Limp Wristing. It might not be your fault...
Limp-Wristing sensitivity might not be your fault...
I bought my Desert Eagle some 23 years ago. I didn't know what limp-wristing was back then, but with the explosion of the internet, I began to read about the concept. I go to a half dozen gun shows a year locally, and over the years I heard a lot of talk of Limp-Wristing issues relative to Desert Eagles. I understand the physics, but it never made much sense to me that these Desert Eagles would be as sensitive to Limp-Wristing with all that mass... It doesn't make sense... no, really it doesn't. I found out why my gun doesn't have this issue AT ALL, and yours might.
Here is my story and how I experienced it for the first time recently... and resolved it completely. Simple to do? Not at all. Simple to understand? Yes, now that I have done the math, literally.
I am not a gunsmith. I am however, a competent machinist and quite motivated. I have pages of details of this “journey” detailed in another thread if anyone is interested in how I arrived at this point of “Inconvenient Resolution”.
How I got here…
This year I decided to finally buy a .44 Magnum barrel for my Mk VII .50AE Desert Eagle so I can shoot it more, and more comfortably. It worked great. I also wanted a muzzle brake for the .50AE, but didn’t want to modify my original barrel, so I bought a new .50AE Barrel to have a muzzle brake installed on. Before I sent off the barrel to Magnum Research to have the brake installed, I test fired the barrel, and it didn’t work... meaning it would not load the next round from the magazine, almost every time… because the slide would not come back far enough. The end result was that the barrels gas cylinder was too large. How did I know this? My original barrel has about three and a half to four-thousandths of an inch of clearance between the gas piston and gas cylinder. (0.0035 to 0.0040)
The new .50AE Barrel has about seven-thousandths+ (0.007+) clearance. See the problem? Too much gas is escaping between the piston and cylinder on the new barrel... but I am no gunsmith, so how I did I know? Who am I to say this? I built a new over-sized piston with 0.0035 clearance to the new .50AE gas cylinder, and it works perfectly. You can limp-wrist this thing with one hand shooting and it now works with the highest and lowest power rounds I have, JUST like my original barrel.
Lets back up a bit…
I talked to Magnum Research about this. I sent the barrel back to them with all of my research and proof. They said they would test the barrel and if it was out of spec, they would repair or replace it and while it was there, they would put the muzzle brake on as well. A few days later, it had a muzzle brake and “was test fired and worked fine, and the barrel was in spec.”
No it isn’t... or if it is, their specs are too broad and enter the realm of extreme malfunction... and I can prove it. Maybe if they used a gun with super-weak springs and the hottest rounds you can get, then it might have functioned through a clip if you locked your elbows… MAYBE… So whatever. Magnum Research... blew this one in my opinion.
A little further now...
So my .44 Magnum barrel worked great with my first two brands I tried. I bought six different loadings for it and now I know about “limp-wristing”. You see, some of the lighter loadings don’t want to cycle the slide well. Imagine that… but it does work with even the lightest loading IF you iron-grip it or lock your elbows. This was rather annoying to me though. I NEVER experienced any slide travel related failures with my previous 4000 plus/minus rounds in my original .50AE barrel. There is NO WAY to Limp-Wrist this gun with my original .50AE barrel. So why is the .44 Magnum barrel not “perfect” as my original .50AE? The gas cylinder is a couple of thousandths larger than my original .50AE Cylinder. It has about six-thousandths (0.006) clearance… right in the middle between the full-functioning barrel and the almost non-functioning barrel.
We are here now...
Today, my Desert Eagle Pistol is ridiculously immune to Limp-Wristing with all barrels. How? I made two new pistons to match the cylinder of my two modern barrels... each gas piston has 0.0035 clearance to the gas cylinder wall.
I should not have to change my gas piston each time I want to change barrels. These are premium priced gun barrels, and they should, and obviously can, work.
I now believe that all these ideas like how important grip is, and “most failures are the fault of the operator”, and this one... “Desert Eagles usually like only one particular round.” and finally, “Desert Eagles seem to like really hot rounds”... are all the fault of manufacturing tolerances. So now I can say “My gun doesn’t have any of these issues, because I fixed or compensated for the manufacturing tolerance deficiencies.”
To put this in perspective...
The new piston I made for my new .50AE barrel, in order to give it the SAME amount of clearance as my original gas cylinder to gas piston clearance, is so much larger, it will not even FIT into the .44 Magnum barrels gas cylinder, nor my original barrels gas cylinder. That is a pretty damning fact if someone wanted to argue the point of the gas cylinder being in spec on the new barrel.
Also, note that I ordered some new Gas Pistons from Magnum Research and they are almost perfectly matched to each other, and my original gas piston... 0.3915. (yes, they are within a 1/2 a thousandth of an inch of each other... excellent) So if the gas pistons are SO consistent and accurate, why would the gas cylinders on the barrels not be? I don’t know, but they are all over the place. Maybe 0.0035 I took from my original gun is the magic number? It works for all my barrels now.
My IMI .50AE Pistol I believe was made with good precision, based on its relentless reliability with every factory round I have been able to buy for it. Because of this, I used its gas system specs for the new parts, and they work as perfectly as my original. I will also add, from the perspective of a machinist, every dimension I could compare between all three barrels is very consistent, but the gas cylinders not only varied, but were also inconsistent.
Is this a solution for you? Maybe so, maybe not. I am not sharing this experience necessarily to show others a way to resolve this issue with their own Desert Eagles, as this is not like safe for most anyone who would not have figured it out as and carefully resolved it, as I did. I know my gun well enough to be comfortable with repair. Because of the potential hazards, attempt this option for repair at your own risk. I am sharing this journey and its results because I want people to understand how even the mighty Magnum Research is not infallible, and sometimes you need to check things for yourself. Situations like this is why I sometimes question the professionals.
If you are unlucky enough to have a finicky Desert Eagle, just break out the bore gauges, gauge pins, calipers and micrometers, (and whatever else you have) and check your cylinder to piston clearance. Maybe this could resolve your issues also.
One last thing...
In testing, I borrowed another Desert Eagle (modern MkXIX) and it experienced the exact same failures and successes as my own gun. My .50AE barrel worked fine on their frame, the new .50AE barrel would not load anything. It was even worse on that one. I don’t expect anything different, but if I don’t get the identical results with that gun, I will come back here and update this.
I hope all this effort is of use to others out here on the internet.
Interesting post, thanks for sharing. Perhaps the barrels are "vendor built" parts. I build fighter jets with ALOT of vendor parts. Parts built by us, in house are very consistent.
I recently had to compare a pile of parts, a few of ours, a group of ones built after the "first off-loaded" and a few from the "new guys" that our vendor offloaded his work to...
What a mess!
Good luck on the journey, I cant wait to hear how it turns out.
I was once asked if I was "a paranoid for carrying my Kahr".
"Nope" I said, "just prepared".
" prepared for what" he asked?
"more stuff than you are"
God Bless our Troups!
Someone on another forum asked about where the barrels were made... by IWI, or made in the US.
They are "current production" I suppose, and there is no indication of foreign manufacture on the packaging, so I would guess they are US made... but that is only a guess.
There are no markings other than the caliber designation on these two new barrels. My gun is of course IMI and was bought new by myself. (Slide marked, unmarked two part barrel)
I will be doing some extensive testing as soon as I can find some more lower power ammo. I am going to get some more of that Armscor or American Quality, as they are pretty low powered. (FPS in the 1200's) This to me is the important test, as this is what caused my .50AE Barrel to completely fail to load second rounds, and with new springs, also failed to eject cases occasionally.
I would love to get some gas cylinder measurements from some peoples Desert Eagle which are sensitive to limp-wristing. With that .44 magnum barrel and light rounds, or ultra-limp wristing even hot rounds, I experienced what I have heard people talk about for all these years.
Now, mine will load a weak round, with new springs, as limp as I can hold it without dropping it... but when I lock my elbows, it isn't violent or bottoming out. When I put in my weakest springs, it will bottom out in a way you can feel, so I know what it is like.
If someone only had one barrel, on a problematic gun, this could be a solution for them.
Think of this also... every person that has told me their Desert Eagle only liked one round, it has always been "hot" rounds. That tends to lean toward the issue with my barrels.
I am still curious as to what Magnum Reasearch considers "in spec" for a gas cylinder... there is no way mine is within spec.
There is nothing on the paperwork from my returned barrel after Muzzle Brake installation, but on the phone, I was told they "polished the bolt area". My barrel had the same red dye on it that it left with. I had cleaned and dyed it, then operated the slide and checked for marks to see how it was making contact with the bolt, to rule out drag. The dye is still on the inside of the bolt lugs. I see no indication of anything was done.