Did you know that one of the greatest developments in modern firearm cartridges was the result of a beer and BBQ event? Imagine that, some of toughest operators on the planet hanging out, having a cold one at a BBQ and indirectly contributing to the development of one of the most popular big bore cartridges available to the AR15 platform, the 458 SOCOM (Special Operations Command). Yes, the 458’s initial development was geared toward military applications, but the hunting community quickly embraced the massive power available to harvest any North American Game. I, too, salivated at the idea of having such power, a customized personal mini cannon to quickly and efficiently harvest any game in my sights. With a little help from my friends at Plantation Armory and Southern Ballistic Research, my vision became realty.
The 458 SOCOM’s development was spearheaded by Marty Ter Weeme, the founder of Teppo Jutsu. He and a senior member of US Special Operations were at beer and BBQ event casually discussing the Task Force Ranger mission in Mogadishu, Somalia. This story was later depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” I’d imagine many of you have seen this film and I couldn’t imagine what our country’s finest were experiencing during this conflict. Unbelievable! As the story goes, the Rangers were equipped with AR15 pattern rifles chambered in 5.56mm which had little impact on the mob of AK47 wielding assailants storming the area. Per the Rangers on the ground, multiple impacts were needed to eliminate just one threat, so the urgency to develop a cartridge with superior stopping power was a necessity.
Teppo Jutsu worked various angles through their research and development. In the end, the 458 SOCOM cartridge was designed with a .473 rebated rim and a 40mm long pistol case to allow various .458 diameter bullet options. The smaller case produces lower gas pressure, which benefits the rifle system with less stress on its parts. Moreover, the shorter case allows the cartridge to fit in a standard AR Magazine with no modification. Nice! The 13.6mm case diameter allows the operator/hunter to carry seven rounds in a 20rd magazine, 10rds in a 30rd magazine and a whopping 15rds in a 40rd magazine. Wow, that’s a lot of firepower!
Prior to Teppo Jutsu’s work on the 458 SOCOM, the .458 caliber had seen some service in military operations. A little known fact is that the .458 round was also inspired by the Barnes .458 x 1.5” which had been used by special operations in Vietnam. This inspiration is why the cartridge was named the 458 SOCOM. The 458 also served its place in the Iraq conflict as an effective solution to stop vehicles at checkpoints. This specific note was also confirmed by a friend who served overseas. The detail of the specific rifle used is classified.
In order to get the 458 cartridge moving forward, Teppo Jutsu reached out to Buddy Singleton of Southern Ballistic Research (SBR Ammunition). Buddy’s task was to engineer different bullet options for the 458 SOCOM. It’s now clear why SBR Ammunition is the leading manufacturer of 458 SOCOM factory ammunition and why I reached out to Buddy for the most effective 458 hunting cartridge option available in the market.
SBR Ammunition is the poster child for the great American story in small arms ammunition manufacturing. As noted above, Buddy has been working with Teppo Jutsu since 2001, but he also specializes in precision training, match and duty cartridges which support law enforcement, the military and the civilian market. His company website is a showcase of a wide variety of ammunition, including tracer, armor piercing/incendiary and special long range sniper cartridges. SBR is the authority in 458 SOCOM, 375 SOCOM and 338 Spectre Ammunition manufacturing. A custom shop is also available which specializes in rifles and suppressors designed specifically for the 458 SOCOM and 338 Spectre cartridges.
Focusing specifically on SBR’s 458 SOCOM selection, we see Buddy offers a range of 458 cartridges in subsonic and supersonic designs. The lightest offering is a 200grain ARX (2,200 fps muzzle velocity / 2,150 ft/lb muzzle energy) to his heaviest, a 500g Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) available in Subsonic (980 fps muzzle velocity / 1,599 ft/lb muzzle energy) or JSP-High Velocity (1,280 fps muzzle velocity /1,818 ft/lb muzzle energy). Wow! Buddy did an amazing job with his design team, currently offering 21 different 458 cartridge solutions for LE, military and civilian use. Can you imagine the rifle customization and firepower options available for this cartridge?
In my case, Buddy suggested I go with his 350gr JSP. It’s an excellent hunting cartridge and provides an average muzzle velocity of 1,607ft/sec through my 10.5” barrel with a whopping 2,007 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. Amazing! Given my personal minimum requirement of 900ft/lb of energy on impact, this rifle/cartridge combination can effectively harvest medium size game out to 300 yards! I’d bring it in a bit for larger game animals. Would you have ever considered such lethality for such a heavy bullet? Say hello to my little friend!
The 458 SBR was built by Plantation Armory recently relocated to Milwaukee, WI. We had met through a mutual friend who insisted ownership contact me for a potential partnership. I’m so glad they did. At the time I already had a 450 Bushmaster and I really wasn’t interested in anything else. Jay Michael, one of the owners said the magic words in our initial conversation, “458 SOCOM”. I was intrigued and told him I’d only be interested in a SBR setup as it would be used primarily as a bush gun in the FL swamps. I also had a bear hunt coming up soon and it would be a great venue to showcase the cannon, I mean rifle. He immediately jumped at the challenge and the build was officially in progress.
At its core, the 458 SOCOM design was built around a private label GIBBZ ARMS non-reciprocating side charging upper and lower billet receiver set. Plantation Armory added a proprietary 10.5” barrel with a 1:14 twist, a customized GIBBZ ARMS Rail with a FDE cerakote and a private label Panzer Brake. This rifle is a beauty and very intimidating. Love it! The remaining components are a collaboration of industry giants, including CMC Triggers, Hexmag, DesignHex, XTech Tactical, EOTech and MagPul. Overall, the rifle is a light, high quality compact hand cannon which turns heads every time I go to the range. It’s quite comical to see the shooters next to me react to the BOOM!
The 458 SOCOM rifle build took close to a year to complete. In fact, I missed the bear hunt mentioned earlier, but I did take it up to Indiana for the first week of deer firearm season. Before going into that 72 hours of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding story, I wanted to share the history behind the 458 SOCOM round and the details of my rifle build. The 458 SOCOM has become much more than a military tool, it’s now an amazing hunting platform for any North American Game. As a tactically trained hunter, I too have embraced the cartridge and I look forward to telling you my story. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I take this personal cannon hunting!
Part 2: 72 Hours, the 458 SOCOM Draws Blood >>>