This is just about everything you ever needed to know about the .357 Desert Eagle.
People either love or hate the Desert Eagle depending on who you talk to. It is an incredible beast of a full-size handgun and it only seems to look normal when you see Arnold Schwarzenegger wielding it in a ridiculous action film.
However, in recent years Magnum Research has done a lot of work to the .357 variants of the gun, and the result is a lighter and somewhat smaller, and easier to handle package.
Here is all you need to know about this monstrous semi-automatic handgun in .357 Magnum.
The Mark XIX L5
The Magnum Research Desert Eagle is probably best known for its incredible weight. The original Desert Eagle pistols in .44 Mag and 50 AE weigh around five pounds each, which makes this gun a beast to handle.
However, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle L5 cut the weight down to a more modest (albeit still heavy) three pounds. The company proudly boasts the L5's weight loss now makes it New York compliant.
If you compare the L5 side-by-side with the other models, it quickly becomes obvious how they trimmed the weight. You can visually see all the areas they shaved off excess metal and weight, especially with the fluted barrel and muzzle brake.
The aluminum frame remains much the same, with their signature Hogue rubber grips. One notable difference on the L5 frame is a lack of a lower accessory rail. They did leave a picatinny rail on the top of the black aluminum (or sometimes carbon steel) slide, although its weight has also been reduced. The slide is where the L5 has slimmed down the most.
The company also reduced the length of the L5 slightly. It has a barrel length of five inches and an overall length of 9.69 inches as compared to the nearly 11-inch length of some of their other models. It still isn't a concealed carry semi-automatic pistol, but at least the L5 looks slightly less monstrous in a shooter's hands!
One thing to keep in mind here: The Desert Eagle series has been known for their ability to quickly switch between calibers just by changing out the magazine, bolt and barrel. But the L5 parts are not compatible with the larger-sized Eagles.
The trigger of the L5 is single action and Magnum Research says the trigger pull weight is approximately four pounds. Because a .357 is a much smaller round than .50 A.E. or 44 Magnum, they were able to increase the magazine capacity. The L5 can hold nine rounds of .357 Magnum.
The Mark XIX L6
To Magnum Research's credit, they recognized how popular the .357 models would be and have offered more than one option for the gun in this caliber. The Mark XIX L6 looks like the more traditional Desert Eagle style. It has a longer, six-inch barrel with an integral muzzle brake and the slide in stainless steel.
Most of the features of this firearm are much the same as the L6. It still has a gas-operated rotating bolt. Both have the same fixed combat sights and rubber grips. The height is the same, the trigger is the same, the magazine capacity is the same.
You could say this gun is for someone who wants the more traditional, almost gaudy/flashy Desert Eagle look, but doesn't really need a caliber as large as or as expensive to shoot as .50 A.E.
One thing I almost forgot to mention with both of these handguns is that they have a reputation for being picky eaters. Using under-powered ammo will likely result in some malfunctions. Also, keep in mind they only give you one magazine with this gun, so you'll have to buy extras separately.
One thing that doesn't change is the price
People will likely debate until the cows come home about how practical the Magnum Research Desert Eagle Mark XIXs are, beyond just a fun time at the target range.
But it seems most Desert Eagle owners are quite pleased with their purchase of one of the largest handguns on the planet. You may recall that a while back Demolition Ranch purchased the .357 to go along with his .44 and .50 A.E. Matt's favorite gun of the group quickly became the .357 L5.
Unfortunately, while the guns have gotten lighter and easier to handle, the one thing that didn't change for the .357 Desert Eagle is the high price point.
You can do some shopping around, but an L5 or L6 Desert Eagle is going to run around $1,200-1,700. It's worth noting that I looked at several sources, and both models seemed to be around the $1,400 range.
We suppose that's just the price you pay for one of the largest and most iconic handguns on the planet. But just think of all the jealous looks you'll get at the gun range when you pull out your awesome and ridiculous new handgun!