Two IMAX 3D tickets in San Francisco, one Coke and no parking.
Three hours of meter parking in downtown San Fran.
Five .50 caliber rounds in a Desert Eagle
Can you guess which one I picked?
Getting to the cash desk of the gun range, I could hear the "pop pop pop" of a couple of guys ahead of me on the range. Some wild waivers and a Visa swipe later, the range master presented me with the five rounds and the largest handgun you've ever seen. James was ready to rumble.
The first thing you notice is that a .50 caliber bullet is like the big Russian doll in the collection: it's the Grand-daddy of them all, the end-of-level boss, making 9mm and .45s look like glorified air pellets.
Of course, a monster bullet needs an oversized gun, the type that can make a grown man cry with trepidation and opponents of the Second Amendment go running for Constitutional cover. Cue the Desert Eagle, a gun so ridiculous that no military uses it, and it only makes appearances in such cult classics as Commando and Robocop (yes, we're ignoring Barb Wire), to reinforce its utter awesomeness.
After a little instruction on how to hold the Desert Eagle and what kind of recoil to expect, it was time to lock and load and start putting massive holes in things. Be afraid, very afraid - especially if you're the target paper or anywhere in a 300ft radius without ear protection.
Squeezing the trigger created the kind of sonic boom that makes everything else seem quiet for 10 minutes afterwards. It's so loud, you can feel the vibration throughout your entire body, and people outside the range turn towards the soundproof glass wondering what the hell just happened. The 3-foot flash is the visual cue to the massive kick backwards, an order of magnitude larger than the recoil from any other handgun. The whole experience is such a complete shock, it's actually a real surprise when you find you've hit the target.
A few seconds later, I'd dispensed with the rest of the magazine and inspected the target close-up - nothing in the middle circle, alas, but five very substantial pinky-sized holes in the nearer rings. I crossed another item off my bucket list, and headed to the restroom, where I discovered one of the ejected cartridges made a cut across the bridge of my nose. It's a kind of "badge of honor", of course.
The whole experience was one extraordinary adrenalin rush that 3 hours of downtown parking or two tickets to IMAX 3D won't deliver - though Chang's Kung Pao chicken makes a decent attempt. In round two at some point in the future, I'll be attempting another clip, after eating Kung Pao chicken.
Behold, the Desert Eagle, the King of the Handgun.
The Desert Eagle is a large-framed gas-operated semi-automatic pistol designed by Magnum Research in the U.S., and manufactured primarily in Israel by IMI (Israel Military Industries, now Israel Weapon Industries). Manufacturing was moved to Saco Defense in the state of Maine from 1996 to 2000 which carried the XIX designation, but shifted back to Israel when Saco was acquired by General Dynamics. The Desert Eagle has been featured in roughly 500 motion pictures and TV films, considerably increasing its popularity and boosting sales.
Magnum Research has marketed various versions of the short recoil Jericho 941 pistol under the Baby Eagle name; these have no functional relationship to the Desert Eagle and bear only a moderate cosmetic resemblance.