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Great bullets, great rifles: Nosler's .270 WSM M48 sporter.

It is difficult to match the pen of a manufacturer's technical writer. The real question is, how much of it is true and how much is fluff? I thought it might be interesting to plagiarize what's written on Nosler's Web site vs. my evaluation of their newest M48 rifle.

"The Nosler Custom Model 48 is built on the same action as our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Edition Custom rifles--but in a roundtop version that accepts standard scope mounting bases. Nosler's proprietary push-feed action features a 3-position safety and Timney adjustable trigger set to a crisp, 3-pound let-off. A true all-weather rifle, the Model 48 integrates the unique MicroSlick Coating on interior metal surfaces, including inside the bolt body, on the firing pin, and firing pin spring for maximum corrosion and wear-resistance, even with extensive dry firing."

The M48's trigger, from Timney, was exceptionally crisp, light, and made shooting accurately much easier. A look through my borescope round a very nice bore with crisp land to groove transition, leade, and crown. I ran into rain, show, and zero temperatures on a 3-week elk hunt, none of which affected the rifle or its finish. The finish is tough. I whacked it around in the trees and the back of the Durango for days without any sign of damage to the stock or metal finish.



"Engineered as much for 20-mile days as it is for 300-yard shots, the Nosler Custom ultra-lightweight stock is built to handle the extremes, yet still deliver a firm platform for the barreled action. This classic-styled rifle stock is built entirely of Kevlar composites for ruggedness and maximum weight savings. The stock's durable, deep onyx gray finish complements the handsome, sniper-gray Cerakote coating on the barrel and action."

I found the stock attractive and functional. It is indeed stiff, adding to the rifle's accuracy quotient. The rifle was lightweight, as commented by everyone who hefted it. I round toting it in rugged terrain was a comfortable experience. Nolser alludes to 300-yard shots, another prudent assertion by a manufacturer. The truth, however, is the rifle is deadly at much farther distances. I would have no aversion to shooting it at 600 yards and farther, having every confidence in its ability to make productive hits.

"Each Model 48 rifle has been accuracy-tested with Nosler Custom WSM ammunition and AccuBond bullets and is guaranteed to deliver 3/4", 3-shot group accuracy--or your money back."

The rifle sent to me shot much better than 3/4". I think it is prudent of Nosler to say 3/4" however, as not all their rifles may shoot as well as the one sent to me. They seem mighty sure of themselves, offering to give you your money back. I don't think I would make that claim for the following reasons: Their AccuBond ammo might not be tuned to the rifle if used in the extreme conditions in which some customers might evaluate their new rifle. Plus, every rifle barrel is different. Many shooters may not have the bench facilities to prove the rifle or knowledge of just how much a switching wind affects a bullet's flight, thus believing the rifle does not shoot to Nosler's claims. In any case, the one sent to me did much better than 3/4".

Nosler has recently added more cartridges than just the WSMs to its lineup to include the short action .260 Remington, 7mm-08, .308 Winchester along with the .270 WSM, .300 WSM, and .325 WSM.

"The Model 48 breaks the myth stating accurate rifles must be heavy rifles--for it weighs just 6-1/4 pounds and delivers guaranteed sub-MOA groups."

I have this urge to break from Nosler a little with their statement above. While it is not self evident heavy rifles are more accurate than lighter ones, weight does help the shooter control the rifle better in a rested position, a larger diameter barrel is stiffer, giving the vibration signature a more controllable amplitude, the deflection of the barrel as a cantilever is less, and finally, a heavier barreled rifle often shoots more rounds accurately than lighter barrels. Still, that isn't the point here. Nosler has built a lightweight, easy to carry hunting rifle. So I have to give Nosler their statement as I have shot several back-to-back 5-round groups with great results.

"To achieve the highest level of accuracy the Model 48 action is mated to a hand-lapped, 24" match-grade stainless barrel custom chambered for each of the cartridges."

All that being said, and my hats off to a line rifle and cartridge, I did find a bit of a bug with the rifle sent to me. The bolt is much too stiff on the uplift of an uncocked bolt. I noted the surprise on people's faces as they tried. After spending three months with the rifle and shooting it about 50 times and cycling it as many times, the bolt lift is getting a bit easier.

The receiver incorporates a notched, attractive, and easily used side bolt release lever. The 1-piece bottom steel uses a drop plate to empty a loaded magazine. The release is housed in the triggerguard and works well. The bolt incorporates two lugs. I was surprised to see one lug was carrying about 90 percent of the load, the other about 10 percent of the load, yet the rifle shot exceedingly well. Personally, I would lap the lugs to at least 75-percent pressure on each lug. One thing I did not notice in Nosler's write-up is the bolt handle is integral with the bolt. That is important to me as I have knocked off two bolt handles lately attached with silver solder.



The stock has a very nice recoil pad to absorb some of the punch from those WSM rounds. Inletting and fit were clean and attractive and the action is glass bedded. A cheekpiece is included as well.

Nosler provided three boxes of their 140-grain AccuBond ammunition. Using a proprietary bonding process, Nosler bonds the thickened copper alloy jacket with a special lead alloy core. The process also eliminates voids in the bullet core. In the .270 WSM, they are advertised at 3,100 fps from the 24" barrel. A white polymer tip resists deformation in the magazine and initiates expansion upon impact. Both the polymer tip and the boattail design add to ballistic coefficient, which in this case is .496, and long-range performance.

Knowing the rifle was lightweight, I asked Leupold to send a scope matching the balance of the rifle. They sent a 2.5-8x36mm VX-III with their Boone and Crockett Big Game reticle, 2-piece mounts, to which I added their Quick Detachable rings. The finished product made a functional and attractive rifle in my opinion. The capped turrets are the short target variety, making it possible to adjust the dials with the thumb and forefinger. I thought the scope balanced the rifle nicely.


I took a Texas whitetail at 140 yards to test the bullet. I waited for a quartering shot through the front shoulder that would not angle into the gut area. The shot was true, penetrating the shoulder bone, the heart and lungs, and exiting just forward of the diaphragm. The deer dropped immediately in place. The bullet exited and was not recovered to note expansion, but the damage to the front shoulder and vitals was immediate and devastating. Bottom line, I was pleased to find the technical writer's ink was hot fluff. Nosler produces a fine hunting rifle.

P.O. BOX 671
(800) 285-3701

ACTION: Bolt action, push feed
BARREL: 24" Pac-Nor,
 button rifled
WEIGHT: 6.5 pounds
STOCK: Gray Kevlar laminate
FINISH: Grey Cerakote
RETAIL: $2,795

2.5-8X36MM VX-III

(503) 646-9171

MAGNIFICATION: 2.6X to 7.8X (actual)
EYE RELIEF: 4.7" (2X),
 3.7" (8X)
LENGTH: 11.3"
INTERNAL 65 MOA windage
ADJ. RANGE: & elevation
WEIGHT: 11.5 ounces
FINISH: Matte black
RETICLE: Boone and Crockett
PRICE: $479.99
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Author:Gottfredson, Jacob
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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