As someone who grew up loving to hunt in the Midwest, I have to admit I loathed the outdated regulations pertaining to firearms and legality. I lived in Zone 3, aka "the shotgun zone" here in Michigan, so elected to pursue deer with a Remington 870 shotgun. However, living in a shotgun state means limitations in regards to range, even though I preferred to hunt with slugs. On the bright side, with the legalizing of straight-wall cartridge rifles with handgun chamberings such as .44 Magnum or .350 Legend in recent years, things have become a little easier during deer season. But with even with a wider variety of hunting options in the heart of America, perhaps no round is more popular in Michigan, Iowa, or Ohio than the .450 Bushmaster, as it's as heavy as it is fast, and hits hard enough to knock a deer down. It just so happens be an excellent cartridge for reloading, too.
Born of famous hunter Jeff Cooper's desire for a big-bore rifle that could outperform the ballistics of a .223 Remington while delivering a projectile like a .44 Magnum, the .450 Bushmaster has become a utility cartridge that meets the needs of countless whitetail enthusiasts. Originally called the ".45 Professional," the round is essentially a .45-caliber bullet capable of speeds up to 2,100 fps, even with heavy 250-grain Hornady bullets. It'll drop most whitetail deer with just one shot, as proves lethal on most other big-game animals, too. A combination of accuracy up to 200 yards and less time following blood trails is enough to intrigue any hunter, so have a look at what we consider to be the eight best .450 Bushmaster rifles currently available on today's market.
Ruger American Rifle Ranch
Because of its price tag, availability, and overall quality, this is one of the most popular bolt-action rifles in the Midwest right now. It features an FDE synthetic stock with a rubber butt pad to harness the powerful .450 Busmaster's recoil, as well as an already-threaded, cold hammer-forged, 16.12-inch barrel. With an overall length of only 36 inches, it offers a carbine style that's perfect for brush. Additionally, the trigger pull is adjustable, the bolt boasts a 70-degree throw, and the 3+1 capacity fits into most states' guidelines. However, because this rifle has the ability to drop big bucks in their tracks with only a single shot, it's very unlikely you'll ever need a follow-up shot. Weighing in at only 5.5 pounds, it also comes fitted with a factory-installed rail for any optic you want to add.
Savage Arms Apex 110 Apex Hunter XP
Used by countless hunters for decades, there's no denying the Savage 110 bolt-action rifle platform has become a staple of America's deep hunting heritage. Outfitted with a 3-9x40mm Vortex Crossfire II scope that's already mounted and bore-sighted, the Apex Hunter XP package is an excellent option for someone looking to purchase their first deer rifle. It features a 22-inch barrel with a 1:24 twist rate, which together produce elite accuracy. A detachable box magazine holds three rounds, which is all you should ever need. However, where this rifle really shines--similar to many other Savage offerings--is in its adjustability. With Savage's famous AccuFit and AccuTrigger systems, you can easily and efficiently adjust the length of pull, the comb height, and the trigger pull for your exact preferences, offering you optimal shooting. I just so happened to use this very rifle to take a Michigan 8-pointer at 100 yards in 2020.
Mossberg Patriot Synthetic
Maybe you have been wanting to pick up a straight-wall cartridge rifle for a while, but the price has been scaring you away. Mossberg offers their Patriot platform chambered in .450 Bushmaster for just $359. Now you have no excuse to not go out and extend your range this season. The Patriot has a simple matte blued finish and a 20-inch barrel that is already threaded. The barrel has a 1:24 rate of twist to provide great accuracy at longer distances. No longer will you have to watch that buck across that cornfield walk out of range and out of sight forever. This rifle has a synthetic stock which helps drop the weight down to 6.5 pounds. The overall length is just a hair over 40 inches making for a compact package. It has weaver style bases for mounting a scope. There is a lot to like about this rifle in a very affordable package.
Bergara B-14 HMR
If you live in the southern part of Michigan like I do, odds are you have experienced the frustration of watching the buck of a lifetime walk out of sight hundreds of yards away across the open cornfields we have down here. That is where the Bergara comes in. It can easily reach out 200 yards or more if you need it to. This rifle is not cheap, but this rifle offers a fully adjustable cheek piece and spacers to adjust the length of pull. The free-floating 20-inch barrel has a 1:24 rate of twist. It is fitted with Remington 700-style bases for a long-range optic. This gun has a slightly higher capacity than many other .450 Bushmasters on the market, holding 4+1 rounds. Bergara says they guarantee 1.0 MOA groups at 100 yards using factory match grade ammo for those who want to settle for nothing less than the best
Henry Single Shot
If you have watched any videos of deer hunting with .450 Bushmaster online, you have likely seen that few hunters need more than one shot with one. This round makes most deer crumple where they stand. With that in mind, a single shot is not a bad idea here if you are looking for simplicity. Henry may be well-known for their lever actions, but they make a single shot .450 Bushmaster too. This rifle has a classic hunting rifle look with the walnut stock and blued finish. This rifle has a 22-inch barrel and is fully ambidextrous. It is also a safe gun thanks to a rebounding external hammer system. This gun comes with a simple bead front sight and a semi-buckhorn rear for the hunter looking for a simple design that offers more of a challenge.
Windham Weaponry 450 Thumper
While bolt-action .450 Bushmaster rifles have become all the rage in the Midwest, semi-auto rifles chambered in this round have become quite popular too. A gun like this will allow you to put a serious hurt on a sounder of feral hogs without a ton of follow-up shots. The Windham Weaponry 450 Thumper is a great choice. This rifle features a forged 7075 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum receiver, top picatinny rail, and uses a gas impingement system to cycle those big rounds fast. The 16-inch chrome lined barrel has a 1:24 rate of twist and has a flash suppressor. This rifle holds 5+1 rounds. It has a black anodized hardcoat finish. For a big bore sporting rifle, they also kept the weight down to a surprising 7.2 pounds. For deer, hogs or other big game, this rifle is sure to do the job well.
CVA Scout V2 Takedown
Any hunter in search of more bang for their buck (pun intended) should start with the CVA Scout, a single-shot rifle that comes fitted with a Konus 3-9x40mm scope. With a 25-inch, stainless steel, fluted barrel, as well as a 1:24 twist rate, this rifle is unbelievably accurate. Add in a muzzle brake and a CrushZone pad and you have yourself a fantastic rifle for any young hunter who's hoping to get lucky during their first season. However, perhaps the greatest feature this gun has to offer is the fact it's a takedown model, which means you can easily store this in compact places, whether it be your truck or your closet. For $500 there's a lot to like about this package, as it could serve so many purposes for so many different hunters.
Christensen Arms Ridgeline
For those looking for a rifle that they can use beyond the cornfields and swamps of the Midwest whitetail woods, the Ridgeline is one of the best on the market. This rifle features a carbon fiber composite stock that helps drop the weight to 6.8 pounds. That means you could take this one on a backcountry, out-of-state adventure hunting for bear or elk. The free-floating 20-inch stainless barrel has a 1:16 rate of twist and features a radial muzzle brake. The match grade trigger is adjustable between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. The bolt is twin lug and is spiral fluted with an M16-style extractor. This rifle has a 3+1 capacity and the receiver has an enlarged ejection port for better cycling. If you are looking for a high-grade hunting rifle that can be used for anything, the Christensen Arms Ridgeline is the way to go.
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