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The .50 AE Desert Eagle Is More Cannon Than Gun

Desert Eagle Gun .50 Caliber. Image: Creative Commons.
Image: Creative Commons.

Yet another writeup on the Desert Eagle in general and the .50 AE in particular? 

Sure, why not?

After having written several recent articles for 19FortyFive about the most powerful handguns in the world, it dawned upon me that it’s been years since I actually fired a handgun more powerful than .44 Magnum, so without further ado…

Quick Review: .50 AE Desert Eagle Early History and Specifications

Okay, real quick, so we can cut to the chase: the .50 Action Express (AE) cartridge was designed in 1988 by Evan Whildin, then-Vice President of Action Arms, Ltd. The .50 AE chambering of the Desert Eagle (DE) pistol came out in 1991, seven years after the original DE aka “Deagle” was released in .357 Magnum.

Personal Shooting Impressions Part 1

As luck would have it, good ol’ Cindy’s Hot Shots indoor shooting facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland had a .50 AE “Deagle” available for rental (so does their Severn facility), so, basically on a whim, last night (as I type the words), I headed over there to take a trip down .50 Caliber Memory Lane.  

Ammo used was Underwood Ammo 300-grain Bonded Jacketed Hollowpoint (JHP), with 10 rounds divvied evenly between head shots at 7 yards and center-torso shots at 25 yards, fired from the Classic Weaver Stance, utilizing the B27-IMZ Life Size Silhouette Paper Target. According to Underwood’s official info page, “This bullet leaves the barrel at 1580 feet per second,” with a muzzle energy of 1663 ft-lbs. Why only 10 rounds, you ask? Well, (1) I didn’t have that much range time left before closing, and (2) the ammo is expensive; over three bucks a pop even with my membership discount? 

History has a way of repeating itself: just like my very first .50 AE range session way back in August 1993, the gun slung the empty brass right at my noggin; I have the welts on my upper right forehead (and the pics to prove it, if my Editors can hopefully squeeze ‘em into the final published edition of this article). And as I said previously, “getting pinged by 9mm or .45 ACP brass is one thing, getting drilled by .50 AE brass is quite another!” 

All five of my 7-yard head shots held the perfect 10 zone. At 25 yards…meh, one hit the lower edge of the spine, and the remaining four pulled way off to the right. 

Personal Shooting Impressions Part Deux

This time, I did ten rounds at the head/flag at 7 yards and 5 rounds at 25 yards. To protect myself from the incoming brass, this time I (1) made sure to wear a ballcap, and (2) heeded advice from my friend Lou Chiodo – fellow firearms instructor, military veteran, and law enforcement veteran – regarding my grip and stance:  

“Platform needs to be squared to the target. Marks almost or in [sic] lock out – this keeps the handgun further from your head which keeps the rounds from coming into your head. Aggressive weight forward with your support side foot more forward than your primary side.” 

Well, as much as I appreciated Lou’s advice…the brass merely went to the center of my head (including a ding right on the bridge of my nose) instead of the upper right. Maybe next time I need a face shield in addition to the ballcap. But it was still fun, albeit masochistic fun, which evokes laugh-filled memories of my LAR Grizzly .45 Win Mag session back in December 1990. 

Accuracy-wise? At 7 yards, all of the rounds stayed within the “Fatal and Spine IMZ” zone. At 25 yards, the first round struck in that mid-sword zone again, coinciding with the “Chest IMZ” (heart) of the baseline target. The remaining four…oy , gevalt, they strayed rightward, though not quite as severely as the previous session; one struck the script at the lower right of the flag, equating to just missing the lung on the actual B27, two missed the flag graphics but took the lung of the IMZ, and one strayed completely outside of all those zones but still impacted the original paper bad guy’s rib cage and gun barrel.

And oh, by the way, this .50 caliber “Deagle” functioned with 100% reliability, which is much better than can be said for the .44 Magnum jam-amatic specimen I rented at Los Angeles Gun Club back on Labor Day Weekend 2022. 

Want Your Own?

True Gun Value states that “A DESERT EAGLE .50 AE pistol is currently worth an average price of $2,185.50 new and $1,756.50 used . The 12 month average price is $2,130.66 new and $1,782.99 used.” Kahr Firearms Group – owner of Magnum Research since 2010 – lists a starting MSRP of $1,708.00 for the guns on their online catalogue.                  

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).