Imagine a .460 S&W Magnum in a semi-automatic rifle. Now take a look at the very real 45 RAPTOR.
The new cartridge is essentially a rimless .460 S&W Magnum load. It offers a serious thump for hunting hogs and other game while fitting a standard AR-10 rifle. The rimless design matches the specifications of the .308 Win, which means a new barrel and slight magazine modification is all that is needed to run the cartridge.
The genius behind this new cartridge is Arne Brennan. Brennan’s work with long range cartridges in competition shooting helped introduce the 6.5 Grendel to the shooting world. Brennan stated the cartridge works extremely well in rifles with a 16″ barrel. According to Brennan, testing had been done with other barrel lengths, but the longer barrels did not offer a significant performance increase when considering the additional length and weight in a gun that would likely be used in brush for hunting.
Velocity and energy levels from the cartridge are fairly impressive. From a 16″ barrel, a 300 grain Hornady XTP Mag bullet is good for up to 2300 fps and more than 3400 ft-lbs of energy. A lighter, 160 grain Barnes TAC-XP bullet can be pushed to 3000 fps.
The 45 RAPTOR compares favorably to other big bore, semi-auto cartridges:
45 RAPTOR vs Big Bore AR Cartridges
One of the features of the new cartridge is the ability to put rounds into a 6″ circle from point blank to 200 yards with no hold over.
Here’s a look at how flat the 45 RAPTOR is compared to other big-bore AR cartridges:
Reloading for the 45 RAPTOR
Handloading these cartridges will be very straightforward using a .308 Win shell holder and .460 S&W Magnum dies. Load data, powders and bullets developed for the .460 Magnum will all work for the 45 RAPTOR without modification. Open your load book and build up your loads as normal using the .460 S&W Magnum recipes.
Brennan stated that the RAPTOR name will be trademarked, but he will not charge royalties to any manufacturer wishing to load ammo or make parts for the guns. (More information on this can be found here.) That means shooters will not be married to a single source of ammo or parts. In fact, other than the brass, all of the ammunition components and tools should be relatively easy to come by at local shops or online.
Initially, brass will probably be limited to a single source, but Brennan has already given Starline Brass permission to sell the brass direct and through retailers.
Pricing as of July 2022 runs between $0.60 – 0.88 each depending on the quantity purchased.
Modifying the AR-10 to Shoot 45 RAPTOR
Very little is needed to convert an AR-10 to shoot the 45 RAPTOR. The rifle needs a new barrel with a special extension, and magazines will need to be modified.
According to Brennan, some of the big bore cartridges already on the market have difficulties in feeding hollowpoint ammunition. To prevent these problems in the RAPTOR, Brennan developed a different approach to chambering a round.
For the 45 RAPTOR, the feed ramp has been moved from the barrel extension to the magazine. Brennan states this allows the cartridges to feed hollowpoint ammunition flawlessly.
Magazine followers do need to be modified for the new cartridge. Essentially, the followers are shortened and an insert is placed in the forward portion of the magazine. The insert prevents the ammo from riding forward in the magazine and incorporates the feed ramp.
Standard AR-10 magazines from Lancer, ProMag and DPMS can be used with the 45 RAPTOR cartridge, and they maintain the same capacity: 20-rounds will still hold 20-rounds. Curved magazines will not work with the required modification.
Expect to pay about $300 for a Liberty Barrels stainless steel barrel and extension designed for the RAPTOR. New 20-round magazines will also be available from Raptor Shooting Systems for $39 each.
Brennan anticipates rifles production will begin in late May. He has more than 100,000 pieces of brass on hand, and another 500,000 will be delivered during the next 9-12 months.
If you have an interest in learning more about the cartridge or rifles, visit 45RAPTOR.com.
Last Update: July 1, 2022