Desert Eagle .50 AE: The Semi-Automatic .50-Cal. Handgun

by
posted on September 8, 2021
Desert Eagle

When the Desert Eagle .50 AE made its appearance in the hands of bad guy Agent Smith as he chased Neo (Keanu Reeves) in 1999’s movie The Matrix, it permanently cemented the big-bore semi-auto into science fiction lore. The pistol was already a familiar one to enthusiasts, though, and it’s big-bore charm in various chamberings was already a silver-screen favorite. Its first appearances were in 1985, with roles in Commando, Year of the Dragon and—believe it or not—Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment. The unusual handgun went on to play in RoboCop, The Punisher, La Femme Nikita, Austin Powers and dozens more.

The innovative design and real-life performance of the Desert Eagle.50 AE is every bit as impressive as its movie credits, though. The first patents for the gas-operated semi-automatic were granted in 1983 and further improvements were registered two years later.

The piston-driven self-loader uses a three-lug rotating bolt, similar to those found in many of today’s semi-automatic rifles. The stainless steel barrel is fixed and doesn’t move during cycling. It’s chambered in .50 AE and magazine capacity is seven cartridges. All come with a recoil-taming, integral muzzle brake.

Pillager, MN-based Magnum Research, which is has been part of Kahr Firearms Group since 2010, produces the guns here in the United States. Flat-black versions are the least expensive in the current lineup with an MSRP of $1,900. They come with a 5-inch barrel and 1:19-inch rifling. Sights are fixed, overall length is 9.69 inches and it weighs 3 pounds, 0.6 ounce.

The frame is aluminum and the slide, which features a rail for optic mounting, is constructed from steel. Trigger pull on the single action comes in at four pounds and the manual safety is ambidextrous.

Models wearing stainless steel slides are among the most popular, though. Barrel length increases to 6 inches, and weight goes up to 3 pounds, 7 ounces. Rifling rate stays the same and MSRP for versions with a black aluminum frame come in at $2,255.

As for accuracy and performance, testing and a full review by American Rifleman found the “…single best group was fired with MRI’s 300-gr. JHP and it measured just 0.95". Average group size for the three loads tested is just about 1½", and I think that’s pretty darned good for a production pistol chambered for the teeth-rattling .50 AE cartridge. Reliability throughout my testing was flawless—there were no stoppages of any kind.”

The company offers a variety of versions, with different features and color patterns today, including one with a gold finish reminiscent of that Austin Powers appearance. There are even different chamberings available for those a little timid about giving .50 AE a ride.  

Latest

Smith
Smith

Smith & Wesson SD9VE: A Budget Friendly Striker-Fired 9 mm

First introduced in 2012, the Smith & Wesson SD9VE provides a 9 mm striker fired handgun with a price point that has continued its popularity as a budget friendly pistol. 

Rifleman Review: Crimson Trace LS 250 Lasersaddle

Watch this American Rifleman Television segment of "Rifleman Review" from 2019 to learn more about the Crimson Trace LS 250 Lasersaddle shotgun mounted laser module.

Blackhawk Offers Product Customization

Blackhawk has launched a new custom Kydex holster and accessory program on its website, which allows customers to choose from a variety of colors, graphics and other features.

Firearm Actions For Mixed-Up Families

Can’t a lefty learn to run a right-hand platform? Sure, but the optimal answer is a firearm with a format that matches the shooter—although there are universally friendly, bilateral options.

This Old Gun: Model 1860 Henry Rifle

Although he probably didn’t plan it, when New England shirtmaker Oliver Fisher Winchester acquired the Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. in 1857 and re-named it the New Haven Arms Co., he ended up dramatically altering firearm technology, helped settle the American West and subsequently created a legacy that continues to this day.

Smith & Wesson Issues Safety Recall For M&P12 Shotguns

Smith & Wesson has issued a safety recall this week for the new M&P12 bullpup shotgun.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.