Magnum Research has revealed the new .429 Desert Eagle round that it says is a much better bullet than the iconic 44 Magnum.
The Minnesota-based company is famous for the producing the Desert Eagle .50, but it also offers its iconic handgun in a .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum round.
Behind the scenes, the company has worked on a better bullet and now the .429 DE is here to blow the 44 Magnum off the range, or something like that. In fact Magnum Research says the new bullet is purely for the Desert Eagle, but a proprietary round will remain murderously expensive and will keep it as a niche toy.
This Isn’t 44 Magnum’s First Challenge
Lots of people have tried, nobody has succeeded and I have my doubts about this one being the missing link that kills off 44 Magnum forever. In fact it isn’t going to.
It is taking on the entire revolver market and that is a potentially huge cash cow, but it’s also the opposition.
That’s what the economy of scale actually looks like and that’s why a 44 Magnum hollow point can cost just $0.30, while the .429 cartridge costs seven times as much. It does not have seven times the impact.
Smith & Wesson and the 44 Magnum are so deeply entrenched in pop culture that talking crap about them is almost un-American. Taking them on is almost unthinkable and it looks like an unwinnable fight.
The 44 Magnum has made fortunes, and the wheel gun market in particular is built around it.
Can Magnum Research Win a Price War With 44 Magnum?
Too many companies and too many people have their fortune vested in the 44 Magnum. For them, not all change is good. They don’t stand to win from giving up market share and they will fight back with better bullets or, the easier option, keen pricing.
The Desert Eagle is still a niche product and the best ammunition will have to compete on price, as well as power, with the ubiquitous 44 Magnum round. Can it? We will see, but the answer right now is a firm no.
The first bullets have been priced at $2.10 a round and up. That is surely too much for this round to get traction for anything other than specialist applications.
There Are Flavors of 44 Magnum
You can buy 44 Magnum Honey Badger ammunition for $1.60/round and that is cutting edge tech that promises a wound cavity two to four times the size of a comparable hollow point. So if ultimate damage is the goal, that would come almighty close and it means you wouldn’t have to change your 44 Magnum.
The likes of Hornady offer a 300gr custom hollow point in 44 Magnum for $1.05/round and there are so many different options that tune your 44 to the surroundings, or come close to matching this new round for outright impact, that I wonder about the benefits of this new route versus the hidden costs.
All of these different flavors of ammunition will be off the table, until the manufacturers decide to cater to you. If they ever do. Until then, diversity really is the 44 Magnum’s strength and the Magnum Research’s Achilles Heel.
It can work., but the pricing will have to change before we get too excited about this caliber.
Magnum Research needs some competition and the other manufacturers determination to get involved or leave it well alone will tell you if it has a future. Again, other manufacturers have to benefit more from this new round than they would from 44 Magnum and there are plenty of big names in that business already.
Forget the Politics, What About the Bullet?
The political and economic landscape probably make more of a difference than the actual technical benefits of this new round. But still, it could carve out a niche, we hope it does and we look forward to seeing it in action.
“This new cartridge was engineered and designed specifically for the Desert Eagle Pistol, keeping in mind that the DEP is known world wide for its awesome firepower and performance,” said Jim Tertin, Magnum Research design and R&D lead. “The 429 DE propels that history into the future.”
Cartridge sizes are confusing for the uninitiated, but this is essentially a necked down and recessed 50 AE cartridge. It’s essentially a 44 caliber that comes with an elongated neck for a proper crimp. These are nice touches, but they already sound expensive…
The numbers are good. Opt for a heavy 240gr hollow point and it will travel at 1,600fps, generating 25% more velocity than a 44 Magnum for a very comparable load. Use the lighter 210gr bullets and you’ll get 1,750fps, which could turn this into a viable handgun hunting round.
Handgun hunters are one of just a handful that could cope with the ammo pricing, too. People roaming the plains with Desert Eagles? That might be fun, but it would take some getting used to…
Muzzle Energy and Velocity Figures .429 DE
Magnum Research reckons the muzzle energy on this round is 45% more than the 44 Magnum, too, which is either a good thing or turns it into too much gun. Only you can decide on that front, but it looks like the new Desert Eagle will slot firmly in the middle of a 44 Magnum and the 50 AE.
This gun will not be a pussycat. We love the way the Desert Eagle looks in the hands of super strong heroes like Deadpool. And we think they’re fun on the silver screen, but they’re not a gun you’d want as your first port of call. It’s a fun shooter, sometimes. The .429 DE might just tone it down enough.
Dimensions of New Desert Eagle .429 Bullet
The 50 AE has been with us since 1988 and the diameter is actually the same as the .44 Magnum, so a new mag and a barrel can ‘downgrade’ the Desert Eagle 50AE to 44 Magnum. It’s a conversion a lot of people tend to do in the end.
Constant cleaning and rebuilds testify to the stresses and strains that the gun endures with each and every shot. So a simple downgrade gives the semi-automatic handgun some headroom and brings everything under control
With the 429 DE it is an even easier caliber switch. The gun simply needs a new drop-in barrel, even the magazine is the same as the larger round.
Even if you’re determined to keep your Desert Eagle cranked up to 11, with 50 AE rounds, most of the time, it makes sense to drop down a size for range shooting at the very least. Again, it will depend on the price of the ammunition in the end.
At the moment, 50 AE, good stuff, 300gr Custom Hjornady hollow points, cost $1.55/round. So the math just doesn’t really fly at all just yet.
Giving Credit to the Desert Eagle .50 Cal
50AE is a record round and the Desert Eagle .50 is a movie gun. As a feat of engineering it is stunning and Magnum Research perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves for containing that much energy in this kind of package that you can basically shoot in the right direction. Even that is an achievement.
On our list of the most powerful handguns for sale in 2018, the Desert Eagle .50 is the only semi-automatic to make the shortlist if we’re honest. 10mm is another thing that involves capacity and cumulative hits, but in terms of the most powerful semi-automatic handgun in the world, the Desert Eagle takes it by a mile.
This new round, though, could be a new dawn for the Desert Eagle, Jericho and several other partners. It’s an intriguing new bullet and you know we have a bit of a fetish for novelty ammunition and new science round these parts. It doesn’t always work, but we like the ambition and the thought process.
If it works or not, that depends entirely on you buying it and other manufacturers adopting it to drive down that insane price of entry. With 44 Magnum having such a market share, that’s the part I’m not sure about…