By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 16, 2010; D06
It's a "bling" gun, a showpiece that weighs as much as a gallon of ice cream and comes, like a luxury car, with detailing options: gold plating, accents, even tiger stripes. It's appeared in movies and video games and is described as the "king of pistols."
But the .50-caliber semiautomatic Desert Eagle, which with gold plating costs about $2,000, was not the most powerful in the arsenal that prosecutors say Wizards star Gilbert Arenas brought into the Verizon Center locker room. That would be the Smith & Wesson .500 magnum revolver, area gun dealers said. Arenas pleaded guilty Friday in D.C. Superior Court to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license.
"It's serious business," said Jamie McAdams, a saleswoman at Maryland Small Arms, a gun dealer in Upper Marlboro.
"They bill that as the most powerful production handgun available," said Steve Schneider, owner of Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring and Rockville.
Unless you're an Arnold Schwarzenegger action hero, it's a pistol made to be fired with two hands, or off a rest. Its kick is vicious and can send the unstable shooter staggering backward while the bullet hurtles forth with such force that it can, as several YouTube videos attest, make a watermelon explode like a starburst.
The other guns Arenas allegedly was packing were by no means slingshots: a .45-caliber black semiautomatic Kimber Eclipse and a 9mm Browning. But they don't have the cachet of the Desert Eagle or Smith & Wesson, gun dealers said.
McAdams said her shop doesn't keep the Desert Eagle in stock because people want to customize their own, choosing between 24-carat gold, satin nickel and polished chrome plating.
"When we did keep them in stock, a lot of people just wanted to come by and touch," she said.
It's a big, bulky, menacing-looking gun, with a large, dark eye and bullets that can cost more than two dollars each. "But it's not something the average person couldn't handle after some practice," she said.
"It's a bling gun," that appeals to collectors, aficionados and people "who want to show it off to their buddies," Schneider said.
Or, as one ad says: "Sometimes you just want to be sure that you have more power to your punch than anyone else, and for those times, we have you covered. The Desert Eagle from Magnum Research has long been viewed as the biggest and baddest pistol on the market."