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450 Marlin vs 450 Bushmaster

Ballistics Performance Comparison of 450 Marlin vs 450 Bushmaster Cartridges

The .450 Marlin and the .450 Bushmaster are very similar cartridges: both are big bore cartridges intended for big game hunting at close quarters, and lose steam after about 150-200 yards. They have very similar ballistics, but the .450 Marlin is most frequently found in lever action rifles, while the .450 Bushmaster is intended for semi-automatic rifles on the AR platform. The choice between these calibers for many will come down to a choice between rifle platforms. We’ll analyze the performance of these calibers across a variety of factors to help you decide which is best for your hunting needs.

450 Marlin vs 450 Bushmaster

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 450 Marlin vs 450 Bushmaster based on bullet weight and performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

450 Marlin 325 gr vs 450 Bushmaster 250 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

450 Marlin 450 Bushmaster
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 2,225 ft/s 2,200 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 1,887 ft/s 1,835 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 1,585 ft/s 1,515 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 1,331 ft/s 1,255 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 3,572 ft⋅lb 2,686 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 2,569 ft⋅lb 1,868 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 1,813 ft⋅lb 1,274 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 1,278 ft⋅lb 874 ft⋅lb
Usage @ 0 yds Toughest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 100 yds Toughest Game Large Game
Usage @ 200 yds Large Game Medium Game
Usage @ 300 yds Medium Game Small Game
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures taken from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.

Velocity

A heavier bullet will generally travel more slowly than a lighter bullet. It’s therefore important to keep in mind that we are comparing a 325 grain .450 Marlin against a 250 grain .450 Bushmaster--which are the commonly used bullet weights for each caliber. Even despite this weight difference, the .250 Marlin manages to maintain a small advantage in velocity over the .450 Bushmaster.

Out of the muzzle, the .250 Marlin is flying 25 ft/s faster than the .250 Bushmaster. This advantage expands a bit as we cross more distance. At 100 yards, the .450 Marlin is moving 52 ft/s faster. At 300 yards, it is moving 76 ft/s faster, as the .450 Marlin is able to hold onto more of its speed for longer than the .450 Bushmaster.

Energy

The heavier bullets of the .450 Marlin might slow it down a bit, but they give a serious advantage when it comes to velocity. Out of the muzzle, the .450 Marlin packs another 886 ft-lbs over the .450 Bushmaster, a significant difference. At 100 yards, that advantage is holding strong with the .450 Marlin showing an additional 701 ft-lbs of energy. At 300 yards, the .450 Marlin is still in the lead with another 404 ft-lbs of energy over the .450 Bushmaster.

Trajectory

Bullet drop is an important factor for all calibers, but it can make a big difference for heavy, big bore bullets that are only meant to shoot in shorter ranges. Of course, if you are planning to shoot in very close ranges (within 100 yards), trajectory may be less of a concern that stopping power. The higher velocity and energy of the .450 Marlin allows it to shoot a bit flatter than the .450 Bushmaster.

Versatility

Both of these big bore cartridges are meant for a specific purpose: to bring down large game at very close ranges. If you’re looking to shoot much outside of 200 yards, you’re looking at the wrong calibers. The .450 Marlin’s additional energy will allow you to take larger game out to 200 yards, while the .450 Bushmaster should be used only for medium game at this distance.

Price & Availability

The .450 Marlin is a relatively new cartridge designed as a challenge to the classic .45-70 Government, but did not offer enough of an improvement for most hunters to justify making the switch. This means that it is still a niche cartridge offered by just a few manufacturers, and you might struggle to find it on the shelves of your local ammunition store. The .450 Bushmaster has gained more popularity, especially in regions (such as several Midwestern states) where this caliber is legal while bottlenecked cartridges are not.

Size Comparison

The .450 Marlin and the .450 Bushmaster use very similar sized bullets, as their names might suggest. The .450 Marlin is just a bit bigger, with a bullet diameter of .458” compared to the .450 Bushmaster’s .452”. The .450 Marlin has quite a bit longer case, at 2.10” compared to 1.70” on the .450 Bushmaster. The overall length on the .450 Marlin is also just a bit longer, at 2.55” compared to 2.26” on the Bushmaster.

Rifle Type

Rifle type is the major difference between the .450 Marlin and the .450 Bushmaster. While the .450 Marlin can be used in bolt action rifles, it is most commonly found in lever action rifles. These are lightweight rifles that are easy to handle and very fast to get a shot off, which can make them ideal for treks across the backcountry. Big bore cartridges in particular can make lever action rifles a great choice for a bear defense gun.

On the other hand, the .450 Bushmaster is primarily intended for use on the semi-automatic AR platform, while it can also be chambered in bolt action rifles. If you are looking for a caliber that can do on the AR what the .450 Marlin does on the lever action, then the .450 Bushmaster is the answer to this hope, though it loses a bit of ballistics in making the switch.

Which Caliber is Best?

These are two very similar calibers, and indeed both the .450 Marlin and the .450 Bushmaster are seeking to imitate the classic .45-70 Government for different purposes. While the .450 Marlin sought to improve it with modern ammunition techniques while eliminating the chance that shooters would load high-pressure modern ammunition into vintage rifles and cause catastrophe, the .450 Bushmaster sought to translate the short-distance big game cartridge onto the semi-automatic platform. The .450 Marlin will offer you better ballistics across the board and a lighter rifle that is very dependable and easy to manage, while the semi-automatic platform appeals to many and gives a range of customizable options. Ultimately, the biggest factor in choosing between these two cartridges will be what type of rifle you wish to use.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.