Due to the many advantages it offers, an AR platform is America’s most popular rifle style. Shooters usually enjoy using a .223 Remington with it for a fun shooting experience. You want to shoot a can, a bottle,, or any similar target, you can use a .223 Remington in your AR-15 and have a fantastic shooting experience. But when it comes to some serious target shooting, a .223 Remington is not enough; you need a big-bore cartridge.
However, when it comes to big-bore cartridges that function reliably in an AR-15, hunters have limited choices. The two such popular choices of cartridges available for this purpose are 450 Bushmaster and a 458 Socom.
Both these cartridges are heavy-hitting, .45 caliber cartridges with similar overall lengths. Another similarity between the two is that they are effective to kill at their specified ranges.
There are, however, a lot of differences these two cartridges have. The main differences are the power, range,, and recoil of the two.
This article is a 450 Bushmaster vs 458 Socom comparison. We will detail their specifications, ballistics, and critical features. Also, this article will elaborate upon the advantages and disadvantages of both cartridges to help you decide your preference.
450 Bushmaster is a straight-walled cartridge that was initially designed for AR-15 style rifles. A straight-walled cartridge is the one in which the whole cartridge has the same diameter across its length. In comparison to this, the bottleneck cartridge is the one in which the bullet’s diameter is smaller than the diameter of the case.
A Bushmaster works well with Ar-15 rifles and is also chambered in reliable bolt-action rifles from brands such as Ruger and Mossberg.
450 Bushmaster came into existence due to the need for a big bore cartridge to be used with an AR platform. Jeff Cooper gave the idea of 450 Bushmaster. He was dissatisfied with the small diameter of the 5.56×45 mm NATO and wanted a big bore cartridge to be used with an AR-15, one that will take down big game in a single shot at 250 yards. This idea was called the Thumper concept.
Later, this idea was picked up by Tim LeGendre of Lemag, and they produced a .45 cartridge. Bushmaster also wanted cartridges in a similar pattern and went to Hornady with this purpose. With the modifications in the length of the cartridge, 450 Bushmaster was produced. 450 Bushmaster has been around quite for some time and has made its place in the market.
However, it regained its popularity when in 2017, several midwestern states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana legalized straight-walled cartridges. They were legalized because they are considered safe for shooting. The relaxation news came as a joy for hunters who can now use their straight-walled cases for deer hunting. Before this legislation, hunters could only use either shotgun slugs or a muzzleloader. But now, they can use a long-range firearm during gun season.
458 Socom is a small shoulder cartridge. It has immense stopping power for killing big game targets at a specified range. The 458 Socom is also made following the Thumper concept, a big bore cartridge for the Ar-15 rifle that can kill the big game with one shot. Socom was initially designed for the military. The SOC in the Socom is an abbreviation for Special Operations Command.
After the battle of Mogadishu in 1993, the Special Operations Command in the US began lamenting about the ineffectiveness of a 5.56×45 mm cartridge. Marty ter Weeme of Teppo Jutsu LLC aimed to develop a new, more powerful cartridge with Ar-15, M-4, M-16 series of rifles.
The new cartridge had increased length and a rebated rim and used a .458″ bullet to load it. With all these features, Marty created a small and powerful cartridge for functioning in an AR-15.
This cartridge did not gain much acceptance in the military but later gained popularity as a hunting cartridge. Today it is one of the most popular cartridges among hunters.
Also Read: 450 bushmaster vs 45-70
458 Socom vs 450 Bushmaster: Specifications
.458 Socom vs . 450 Bushmaster: Cartridge size
450 Bushmaster and 458 have similar overall lengths; that is 2.26″. This number is the right fit for an AR-15, as it can accommodate cartridges up to 2.26″. When it comes to the case length, the 450 is longer. It has a case length of 1.7″ whereas the case length of a 458 is 2.25″.
Both cartridges have the same rim diametaer, i.e .473″. This diameter is similar to popular cartridges such as .270 Winchester, .308, and .30-06.
Also, the 450 Bushmaster is a straight-wall cartridge, whereas a 458 Socom is a small shoulder cartridge. Moreover, both cartridges use different diameter bullets. A 450 uses bullets with a diameter of .452, and a 458 Socom uses bullets with a diameter of .458.
450 Bushmaster vs 458 Socom ballistics
Velocity and Energy
The velocity of a cartridge is essential because it is directly proportional to the effective hunting range of a bullet; a faster bullet can take targets down at longer ranges.
The muzzle velocity of a 250-grain Bushmaster is 2200 fps with a muzzle energy of 2687 ft-lb. Zeroed at 150 yards, it retains muzzle energy of 1274 ft-lb at 200 yards, 1051 ft-lb at 250 yards,, and 874 ft-lb at 300 yards.
Compared to this, the muzzle velocity of a 300 grain 458 Socom is 1845 fps and muzzle energy of 2267. Zeroed at 150 yards, it retains muzzle energy of 1012 ft-lb at 200 yards, 853 ft-lb at 250 yards,, and 742 ft-lb at 300 yards.
In comparison to this, a . 223 Remington has a muzzle velocity of 3240 fps. The lower velocity of the two cartridges makes them ineffective at longer ranges. The low velocity is, however, compensated with the sheer knockdown power they have for short ranges.
However, the 450 Bushmaster has higher muzzle velocity when compared to a 458 Socom. Due to its higher muzzle velocity, it retains more energy at a more extended range. Now let us see how this affects the trajectory.
A 450 Bushmaster has a muzzle velocity of 2200 fps; when zeroed at 150 yards, its bullet drop at 200 yards is 5.1 inches, at 250 yards is 13.9 inches, and at 300 yards it’s -27.4 inches.
A 458 Socom has a muzzle velocity of 1845 fps; when zeroed at 150 yards, its bullet drop at 200 yards is 7.8 inches, at 250 yards is 21.4 inches, and at 300 yards is 41.7 inches.
The above figures show that both Bushmaster and 458 Socom drop considerably at long ranges.
Moreover, the 450 Bushmaster has a flatter trajectory due to its more muzzle velocity and retains more energy at longer ranges. Also, this gives the 450 Bushmaster a clear advantage over 458 Socom beyond 200 yards as it offers relatively flat shooting.
.450 Bushmaster vs .458 Socom: Power for big game animals
Both 450 Bushmaster and 458 Socom have considerable power. The power of a cartridge has a lot to do with the size of the bullet used. So, to compare the power of a 450 and a 458, we will take the same size bullet of 250 grains.
While using a 250-grain bullet, 450 bushmaster has 2722 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, and a 458 Socom has a muzzle energy of 2565 foot-pounds. To understand how these figures make these cartridges powerful, you can compare them to the .223 Remington cartridge, which produces a muzzle energy of 1280 foot-pounds. The 450 Bushmaster and 458 Socom can effectively kill big game such as hogs, deer, and elk,, and bears with this power.
The critical point is that a 458 Socom can use bullets up to 600 grains; this gives it an advantage as a 600 grain 458 Socom has no comparison with a 250-grain Bushmaster’s power; that is the maximum weight Bushmaster can bear.
.458 Socom vs 450 Bushmaster Bullet Weight
A 450 Bushmaster uses bullets with weights ranging from 245 to 300 grain. In contrast, a 458 Socom can accommodate various weights, ranging from 140 to 600 grains. It is because the .450 uses pistol bullets, whereas 458 Socom uses a rifle bullet.
The wide range of bullet weights in a 458 Socom gives it an advantage over the 450 Bushmaster. A heavier bullet has more power to kill a target. So, 458 has options for increasing its stopping power by using its heavier bullets.
.450 Bushmaster vs .458 Socom Range
The longer-range a bullet can cover, the more it is preferred. If we compare the two cartridges, a 450 Bushmaster has more maximum range than the 458 Socom. A Bushmaster can give some extra range for a big game up to 250 yards.
Contrary to this, the maximum range of a 458 Socom is 150 yards. The range of the Bushmaster gives it a considerable advantage over 458 Socom.
450 Bushmaster vs 458 Socom ammo cost
Like most factory ammo prices for an Ar-15, the cost of 450 and 458 also starts with a dollar and then goes up. Both cartridges use expensive ammos, but if we compare the two options here, a Bushmaster is less costly than a 458 Socom.
458 Socom vs 450 Bushmaster magazines
When it comes to magazine use, both these cartridges are similar. Both 450 Bushmaster and 458 Socom have identical lengths, i.e., 2.26 inches. Their lengths are similar to a 5.56 x 45 mm NATO, so the magazine these two cartridges use is similar to the standard 5.56 NATO magazine. However, their magazine capacity is not identical to the standard 5.56 NATO cartridges. The 450 and 458 Socom use a single stack, and 5.56 NATO cartridges use a double stack configuration.
Moreover, a 458 Socom uses a standard 5.56 NATO magazine without any modifications. Not just the original, but you can also use the aftermarket magazines without modifications.
450 vs 458 Ammo availability
It is difficult to find ammunition for both these cartridges; they are not as frequently available as a .223 Remington. However, out of the two options here, 450 ammo is more common than Socom ammo. Big manufacturers such as Remington, Federal, Hornady,, and Winchester make factory loads for the 450 Bushmaster.
In contrast, a 458 factory ammo is not manufactured by such big companies; a small number of companies manufacture them. SBR is one such company that produces factory ammo for a .458 Socom.
.458 Socom vs 450 Bushmaster Rifle
Like the ammo, Bushmaster has more rifles available as multiple companies manufacture rifles to be chambered in a 450 Bushmaster. Today, along with Bushmaster, famous brands like Ruger, CVA, and Savage produce rifles in a 450 Bushmaster.
On the other hand, only a few companies manufacture rifles for a 458 Socom. Along with its original manufacturer Tromix, SBR and Rock River are two companies that make good quality rifles in 458 Socom.
450 vs 458 Reloading
When it comes to reloading, both the cartridges shoot bullets that other well-established models also use. The 450 Bushmaster uses .452″ bullets that cartridges such as .45 Colt, .45 ACP, and .45-70 also use. Also, Layman offers two cast bullets that are designed for .45 ACP.
The 458 Socom uses .458” bullets. It gives Socom an advantage because cartridges like a .45-70 Government, .450 Marlin, .458 Win Mag, .458 Lott, and .460 Weatherby also use .458” bullets.
.458 Socom vs .450 Bushmaster Recoil
The amount of recoil a cartridge has depends on the range of bullets it can accommodate. The larger range of bullet weights also means more recoil. As a 450 Bushmaster has fewer bullet weight options, it produces less recoil than a 458 Socom.
However, it is essential to mention that the amount of recoil does not just depend on the cartridge but the rifle-cartridge combination. So, if we use the same weight rifle for 450 Bushmaster and 458 Socom, then a 450 would have a lesser kick than a Socom.
450 Bushmaster: Pros and cons
The 450 Bushmaster has a high muzzle velocity, due to which it has a flat trajectory and retains more energy at longer ranges.
When it comes to the range, it can effectively kill a target up to 250 yards. This range flexibility gives the 450 a clear advantage over a 458 Socom that can not go beyond 150 yards.
It also has an advantage in ammo availability as several manufacturers make ammo for a 450 Bushmaster. Also, more rifles are available for this cartridge as many famous brands, including Ruger, manufacture rifles for it. Also, a large variety of bullets are available for reloading.
Moreover, compared to a 458 Socom, a Bushmaster has less recoil; using the same weight rifles with the two cartridges, a 458 Socom would kick more.
However, the disadvantage of a 450 Bushmaster is that it offers very few bullet weight options.
458 Socom: Pros and cons
The most significant advantage of a 458 Socom is that it offers a wide range of bullet weights. A 458 can accommodate a bullet weighing up to 600 grains, and hence it gives immense stopping power to this cartridge. It can kill any North American big game in a short-range.
Also, it gives a lot of options available for reloading and also has a good reload capacity. One more thing that is appealing about this cartridge is that it is compatible with standard 5.56mm NATO magazines without any modification.
The disadvantage of a 458 Socom is that it produces more recoil due to its large bullet weight range. It is also less effective at a more extended range; it has an immense power to knock down big game animals, but the range limits it.
Also Read: 450 bushmaster vs 350 legend
How to choose?
Both 450 Bushmaster and 458 Socom are big bore cartridges that are suitable for a big game hunter. They offer enough power and capacity to kill all North American larger games if fed with the right bullets.
However, some differences give an advantage to one cartridge over the other in different areas. How you choose, your cartridge depends on your personal preference and your shooting conditions.
Who should buy a 450 Bushmaster?
The most important advantage of a 450 Bushmaster is that it offers an extended range. Hence, it is the perfect hard-hitting cartridge for those who want a little extra range. Also, 450 Bushmaster is the ideal cartridge in states that have restricted shooters to use a straight-walled case. You should also use a 450 Bushmaster if you are not a reloader as its ammos are more available than a 458 Socom. The 450 Bushmaster offers fewer options for bullet weights, so if you are good to go with 350 grain or lighter bullets, then 450 is your cartridge.
So, a 450 Bushmaster is best for you if you want to target a deer, an elk, or a moose, and you have no problem with compromising stopping power for a little extra range. Also, a 450 Bushmaster is less expensive than a 458 Socom, so if the price is a consideration for you, then 450 is your choice.
Who should buy a 458 Socom?
The most significant advantage of a 458 Socom is that it offers a wide range of weights available for bullets. It is an excellent cartridge for short ranges. With a heavier bullet of 600 grain, 458 Socom has immense stopping power and can easily take down big game at short ranges. You can also use it as a guide gun or a bear protection gun. Also, .458 is easily used with the standard 5.56mm NATO magazines without any modifications. Use a 458 Socom if you are a reloader because the larger range of bullet options will appeal to you.
So, a 458 Socom is the perfect cartridge for big game hunters who need immense stopping power and hunt in areas where they do not need to go beyond 150 yards and are also planning to reload.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between 450 Bushmaster and 458 SOCOM?
The main differences between a 450 Bushmaster and a 458 Socom are power, range,, and recoil. 458 Socom can handle bullets up to 600 grains, whereas the maximum weight a 450 can handle is 300 grains. However, a 450 is capable enough for a deer or a hog.
The other difference is that of range, 450 Bushmaster has more range flexibility. It performs effectively up to 250 yards, whereas the 458 Socom has a maximum range of 150 yards.
Also, due to its larger bullet weight range, a 458 Socom has much more recoil than a 450 Bushmaster.
Which is bigger, 458 SOCOM or 450 Bushmaster?
The 450 Bushmaster has a case length of 1.7″ whereas the case length of a 458 Socom stands at 1.575″. So, a 450 is bigger than a Socom.
What is the 458 SOCOM good for?
A 458 Socom is suitable for all North American big games. It is a powerful cartridge and can kill a moose, an elk, a deer, and a bear. But it can destroy all these targets at a closed range.
How accurate is the 450 Bushmaster?
A 450 bushmaster is a high-speed and hard-hitting rifle cartridge. It works perfectly at a specified range of 250 yards. It is powerful enough to kill most big game animals, including a bear.
Will a 450 Bushmaster kill an elk?
A 450 Bushmaster works best under low to medium ranges. Hence, within a reasonable range, it can kill an elk.
Will a 450 Bushmaster kill a grizzly?
A .450 Bushmaster can handle bullets as heavy as 300 grains. Also, it has a .308 case head that makes it suitable for most .308 rifles. Provided with the right bullet, it can kill all North American big game, including a grizzly.