Another Reason to Love Israel
The Desert Eagle is a large caliber gas-operated semi-automatic pistol manufactured primarily in Israel by IMI (Israel Military Industries) for Magnum Research, Inc. Magnum Research has also marketed various versions of the short recoil Jericho 941 pistol under similar names; these have no functional relationship to the magnum Desert Eagle and bear only a moderate cosmetic resemblance.
The Desert Eagle was originally designed by Bernard C. White of Magnum Research, who filed a patent on a mechanism for a gas-actuated pistol in January of 1983. This established the basic layout of the Desert Eagle. It consisted of a gas-operated mechanism normally found in rifles, as opposed to the short recoil or blow-back designs most commonly seen in semi-automatic pistols. A second patent was filed in December of 1985, after the basic design had been refined by IMI for production, and this is the form that went into production.
From a functional perspective, the Desert Eagle is more like a small rifle than a pistol. The Desert Eagle's rotating bolt strongly resembles that of the M16 series of rifles, while the fixed gas cylinder/moving piston resemble those of the Ruger Mini-14 carbine (the original patent used a captive piston similar to the M14 rifle). The advantage of the gas-operation is that it allows the use of far more powerful cartridges than traditional semi-automatic pistol designs, and it allows the Desert Eagle to compete in an area that had previously been dominated by magnum revolvers.