“The one rifle to have if you could only have one.”
I don’t usually put much stock in marketing slogans, but in this case, I think Ruger nailed it. Their new Gunsite Scout Rifle in .450 Bushmaster is a fantastic all-around firearm, offering the power to take down large game and the maneuverability to carry in the thickest brush.
The .450 Bushmaster is one of three “thumper” rounds most commonly chambered in the AR-15 platform (the .458 SOCOM and the .50 Beowulf complete the trio). The quest for the perfect AR-15 cartridge is ongoing, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from implementing these powerful rounds in other platforms.
Ruger currently offers two models chambered in .450 Bushmaster: an iteration of their American Ranch series and the one I tested, the Gunsite Scout.
- Type: Bolt-action rifle
- Cartridge: .450 Bushmaster
- Stock: American Walnut
- Sights: Protected Blade (front); Adjustable (rear)
- Capacity: 4+1 rds.
- Barrel Length: 16.1 in.
- Overall Length: 37 in. – 38.5 in.
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Finish: Matte Black
- Barrel Feature: Ruger Precision Rifle® Hybrid Muzzle Brake
- Length Of Pull: 12.75 in. – 14.25 in.
- Twist: 1:16 in. RH
- Weight: 6.6 lbs.
- Extractor: Non-rotating, Mauser-type controlled round feed extractor
- MSRP: $1,199
- Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
If you’re unfamiliar with the .450 Bushmaster, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new cartridge, and not many companies manufacture the round or produce rifles that fire it. But as hog hunting grows in popularity, the .450 Bushmaster is well-positioned to grow right along with it.
The “thumper round” concept was famously pioneered by Gunsite’s founder, Col. Jeff Cooper. Cooper admired the AR-15 platform, but he wanted a round more capable of taking down larger game out to about 250 yards. Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms developed his own thumper and called it the .45 Professional. He licensed the concept to Bushmaster Firearms Int’l for production and distribution, and Bushmaster unveiled the .450 Bushmaster in 2007.
The .450 Bushmaster has a bullet diameter of .452 inch and uses a cartridge case based on the .284 Win. I used Hornady’s 250-grain FTX bullet with a factory advertised muzzle velocity of 2,200 feet per second (fps). from a 20-inch barrel, which would deliver 2,686 ft.-lbs. of energy. When I measured the bullet velocity out of the Scout’s 16-inch barrel, the round averaged 2,145 fps with a high of 2,168 fps and a low of 2,109 fps. This produced 2,555 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle. For comparison, a 168-grain .308 Win. bullet produces roughly 2,269 ft- lbs. of energy at the muzzle (depending on the powder charge, of course).
I can see why they call the .450 a “thumper.” The bullet’s stubby shape keeps it from maintaining its velocity at extended ranges, but anything within 200 yards is going to get hit hard. It’s the perfect round for penetrating a hog’s shoulder and reaching its vitals, and it would also make a great bear cartridge.
Hornady and Remington are the only companies manufacturing the .450 Bushmaster right now, and they offer it for ~$1.50/round. If that sounds a little steep, keep in mind that the straight walls of the .450 Bushmaster make it easy to reload, which will allow you to minimize ammunition costs.
All the Bells and Whistles
Lately, I’ve been reviewing bare-bones, no-frills firearms that stick to the basics without messing around with extra features. The Ruger Gunsite Scout isn’t one of those firearms — and I loved it.
Upon opening the box, I found, along with the usual trigger lock and owner’s manual, a barrel thread protector, scope rings, and two spacers to adjust the length of pull. The spacers can be placed between the rubber recoil pad and the stock to accommodate shooters with longer or shorter arms.
The iron sights are the Scout’s most distinctive feature. The rear peep sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation, and the front blade is protected on both sides. The sight picture is easy to acquire, and adjustments can be made with the provided Allen wrench. The iron sights are a great resource if you’re deep in the brush and your scope malfunctions or loses zero.
The safety includes three positions. In the rearward position, the bolt cannot be opened and the trigger cannot be pulled. In the middle position, the bolt can be cycled but the trigger cannot be pulled. This allows a live cartridge to be extracted from the chamber without fear of accidental discharge. In the forward position, the gun is ready to fire.
When the gun is fired, the beefy muzzle device helps control recoil. But be warned: the Scout is LOUD. I opted for double ear protection after a few shots. If you plan to take the Scout hunting, you may want to purchase a pair of electronic ear muffs so you can hear environmental sounds without damaging your hearing when you pull the trigger.
The muzzle device can be removed, which helps lower the blast volume but also increases muzzle rise. While the rubber recoil pad absorbs a surprising amount of felt recoil, the gun still jumps quite a bit when fired. Shooters can experiment with the muzzle device and the recoil pad spacers to achieve optimal levels of recoil, muzzle jump, and noise.
The Scout includes quite a few additional features (factory mounted Picatinny rail; detachable box magazine; free-floated, cold hammer-forged barrel), but I’ll wrap up this section with the most important interface between the shooter and the gun: the trigger. The trigger’s break is clean, crisp, and, most importantly, consistent. It broke at 3 pounds, 8 ounces.
After familiarizing myself with the rifle’s features and function, I was curious to determine its accuracy. Considering the round’s effective range, I knew that 1.5-inch groups at 100 yards would be sufficient.
I began by zeroing the rifle at 100 yards using a 2-7X Bushnell Trophy Scout scope. Scout scopes feature longer eye relief (distance between the shooter’s eye and the front lens) than standard scopes, which allows them to be mounted forward of the receiver. The Bushnell scope I used had an 8-inch eye relief, and I was able to acquire a clear sight picture quickly.
I tested the rifle’s accuracy by shooting 20 three-shot groups, the best group measured .81 inch and the average was 1.7 inches.
The rifle’s accuracy testing results deserve a few notes of analysis. First, I was pleasantly surprised to have been able to record two sub-MOA groups and one 1-inch group. While I wouldn’t call it a sub-MOA rifle in a general sense, it is possible to shoot less than 1-inch groups if you do your part as the shooter.
I also discovered over the course of my testing that the Scout’s barrel heats up quickly. After nine or ten rounds, the group sizes started to expand, at which point I’d let the barrel cool. The four largest groups were shot when the barrel was the hottest, immediately before each cool-off period.
Considering the heat of the barrel, a fairer assessment of the rifle’s accuracy might be reached by excluding the last four groups, in which case the average drops to 1.47 inches.
I had hoped to harvest a wild hog with the Scout to demonstrate the rifle’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, I came up short. If you know anything about hog hunting, you know that they can be unpredictable. I hunted several nights in a row but didn’t manage to find much wildlife beyond a few particularly curious bovine:
Still, I wanted to communicate some sense of the power of the .450 Bushmaster, so I set up two comparative tests. First, to get a handle on the round’s ability to penetrate wild game, I lined up 12 one-gallon water jugs. I shot the line of jugs with a 62-grain 5.56 Nosler Ballistic Tip, a 165-grain .308 Nosler Ballistic Tip, and the 250-grain .450 Bushmaster Hornady FTX.
- The .5.56 decimated the first jug and split the second, but lacked the mass to continue through the third.
- The .308 blasted its way through four jugs and punctured the fifth. I found the round still more or less intact when I emptied the fifth jug.
- The .450 Bushmaster made its way through three jugs, and I found the round lodged between the third and the fourth.
I was surprised that the .450 rivaled the .308 in terms of penetration. I thought the .450’s stubby shape would hinder its ability to get through more than a few jugs, but its mass and velocity made up for its squatty physique.
Also, note how the .450 expanded as compared to the .308. The .450 is at least two times the diameter of the .30 caliber round, which would have inflicted massive damage traveling through a game animal. The .450 might lack the extended range of more traditional rifle cartridges, but it will devastate anything it touches within 200 yards.
To confirm this theory, I set up a second (very unscientific) test. I placed a watermelon in front of two or three cinder blocks and shot through the watermelon with the .308 and the .450.
As you can see, the .450 smashed through the watermelon and the cinder block with quite a bit more force than the .308. I already knew this based on my ft.-lbs. of force calculations, but it’s cool to see those extra 300 ft.-lbs. of force in action. Whereas the .308 penetrated the cinder block and split it in two, the .450 smashed it to bits.
The .450 Bushmaster is a remarkably effective cartridge at short-to-medium distances, and the Ruger Gunsite Scout does a nice job taking advantage of its unique capabilities. The Scout comes with everything you’ll need to take big game in the brush, and its accuracy and durability will ensure a good shot when the moment is right.
I was impressed with the Scout throughout the course of my testing. It’s pleasant to shoot (considering the round), light weight, and it handles well in the field. I’ll be recommending it to my hog-hunting friends here in Texas, and you might consider it, too.
For more information about the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle, click here.
For more information about Hornady ammunition, click here.
To purchase a Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle on GunsAmerica, click here.