Modern shooting enthusiasts are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between the 450 Bushmaster and the 458 SOCOM. The 450 Bushmaster, a straight-walled cartridge, offers unique advantages over bottleneck cartridges. The 458 SOCOM, a slightly bottlenecked cartridge, also has its own advantages.
The only way to truly decide which one is better is to compare their main differences. Ultimately, we’ll be able to identify the better cartridge for specific use cases such as hunting and target shooting.
Table of Contents
What Is The History Of The 450 Bushmaster Cartridge?
The 450 Bushmaster was developed in the early 2000s by Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms and licensed to Bushmaster Firearms. Tim LeGendre saw a need for a powerful straight-walled cartridge for use in states that have restrictions on the use of bottlenecked cartridges for hunting. Hence, he developed a cartridge with improved stopping power compared to the traditional 5.56mm cartridge.
Additionally, the cartridge can fit in a standard AR-15 platform, making mass adoption relatively easy. The 450 is an effective cartridge for deer hunting at short to medium ranges.
What Is The History Of The 458 SOCOM Cartridge?
The 458 SOCOM was developed in 2000/2001 by Marty ter Weeme and Tony Rumore of Teppo Jutsu. It was developed specifically to address the shortcomings experienced by special forces units in urban environments.
It is an effective cartridge for taking down large targets at close to medium ranges. Similar to the 450, the 458 SOCOM was designed as a big-bore cartridge for use in the AR-15 platform.
Main Differences Between 450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM
These two big bore cartridges do have a lot of differences, which we discuss below.
|Category||450 Bushmaster||458 SOCOM|
|Ballistic Comparison||Maximum effective range: ~150-200 yards
Bullet weight range: 250-300 grains
Muzzle velocity: ~2,200-2,500 fps
|Maximum effective range: ~100-200 yards
Bullet weight range: 250-600 grains
Muzzle velocity: ~1,800-2,100 fps
|Size & Weight Comparison||Case length: 2.260 inches
Average weight: ~250-300 grains
|Case length: 2.260 inches
Average weight: ~250-600 grains
|Stopping Power Comparison||Suitable for medium to large game hunting (deer, hogs); Excellent energy transfer and penetration at short to medium distances||Excellent stopping power; suitable for large and dangerous game (bear, boar)|
|Use Case Comparison||Hunting (deer, hogs) in states with straight-walled cartridge restrictions; Short to medium-range engagements||Hunting (large and dangerous game); Home defense; Tactical applications requiring stopping power|
|Recoil Comparison||Moderate recoil||Moderate to heavy recoil|
|Reloading Comparison||Brass and reloading components widely available; Relatively straightforward to reload with basic equipment||Brass and reloading components available but less common than 450 Bushmaster|
|Price & Availability Comparison||Ammunition readily available from various manufacturers; Relatively affordable compared to some specialized cartridges||Ammunition can be more expensive due to the specialized nature of the cartridge; Limited availability compared to more common calibers|
1. Ballistic Comparison
Both these two cartridges shoot bullets that are effective up to 200 yards. Typically, people, myself included, use a 250-grain bullet with factory loads for the 450 Bushmaster, which produces an impressive muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps and muzzle energy of 2,722 ft-lbs.
In comparison, the 458 SOCOM shoots a wider range of bullet weights, from 250 to 600 grains. Factory ammo with a 250-grain bullet produces 2,150 fps muzzle velocity and 2,565 ft-lbs muzzle energy.
It is evident that although these two cartridges produce very similar results, the 450 Bushmaster does have better ballistic performance with regard to higher muzzle velocity and energy. Nevertheless, the 458 SOCOM’s bullet weight versatility makes it an attractive option.
2. Size & Weight Comparison
Both the 458 and 450 are designed to fit in AR-15 modern sporting rifles. Hence, both have an overall length of 2.260 inches. The 458 SOCOM, however, does feel a little more bulky because of its slight shoulder. It also feels heavier, even when comparing similar bullet weights.
Finally, the 458 SOCOM has a slightly larger bullet diameter (.4580 inches) compared to the .450, which has .4520-inch diameter bullets.
3. Stopping Power Comparison
These two cartridges have excellent stopping power and are adept at delivering a lethal blow to big game within 100 yards and medium game within 200 yards. However, the 458 SOCOM’s capability to handle heavier bullets gives it a slight edge in the stopping power category.
4. Use Case Comparison
The 458 and 450 can be used for hunting medium to large game. The 450 Bushmaster is specifically very useful for hunting in states that have restrictions on the use of bottleneck cartridges but allow hunting with straight-walled cartridges. It also offers extended range to the .350 Legend.
In addition to hunting, the 458 SOCOM is also an excellent self-defense cartridge as it was specifically designed for special forces for use in urban warfare.
5. Recoil Comparison
There’s really not much recoil difference between two cartridges, especially when using the same bullet weight ammo. However, as you start using heavier loads and bullets for the 458 SOCOM, you will notice a heavier recoil.
6. Reloading Comparison
As a handloader, I always try to beat factory ammo prices. That said, sometimes it isn’t worthwhile reloading cartridges. One such cartridge is the .450 Bushmaster – with a 250gr as its primary bullet weight, it’s hard to find versatility in handloading this cartridge.
Additionally, the 250gr bullet is a quality load with tight groupings, so there is really no need to handload this cartridge unless you try to beat the gunshop’s ammo price.
In comparison, the 458 SOCOM is a much better reloading cartridge. Thanks to the broader range of bullet weights, you can experiment more until you find the perfect load and bullet weight combination for your shooting needs.
7. Price & Availability Comparison
The 450 Bushmaster wins this category. As straight-walled cases grow in popularity, so does their ammo availability. That said, 450 ammo can be found at almost any gunshop or online store, with target shooting ammo averaging in the range of $1.8 to $2.5 per round and hunting cartridges between $2 and $4.5.
The 458 SOCOM’s ammo is also readily available. It’s prices start at $2.3 per round and can cost upwards of $5 per round for quality hunting ammo.
Which Cartridge Is Best 450 Bushmaster or 458 SOCOM?
Having used both in various situations and considering the comparison above, I have to go with the .450 Bushmaster as the better cartridge. It’s ballistics perform better for a comparable bullet weight, has cheaper ammo, and is just a better look round. Plus, you have the freedom to hunt in bottleneck-restricted states with the .450 Bushmaster.
Is The 450 Bushmaster or 458 SOCOM Better For Hunting?
At close range and hunting large game, the 458 SOCOM is the better cartridge due to its abundant choice of loads. The 450 Bushmaster is the better all-round hunting cartridge, ideal for medium to long-range hunting and on any size game.
Which Is Better For Hunting Small Game?
The .450 Bushmaster is better for hunting small game, offering performance similar to the .350 Legend. It doesn’t damage the meat as much as the .458 SOCOM and has favorable ballistics up to 150-200 yards before bullet drop becomes a determining factor.
Which Is Better For Hunting Large Game?
This is a tricky one. While the .458 SOCOM is adept at taking down large game at close ranges, its bullet’s design doesn’t allow accurate long-range shots. In comparison, the .450 Bushmaster has better ballistics for medium-range shots but fewer bullet weight and load options.
So, if I had to pick one, I’d still go with the .450 Bushmaster – it’s just a more versatile cartridge in the AR-15 platform.
Is The 450 Bushmaster or 458 SOCOM Better For Long Distance Shooting?
It is important to note that both these cartridges aren’t really designed for long-range shooting. Their effectiveness, in terms of accuracy, ends at about 150 yards. However, the .450 Bushmaster does have better ballistic performances at long distances and, therefore, wins this category.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the 450 Bushmaster fit in the 458 SOCOM magazine?
Is the 450 Bushmaster known for its compatibility with standard AR-15 magazines?
Which firearm manufacturers that offer rifles chambered in 450 Bushmaster?
The Bottom Line
Both the 450 Bushmaster and 458 SOCOM are excellent cartridges and offer unique advantages over the standard AR-15 chamberings for specific use cases. Your choice will largely depend on your intended use and personal preferences, but I would recommend the 450 Bushmaster. It offers better versatility in the field and has the added bonus of being an “unregulated” cartridge for bottleneck-restricted states. Always remember local regulations and potential game size and type when selecting a cartridge for hunting. Happy hunting!