Bushmaster’s newest rifle chambered for the potent 450 Bushmaster cartridge is surprisingly light, accurate, and affordable.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Bushmaster, one of America’s oldest manufacturers of AR rifles, died a quiet death three years ago. The then-parent company Remington stunned consumers by announcing that it would no longer produce Bushmaster firearms. Following Remington’s subsequent bankruptcy, Bushmaster trademarks were purchased by a holding company, and the company is back in a big way. Bushmaster now operates as an independent company in Carson City, Nevada, with a renewed commitment to quality control. That wasn’t exactly a strength during Big Green’s declining years.
Bushmaster currently offers 31 different models of made-in-the-USA AR rifles. Ample evidence of Bushmaster’s focus on quality can be found in the company’s newest rifle, the 450 Bushmaster BOAR (as in beast of a round). This rifle is built specifically for hunters, and as its name implies, the gun is chambered for the potent 450 Bushmaster cartridge, turning an AR-15 into a thumper of a hunting rifle for most North American game when used within the round’s range limitations.
Built for Hunters
The 450 Bushmaster cartridge uses heavy .452-inch diameter bullets, mostly in the 245- to 300-grain range in factory loads, launched at velocities of 1,900-2,200 fps. These bullets will drop like rocks past 200 yards, but they pack more than enough punch inside that distance to handle just about anything that comes your way, excluding big brown bears or grizzlies. In this chambering, the new 450 BOAR rifle is a hog hunter’s dream. I would not hesitate to use it on black bears or other big game, up to and including moose, within a reasonable distance. The gun is certain to find favor with whitetail hunters in straight-wall cartridge states.
The rifle is built around a 7075 forged XM15-E2 lower receiver mated to a 7075 forged, modified A4 flat top upper receiver adorned with a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. The lockup between the upper and lower is nice and snug. Durability and corrosion resistance are enhanced with an MPI-tested bolt and salt bath nitride-finished bolt carrier group. All controls are in the standard locations and configuration, and the upper has a bolt-forward assist. The rifle comes with a sturdy and reliable five-round aluminum magazine.
SEE MORE: Meet the New Big-Bore 450 Bushmaster!
The 450 BOAR is equipped with a 20-inch 4150 CMV (chrome moly vanadium) barrel to achieve maximum velocity with 450 Bushmaster hunting ammo while retaining overall handiness and maneuverability. To my eye, barrel contour is closer to a medium profile than a slender profile. The rate of twist is 1:24 to best stabilize the big 450 Bushmaster cartridges. Barrels are finished with a salt bath nitride treatment for hardness, maximum durability, and resistance to the elements.
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One area where the 450 BOAR improves significantly upon older generations of Bushmaster guns is in the choice of furniture Bushmaster selected for this rifle. For starters, the rifle has a Magpul adjustable UBR GEN2 stock, which is an upgrade from Magpul’s utility/battle rifle stock. It is nearly five ounces lighter but is built tough to handle big-bore AR cartridges and withstand severe impacts. The design provides a consistent cheek weld in any of the stock’s eight positions, and it makes use of multiple QD attachment points and a footman’s loop. There’s also a customizable storage compartment. The gun is equipped with a hand-filling, textured-surface Magpul MOE pistol grip, which also has a storage compartment.
Up front, you’ll find Bushmaster’s proprietary 15-inch aluminum M-LOK handguard, which I rather like for its versatility. It has a full-length Picatinny rail on top and no fewer than 48 M-LOK attachment points, arranged in rows of eight, at the 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 o’clock positions.
The rifle weighs just 7.3 pounds, which puts it on par with many bolt-action hunting rifles. With rifles of this weight, there can be a price to pay when shooting the 450 Bushmaster cartridge, which produces a fair amount of wallop at both ends. Bushmaster has mitigated recoil in this gun with the use of a heavy buffer spring and the addition of a removable Snake Charmer muzzle brake (the muzzle is threaded 11/16X24 to add accessories of your choice). Recoil was still stout, but less than I anticipated from a relatively lightweight rifle chambered for this thumper of a cartridge.
The rifle is equipped with Bushmaster’s new Dedicated Marksman 2-Stage (DM2S) Trigger, which is a definite step up from triggers supplied on most factory AR rifles. As with most 2-stage triggers, you’ll feel some light initial take-up before the trigger stacks solidly. It broke consistently and cleanly at an average pull weight of just a hair over four pounds, but it felt a little lighter than that because it broke so crisply. The trigger on my test rifle had no hint of creep. I normally change out the trigger on most ARs to suit my preference for triggers with lighter pull weights, but I would likely leave this one in place. It’s a perfectly good trigger for hunting purposes.
I also often change charging handles for easier operation with ARs topped with rifle scopes. I did find that the charging handle on the 450 BOAR worked just fine because the T-shaped section of the charging handle was a bit wider than you’ll find on many factory-installed charging handles. It was not ambidextrous, however, and if that’s an important consideration for you, you may want to swap out the charging handle.
In functional testing, the rifle does everything it is supposed to do without nary a mechanical hiccup. Some might question the absence of an adjustable gas block on the 450 BOAR, but in my experience with rifles in this chambering, it isn’t really needed. Most feeding issues with guns chambered for 450 Bushmaster seem to be caused by magazines, and the 450 BOAR rifle had no such issues. Feeding was flawless with all tested ammunition, as was extraction and ejection. All controls worked as they should, and the bolt always locked back on an empty chamber. In short, the gun ran like a champ, even though I didn’t always give it much time to cool down between shooting test groups or add any additional lubrication. Except for mounting a Leupold Mark 4 4.5-14X50mm rifle scope for range work, the gun was tested as it arrived in the box.
In range testing, bullet velocities, measured over my CED M2 chronograph, were in line with factory-claimed numbers. I wasn’t expecting the rifle to produce tack-driving accuracy at the range for a couple of reasons. First, most bullets used in straight-walled cartridges don’t have the long, streamlined shape that contributes to great accuracy. I also had to squeeze all testing into a narrow window of opportunity between Texas storm fronts, and I had to contend with varying full-value wind gusting to 20 mph. I only had three loads available to test, and the first two, from Federal and Hornady, produced two- to three-inch groups at 100 yards. That wasn’t bad, given the shooting conditions, but it wasn’t terribly exciting, either.
The third tested round was an entirely different story – and a very pleasant surprise. The 450 BOAR purely loved a Hornady Black load (which is optimized to function in AR rifles), launching a 250-grain FTX bullet at an average velocity of 2,134 fps, which is just 66 fps slower than the factory-stated number. This load produced average groups of 0.82 inches and a single-best group measuring just half an inch, proving that the 450 BOAR is capable of very good accuracy with ammo it likes. For hunting, I will happily go afield with any rifle or cartridge that can produce this sort of accuracy.
The 450 Bushmaster cartridge is not for everyone, as the substantial recoil it generates may be a bit much for some shooters. The 450 BOAR rifle does a decent job of mitigating some of that recoil while delivering a heavyweight punch on the business end. Make no mistake about it: this rifle is a thumper. It doesn’t dazzle you with lots of bells and whistles, but it’s a well-thought-out design that gives hunters superior punch in a straight-walled cartridge. In short, it does what it is supposed to do, with little or no need for tinkering after you bring it home. For me, the most surprising thing about the rifle, apart from its accuracy with the ammo it likes, is its price. The rifle is imminently affordable with a MSRP of $1,168.95. To learn more, visit Bushmaster Firearms.
Bushmaster 450 Bushmaster BOAR
Caliber: 450 Bushmaster
Action: Direct-impingement semi-auto
Sights: None, picatinny rail for optics
Magazine: Detachable BFI aluminum
Capacity: 5 rounds
Barrel: 20-inch, threaded
Rate of twist: 1:24
Stock: Magpul UBR GEN2
Handguard: BFI 15-inch aluminum M-Lok
Trigger: BFI DM2S
Weight: 7.3 pounds
Length: 38 – 41.5 inches