Magnum Research Brushed Chrome 50 Action Express Desert Eagle Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 23rd, 2012



Click pictures for a larger version.







Ambidextrous safety.



Slide lock (top), magazine release (bottom).







Hogue grips.



50 AE cartridge (left) compared to 300 grain 44 magnum cartridge (right).







The Desert Eagle is a survivor among big bore semi-auto pistols. While other designs enter the market and fade away, the Desert Eagle from Magnum Research is not only surviving, but the line of Mark XIX pistols keeps expanding with new and unique metal finishes from which to choose. Offered in 357 magnum, 44 Magnum, and 50 Action Express chamberings, the Desert Eagle is at the top of the food chain of semi-auto pistols.

The Desert Eagle was introduced around twenty-five years ago, and was manufactured in Israel for Magnum Research. Today, most variations of the Mark XIX are built in the United States, with only the black oxide-finished pistol made in Israel. There are almost a dozen different variations of the Mark XIX, with most versions available in all three chamberings. Barrel lengths offered are six inch and ten inch, and one Desert Eagle frame can accommodate all three chamberings by switching magazines, barrels, and bolt heads. The Desert Eagle uses a gas-piston system to operate the action, and the cycling is smooth and positive.

The Desert Eagle shown here wears the brushed chrome finish, which looks very much like stainless steel, and is also very corrosion resistant, as is stainless. The Mark XIX wears a set of black drift-adjustable sights, fitted into dovetails on the slide and barrel. Integral with the top of the barrel is a three-inch length of Picatinny rail for the attachment of optical sights. The ambidextrous thumb safety disconnects the trigger, preventing the trigger from dropping the hammer. The trigger pull on this Mark XIX is much improved over previous versions of the Desert Eagle that I have fired in years past. The Mark XIX shown here had a nearly ideal trigger pull, displaying just a bit of travel before releasing cleanly with three and three-quarters pounds of resistance, consistently.

The black synthetic rubber Hogue grips are lightly textured, offering a secure hold without being abrasive, and they look good on the brushed chrome pistol. The blued steel magazine holds seven rounds, for a loaded capacity of eight. The Desert Eagle cycles smoothly upon firing, and the slide locks to the rear on an empty magazine. Weighing in on my scale at 69.6 ounces with an empty magazine, the Desert Eagle has a lot of heft, which helps to dampen the recoil of the 50 AE. The tang of the grip frame is long and wide, protecting the shooter’s hand from any chance of hammer bite. The Desert Eagle has a single-action firing mechanism, so the hammer must be cocked manually, either with the shooter’s thumb or by cycling the slide, before firing. Upon firing, the rotating bolt is locked into the rear of the barrel. As the bullet moves forward, gas is bled from a port in front of the chamber, acting upon the piston, which drives the slide to the rear, ejecting the empty case to the right and rear of the weapon. Twin recoil springs return the slide forward, stripping a cartridge from the magazine and chambering it as the bolt rotates, again locking into the rear of the barrel.

For testing the Desert Eagle, the only factory ammo that I had available was the Magnum Research 300 grain jacket hollowpoint ammo, which is pretty much all anyone would need for hunting most anything that walks or crawls. Magnum Research advises against the use of unplated lead bullets in the Desert Eagle, and also against the use of hand-loaded ammunition. However, while I did not use any cast or swaged lead bullets, I did want to try the Barnes 275 grain homogenous copper hollow cavity bullet in the Mark XIX. Accurate Number Nine and Hodgdon H110 proved to give the highest velocities of any powders tested. The Factory load pushes that 300 grain bullet out of the six-inch barrel at an average of 1466 feet-per-second, ten feet in front of the muzzle, at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level and an air temperature of forty-three degrees Fahrenheit. A case full of H110 pushes the lighter Barnes bullet a bit faster, but this load is not pressure tested, and I can find it in no loading manual, so I will not publish the powder charge weight. However, that is a dandy bullet, offering excellent penetration and expansion. I have used that same bullet in the 50 Beowulf and 500 S&W cartridges, with excellent performance on hide, flesh, and bone. Accuracy was superb, with the 300 grain factory load shooting sometimes into one ragged hole, with the one and three-sixteenths inch six-shot group pictured being representative of the pistol’s fine accuracy. The hand loaded Barnes bullet did almost as well, with no group fired exceeding two inches at twenty-five yards.

Picking up the Desert Eagle, it feels huge. I have a large hand, and the pistol seems as if it would be hard to control under recoil, but that is not the case at all. The Desert Eagle in 50 AE is very comfortable to shoot, and is a real pussycat in the other two chamberings. The Hogue grip offers plenty of grasp, and the recoil is more of a big push than a hard snap. The Mark XIX functioned perfectly, with only a couple of shooter-induced problems. I use a high grasp on a pistol, and shooting left-handed, sometimes the knuckle of my trigger finger would activate the slide lock, locking the slide open with cartridges still in the magazine. When I consciously kept my finger off the slide lock, I had no problems, and the weapon functioned one-hundred percent reliably. Empty cartridges were ejected over my right shoulder, and were all found pretty close to each other, with no damage to the cartridge cases from ejection. Occasionally, if I allowed the pistol to torque upon firing, an empty would brush the top of my cap, but again, holding the pistol correctly prevented that from occurring.

The 50 AE Desert Eagle is a impressive pistol, which is why it is often seen on television and in the movies. There is no mistaking its profile, nor the huge hole in the barrel. It is a bit on the heavy side for my preference of carrying on the belt, but in a chest holster, it makes for a fine hunting pistol, delivering enough power to take most any game animal on Earth. Even if the owner of this big pistol never intends to take it afield in pursuit of huge hairy beasts with teeth and claws, the Desert Eagle is still a lot of fun, and is in a class of its own.

Check out the Desert Eagle online at

For the location of a Magnum Research dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Desert Eagle Mark XIX online, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



The Desert Eagle comes with hard case, seven-round mag, instructions, and slide-disassembly tool.









Accuracy testing was done with the welcome assistance of a Ransom Master Series machine rest.



Magnum Research ammo proved to be powerful and accurate.



Push button and turn lever to disassemble weapon.