Big, Bad, Desert Eagle

By Mark Hampton

Magnum Research has launched their popular Desert Eagle in stainless steel. This pistol has seen several variations from its beginnings back in the early ’80’s, including cheetah and zebra prints and even camo and snakeskin. I must admit — I like the practicality of stainless. The new Desert Eagle is available in both .357 and .44 Magnum, plus the raucous .50 AE.

These days, it’s not uncommon for the 10mm to get the nod as a hunting handgun. But sometimes you need more, and with calibers like the .44 Magnum available in the Desert Eagle, you can handle any game in the lower 48.

There’s no denying the Desert Eagle is a brawny, bruiser of a pistol. The Mark XIX Desert Eagle .357 and .44 Magnum models incorporate stainless construction into the frame, slide, barrel and rail and are accented with black appointments, such as the grip, hammer, safety, trigger and slide release. The pistol has a 6″ barrel with integral muzzle brake and Picatinny bottom rail for accessories. Optics can be mounted thanks to the integral Weaver style rail which runs from the chamber area to behind the black, ramped front sight. The rear sight is drift adjustable with a solid black square notch.


The stainless Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum (topped
with an UltraDot optic) is a near-perfect hunting
semi-auto. Ammo is Buffalo Bore’s “Deer Grenade” load.

Field Optics

Since I planned on hunting with this pistol, I mounted an UltraDot MatchDot II on my test gun. This red dot sight system has undergone punishment from many rounds of brutal recoil and never once have I encountered a problem. It’s perfect for this set-up.

The safety on the .44 is ambidextrous, with a red dot indicating firing mode. When the safety is on, the firing pin is blocked, disconnecting the trigger bar from the sear. To ensure a positive lock-up, the Desert Eagle incorporates a rotating three lug bolt. The two-stage trigger on my test gun broke right at 6 pounds, which is a tad heavy for my preference but I can have this tweaked.

By the time I loaded eight rounds and mounted optics, the gun tipped the scales right at five pounds. The sheer weight of the gun, along with the muzzle brake (four ports per side) helps dissipate felt recoil considerably. The soft rubber grips are also comfortable although a bit large for my hands — heck, likely for anybody’s hands! This pistol is designed to be shot with both hands despite what Hollywood might portray.

With a truckload of .44 Magnum ammo from the likes of Black Hills, Cor-Bon, DoubleTap, Buffalo Bore, Hornady, Winchester, HPR and Federal, I put the .44 through its paces. I even threw in a few handloads to cover all the bases. Surprisingly, the .44 Mag. was somewhat mild-mannered and recoil was not an issue. The gun printed acceptable groups with all ammo tested, easily inside minute-of-hog. After 200 rounds or so, there were not any malfunctions. I was pleased as punch! Heck, it was shooting enjoyment throughout the lengthy session. The weight and recoil system tame the magnum loads beautifully.


Left: The stainless gun is the classic Desert Eagle in .50 AE. Right: The new
Mark XIX L5 in .357 Magnum (black gun) is offered with an all new 5″ barrel
featuring a hard-coat anodized black aluminum frame, black carbon steel slide
and barrel, and Hogue finger groove rubber grips.

A Hunting Solution

If you want — or need — more punch than 10mm, this .44 Mag. version will be welcome for close range whitetail and wild boar opportunities. If you don’t reload, you have an enormous selection of quality factory ammunition. Handloaders can tailor specific loads for each and every circumstance imaginable. When it comes to handloading lighter loads associated with practice, plinking, or recreational shooting, 2400 powder is often my choice. I shoot a lot of Nosler, Sierra and Hornady 240-gr. bullets in quality Starline brass. The .44 Magnum will definitely handle most any game encountered, and the Desert Eagle digests those rounds effortlessly.

For carrying such a large handgun, I’ve been putting it inside my backpack without a round in the chamber. The only drawback being I can’t get my hands on it quickly. I also have a large padded gun case with shoulder strap which works. I simply unzip the case and can reach the pistol easily.

Frank Harris, VP of Sales and Marketing told me, “Unquestionably, the Desert Eagle Mark XIX series is the most popular handgun Magnum Research manufactures, and now, in stainless steel, the .357 and .44 Magnum, as well as the .50 AE, look more commanding than ever before. This has been our most successful introduction to date.” I guess I’m not the only one thinking this 100 percent made in the USA pistol is a winner.

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