Nosler M48 rifle review.
A custom rifle is usually made by a gunsmith using the best components in its build.
That normally means they have been sourced from different manufacturers to get the best product.
Nosler, which is world famous for its range of hunting bullets, most noticeably the Partition, Accubond and Ballistic Tip designs, has now dipped its toes into the custom-rifle business.
In fact, nearly 10 years ago, the first Nosler custom arrived in beautiful walnut and with a classic, stalking rifle design.
Sensibly, Nosler, like many custom gunsmiths, has sourced a synthetic stock from a specialist manufacturer.
It is made to Nosler?s own design, but a Bell and Carlson stock is used on the cheaper trophy-grade rifle.
The barrel is made by Pac-Nor and is used for its internal precision and accuracy.
Its profiled receiver looks similar to a Howa action.
Add to that a tough Cerakote finish and you have a true factory custom-built rifle available in all the popular calibres, including the WSM magnum cartridges that are ideal for hard use.
There are three models: the Custom Sporter (the top model), which I tested, a varmint model and a lower-priced trophy-grade rifle.
The bolt is long at 7in and has six shallow flutes to its diameter. There is a small gas vent hole just behind the twin locking lugs and two further larger vents in the bolt?s body, which can be used as an additional safety vent and allow lube to be applied to the exposed firing pin spring.
The bolt?s face has two opposing lugs that lock securely into the action?s cut-outs and the lugs showed even contact for a solid lock-up that certainly helps with accuracy.
There is a large 1.28in-long sprung extractor claw for positive case extraction and ejection is completed with a conventional small plunger recessed into the bolt?s face at the two o?clock position.
The bolt shroud has five facets and the bolt handle is slightly bent rearward and has a teardrop-design bolt handle, with a knurled grip around its diameter.
TRIGGER, SAFETY AND MAGAZINE
Nosler has fitted an upgraded trigger mechanism and not tried to tune an existing trigger unit.
A Timney unit is fitted and, though it is adjustable, Nosler has sealed the adjustment screws with red sealant and the single-stage pull breaks cleanly, without creep, at 3.25lb.
The safety has three positions: in the forward position, the rifle is ready to fire; in the middle position, the rifle is safe, with no trigger-pull, but the bolt still operates to remove cartridges from the action if desired; and, in the back position, locks both the trigger and the bolt solidly.
The Nosler M48 has a traditional floorplate magazine arrangement, rather than a detachable unit, and it suits the nature of the rifle?s design.
A release catch is sited in the trigger-guard and with the 7mm-08 cartridge the magazine held three rounds.
This design means you can load extra cartridges from the top of the action if desired and drop out all the cartridges by releasing the hinged floorplate.
The ?NC? logo is engraved on to the surface.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
I used two factory loads, both Remingtons, with the most common bullet weights for the 7mm-08 cartridge being 120 grain and 140 grain.
I did try some lighter 110-grain hollowpoints.
The 120-grain loads averaged a velocity of 3,011fps and 2,416ft/lb energy, giving 1.25in groups at 100 yards.
The 140-grain loads shot 1in groups with a velocity of 2,881fps, generating 2,581ft/lb energy.
The Sierra Gameking load, with 46.5 grains of Vit N160 powder, yielded 2,737fps and shot three bullets at .5in.
The 140-grain Ballistic Silvertips at 2,814fps shot 1in groups, though the 120-grain Ballistic Tips, when seated long at a velocity of 3,074fps with a payload of 44-grain RL15 powder, shot below .75in at 100 yards.
The 110-grain hollowpoint Hornadys sped over the chronograph at 3,266fps for 2,369ft/lb energy.
This is long-range fox medicine, though accuracy was only 1in to 1.25in.
BARREL AND SIGHTS
The Nosler comes without sights and looks clean without them. However, the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts and I fitted a pair of aluminium Weaver-style scope mounts and a nice new Nikon Monarch scope.
The barrel is from Pac-Nor, a barrel maker in Oregon, which I can attest to being superb.
It is made from stainless steel and of matchgrade quality, with a tough Cerakote finish that resists corrosion, looks good and is perfect for a hunting arm.
Depending on calibre, the profile varies, but this model in 7mm-08 calibre was 1.158in at the receiver, .643in at the fore-end and .609in at the muzzle.
Also, the muzzle is threaded for a .5in UNF pitch thread.
This M48 Custom model sports a practical synthetic stock that is made for Nosler by a stock specialist, but to Nosler?s proprietary information and design.
The layers of the synthetic material are hand laid and made from Kevlar and carbon to make it strong but light.
The stock is also rigid, so retains accuracy in any climate and under recoil.
There is no chequering, but the stippled finish is sufficient for a good grip and I like the overall colour of grey with black speckles.
The butt-stock has a high, straight comb and simple no-nonsense dropped cheekpiece, finished off with a decelerator butt-pad with a length of pull of 13.5in.
Bedding is also particularly good, with attention paid to detail to the top and bottom of the receiver and stock union.
This is a fine hunting rifle that will keep its zero in any conditions.
The stock is light, well designed and proportioned for accuracy. For someone who wants a custom rifle ?off the shelf?, the Nosler Custom M48 Sporter is great, though the price tag is quite high.
Nosler M48 Custom Sporter rifle review
IMPORTER: Edgar Brothers Ltd
TEL: 01625 613177