One thing I learned from these guns is that they both mean business. The 450 Bushmaster ad 30-06 are both powerful guns that give me a whallop and put the whammy on deer.
The 30-06 is flatter shooting and has a much further effective range than the 450 Bushmaster. The 450 Bushmaster is good up to 300-yards and is a better brush gun. Both are loud, heavy recoiling rifles. The 450 uses shorter barrels than the 30-06 and comes in in AR-15 style rifles.
So, which one might be better for you? There’s a lot here to discuss. I’ll go over all the details so you’ll be able to make the best choice for your needs.
Bushmaster 450 is Good to 300-Yards for Deer
The 450 Bushmaster has a max effective range of 300-yards for deer. After that, it’s lost too much energy and has too much drop to be practical. the 450 fires a wide, heavy bullet at moderate velocities. It has a low ballistic coefficient, but a wide surface diameter that makes a pretty big hole.
The 450 Bushmaster has proved itself deadly on Black Bear and deer-sized game at 300-yards. At that point, it’s lost about 55% of its energy and has around 20-inches of bullet drop. At 300-yards, the 450 Bushmaster has around 900 ft/lbs. of energy, which is significantly more than a hot-loaded 357 Magnum right out of the barrel.
The 450 Bushmaster needs about 850 ft/lbs. of minimum energy to penetrate adequately on a deer. With smaller calibers, it takes less (around 700 ft/lbs, for a 30. caliber). You can get away with less, but that minimum standard takes into consideration variables like a less than perfect shot angle.
The Bushmaster hits the 850-900 ft/lbs of energy mark right at 300-yards. After that it drops off very sharply, losing more than 100 ft/lbs. and adding 20-inches of bullet drop in the next 50-yards. To put that into perspective, the average 45 ACP has around 450 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle, and the hottest loaded 45 ACP +P has near 560ft/lbs.
The reason the Bushmaster has a distance issue is that it fires a big, heavy, short bullet. That means it can’t handle a very aerodynamic bullet. That’s really the big limiter of the 450 Bushmaster is that it just doesn’t have an aerodynamic bullet. But, it doesn’t really need one. The 450 Bushmaster seems to work just fine out to 300 yards.
The 30-06 can Kill Deer at 1,000-Yards
The 30-06 has enough power to kill a deer at 1,000 yards with standard hunting ammunition. Whether or not you can hit the target at that distance that’s another question. With most 30-06 hunting ammunition, you still have near 1,000 foot-pounds of energy at 1,000 yards.
Because it uses a longer profiled more aerodynamic bullet, it retains its energy much much better than the 450 Bushmaster and that’s what gives it such a far effective range. Plus the bullet has a lot of power to start with. It really is a pretty impressive round especially for something that was designed in 1906.
The 30-06 starts off with both a significantly higher velocity, around 800 fps more, and somewhat more power than the 450 Bushmaster. And, it just holds onto its energy much better. The skinnier, longer bullets it uses have a lot less drag, which also means it tends to penetrate better in an animal.
It starts out at around 2,800 fps and 2,700 ft/lbs. of energy at the muzzle. Here’s a chart comparing the energy, Velocity, and drop of both cartridges.
|450 Bushmaster |
250-grain Hornady FTX
|Energy||1868 ft/lbs.||1274 ft/lbs||875 ft/lbs.||644 ft/lbs||522 ft/lbs|
|Velocity||1834 fps||1515 fps||1275 fps||1077 fps||969 fps|
180-grain Hornady GMX
|Energy||2721 ft/lbs.||2353 ft/lbs.||2024 ft/lbs.||1732 ft/lbs.||1474 ft/lbs.|
|Velocity||2606 fps||2406 fps||2250 fps||2082 fps||1921 fps|
The big takeaway here is that the 30-06 Is a fine gun for long-range shooting and the Bushmaster drops like a rock after 300-Yards. at 500-yards, it still has more energy than the 44-Magnum starts with. It’s a potent round.
The 450 still has enough energy at 400 and 500-yards to do some damage, and it would likely still expand at 400-yards, but the insane bullet drop you’d need to compensate for is too extreme for any practical hunting.
450 Bushmaster is Good for Dangerous Game to 100-Yards
The 450 Bushmaster will take Buffalo, Bison, and large grizzlies at 100-yards without reserve. I would personally recommend that as a hard limit though. The bullet slows down very quickly because it has a lot of drag. Past 100-yards, it may not penetrate enough to get a good double lung shot on a big, mean animal.
Up to 100-Yarrs, there should be absolutely no problem. I’ve seen numerous guys take their 450 Bushmaster after big bears, and even take large Bison with full penetration. For just big animals like Moose, Elk, or Bison, most any bullet 250-grains and up would be just fine.
For the true dangerous game, you want one that will expand slower and penetrate deeper, just to be sure it punches a hole all the way to and through the vitals. Some dangerous game hunters prefer to use non-expanding, solid brass bullets for maximum penetration on dangerous animals.
That way, even if you have a bad shot angle you can still likely punch through muscle and bone and rip a hole through the heart or lungs. Personally, I’m partial to the expanding all-copper bullets like the Barnes 275-grain TSX bullet. Copper bullets like that tend to penetrate about twice as deep as standard copper-jacketed lead core hunting ammo.
With Barnes TSX bullets, I would have no fear of a Cape Buffalo or Coastal Grizzly at 100-yards. The 450 Bushmaster is definitely capable of taking serious big game within its practical range. These, and the solid brass bullets, are becoming more common as a bear defense option with large-bore AR caliber rifles.
A 30-06 is Good for Dangerous Game out to 400-Yards
The 30-06 can make clean kills on large, dangerous game out to 400-yards with proper bullets. At 400 yards it has about 1700 foot-pounds of energy. That’s the minimum energy for a 30 caliber bullet to reliably penetrate deeply enough to take dangerous game like buffalo or big bears in a safe manner.
With the 450 bushmaster that limit is closer to 1850 foot-pounds of energy. But since the 30-06 has a skinnier 30 caliber bullet it takes less energy to fully penetrate than the larger 45 caliber bullet. That’s just based on my own testing and observation.
Some might scoff at the idea of using the 30-06 for dangerous game, particularly dangerous African game. But the 30-06 was from early on used as a dangerous game hunting cartridge. A lot of people don’t realize just how common the 30-06 was used on African safaris in the 1920s thirties and 40s.
It was the preferred hunting cartridge for teddy Roosevelt on his African safaris. The 36 was used by other famous people such as Ernest Hemingway and maintained popular use as a dangerous animal hunting cartridge until the 1980s. It’s still often used today even though the cartridge is over 100 years old.
It used to be pretty common to find bullet weights ranging from 200 to 220-grains for the 30-06. These were usually solid brass, and specifically designed for large, dangerous game. But those can be a little bit hard to find these days. Most modern bullets are maxing out about 180 grains.
Although, you can still find some great heavy, high-power loads from specialty ammo manufacturers like Buffalo Bore. I talk about Buffalo Bore a lot. that’s because I like the ammo. It’s pretty impressive stuff.
Both 30-06 and 450 Bushmaster Have the Same Recoil
The 30-06 has an average recoil of 21 ft/lbs. and a recoil velocity of 12 fps. The 450 Bushmaster averages 22 lbs. of recoil and 12 fps recoil velocity. Both recoil about the same, and both have a serious felt recoil. That much recoil can be hard to handle and is not pleasant to shoot very much.
A lot of shooters can handle that much recoil, with a bit of practice. But, there are a lot of shooters who will develop bad shooting habits and have decreased accuracy with that much recoil. It’s a fairly potent kick. The US Army decided a long time ago that recoil over 17 ft/lbs. tends to negatively impact a shooter’s accuracy.
Personally, It’s more recoil than I want to handle. After shooting ten rounds, I have a crank in my neck, a sore shoulder, and can sometimes feel my back complaining about it. I prefer a rifle that I can shoot at least a full box of ammo for practice without getting sore or starting to flinch.
Having a rifle stock that properly fits you is the biggest factor in reducing felt recoil. A stock with an adjustable length of pull will help a rifle fit several different shooters. That’s one thing I like about the AR-style rifles. Most of them have adjustable stocks.
The 30-06 Performs Best out of a Long Barrel
The 30-06 reaches its true potential in a barrel between 28 and 30-inches long, but it does well in a 24-inch barrel. The 450 Bushmaster is at almost full power in a 16-inch barrel but will show a small gain in velocity in a 24-inch barrel. If you want a compact barrel, the 450 Bushmaster is the best option.
if you fired a full-power 180-grain bullet in a 16-inch barreled 30-06, it will operate at between 200 and 400-fps slower than what the ballistic charts all show. that puts the 180-grain bullet at 2400 fps, and it would have about the same effective range and amount of drop as the 450 Bushmaster.
Plus, the 30-06 is incredibly loud in a short barrel. It’s deafening to the shooter. Not only that but there will also be a very large muzzle flash since the gunpowder didn’t all burn up in the barrel. That much muzzle flash can give you a moment of blindness when shooting in near-dark conditions.
The Bushmaster has less noise to the shooter and much less muzzle flash than the 30-06 in a 16-inch barrel. If you want a handy, short rifle, consider the 450 Bushmaster.
The 450 Bushmaster is a Good Brush Gun
The 450 Bushmaster is a good brush gun. It doesn’t often deflect or tumble after hitting small twigs or leaves like faster, skinnier bullets do. Its low sectional density makes it more stable and gives you a very good chance of hitting your mark even if you accidentally hit a small twig.
I don’t like the term “Brush Gun”. People often think that if you see an animal through a thicket, you can still shoot it with a “Brush Gun”. Well, there is some truth to that. however, you should never shoot at something you can’t clearly see. And, if you wait for a nice, clear shot, you will undoubtedly have more success.
I’m really talking about the accidental problem of your bullet hitting a leaf or twig that you didn’t see. The 450 Bushmaster will deviate very little if at all from its path at moderate ranges. Hunting in thick brush, we are limited to closer shots anyways. wider, heavier, slower bullets resist deflecting and tumbling the most.
Here’s a video that illustrates my point. It’s really insightful and I recommend watching the whole thing.
The 450 Bushmaster is Available in an AR-15
For me, this is really the biggest plus of the 450 Bushmaster. It fits in the chamber of an AR-15. Now, it needs its own barrel, gas system, bolt, and buffer spring, but I can buy an AR-15 chambered in 450 Bushmaster for relatively cheap. If you haven’t tried an AR hunting rifle, you need to soon. It’s a whole different experience.
The AR, while not as classy as a nice blued barrel and walnut stock, is a true utility rifle with tons of easy modifications and endless customizations. They are also generally more compact than traditional hunting rifles, which is a plus for me since I hunt in thickly wooded areas.