Any hunter or shooter knows you only have a few legit options when it comes to heavy-hitting, straight-walled or small-shouldered cartridges. If you own an AR-15 or similar modern sporting rifle, it comes down between the 458 SOCOM vs 450 Bushmaster.
How do these powerful rounds measure up? I asked my team to do extensive testing and round up how they compare.
Table of Contents
- 1 450 Bushmaster & 458 SOCOM Highlights
- 2 Key features
- 3 FAQ
- 4 450 Bushmaster or 458 Socom: Our Verdict
450 Bushmaster & 458 SOCOM Highlights
While both the 450 Bushmaster and 458 SOCOM provide exceptional stopping power in the AR platform, they also differ in a lot of ways.
The 458 SOCOM can manage 140 to 600 gr bullets, which means that it’s more powerful. However, you need to keep a close range of around 150 yards to make sure you hit your target.
On the other hand, the Bushmaster is designed to have less power potential of about 250 grains, not even a match for SOCOM’s 600-grain bullet.
Despite this grain size, the 450 Bushmaster can provide a velocity of up to 2.200 FPS, which does make it superior in terms of range flexibility. Because it has pretty much the upper hand, no wonder it’s extremely popular with hunters in the AR-15 platform.
- Game range of up to 220 yards
- Lesser recoil experience
- Larger power potential of up to 250 grains
- High muzzle velocity
- Game range of up to 150 yards
- Higher amount of recoil
- Power potential of up to 600 grains
- Good reload capacity
Known as the smallest of the thumpers, it has a bullet diameter of .452”. The concept was initially started by Col. Jeff Cooper, who is popularly known for the “Modern Technique” idea in handgun shooting. As a hunter, he believed that the right game rifle would be a semi-auto capable of taking out game at a range of 250 yards. He referred to it as the “thumper” concept.
The 458 SOCOM, an abbreviation that stands for Special Operations Command, was developed for the military right after the fight in Somalia in 1993. It initially came out sometime in 2002. However, it didn’t gain broad acceptance as a military round. It became a popular hunting cartridge, though. It uses a .50 AE case with a rebated rim and a .458” bullet. One good advantage with this diameter is you can find a wider selection of a rifle bullet of this kind of ammo on the market.
At 2.26”, the two are similar in length. Since one AR 15 semi-auto rifle can only handle a standard cartridge of up to 2.26” long, both are within the limit. When it comes to the length of cases, the 450 goes at 1.7”, while the SOCOM is at 1.575”. Like some of the most popular cartridges available today, the two have a rim diameter of .473”.
For other popular ammo options, check out this 5.7 and 9mm comparison here.
Created around a 250 grain bullet, the standard 450 Hornady ammunition can knock a round at 2,200 FPS despite its much lesser size. With this, you can take out any wild animal, such as deer, beyond 220 yards using your AR-15 rifle.
Velocity is one aspect where the 458 SOCOM has a weaker performance per round. While it can push more grain bullets, the velocity drops synchronously with much larger grain.
We also compared how the 300 Blackout and the 350 Legend fares in this aspect.
Winner: 450 Bushmaster
450 Bushmaster VS SOCOM Reload
When it comes to reloading your AR-15 rifle, both hunters and shooters enjoy shooting both the 450 and 458. These two cartridges shoot bullets used by other well-established models available in the market. The .460 S&W and .45 Colt use .450 bullets like the Bushmaster. But the 458 has a larger advantage in the bullet reloading category.
Winner: 458 SOCOM
For ammo with good reloading options, here’s our article on 44 magnum and 10mm.
In the range battle, the 250 grain 450 has much better leverage over its 458 rival. Among the two, it has a more extended range of 220 yards, making it a perfect choice for deer hunting.
In comparison, the 458 can take down a wild boar, bear, or other big game with its 600-grain bullet, but it’s best to get as close as possible to the target, which might reveal your position and ruin your shot. However, the range of .458 bullets becomes limited to 150 yards.
Winner: 450 Bushmaster
Weight and Balance
Each of them uses different bullet diameters – .458” for SOCOM vs .452” for Bushmaster. Most 450 ammo include bullets that weigh from about 158gr to 300 gr, with the best available choices at about 250 gr to 260 gr.
For 458 SOCOM, it uses 200gr to 600gr bullets, with the most common ones available at around 250 grain, 300 grain, and 350gr.
Looking for more options? Check this .40 SW and .45 ACP bullets here.
When it comes to ballistics information, there are slight differences in 450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM. Both fall between the high and low range pressure of .45-70 loads as to trajectory and power. With its higher muzzle velocity, the 450 has the flattest trajectory and maintains the most energy.
SOCOM 458 vs Bushmaster 450 Ballistics
If you have an AR platform or similar platform, both rounds are supported almost similarly on other available models. If you’re the type of big game hunter who owns several weapons and manages a big number of cross-compatible ammunition, either one is best as long as you have the proper barrel available.
Winner: 450 Bushmaster
The 458 SOCOM is designed with a wider grain range, but you’ll most likely experience heavier recoil on this one. The limitation is the 450 Bushmaster’s grain range ability allows it to deal with less recoil. Thus, if we compare their performance at 100 yards, you’ll get less recoil with most builds that use the Bushmaster. Aside from the grain capacity, the amount of recoil also depends on your build.
Winner: 450 Bushmaster
The minimal risk goes hand in hand with compatibility. So if you’re considering getting either one of the cartridges, it’s best to have the appropriate barrel on your AR-15 to minimize any hazard attached to using it.
When it comes to risks, how do other bullets like the 6.5 PRC vs 6.5 Creedmoor fare?
Power: SOCOM vs Bushmaster
When it comes to power, the comparison matters only to what type of big game you are dealing with and what you want to focus on. The 458 SOCOM can handle a 600-grain range, while the 450 can handle about a 300-grain range at best.
For instance, if you’re game hunting for deer or other big animals, using the 450 is recommended since a 600-grain is rather unreasonable if you’re dealing with the target up close. The 458’s power and limitation to 150 yards is applicable to big game targets like bears and wild boars.
Both have factory ammo available. Most factory ammo prices for AR-15 and similar rifles start at around $1 per round and go up from there. The prices for both 450 and 458 ammo are similarly expensive, with the Hornady Bushmaster available at a slightly more affordable price tag. 
Winner: 450 Bushmaster
The main differences for 450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM lie in the power, range, and recoil components. While the SOCOM is powerful at up to 600 grain, the standard 450 doesn’t have the ability to handle even just half of that. However, this capacity only matters on what big game type you’re into. If you’re out to hunt for deers, the 450 can very well handle that.
As to the range, the 450 is the clear winner. Despite the SOCOM’s 600-grain round, its range is somewhat limited, so you need to keep a close distance from your target. On the other hand, the Bushmaster has a longer range, allowing you to take down just about any big game animal from afar.
For the recoil component, the Bushmaster’s limited ability to manage larger grains means you’ll also be dealing with less amount of recoil with this ammunition. The general rule is that the wider the available grain range is, the higher the amount of recoil you need to handle.
Not likely. While the two bullets are .45 caliber and almost similar in size and length, the parent casing is tangibly different. The 458 SOCOM is based off a standard .50 AE casing, while the 450 is based off the smaller .284 Winchester casing. The result is that the 450 may be set loose in the 458 magazine.
450 Bushmaster or 458 Socom: Our Verdict
After extensive testing and looking at customer reviews, we recommend the 450 Bushmaster if you’re looking for a good hard-hitting, flat-shooting, and powerful cartridge when you hunt for your favorite game.
Between 458 SOCOM vs 450 Bushmaster ammo, we were impressed with the 450’s more extended range despite its limited grain power. You can still take down both deer and even larger game. It just needs a little expertise and experience. With its lesser grain capacity, you also get to experience a lesser amount of recoil.
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