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This article, “Super Size Survival Cartridges” originally ran in the October 2016 issue of Shooting Illustrated magazine. by Bryce M. Towsley – Wednesday, August 1, 2018

In a survival situation, with guns, food, shelter or just about anything else, it’s always a good idea to have plenty of backup. For example, eating MREs will get old pretty fast and at some point you will be willing to lease your soul to the devil for a steak. Those who planned ahead will have the steaks.

Redundancy in your firearms ensures that you will have
options, too. The AR-15-type rifle is the best firearm to survive a
lingering crisis. While your primary battle rifles should be chambered
for the most common cartridges to ensure ammo supply, a smart prepper
does not stop there. Depending on where you live, you may be foraging
for food. If that includes shooting big game or feral livestock, you
should always bring enough gun.

Foraging with your AR-15 in a fighting
cartridge might end in disappointment. I understand that .223 Rem. will
kill deer or hogs, but not reliably, and on larger game it’s simply
inadequate. If you are “sport” hunting and a wounded critter runs off,
it’s tragic; but you are not in danger as a result. If you are trying to
feed your starving family and the deer, elk, feral cow or whatever
escapes after you wound it with an inadequate cartridge, it can be a
very bad thing for all involved. The longer a crisis goes on, the
tougher it’s going to be to find food by hunting, so every opportunity
to shoot some protein will be important. Risking failure with a little
cartridge is simply not smart.

The AR-15 design limits the length of the cartridge, so the only way to increase the power level is by going bigger diameter. That’s good, as heavy bullets at moderate velocity are well proven in the hunting fields.

Why not just use a powerful bolt-action hunting rifle? In a
survival circumstance we must assume that the world will be a dangerous
place. A magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifle in your hands gives you the
best hope for winning a fight—whether it be against hunger, dangerous
animals or two-legged predators.

Of course, bigger cartridges lower magazine capacity compared to 5.56 NATO, but the magazines will hold more ammo than a bolt-action and reloads will be much faster. For example, the .458 Socom uses unmodified, metal .223 Rem. magazines. The .223’s  30-round magazine holds 10 of the big boys. You also will have a lot of fight-stopping power with each of these bullets. I have never seen a complaint in the history books about the lack of stopping power from the .45-70 Gov’t used by the military in the 1800s. There are, on the other hand, a lot of complaints about the stopping power of our current 5.56 NATO cartridge and yes, despite what you read on the Internet, “stopping power” is a real thing. Don’t let anybody tell you that size doesn’t matter in a fight or when hunting. It does. Big bullets make bigger holes, smash more structure and rip up a lot more vital stuff than little bullets.

.450 Bushmaster
The
concept for the .450 Bushmaster was developed by the late Col. Jeff
Cooper. He recognized that a big bullet is a good thing when shooting
big game. He thought that the perfect rifle for most “general” big-game
hunting would be a semi-automatic variant, larger than .44-caliber and
capable of taking big game out to 250 yards. He called this the
“Thumper” concept.

Tim LeGendre, of LeMag Firearms, developed the cartridge and named it the .45 Professional. He licensed the rights to Bushmaster Firearms International (BFI). Hornady
worked in conjunction with Bushmaster and developed the ammo. The
company modified the case a little so it would work better with
Hornady’s proven SST Flextip bullet. With LeGendre’s permission, the
name was then changed to .450 Bushmaster, and the cartridge was
introduced in 2007.

Guns are available from Bushmaster and Remington.
The current load from Hornady for .450 Bushmaster uses a 250-grain FTX
bullet with a factory-advertised muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps from a
20-inch barrel for 2,680 ft.-lbs. of energy. Remington loads it with a
260-grain Premier AccuTip projectile at 2,180 fps. Muzzle energy is
2,744 ft.-lbs.

My favorite for all-around use is a handload that
duplicates a planned Remington introduction that was canceled. It uses a
275-grain Barnes XPB Bullet
designed for the .460 S&W, at 2,175 fps. I used it in Texas a while
back where I shot eight hogs with nine shots. The finisher was because I
hit one poorly and is no reflection on the cartridge. I also shot an
Asian water buffalo that weighed more than three-quarters of a ton with
that load.

Clearly, this cartridge will do for foraging or fighting, just as Cooper envisioned. The Colonel didn’t like the AR-15 because of the .223 Rem., but I’ll bet he would love this one.

.458 Socom
After
the fighting in Mogadishu in 1993, some of participants were
disappointed in the performance of the 5.56 NATO cartridge and wanted
something with a bit more knock-down power for the M16/M4-style rifles.
The result was this cartridge. The .458 Socom was introduced in 2002,
and while it didn’t gain widespread acceptance as a military round, it
has found a home with civilians.

History has shown with the .45-70 Gov’t that a heavy .458 bullet at modest velocity is very effective, both on bad guys and big game. Military use mostly ended when the .30-40 Krag and smokeless powder replaced the .45-70 Gov’t in 1892, but hunters still love the cartridge today. I have shot several freezers’ full of deer, black bear, hogs and bison with the .45-70 Gov’t and can attest to its effectiveness. The .458 Socom was designed to duplicate the former military cartridge’s performance from an AR-15 platform.

The .458 Socom uses a lengthened .50 AE case with a
rebated rim and is necked down for a .458-inch bullet. Unlike the
straight-walled cartridges, which must headspace on the case mouth, the
.458 Socom has a shoulder off which to headspace. This is a more
positive approach to headspacing, enhancing accuracy. It also allows the
bullets to be crimped in place with a roll crimp, which can be
important with powerful cartridges to prevent bullet migration under
recoil.

Rifles are from Rock River Arms, Wilson Combat, Southern Ballistic Research and perhaps a few more. Factory-loaded ammo is currently offered from three companies that I can find: Southern Ballistics Research, Wilson Combat and Cor-Bon, although I suspect there may be some smaller suppliers out there, as well.

One big advantage of .458 diameter is there is a wide
selection of bullets on the market. Southern Ballistic Research offers
16 different loads for the .458 Socom, with bullet weights ranging from
140 to 500 grains. This cartridge probably is best
suited to bullets in the 300- to 400-grain range. A 400-grain bullet at
1,600 fps duplicates one of my favorite hunting loads in the .45-70
Gov’t. That load was offered by Cor-Bon, but the company dropped it
recently. It is, however, easy to handload with Speer Bullets.

One of the best bullets for any use short of the largest dangerous game is the 300-grain TTSX that Barnes
developed specifically for this cartridge and it’s loaded by all three
companies. Factory loads with this 300-grain bullet show it exiting the
muzzle at 1,840 fps and with 2,240 ft.-lbs. of energy.

I have used two different Rock River
carbines in .458 Socom, the CAR A-4 and the new X-1, and have been very
impressed with the accuracy of both. Each shot right around 1 MOA with
just about any ammo I tried.

One big advantage is that it does not
require a cartridge-specific magazine and will run in standard metal
.223 Rem. magazines. The .458 Socom is a powerful cartridge capable of
taking anything in North America. It’s also designed by guys who have
been to battle and wanted something better. This cartridge deserves a
look from anybody serious about survival, hunting or defense.

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brentonusa.com

By Bartt Brenton, President of Brenton USA

The popularity of the AR-15 style rifle is at an all-time high. More people are owning and shooting AR style rifles than ever before. I believe this is partly due to the semi-auto nature of the rifle and the affordability of plinking ammo. Beginning around 2000-2005, many serious wildcatters started experimenting with cartridges in the AR-15 beyond the standard 5.56/.223 rounds. Soon after—new commercially available cartridges—began to appear including the 450 Bushmaster6.5 Grendel, and 204 Ruger just to name a few. As a result of these new-found cartridges, we are now seeing the AR-15 rifle used for the hunting of all species of North American game in addition to all types of varmints.

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SUBSCRIBE by Bryce M. Towsley – Wednesday, June 22, 2016 https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/6/22/big-bore-ar-cartridges/ When it comes to dispatching game with authority—and a single shot—nothing gets the job done quite like the big, heavy bullets available in chamberings such as these three, which all fit in a standard AR-15-size platform. I have a simple test when considering cartridges for […]
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by Bryce M. Towsley – Wednesday, June 22, 2016

https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/6/22/big-bore-ar-cartridges/

When it comes to dispatching game with authority—and a single shot—nothing gets the job done quite like the big, heavy bullets available in chamberings such as these three, which all fit in a standard AR-15-size platform.

I have a simple test when considering cartridges for hunting big game with an AR-15-style rifle. It simply requires honestly answering the question: If you were shopping for a non-AR rifle to hunt deer, bear or hogs would you pick one chambered for the cartridge you are willing to use in an AR-15? In other words, would you choose a bolt-action deer rifle chambered for .300 Blackout over say a .308 Win. or a .30-’06 Sprg.? The answer, of course, is no. Otherwise gunmakers would be flocking to build .300 Blackout bolt-action rifles. Why aren’t they? Because there just isn’t much of a market. As an example, Remington did introduce a bolt-action in 6.8 mm SPC, but has since dropped it due to poor sales.

The .223 Rem. is a good seller in a bolt-action hunting rifle, but not for big game. The vast majority of .223 Rem. bolt-action rifles are purchased for hunting varmints. The few .300 Blackout bolt-action rifles I have seen are designed for tactical use and to be used suppressed—not for deer hunting.

Big-game hunters use the .300 Blackout, 6.8 mm SPC or .223 Rem. in AR-15s because of the platform, not the ballistics. Sure, they can all kill game, but I’d argue that they make shot placement even more critical than more powerful cartridges traditionally used to hunt deer, bear or hogs.

The trouble with the AR-15 platform is the limitations it puts on cartridge length. It’s hard to make the gun work with a cartridge much longer than 2.26″. Of course, you can move up to the larger AR-L (AR-10) platform that is based on the .308 Win.-size cartridges, but the guns are bigger, heavier and more expensive.

Oddly enough, back in the early days of self-contained metallic cartridges, new cartridge designers faced a similar dilemma, but for very different reasons. The combination of blackpowder and early bullet construction limited velocity to around 1,500 f.p.s., give or take. So, to increase power, the cartridge designers made the bullets heavier and bigger in diameter. That’s why the military’s rifle cartridges were .45-caliber in the 1870s rather than the .22 caliber used today.

Today’s hard-hitting hunting cartridges for the AR-15 use the same concept. If you can’t make the cartridge longer, then make it larger in diameter and add some bullet weight.

Just as the hunters using the old blackpowder cartridges understood, a big-diameter, heavy bullet at moderate velocity is deadly on big game.

The lineup of big-bores is not huge for the AR-15 platform. In fact, from mainstream gunmakers there are only three cartridges. But that’s enough, as each member of this trio brings something impressive to the table.

.450 Bushmaster
This is the smallest of the thumpers, with a bullet diameter of .452″. It uses a rebated rim cartridge case based on the .284 Win. case.

The concept behind what would become the .450 Bushmaster was initially put forth by Col. Jeff Cooper. Cooper is best known for creating the “Modern Technique” of handgun shooting and for his admiration of the M1911 pistol. But Cooper was also an avid hunter and loved to roam wild places in a “come what may” sort of way. He was a man of great experience, having hunted all over the world, and he recognized that a big bullet is a good thing when shooting big game. He thought that the perfect rifle for most “general” big-game hunting would be a semi-automatic of larger than .44 caliber that was capable of taking big game out to 250 yds. He called this the “Thumper” concept.

As with other “thumper” loads for the AR platform, the .458 SOCOM feeds from the conventional AR magazine as if it were a single-stack.

.458 SOCOM
The .458 SOCOM was developed for military applications after the fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. That battle left a lot of participants disappointed in the performance of the 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridge, and they wanted some serious, .45-70 Gov’t-class thumping power for the M16 and M4 rifles. It’s worth considering that if the guys in the fight don’t think the .223 is enough gun, perhaps we should re-evaluate its use for hunting such animals as hogs, bear, moose and elk—game that often runs bigger and tougher than the average man.

The .458 SOCOM cartridge came out in 2002, and while it didn’t gain widespread acceptance as a military round, it has proven to be a great hunting cartridge. It uses a lengthened .50 AE case with a rebated rim and is necked down for a .458″ bullet. One big advantage with that .458 diameter is there is a wide selection of rifle bullets on the market. This is reflected in the multiple factory load options, and it opens a lot of doors for handloaders. One of the best bullets is the 300-gr. TTSX that Barnes developed specifically for this cartridge.

It might have a military background, but the .458 SOCOM is a big-game cartridge capable of taking anything that walks in North America.

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There are many misconceptions to the AR-15. Two of the most notable are: AR stands for “Assault-Rifle” and they are the same as fully-automatic military firearms. Today, the AR-15 has soared in popularity amongst gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport […]
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There are many misconceptions to the AR-15. Two of the most notable are: AR stands for “Assault-Rifle” and they are the same as fully-automatic military firearms. Today, the AR-15 has soared in popularity amongst gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations. Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that makes it so unique.

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