Magnum Research Limited Edition Cheetah Print Desert Eagle (courtesy
Courtesy Magnum Research
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Magnum Research Desert Eagle

Range toys. Firearms that are oodles of fun to shoot, to force your friends to shoot, or just to show off, but aren’t particularly practical.

Maybe you rent ’em at the shooting range. Maybe you buy ’em. Maybe you borrow you just try your buddy’s gun. Whichever way you get ’em, you’ll certainly have fun with ’em.

Here are our picks for the top three range toy handguns . . .

Magnum Research Desert Eagle

1) Magnum Research Desert Eagle

Oh yes, the “Deagle.” A-list star of more movies, video games, TV shows, ads, and photo shoots than all the Kardashians kombined. Of course, looking impressive on film is arguably the best use of a Desert Eagle.

It’s entirely impractical and its reliability record isn’t beyond reproach. Still, in TTAG’s dictionary of gun terminology, you’d most assuredly find a Deagle photo right next to the term, “range toy.”

Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum

2) Smith & Wesson Model 500 Revolver

Are you craving a bigger boom than even the .50 AE Desert Eagle provides? X gon’ give it to ya! Smith & Wesson’s X-Frame Model S&W500, that is.

These comically large revolvers turn heads and snap wrists. They draw attention up and down the firing line and no shortage of “Hey, any chance you’d let me fire that thing?” inquiries from fellow shooters. And man do they explode all manner of fruits and vegetables!

Better yet, these wheel guns are extremely well-made and uber reliable. Yes, yes, the S&W 500 Magnum has some practical use for brown bear and moose defense and big game handgun hunting…but precisely zero of the dozen or so .500 owners I’ve met had any intention of ever using theirs as anything but a range toy. Which is just fine. It’s perfect in that role.

If you haven’t shot one, you know you want to.

Suppressed .22LR pistol
Jeremy S. for TTAG

3) A Suppressed .22 Pistol

We like the guns, the guns that go boom. While that’s clearly borne out by the first two choices, it’s definitely not the only way to have fun, fun on the range (where the deer and the antelope abstain).

At the opposite end of the ammo cost and ballistic bravado spectrum is the humble .22 Long Rifle. Toss a can on one and it’s as quiet as a staple gun, albeit more deadly to a church mouse.

Perhaps nothing satisfies the “range toy” designation quite like plinking without the need for hearing protection. Don’t confuse it for a BB gun, though, as there’s just no substitute for using gunpowder to send a 40 grain pill right on target at 1,000 fps.

The cycling action, the gentle nudge of recoil, the blue puff of smoke — all the good stuff with [almost] none of the noise and at a fraction of the per-pew cost. Few things bring a smile to someone’s face like shooting a suppressed .22 pistol for the first time.

Maybe it’s a Walther, maybe a CZ. Maybe it’s the Grand Power or the Smith & Wesson seen above. Maybe the suppressor is from AAC or Q or Innovative Arms or Dead Air.

None of that really matters. As long as it’s accurate and reliable, a suppressed .22 pistol is one of the best range toys of all time.

What’s your favorite range toy handgun?

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  1. It was not a meant to be a range toy when I bought it but my Winchester Model 70 chambered in 300 winmag has evolved into one. Nothing like the bone jarring feel of 20 rounds of a magnum caliber rifle to make your day at the range

    • After shooting the win mag in a variety of bolt guns I was a little surprised, pleasantly, at how much of a tamer round it was out of a Browning auto rifle.

      But yes. Static shooting from the bench with a magnum round gets old, fast.

        • That is a benefit of my switching to an auto loader from a pump. Because of ammo restrictions here I want to stay with the 12 for hunting.

        • I wonder if there isn’t a gunmaker out there that has toyed with the idea of adding a spring or similar recoil system to a pump action that doesn’t function to cycle a round but reduces recoil. I know the answer might be “no, what’s the point when you can just do semi-auto”.

        • “Some sort of piston in the stock? I don’t know of any right off hand.”

          Or a collapsible stock with dense foam in it to take the ‘bite’ out of the recoil.

          Only problem is, a scope can bury itself in your head…

  2. I get to shoot a few range toys usually this time year, when the weather starts looking good and my friends get together on the outdoor range. One of them brings out a S&W 500, another guy brings out a S&W 460 with a ported muzzle. And then there’s the double barrel 10 gauge, dare you fire both barrels at once.

  3. And that’s my issue with guns like the .300WinMag, the .45-70, etc. – they are particular use guns (I mean, seriously, when are you gonna use a .300WinMag, except to kill moose, grizzly bears, or make a 600 yard shot on a mulie??? But, still, if you want to MAKE that shot, you need to practice with it. And, yeah, I’ve had some sore shoulders after a day of sighting in and practicing with some heavy calibers. Not to even mention the rather offputting cost of those rounds.

    Gotta practice, but in the real world, if you make more than five or six “business” shots with one any year, you are either (I) a WAAYYY luckier hunter than I am, or (ii) a sniper (in which case, thank you for your service).

    But for your average guy? Why in hell would you shoot more rounds of .300WinMag than were absolutely needed to make sure you had it zeroed and could hit your target????

    • I came to the conclusion that in most practical hunting situations a 30-06 was just fine. It was speced to bring down a cavalry horse at a 1000 yards. That seems sufficient for even the largest game I would encounter at a range at which I was comfortable taking the shot. Hence, the rifle became a range toy.

      • I used to think that 30-06 was good for everything until I went after Nilgai in South Texas. Nilgai are large and very tough. It took five 30-06 rounds to bring him down. One miss. One in the shoulder, two in the chest cavity, and one in the pelvis. This was with high end Nosler ammunition and at a distance of less than 200 yards. (he was moving and I am not Annie Oakley, hence the spread of impact points). I found two bullets against the animal’s hide (far side) fully expanded. The next time I go after an animal like that I am taking a 300 Win Mag.

    • If you happen to have to fire your weapon as an NYPD officer you probably use up about 5 years worth of shooting by your metric!

  4. My favorite range toy is an old 3 screw Ruger Single Six. Mine was made in 58 or 59 (I forget which), has the fake antler grips and is just a hoot to shoot.

  5. My Ruger 10/22 never stopped being a range toy. Hunted small furry critters both edible and inedible with it as a boy, bought it new for $49 at Jensens in Tucson long ago. Has consistently been out of the gun locker for every shooting opportunity, every plinking session, in all the decades since. Worn out more magazines than anything else I own. I’ve been advised to rebarrel it and restock it, but I’d sooner buy a new one for all that and disturb the tried and true.

    Had a S&W 422 pistol for a while. Good gun but just did not do much for me. Still enjoy my old wheelguns tho. H&R 649 withboth cylinders, and an H&R Sportsman nine-shot (model number 999?).

    All my centerfire stuff is strictly serious business use only. Zombies, Space Aliens, all the usual threats promptly and efficiently managed.

    • The top break H&R Sportsman was called the 999. After seeing ‘Zulu’ in 64 I just had to have a break top revolver. We didn’t have the internet then and it took me a couple of years to find out it was a Webley. I had a couple of the H&R’s by then and an old S&W top break .38.

      • I wish Detonics had brought their top-break revolver to market. I wanted one in 357.

        But…ultimately they decided to shelve it as it was not strong enough for magnum rounds.

        Might get one of the NAA top breaks as a fidget spinner. It would certainly be a range toy.

      • Fortunately Gov. Reynolds hasn’t drank the Kool-Aid, at least yet. My wife works, well worked – up until this week, with a bunch of nitwits that were bitching about her not putting the state on lock down. Meanwhile in Illinois they’re pulling people over people and writing tickets for the crime of driving their car on public roads and in California they’re arresting people for surfing (I guess they’re afraid they Pacific Ocean will get infected). Then you’ve got the Gov. of Connecticut lying about an infant dying from the virus to fuel the panic and scare the shit out of new mothers. They’re testing everyone who dies and anyone who tests positive is added to the deaths attributed to the virus regardless of what the actual cause of death was so they can demand more money from the federal government. The real pandemic here is stupidity.

    • (Big Sigh) Ya, same here. Wisconsin DNR in their wisdom closed all their ranges. I can go walk or fish but I can’t shoot at any of their outdoor ranges for the time being. Poop I say!

  6. First time I saw a S&W 500 in a shop it had a long barrel, a scope that was nearly as big as it and a sling.

    I asked the salesman if it came with a 2 wheel carriage and a forward observer.

    • The 500 and 460 are too sugar for a dime for me to have fun on a range.

      I can take them45 Casull and 480,Ruger in a Bisley frame, but the bore axis on the X- frame is just way to high forme to enjoy.

      To each their own.

  7. Agreed on the suppressed 22. I used my suppressed 22/45 with red dot for Carry permit class…lol

    But the most obnoxious is my FAL carbine with muzzle brake….i always bring it in the event i need to clear out the adjacent lanes.

  8. I’ll say this in defense of the Deagle: It is, with handloading, an incredibly accurate handgun. If it weren’t such a huge mass to hold out at arm’s length one-handed, it might be a good bullseye gun.

    The S&W 500? I don’t know what one gains over one of Mr. Linebaugh’s handguns.

    • I handload, and I CC mine. I love it. I’m an unusually large man, so it fits me well. More importantly, I’ve probably put 20,000 rounds through my various barrels, and you’re right – incredibly accurate and reliable.

      • I’m sure yours is, because you handload.

        The ones I first met in the early 90’s were fed factory .44 Mag ammo, which burned filthy, and it would load up the gas system in the Deagle, and it would start malfunctioning in about 75 rounds. But for the first 50 rounds? Holy crap, did I like shooting a Deagle in .44 Mag. It did get expensive tho, as .44 ammo off the shelf ain’t never been cheap.

        Loaded with clean burning powder, I’ve found they’re very reliable. They feed with the regularity of a sewing machine. With their fixed barrel, there’s very little feeding/extraction issue. Their trigger can be made Very Nice. Honestly, once they’re fed clean-burning powder (ie, not Remington loads), I’ve got nothing but nice things to say about them. They’re just large and heavy, that’s all. But it makes their recoil very controllable.

        • One of my daughter’s favorite childhood stories was when a guy down a couple of lanes let her shoot his Deagle .50. She was probably 14 or 15. Ran through a whole mag. Her face was all lit up. The Deagle is on her “someday I gotta have one” list.

    • I fired one 35 years ago. Just after firing a .45ACP M1911. The .44 Mag in the Desert Eagle felt about the same. Between the mass, low bore axis, and the gas operation, it was surprisingly pleasant to shoot.

    • I’m just starting to CC a full-size HK pistol in 45 and found it surprisingly easy with a light cover garment. I’m sure with the right pants, belt and jacket it wouldn’t be too bad even with a deagle. Tough to find conceal carry holsters, though?

      • It was, but I have a friend from my army days who helped me make a custom holster. It weighs almost six pounds loaded, but I have a good belt, and as you said, surprisingly easy with a good cover garment and a bit of acclimatization.

  9. Suppressed 22s are just plain fun range toys. Everybody that’s shot mine have all smiled. Even with super sonic ammunition they are still very quiet and hearing safe with a suppressor. Not to mention follow up shots are easy to land right back on target of you don’t jerk the trigger. The best is shooting steel at 50-75 yards with subs and doing a double tap. You hear puff puff……ting ting. Hilarious!

    • A few weeks back a guy let me shoot his suppressed .22 on the range. In return I let him shoot my Webley Mk 4 .38. You should have seen the smile on HIS face!

    • If I lived in an OC state and rode a motorcycle, I’d want a 16-inch ‘Shockwave’ in a scabbard on the front fork.

      Come to think of it, it would be nice in a scabbard on a mountain bike, as well…

  10. if it shoots tok, it’s fun. x25 needs to make a comeback.
    cz52 flavor for me.
    and the bearcat with the hair trigger.

  11. The only problem with ‘big boom’ range toys is the price in going to the range (or woods) thanks to ammo.

    A .22 is the perfect range toy, though.

  12. The deagle and a big bore revolver fill the same goal, might I suggest for your consideration, a 5.56 AR pistol with a super short barrel and muzzle brake. Everyone loves to throw fireballs and feel that concussive thump in their chest.

    • Russian light ball out of a M38 or M44 Mosin Nagant carbine.

      Or Turkish 8×57 out of a G33/40 Mauser mountain troop rifle.

  13. We used to call the cannons the Lonely Man’s Gun Club.

    Want to meet people with similar interested, but don’t know how to strike up a conversation with strangers? Take you cannon to the range, pop off a couple of rounds, set it down on the bench and them step back to talk to all of your new friends who have magically appeared.

    • The first time at an indoor gun range I shot my Super Redhawk in .44 mag, the exact same thing happend.

      On the firing line, everyone else firing 9mm and .357 going *Pop*, Pop*, and then mine went *BOOOOM*. All heads immediately pivoted to my lane…

  14. I have a whole collection of classic semi auto pistols from the 40s all the way up to the 80s. They’re all fun and neat to shoot but I wouldn’t trust them for anything, they’re a bit dated and parts are hard to find now.

  15. Being neither a hunter or an assassin, all of my guns are, in a sense, range toys. My current favorite is a Colt .45 1873 with a 4 3/4″ barrel with my own hand loads. “Cowboy” rounds are way too tame, but even adding a couple hundred fps is still very pleasant to shoot. But for the occasional fire ball, I have a 7 1/2″ model in .38/.357 mag. For plinking, I have a Savage .22 bolt gun with a 4x scope that I have had for a long time. Quite accurate, but a lousy trigger and reliable but crappy Savage steel mags have me yearning for a Christensen Arms Ranger 22. The only thing holding me back is the current unpredictable economy that could put me out of a job. I have already purchased a Nikon 2-7x scope with a MOA reticle on closeout to mount on it that should get me out to 250 yards without problem.

  16. Being neither a hunter or an assassin, all of my guns are, in a sense, range toys. My current favorite is a Colt .45 1873 with a 4 3/4″ barrel with my own hand loads. “Cowboy” rounds are way too tame, but even adding a couple hundred fps is still very pleasant to shoot. But for the occasional fire ball, I have a 7 1/2″ model in .38/.357 mag. For plinking, I have a Savage .22 bolt gun with a 4x scope that I have had for a long time. Quite accurate, but a lousy trigger and reliable but crappy Savage steel mags have me yearning for a Christensen Arms Ranger 22. The only thing holding me back is the current unpredictable economy that could put me out of a job. I have already purchased a Nikon 2-7x scope with a MOA reticle on closeout to mount on it that should get me out to 250 yards without

  17. My range toy is a 450 Bushmaster straight pull AR Pistol. I made it with the design that it’s the most politically incorrect pistol one could deer hunt with in Illinois. Mission accomplished.

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  19. Mine is the S&W M&P 15-22. It makes it to every range trip and is the best intro to the AR platfom due to low cost and same controls as an AR15. Shooting it is also a fun range break between or after shooting the larger caliber guns. The rifle, several mags, and a brick of 22LR will total for less than $450. Got to keep it fun and low cost for new shooters before they gradute to larger calibers.

  20. S&W 15-22. It may as well be suppressed because it is so quiet. I was wearing electronic earmuffs when my son shot it the first time and I wasn’t sure it really discharged. Is a lot of fun to shoot. Fairly tolerant of ammo.

  21. I want to get around six firearms. I have been around guns most of my life. From $100.00 pistols to $2,500.00 well made rifles. Because I have always lived in areas that guns were prohibited, I couldn’t find a place to shoot them. I don’t like killing animals. But I like target shooting. I would probably like to purchase about 6 guns Two shotguns, a Mossberg 930 and a Remington 870. The I would like to purchase a used pistol for target practice.I would also want a used quality and accurate rifle for target practice. The want to purchase two more unusual weapons. Another hand gun snd another reliable accurate rifle. I live in Pennsylvania and I don’t have my permit yet. Can you get it any sooner for me. I haven’t sent out the application form yet. I’m afraid the if it takes 45 days or more to be aaa I Will miss out On the guns that I want to buy.
    Is there someone at your location that I can trust to steer me in the right direction and work with me to buy the guns for me at faIr prices.
    To sum it up, 6 various guns to fill and satisfy my tastes, and getting me my license as soon as possible.
    Can you help me?
    Thank you for taking the time to help me and to reply to my request,
    Jeffrey Cohan
    [email protected]

  22. What the hell is recoil! I shoot 155mm one handed! Man the HELL UP!!

    No wonder the world has gone mad over some TP and Happy Meals!


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