I just bought a 450 Bushmaster. It’s a hog of a gun and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring it on my next bear hunt.
The 450 Bushmaster is a great bear hunting cartridge. With a 250-grain bullet, there is enough energy to kill black bears at 250 yards and big grizzlies at 175. 300-grain bullets offer deeper penetration for bigger bears. The 450 Bushmaster is more than enough for hunting bears.
The 450 Bushmaster is a potent gun, but there are still a few things you have to do in order to maximize its effectiveness in the woods. I’ll share a few good tips with you.
The 450 Bushmaster is a great caliber for bear hunting.
For hunting black bears, we like to see 1,000 ft/lbs of bullet energy as the minimum to make a clean, ethical kill. The 450 Bushmaster has 1,000 ft/lbs. of energy at 250 yards, so it’s a great bear gun to that distance. Many hunters have killed bears with the 450 Bushmaster in recent years.
Black bears aren’t hard to bring down, normally. The average black bear is only about 200 pounds, which is as big as a mature whitetail deer. The average black bear is very easy to kill and even a .243 will do fine. But, black bears can get to be 500 pounds.
The Michigan state record black bear was shot near my home. They can get big and can require a big gun to do the job well. The 450 is a big gun. It shoots like a hot 12-gauge sabot slug; big, heavy, and hard-hitting. It’s a powerhouse of big game-killing ballistic power.
A recent discussion in a Michigan bear hunting group brought in hundreds of pictures of black bears killed with the 450, all ranging from 200 to 400-pounds. The consensus here is that it works and it works well.
I know the 450 is kind of a regional thing. It’s incredibly popular in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana due to restrictions on hunting with longer-range rifles. in other areas, the 450 is kind of an alien. It’s currently the most popular hunting rifle in Michigan, closely followed by the 350 Legend.
Anyways, the point is that we’ve tried it and tested it a lot. Not a single hunter in Michigan would have a single doubt about taking the 450 on a bear hunt. Even up north (where I live) where we can shoot any rifle, the 450 is right on the top of the list for bears.
450 Bushmaster is more powerful than the 45/70
The 450 Bushmaster is more powerful than the 45/70. with a 250-grain bullet, the Bushmaster has 2686 ft/lbs of muzzle energy and the 45/70 has 2276 ft/lbs. of energy. The Bushmaster is nearly 20 percent more powerful than a full-power 45/70.
The 45/70 is a classic mid-range bear hunting cartridge. It’s traditionally said to be good to 200 yards on a bear. But, it’s not as powerful as the Bushmaster. Like I said, the 450 Bushmaster is a hog. There are some drawbacks to it, but mid-range power isn’t one of them.
The initial bullet energy of the 450 is actually in the same ballpark as a 30-06. Most hunters don’t really know that. Hunters across the country are willing to use a “big ole 45/70” for bears and even bison. Meanwhile, it’s ballistically outclassed by the 450 Bushmaster.
450 Bushmaster may be better than 30-06 at close range.
The 30-06 is the king of American hunting rifles to 600 yards. But at shorter ranges, the 450 proves more devastating large game. While the 30-06 is powerful and deep-penetrating, the 450 Bushmaster punches a very big hole. Within 200 yards, the 450 Bushmaster is the better choice for average-sized bears.
Here’s a point I’ve made a few times about hunting rifle selection, particularly about the 30-06 or larger guns. The 30-06 has enough energy to kill a deer or black bear at 1,000 yards. It’s still got just over 1000 ft/lbs. of energy there. Why not at least consider a rifle that will perform better up to your max hunting distance?
Very few hunters make shots beyond 300 yards. If you already keep your shots within 200 or 300 yards, why not select a rifle that is tailor-built for maximum effectiveness within that range?
I’m not saying that the 450 is better than a 30-06, I’m saying that at 250 yards and under, the 450 tends to cause a more devastating wound. That’s really only because it’s a larger bullet. The 450 Bushmaster regularly expands up to an inch which causes a more drastic shockwave of energy than we often see in a 30-06.
The only hindrance of the 450 Ballistics is that it doesn’t always penetrate as deeply as the 30-06. The 30-06 over penetrates most game, whereas the 450 bushmaster uses up more of its energy in an animal before penetrating, which usually makes a wider hole at mid-range. Still, the 450 penetrates enough for big animals. I hope that makes sense.
The 450 is the most popular caliber in Michigan for big game. We use it for deer, bear, and elk. My friends in Texas like it for large hogs. I would not feel at all undergunned with the 450 against the largest bear in the state.
If you want to look at some cheap 450 Bushmaster rifles, I recommend and own Bear Creek Arsenal rifles. They’re solid and accurate enough to drop deer and bear here in Michigan.
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450 Bushmaster Recoils like a 30-06
The Bushmaster has an average recoil of 22-foot pounds. The 30-06 averages 21-foot pounds. They are similar, but the 450 Bushmaster maxes out higher than the 30-06. Both rounds are comparable in recoil. It’s not pleasant to shoot an entire box in one sitting.
The 450 Bushmaster has a manageable recoil compared to the 300 Win Mag and 375 H&H, but it’s not light. Giving a 450 to a youth is a great way to instill in them a slew of bad shooting habits like flinching. Most people develop some level of flinch if they regularly shoot a rifle with a recoil of more than 18-foot pounds.
According to a local sharpshooter school instructor, everybody has some level of flinch. I personally know that after shooting half a box of 450, my accuracy decreased, I got a bit jumpy, and according to the time I forgot to insert the magazine (fired an empty chamber) I flinched to the left.
To put it in perspective, My Mosin Nagant felt light compared to that recoil. I’m not saying that it’s a shoulder killer, just that it’s got some kick. I’m a construction worker with stout shoulders and after half a box, I wanted to quit.
The 450 is a potent round. If you want to kill big animals like bears, elk, or moose, it’s a mighty fine option. For deer, I might consider opting for something easier to handle like the 350 Legend or 7.62×39. The 450 Bushmaster could be a fine choice if you wanted one gun for all big game.
Interested in a 450 Bushmaster? Consider a side-charging AR from Bear Creek Arsenal. That’s what I hunt with. Or, buy a complete upper and swap calibers in seconds. Click the add below to check them out.
How Powerful is a 450 Bushmaster?
The 450 Bushmaster has between 2,000 and 2,700 ft/lbs of bullet energy at the muzzle. Some bullets, like Winchester Deer Season XP are designed for quick expansion on deer. MOat bullets are delayed expansion, suitable for everything from deer to moose. There are also solid bullets designed for deep penetration on thick-skinned dangerous game.
One hunter named Rio Wheeler said this about the 450 Bushmaster
The Hornady 250 grain FTX .450 Bushmaster has performed flawlessly for me with all one shot kills on 2,200+ lbs Bull Bison, 220 lbs Wild Boar, Black Hawaiian Sheep, Corsican Sheep and a 310 lbs Wild Pig Sow.
He also reported full penetration on American Bison using Hornady’s 250-grain 450 Bushmaster ammo. It’s safe to say that this stuff works on big animals.
Some of the most powerful 450 Bushmaster loads are sold by Buffalo Bore. I like their ammo, it’s pretty impressive. Buffalo Bore 450 ammo is loaded with heavier bullets than other manufacturers and is loaded to max pressures.
They have 275-grain a 275-grain copper hollow point going 200 fps, a 300-grain hollow point load that goes 1950 fps, and a 360-grain hardcast going 1700 fps designed for maximum penetration on dangerous game.
Effective Range of a 450 Bushmaster
The 450 Bushmaster is not effective beyond 300 yards. After that, there isn’t enough energy to reliably take game. Because the bullet has a low sectional density, it slows down and drops sharply. It is effective to 300 yards for deer, 200 yards for elk, and 100 yards for dangerous game.
Most hunters prefer to keep the 450 at or under 200 yards because after that, you have to compensate for drop. If you zero it at 150 yards, you will be able to just point and shoot out to 175 yards. But between 175 and 200, it drops an additional 4.5 inches. It drops an additional 7 inches by 225 yards, and 8 inches more by 250 yards.
If you don’t know exactly what distance the animal is, you’d better just keep it close. You should have a rangefinder if you want to stretch the 450 to it’s limits. But, up to 175 yards (know what that looks like), just zero it at 150 for a point-and-shoot hunting rifle.
Best 450 Bushmaster Ammo for Hunting Bears
Hornady’s 250-grain ammo is an all-around good performer for deer, giant hogs, and bears. If you want a load that will take the breath away from a Bison, apparently that will do it as long as you hit the lungs. You can go to a 300-grain controlled expansion bullet if your gun likes something heavier.
Federal has a great 300-grain load called Non-Typical 450 Bushmaster. it’s one of the pricier ones though. I’d start out with the 250-grain Hornady loads and see how they shoot for you. If you want the hottest loads out there or something for a dangerous game, check out Buffalo Bore’s line of 450 Bushmaster ammo. They do a good job of telling you about the different loads they make.