. While it is gas operated, there are a couple of design features that make the DE different from all the other gas operated designs I am familiar with.

Rifles port the gas at, or close to the muzzle, and can be disassembled to the point the port itself can be physically cleaned. It may not be simple or easy, but it can be done.

The Desert Eagle ports the gas from just in front of the chamber. It then travels down a tube in the barrel assembly, to the front, where it does a 180 turn to push the piston. The barrel assembly cannot be taken apart, so it is almost impossible to physically clean the port, or the tube.

Lead, bullet lube & powder residue together can clog the system, and sometimes no amount of soaking in solvents does the trick. I know of one case (back in the late 80s) where a gunsmith, after trying everything he could, sent a clogged gun back to the factory.

THEY couldn't fix it! Eventually, the gun came back with a new barrel assy. And a bill for the new barrel. IF you plug up your DE, it is NOT covered under the warranty! DE states clearly in their manual what kind of ammo to shoot, and warranties the gun only with that ammo. (this may have changed, I don't know, but it was the rule in the 80s).

What to look for in a used DE? same stuff you look for in any used gun. Overall condition, any signs of abuse, or neglect, any obvious physical damage, etc.

You cannot tell if the gas system is plugged from a visual inspection. You can tell if it is blocked by blowing air into the barrel (plugging the other end, of course) that will tell you for certain is that there is or is not complete blockage.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old March 3, 2014, 01:11 PM   #15
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 60
I have an early (1987 or so) .44 Mag Desert Eagle. True it's big and heavy, but it is a blast to shoot. I never had a problem with mine. I have always used the mfg's recommended 240 gr. jacketed rounds. My pistol seems to like the hotter loads.

I would love to have a .50 AE, but I don't reload and I can't abide the cost of factory ammo in that caliber.
car is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:41 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.07991 seconds with 7 queries