The Magnum Research Desert Eagle was the first handgun chambered for the .50 AE. Among the few commercial handgun cartridges designed that exceed its ballistic performance are the .454 Casull, .460 S&W Magnum and the .500 S&W Magnum.
The actual cartridge has a .547 inch (13.9 mm) diameter base, with a rebated rim that is the same diameter as the .44 Magnum. The case length, at 1.285", is also identical to that of the .44 Magnum. This allows existing .44 Magnum Desert Eagle pistols to be upgraded to the new cartridge with only a barrel change. Original blueprints had been to use .510" diameter bullets (like the .50 BMG), but the polygonal rifling of the final prototype Desert Eagle allowed the .50 caliber bore plug to drop through, thus rendering the gun a destructive device under BATFE regulations. Nominal bullet diameter was reduced to the current 0.500 inch (12.7 mm);
The principal uses of the .50 AE are metallic silhouette shooting and hunting.
Recoil of the .50 AE in the Desert Eagle pistol is substantial. The cartridge is quite loud as well. For these reasons, the .50 AE is not a cartridge for the beginner or novice. It is also quite expensive, at over $30 per box of 20 rounds. Other firearms chambered for the .50 AE include the AMT AutoMag V, LAR Grizzly Win Mag, Freedom Arms model 555, Magnum Research BFR.
SAAMI recommends a maximum chamber pressure of 36,000 psi for the .50 AE. Available factory loads can produce over 1400 ft·lbf (1900 J) of energy.
Currently, only IMI (Samson) and Speer/CCI load .50 AE. New, unprimed brass is available from Starline. Bullets are available from a few different manufacturers.
Most bullets designed for the .500 S&W Magnum are too long for use in .50 AE semi-automatic pistols.
6.00 inch (152 mm) barrel
- 21.00 g (325 gr): 425 m/s (1400 ft/s): 1,897 J (1,415 ft·lbf)
- 21.00 g (325 gr): 453 m/s (1510 ft/s): 2,207 J (1,646 ft·lbf)