AR-15 is America’s most popular rifle; it offers many advantages for shooters. For a fun shooting experience, shooters usually enjoy using a .223 Remington with it. But when it comes to some serious target shooting, a .223 Remington is not enough; you need a big-bore cartridge.
However, hunters have limited choices when it comes to big-bore cartridges that function reliably in an AR-15. One such popular choice of cartridge available for this purpose is a 450 bushmaster.
A 450 bushmaster is a straight-walled cartridge. It was initially designed for AR-15 style rifles. In 2017, many midwestern states in the United States legalized the use of straight-walled cartridges. The news came as a joy to the hunters as now they could use their straight wall cartridge for the deer season. 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. Straight wall cartridges are legalized because they are considered safer than bottleneck cartridges.
450 bushmaster has been around quite for some time and has made its credibility in the market. However, with the relaxation in the law, it regained its popularity. More so, after the law changed, several bolt-action manufacturers like Ruger, Mossberg, and Savage started making affordable bolt-action rifles that could be used with .450.
Today it is a popular choice for big-bore cartridges that work reliably in an AR-15.
What is a straight-walled cartridge?
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. The reason for which straight wall cartridges are legalized is that it is considered safer than bottleneck cartridges.
It’s the basic design of a straight wall cartridge that makes it safer than a bottleneck cartridge. The case diameter of a bottleneck cartridge is larger than the bullet, allowing more propellant behind the bullet. It allows the cartridge to shoot with more incredible velocity.
When this happens, the chances of overshooting become higher and can cause death and destruction.
A straight-wall cartridge is not like that. Its diameter remains the same from front to back and cannot have excess propellant. For this reason, a straight wall cartridge is considered to be safer for hunting as compared to a bottleneck.
It was Jeff Cooper who first gave the idea of a 450 bushmaster. Jeff Cooper was dissatisfied with the .223/5.56 cartridge and wanted a cartridge with a bigger diameter. This dissatisfaction gave the Thumper Concept. A thumper was a cartridge with a larger bore diameter and could take down targets at 250 yards with just one shot.
Tim LeGendre of Lemag later picked up this idea. He produced a version of Thumper called .45 professional. It had a .284 Winchester casing and a 250 grain, 45 caliber bullet. Bushmaster also needed similar cartridges for their AR-15 style rifles. They went to Hornady to manufacture them. But Hornady wanted a shorter case length and overall length to adjust its new flex-tip bullet and AR-15 magazines.
Finally, with the modifications in the size, they produced the 450 bushmaster. Once 450 bushmaster was made, several other manufacturers made similar large-diameter cartridges such as .50 Beowulf and 458 SOCOM.
|Case Length||1.7 inches|
|Overall Length||2.26 inches|
|Parent Case||.284 Winchester|
|Case Type||Rebated Rim, Straight Wall|
|Rim Diameter||.473 inches|
|Bullet Weight||158 – 300 Grain|
|Bullet Diameter||.452 inches|
450 bushmaster ballistics
Muzzle velocity and energy
Muzzle velocity is an important feature of a cartridge because it determines the effective range of that particular cartridge. A bullet with more velocity will be more effective at longer ranges. And energy is critical in determining the penetrating power of a cartridge.
The muzzle velocity of a 250-grain bushmaster is 2200 fps, and its muzzle energy is 2687 ft-lb. At 200 yards, its velocity is 1,515 feet per second, and energy is 1,274 foot-pounds.
To analyze the velocity of a bushmaster, we will compare it to a .223 Remington, which has a muzzle velocity of 3240 fps.
From these numbers, you can see that the 450 bushmaster has a lower muzzle velocity than a .223, and it also sheds considerable velocity as it moves forward at 200 yards. This shed of velocity makes these cartridges ineffective at longer ranges. However, it is compensated by the sheer knockdown power of 450.
Bullet trajectory is the path a bullet follows once it leaves the muzzle. A flatter bullet hits the target easily. It helps to place the bullet at the right point on the target. A 260-grain 450 bushmaster, if zeroed at 100 yards, has a bullet drop of 9.7″ at 200 yards, and at 300 yards, it is 37.1 inches.
If we zero it 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.
The bullet drop at 300 yards is considerable, validating that 450 bushmaster is ineffective for long ranges.
Maximum point-blank range and far zero
Maximum point-blank range is the distance a bullet can travel without moving up or dropping down from the aim point. Velocity, bullet weight, rifle caliber, and ballistic coefficient affect the MPBR of a cartridge.
A rifle and its ammunition should be sighted according to its MBPR. And it is always suggested that you should not shoot a target beyond its MBPR.
The MPBR of a 450 bushmaster is +/-3 inches, and its MPBR yardage is 191, with a far zero of 164.
The sectional density is the ratio of a bullet’s cross-sectional area divided by its mass. A bullet’s SD is an important consideration because it predicts the bullet’s ability to penetrate inside a target. The bullet with the highest sectional density will penetrate the deepest and hence kills cleanly. The minimum acceptable sectional density for medium-range rifle cartridges like the 450 bushmaster is .200.
The sectional density of a 450 bushmaster is .175. It falls short of the .200 standard. So, it doesn’t go well with the bullets penetrating deeply on heavy animals. But for deer hunting, it is not a big concern. Moreover, the shock energy these large diameter bullets deliver to thin-skinned targets compensates for their less penetration ability.
Features of 450 bushmaster
The 450 bushmaster uses pistol size bullets. Its bullet weight ranges from 158 – 300. As it uses heavy bullets, it has more power to kill big game animals.
A 450 bushmaster has an overall length of 2.26 inches. This length is suitable for an AR-15 as it can accommodate cartridge length up to 2.26. The case length of a 450 bushmaster is 1.71 inches. Its rim diameter is .473 inches. This diameter is similar to popular cartridges such as .270 Winchester, .308, and .30-06.
When it comes to knockdown power, 450 bushmaster is a beast. Its 250 and 260-grain bullets have a muzzle energy of 2700 and 2800, respectively. Both have a muzzle velocity of 2200 fps. At a specified range of 250 yards, it can stop an elk, a moose, feral hogs, and even a bear.
How much recoil a cartridge produces does not depend only on the cartridge but on the rifle-cartridge combination. If you shoot a 450 bushmaster with an AR-15, it will have less recoil than when you use it with a heavier Savage 110.
With that being said, a 250 grain 450 bushmaster generates a recoil of 22.99 foot-pounds which is quite considerable.
It is important to have a suitable rifle to be chambered in with the cartridge for efficient performance. Multiple companies manufacture rifles to be chambered in a 450 bushmaster, so many rifle options are available.
Famous brands that produce rifles to be chambered in a 450 bushmaster are Ruger, Savage, and CVA. The 450 bushmaster uses rifles with medium to heavy barrel contours and often comes with a muzzle brake.
The cost of a 450 bushmaster is between $1.50 to $2.75. If you compare it to other large-bore cartridges, 450 bushmaster is less expensive than 45-70 and 458 SOCOM and more expensive than a 350 legend.
The longer distance a bullet can cover, the more it is preferred. The 450 bushmaster is not a long-distance cartridge by design, but it can reach about 250 yards. All veteran hunters and shooters will agree that this rifle would be suitable for the most medium-sized games at this distance.
If we compare it to a 458 SOCOM, then a 450 bushmaster has a more maximum range. A bushmaster can give some extra range for a big game up to 250 yards.
The length of a 450 bushmaster is similar to a 5.56 x 45 mm NATO, so it uses a magazine similar to the standard 5.56 NATO magazine. However, its magazine capacity is different. The 450 uses a single stack, whereas a 5.56 NATO uses a double stack configuration.
Big manufacturers such as Remington, Federal, Hornady, and Winchester make factory loads for the 450 bushmaster. Thus, it is more commonly available than other cartridges, such as a 458 SOCOM.
A 450 bushmaster uses bullets similar to other well-established cartridges. It uses .452″ bullets that a .45 Colt, .45 ACP, and .45-70 also use.
Pros and cons of a 450 bushmaster
- Kills effectively up to 250 yards
- Many rifles options are available
- Many ammo options are available
- At close range, it gives more punch than the 5.56 NATO.
- Substantial recoil
What is a 450 bushmaster compared to?
A 450 bushmaster is compared to other high-volume cartridges. We will compare these cartridges with a 450 bushmaster to see which one is better.
450 bushmaster vs .223 Remington
.223 Remington is the standard cartridge used with an AR-15. Because a 450 bushmaster is also primarily used with Ar-15 rifles, so it is worth comparing the two. A .223 Remington uses a 55-grain bullet. It has a muzzle velocity of 3240 feet per second and muzzle energy of 1282 foot-pounds. Its velocity at 200 is 2,304 feet per second, and energy drops to 648 foot-pounds.
The .223 Remington far outpaces a 450 bushmaster when it comes to velocity. Still, Bushmaster is the winner when it comes to energy because, at 200 yards, its energy is above 1000 while the energy of .223 Remington falls below 700.
450 bushmaster vs 350 Legend
A 350 legend uses a 180-grain bullet. It has a muzzle velocity of 2100 fps and muzzle energy of 1762 pounds. Its velocity sheds to 1,466 fps at 200 yards, and its energy is 859 foot-pounds.
Both 450 bushmaster and a 350 legend give an effective performance on the field. But when it comes to energy, 450 bushmaster has an advantage; its energy at 200 yards is above 1000 while that of a 350 Legend is below 900. So, a 450 bushmaster will give a quicker and cleaner drop at 200 and 300 yards.
What is a 450 bushmaster good for?
When it comes to knockdown power, the 450 bushmaster is the king. It gives the power to take down big animals in one shot. They offer enough power and capacity to kill all North American large games if fed with the right bullets.
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.
Also, you should use a 450 bushmaster if you are not a reloader as its ammo is more available than other competitors such as a 458 Socom.
The 450 bushmaster offers fewer options for bullet weights, so if you are good to go with a 300 grain or lighter bullet, 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 at a specified range. Also, a 450 Bushmaster is less expensive than other competitor cartridges such as a 458 Socom and a 45-70. So if the price is a consideration for you, then 450 is your choice.
Moreover, the bushmaster outperforms 350 legend at 200 and 300 yards, and it has much more downrange energy than a .223 Remington, so it is also good for competitive shooting.
But a 450 bushmaster has considerable recoil. So, if recoil is not a big issue for you, only then 450 can serve you well.
Which manufacturers today make 450 Bushmaster cartridges?
Today, 450 bushmasters are manufactured by only two companies: Hornady and Remington.
what are some alternatives to a 450 Bushmaster?
Some alternative cartridges to a 450 Bushmaster are 350 Legend, 45-70 Government, and 458 SOCOM
Is a 450 bushmaster a good deer gun?
A 450 bushmaster shoots bullets of 250 and 260 grain with a velocity of 2200. So if fed with the right bullet, a 450 bushmaster can drop a deer with no problem.
What is 450 bushmaster caliber?
A 450 bushmaster is a .45 caliber bullet. It has a muzzle velocity of 2200 and uses 250-260 grain bullets.
What’s the difference between a 450 Bushmaster and a 4570?
A 450 bushmaster and a 45-70 have different case lengths; the case length of a 450 bushmaster is 1.71 inches, and that of a 4570 is 2.105. They also have different bullet diameters; the bullet diameter of a 450 Bushmaster is .452 inches, and that of a 4570 is .458 inches. Also, 45-70 offers more bullet weight options than a 450 bushmaster. The range of a 4570 is from 225 to 500 grain. Contrary to this, the 450 bushmaster has a smaller range: 158 – 300.
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. The only complaint about the cartridge is its recoil.
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 animals, including a grizzly.