450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM: Battle of Big Bore AR Cartridges


In the world of AR-15 platform cartridges, the .450 Bushmaster and .458 SOCOM stand out as two heavyweight contenders, quite literally. These big bore rounds have gained popularity for their potent stopping power and versatility in a variety of shooting applications. In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll dive deep into the battle of, 450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM, exploring their origins, ballistics, recoil, magazine compatibility, and the scenarios where each cartridge shines.

Origins and Purpose

To understand these cartridges better, let’s start with their origins and intended purposes:

450 Bushmaster

  • Developed by Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms, the .450 Bushmaster was designed to offer substantial power in the AR-15 platform.
  • Its primary purpose was to provide straight-wall cartridge compliance for hunting in states with such regulations, particularly for deer hunting.


  • Developed by Marty ter Weeme of Teppo Jutsu, the .458 SOCOM aimed to create a hard-hitting cartridge suitable for close-quarter combat.
  • Originally designed for Special Operations Command to offer superior terminal ballistics, it has found a following among civilian shooters.

Ballistics and Power 

When it comes to ballistics and stopping power, both cartridges excel but in slightly different ways:

.450 Bushmaster

  • Typically fires bullets in the 250 to 300-grain range.
  • Delivers muzzle energy in the ballpark of 2,800 to 3,000 foot-pounds, making it a formidable choice for medium to large game hunting.

.458 SOCOM

  • Offers a wide range of bullet weights, from 250 to 600 grains.
  • Muzzle energy varies greatly, with lighter loads suitable for self-defense and heavier loads packing enough punch for big game hunting.
  • Known for excellent stopping power and significant damage to the target.

Recoil and Handling [450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM]

Recoil can significantly impact the shooter’s experience and accuracy, especially with big bore cartridges:

450 Bushmaster

  • Known for manageable recoil, making it suitable for shooters of various skill levels.
  • Often considered more comfortable to shoot for extended periods, making it a popular choice for hunters.


  • Packs a punch in terms of recoil, particularly with heavier loads.
  • Requires more experienced shooters to manage its kick effectively, especially in rapid-fire situations.
  • Recoil can be mitigated with recoil pads and muzzle devices.

Magazine Compatibility 

Another crucial aspect when comparing these cartridges is their compatibility with standard AR-15 magazines:

450 Bushmaster

  • Compatible with standard AR-15 magazines with some modifications, such as a wider follower and a single-stack design.
  • Specialized .450 Bushmaster magazines are available, designed for optimal feeding and capacity.


  • Typically requires specific .458 SOCOM magazines due to the cartridge’s larger diameter.
  • These magazines are designed to accommodate the fatter rounds, ensuring reliable feeding.

Applications and Versatility 

To determine which cartridge is right for you, consider the shooting scenarios and versatility of each:

450 Bushmaster

  • Ideal for hunters in straight-wall cartridge states, thanks to its potent yet manageable recoil.
  • Suitable for medium to large game hunting, such as deer, hogs, and black bear.
  • Versatile enough for self-defense, but excels in hunting applications.


  • Primarily designed for close-quarter combat, making it an excellent choice for home defense and tactical applications.
  • Offers versatility through a wide range of bullet weights, making it adaptable for various scenarios, including hunting and target shooting.
  • Known for its impressive stopping power in self-defense situations.


In the battle of the big-bore AR cartridges, the 450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM both have their strengths and applications. Choosing between them depends on your intended use, shooting experience, and personal preferences. Whether you’re a hunter seeking a powerful but manageable round or a tactical shooter looking for stopping power, these cartridges offer impressive performance and a thrilling shooting experience.