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[Review] Desert Eagle Mark XIX .50AE

Is the Desert Eagle in .50 AE worth its iconic status? We hands-on review one for accuracy, ergonomics, value, and more. Somehow our wrists don't hurt.

Iconic guns are rare.

Some gain their fame in combat, like the M1 Garand. Others because of their mechanical rocket surgery, like the AEK-971.

But some get their name from just being badass.

Desert Eagle chambered in .50 AE (tactical cabbage sold separately)

We’ve looked at lessor forms of the Desert Eagle before, but this time we’re looking at the real thing in all its glory–the Desert Eagle in .50 Action Express.

Does it live up to the legendary name? It is a must-have for your gun safe? Johnny took it out to the range and found all the answers, make sure to take a look at the video!

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The Legend

Desert Eagles are one of the most recognizable firearms today. And they’ve achieved that status totally through being popular in media.

deadpool desert eagle
Desert Eagle in .50 AE is Deadpool’s gun
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

My love of the Desert Eagle, like many people’s, comes from videogames. From CS: Source to Call of Duty, the “Deagle” is a wildly popular choice because it’s big, it’s cool, and it’s shiny.

I wonder how many sales of the Desert Eagle have resulted because of gaming moments like this

And it looks super badass when you clear the opposing team using just your trusty Deagle.

Add in the fact that over 500 movies have featured good guys and bad guys using the Desert Eagle and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

Agent Smith (well, all of the Agents) also used the Desert Eagle in all of the Matrix movies.

But is it any good in real life?

Range Report

Normally, you would assume that the .50 cartridge the Desert Eagle uses would be a wrist breaker, much like the .500 S&W.

desert eagle ammo
The Humble .50 Action Express

But really there is some extra magic in this hand cannon that most people don’t know about–it uses a gas operating system to radically reduce recoil.

With a bolt much like you’d see in an AR-15 and a star lug chamber, the Desert Eagle actually requires a good amount of force to unlock. Providing that force is a gas piston tapping gas from the barrel.

The bolt of a Desert Eagle seems familiar…

This slows the unlocking of the gun and makes for a much smoother and softer recoil impulse.

The end result is that you can take it to the range and mag dump without needing to chow down on ibuprofen like they’re Skittles.

Star style chamber of the Desert Eagle

What Comes In The Box

Prepare to be a little disappointed.

For a price tag as high as this, you’d think Magnum Research would take care of you.

Desert Eagles do come in a nice box, perfect for hanging over the mantel to flex on guests.

$1,500 and it comes with 1 mag…

But inside the box is a bit of a letdown.

Only one magazine comes with your gun and while that is technically enough, it isn’t really.

Sure you get some other stuff like a tool and paperwork and a sticker, but a second magazine would have really been nice.

If you want to get your own you can, but like everything else about this cannon — they are not cheap.

at GunMag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons


A huge beast of a gun is no good if it isn’t reliable, thankfully the Desert Eagle is… if you use it correctly.

desert eagle fireball
Great balls of fire!

Because of the force of the cartridge and the design of the gas system, one thing the Desert Eagle will not forgive is weak wrists.

While most auto-loading pistols require a good grip, this beast requires locked elbows and a white-knuckle grip.

As long as you have the grip down, this gun runs.

Some lube in the action helps things stay moving and improves longevity, but the pure power of the cartridge also helps overcome any stickiness that might be caused by carbon or dirt.


Cabbage and game fear the Desert Eagle. While the iron sights are decent, they aren’t really much to write home about.

If you really want to squeeze accuracy out, throw an optic on top of the integrated Picatinny rail and you have one mean shooter.

Magnum Research .429 Desert Eagle with SwampFox King Slayer red dot proven turkey killer
Magnum Research .429 Desert Eagle with SwampFox King Slayer red dot. Proven turkey killer

Even without an optic, the Desert Eagle is a good shooter. But follow-up shots are harder due to the recoil. Still, that first round will go basically exactly where you tell it to.

Practical Applications?

Looking awesome isn’t practical?

Okay, really–it has very limited actual applications.

As a CCW, it isn’t even legal in many jurisdictions and we wouldn’t recommend it even if it is legal in yours due to the incredible weight and size of the gun.

For home defense there is a long list of guns better suited, take a look at our Home Defense Overpenetration Study for more details.

If you’re going to try to find a practical reason to get a Desert Eagle, hunting is your only option. But really, it does hunt well.

Why yes, the Magnum Research .429 Desert Eagle does drop turkeys on the spot. Sometimes bigger really is better
One dead turkey brought to you by a .429 DE Desert Eagle.

Grab one in .50 AE, .44 Mag. or .429 DE, put your favorite optic on it, and you have a very capable hog or turkey gun.

Ammo To Feed The Beast

Even the coolest of firearms are totally useless without ammo to send through them.

desert eagle

Thankfully, the .50 AE actually has some good load options from major brands, but none of it is cheap. There is simply no such thing as “.50 AE plinking ammo”.

On the cheap side, you’re looking at $1.40 a shot unless you want to reload.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

If you do want to reload, you can drop the price a little. But once you factor in dies and such, the savings will take a long time to actually see.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 4/5

This could easily have an asterisk next to it, as a lot of folks complain about feed issues. But again, my experience was solid. Don’t limp wrist, and the Eagle runs.

Ergonomics: 7/5

Not sure if this should be a 0/5 or an 11/5. Maybe both. It takes two hands to use the safety. The grip feels like a Yeti mug. The slide is a monstrosity. And I love it all.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

The long history of guys using these successfully for hunting in pistol-only states. It’s accurate, but you’re gonna need a bipod.

Customization: 3/5

Some models have rails, so there are options for you. And of course, you can swap out the barrel and change your caliber. But after this, options are thin.

Value: 2/5

If laughter is the best medicine, this gun is a vitamin B shot to your left butt cheek. You can’t put a price on fun. Well, you can. It’s well over $1500.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Overall: 4/5

It feels weird to give a rating on a gun that is literally incomparable to anything on the market. It’s a showstopper. 

Parting Shots

The Desert Eagle Mark IXI in .50 Action Express doesn’t have a lot of real applications. But this is a gun you buy because you want to be able to say you have one. Price is high but so is reliability if you have the strong wrists to back it up.

Desert Eagle (2)

As fun as it is to shoot, be ready for some wallet hurt when you take it to the range to show off.

But if you really want a good reason to get one, T-Rex defense and turkey hunting are solid reasons.

What is your favorite instance of the Desert Eagle in popular media? Do you have one that you’ve hunted with? For some more awesome hand cannons, take a look at the Ruger Super Redhawk or the smaller brother of the .50 AE…the Desert Eagle in .429 DE.

Super Redhawk Toklat
Super Redhawk Toklat

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14 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Owned a DE in .44 magnum. Had a lot of fun until it started to disassemble itself while firing. A "key" between the trigger and slide would work itself out and the gun would gut itself. No help from the manufacturer or retailer. Gun looked cool with the red dot etc. Sold it, a few years later saw it for sale again. We nick named the gun the "meat plow". Had an incident with the slide that is another story. Shot 2 deer the 1st year.

    February 16, 2020 6:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I've had one in 50ae, and there is a practical purpose for one. In rural areas where mag bans are prevalent and common that thing all but garuntees. Your threat level in a home defense situation is going to drop!

    February 15, 2020 7:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike Mangino

    I have one in .44 Magnum and bought it used on consignment for a great deal. You are absolutely correct, it is an amazingly fun fun to shoot. Mine has the old hard plastic grips and I stippled them to make it easier to hold on to. I got a chest holster to carry it fly fishing this coming summer up in Grizzly country in Montana. Otherwise as you said the only other thing it is good for is to put a big old s*** eating grim on you and your friends faces.

    February 13, 2020 7:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    It's a great gun. After a few rounds, it's easy to get a good grouping if you grip it correctly. With any gun, the more you practice your grip and figure out how much finger you need on the trigger to be accurate when rapid firing, it's a sold home defense gun

    February 12, 2020 10:26 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Never shot one, but really want to. I approach the hobby from all 3 sides (History/Collector, Tool/Utility, and Fun/Sporting) This is a seminal pistol design, and it can be a very fun/sporting weapon. Its utility is excessively niche, primarily because the cartridge has such limited use. If there was a PCC that used 50 AE, we would be having a different conversation.

    February 12, 2020 9:41 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    O-3 Obvios

    my roman numbers are a bit rusty, what exactly does IXI translate to in arabic.. is it 9.1 ??

    February 12, 2020 8:51 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      IXI would either be 9+1 or 1+11. Both, in this case, are wrong. We meant XIX for 10+9=19. This is the Mark 19. Our bad!

      February 12, 2020 8:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tom A.

    One of my team mates received one as a birthday present from his wife when they first came out in .50 cal. A group of us went with him to the range to shoot it, after he shot a few rounds through it asked if anyone else wanted to try it and we all said NO WAY. I asked him a few months later if he had shot it again and his reply was It's in the safe and that's where it is going to stay. This was over 20 years ago.

    February 12, 2020 8:07 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Shot the .357 Deagle in Seoul Korea at a shooting range. Everyone gathered around to watch the American shoot, it was pretty funny. Soon as we got back I made an impulse buy to have one in the full .50AE. Thought I would have buyers remorse but NAAAHH, it was the most fun I've ever had with my pants on! :)

    What the author says is true, if you don't hold it exactly as the instructions state you will have issues with the feed cycle. Do what it wants and let it rip giant holes in your yard....just blame it on really large moles if anyone asks.

    February 11, 2020 8:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      victor castle

      Thanks Wallace, you just showed it does have another use as a rodentnator ! Should take real good care of Moles digging in your yard, when you catch them digging :-)
      Years ago, I went by a old neighbors and he was sitting in the shade at the end of his garden with a double barrel shotgun. I ask him, what he was doing and he said, taking care of moles in my garden. When he spotted one digging, he just blew it out of the garden.

      February 13, 2020 2:04 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        Victor Castle, haha that's hysterical...sounds like he was a great neighbor!

        February 15, 2020 9:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Woody D

    I've got a mk XIX with the .50 and .44 barrels. It's a fun range toy, and very capable of putting meat on the table out to 100 yards with good sights. But it takes strong forearms to shoot well. That 300gr bullet wants to torque the gun counter clockwise, which puts the ejection pattern on your fore head.

    February 11, 2020 7:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Resident evil 2, another nostalgic video game source for loving and wanting a deagle :)

    February 11, 2020 6:36 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Personal protection with the desert eagle in 357-Magnum .... 41, 44 & 50-AE for hunting deer/ wild boar ...,

    357-Magnum is extremely accurate for defensive pistol .... it’s definitely a mid/short range counter sniper weapon .... 25-50 yard shots will definitely turn your head ....

    February 11, 2020 4:04 pm
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