How To Hold the Big Iron!

Whether it is a magnum .357, .41, .44, or .50 Action Express, firing the Desert Eagle® requires the proper grip for correct operation and operator safety. The "proper grip" may be one-handed or two-handed. The number of hands used is not the key, although most Desert Eagle® owners use a two-handed grip, especially with the .50 Action Express.

All Desert Eagles use the proven gas-driven, rotating bolt design, similar to the M16 and civilian AR15. However, the differences--due to pistol versus rifle grip and weight--are important.

When fired, the recoil produced by the fifty caliber Action Express cartridge with anything from a 300 to 350 grain bullet, forces the pistol grip back into the soft tissue of the palm. This soft tissue compresses and transfers the recoil energy to the bones of the hand. Although the bones do not compress (in any practical sense), the joints do compress as the recoil energy continues to travel from the hand through the wrist.

In effect, the compression action of the soft tissue of the palm and the joints results in a "collapse" of the physical structure holding the pistol. The nature of this collapse is towards the weakest side of the hand-wrist structure, which is in the direction of the thumb. In other words, a right-handed shooter will experience a collapse towards the left and a left-handed shooter will experience a collapse towards the right. In either case, the pistol will rotate either left (for right-handed shooters) or right (for left-handed shooters).

The recoil of the Desert Eagle® tends to "flip" the muzzle upward. If the pistol rotates such that the ejection port points more-or-less upward (for right-handed shooters) while the muzzle flips upward, the spent cartridge will follow a slightly more complicated path dictated by the shooter's wrist control. The same is true for left-handed shooters, except the ejection port will tend to point downward, instead of upward.

A very firm grip--and some experience!--will control the pistol such that it neither rotates nor allows the barrel to flip upward, excessively. This results in the spent cartridge following an ejection path oriented upward and somewhere back and to the right of the shooter for right-handed shooters. For left-handed shooters, the only difference is that the ejection path is oriented downward, instead of upward.

A lax grip--limp-wristing, in other words--will allow the pistol to both rotate counterclockwise (for right-handed shooters) and the muzzle to flip upward. In this situation, the ejection port may be aimed squarely at the face of the shooter. If such is the case, the shooter will experience the feeling of a very hot, heavy cartridge in the face! The cartridge may leave a carbon smudge or perhaps a circle if the open mouth hits the face. (The shooter's mouth will definitely be open the first time this occurs!)

Or, the hot cartridge may leave a burn mark on the skin. (This author has such a mark forever inscribed upon his chest!) If the cartridge hits at the right angle, it can easily draw blood, as well.

All of this is easily prevented by locking the wrist and arm muscles to the point that the wrist neither allows the pistol to rotate nor flip excessively and the semi-locked elbow allows the recoil energy to be transferred into the heavy shoulder and skeletal structure where it is easily dissipated.

Most new Desert Eagle® shooters--even those that fire the fifty--are amazed by the lack of recoil. The massive, wrist-breaking, shoulder-crunching recoil they expect simply does not exist due to the gas-powered rotating-bolt design of the pistol.

Many Desert Eagle® owners report that even after a hundred rounds their hands are not sore. Some report blisters. Those that report problems almost always overcome them with a change in grip.

The Desert Eagle® is a powerful pistol and produces significant recoil. But, it is in no way unmanageable, even by people of small stature. Look at the video section of this web site to see a young lady, weighing barely 120 pounds, easily handling the Desert Eagle® Recoil King (fifty caliber, ten inch barrel). Although her grip is perfect, this video--and the stills taken from it--represent the very first time she had fired the big pistol. Notice both the extreme muzzle flip and counter-clockwise rotation. (Good thing the brass missed that beautiful face or Dad would have caught hell when we got home!)