The History Of The .450 Bushmaster

If you’ve been to a gun shop at any point in the last ten years, you’ve likely heard or seen the .450 Bushmaster.

However, if you’re a whitetail hunter, it’s likely that you didn’t give the cartridge more than a passing glance. The common misconception about the .450 Bushmaster is that it’s just not suited for the shooting style used for hunting big game.

But more and more hunters are picking up the cartridge to hunt.

To understand the bushmaster, it is essential that you learn the cartridge’s history and how it’s evolved over the years.

In this post, I will give you a .450 Bushmaster history lesson to reveal what the .450 Bushmaster may offer you the next time you go hunting.

.450 Bushmaster History


The cartridge was conceived by the late great Jeff Cooper, who was popular for creating the modern technique of handgun shooting.

He was an authority figure in the self-defense space if I’ve ever seen one.

Jeff was dissatisfied with the 5.56 NATO cartridge that the US Military had adopted. Quite controversially, he went on record to call the move to make the cartridge’s use mainstream a mistake. 

He had envisioned that semi-automatic rifles would have larger bores and use more powerful bullets. He wanted the weapons to be powerful enough to kill big game in one shot at 250 yards.

Such a cartridge would also be capable of getting the job done quickly in a battle scenario.

At the time, it seemed impossible, and most ignored Jeff’s nonconformity.

Design Innovation

The .45 ACP cartridge was Jeff’s favorite cartridge, and he wanted to see a similar bullet designed for bigger guns. He knew that a gun like that would put the enemy or big game down in one hit.

He knew that the bullet couldn’t possibly put down something as big as a brown bear in one shot. However, hogs, brown bears, and deer would make the perfect targets for such a cartridge. 


Jeff’s design remained theoretical until LeMag Firearms’ Tim LeGendre decided to bring it to life. Tim decided that it was time the AR-15 got a more powerful cartridge, and he licensed the design to Bushmaster.

While the company immediately began manufacturing guns, it turned to Hornady to manufacture cartridges based on Tim’s design.

Tim had already made the .45 Professional at that point in time, so Hornady shortened that cartridges case to 1.7 inches. The company went on to make 250-grain, .454 inch SST Flex-Tip bullets, and the rest is history.


It didn’t take long for the cartridge to find its place in the market. Just like Jeff had thought, the .450 Bushmaster had become the go-to bullet to battle feral swine and other, bigger game.

While the .450 Bushmaster was compatible with almost every standard AR, it was only MSR hunters and select fans of the AR that found the cartridge’s true potential for battling big game.

The cartridge didn’t become mainstream for a long, long while, and it took it a little over a decade for it to get the recognition it deserves.

With its recent rise in popularity, other manufacturers have begun to offer their own cartridge variants.

Role of Legislation

One of the main reasons it gained popularity only recently is that high-power centerfire rifles weren’t yet legal in many states until legislation began to loosen a few years ago.

Even a few years ago, hunters were limited to using shotguns and pistols because the government was concerned about the hazards that a high-power cartridge would pose in areas with denser populations. 

Indiana got the ball rolling in 2007, and in 2014, Michigan legislated the use of straight-wall cartridges, which is when the .450 Bushmaster rapidly began to gain popularity.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle 

Seeing that the cartridge was getting a lot more popular, Ruger, with the aid of the Gunsite Academy, created the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle.

The creation of the gun made Jeff Cooper’s vision of having a rifle that fires a one-shot-and-done cartridge a reality.

Many other companies, including The Savage Arms, began to manufacture carbines chambered in .450 Bushmaster.

Every manufacturer now wants to give Jeff’s vision its own spin.

Why Not Just Use A Pistol?

If you’re a veteran, there’s a good chance that you question the need for the .450 Bushmaster. After all, rifles that shoot pistol cartridges have existed for a long time now.

While cartridges like the .44 Remington Magnum work great for hunting big game, they have shorter case lengths. 

Not only is the .450 Bushmaster larger, but it also offers an increased charge when compared to options like the .44 Remington Magnum.

Hence the need for having a rifle built for the cartridge.

The Types of Rifles Popping Up For the .450 Bushmaster

Walk into your local gun store, and you’ll find that three types of weapons support the .450 Bushmaster: ARs, bolt-actions, and single-shots.

A lot of hunters would agree that using a single-shot rifle makes hunting a lot more fun. Plus, it enforces ethical hunting – you must only take one shot to get the job done. 

The .450 Bushmaster offers devastating power, and it’s very accurate. Taking the shot from a single-shot rifle is also a lot more satisfying in a hunting scenario.

Additionally, single-shot rifles tend to be affordable, making it the perfect hunting rifle to get for young hunters looking to hunt big game. 

That concludes my .450 Bushmaster history lesson. You now know everything you need to know about the cartridge!

With a growing number of states legislating the use of bigger guns on hunting grounds, the .450 Bushmaster cartridge will only get more popular.

The growth in demand will get more rifle manufacturers onboard with Jeff’s vision of a bigger, more powerful hunting weapon.

You can expect to see some excellent rifles for the .450 Bushmaster appear in the market in the coming years.

Who knows – the military may end up adopting the cartridge just like Jeff wanted.

This is me, Steve Coffman. I'm the Chief Editor of IGFA. I'm retired military personnel who is now into shooting and hunting. As an outdoor expert, I have experience in dealing with all kinds of guns, from light to heavy firearms. Currently, I'm spending my time hunting, shooting and writing on my blog.