(Photo by Steve Woods)

In 1979 Magnum Research’s founders, Jim Skildum and John Risdall, started the process of transforming paper blueprints into a behemoth semi-auto pistol. Since then, pistols have been manufactured in Israel and in the United States to keep up with high demand.

Eagle Operation

The Desert Eagle uses a short-stroke piston not unlike that used in the M1 carbine. Gas passes through a hole underneath the bore into the gas cylinder, where it pushes the piston. This inertia drives the slide back, where the bolt unlocks after the pressure subsides, and the extraction, ejection and feeding cycle begin. The Desert Eagle uses twin recoil springs to retard the slide’s rearward movement and then push it forward to strip a cartridge from the magazine.

Also unique to the Desert Eagle is its rotating bolt lockup that is reminiscent of the AR-15/M16 family of weapons. The bolt head locks into the barrel extension to provide a solid lock-up at the moment of cartridge ignition. Once the bullet has left the barrel and the pressure has dropped, the bolt unlocks to cycle the action. It is a hearty system developed to handle the significant power of the .44 Magnum and .50 AE cartridges.

Desert Eagles are renowned for their accuracy, and the design’s fixed barrel is partially responsible for their precision. The barrel does not move when the slide reciprocates so it is in the same position shot after shot. Also aiding in accuracy is the polygonal rifling MRI specifies for this pistol.

Mark XIX

Not long after receiving my DE1911U test gun, a new Desert Eagle Mark XIX showed up. Part of an exclusive production for firearms distributor Bill Hicks & Co., the .50 AE Desert Eagle wears a Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish. The Cerakote coating is a multi-step process that results in a high-temperature ceramic coating that holds up well under normal use. The Burnt Bronze model has attractive black appointments that give the pistol even more appeal.

Editor’s note: Look for Detty’s full test and evaluation of the .50 AE-chambered Mark XIX in a near-future issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Click here for live-fire video action of the DE 1911U and Mark XIX.


This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.

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