October 21, 2021

Desert Eagle .44 Magnum Pistol, by Pat Cascio

Much as I hate to admit, there was a time, a long, long time ago, when I lusted after every new type of firearm I saw in the gun magazines. And, truth be told, I did lay claim to a lot of those guns. As I grew older – and maybe a little wiser – I stopped this foolishness. I discovered that any number of firearms were pretty much the same – in many ways – as some of the guns I desired to own.

I believe it was back around 1975, when I was reading an issue of Soldier Of Fortune magazine, and spied the editor, Bob Brown, in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with a Desert Eagle .44 magnum pistol in his hand. I had to have one. However, many years went by, before I actually was able to lay claim to one. Even today, the Desert Eagle, especially in .44 Mag is hard to come by – they’ve been in demand forever.

We’ve all seen the movies, where one of the good guys, in some cases, Arnold Schwartzeneggar easily carrying and using a Desert Eagle .44 Magnum pistol. How many of us, wanted one of those elephant killer pistols? I wouldn’t want to hunt big game in Africa, like elephants, rhino, etc., with a .44 Mag handgun, no matter what type of ammo I had stoked in it. However, for big game in the USA, I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt any North American big game with this caliber – assuming I had it loaded with the right type of ammo, for the game at hand.

Despite what many people believe, gun writers, in general, honestly don’t make a lot of money, and we have to hold down other jobs in many cases, so we can pursue our passion about writing about guns, I’m one of them – without my lovely wife working a full-time job (she’s now retired) and helping pay the bills, I would have stopped writing many years ago. One of the “problems” we gun writers have is that, we want to own every gun we test and write about. I can’t do it, and oftentimes, return a gun sample when I’m done with it. Now, many of the gun companies, give us writers a decent discount if we want to purchase the gun sample they sent us – still, we can’t afford to purchase all the samples we test and write about…just not possible on our income.

Many people believe that, because I write about guns (and other topics) that I have a huge gun collection – nothing could be further from the truth. When I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate, one of my duties was maintaining his gun collection. At that time, he had no less than 850 guns, so it was almost a full-time chore some months to care for those guns. One of the perks of the job was that Applegate, allowed me to take home just about anything from his collection to test and write about them.

On to the subject at hand, and that is a sample of the Desert Eagle, chambered in .44 Magnum caliber. To be sure, they are an awesome handgun, to handle and shoot. I didn’t get the chance to test the Desert Eagle on any big game hunting, my hunting days are about over these days – sad to say! However, I did get to shoot this pistol all I wanted, and the nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition, kept me well-stocked with several of their .44 Mag loads. One thing about the Desert Eagle is that, it is a big – and heavy – pistol, and weighs in at 4-lbs 6.6-ounces, so the recoil really was all that bad.

One thing to keep in mind is that the .44 mag is a gas-operated, rotating bolt semiauto pistol, and that helps keep the recoil down a bit, too. You can NOT shoot cast lead bullets in any handgun with a gas-operated recoil system, because those soft lead bullets will clog-up your gas port in short order – ‘causing malfunctions. My sample, in .44 Magnum, stood 6.25-inches high, and with an overall length of 10.75-inches so you can see, this is a monster of a handgun, not to mention how wide it is.

My sample came in the black oxide finish, however, you can have your Desert Eagle customized in any number of finishes and colors to suit your taste. The frame, barrel, and slide on my sample were all carbon steel, and that alone contributes to the heavy weight. Trigger pull is advertised at 4-pounds, but my sample was a bit heavier, not a deal-breaker because the trigger is a single action and that helps in a reduced “feeling” trigger pull.

There is a Weaver-type rail for mounting scopes and red dots on the top of the slide. I elected to just used the “iron sights” that came on the gun – and they are ok, for target shooting, but if you are going after big game you need some type of magnifying sight on the top of the gun, to get the most out of the accuracy as possible. My sample also had a muzzle brake on the slide, to help reduce recoil. To be honest, after waiting for a lot of years, to get a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum, I was actually looking forward to some heavy recoil – didn’t happen!

My Accuaracy Tests

The ported-slide barrel on my sample was 6-inches long and the large magazine holds 7-rounds of the hottest .44 Mag ammo you want to fire through the gun. One “bad” thing was, the heavy weight of the gun, coming in close to four and a half pounds. Regardless of what you’ve seen in the movies, this gun was not meant to be fired one-handed – yeah, you can do it, but its next to impossible to hit anything cause the gun is wobbling all over the place when you try to aim it. So, my accuracy testing was conducted over a padded rifle rest, on top of a large boulder, with the paper target downrange at 25-yards.

From Black Hills Ammunition, www.black-hills.com I had their 240-gr JHP load, and their 300-gr JHP, both great loads. For bigger game, I would have used the 300-gr load. But for deer-sized game, the 240-grain JHP would have sufficed – unfortunately, I didn’t get any hunting done. The Desert Eagle functioned without any problems. In all, I probably fired close to 200 rounds of those ammo samples through the gun – I went out shooting several times – and I did lose count of the number of rounds I put downrange. I was able to keep all my accuracy testing down to about 2.50-inches, but I think the gun can do better, with more shooting. I should mention that I had a good quantity of ammo on-hand, because I’ve had it long before the ammo drought started. With a scope on the gun, I believe I could have easily gotten those groups down below 2-inches – maybe even less.

I didn’t have any holsters that would fit the Desert Eagle, and I didn’t plan on packing it on my hit or in a chest-type shoulder holster. All I can say is that, this is a big gun, and I wouldn’t pack it for self-defense on a daily basis. Out hunting, I would elect to have a chest-type shoulder holster.

Doesn’t matter what the movies do to portray these big guns, they are designed for self-defense use, nor would I pick this as my one and only gun for the End Of The World, there are better selections that are smaller and easier to carry.

I’m sure that if you are a gun collector, then you’ll want a big Desert Eagle in your collection, and they can also be hand in .50 A.E. caliber and the good ol’ .357 Magnum. Matter of fact, if you are a collector, you “need” one of these guns in your collection – if for nothing else, then to brag on them, and allow some of your friends to shoot it.

These days, I don’t recall when I’ve last seen some .44 Mag ammo on any shelves in a gun shop or a big box store. And, I’ve never seen any .50 A.E. ammo any place, so it will be a caliber you’ll most likely have to reload for – if you can even find the components to do any reloading. The ammo drought will continue for many years to come in my opinion. Be advised! While prices today are high and getting higher, if our nation goes to war, then you’ll wish you had snapped up as much ammo as you could afford – today’s prices will seem “cheap” compared to future prices – that is, if you can even find any ammo to buy at all.

Now, for the bad news: The Desert Eagle line of pistols, the basic models are retailing for close to $1,700 – and that is if you can even find any, in any gun shop. If you do, expect to pay a lot more than retail.

The Desert Eagle, in .44 Magnum was fun to shoot, just plain fun, and I could easily pick-off big rocks at 100-yards and beyond – so, that was fun in itself. I can’t find anything bad to say about this pistol, other than it is heavy to pack and shoot…still the “fun factor” was there. Check one out!

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