The Model 48 Nosler Custom Handgun
By Mark Hampton
When my friend Zach Waterman of Nosler told me they were working on a handgun project I didn’t believe him. Nosler makes premium bullets, brass and top-shelf rifles granted — but no way were they thinking about producing a handgun. It took a bit, but Zach finally convinced me there really was a Nosler handgun in the making. Holy cow!!
Zach introduced me to Mike Lake, Senior Manager of Engineering, Research and Development at Nosler. Mike actually is the brains behind this project. He had built a prototype for himself — a bolt-action, single-shot handgun chambered in 6mmBR. After a successful antelope hunt where he punched his tag on a 308-yd. shot, Mike discussed this development with the decision makers at Nosler. My heartfelt and sincere gratitude goes out to the fine folks at Nosler for giving this project a green light.
After receiving a prototype in 22 Nosler, I immediately went to the range. I have shot Nosler firearms before and they all had one common denominator — accuracy. The prototype handgun was wearing a Leupold 4X scope and to be perfectly honest, more magnification was needed to wring out the full accuracy potential. It was a bit shocking when I walked down to the 100-yd. target and witnessed 3 shots well inside 1″. I continued shooting 3-shot groups with both Nosler’s 55-gr. BT and their 77-gr. Custom Competition load. All of my groups were inside 1″, with the smallest group measuring 0.470″.
Nosler pistol topped with Leupold scope.
Texas hog with Nosler handgun in 6.5 Creedmoor.
Mike and I begin exchanging ideas, collaborating in an effort to build an ideal hunting handgun. Mike is a clever engineer and is capable of turning his ideas to reality. We hashed and rehashed concepts, opinions, and viewpoints — striving for a better mousetrap.
When I received the revised model in 6.5 Creedmoor, the Model 48 Nosler Custom Handgun (NCH), I knew Mike and the Nosler gang had knocked this one out of the park. This is a serious firearm for handgun hunters! The distinctive stock is made from 6061-T6 billet aluminum and looks cool. It comes with a Cerakote finish in a choice of colors. The rubber, over-molded Hogue MSR-pattern grip comes standard, but any MSR grip will fit.
The trigger is fully adjustable for engagement, over-travel and pull weight. Guns from the factory will be pre-set around 3 lbs. Nosler designed and manufactured this fine two-stage trigger. The safety is conveniently located above the trigger and features a push button, cross bolt design.
Standard barrel lengths are 15″ but other lengths are available as an option. Nosler is using Shilen barrels with a heavy contour and a 0.825″ muzzle diameter. The barrels are threaded and come with a thread protector. A Harrell Precision side port muzzle brake is an option. Fluting is also optional. The barrel is fully free-floated and the receiver is two-point bedded into the billet aluminum stock.
This single-shot is based on the Nosler Model 48 action and features a solid bottom receiver. The dual locking lugs are lapped to the receiver and the action has a 90-degree bolt lift. An AR-style extractor ejects spent rounds with authority. Optics are easily mounted with standard Nosler short action mount geometry or Remington 700 two-piece base. A one-piece Picatinny rail is available in 0 and 20 MOA drops.
Currently, cartridge offerings include 22 Nosler, 24 Nosler, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win. All the bases are covered, from shooting prairie dogs to varmints to target shooting to long-range steel banging to big game hunting.
Mark’s 200-yd. targets shot with Nosler 120-gr. BT ammo.
Proof’s In The Pudding
I mounted a Leupold 4.5-14x rifle scope on the 6.5 Creedmoor pistol and headed to the range with Nosler’s 120-gr. BT and 129-gr. LRAB factory ammo for a serious shooting session. Bolt manipulation was smooth as butter, but the accuracy is what got my attention. I consistently achieved 3-shot groups inside 1″ from 100 yards. Moving out to 200 yards really caught me off guard, with the best 3-shot group measuring 0.30″! This pistol is accurate! It’s easy to shoot too. With an effective muzzle brake and non-fluted barrel, there is virtually zero felt recoil.
During a hog hunt in Texas I had a chance to test run the pistol in field conditions. The results came as no surprise — the Nosler handgun performed well. A nice boar stepped out in the field and one shot with Nosler’s 120-gr. BT sealed the deal. Next on my schedule with the Model 48 NCH? A Dall Sheep hunt in Alaska.
After 40 years of shooting single-shot handguns, I can honestly say this Nosler will shoot with the best of them. I appreciate Nosler stepping up to the plate and providing handgunners with an extremely accurate pistol. Thanks, Nosler!
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index