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My New Pig Gun!...

I will be the first to tell you that my interest in “black guns” (military semi-auto or AR-15 style guns) has been nonexistent. I had one once, but did not like it. My wife has one, and she loves hers (and is a better shot than most guys I know). However, a few weeks ago I got a hankering to buy another in as large a caliber as I could find.

I was familiar with the .50 Beo-wulf, and thought it would be a good choice to give a try. So, I picked up the phone and called Alexander Arms to ask for one. We went over the specifications and the things I wanted to add to the gun before I had a bomb dropped on me.

I was told it would take from 3 to 4 months before it shipped. This was way too long for me to wait. I wanted it now, and I was surely not going to be able to wait 4 months! So, I told them “no thanks” and moved on, looking for another large caliber black gun.

I love the internet. I went to some black gun sites and found two more large caliber black guns – the .458 Socom and the .450 Bushmaster. Now that I had found two more large caliber black guns, I needed to research ammo availability.

I typed in “.458 Socom ammo for sale,” and a couple of places came up, but when I went to these sites, all I saw was “ON BACK ORDER.” I checked the four places I normally get ammo from, and all were out of the .458. This was not good. A gun without ammo is like having a boat with no water.

Then I typed in “.450 Bushmaster ammo for sale” and found several places with ammo ready to send to me as soon I gave them my credit card info. I was also able to find a good supply of hand-loading stuff readily available.

Now I had to find the .450 Bushmaster rifle that I wanted, but what I knew about black guns could fit in a sewing thimble. Typing in “.450 Bushmaster” on the internet delivers a pile of results. The only way to learn about the new rifle I wanted was to read. And read I did, for several hours, about the .450 Bushmaster. I found I could buy an upper from one company, a lower from another, butt stock from another, muzzle brake from another and so on. Or, I could buy the complete rifle from one company to have a complete rifle with all compatible parts.

During my internet search, I found two companies that make a .450 Bushmaster rifle (Remington and Bushmaster). After a little more research, I discovered this cartridge was a joint effort between Bushmaster and Hornady.

I then decided I wanted the rifle that the cartridge was named after, so I decided I would go for the Bushmaster. After a couple of phone calls, both the .450 Bushmaster rifle and the ammo were on the way. It was a good thing it was spring break and I was doing two charters a day, because it kept me too busy to sit around thinking about when the man in the brown suit would show up.

The fact that I was working 12 hours a day had no bearing on my lengthy internet research on all of the options out there for black guns. It seems that most black guns are compatible with more options than you could go through in a lifetime. This could be a problem for someone (like me) that likes to trick out his/her new toys. In looking at just butt stocks alone, there must be over 100 different styles and shapes. What was I to do with all of these available options?

When it came to buying extras for this rifle, I decided to wait until it came in, then take it to the range to see how it shot and how I liked the standard configuration, just as it came.

Afterwards, I figured I might have a better idea of what I would like to change (if anything). This would be the first time I had a rifle that had so many different available options, including: stocks, pistol grips, sights, lights, lasers, and the list goes on. I believe you could spend thousands of dollars changing this rifle by adding or changing parts.

My problem is, I just do not have enough money to try every different part out there, so I decided I’d try a couple of things at a time and go from there. The rifle and scope arrived, and between charters, I managed to hand-load a few rounds in different powder weights before heading off to the range.

Ammo for this caliber appears to be manufactured by only two companies (Remington and Hornady). For me, this was not a concern for two reasons: Hornady makes real accurate ammo in most everything I have shot, and I am able to hand-load for each firearm.

My scope of choice was strictly based on the maximum distance I would use this rifle to harvest my quarry (about 50 to 75 yards). I decided on a Leupold VX-HOG. (How nice of the Leupold folks to make a scope named after the quarry I would be pursuing!)

This scope has a 1x to 4x magnification and a 3.8” eye relief, which is just what I will need for those close-up and personal shots. My range time started at the 25-yard target (to sight-in the scope), and then I moved to the 100-yard target for the real test. First up were the Hornady factory loads (a 250-grain Hornady XTP with a muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps).

Right away, I found a problem shooting 100 yards while trying to hit the dot in the “i” with a 4x scope. The crosshairs covered up the dot so much that I could not tell if I was shooting at the center or the edge of the dot, so I walked down to the target and put some 1-inch circles on it.

When I got back over the rifle and looked down range the 1-inch circles were not a lot better than a small dot, as the crosshairs still covered them up. Well, I had the 4x scope on the rifle and I was at the range, so I decided I was going to have to make the best of what I had. The first five rounds with Hornady factory bullets were all in a 2-inch group, but I was really having a problem with the scope at such a low power because the crosshairs completely covered the 1-inch dot I was trying to hit.

After a few minutes of trying to compensate for the low-power scope, I was able to place the crosshairs at a point on the dot that would give me a better idea of the real accuracy of the rifle and ammo.

The next three groups of five shots were all inside 1.5 inches, and I was convinced my accuracy would greatly improve if I were to change the scope to at least a 9x power. I then shot all of the hand loads I had cooked, and found there was a big difference with the accuracy – ranging from 3 inches to almost “one-hole” groups.

My hand loads consisted of Hodgdon H110 powder, CCI small rifle primers, Hornady brass, Hornady 250-grain FTX bullets, and I used the Hornady 4 die set. I started with 38.0 grains of powder and worked up to 39.4 grains.

I seated my bullets 5 to 10 thousandths deeper than the Hornady factory loads and applied a light-to-medium crimp using the Hornady seat/crimp die. The lighter powder loads were not what I would call “impressive,” but as I worked my way up to the 39.4 grains of powder, the size of the groups shrank to what I would consider a very nice group of less than 1 inch.

If I’d had a scope with more power than the 4x, I am sure I could have been able to get almost one-hole groups. The felt recoil is very manageable, and I think it would not be a problem for those wanting to use the .450 Bushmaster.

When I got back home and headed to the gun-cleaning station, I found it was easy to take apart and very easy to clean. Most of the other semi-autos I have shot are a big pain to completely break down for a good cleaning, but this was a breeze.

Overall, this is a well-made, very accurate rifle that will allow the owner to either keep it as it comes from Bushmaster or add a few custom features from a wide array of options. This is a keeper.

I decided to change some things before my next range session, adding a padded cheek piece, higher scope rings, Timmey trigger and a soft, tacky pistol grip. I’m sure before I’m done I will have spent way too much trying out all of the different add-ons for this style gun.

After I add the new parts and head back to the range, I will call Tiger Island Outfitters to test out my new “Pig Gun.”


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”