by Ron Spomer - Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Everything Nosler says about its new Model 48 Varmint rifle is true. Except the weight. On my scale the bolt-action weighed 7.6 pounds, almost a pound more than the Nosler catalog says it should. (Nosler reps say it was a typo, and it will be corrected by press time.) But other than that, the M48 Varmint delivers everything as promised.
As for function and accuracy, the M48 is first class. It's a sporting rifle in every sense. Trim, nicely balanced and a comfortable handful in both the pistol grip and forearm grip where the stippled, tan paint on the hand-laid, Kevlar stock provides adequate grip even without checkering. A raised cheekpiece and straight comb permit the shooter to cheek the rifle and still see through the scope-although I had to lift my head slightly.
The Nosler's receiver is flat-bottomed like a Winchester M70, round-topped like a Remington M700, and the company has shaved a slice off each upper quadrant to create attractive flats reminiscent of the Browning A-Bolt. The top, however, remains round enough to precisely accommodate Remington M700 scope bases. That's convenient.
The action is fitted with a 24-inch barrel that tapers from 1.15 inches at the chamber to .652 at the muzzle. The twist rate on this .22-250 Rem. is 1:14-inch. A Timney adjustable trigger broke at 2.25 pounds, and a three-position safety permits operating the bolt to remove rounds without freeing the trigger. The whole thing is secured to the 25-ounce stock via pillar bedding with smooth, hard epoxy flats and a tight fit against the recoil lug. This action didn't fall off the stock when I removed the action screws. It had to be pounded off. And back on. It's tight, and this promotes great accuracy.
The push-feed, lightly fluted bolt body locks the bolt head into the receiver with familiar double lugs, and it removes spent cases with a plunger ejector and extractor that mounts flush with the bolt body and is powered by an internal coil spring.
All metal surfaces are coated in one way or another. Interior surfaces-even the inside of the bolt body, the firing pin and the main spring-have a MicroSlick coating. Cerakote protects exterior surfaces, including the bolt body and lugs. This machine is weatherproof.
If I wanted to lighten the rifle further, I'd exchange the one-piece, hinged steel floorplate/trigger guard. With spring and follower, this unit weighs a hefty 9 ounces. But classic riflemen love steel floorplate assemblies. The butt is finished with a black spacer and matching black recoil pad that is quite stiff for this day and age, but with a .22-250 Rem. chambering it hardly matters. Swivel studs fore and aft finish the rig. Befitting a long-range varmint/predator rifle, there are no open sights.
Via Leupold STD bases/rings, I fitted a Leupold 6.5X-20X-56mm Long Range Extreme Varmint scope and went to work with a variety of factory loads. Off a portable bench in variable 10-16 mph winds from my right, the rifle printed spectacular groups.
The rifle is minute of rodent for sure, and I proved it to my satisfaction by pushing a few hundred rounds through the rifle on a Fort Belknap Reservation dog town, taking at least one fat ground squirrel at 430 yards. The Leupold Varmint reticle made that easier than it might otherwise have been. Out to 300 yards hitting was pretty much a given, even though we were shooting from sitting positions.
In my estimation, from its desert tan color to its slick, short-throw bolt, reasonable weight and incredible accuracy, this is a perfect coyote hunting rifle that will easily handle high-volume rodent work, too.
Type: bolt-action rifle
Caliber: .22-250 Rem.
Trigger: Timney; adjustable pull weight
Magazine: box, hinged floorplate
Sights: none; drilled and tapped
Stock: hand-laid Kevlar
Overall Length: 44"
Weight: 7 lbs., 6 ozs.
Metal Finish: MicroSlick interior; Cerakote exterior
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