350 Legend Vs 450 Bushmaster: The Ultimate Battle of Rifles

350 Legend and the 450 Bushmaster

In the hunting world, the debate between the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster cartridges is intensifying, especially among those in straight-wall cartridge states. These modern innovations offer unique benefits for hunters targeting a range of game, from white-tailed deer to larger animals like elk.

This comparative analysis delves into each cartridge’s nuances, from their inception to their ballistic performance, to guide hunters in choosing the right ammunition for their next expedition.

Understanding 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster

The 350 Legend is celebrated for its efficiency and low recoil, making it an excellent choice for hunters seeking comfort and precision. It’s particularly appealing for deer hunting within moderate ranges.

The 450 Bushmaster, with its larger caliber and heavier bullets, is designed for bigger game, providing significant stopping power at closer distances. Each cartridge caters to different hunting needs, balancing between manageable recoil, energy, and penetration.

Historical Background and Development

Historical Background and-Development

The 350 Legend was introduced in 2019 by Winchester, quickly gaining popularity for its versatility and compliance with straight-wall cartridge regulations. It was designed to be an efficient and effective option for hunters, combining high speed with low recoil.

The 450 Bushmaster originated from the desire for a powerful, big-bore cartridge that could be used in AR-15 platforms, making its mark in the early 2000s. Its development was driven by the need for more firepower in restricted states, offering a legal solution for hunting larger game.

Cartridge Specifications

Cartridge Specifications

The 350 Legend typically fires a .357-inch diameter bullet, with weights ranging from 145 to 265 grains. Its case is designed for optimal efficiency in AR-15 platforms, boasting moderate velocities for its class.

The 450 Bushmaster fires a larger .452-inch diameter bullet, weights ranging from 250 to 300 grains, designed to deliver maximum energy on impact.

The specifications of each cartridge reflect their intended use and performance criteria, from flat trajectories to powerful knockdown capabilities.

Ballistic Performance

Ballistic Performance

Ballistically, the 350 Legend offers a flatter trajectory over medium distances due to its lighter bullets and higher velocities, making it ideal for precision shooting.

The 450 Bushmaster excels in delivering massive energy transfer at close to medium ranges, with its heavier bullets ensuring deep penetration necessary for taking down larger game.

While the 450 Bushmaster has a shorter effective range than the 350 Legend, its ballistic performance is tailored to its role as a heavy-hitter within its operational limits.

Hunting Applications

Hunting Application

For hunters targeting medium-sized game like deer and antelope, the 350 Legend is a superb choice, providing sufficient power with minimal recoil over distances up to 250 yards.

The 450 Bushmaster is better suited for larger game such as elk and bear, where its superior stopping power and bullet weight are crucial for ethical kills.

The selection between these cartridges should be based on the game being hunted, expected shooting distances, and the hunter’s preference for recoil and terminal performance.

Firearms Available

The 350 Legend is supported by a growing number of firearms manufacturers, with options available in bolt-action, lever-action, and modern sporting rifles. Popular models include the Winchester XPR and Ruger American Rifle, designed to optimize the cartridge’s performance.

The 450 Bushmaster is also well-represented, especially in bolt-action rifles and AR-15 platforms, with notable offerings from Bushmaster, Ruger, and Savage.

These firearms are engineered to handle the cartridge’s higher recoil and energy, providing hunters with reliable tools for big game hunting.

Ammunition Availability and Cost

Ammunition for both the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster is widely available from major manufacturers, catering to a range of hunting and shooting needs.

The 350 Legend benefits from a slightly lower cost per round, making it an economical choice for regular use and practice.

In contrast, 450 Bushmaster ammunition tends to be more expensive due to its larger size and the higher cost of materials, though prices can vary based on brand and bullet type.

Reloading Potential

Ammunition And Reloading

Both cartridges offer significant reloading potential, allowing shooters to tailor loads to their specific needs. The 350 Legend appeals to reloaders due to its straightforward design and the availability of components.

It’s particularly suited for achieving various performance goals, from maximizing velocity to reducing recoil. The 450 Bushmaster also has a strong following among reloaders, who value the ability to customize heavy-hitting loads for big game hunting.

Components and data are readily available, though the 450 Bushmaster may require more attention to powder selection and bullet seating due to its higher pressures.


Despite their differences, the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster share several characteristics that make them standout choices for hunters. Both cartridges were designed to comply with straight-wall cartridge regulations in certain states, expanding hunting opportunities.

They are celebrated for their effectiveness in the field, offering reliable performance across a range of game sizes. 

New Features and Innovations

The 350 Legend boasts innovations such as increased efficiency, lower recoil, and environmental friendliness with its lead-free bullet options. Its design caters to both novice and experienced hunters seeking minimal recoil without sacrificing performance.

The 450 Bushmaster has been at the forefront of bringing big bore performance to AR-15 platforms, offering hunters the firepower of a traditional rifle cartridge in a modern, semi-automatic format.

Recent advancements in bullet technology have further enhanced the 450 Bushmaster’s terminal performance, making it even more lethal for big game hunting.

User Experiences and Recommendations

user experience

Hunters who have used the 350 Legend often commend it for its mild recoil, accuracy, and effectiveness on medium game, making it an ideal choice for extended hunting sessions and younger shooters.

The 450 Bushmaster receives praise for its stopping power and effectiveness on larger game, with many users appreciating the confidence it provides when targeting bigger animals.

Recommendations typically suggest the 350 Legend for those prioritising comfort and cost-effectiveness, while the 450 Bushmaster is favoured for hunters needing maximum knockdown power for larger game.

Key Features Comparison Table

Feature350 Legend450 Bushmaster
Bullet Diameter.357″.452″
Typical Bullet Weight145-265 grains250-300 grains
VelocityHigher, up to 2,500 fpsLower, around 2,200 fps
RecoilLower, more manageableHigher, due to larger bullet mass
Effective RangeUp to 250 yardsUp to 200 yards
Ammunition CostGenerally lowerGenerally higher
Firearm TypesBolt-action, lever-action, MSRBolt-action, AR-platforms
Hunting ApplicationMedium game (deer, hogs)Larger game (elk, bear)
Reloading PotentialHigh, with wide component availabilityHigh, customization for big game


How does the recoil of the 350 Legend compare to traditional deer cartridges?
The 350 Legend’s recoil is significantly lower than many traditional deer cartridges, making it a comfortable choice for shooters of all ages and experience levels.

Can the 450 Bushmaster be used for deer hunting, or is it too powerful?
Yes, the 450 Bushmaster can be effectively used for deer hunting, especially in scenarios where its extra power and penetration are needed. However, hunters should be mindful of its potential for over-penetration in smaller game.

What is the effective range of the 350 Legend for deer hunting?
The 350 Legend is effective for deer hunting at ranges up to 250 yards, providing ample performance for most hunting scenarios.

Are there significant differences in ammunition prices between the two cartridges?
Yes, the 350 Legend generally offers lower ammunition prices compared to the 450 Bushmaster, making it a more cost-effective option for frequent shooters.

Which cartridge offers a broader selection of firearms?
While both cartridges are supported by a wide range of firearms, the 350 Legend currently has a slightly broader selection due to its recent popularity and versatility.


Choosing between the 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster ultimately depends on individual hunting needs, preferences for recoil, and the specific game being targeted.

The 350 Legend offers a versatile, low-recoil option for medium-sized game, while the 450 Bushmaster provides unparalleled power for taking down larger animals. 

Both cartridges extend the capabilities of hunters in states with straight-wall cartridge restrictions, ensuring that there’s a suitable option for nearly any hunting scenario.

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