Review: Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE

Most gun owners are aware of the Magnum Research Desert Eagle and associate it with the .50 AE, which is an admittedly large caliber. But did you know there are Desert Eagles available in other calibers, including the .429 DE? That’s a caliber that, like the .50 AE, was designed by Magnum Research specifically for optimal performance with the Desert Eagle. Does that mean it’s even better than other options for the Desert Eagle? We tried it out at the range and hunting to find out how it runs, and now we’re sharing the results with you.

desert eagle handgun

What’s the Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE?

The Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE (the DE stands for Desert Eagle, of course) is a big-bore option for sport shooters and hunters. Although the original Desert Eagle model has been around since the early 1980s, the .429 DE didn’t hit the market until 2018. The latest .44-caliber addition to the Desert Eagle family has the bonus of still being a big bore but with a little less felt recoil and muzzle rise than the original.

This handgun is gas-operated and hammer-fired but does utilize a rotating bolt system that makes it unique compared to the average pistol. It’s similar to how an AR-platform rifle cycles, but not an exact match—the Desert Eagle is truly one-of-a-kind. This means the gun is capable of handling the large caliber and, thanks to the overall design, recoil and muzzle rise are mitigated. This also means that, unlike the usual semi-automatic handgun, the Desert Eagle’s slide does not move rearward in one piece during live fire. Instead, there are two separate portions, one at the front that remains fixed and a section to the rear that moves during live fire. It is a fascinating system and one of the fun things about the entire Desert Eagle lineup.

desert eagle bolt
Here, you can see the rotating bolt and chamber of the Desert Eagle in 429 DE. (Photo: Kat Stevens)

What are the specifications of the Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE?

This gun is large enough to make concealed carry attempts difficult to the point we wouldn’t recommend it for that. Its size and weight preclude it from concealment if nothing else does. It has a six-inch barrel and an overall length of 10.75 inches. With the factory iron sights, its height is 6.25 inches. When empty, the gun weighs four pounds and five ounces, which gives you an idea of just how bulky it would be to carry.

This handgun’s capacity is 7+1. Whether you’re at the range or out in the field, it’s easy to carry a spare magazine. It has a stainless steel frame and slide. The grip panels are rubberized black for a more comfortable hold during use.

Thanks to a full-length rail, adding an optic is a simple process. There’s also a Weaver-style accessory rail in front of the trigger guard for the easy addition of lights and lasers. Thick serrations are located at the rear of the slide, and there is a slide-mounted external thumb safety as well. The trigger guard is squared off, and the beavertail is extended to facilitate a firm, high grip. The Desert Eagle in .429 DE ships from the factory with standard black iron sights, so it’s shootable right out of the box.

desert eagle 429 de
An accessory rail in front of the trigger guard can be used for lights and lasers. (Photo: Kat Stevens)

How does the Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE shoot?

Throughout range time and hunting, the gun cycled everything reliably.

Due to the specialty nature of this gun, ammo options are pretty limited. In my testing, I used Magnum Research .429 DE Magnum 240-grain JSP (jacketed soft point), Underwood Ammo .429 DE 240-grain JHP, and Magnum Research .429 DE Magnum 210-grain JHP (jacketed hollow point) ammunition.

The slide width of the gun is 1.25 inches, which gives you a general idea of how wide the grip is (wider than the slide, but not enormously so). It’s fairly comfortable to grip, but it’s a heavy pistol, so a firm grip is a must. Considering the size and weight of the gun, it’s actually quite well-balanced, and the weight is a huge plus when it’s time to fire the gun.

Handling and Controlling

For my purposes, a Modified Weaver stance—also known as the Chapman stance—works best with this handgun. The big plus of Chapman is that it allows you to absorb and recover from the heavy recoil more naturally. Your mileage may vary, of course, just be aware that different stances and grips can work better for various guns.

The trigger reach on this gun is around 2.75 inches, which, combined with the shape and width of the grip, might create a challenge for some shooters. The trigger itself has a four-pound pull weight that’s set at the factory. During live fire, the trigger breaks surprisingly cleanly and has a short re-set. You can certainly rapid-fire the gun, as long as you’re able to get it back on target with relative speed.

As for felt recoil, it is significant and directed straight into your hands. That means lengthy live fire sessions aren’t a great idea, but you can certainly shoot it long enough to enjoy it and zero a red dot sight, as I did.

On target, this isn’t a precise gun, but it is accurate. You can achieve greater accuracy shooting from the bench with a rest, but most of my live fire has been done offhand. The gun is accurate enough to be used successfully for hunting and does a great job dropping feral hogs, raccoons, and more. I do suggest a red dot sight for those applications because it helps you get on target with greater accuracy.

The Bottom Line

The Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .429 DE delivers stout recoil, but it’s not so excessive that it can’t be controlled or dealt with. It’s not a gun you’d run at length, but it is fun at the range and effective in hunting pests and predators. Because it’s not precise, effective range while hunting has less to do with the caliber and more to do with accuracy.

This is a great gun and makes a fun addition to your firearms collection. It’s exceptionally well-made, which is something many people don’t realize about Desert Eagles. If you’re into big bores and find unique operating systems fascinating, this is the gun for you.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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