I used to joke that the blog would be on its final days if I ever got to the stage of reviewing the Desert Eagle, however here we are and this is happening. The Desert Eagle is long overdue it’s 15 minutes on the blog, I’d also be doing it a disservice by saying it’s unworthy of a review.
Starting off a new decade with an iconic replica such as this is a pretty cool thing way to kick start the blog back into business, I felt the time was right to step back in time to a period where men were men, bad guys wore black and they often carried a big fucking gun.
The Desert Eagle is such an iconic hand gun and one that continues to be a staple of games and films, despite it being virtually unused by any police or military unit anywhere in the world… well, there’s reputed to be a couple of units that use them but I wouldn’t put much faith in the Desert Eagle being used in anger.
The pistol is also the source of one of my biggest frustrations… People who continue to call the Desert Eagle a “Deagle”… Seriously, get in the fucking sea. I don’t care if that’s what it’s called in CS, you are not being held to the same IP infringement laws as a games developer, call it by its proper name.
When you require a sidearm that lets people know you want their attention and you’re bored of sensible choices like Glocks and Berettas, what exactly awaits you when you choose to strap the Tokyo Marui Desert Eagle on your thigh?
This Tokyo Marui model is based upon the Magnum Research Inc. Israeli Military Industries Desert Eagle XIX .50AE (Action Express), this being the particular model used in The Matrix, The Far Cry series and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare. This being identified by the two recoil lugs on the scope rail and the enlarged safety catch design. The slightly older VII model having no such lugs and the newer IWI/IMI XIX version as seen in Deadpool with the full length Picatinny rails on the top and bottom of the barrel.
The Desert Eagle isn’t subtle at all in any of its features, from the incredibly chunky frame and overall presence to the large controls it can sometimes feel like you’ve been slapped back to your toddler years and you’re holding something meant for much bigger hands. The actual design of the Desert Eagle is unique in that the barrel itself is fixed to the receiver, the slide being effectively an external “Bolt Carrier Group” to the rear of the barrel as opposed to the traditional fully shrouded semi-automatic pistol slide design.
The real Desert Eagle expands upon this difference from the majority of other semi-automatics in that it uses a gas blowback design, similar to what you’d find on rifles such as the M16 or SA80/L85 assault rifles. The Desert Eagle also has twin recoil rods and springs, very similar to the SA80 and it’s nice to see that Marui have stuck to this design in their replica. This isn’t specifically relevant to airsoft as most GBB pistols operate on a proprietary gas blowback method irrespective of their real world counterparts, however it’s something that’s central to the Desert Eagle’s design and therefore worth noting.
The barrel itself is available in both the “standard” 7″ length and a monster 10″ dragon killer versions, the former (the one I bought) being a bit more manageable to hold and holster (although I say this with a fair amount of tongue in cheek). The angular triangle appearance of the barrel gives the Desert Eagle a very identifiable look to even the most unenthusiastic observer, this design extending back to the face of the Breech/Slide assembly. The blunt and shark like “snout” of the Desert Eagle is rather a formidable sight and adds a fair amount of weight which aids in keeping the muzzle flat whilst shooting.
The front sight is of a traditional post type, aligning with the rear notch and being a degree larger than found on most pistols of its era. Just behind this is the integrated scope rail, two anti-recoil slots formed within it enable a number of mounts to be affixed to the barrel, providing a very stable and non moving position for the optic to be placed. Finding a scope mount that’ll fit though? That’s a challenge even real Desert Eagle owners struggle with.
The slide is a massive lump, admittedly it’s plastic but it has a presence you don’t quite get with other replicas. On each side you’re greeted with deep cocking serrations which are absolutely warranted given the slab sided appearance of the pistol. An ambidextrous safety catch is just to the rear of the serrations, it’s absolutely in line with the rest of the pistol in that it’s chunky as hell and made for hands much bigger than most.
Onto the lower frame of the pistol, this being an older design it lacks the usual accessory rail on the bottom. Having a Surefire or laser just isn’t something the original designers would have imagined being needed on this firearm. A large trigger guard enables the use of a gloved hand, like everything else on this pistol, it feels very “rifle-like” in its appearance and usability.
A traditional set of controls laid out in a similar fashion to a Colt 1911 are placed on the left hand side, with a large slide release set just above the trigger and a modestly sized magazine release button to the rear of the trigger guard.
The trigger itself also has this rifle quality, it’s big and purposeful. The real Desert Eagle has an adjustable trigger which is sadly lacking in the replica, but the single action (the hammer not being able to be cocked via the trigger) being replicated very well indeed. The trigger pull is a bit mushy but far better than most double action pistols, not as short as a 1911 though and with a noticeably longer reset. A degree of slack followed by a short firm release of the sear makes this a pistol that’s deceptively quick to shoot and allows for rapid follow up shots.
The grip is unsurprisingly large, designed to accommodate a single stack magazine holding 7 .50 Action Express rounds. This does have the benefit in airsoft of allowing a large gas reservoir but at the expense of an incredibly large grip.
The magazine itself can only be described as a chonky boi, you’ll need to think carefully about magazine pouches as most wont accommodate these outrageously large bricks in them. HSGI Tacos work well as do BFG MP7 pouches, you’ll struggle with traditional pistol pouches and ESSTAC KYWIs though.
Performance wise, the Tokyo Marui Desert Eagle is legendary… Even amongst its Japanese peers. The large gas reservoir enables a consistent shot alongside the fixed barrel and heavy overall weight of the pistol keeping its recoil relatively manageable.
There is a pronounced kick when firing the pistol and certainly more than the majority of other replicas on the market. I’d say that most people will expect (Demand!) a harder kick than they’d get with a Glock or Beretta, it would simply be a disappointment if it felt like firing any other airsoft pistol. I can safely say that it doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve fired, it somehow feels more powerful despite it’s similar power to other replicas.
It’s accuracy and overall range is also pretty phenomenal, I don’t like putting figures on range but you’ll not find many pistols that can equal the range out the box. The hop is adjusted externally from a hidden rotary type dial just forward of the ejection port, simply hold back the slide and slide the cover out the way to reveal the hop adjustment.
The rotary hop design is probably the best I’ve seen in any airsoft pistol, the proprietory hop rubber is a unusual addition that undoubtably would cause issues if not for the fact that it’s incredibly durable and actually not in any need of upgrading.
Overall it’s a very good replica of an iconic design, having excellent range and being a whole lot of fun to shoot make this a great addition to a collector who wants to add to their armoury. However, it’s not without its drawbacks. It’s overall size and bulk make it a bit difficult to carry and certainly there are far better choices when it comes to a traditional sidearm, in fact almost anything is a better choice in terms of practicality. Choosing a holster can also be quite troublesome, I’ve opted for a HW Holsters Kydex with a Multicam Tropic wrap for that over the top warlord look, but it’s a big old lump to stick on your belt.
Can I recommend it? To a player who just wants function over form? I’d steer you towards one of the other incredible Tokyo Marui pistols such as the Glock 19, HK45 or USP, but as part of a collection? It’s a must have addition to any serious collectors armoury. The most difficult choice you’ll have is choosing your pistol’s appearance… Business Black or Leisure Chrome.