When you want to dispatch the big game with formidable authority by the execution of just a single shot, there is nothing that will do that job better than a big and heavy bullet. The bullets themselves need to be available in proper chambering and impressive anatomy for their results to be precise. The 458 SOCOM vs. 50 Beowulf discussion is one that will enable you to be able to comprehend what big cartridges can do. Such a review also helps you make an informed decision as you go out looking for the best load for your AR-15 rifle.

Some of the most common loads for the AR 15 platform are the .223 REM and the 7.62 NATO. The former is the most commonly used in hunting, but it is not the best for the big game. Its performance is only good when used to kill the varmint and the medium sized animals. When you want to stop a charged bear or an elk, you have to go big and heavy. This is where the 458 SOCOM vs. 50 Beowulf discussion starts.

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Which is the Best?

First, it is worth noting that the two big calibers aren’t only extra-sized but also come with increased weights. Ordinarily, you would expect that such a cartridge would be slower than the smaller and lighter calibers. Nay! That is not the case with the Beowulf and the SOCOM. These two cartridges come with much more increased speeds of up to more than 2000 Feet per Second. When compounded with the weight and size, the result is a very high power impact that brings down even the biggest of the games.

A Closer Look at the .458 SOCOM Vs .50 Beowulf

.458 SOCOM

.458 SOCOM with a 400 grain bullet on the left versus a .223 V-Max with a 50 grain projectile on the right.

.458 SOCOM with a 400 grain bullet on the left versus a .223 V-Max with a 50 grain projectile on the right.

This type of caliber was developed for the military application just after the USA military was withdrawn from Mogadishu, Somalia in the year 1993. It is the disappointment that came from the performance of the popular 5.56x45mm NATO caliber that resulted in the development of the .458 SOCOM.

Many of the participants of the Mogadishu fights were disappointed with the caliber they had trusted most hence the need of coming up with a better caliber. The resultant was the .458 SOCOM, a serious 45-70 round of ammo that produces thumping power for the M4 and M16 rifles.

Such a step and revolution in the military ought to have caused a revolution in the hunting platform. The reasoning is that, if the military guys think that the .223 Remington isn’t enough to stop humans, the caliber is obviously not the best for the elk, moose, hogs and the bear as these are animals that are tougher and even bigger than the average man.

Anatomy and Purpose

Having been released in 2002, the cartridge ended up gaining popularity, not in the military platform that it had been designed for but in the hunting platform. The cartridge features a .50 AE case that has been lengthened with a rebated rim. This is then necked down for compatibility with the .458” bullet. The .458 diameter is advantageous in the sense that a wide selection of rifle bullets available on the market can fit well in it. Such can be evidenced by the numerous factory load options that are available that has lead to lots of hand loading options. The 300-gr. TTSX bullet specifically developed for this cartridge by Barnes is one of the best of the .458 SOCOM.


Rifles that are compatible with this cartridge are readily available from big companies such as Wilson Combat and Rock River Armory as well as in custom forms from Southern Ballistics Research (SBR). Factory loaded ammo on the other side is offered by a few companies. The most reliable and probably the only companies producing the factory-loaded aluminum are the SBR, Cor-Bon and the Wilson Combat. A Barness TTSX 300-gr is featured in one of the Cor-Bon's loads. This comes with a muzzle velocity of about 1,825 Feet per Second. The other option is the 300-gr. HP that features a 1,900 Feet per Second. Wilson Combat, on the other hand, produces a 300-gr. Barnes TTSX load that comes with a 2.241 ft-lbs and 1834 fps from an average corresponding gun.

There are so many .458 SOCOM options for you to choose from with SBR alone having a total of at least 16 different loads with a weight range of between 140 grains and 500 grains. This is a big-game cartridge that is capable of stopping almost any animal in the world. Thanks to the 1993 fight in Mogadishu.

.50 Beowulf

.50 Beowulf

.50 Beowulf

This is yet another big cartridge for the big game. As you are probably aware by now, the best cartridge for hunting the varmint will be the worst for hunting the big game. The vice versa is also true. In a nutshell, each group and categories of animals can correspondingly easily be brought down by a certain type of caliber. The .50 Beowulf is among the biggest and most powerful hence one of the best for the big game. But what is it that makes a difference between the 458 SOCOM vs. 50 Beowulf?

Anatomy & Purpose

The .50 Beowulf features a 334-gr bullet on average, with ½ inch diameter. Unlike the average 300-gr, which is a characteristic of the SOCOM, this bullet comes with almost 2000 Feet Per Second, which gives sure results whenever you hit anything.

The cartridge was developed by Bill Alexander, founder of Alexander Arms. Upon development of the cartridge, Alexander named it after the legendary Old English Literature warrior, Beowulf, who killed monsters and dragons, an indication that the .50 Beowulf has been designed for killing the fiercest, wildest and largest of games.

When .50 Beowulf was released in 2001, it was the only AR-15 specific super-big-bore cartridge to have been produced by an AR rifle manufacturer. Featuring a lengthened .50 AE casing which as a rim that has severely been rebated, a 7.62x39mm cartridge can easily fit in the casing. Such a load works best with the AR-15 style rifle.


What are the Pros of the .458 SOCOM Vs 50 Beowulf

  • Availability: There is an availability advantage of the .458 SOCOM Vs .50 Beowulf. A variety of hardware has the .458 in store with the 50’s proprietary nature giving the SOCOM an advantage.
  • Price: The .50 Beowulf compatible gun is cheaper than the .458 SOCOM on average. You need an average of about $2000 to build the .458 whereas the .50 will cost you about half that. The brass is also slightly more expensive in the SOCOM as compared to in the Beowulf.
  • Custom Make: The .50 guns is easily available on Cabelas as an already assembled gun. On the other hand, the .458 is assembled at home. An advantage, therefore, is on the .458 SOCOM Vs .50 Beowulf as from customization; it is easier for you to get exactly what you want.
  • Availability of Loading Components: Hand loaders will find both calibers to be great and handy as both of them have their loading components readily available.
  • Availability of Bullets for Reloading: There are dozens of SOCOM bullets available for reloading. On the contra-wise, only very limited Beowulf bullets are available for reloading.
  • Feeding: When it comes to reliability in feeding, the 458 SOCOM vs. 50 Beowulf carries the day as the latter has very limited reloading recipes.


In a nutshell, as far as cost and availability of factory loads are concerned, the Beowulf would be considered. The main reason why you would want to go for the SOCOM is because of its slight edge when it comes to accuracy, as well as the quality, overall flexibility, brass life and reloading capabilities. If you are a re-loader, then there is no contest with the winner being the 458 SOCOM Vs 50 Beowulf. However, if you are not, in most cases, you would want to go for the Beowulf. Many people will however never trade their SOCOM for anything under the sun.

Are you interested in hunting the big elk and the big brown bear or you want a gun that can keep you safe from the marauding big cats and dogs as you adventure the woods? Then it is high time you consider upgrading from the .223 REM and go for either the 450 SOCOM or the 50 Beowulf extra big cartridges, whichever will work best for your needs.

The 458 SOCOM vs. 50 Beowulf Extra Big-Bore AR Cartridges
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