The .450 Bushmaster VS the .458 SOCOM
Dr. John Woods 06.12.18
The big bad whopper thumpers and midnight garage wildcatters have been tinkering with big toe sized bulleted ammo for the AR-15 platform for years. These folks seemed to sense a need for a really huge cartridge package to fit easily and conveniently in the housing of a more or less standard AR rifle.
Why you may ask? The AR-15 is extremely popular. In a standard 5.56/.223 it makes for a great varmint rifle and perhaps deer in a pinch. It simply does not pack the punch for tougher game. So, a bigger, more powerful round was needed for the handy AR platform. Hence, the brainstorming.
One of the game animals targeted for the purpose of these extra-large AR rounds is the wild hog. This prolific reproducer is wreaking havoc on croplands and white-tailed deer habitats all across America especially in the Deep South and Texas. More thump was needed for these tuskers. Of course, these two rounds are also suitable for other big game animals, too.
Eventually after much development, there are two prominent cartridges that have been developed to fill this pig popping role. These are the .450 Bushmaster and the .458 SOCOM. Both are now available in AR-15 rifles and factory ammo is available, though on somewhat of a limited basis. Shooters are showing increasing interest, so more options should become available.
The .450 Bushmaster was created around a 250 grain bullet and Hornady produced the ammunition using their exceptional SST pointed bullet. Today’s load uses their FTX bullet. This load produces a muzzle velocity of 2200 feet per second with an energy rating of 2686 foot pounds. This makes the .450 Bushmaster capable on virtually all big game in North America at ranges out to 225 yards including moose and elk. It certainly can take out a wild pig.
The .458 SOCOM (Special Operations Command) can push bullets from 140 to 600 grains. Ballistics of the SOCOM have been compared to the 45-70 except in a semi-auto AR-15 rifle. Ammo is available from a variety of sources including Corbon, Polycase, SBR, Underwood, and Ventura. Brass is available from Starline. Bullets in .458 diameter are common.
The .458 SOCOM moves out at 2528 fps in the 140 grain bullets, but slows down to 1798-1860 with 300 grain bullets. Powerful enough for big game, but at ranges limited to about 150 yards.
Either will handle pigs and other game, but the .450 Bushmaster has the extended range if needed. Both are thumpers and available in AR-15 platform rifles now.