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Desert Eagle Review: The Insane .50 Caliber Handgun (or a Cannon?)

Desert Eagle
Mark XIX Desert Eagle pistol with a box of Speer 325-grain .50 AE ammunition.

A Desert Eagle Review: When it comes to guns for elite gun-owners, the Desert Eagle is at the top of the must-have list.

The Desert Eagle of my dreams may be chosen from the scores of already in-production options. Fully custom models are readily available, and the specific tastes of buyers are happily obliged. Considering so many of the high-brow buyers live in California, it’s no surprise that the Desert Eagle can even be tailored to the oppressive restrictions gun owners face in parts of America. By no means is this an affordable pistol, so my testing was happily performed with an associate’s gorgeous hand-cannon.

Without even picking the Desert Eagle up, this pistol demands attention and respect.

.50 cal is no joke.

For a gun with a 6” barrel, that massive power is immediately evident by the massive diameter presented to the target. For this model, the 7+1 capacity provides plenty of stopping power for any threat. A smooth and easy to operate mag release allowed me to blow through plenty of pricey ammo without fail. The Desert Eagle is made for intuitive use and maximum protection. It’s no surprise that the controls for shooting one feel comfortable and easy.

It’s also no surprise that there are countless videos of shooters getting kicked in the face with the recoil of this powerful pistol. The Desert Eagle isn’t going to shoot like my everyday-carry Glock 19. This is a .50 cal. packed into a 6” barrel. I didn’t underestimate that combo, and nor should you. More than just a pretty face, the Desert Eagle’s Weaver-style accessory rail atop the barrel is there for easy installation of optics or, more realistically, lights and lasers.

With fixed easy-to-see sights, set just over 8 inches apart, the Desert Eagle is easy to point and gives me a clear sightline. Practice at the range is pretty key to accuracy on follow-up shots for the Desert Eagle. The balance and weight made it easy to return to target, but there was some learning curve to the motion.

The Desert Eagle is unsurprisingly heavy for its size. Just a bit lighter than a bag of sugar, the weight is impactful. The fixed barrel mechanics of this gas-powered pistol make for a lot to support. Honestly, it’s heavy enough and powerful enough to knock a senior shooter right over. Regardless, after today I’ll be adding owning one to my retirement wish-list.

Finding the balance of anticipation in recoil management chewed through a down-payment of ammo before I was comfortable with the return. Muzzle dip in response to anticipating the Desert Eagle is likely a common hurdle for owners. My advice here is to trust the incredibly lethal Desert Eagle and aim well. Don’t slap that trigger. The pull is light enough, at around 4 lbs, to allow for an easy and smooth fire.

If you hit your target, you’ll be inflicting maximum damage with one shot.

Clearly, this is not a weapon for the frugal. The exorbitant cost of the ammo that I enjoyed may have hurt my paycheck, but the high-roller owners of the Desert Eagle continue to remain unfazed by paltry things such as ammo budgets.

As secretly disappointed as I was to not be enjoying a gold tiger-striped Desert Eagle, my more staid and serious model would have protected any A-List client on the red carpet with style. As my afternoon in the life of the rich and famous came to an end, I can say it was a very enjoyable day of shooting the Desert Eagle. The impressive firepower of the Desert Eagle is unquestionable. The cost of the Desert Eagle is also unquestionably high.

Desert Eagle Review

All in all, that makes the Desert Eagle a perfect combination for the upper crust shooters who have the luxury to afford it.

Richard Douglas writes on firearms, defense and security issues. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, 1945, Daily Caller and other publications.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.



  1. Ross

    April 3, 2021 at 9:11 am

    A few specifics would be nice.
    How much does one cost entry level?
    How much is ammo?
    How tight of a grouping were you able to achieve vs with your regular firearm?
    What is the maximum effective range?
    For an average sized person is it conceivable to carry concealed?

  2. Jim

    April 3, 2021 at 9:52 am

    If you really want a kick in the pants, try the S&W 500 Mag. Makes the Desert Eagle look/feel like a pop gun!

    • Kai Savage

      May 26, 2022 at 2:24 am

      No thanks. The DE was hard enough on my poor hands after cycling one mag. I would love to see a DE conversion to a 16-18 inch barrel carbine configuration. I’d also be interested in seeing an AR platform in .50 A&E.

  3. MI Vet

    April 3, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    The Desert Eagle in .50 is completely and utterly useless as a carry piece. It doesn’t even attempt to be “practical”… It’s not much more than a toy for grown-ups with loads of cash to blow. You’ll never find one on any battlefield or carried by any LEO or Soldier to work which is all the proof needed that it’s cool and fun but completely impractical.

  4. Jerome

    April 3, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Not all new users of the Desert Eagle get merely kicked in the face.
    Some years back a Desert Eagle new owner at a range let his companion fire it for her first time. She actually got two rounds off. The second came as she tried to get control of the recoil. The recoiling gun sent the second bullet into her head, killing her right there.

  5. John C

    April 3, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Ross, I have owned a Desert Eagle in .50AE for 20+ years and I am by no means rich. The recoil is strong but not at all unmanageable. Yes the ammunition is expensive but the gun is fun to shoot and is a good woods gun. It is on the heavier side but it is quite accurate. The black version goes for about $1500.00 and other Versions go up to about $2100.00, they do have a 3 caliber combo .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .50 AE(Action Express), one frame three separate uppers with barrel, for about $3200.00. Ammunition is usually sold in 20 round boxes, Ammoseek shows them costing between $45.00 and $96.00 a box. Underwood Ammo (out of stock at the moment) has them for between 28.50 and $30.00 for most and $53.00 for their solid copper hunting round. No the Gun cannot be easily carried concealed, it’s big.

  6. Jack

    April 3, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Luv my di50 … it’s all about running a couple of box’s thru now and then… to big to Cary and there are better guns for hunting

    Have had a sw500 and didn’t find it fun to shoot as most wheel guns aren’t …

    the di50 is a gun to have for your friends and their kids to shoot … as these folks had always heard about them and wanted to shoot them, but were never going to buy one

    Have always enjoyed watching folks get to experience the exotics

    Same as with an m107 or mp9 etc

  7. Bob

    April 4, 2021 at 4:58 am

    Shot one at a local range when they first came out; it was a blast! Not a small handgun by any stretch of the imagination. But that size and weight means it doesn’t really fit any of my needs; and the ammo is always expensive, relatively speaking. If you reload, that would help a good bit.
    Having said all that, if you need a sidearm for hunting Buicks, the Eagle is just the ticket in .50 AE…..

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