December 03, 2019
By Steve Gash
The new Model 48 Nosler Custom Handgun (NCH) is a solid extension of the evolution of the “hand rifle” and to me is eerily reminiscent of the Remington XP-100. The NCH is based on Nosler’s Model 48 rifle bolt action, most of which is behind the trigger, but it is tweaked into a single shot with a solid-bottom receiver. It has a futuristic-looking stock that—without open sights—longs for glass. And it is chambered in a raft of cartridges that makes it suitable for varmint or big-game hunting, steel silhouette matches, long-range target shooting, and plain old paper-punching. It is a “custom handgun” in the sense that Nosler offers myriad options from which the shooter can choose, plus it is built by Nosler custom gunsmiths at the company’s headquarters in Bend, Oregon.
The NCH’s stock is designed to accept standard AR-15 grips and comes with a Hogue OverMolded finger-groove rubber grip. The stock proper is CNC-machined 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, and it is glass-bedded to the barreled action.
The pistol is completely coated with a super-tough Cerakote finish, and the entire library of Cerakote colors is available. The barreled action and stock are coated separately, allowing for a combination of different colors on these parts, if desired.
The 416R stainless-steel barrels are from Shilen, and they are blueprinted and handlapped. Standard barrel length is 15 inches, but lengths from 12 to 18 inches in 1-inch increments are also available, at the customer’s request. The muzzle is threaded 1/2-28, so it’s suppressor-ready, and a thread protector is provided. A Harrell Precision Tactical four-port muzzle brake is available, as is optional barrel fluting.
The bolt has two front lugs, with a slot for a guide rod in the right lug. The extractor is what used to be called a “Sako” extractor but is now termed an “AR type.” A plunger ejector is in the boltface. When the gun is cocked, a red ring is visible on the cocking piece, and the bolt can be opened to remove a cartridge with the push-button safety engaged.
As befits a custom gun, the NCH is fitted with a tuned trigger. My sample’s trigger broke crisply and cleanly at an average pull weight of 3 pounds, 10.5 ounces. It had a bit of take-up and an overtravel of about 0.12 inch.
The Model 48 NCH can be chambered in six cartridges, including 22 and 24 Nosler, 6mm and 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and .308 Winchester. All NCHs are custom made to the customer’s desires, and the estimated time to delivery is three to four months.
The NCH I received for this report was chambered for 22 Nosler, and the barrel was fluted. I’m sure this barrel would be termed a “16-inch barrel,” but it actually measured 15.88 inches. The Harrell muzzle brake added another 1.5 inches to the total length.
As I expected it would, the NCH’s Shilen barrel delivered excellent accuracy. The five Nosler factory loads I tested averaged a tidy 0.75 inch at 50 yards. The two best factory loads (Nosler Varmageddon 62-grain FBHP and Custom Competition 77-grain BTHP) averaged 1.33 inches at 100 yards. The 10 handloads I tested averaged 0.63 inch at 50 yards and 1.03 inches at 100 yards. The best load of the bunch was Hornady’s 73-grain ELD Match bullet over 30.0 grains of IMR 4451, and it averaged a tidy 0.68 inch at 100 yards.
MSRP: $2,495 (base price), nosler.com