Nosler M48 Heritage Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Having supplied premium bullets to reloaders since 1948, Nosler, Inc. (www.nosler.com) took their first step into the commercial rifle business with their Nosler Custom limited edition bolt action rifle in 2005. Two years later, Nosler introduced the Nosler Model 48 Custom Sporter rifle.
The Nosler rifle line has been continuously expanded since 2005. In 2015 there are production (meaning not bespoke) M48 rifles in Heritage (walnut stock, 24 inch barrel), Patriot (composite stock, 24 inch barrel) and Outfitter (composite stock, 22 inch magnum contour barrel only) configurations. The list of calibers that can be ordered is extensive. Custom Rifles and Custom Rifle Packages with scopes are available by special order from a laundry list of options. Left handed actions are available.
However, these are not mass produced rifles and not all calibers and configurations are necessarily available "off the shelf." For example, we requested a Heritage 9.3x62mm rifle in February 2015 and it was not completed and shipped until July.
All Nosler M48 rifles, whether classed as "production" or "custom," are hand built at the Nosler plant in Bend, Oregon USA. Premium components are carefully assembled. They are designed and built to be simple, rugged, weather resistant and MOA accurate with available Nosler ammunition. All Nosler rifles must pass a stringent fit and function quality control inspection before they are shipped. Features common to all M48 rifles include:
The Heritage is the walnut stocked production version of the M48. It is offered in something like 19 short, standard and magnum calibers for 2015, ranging from .22-250 to 9.3x62mm. Heritage rifles are generally supplied with 24 inch barrels of sporter or magnum contour, depending on caliber. Following are the catalog specifications for our 9.3x62mm rifle:
As Nosler states, their M48 was not intended to be a ground breaking action design. Rather, it was designed to be very strong, mechanically precise and to incorporate as many of the best features of existing bolt actions as possible.
The action and internal components are CNC machined, then blue printed and trued after heat treating. The locking lugs are hand lapped for precise lock-up and barrel alignment. Every M48 action is individually proof tested.
This is a push feed design that uses a bolt with two large, front locking lugs of the Mauser pattern. Bolt rotation is 90 degrees and cocks on opening. Nosler uses a guide rail slot in the right hand locking lug that, along with tight tolerances, minimizes bolt wobble.
A substantial extractor of the AR15 type at the front of the bolt gives a good bite on the case rim to yank cartridges or fired cases from the chamber. A plunger ejector in the fully recessed bolt face reliably kicks them clear of the action.
The bolt body is cast as one-piece (including the handle and knob), then CNC machined and heat treated. It incorporates shallow longitudinal fluting to reduce friction and binding during operation. A recessed bolt face fits into a counter-bored barrel. The bolt knob is checkered.
Should gas escape from a ruptured cartridge, there are three gas vents in the bottom of the bolt to direct it into the magazine well and away from the shooter. The steel bolt shroud is small, tidy and prevents escaping gas from flowing around the one-piece firing pin into the shooter's face.
The flat bottomed receiver is machined from a steel billet and incorporates a husky, integral recoil lug that precisely mates to a matching lug bedded in the stock. The barreled action is glass and pillar bedded. The receiver's open top loading/ejection port makes cartridge handling easy.
The tops of the M48 receiver rings are contoured to accept all two-piece scope bases for Remington Model 700 rifles. Since the Remington 700 is the most common bolt action hunting rifle in the world, scope bases are easy to find.
The two-position, short throw, rocker safety at the right rear of the receiver is low and easy to operate. It does not lock the bolt to prevent inadvertent opening, but allows removing a chambered cartridge with the safety on.
The bolt release is a small, streamlined push button in the left rear of the receiver that is both unobtrusive and easy to use. It is one of the best of its kind. Once removed, the bolt can be disassembled by hand for cleaning, without using any tools. Just follow the simple instructions in the owner's handbook.
The lightweight, aluminum, one-piece trigger guard/bottom metal incorporates a hinged magazine floor plate. The floor plate release is mounted externally in the front base of the trigger guard. The trigger guard itself is sculptured to be wide (for maximum protection) on the bottom and narrower at the front and back, an excellent design.
M48 rifles are supplied with a custom, hand tuned trigger. This trigger can be adjusted if the barreled action is removed from the stock, but Nosler maintains that only a Nosler technician should adjust the trigger. Our test rifle's trigger released at a clean, crisp three pounds without excessive over-travel. Should you wish to remove the stock, unscrew the two T27 Torx screws from the bottom metal/trigger guard assembly.
Nosler literature states that the internal box magazine's capacity is four standard size or three magnum cartridges in a staggered double column. However, we found it would actually hold five standard size cartridges (9.3x62mm in this case) and function perfectly.
The cartridges are easy to load; simply push them straight down into the magazine. Cartridge feeding from a loaded magazine is smooth and easy.
If the magazine is empty, a single cartridge can be loaded directly into the chamber and the bolt closed. Alternatively, a single cartridge can simply be dropped on top of the magazine follower and the bolt closed. This is convenient, as some rifle ranges require single loading.
The M48 is supplied with a hand-lapped, magnum contour, button rifled barrel. The muzzle of our test rifle terminates in a rounded field (or hunting) crown. Nosler uses custom (non-standard) barrel contours. Diameter at the muzzle of Nosler magnum contour barrels is specified as .650 inch.
A matte black Cerakote finish is applied to all external metal parts, including the barrel, receiver, bolt and bottom metal/trigger guard assembly. This is a dull, but very functional, finish. Cerakote is the hardest, most durable and water resistant gun metal finish available.
The M48 Heritage comes with a modern classic style walnut stock with a straight, fluted comb and a shadow line cheek piece. Thankfully, there are no unnecessary lines or weird angles in the design of this stock. The pistol grip has a comfortable, medium curve and a slight palm swell. While we generally dislike palm swells, this one correctly fit our medium size hands. The forend terminates smoothly and without fuss in a rounded tip.
The stock is commendably slender. It is plenty stiff and strong without being bulky, which improves the rifle's handling and makes it comfortable to carry in the hands. To provide a secure grip there is attractive and functional 24 lpi borderless hand cut checkering in a generous three-panel point pattern.
The butt terminates in a black Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. There is no pistol grip cap, which is an oversight that should be corrected on a rifle in this price class. Detachable sling swivel studs are provided.
The wood to metal inletting is very good. We especially appreciate the tight forend channel for the free floating barrel. It is a pleasant change from the "soaring" barrels with unsightly gaps between the stock and barrel that are found on so many production rifles today. The barrel of the Nosler 48 is fully free floating, but the wood to metal gap is no greater than it needs to be.
The wood is described as fancy grade walnut. It is a medium color, straight grained walnut with subtle dark streaks. The stock is finished with an attractive, hand rubbed oil finish that satisfactorily fills the wood pores.
The Nosler M48 Heritage is a first class, top quality, hunting rifle; smooth, strong, accurate and reliable in operation. It is about as good as this type of rifle can get and it has amassed an excellent reputation in the field.
Note: A full review of the Nosler M48 Heritage rifle with shooting results, shooter comments and the exclusive Guns and Shooting Online rifle review summary can be found on the Product Review index page.
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