When it comes to choosing a hard-hitting, straight-walled cartridge for hunting or shooting, the decision often comes down to 350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster. As a firearms enthusiast, I’ve spent considerable time exploring the characteristics and capabilities of these two popular cartridges, each with its unique advantages and trade-offs.
Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or an avid shooter, understanding the differences between the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster can be pivotal in selecting the perfect round for your needs. In this comparison, I’ll delve into the key features and performance aspects of both cartridges, helping you make an informed choice for your next outdoor adventure or range session.
What is 350 Legend?
The .350 Legend is a relatively new rifle cartridge introduced by Winchester Ammunition in 2019. It was designed as a straight-walled cartridge for use in states with regulations that require such ammunition for hunting purposes. The cartridge was specifically developed for deer hunting, offering improved performance over other straight-walled cartridges.
The .350 Legend has a bullet diameter of .355 inches (9 mm) and a case length of 1.71 inches (43.5 mm). It operates at relatively low pressures, making it suitable for use in modern sporting rifles (AR-15 platform) as well as bolt-action rifles. It delivers moderate recoil and has a relatively flat trajectory, making it effective for hunting at ranges up to 200 yards.
The cartridge is popular among hunters because it offers good terminal performance, with its large-diameter bullet delivering good energy transfer and expansion. It is also known for its low recoil, which makes it accessible to a wide range of shooters, including those who may be sensitive to heavy recoil.
Overall, the .350 Legend was designed to provide a versatile and effective option for hunters in areas that mandate the use of straight-walled cartridges, combining good performance with modern rifle platforms.
What is 450 Bushmaster?
The .450 Bushmaster is a rifle cartridge designed for big-game hunting and AR-15 platform rifles. It was developed by Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms and later licensed by Bushmaster Firearms International. The cartridge was specifically created to offer significant stopping power at short to medium ranges.
The .450 Bushmaster has a bullet diameter of .452 inches (11.5 mm) and a case length of 1.7 inches (43 mm). It is a straight-walled cartridge, making it legal for hunting in states that have restrictions on the use of bottlenecked cartridges. The cartridge operates at high pressures and delivers substantial energy to the target.
One of the primary purposes of the .450 Bushmaster is to provide a powerful cartridge for hunting large game, such as deer, boar, and other similar-sized animals, at relatively close distances. It is capable of delivering excellent terminal performance, with heavy bullets that expand well and penetrate deeply. The cartridge’s design allows it to be used in standard AR-15 rifles with a modified upper receiver and appropriate magazines.
Due to its power and versatility, the .450 Bushmaster has gained popularity among hunters who prefer the AR-15 platform and require a hard-hitting cartridge for taking down game in dense brush or wooded areas. It offers a good balance between manageable recoil and stopping power, making it effective within a range of around 200 yards.
It’s worth noting that laws and regulations regarding the use of specific cartridges for hunting can vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area before using the .450 Bushmaster or any other cartridge for hunting purposes.
Quick 350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster Comparison Table
|Characteristic||.350 Legend||.450 Bushmaster|
|Origin||United States||United States|
|Bullet Diameter||.357 inches (9.07mm)||.452 inches (11.53mm)|
|Case Length||1.71 inches (43.43mm)||1.70 inches (43.18mm)|
|Overall Length||2.26 inches (57.4mm)||2.26 inches (57.4mm)|
|Rim Diameter||.378 inches (9.6mm)||.473 inches (12.01mm)|
|Maximum Pressure||55,000 psi||38,500 psi|
|Typical Bullet Weight||145-180 grains||250-300 grains|
|Muzzle Velocity||Varies by load (typically 2,200-2,350 fps)||Varies by load (typically 2,100-2,300 fps)|
|Muzzle Energy||Varies by load (typically 1,700-1,800 ft-lbs)||Varies by load (typically 2,500-2,700 ft-lbs)|
|Magazine Capacity||Standard AR-15 magazines (typically 10-30 rounds)||Standard AR-15 magazines (typically 5-7 rounds)|
|Effective Range||200-300 yards||200-250 yards|
|Recoil||Moderate||Moderate to Heavy|
|Purpose||Versatile, suitable for hunting deer and hogs||Powerful, suitable for hunting large game, such as deer and bear|
350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster Similarities
AR-15 Platform Compatibility: Both cartridges are designed to work with AR-15-style rifles. This allows shooters to utilize the familiar AR-15 platform while choosing between these two cartridges based on their specific needs.
Straight-Walled Cartridges: Both the .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster are straight-walled cartridges. This design is often preferred in regions with regulations that require straight-walled cartridges for hunting purposes.
Moderate Recoil: While the recoil of the .450 Bushmaster is slightly heavier due to its increased power, both cartridges still have moderate recoil compared to some larger rifle cartridges. This makes them manageable for most shooters.
Effective Range: Both cartridges are generally considered effective for hunting within a range of approximately 200-300 yards, with the .350 Legend having a slight edge in terms of a flatter trajectory at longer distances.
Big-Game Hunting: Both cartridges are suitable for hunting larger game, with the .450 Bushmaster being particularly renowned for its stopping power on animals like deer and bear. The .350 Legend, while better for medium-sized game, can still be used for big-game hunting.
Magazine Options: Both cartridges offer magazine compatibility with the AR-15 platform, although the .450 Bushmaster may require modified or specialized magazines for reliable feeding.
Reloadability: Handloaders and reloaders can find components (brass, bullets, primers) for both cartridges, allowing for customization of ammunition to suit specific needs.
Differences Between 350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster Comparison
The 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster are both powerful cartridges that have gained popularity among hunters and shooters. Here’s a comparison of their ballistics:
|Cartridge||Muzzle Velocity||Muzzle Energy||Effective Range|
|350 Legend||2,350 fps||1,800 ft-lbs||200-250 yards|
|450 Bushmaster||2,200 fps||2,700 ft-lbs||200-250 yards|
The 450 Bushmaster has a slight edge in muzzle energy, but the 350 Legend has a higher muzzle velocity. Both cartridges have an effective range of 200-250 yards, making them suitable for hunting medium to large game.
When it comes to bullet selection, the 450 Bushmaster has a wider variety of options available. However, the 350 Legend has been gaining popularity and more bullet options are becoming available.
Overall, both cartridges are capable of taking down game at reasonable distances. The choice between the two comes down to personal preference and specific hunting or shooting needs.
When it comes to accuracy, both the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster have their pros and cons. The 350 Legend has a flatter trajectory and less recoil, making it easier to shoot accurately at longer ranges.
This is due in part to its smaller bullet size and faster velocity. However, the 450 Bushmaster has a heavier bullet and more energy, which can make it more accurate at shorter ranges and better for hunting larger game.
In terms of ammunition, the 350 Legend is more commonly available and has a wider variety of loads, which can make it easier to find the right load for your specific firearm and shooting needs. The 450 Bushmaster, on the other hand, has a more limited selection of loads, but some hunters prefer the heavier bullet for its stopping power.
Ultimately, the accuracy of both cartridges will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific firearm, the shooter’s skill level, and the conditions in which it is being used. It is important to test different loads and practice shooting under different conditions to determine which cartridge is best for your individual needs.
When comparing the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster, recoil is an important factor to consider. Recoil refers to the backward movement of the firearm after a shot is fired. This can impact accuracy, as well as the shooter’s comfort and ability to handle the firearm.
The 350 Legend has been touted for its low recoil, making it a popular choice for hunters and shooters of all levels. This is due in part to the cartridge’s design, which features a straight-walled case and a relatively low powder charge. The result is a cartridge that delivers less felt recoil than other popular hunting rounds, such as the 308 Winchester.
The 450 Bushmaster, on the other hand, is known for its significant recoil. This is due in part to the cartridge’s larger size and heavier bullet. While some shooters may find the recoil manageable, others may find it uncomfortable or even painful to shoot for extended periods of time.
Ultimately, the recoil of a firearm is a subjective experience that can vary depending on factors such as the shooter’s size and strength, the weight of the firearm, and the type of ammunition used. However, for those who are particularly sensitive to recoil or looking for a more comfortable shooting experience, the 350 Legend may be the better choice.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster is ammunition availability. Both cartridges are relatively new, but they have gained popularity in recent years due to their unique features and capabilities.
When it comes to availability, the 450 Bushmaster has a slight advantage over the 350 Legend. This is because the 450 Bushmaster has been around for a few years longer, and it has had more time to establish itself in the market. As a result, there are more options available when it comes to ammunition, and it is easier to find 450 Bushmaster rounds at your local gun store or online retailer.
However, this does not mean that the 350 Legend is difficult to find. In fact, the 350 Legend has gained a lot of popularity in a short amount of time, and it is quickly becoming a favorite among hunters and shooters. Many major ammunition manufacturers, such as Winchester and Hornady, have started producing 350 Legend rounds, and they are widely available at most gun stores and online retailers.
It is also worth noting that the 350 Legend has some advantages over the 450 Bushmaster when it comes to ammunition. For example, the 350 Legend is capable of shooting bullets with a higher ballistic coefficient, which means they retain their energy and trajectory better over long distances. Additionally, the 350 Legend is capable of shooting bullets at higher velocities than the 450 Bushmaster, which can be beneficial for certain types of hunting and shooting situations.
Overall, both the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster are capable cartridges with unique features and capabilities. When it comes to ammunition availability, the 450 Bushmaster has a slight advantage, but the 350 Legend is quickly catching up and is widely available at most gun stores and online retailers.
When it comes to price, the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster are fairly comparable. Both cartridges are relatively new to the market, and as such, they are not as widely available as some of the more established calibers. However, there are still a number of options out there for those looking to purchase ammunition for either cartridge.
On average, the cost of 350 Legend ammunition is slightly lower than that of 450 Bushmaster ammunition. This is likely due in part to the fact that the 350 Legend uses a smaller bullet, which requires less material to produce. However, the difference in price is not significant enough to be a deciding factor for most shooters.
It is worth noting that the cost of ammunition can vary depending on a number of factors, including the brand, the specific load, and the retailer. As such, it is always a good idea to shop around and compare prices before making a purchase.
Both the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster are excellent choices for hunting applications. They are both designed to take down medium to large game at short to medium ranges. However, there are some differences between the two cartridges that hunters should be aware of.
The 350 Legend is a great choice for hunters who are looking for a cartridge that is lightweight, low recoil, and accurate. It is a straight-walled cartridge that is legal in many states for hunting deer and other game. The 350 Legend is also known for its impressive penetration and expansion, making it an effective choice for hunting in thick brush or wooded areas.
The 450 Bushmaster, on the other hand, is a more powerful cartridge that is designed for hunting larger game at close to medium ranges. It has a larger bullet diameter and heavier bullet weight than the 350 Legend, which makes it a better choice for hunting animals like elk, moose, and bear. The 450 Bushmaster also has a more significant recoil than the 350 Legend, which can be a concern for some hunters.
When it comes down to choosing between the two cartridges, hunters should consider the type of game they will be hunting, the range they will be shooting at, and their personal preferences for recoil and accuracy. Both cartridges are excellent choices for hunting applications, and hunters can’t go wrong with either one.
Another important factor to consider when choosing between the 350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster is any legal restrictions that may apply to the use of these cartridges for hunting. In some states, there are restrictions on the use of certain types of cartridges for hunting, particularly those that are considered “high-powered.”
The 350 Legend was specifically designed to comply with these restrictions, making it a popular choice among hunters who live in states where these regulations apply. The 450 Bushmaster, on the other hand, may be prohibited for use in some states or require special permits or licenses.
It is important to research the hunting regulations in your state or the state where you plan to hunt before choosing a cartridge. Be sure to check with local authorities or consult with an experienced hunter or firearms expert if you are unsure about the legal status of a particular cartridge.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster
|Characteristic||.350 Legend||.450 Bushmaster|
|Versatility||Suitable for medium-sized game (deer, hogs) and varmint hunting.||Powerful for larger game (deer, bear) and big-game hunting.|
|Ammunition Availability||Widespread availability and variety of loads.||Decent availability, although not as widespread as some other cartridges.|
|Recoil||Moderate recoil, making it more manageable for many shooters.||Moderate to heavy recoil, but still manageable for most shooters.|
|Magazine Compatibility||Uses standard AR-15 magazines without modifications.||Requires modified or specialized magazines for reliable feeding.|
|Muzzle Velocity||Higher velocity for a flatter trajectory and better long-range performance.||Slightly lower velocity compared to .350 Legend.|
|Ballistic Performance||Good accuracy and less bullet drop at longer distances.||Offers more energy and stopping power at shorter ranges.|
|Limited Big-Game Use||Less suitable for hunting large game such as bear compared to .450 Bushmaster.||Not as versatile for smaller game as .350 Legend.|
|Magazine Capacity||Limited capacity (typically 5-7 rounds in specialized magazines).||Smaller magazine capacity compared to many other cartridges.|
|Recoil (Compared to Others)||Can still be considered moderate, but some shooters may prefer lower-recoil options.||Considered moderate to heavy recoil, potentially affecting follow-up shots.|
|Specialized Magazines||May require hunting-specific or proprietary magazines for reliable feeding.||Magazine availability can be more limited.|
|Ammo Cost||Typically, ammunition for .350 Legend is more affordable.||Ammo can be more expensive and less widely available.|
|Long-Range Energy||Less energy retention at long ranges compared to .450 Bushmaster.||More energy retention at shorter ranges for quick, decisive shots.|
FAQs about 350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster
Q: What are the primary uses of the .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster?
.350 Legend: It is versatile and suitable for hunting medium-sized game like deer and hogs. It can also be used for varmint hunting and target shooting.
.450 Bushmaster: It is designed for hunting larger game, such as deer and bear, and is known for its stopping power at shorter ranges.
Q: Which cartridge has better long-range performance?
The .350 Legend generally has better long-range performance due to its higher velocity and flatter trajectory.
Q: Do they both work with AR-15-style rifles?
Yes, both cartridges are designed to work with AR-15-style rifles, but the .450 Bushmaster often requires modifications or specialized magazines for reliable feeding.
Q: What’s the recoil like for these cartridges?
Both cartridges have moderate recoil, but the .450 Bushmaster produces slightly heavier recoil due to its increased power.
Q: Which cartridge offers better ammunition availability?
The .350 Legend typically has more widespread ammunition availability and a greater variety of loads compared to the .450 Bushmaster.
Q: Can I use standard AR-15 magazines with these cartridges?
Yes, the .350 Legend can use standard AR-15 magazines without modifications. The .450 Bushmaster, however, often requires modified or specialized magazines for reliable feeding.
Q: Are there any restrictions or regulations regarding these cartridges for hunting?
Hunting regulations vary by location, so it’s essential to check with local authorities to ensure compliance with hunting laws and regulations for each cartridge.
Q: Which cartridge is more affordable in terms of ammunition cost?
Typically, ammunition for the .350 Legend is more affordable and has better availability compared to the .450 Bushmaster, which can be more expensive and less widely available.
When it comes to choosing between 350 Legend vs 450 Bushmaster, there is no clear winner. Both cartridges have their own unique features and capabilities that make them suitable for different types of hunting and shooting.
Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preferences and individual needs. Consider factors such as ballistics, accuracy, recoil, ammunition availability, price, and legal considerations when making your decision.
It is also important to remember that no cartridge is perfect for every situation. It may be worth considering owning both a 350 Legend and a 450 Bushmaster, as this will give you the flexibility to choose the best cartridge for any given hunting or shooting scenario.
Whichever cartridge you choose, be sure to practice safe firearm handling and always follow local hunting regulations. With the right cartridge and a little practice, you can enjoy a successful and rewarding hunting experience.
Shelly Jark Drakny is a retired SF weapons sergeant (E-5 or above) with a military occupational specialty (MOS) code 18B. He served 24 years in the military, including assignments in SF, Infantry, and Special Forces.