Gun Test: Ruger .450 Bushmaster Gunsite Scout
By Tank Hoover, GUNS Magazine
Ruger’s big-bore .450 Bushmaster Gunsite Scout is far more versatile than its AR parent and ably handles blunt, cast bullets as well as spitzers. The knife is a Randall Model 1 with 8-inch O1 tool steel blade and ivory micarta handle. The sling is by Barranti and unmarked cartridge belt a lucky gunshow find.
Ruger’s Gunsite Scout Rifle in .450 Bushmaster completes the Phase II theory of Col. Jeff Cooper’s eponymous rifle. By Cooper’s own definition, this would be a big-bore carbine (.44 caliber, or larger) capable of taking 1,000-pound critters at 250 yards. The new .450 Bushmaster Gunsite Scout Rifle fits these criteria with ease. It matches up with Cooper’s notion of a “Thumper.”
Ruger’s first Gunsite Scout rifle, chambered in .308 Winchester, debuted at the 2011 SHOT Show. Based on Cooper’s concepts, the rifle is named after the training facility he founded in 1976.
Last year, Randy Brown of Randy’s Hunting Center in Michigan brainstormed having Ruger build a limited run of affordable bolt-action rifles in their American model line for the special limited firearm deer zone in lower Michigan, which only allows straight-wall, centerfire cartridges, within certain parameters.
The .450 Bushmaster fit the bill and the initial order sold out quickly. Ruger now offers the .450 Bushmaster American as a regular cataloged item.
Unlike its big brother, the .45-70, the .450 Bushmaster is shorter, a tad thinner in bullet diameter (0.452 inch) and has a rebated rim. While I like and appreciate rimmed cartridges in lever-guns and single-shot rifles, the rebated rim is perfect for smoothly riding the rails of a bolt-action rifle as it’s fed into the chamber.
The .450 Bushmaster’s parent case is the .284 Winchester and is the brainchild of Tim LeGendre of LeMag Firearms, who fulfilled Col. Cooper’s “Thumper” ideology in an AR platform. Bushmaster International now licenses the .450 Bushmaster.
Tank’s 100-yard groups were fired with a Weaver fixed 2.5X scope in the Ruger rings.
I admit it, I just flat out fell in love at first sight with the classic looks of the Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle in .450 Bushmaster. It reminds me of the WWII British Lee-Enfield No. 5 Mk I .303 jungle-carbine.
This short, handy rifle is perfect for packing in the pokeweed, pucker-bush or primeval forest while pursuing things with teeth and/or claws, such as pigs and bears, with the versatility for longer shots. The carbine-sized Scout is fast to the shoulder for snap shots using either the factory issued “peep” sight or a low powered, forward-mounted scout scope.
The Ruger factory installed peep sight provides a good sight picture for accurate, close-in shots. Here Tank shot his handloads at 50 yards consisting of his 340-grain LFNGC cast slug and the T/C 300-grain “Shock Wave.”
The .450 Scout carbine has a cold hammered-forged 16.1-inch barrel, free floated, with a 1:16-inch RH twist. The barrel also has a forward mounted Picatinny rail, allowing for the classic “Scout-style” mounting of an intermediate scope. Scout-style mounting encourages a shooter to keep both eyes open for fast target acquisition, and doesn’t hinder top loading of the action. And that’s handy.
The alloy steel action has Ruger’s integral standard scope cutouts for traditional scope rings, which are included, giving the shooter options for scope mounting. Both barrel and rail have a matte black finish.
The Scout comes issued with a rugged aperture (“peep”) sight, adjustable for windage and elevation, along with a non-glare, protected blade front sight. This fast tracking sight system is sturdy, accurate and has a 20-inch sight radius. A single 3/32-inch hex bolt holds the peep sight in place, and adjustments are unchanged when removed.
The American walnut stock has a length-of-pull from 12.75 to 14.25 inches adjustable using any combination of three 1/2-inch spacers (included) fitting between the stock and comfortable rubber buttpad. The total weight is 6.6 pounds.
The stainless steel, 1-piece bolt has a Mauser-like non-rotating extractor with controlled-round feeding and fixed ejector for reliable feeding and extraction. There’s a handy 3-position safety allowing the bolt to run with the safety on for loading and unloading.
One steel 4-round, detachable box magazine is included with a push-forward release in front of the durable glass-reinforced triggerguard and magazine well.
The included Ruger Precision Rifle Hybrid muzzlebrake effectively reduces felt recoil, while minimizing blast by directing it to the sides of the shooter. Plus, it completes the rugged jungle carbine look.
The front sight is matted to reduce glare, although it sits slightly higher than its curved protective wings. Ruger’s Hybrid muzzlebrake helps reduce recoil while minimizing noise and blast to the sides.
Not wanting my Scout rifle to feel neglected or confused, and in the spirit of Col. Cooper, I aptly named my rifle “Buster.” Buster earned his moniker by placing his shots into itty-bitty groups and did a splendid job “busting” rocks on the berm, pulverizing them into white powdered dust drifting away in the breeze.
Using the fine peep and front irons while shooting at 50 yards with a sandbag rest, the sight picture was picture-perfect and the trigger pull was light and crisp. Best of all, Buster showed a penchant for stacking my cast bullet loads into tiny groups.
My scoped accuracy tests were accomplished with my trusty Weaver 2.5X scope in the Ruger rings. The low mag scope is about perfect for the close-range shooting this rifle is designed for, and were shot at 100 yards.
Being a hardcore cast bullet aficionado, I was pleased. Even those “new fangled” jacketed bullets grouped well. The Hornady factory loaded 250-grain FTX ammo was extremely accurate. My barrel was slick and shiny after shooting over 400 rounds of jacketed and powder coated (PC) bullets, with superb accuracy.
I had the chance to stretch “Buster’s” legs at a good friend’s house during his Annual BBQ/Shoot. We had steel set up from 100 to 400 yards and “Buster” could have earned the nickname “Clanger” as he rang the steel so much. “Buster” was well received and I think 10 of these rifles were sold that day. The guys were impressed.
The sight picture is easy to shoot with (top). The rugged rear sight itself (below) attaches to the rear
integral scope base and the aperture is protected from bumps.
Handload Hit Parade
For the handloads, I stuck with Hodgdon H110 powder and CCI 400 small rifle primers. All these loads shot well.
The older I get, the more I appreciate efficient cartridges which are easy to reload giving accurate results without testing a zillion loads. The .450 Bushmaster fit those standards, as peeking through the spotting scope revealed ripped, ragged holes in my targets.
Using Hornady dies with my Dillon 550C press, assembling handloads was fast and easy using 300-grain T/C Shock Wave bullets, along with some home-cast-and-powder-coated LBT long, flatnosed gas-checked bullets. Hornady 250-grain FTX bullets also gave excellent results, as did the Hornady factory ammunition.
I borrowed an idea from another Colonel, this one being Townsend Whelen. “Townie” as friends called him, advocated carrying light cast bullet loads while big-game hunting, should you stumble across some small game for the camp pot. No sense pulping a partridge or blasting a bunny to smithereens with full power loads. This gives the .450 Bushy versatility, plus kids love shooting the powder-puff loads.
I used a Lee 200-grain radiused flatnose bullet over 10 grains of Unique. The key is to have your point of impact dead-on at 25 yards with the same setting as your big game load.
Speaking of which, 43 grains of H110 appears to be the sweet spot for my particular gun, as the single-digit standard deviations with both the 300-grain T/C and home cast 340-grain LBT PC slug show. All loads extracted easily and bolt-lift was effortless. There were no pressure signs exhibited in the least.
These loads are for bolt-action rifles only! Do not use in an AR-15 platform.
Handloading can definitely turn the .450 Bushmaster into a sledgehammer. Tank’s loads feature (left to right) the 200-grain Lee bullet, 250-grain Hornady FTX, 300-grain T/C Shockwave, and 340-grain LBT cast bullet.
A Last Word
The Ruger Gunsite Scout Carbine in .450 Bushmaster is a lot of rifle for the money, with many custom features. Recoil is diminished with the Hybrid muzzlebrake and soft rubber buttpad. My trusted Buster will be a welcome addition to the family. Everything from rocks to rockchucks won’t be safe while on “walkabouts” in the pasture, prairie, woods, or simply sitting in a tree, waiting for a deer or pig to stroll by.
Col. Townsend Whelen was famous for saying, “Only accurate rifles are interesting” and with Col. Cooper’s impetus on the innovative “Thumper” concept introduced by Ruger, I think both Colonels would definitely be smiling today with the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle in .450 Bushmaster. I know I’m grinning!
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