When Was the Desert Eagle Made? | All You Need to Know About the History of This Popular Handgun!

The Desert Eagle is probably one of the most glamorous and powerful-known handguns of all time.

For any fan of popular culture, the Desert Eagle is not new to you. The pistol was commonly used in films in the '70s through to the early '90s. It has also made many appearances in computer games and on television for years.

If you've watched Commando, Assassins, Last Action Hero, or Daughter of the Wolf, then you've at least seen it in action, even if not in reality.

This pop-icon might not be the best revolver in terms of velocity, but it ranks highly as a semi-auto pistol and has a massive firing range for a handgun.

Wondering when was the Desert Eagle made? Well, this article is for you. Keep reading!

Desert Eagle with ammo on a brown background

When Was the Desert Eagle Made: History of the Desert Eagle

The first Desert Eagle was introduced in 1983. The pistol was a Mark I Desert Eagle chambered in .357 Magnum. The unique handgun was manufactured by Israeli Military Industries (IMI) in collaboration with the American-based Magnum Research Inc.

The manufacture of the Desert Eagle was ever-changing. In 1995, Magnum Research shifted the handgun production to Mines' Saco Defense in Saco. Later, in 1998, Magnum Research reverted production to Israeli Military Industries. 

Production moved back to Minnesota's US Magnum Research facility in 2009 before the firm's acquisition by Kahr Arms in 2010.

In 2019, Magnum Research announced it had moved all Desert Eagles production to the US.

Desert Eagle Variants and Their Year of Make

There are three main variants of the Desert Eagle Mark. Keep reading to learn their year of production.

  • Desert Eagle Mark I

Magnum Research produced its first version of the Desert Eagle in 1983. It was initially chambered in two magnum calibers; .375 Mag and .44 Mag. The model is easily distinguishable from the others due to its single-release step and the safety button teardrop shape. This version is common in films made before the '90s. Unfortunately, Mark, I disappeared from the market in 1987. Magnum Research no longer produces the model.

Desert Eagle Mark I
  • Desert Eagle, Mark VII

The Mark VII is an improvement to the Mark I version. Its production began in 1990. The model is available in .375 Magnum and .44 Magnum. It is also chambered in .50 Action Express.

The pistol has a redesigned safety lever, an adjustable trigger, and a slide release.

Desert Eagle, Mark VII
  • Desert Eagle Mark XIX

The Mark XIX production began in 1995. It is the latest version of the Desert Eagle design and the only model in production today.

The Mark XIX is available in .357 Mag, .44 Mag, and.50 AE. It also comes in a .440 Cor-bon caliber, which borrows from the .50 AE.

These pistols are available in several finishes, such as black, white matte, and titanium gold, among others. It also features a muzzle brake that reduces the recoil.

The .357 and .44 mag versions have an extrinsic barrel flitting, unlike the .50 Action Express version. The scope rails over the top barrel and the cocking serrations on the slide give the pistol a unique appearance from the earlier versions.

The Mark XIX version allows for easy caliber conversions to different magnum calibers. The models' barrels come in 6 and 10-inches only.

Desert Eagle Mark XIX
  • Other Desert Eagle Versions

Other versions of the Desert Eagle by Magnum Research include the short recoil Baby Eagle or Jericho 941 and the Micro Desert Eagle Pistol. The model is similar to that of the Desert Eagle, though they don't share the specifications. 

What Are the Desert Eagle Specs?

The Mark XIX is the latest iteration of the Desert Eagle and is exclusively produced in the US by Magnum Research. Here is a detailed list of the Desert Eagle pistols' specifications:

The Desert Eagle Mark XIX (DE50BCMB) Specifications

Action type

Semi-automatic, gas-operated, rotating-bolt pistol

Width

1.25"

Height

6.25"

Weight

1,998.6 g (4.4 lb)

Caliber

.50 AE (tested), .357 mag., .44 mag.

Frame

Aluminum and stainless steel with black, white matte, tiger stripe, titanium, and others  

Muzzle velocity

 470 m/s (.50AE)

Feed system

Detachable box magazine; capacities:


  • 7 rounds for .440 Cor-bon and .50AE)
  • 8 rounds for .41 and .44mag
  • 9 rounds for .357 mag

Cartridge

.50 Action Express



  • .41 mag
  • .357 mag
  • .44 mag
  • .357/44 Bain & Davis (IMI prototype only)
  • .440 Cor-bon

Barrel length

  • 374.6 mm for a 10-inch barrel

  • 273.1 mm for a 6-inch barrel

Overall Length

12" with muzzle brake

Effective range

200 meters.

Sights

Iron sights and optional optics

Accessories

hard case, lock, manual

Who Designed the Desert Eagle?

Bernard C. White and Arnold Steinberg designed the Desert Eagle on behalf of Magnum Research Inc. (MRI) in the '70s. Magnum Research's founders, John Risdall and Jim Skildum, oversaw the design and development of the firearm.

In 1983, Bernard White filed for a patent for the handgun design -a gas-operated, semi-auto pistol with twin recoil springs. The application gave birth to the Mark I -chambered for .357 mag., a short-stroke piston in a gas cylinder under the fixed barrel that drives the slide to the rear.

Desert Eagle cartooned


Due to a lack of production capability, Magnum Research approached Israel Military Industries, which would later reorganize into Israel Weapons Industries, to produce Desert Eagle pistols.

Later on, the design would be further refined by Israel Military Industries (IMI) before a second patent application followed in 1985. After this patent application, production would begin, this time for Mark VII in 1990. The .44 mag semi-automatic handgun was more successful. It had an enlarged slide release, a redesigned safety lever, and a two-stage trigger.

What Type of Gun Is the Desert Eagle?

The Desert Eagle is a unique handgun in that it functions by employing a gas-operated rotating bolt. The operating mechanism is similar to modern self-loading rifles such as Ruger Mini -14 carbines or M16 assault rifles. However, this unique gas operation design allows the Desert Eagle to use more powerful cartridges than common handgun designs.

The Desert Eagle is also semi-automatic and is a magazine-fed pistol. It is available in steel and aluminum frames, though the aluminum version is slightly lighter. The Desert Eagle pistol is available in titanium gold, black, brushed chrome, polished chrome, black tiger stripe, and white matte, among other finishes.

Man holding a gun

One advantage of the Desert Eagle over other semi-automatic pistols is the ability to fire such powerful ammunition rounds through its large size, which makes it difficult to conceal.

The handgun's manual safety switch on both sides of the slide is double-faced, which helps block the firing pin.

The Desert Eagle comes in different barrel lengths, so you can easily swap the caliber provided you have the right magazine, bolt assembly, and barrel. The .375 Mag model comes in 356 mm, 254 mm, and 152 mm barrels, while the .44 Mag model comes in 254 mm, and 152 mm barrels. The .50 Action Express model only comes with a 152 mm barrel. All these ammunition rounds are quite powerful.  

Desert Eagle cartooned

The .357 Magnum is a revolver round fed from a 9-rounds magazine, while the model chambered in .44 mag has an 8-round magazine. The .50 Action Express is fed from a 7-round magazine and is the greatest center-fire cartridge used in any magazine-fed, self-loading pistol.

In addition, the Desert Eagle comes with fixed iron sights and allows mounting of your preferred optics.

Is the Desert Eagle a Successful Pistol?

The Desert Eagle is a unique pistol, unlike many others that are gas-operated and self-loading. These features allow it to fire powerful ammunition, which makes it stand out. However, the handgun is expensive and huge, to the extent that you can actually own and carry two pistols. The fact that there is no proof of its use in military combat also doubts its reliability. The Desert Eagle has predominantly been used in films and popular culture.

The Desert Eagle's Tumultuous Journey

The Desert Eagle has a long history. It stands out for its powerful rounds, long firing range, and the fact that the latest version, the Mark XIX, comes in different finishes, making it an excellent handgun, especially for its common uses. However, the size of this pistol is a considerable downside. Also, the loud firing burst, huge muzzle blast, and frequent jamming contribute to its low glamour among professional shooters.

Desert Eagle on a yellow background

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Versions of the Desert Eagle Are There?

There are three versions of the Magnum Research Desert Eagle: Mark I, Mark VII, and Mark XIX, introduced in 1983, 1990, and 1995, respectively.

Was the Desert Eagle Initially Developed in Israel?

The Desert Eagle was initially designed in the US by Magnum Research -which lacked production capabilities. Israeli Military Industries produced the initial Desert Eagle models in Israel, which were later reorganized into Israel Weapon Industries. By 2008, the Magnum Research firm started manufacturing the Desert Eagle handguns in Pillager, Minnesota.

What Sets the Desert Eagle Apart From Other Semi-Autos?

Unlike most pistols, the Desert Eagle uses a gas-operated action similar to rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.

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