Welcome back to another edition of the TFB Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB discusses the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I return on TFB Round Table to take a look at the thunderous yet mysterious 450 Bushmaster cartridge to see why it even exists and how it could be beneficial to adding one to your personal arsenal. Many of us understand that it is a large round, but why another big-bore cartridge when there are so many already? Let’s dive in and see how this cartridge came to be and if you might want to join the drove of people who are already tremendous fans!
TFB Round Table: 450 Bushmaster… Why?
For anyone who does not already own a 450 Bushmaster, your first question that comes to mind might be why? And that is a very fair question to ask. While it does not have the “cool kid” popularity of some rounds like 6.5 Creedmoor (which we discussed last week), 450 Bushmaster has been out for over a decade so it likely is not going anywhere.
While multiple manufacturers make bolt-action rifles chambered in 450 Bushmaster, its true home is meant to be in modern sporting rifles or AR-15s. Through a joint effort by Bushmaster and Hornady, they took the lesser-known .45 Professional cartridge (aka .45 Pro) and shrunk the dimensions down to fit the AR-15 platform as opposed to the AR-10 platform. This opened the door to a bevy of benefits including more universal parts compatibility for builds and being able to single-stack the rounds inside of a 5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem magazine.
The goal being chased by Hornady and Bushmaster was one proposed by the famous hunter and firearm aficionado, Jeff Cooper. While many people have been very pleased with the performance of 5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem out of the AR-15 platform, Jeff Cooper was not one of those folks. He envisioned a round comparable to the .444 Marlin yet in a light, fast-handling platform like a modern sporting rifle. Basically, his vision or dream was something not invented or conjured up yet. This is summarized in the “Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 10th Edition” below:
Jeff Cooper conceptualized the ‘Thumper’ in his writing, a semi-automatic rifle larger than 44 Caliber capable of taking large game at ranges up to 250 yards. The 450 Bushmaster is a realization of this concept.
TFB Round Table: Pros of 450 Bushmaster
Like any cartridge you might toy with purchasing, there will be positives and negatives to potentially adding one to your personal inventory of arms. If you are hunting for a larger cartridge in a more modern firearm platform then you might want to entertain the 450 Bushmaster, but we will let you decide that for yourself. These would be the Top 3 Pros to diving in on the 450 Bushmaster round:
- Utilizing the AR-15 Platform
- Straight-Wall Cartridge
- Supported by Numerous Firearm Manufacturers/Component Makers
The near-universal nature of the AR-15 platform almost speaks for itself. Thousands of companies make components for you to customize and trade out parts as you please like it is an adult Lego set. The fact that the 450 Bushmaster round is a straight-wall cartridge is also a huge plus. Many states have nonsensical laws that hunters can only use a straight-wall cartridge to hunt game. This leaves hunters with very little creative options outside the .30-30 Win cartridge and definitely nothing in a modern platform – except when it comes to 450 Bushmaster in an AR-15! Finally, as stated earlier, this round has been out for over a decade. You will not get hoodwinked by it vanishing off the face of the Earth in the next 6 months. There is backing by reloading companies, gun makers, and component manufacturers as well.
TFB Round Table: Cons of 450 Bushmaster
Now, as far as the negatives go, there are absolutely some, but if you are dedicated and fully-invested in this cartridge they can be navigated with a bit of ease. You essentially are looking at more expensive ammunition than common AR-15 rounds, a more cumbersome round to reload if you go that route, and it being a little less likely to be present on typical store shelves.
- Expensive Ammunition Compared to 5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem
- Difficult to Reload
- Not Common Enough to Always Find at your Local Gun Shop (LGS)
While 450 Bushmaster is more expensive than 5.56mm NATO, that really is not a very fair comparison. Is it cheaper than .45-70 Gov’t? You betcha! Cheaper than .444 Marlin? Absolutely! So, it is all about perspective and what you are comparing it to. Another word of caution given by Hornady in reloading manuals is to NOT use too heavy of a roll crimp when loading bullets with cannelures. This can mess with the headspace and create extremely unsafe shooting conditions. Finally, while the 450 Bushmaster does not share the commonality of 9mm when it comes to being available everywhere, the 450 Bushmaster cartridge might say in the famous words of Monty Python: “I ain’t dead yet!” This cartridge has a strong following, but the downside is it may not be readily available at all gun stores.
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Round Table brought to you by Ammunition to Go! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
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This 450 Bushmaster cartridge from Hornady’s BLACK line of ammunition is crowned with a 250 grain FTX projectile. The FTX features a soft Flex Tip, which serves both to streamline its overall profile as well as initiate rapid expansion even at lower velocities. Its aerodynamics are further improved by its secant ogive shape. The FTX’s high antimony lead core and heavy jacket are mechanically bound together via an InterLock ring, so you can count on great weight retention while firing this round. The end result is a bullet that is wonderfully suited for a variety of tough game, as well as self-defense should it ever come to that.
The Nebraskan ammunition manufacturer wouldn’t pair one of their patented bullets with substandard components. As such these 20 rounds’ brass casings are all remarkably identical to one another in terms of their dimensions, and their propellant loads are evenly matched as well so that you can count on a reliable 2,200 fps muzzle velocity.
This 450 Bushmaster cartridge by Hornady features the InterLock projectile. It’s a soft point bullet, with a jacket that’s expertly tapered to control expansion no matter the velocity at which it strikes its target. The jacket’s inner grooves weaken it to ensure consistent expansion as well, even at long range.
The InterLock has a secant ogive profile, so its ballistic coefficient is high enough to make some pretty impressively long distance shots. It’s able to penetrate deeply because its one-piece core won’t come apart during penetration, and it’s secured tightly to its jacket via both a cannelure and the raised ring from which the bullet takes its name. Accuracy, deep penetration, massive expansion, and great affordability — these are the hallmarks of a great hunting bullet.
Hornady’s American Whitetail label gives deer hunters precisely the stuff they need to hunt deer. It’s not just this round’s bullet that’s so impressive — it’s also its carefully standardized propellant load, its top tier brass casing, and its non-corrosive primer that won’t let you down in the heat of the moment!
The idea behind Winchester’s Extreme Point (XP) projectile is so simple that it works perfectly. This 450 Bushmaster hunting round features a bullet with a colossal polymer tip. It covers nearly half of the XP’s available surface area, about 25 percent more than a conventional polymer tip. When the XP hits a target, its tip’s huge base smashes into its alloyed lead core to create much faster expansion than usual. In effect you have a 250 grain bullet that delivers four digits of impact energy up to 250 yards, and distributes that energy within its target fast as lightning.
The XP boasts good accuracy as well. Its big polymer tip provides a highly uniform and aerodynamic meplat, and its jacket profile is streamlined. Winchester seats their XP on their highest quality brass, and gives it a primer and propellant that you can trust in the woods. Try this round out on a buck — or a hog, if one volunteers itself — and see why big polymer tips are the next big thing.
This is 450 Bushmaster Hornady 250gr. FTX Ammo. The 450 Bushmaster (nicknamed “The Thumper”) brings big bore performance to production model AR-15’s. The engineers at Hornady created the 450 Bushmaster to maximize performance without sacrificing strength or reliability. The Bushmaster fires Hornady’s .452″ 250 grain SST-ML featuring Hornady’s Flex Tip technology. The SST’s sleek profile makes for suprisingly flat trajectories and tremendous downrange energy. This ammo comes packed in 20rd. boxes.