What is .458 SOCOM?
The .458 SOCOM is a rifle cartridge that is relatively new to the commercial market. It has been steadily receiving more attention and acceptance in recent years but there is still a general lack of information about what it is and what its advantages are.
The .458 SOCOM’s path to existence originated with members of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) requesting a rifle cartridge with more stopping power than the 5.56 NATO round following the incidents of Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia (more commonly known as “Black Hawk Down”). Click Here for SBR’s more in depth history, or check this Wikipedia page. SOCOM’s experience in Mogadishu reportedly demonstrated that it often took several shots of 5.56 NATO to stop an advancing threat. The .458 SOCOM was therefore tailor made to function on the M-16 platform with much greater stopping power.
The .458 SOCOM rifle is built on the standard AR platform. It functions just like a 5.56/.223 AR and even uses regular AR magazines. Since the .458 SOCOM round is so much larger than the 5.56/.223 the capacity of the magazines is greatly diminished. This similar setup means that your existing AR configuration will work in .458 SOCOM variant and rather than purchasing a whole new rifle, it is possible to transition your 5.56/.223 AR to .458 SOCOM. Those wanting to make this transition can either buy the individual components (bolt and barrel) or a .458 SOCOM conversion kit from companies like Wilson Combat and Rock River Arms. These kits often include more than just the barrel and bolt.
As mentioned above, .458 SOCOM ammo is intended to deliver a bigger punch than other AR-platform calibers. Its bullets range in weight from 250-600 grains and are available in both subsonic and supersonic variants. Most .458 SOCOM bullets fall on the lower end of the spectrum of grain weight (less than 400 grains) but for those looking to suppress their AR the heavier grain bullets are typically tuned for suppressed hunting.