When it comes to choosing a cartridge for your rifle, you’re faced with a plethora of options. Two popular choices for AR-style rifles are the 450 Bushmaster vs 350 Legend. Both cartridges have gained popularity for different reasons, and understanding their differences is crucial in making an informed decision. In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll delve into the world of these two cartridges, exploring their ballistics, performance, versatility, and more.
The 450 Bushmaster: Power and Precision
The 450 Bushmaster is a formidable cartridge known for its stopping power and accuracy. Developed by Bushmaster Firearms International and Hornady, it was designed with big game hunting in mind. The 450 Bushmaster fires a .452-inch caliber bullet and is compatible with AR-15 platforms, making it a versatile choice for hunters. With a typical bullet weight of 250 to 300 grains, it delivers exceptional energy on impact, making it ideal for taking down large game like deer and hogs.
The 350 Legend: Versatility and Affordability
In contrast, the 350 Legend is a new cartridge that offers a different set of advantages. Introduced by Winchester in 2019, it’s designed to be a versatile and cost-effective option for AR-15 shooters. The 350 Legend fires a .355-inch caliber bullet, similar to many common pistol rounds. This design choice makes it suitable for states with straight-wall cartridge hunting regulations, where traditional bottleneck rifle cartridges are restricted. The cartridge’s lower recoil and affordability make it an attractive choice for both hunting and target shooting.
Ballistics: Energy, Velocity, and Trajectory
One of the most critical aspects of any cartridge is its ballistics performance. The 450 Bushmaster excels in delivering high energy and impressive stopping power. With muzzle energies often exceeding 2,000-foot pounds, it provides a flat trajectory for shots within its effective range. However, the 450 Bushmaster’s effective range is somewhat limited compared to more extended-range cartridges.
On the other hand, the 350 Legend offers a more balanced ballistics profile. It delivers moderate recoil, making it more manageable for shooters of all levels. While its energy is lower than the 450 Bushmaster, it still provides sufficient stopping power for most hunting scenarios within a reasonable range. The 350 Legend also boasts a flatter trajectory than many pistol-caliber cartridges, increasing its accuracy and versatility.
Ammunition Availability and Cost
Another critical factor to consider is the availability and cost of ammunition. The 350 Legend has gained popularity for its affordability and widespread availability. Ammunition choices for the 350 Legend include a variety of bullet types, making it suitable for both hunting and range shooting. The cost-effective nature of the 350 Legend makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious shooters.
In contrast, while the 450 Bushmaster offers exceptional performance, its ammunition can be more expensive and less readily available in comparison. Shooters who opt for the 450 Bushmaster should be prepared to invest more in ammunition and potentially reload their cartridges for cost savings.
Magazine Capacity and Firepower
When it comes to magazine capacity, the 350 Legend typically has the edge. Its straight-wall design allows for higher magazine capacity, which can be advantageous in situations where quick follow-up shots may be necessary. Shooters who prioritize firepower and quick target acquisition may find the 350 Legend to be more suitable for their needs.
The 450 Bushmaster, with its larger cartridge and rim, usually has a lower magazine capacity, often limited to around three to four rounds in standard AR-15 magazines. While this limitation may not be a significant concern for many hunting scenarios, it’s worth considering if rapid follow-up shots are a priority.
Recoil and Shootability
Recoil plays a crucial role in a shooter’s experience and accuracy. The 450 Bushmaster generates more recoil compared to the 350 Legend due to its larger cartridge and higher energy output. While experienced shooters may handle this recoil well, it can be a challenge for newer or less experienced shooters. The 350 Legend, with its lighter recoil, offers a more comfortable shooting experience for a broader range of shooters.
Legal Considerations: State Regulations
One critical aspect to keep in mind is your local state hunting regulations. Some states have specific restrictions on cartridge types for hunting. The 350 Legend’s straight-wall design complies with the regulations in many states, making it a legal choice for hunters in those areas. Conversely, the 450 Bushmaster may not be legal for hunting in some states due to its bottlenecked design, so it’s essential to check your local hunting regulations before making a choice.
Choosing the Right Cartridge [450 Bushmaster vs 350 Legend]
The decision between the 450 Bushmaster vs 350 Legend ultimately boils down to your specific needs and preferences. If you prioritize maximum stopping power and have no restrictions on ammunition, the 450 Bushmaster is a formidable choice for big game hunting. However, if you value versatility, affordability, and compliance with state hunting regulations, the 350 Legend offers an attractive alternative. Consider factors like ballistics, ammunition availability, recoil, and legal considerations when making your decision. Whichever cartridge you choose, both the 450 Bushmaster and the 350 Legend have their strengths, and both can provide an enjoyable and effective shooting experience.