Review: Ruger American .450 Bushmaster — The Deer Slayer’s Rifle
Many of us can trace back at least one of our first shooting experiences to a Ruger firearm. Typically, it’s a Ruger 10/22 (.22 Long Rifle). This was the case for me back in the 1980s. I’ve always respected Ruger as a quality/affordable manufacturer. However, I really hadn’t shot anything new from Ruger until two years ago when I bought my wife a Ruger LCP (.380) as her CCW gun. This all began when I was introduced to the marketing team at Ruger. I was particularly interested in its Ruger American .450 Bushmaster. Not only is this caliber gaining popularity in Michigan and Ohio for deer hunters, but it’s quickly becoming popular with guides and hunters across the U.S.
The .450 Bushmaster cartridge was originally licensed by Bushmaster and designed to be shot in the AR-15 platform. It was an attempt to answer the need to have a .45 caliber projectile in an AR. By simply switching out the bolt and barrel, one could shoot the .450BM in a standard AR-15 (*sometimes the ejection port needs widened on a standard AR upper to eject the larger .450BM round). .458 SOCOM and .50 Beowulf were also .45 caliber+ versions created for the AR.
What really gave the .450BM a rebirth was when states like MI and OH started allowing it to be used for deer hunting. Before this, you had to use a shotgun slug. When the .450BM became legal for hunting in MI, unless you had an AR upper in .450 BM, there wasn’t an affordable .450BM option. Randy Brown (Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe, MI) saw the need and approached Ruger to make a version of the .450BM in the American bolt-gun line. #thankyouRandy
I shot the Ruger American .450BM in both the 16-inch standard and 22-inch Go Wild Camo version. It only took around three shots to get them dialed in. I found them both to be very accurate, right out of the box. After shooting 60+ rounds through both of them, it was very easy to shoot three consecutive shots in an area the size of a fist at 100 yards. The 16-inch version is lighter weight (as you’d expect) and would be very well served for a hunter, or even a guide, looking for an easy-to-manage .45 caliber backup.
The 22-inch Go Wild Camo version will allow you a little more stability on those long distance shots. Ideally, you are using this under 200 yards, but I’ve known individuals to push this 300+ yards with accuracy in the .450BM. I can tell you firsthand that the devastation of a .450BM on an animal, even at 300 yards, is impressive. You are basically shooting a shotgun slug, just a lot more accurately.
The only issue I had was on the first shot with the 22-inch Go Wild Camo version. The floorplate on the magazine was not properly connected. The recoil of the first shot caused the 2 rounds left in the magazine (the spring and the floorplate) to fall onto the bench I was shooting from. After a quick call, I had a brand new magazine in less than three days, but this brings up a teachable moment. If you have a gun that takes magazines HAVE EXTRA MAGAZINES!!! If not, you may just have a single-shot paperweight. Follow this advice on the number of magazines you should have, and you won’t be disappointed:
- Hunting rifle: 3-5+ magazines
- CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon): 5+ magazines
- Duty Gun (pistol or rifle): 10+ magazines
Other than that one minor magazine issue, the Ruger Americans in .450BM performed extremely well. I was very impressed/surprised with the out-of-the-box accuracy of these guns. Full disclosure, Ruger sent me these guns to test, but I do have to buy them if I decided to keep them. These guns will not be going back to Ruger. I’d gladly take this on my next Whitetail deer adventure any day over my shotgun. This is a great American made rifle that is very affordable.
Have you harvested any game with the .450 Bushmaster? How did it perform? What is your impression of the Ruger American .450 Bushmaster? Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.