.450 Bushmaster : Not All Bullets are Equal, Range Test

Glen comapres some of the newest .450 Bushmaster ammunition.

.450 Bushmaster
.450 Bushmaster

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “Where the rubber meets the road” are lyrics coined by an old Firestone tire commercial with a simple meaning: For anything with wheels and rubber, handling and control come down to the tires.

Similarly, all the shiny steel and fine optics of a firearm come down to one moment of truth: when the bullet strikes its target. This all-important aspect of hunting – specifically deer for the purposes of this discussion – is often overlooked by some relatively savvy hunters.

.450 Bushmaster

Recently, I took the opportunity to compare results of two completely different styles of ammunition for the enormously popular .450 Bushmaster caliber. As you may know, several Mid-Western states, including Michigan, have adopted hunting regulations allowing the use of size-limited, straight-wall-case cartridges in areas heretofore primarily relegated to shotguns. The .450 Bushmaster is near the maximum allowable length and provides ethical hunters a viable option. Although the caliber got its beginning in AR platform rifles, economical bolt –action rifles are now flying off the shelves in an effort to accommodate the growing demand.

Specifically, the Ruger American Rifle was the first one to hit the market, because of the prompting of Randy Brown of Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe, Michigan to produce it for the clamoring whitetail deer hunters. Ruger subsequently cornered the market and Randy became famous for his efforts.

Factory ammunition, however, has been limited in selection with Hornady taking over the lion’s share of sales with its Flex Tip, 250-grain offering. This sledge hammer of a round leaves the muzzle at 2200 feet-per-second (fps) developing a whopping 2686 foot-pounds of energy and has become the go-to ammo for sportsmen and women. Personal anecdotal evidence, plus that conveyed to me, bears out the inherent accuracy and effectiveness of the powerful combination of the handy rifle and load.

Always striving for something better, I was interested to learn of a new ammunition offering in .450 Bushmaster produced by ARX with its 158-grain Inceptor bullet at a substantially faster 2620 fps and 2409 ft. lbs. of energy. This non-expanding bullet, comprised of copper particles blended with a polymer, is engineered for maximum hydraulic displacement and terminal energy transfer to targets through fluted bullets with lateral dispersion creating a venturi effect. Initially, this frangible bullet had been developed to disintegrate upon impact with hard targets such as steel to eliminate ricochets in competition shooting, or to avoid over-penetration in self-defense situations with handgun calibers.

My unscientific test to compare the two different styles of ammunition involved the Ruger American rifle and a stack of soaked newsprint catalogs. Fortunately, I was able to locate two shoulder blades found as remnants from a deer that had obviously expired many years ago and placed them in front of the catalog expansion medium. Here’s where the “rubber met the road.”

At close range the ARX Inceptor bullet struck the bone and proceeded through some 2200 pages of wet pages – one complete catalog plus 10 percent of the next one. The Hornady Flex Tip bullet hit a corresponding bone and traveled through two complete catalogs and well into a third one.

If you’d like to see how the test was conducted go online to YouTube and enter .450 Bushmaster Bullet Integrity Test and see for yourself. (Video Below)

The experiment concluded with a search for what remained of the two bullets. The recovered Inceptor made a violent entrance and completely disintegrated to its final resting place where only a tiny fragment of the original projectile was found – not even enough to bother weighing! On the other hand, the Hornady Flex Tip was peeled from well over 4,000 layers of paper, weighed 170 grains and had mushroomed to about 50-percent more than its original diameter of .452 inches, although the copper jacket had separated from the lead core.

The conclusion is that velocity and energy are only important if they can deliver a better wound channel and the less-expensive Hornady ammo and its Flex Tip design provide a much more appropriate transfer of said energy for a big-game hunting round.

Glen Wunderlich
Glen Wunderlich

About Glen Wunderlich:

Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Visit : www.thinkingafield.org

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Guess it comes down to how dead do you want it?

Can’t comment on the 450, but I killed a deer with a 240 grain 45-70 at 100 yards. Did an awful lot of damage. Went back to a much lighter .240 Weatherby. Kills them effectively and leaves some meat for me


.45-70 is well known for NOT destroying meat.

I think your mistake was using a light-for-caliber 240gr bullet. (I don’t even know where you found a 240gr .45-70 round.)

Try the basic 405gr load at about 1330fps. Or the 300gr JHP at 1810fps. Remington makes both with the Core-Lokt bullet and they are amazing for deer.

And you won’t have any bloodshot meat or damage.


What a fag, do you have that many 10’foot

Scott Jacob

I found another good resource for hunting rounds at Steinel Ammo. 250gr SCHP 2100 fps Decent cartridges for hunting. I have not tried them in a AR platform.

Richard Bernal

Hornady not hornaDay


Can we stop with the Ethical hunter BS. Why do you have to type that, do you have a separate blog for unethical hunters? One mans so called ethical shot is another unethical shot. It creates divides grouping or stereo typing hunters. I guess all bow hunters are un ethical. Non hunters would say ALL hunters are un ethical putting you all in the same boat. Its a non needed subjective term.

Larry Miller

I agree. I do not like that term used so freely and loosley, either. In this case I think the author was trying to avoid using the word: illegal, for those hunters that do not follow this particular regulation regarding gauge/caliber size. In a given context, not following the letter of the game laws, makes one an Illegal hunter-perhaps poacher. However, that said, we must all return to the words definition: adjective lacking moral principles; unwilling to adhere to proper rules of conduct. (codified laws? or as you pointed out: subjective thresholds) not in accord with the standards of a… Read more »


Yea I’m fine with the use of illegal. You can be perfectly legal yet deemed unethical depending on the criteria a person wants to use. If its illegal then I suppose it also might not be ethical too. 🙂


I think that 450 BushMaster & 45-70 are both available in a modern spoerting rifle, aka the MSR (AR15). I would like to see a head to head comparison between these two cartridges. Even a bolt action rifle comparison would work too.

Bill Dershem

First- I am NO FAN of the fluted, pressed powder, lightweight bullet designs BUT.. I don’t see how the author “concluded” that the bullet that went TWICE as deep into the target has a “better transfer of energy”. He says velocity and energy are only important if they create a better wound channel… then says the ARX made a violent entrance and disintegrated… stopping at 2200 pages.. The FTX made a single hole twice as deep… Which one of these has dumped its energy faster?? The one that exploded in the target or the one that skipping across the ground… Read more »


Great test! At least I know what my bullet will do when I shoot a deer AT 10 FEET! It would be great to see the same test at a realistic hunting distance (75-200 yards)


Well….how about you go ahead and do so. Oh ya, easier to whine about someone else than get off the pot yourself. What a democrat!

Matt in Oklahoma

I’m so glad to see someone actually test things and not just jump on the fanboy bandwagon. I’d love to see a 50-75yd test.


I’d love to see that test with the .450 Marlin 300gr Barnes TSX, even the 250gr TSX.


What were the corresponding temporary or permanent wound channels? Underwood makes ac “penetrator “ and “hunter” ammo for thr 450 Bush, in 240 & 220 gr, producing 2,700-2800 ft/lbs ofce energy with double the temporary and permanent wound channels of the Hornaday.
So uts good that we have three levels of penetration and wounding w 450 Bush. The Horbaday is 1/2 the orice of the Underwood. The arx is $45/20 at Midway, Hornaday is $28 most everywhere, and Underwood is $60 from Underwood. All good choices for a great hunting/vehicle defense round, although the arx doesn’t sound good against vehicles.