IMI Desert Eagle .50 AE
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A few boutique brands are in the business of making semi-automatic magnum pistols, providing the wallop of a magnum revolver but with a bit more capacity. In basically every instance, that comes with a price tag that hits almost as hard.

There are some exceptions, of course. Semi-auto rounds such as .38 Super, .357 SIG and 10mm all touch, meet or exceed .357 Magnum levels of performance and the really hot loads of 10mm are on the heels of .41 Magnum. Then you have .45 Super and .460 Rowland, which are quite expensive to shoot but don’t require outlandish modifications.

Smith & Wesson Highway Patrolman N-Frame Revolver

For the longest time, the only game in town when it came to serious portable power were the magnum revolvers. Smith & Wesson’s N-frame or Ruger Blackhawk were more or less your lot. However, people wanted more capacity even then, and a few upstarts came up with semi-automatic pistols for use with magnum cartridges.

Most of the time, the gun would chamber a proprietary or wildcat round that required either deep pockets…or reloading equipment and deep pockets.

AutoMag .44 Pistol

The first example was the AutoMag, first released in 1973. The AutoMag – made by the creatively titled AutoMag corporation – was designed for the .44 AMP or Auto Mag Pistol. It’s basically .44 Magnum in a shorter case. The AutoMag got famous for being featured in “Sudden Impact,” the fourth “Dirty Harry” film. Unfortunately, the company felt a little too lucky and took about a $1,000 loss on every gun sold. A new version of AutoMag began operations in 2017, and now charge a price that could keep them afloat…about $4,000.

Wildey Magnum Pistol

The Wildey Magnum pistol emerged in the early 80s, gaining fame thanks to “Death Wish IV.” The Wildey was offered in a number of proprietary cartridges (9mm, .41, .44 and .44 Wildey Magnum) the .44 AMP and .45 Winchester Magnum, which uses the same .452-inch projectile as .45 ACP but has a longer, thicker case. The barrel was even swappable, which was a nice feature. The Wildeys actually had a pretty good run, having only been out of production between 2011 and 2016 since their inception in 1980.

Then there was the AMT AutoMag pistols, made by Arcadia Machine and Tool. AMT was a company founded by Harry Salinas, the same man behind the AutoMag. Their AutoMag guns were available in .45 Winchester Magnum or .50 AE. They managed to ship a few but production lagged and eventually AMT folded.

The LAR Grizzly had a bit longer run, coming out in the early 80s and hanging on until the end of the 1990s. The Grizzly was a beefed-up 1911 pistol, chambered for .45 Winchester Magnum, .44 Magnum, .50 AE and a few others besides. Some 15,000 were made, but the the company went belly-up around the time of the Dot Com bubble burst.

The 1911 platform was also the basis of the Guncrafter Industries and Coonan Inc. pistols. Guncrafter Industries offers some of their custom 1911 pistols in .50 GI, a round of their own devising. Coonan Inc., of course, altered the 1911 frame to accommodate the .357 Magnum round.

IMI Desert Eagle .50 AE

Of course, there is also the most popular gun of the type: the Magnum Research Desert Eagle. The idea for the “Deagle” is a semi-auto that can handle the stress of magnum rounds, hold more rounds, but also recoil more softly. This is done with a rotating gas bolt rather than a recoil-operated system that most semi-auto pistols use. It worked too, and the gun being cast in hundreds of movies helped make it iconic.

Coonan .357 Magnum 1911

However, every single one of these guns is plagued by something or other. The two that seem to have the best reputation are the Desert Eagle and the Coonan .357 pistols, though Wildey pistols are said to be very reliable if you get a good one. Desert Eagles, however, are known to be finicky. Additionally, ammunition is either hard to come by or wickedly expensive for many of the esoteric calibers.

Do the peccadilloes outweigh the benefits?

That’s arguable. If faced with, say, a charging grizzly bear, having more rounds is a better thing than having fewer. Granted, just as with a gunfight with humans, the odds are you won’t have time for more than a few shots.

On paper, a regular magnum revolver is a better buy. The point of entry is lower since you can get a .44 Maggie for less than $700 new (granted, that’s from Taurus) and even less for a used model of same; .357 Magnums can be had for less than that. Then again, the sort of person who can contemplate an LAR Grizzly, Wildey Magnum or Desert Eagle usually doesn’t care as much about cost as a person trying to decide between a GLOCK or an M&P.

But what do you think? Have experience with any of these guns? Think you’re better off with a magnum revolver? Sound off in the comments!

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    • OK. They’re still for semi-autos…

      Can we get someone to write that can just use the effen Google before they crap out a piece? Please?

      I understand the Mateba was a little obscure, and you have to know a bit about guns to know they exist, but a writer for a national publication should really have the smarts to do a freakin’ search before they send it to editing. Essentially all but the Desert Eagle are rare-ish limited production units, yet not an electron about the single, solitary, most fascinating (IMHO) of them all.

      Where’s Dyspeptic when you need him?

      • You rang?

        OK, let’s back up a sec.

        In all semi-auto guns, we have a design requirement that we keep the case in the chamber until the pressure comes down to a point where we may safely open the chamber. I know this elicits a sarcastic “no, really, DG?!” response, but let’s state the engineering requirements up-front so people see where we’re going.

        In blowback semi-auto designs, we can keep the chamber closed with merely the mass of the slide/bolt and recoil spring. This reaches a point of diminishing returns as we move up the scale in kinetic energy – eg, look at the Hi Point handguns: they have these huge, massive slides on their .40’s and .45’s, along with pretty stiff recoil springs.

        Since most pistols want to be more slim and trim than the Hi Point straight blowback action, we now start having to develop ways to keep the action closed for a delay after the cartridge ignition, but then the action opens, ejects the case, strips another round and goes back into battery. So we start down the roads to various different ways to keep the action closed and delay the opening.

        Most pistols do this by working off the recoil impulse. The 1911, High Power, Luger, Remington Model 51, HK pistols, etc – they’re all developing some way to mechanically delay the opening of the action.

        The problem in “magnum” pistols becomes this: the upper & lower limits of the recoil impulse become spread very far apart, especially when one considers that you could have down-loaded cartridges for practice/target use.

        Let’s take one of the most common of the “magnum” cartridges out there, the .44 Remington Mag. The lightest bullets might be 180gr, the heaviest 300gr.

        Now, you can add in the variability of loadings and we see a wide, wide range of recoil. Making a recoil-operated semi-auto design cycle reliably over this range of recoil energy becomes quite the challenge.

        So you see approaches like the Desert Eagle come about – where they use a rotary bolt and a gas system, much like the AR-15 does. This gives them the flexibility to cycle the bolt reliably over a wide range of recoil impulses. The problem for the IMI DE is that many revolver rounds (eg, the .44) aren’t loaded with especially clean-burning powder. One of the early complaints about the DE is that the gas system would foul quickly with some brands of ammo – eg, I’d see them foul to unreliable operation when using Remington .44 Mag ammo (green/yellow box) in as little as 50 rounds.

        Revolvers have been handling monster magnum rounds since, well, Elmer Keith started blowing up SAA’s with his experiments that led to the .357 and .44 Magnums. Today, you can see John Linebaugh make cannons out of revolvers that are missing only the carriage beneath them. Revolvers will cycle reliably over a wide range of loadings, and the way revolvers are designed, the bolt (or cylinder stop) will keep the “chamber” closed and pointed down the barrel until the bullet has cleared the chamber. The beauty of the revolver is that you could alternate .44 Mag cartridges loaded with 300gr slugs with .44 Specials with 180gr pills, and the handgun will function the same way, every time, with the same weight, same trigger pull, no heavy recoil spring, etc. These are useful attributes.

        In fact, you can design a “semi-auto revolver” to keep the chamber lined up with the barrel while the chamber pressure goes down – and, you can avoid heavy recoil springs, high mass slides annnnnd you get a nice, clean, light trigger pull because the trigger isn’t rotating the cylinder when the recoil is operating the cylinder. Imagine a handgun where your trigger pull is like that of a Colt or S&W in single-action mode. Not shabby, right?

        So, the Mateba Unica is a design that does that, as did the Webley-Fosbery .455.

        Now, where the Mateba Unica diverges from the W-F is that the way the Mateba Unica turns the cylinder is to use a pawl and ratchet on the back of the cylinder, just as on a regular DA revolver. This means that if you have a misfire/dud in one cylinder, you can still cycle the cylinder to the next round on the Mateba Unica by thumbing the hammer back or pulling the trigger with a longer trigger stroke. When you reload a Mateba Unica, the first round is “single action” (ie, the hammer is cocked by the trigger), and all successive rounds in the cylinder give a single-action trigger pull.

        The Mateba Unica goes yet one step further and put the firing chamber on the bottom of the cylinder, much like the Chiappa Rhino. This will reduce muzzle flip.

        Downsides? More complexity, coupled with the cylinder/window frame sliding on the grip frame means more machining is necessary, and sometimes these semi-auto revolver designs (esp. the W-F, with the “railroad tracks” on the outside of the cylinder) are more prone to fouling from dirt than a conventional double-action (or especially single action) revolvers.

        Here’s the patent app for the Mateba Unica. It makes for interesting reading.

        • ‘Downsides?’ – How about the fact that from a marketing standpoint the vast majority of rev olver shooters have thumbs and therefor can quickly and easily access a short, light trigger pull anyway?

          Also, while muzzle flip may be the enemy of fast follow up shots, it’s your best friend when it comes to managing heavy reco il.

        • That’s not so much a “downside” of semi-auto revolvers as just the truth of the market they’re trying to sell into.

          I’m a huge proponent of regular DA revolvers, if you recall. As long as there is a S&W Model 29/629, IMO there is no need to deal with the complexity of the Mateba Unica, unless you want to pay up about $4K for a wonderfully executed mechanical widget. And let’s not misunderestimate that factor – there are lots of people in the gun market, the vast, vast majority of them men, who have a passion for competently executed excessively complicated mousetraps. eg, why have a boring Browning High Power when you could have a P08 Luger? Same cartridge – but the Luger is just so much more appealing to the guys who love competently executed fiddly mechanisms. The Unica appeals to those guys.

          As for the bottom-cylinder firing position: This not only reduces flip, it also allows the Unica to not have a topstrap. The Chiappa Rhino borrows heavily from the Unica’s ideas – just not the semi-auto part of it.

        • DG. On the W-F revolver if you get a dud round don’t you have to manually rack the revolver in a fashion very similar to a self loading pistol? Using both hands?

        • On the one example of the W-F I’ve been able to play with, yes, if you had a round go dud on you, you have to massage the sliding window+cylinder to get the cylinder to rotate.

          This is one of the advantages of the Mateba system, which still has a pawl+ratchet on the back end of the cylinder.

        • DG, Thanks for waxing far more eloquently than I could have on the Mateba. And putting in far more effort that the original ‘scribe’.

          At least the commentariat can save the “writers” from not knowing much about what they’re “writing” about. (Being incredibly generous giving the “author” credit for another sorta rewrite of the same tired regurged nonsense from every other article on automags I’ve in the last 20 years…)

    • I converted my 1911 from 45ACP to 460 Roweland and can tell you ABSOLUTELY that the difference is astounding.
      I did buy a genuine Roweland Conversion kit and the compensator softens the shock very well. On my end, anyway 🙂 Downrange is a different story.
      I also bought ammo for .70/round, so it is not that expensive to shoot.
      If it were 1.50/round,I would still be glad I did it.
      I don’t think you would need all 7 rounds of 230 gr. JHP for a Grizz.

  1. The Desert Eagle in .50AE is tons of fun. Stupid fun, but big fun nonetheless, and dead-nuts accurate to boot.

    In any other caliber it’s just plain stupid. Why tote a gun that weighs more than a six pack just to fire .357 or .44 Magnum rounds?

    • Ehh, I’ve never been that impressed by .50 AE. But once upon a time I did own one of the rare .41 magnum Mark 7 Desert Eagles. That was a really fun gun to shoot. One day I hope I can get around to replacing it with at least a .44 magnum. Just because it’s a lot easier to find that than .50 AE.

    • I carry my .50 concealed (no joke). I’m a large man (6’3″, 315 bodybuilder), and I’ve had one DGU with it. No shots were fired, and when that handgun came out of the holster, the other gentlemen involved – guys who had decided that picking on someone who is as big as I am – changed their minds in a hurry.

      For what it’s worth, I also open carry when I go hunting in Montana or Alaska, and while I’ve never fired at a bear with it, I feel confident in my ability to put three to four rounds on target in a hurry.

      • Well I’ve heard tale of people that conceal carry Desert Eagles. A buddy of mine out in Memphis had mention sever times that a regular at his favorite gun shop carried his .44 magnum DEagle concealed. Same sort of situation, real big guy that carried it in a shoulder holster under a jacket.

        And as you point out, the preconception of power via an unusually large gun can often tip the scales when it comes to making an attacker change his mind. And the Desert Eagle is an icon and well known weapon. But I’d point out that that could cut both ways in terms of dealing with the police. Be it during a DGU or just being in public and your weapon ‘printing’ through your cloths.

      • I’d have paid good money to sit on my buttocks and watch that go down. That right there was probably some high quality entertainment.

  2. Got to admit I never shot any of the magnum autos. Lost interest as soon as I picked them up. Too big and unwieldy. Rather carry a carry a rifle caliber carbine. Largest handgun I ever owned was a Freedom Arms in .454 Casull. Most accurate revolver I ever owned. Just a bit much for N. Florida. My 6″ S&W 629, S&W 4″ Mountain Gun and 6″ stainless Python handle all my outdoor needs without the bulk of the autos. No disrespect to those that love their autos.

    • I would guess that a 10mm Glock 20 can handle anything outdoors in Florida with less weight and recoil than those revolvers. As for style…. well, let’s not talk about that 🙂

    • Just make an AR-10 pistol. Why wait for the puny pistol-caliber to be in semi-auto when you can rock a .308 pistol? I can’t imagine it’s fun to shoot…but I’m sure the .454 Casull is no picnic either.

      • 454 Casull wasn’t that bad. Just hold on. Too expensive to shoot. Even in those days Buffalo Bore was $2.00+ a round. Going to have another of those Freedom Arms one day. This time a 5 1/2″ in 44 Mag. Once at the SHOT Show a friend of mine was looking for me (we didn’t attend together) he went to the Freedom Arms booth. Guess who he found.

  3. I have an LAR and a couple Automags, a .44 and a .30. I probably haven’t shot either the LAR or the III in 20 years. I should probably sell them now I’m reminded. I still bust out the .44 on occasion, I have a couple good mags and mine has always run great. Probably because I stick with full power loads.

  4. I thought the coonan was cool. Anyone have any experience with them? For now my only mag auto is a glock g40 in 10mm (not as powerful as a 41mag btw more like a hot loaded 357 with the right load)

      • The Coonan is definitely the most intriguing, they even make a compact model with a 4″ barrel geared towards the ccw market… but the magazine capacity drops to 6 rounds and it still weighs 40+ ounces, so you can literally get a revolver in the same caliber, with higher capacity and less weight for less $$. Plus the revolver is the opposite of ammo sensitive unlike all of the guns listed in the article.

        I wanted a Coonan compact for ccw when my EDC was a 1911 in 45, but now that I’ve seen the light and carry revolvers, it really makes the Coonan irrelevant except as a fun toy and it’s the MOST practical gun listed.

    • I’ve had one for about 5 years now and I adore it. Powerful, accurate and gorgeous, it also has the nicest trigger I’ve ever felt. Lube it liberally and it runs great. The grip is designed well, so that it handles well even in my below average size hands.

  5. I’ve been able to shoot the Automag, the Deagle and the Coonan.
    The deagle is just too heavy.
    The automag was cool as sh!t. But I think I like the Coonan the most.

    • The “coolest” thing about the Automag for gunsmiths was that they made it out of stainless steel – before there were many guns made with stainless alloys.

      People forget that the first all-stainless, mass-produced gun came out in only 1965 – the S&W Model 60. So to have a “magnum” semi-auto made in the early 70’s out of all stainless? That was a notable accomplishment.

  6. I like the subject matter. Sam used to make me grumpy (my fault more than his) but not so much lately. I don’t really have any available discretionary funds for another handgun at the moment, I am still reeling from a Korth a year and a half ago. I am part way moved into grizzly ‘territory’ and and am second guessing my .357 revolver choice for a woods gun (I am still happy with it for normal EDC though). I will likely still go too weak with a Mk23 firing .45 Super hand loads but I will feel better until I fully grasp that I am still undergunned for a big bear. I hate myself for selling my .475 Linebaugh Bowen Nimrod.

    • Use hard cast lead bullets. At close range, they will penetrate sufficiently. Heck, I read a story where a guy took out a bear with a .45 ACP., so I am sure a .357 will too.

  7. The Deagle and the Grizzly. Fun, but expensive, range toys. And none of these big magnum auto loaders carries as well as a .44 mag revolver.

    Too heavy, too bulky and the grips are outlandishly large. Still, fun at a range.

    • Some really great guns mentioned here. I watched a video the other day of a lady being attacked by a 1000 lb. moose in Alaska. She seemed only to be armed with a cell phone (pity pity). If I was in that position, or any place where dangerous animals are know to be present, I would want the biggest hand gun I could carry and shoot.
      500 caliber comes to mind.
      Do you know what they usually find at a site showing the remains of a grizzly attack, where the unfortunate was only armed with a can of bear spray? Just that: remains! Oh, I forgot to mention the empty can of bear spray.

  8. ‘Sem i-auto rou nds such as .38 Super, .357 S I G and 10mm all touch, meet or exceed .357 Ma gnum levels of performance and the really hot loads of 10mm are on the heels of .41 Ma gnum.’

    Bullshit. You’re comparing full SAAMI max pressure loads to neutered .357 loads. Go to Buffalo Bore or Double Tap, etc and compare full pressure .357 loads to 10mm – the .357 is more powerful in every single load they make. And it can use bullets that have a way higher SD. And not a single one is +p either. Fact is 10mm is almost as powerful as .357, not .41 ma gnum.

    • SHHH. You’ll trigger the 10MM fanboys. They like to capitalize on the fact that most folks need to look up full power .41 loads, it’s not common knowledge like the legacy .357/.44 loadings. .38 Super is my fave cartridge,but it’s certainly no .357 either.

      • The only thing I don’t like about the 10mm is the fan-boys. Great rou nd, but the .357 is even better. But if you want a .357 ma gnum in an auto-loader it makes a lot more sense than anything else out there.

    • Yeah the 10mm fan bois are nipping on the heels of the 9mm fan bois. We got 9mm fan bois claiming 9 +p+ is “bassically a .357” and 10mm p+ is “bassically a .44 Mag”. Niether of those retarded statements is anywhere close to being true.

    • I consistently get 1400 fps with a 210 grain jhp and 22 grains of Winchester 296 in my Ruger Redhawk 4″ barreled .41 magnum.

      • The story of the .41 Mag is one of the most interesting of a “new hot round” in handgun history.

        On paper, the .41 Mag has it all.

        When it hit the market… it sank nearly without a trace. Which is sad, because it is such a capable and accurate round. But, in reality, Elmer got so lucky with his first two magnum rounds, there was no splitting the difference to achieve a hat trick here. Both the .357 and .44 Mags did most everything the .41 did, and when S&W came out with their .41’s in a N-frame, well it was all over before it started.

        • My 6″ 57 is maybe my favorite N frame to shoot though. Still not sure that the .41 Police concept was a sound one, but it’s a great shooting cartridge. And not as intimidating to new shooters who are wary of the legendary .44 .

        • before i got my first handgun i had shot a small number of other handguns. The one i got was a Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 4 5/8″ barrel and it had pachymar grips. It was beautiful to shoot and the guys at the gun shop i bought it from told me “Oh, you’ll break your wrists with that thing.” So first shot out of it i held on both hands, and laughed at the gun shop guys after. most of the time after that i just fired it one handed. Before that handgun i had never fired a handgun in .44mag though i did have a rossi which was a copy of the 1892 winchester hence part of the attraction to the super blackhawk. The biggest handguns i had shot before that was a .38 special and 9mm. in saying that though i was not hand loading at the time and the only factory ammo available was lighter loads designed for the weakest guns in that caliber….. same as most stuff in australia.

    • As comparisons go I’d wonder how a 10mm magnum would compare to the 41 mag and as it still may be believed to be a bit of a wildcat round. I think it would still be interesting to see how the ballistics compare.

  9. The Italian clone makers (PIetta and Uberti) make 1873s in.38/.357 mag, .44 mag and .45 Colt, for under $600 retail (less if you look) and you can find 1866., 1873 and 1892 Winchester clones in matching calibers and in various barrel lengths from 16″ to 24″. But personally, if I was in grizzly territory, I’d want a Marlin Alaska Guide Gun in .45-70
    I have a Pietta 1873 in .38/.357 with a 7 1/2″ barrel. The magnum rounds are kind of entertaining, but I have to figure out why the gun does not shoot to point of aim. I also have a .45 Colt 4 3/4″ barrel that is a truly wonderful gun to shoot. The “cowboy” loads are lame (650 to 750 fps), but it is an easy round to reload to higher velocities approaching 1000 fps.

  10. Love the desert eagle. My thoughts are…..
    The cost of ammunition is higher with any quality hunting ammo.
    The recoil reduction seems to make users more accurate than with wheel guns.
    If you like to hunt with rifle, don’t gripe about those of us who use pistol. The same goes for the pistol folks to the rifle users.
    Have a great day

    • A pistol is not my primary when I hunt. I carry the pistol on solo hunts, as a safety measure.

      When I hunt in a party I normally don’t carry the handgun.

      I’ve never known a handgun hunter. But to each his own.

  11. I love my 50AE. Have gone boar hunting and took several over 500#. Very accurate and not a bad recoil. I have had this for 23 years and it shows little wear.

  12. I dislike the Desert Eagles. The floating magazine will misfeed if you touch the base plate, and I’ll get slide/hammer bit if I grip higher. They require jacketed base bullets, like JHP or TMJ to prevent vaporized lead from clogging the gas system, and the .357 must be 158 grain. A big revolver is much more reliable and can be fed anything, including non-magnum rounds.

  13. i have been considering a Coonan in part because it is the most powerful handgun i could use here in australia for IPSC and still be able to use it for other matches such as NRA match and Silhouette. you can use 44 and 45 calibres for Silhouette service match and western action but not IPSC or NRA. yes a lot of dough to outlay on a handgun but if choosing one gun to do it all it is probably the best option

      • yeah will take a bit of saving to do so but would be worth it. Another thing i did not mention as i do quite like the deagles as well however one thing with most pistol ranges in Australia (excepting metallic silhouette) is they dont like jacketed bullets. Deagles seem to have issues with fouling using cast lead bullets all the time. In time and with heat the lead fouling that gets into the gas tube and effectively solders it closed leaving you with a gun you have to rack the slide every shot until it gets drilled out. the Coonan does not have this issue as it is more a traditional 1911. This is probably the main thing that steered me away from the Deagle to the Coonan

  14. I acquired my .44 automag with an 8″ barrel in the 70’s. Just like my .44 magnum Desert Eagle it is best carried in a shoulder holster. With proper handloads the .44 automag will deliver velocities closer to a .44 magnum in a Marlin or Winchester carbine. My Desert Eagle will give me 1100 fps with 300 grain hard cast bullets and 19 grains of Winchester 296.
    For serious encounters with creatures that will rend my flesh, I would prefer my Magnum Research 45-70 BFR revolver with a ten inch barrel. With 500 grain hard cast bullets and IMR 3031 I get 1200 fps. A chest rig is the only way to carry the monster and recoil is at my upper limit.

  15. Magnum loads are for revolvers. Need additional rounds? Carry 2.

    +1 on .357 hardcast buffalo bore for bear. 12 gauge with slugs even better!

  16. 10mm will handle anything in N. Florida. An acquaintance, that owns VZ Grips, carries a Kimber 10mm on his hunting property. Don’t,know about the street all we’ve done is hunt together. Anyway, my criteria for owning a caliber is that I have to be able to buy it in any Mom & Pop in the country. 10mm is coming on, but it’s not there yet.

  17. I really wish the .357 rimless magnum would have taken off. It fits a standard AR mag and you can shoot it from revolvers with moon clips probably. It uses standard .357 dies and you can make bras by chopping down 5.56 cases. You can also shoot way more pressure in a gun designed to handle it. It’d likely work well in a .357 Maximum with moon clips for instance.

    I may have to outfit a revolver with moon clips so I could fire form a bunch of the brass.

    • The way to achieve .357 results in a semi-auto is already at hand: the 9×23 Winchester.

      Use WInchester brass, BTW.

      Before I snuff it, I want to build a Commander-sized 1911 in 9×23 as a carry piece. I think it solves all the check-box issues I’d have in a carry piece. 1911 action/size, so I don’t have to think about how to run it. 9mm case size, to get a high magazine capacity. 9×23 to get .357 results.

      • The 9×23 does a better job of duplicating the Win-Fed-Rem-etc 125gr. .357 loads than the .355 Sig, but those are far from full performance .357 rounds.

        • Well, if we’re going to include the sorts of loads that some people concoct, there are loads possible in .357, .41 & .44 Mag, and .45 Colt that should be used only in Ruger, FA, Manurhin or other hell-for-stout revolvers. We need to make that little detail clear when comparing loads – there are revolvers, and there are Revolvers, and the latter open whole new ranges of handgun performance for those willing to push the boundaries.

          There are loads I see people putting together online that I would caution people against using too much in S&W revolvers. It is possible to stretch the topstrap after feeding S&W revolvers a steady diet of very high pressure loads. You’ll know you’ve stretched things a bit when you start seeing endshake on the cylinder.

        • True, these loads are much stouter than what most people think of from the .357. But, from Buffalo Bore’s website; ‘This ammo is safe to shoot in ANY all steel 357 revolver – this includes J frames. This ammo is no harder on your gun than any other normal 357 ammo. Please don’t phone or email us and ask if this ammo is safe in your gun. It is, providing your gun is in a safe condition for use with any normal 357 ammo.

          We don’t recommend that this ammo is fired in super light alloy revolvers as bullets may jump crimp under recoil, but the ammo itself won’t hurt these super light weight revolvers. These revolvers are simply so light that the recoil is severe enough to cause crimp jump.’

          I have seen .44 mag ammo labeled ‘+p’ but never .357, so my assumption is that these stout loads are within SAAMI specs and all revolvers chambered in .357 should be proof tested to 30% above these pressures. Although I’m skeptical about the claim that it’s no harder on your gun than any other normal ammo. But I don’t have the wealth nor enough masochism to feed a steady diet of BB or Double Tap in my GP100s anyway.

  18. The Desert Eagle is fun, and a pussycat in 357 Mag, but it is sensitive to touching the magazine when shooting it, and you need full power loads for it to function properly. The 30 Carbine AMT I shot was fun and reliable, but the grip was not comfortable, too long from front to back.

  19. I have experience with firearms. I was a small arms 2111 repairman in the Marine Corps. Marksmanship instructor on both rifle and pistol ranges. I personally own the Ruger .454 casual. Desert Eagle .44 mag. . Taurus .44 . and your S&W .44 . some others in .45 semis. While all are high priced rounds. My personal favorite is my Desert Eagle. It seems to recoil and the nose drops right back to your aiming point. It kicks straight back when fired. My others seem to go high towards right. And they play he’ll on the wrist and thumb. Still hope to get me a Desert Eagle
    .50 soon. I love the way you clear out an indoor range when you start cracking off the hog legs. Lol

  20. i would like a Deagle, because the idea of a gas operated rotating bolt pistol appeals to my inner nerd. I don’t have much experience shooting them, but i would guess that the reliability issues can be traced to the ammo use, people making .357 & .44mag just aren’t thinking about semi auto function when they make ammo. I think there would be a much greater variation in power between loads in different brands and types.

    • Exactly. You have it exactly correct.

      The Deagle can be a reliable piece, if you load your own ammo and then use the types of clean-burning powders typically used in semi-auto pistols.

      Still roll-crimp your bullets, because the recoil issue is still there. Just use better primers and powder and you’re 90% of the way there to a reliable Deagle.

  21. I own the glock20 and the coonan and love them both, and from buying ammo for both, the 10mm is closer to the 357mag than a 41 mag from what ive seen. But when i want real magnum power(and i dont care how much it weighs or how cartoonish it is) I grab my S&W 460 XVR with the 10.375″ barrel, nothing says power like a 300 gr hollow point. I liked it so much i put together an AR 10 in 45 raptor, just a rimless 460 for the AR10 platform.

  22. IMHO, if you want more rounds, just go 10mm auto. As mentioned, .357 levels of power (slightly more actually), a bit wider projectile. Flat point FMJ rounds loaded to high pressures can easily punch through 30+ inches of stuff. Makes a great bear stopper. Sure, .44 magnum is a big wider, but most recommendations are to load them with heavy hard cast rounds with as much powder behind the bullet as you can.

    Either are probably going to punch through 2-3 feet of bear and make decent sized holes doing it. .44 magnum with a heavy hollow point will absolutely make a MUCH larger hole and a much deeper hole than 10mm jhp loaded hot. But that isn’t what the recommended bear load is.

    Go find some ballistic testing and either are going to penetrate sufficiently and the wound cavity width is only a tiny bit different. And as mentioned the rate of fire. I can fire a 10mm auto much faster than a .44 magnum. On a 25yd charge I can probably put 4 rounds in to a grizzly sized target before a grizzly could cover that distance (2 seconds to cover 25yds at full grizzly sprint. From a standing start probably 3 seconds, which would be more like 6 rounds). A 44 magnum I probably couldn’t fire more than 2 shots, maybe 3 at best, in that time. More likely hits in the same amount of time. If you were talking only a SINGLE shot, sure .44 magnum every time. If it was some theoretical short engagement window, a 10mm auto is probably going to get more lead down range which leads to more likely hits and more potential wounding.

    Of course sometimes you find a bear that comes out behind a bush 5yds from you and all you’ve got is one shot. Or you are shooting in contact, in which case the revolver is a better option.

    Buttttt, on balance I’d still personally look at a 10mm auto. Also lighter to carry than most .44 mags (let alone a .454 or bigger). Now if I was stupid enough to hunt a grizzly with a handgun, I’d go as big as I could comfortably fire twice in as many seconds. Assuming there that I was probably firing the first one at more like 40, 50+ yards with the bear at rest on the first shot and a good chance of both that first shot hitting and hitting in the vitals. And the bear is less likely to be in an immediately aggressive state of mind, so it is likely to run off, not charge. If it does charge, more distance and several more seconds to get extra shots off.

    That or frankly a .357 magnum revolver with 7 shot cylinder. Less desirable for bear than 10mm auto IMHO, but 1-2 shots more than a .44 magnum and also that faster firing.

  23. I am revolvor all the way,my 5 shot S&W 500 will drop anything on dirt. Man vs man with my 500 it is over before the semi has time to change the magazine! Plus less chance of fowl ups.

  24. I have a SIG 226 in 357SIG and added a 40S&W barrel then a Barsto 9mm barrel. Can adjust to what I want to shoot. Love revolvers as well. Deagle in .357 has thus far proven a little on the unreliable side, but still working on it. Like my 10mm 1911, but also have a 40S&W barrel for practice.

  25. All I know is there’s no shortage of Desert Eagles in pawn shops within a 20 mile radius of here. Some have more than one.

  26. Own 2 .45 win mags LAR Grizzly’s. Love them. Love .45 as a caliber. Still shoot them. Not everyone has one, so it makes for some good conversations. Everyone has an opinion. Lots of experts. I will enjoy what i own and not get into the…mines bigger..mines better…etc.

  27. Biggest I own is a S&W 586-1 6″ 357mag revolver I bought from a friend.
    And the biggest I’ve shot was a 44 mag Colt Anaconda 6″ barrel. Not as much kick as I was expecting.
    But the most enjoyable time I had at a gun range without shooting was watching a group of 100lbs kids with a groupon deal taking turns shooting a Desert Eagle they rented. Thank God the range only let them load 1 round at a time in it.

  28. My Guncrafter Industries .50GI is no larger than a basic 1911, and is a pleasure to shoot. My early Wildey is a .45 Magnum and a bit of a hoss sizewise, but carries quite nicely in a swivel shoulder holster from Strong Holster in Gloucester, MA. I never could like the Desert Eagle. I shot one one .50 AE, but the grip was too big for my hand…the gun seemed to want to twist out of my hands and fly away!

  29. Never owned a semi auto Magnum but they have a place in the market as long as there are enthusiasts of that type of weapon. They must be fun to shoot. For my part I shoot 357, 41, 44 and 445 Super Mag all in revolvers with some heft to them. The 445 Super can be painful to shoot for extended periods but it is all technique,experience, and a good shooting glove if your hands are smallish (my DW445 Super weighs 72 oz). Still, if they were not so expensive, I would buy a DE in 41 or 44 magnum though other than hunting, metallic silhouette and plinking at long distance they have no realistic or practical use for self defense any more than a 44 mag revolver with heavy loads. But for technology of firearms alone, they should be continued to be produced by the firearms industry.

  30. I like the Desert Eagle, but if you don’t that’s fine, but for those on the fence about them here’s my take.

    The Desert Eagle isn’t so much finicky as it doesn’t suffer a poor or insufficient grip well, hold it like a proper hand cannon and it will reward you, hold it like a 22lr and it will punish you. First time I shot one 20 years ago I kept getting beaned in the head with the cases but it did not diminish my desire to own one in the least. A quick Google will reveal that this is most often the complaint everyone has with the gun. After researching I realized the extraction problem wasn’t the gun, it was my insufficient grip allowing the gun to rotate to the side in my hand as the rotating bolt action cycled. After working to correct this problem no more empty cases to the head and everyone who I’ve took shooting with mine since has enjoyed the process as I explain the proper grip to them from the start. Granted I’ve only ever owned and shot the 50AE variant, because if a 50 is available why own anything less, so the 357 and 44 variants may be different.


  31. Hi. I own a Desert Eagle 44 Magnum that has become a safe queen due largely to ammunition scarcity. Although early reliability issues were a problem. Then there’s the recoil: this is definitely a two-handed pistol.

    At range time I find myself reaching for my 1911’s in 9mm and 45 ACP; smooth shooting, very reliable, ergonomically friendly and cost efficient- a great combination.

  32. I’ve owned several magnums, including two Desert Eagles. They are wonderful guns and a lot of fun but they are indeed finicky. I finally had to resort to shooting special rounds designed for bear hunting to ensure my DE would function properly and you can never use anything with a lead projectile or you risk fouling the gas cylinder and even voiding the warranty. Lots of fun, but not something I would rely on in a real life and death situation. As for the author’s comment on Taurus guns, I really like my Taurus .357 revolver. Very accurate and fun to shoot no matter what load I’m using.


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