Bolt-Action Handgun Hunter – the Nosler M48 Independence
A bolt action that shoots sub-MOA right out of the box is becoming a must among new rifles these days. But this is no rifle. It’s the new Nosler M48 Independence bolt-action HANDGUN. Here’s why hunters need to take note.
Meet the M48 Independence
The new Nosler M48 Independence is a single shot, bolt action handgun built to be the best-of-the-best in terms of accuracy in a hunting handgun. The 15-inch stainless, heavy contour barrel has a threaded muzzle for either a suppressor or brake.
An exceptional two-stage trigger rivals that of target rifles, and a CNC-machined aircraft-grade aluminum single-piece chassis-style stock rounds out the package. The action is bedded and the barrel free-floated. Both the barreled action and stock are coated in Cerakote, in Matte Black and Slickgun Metal Gray, respectively. While the M48 ships with a Hogue Overmolded pistol grip, it’s designed to accept most AR-15 grips. The handgun weighs in at six-and-a-half pounds sans scope or accouterments.
The Independence comes quickly on the heels of the M48 NCH (that’s Nosler Custom Handgun). The M48 fills a big void left almost 20-years ago when Remington pulled their XP100 bolt-handguns. Each M48 Independence is machined and built from U.S.-made parts by the gunsmiths in Bend, Oregon.
Calibers include 22 Nosler, 24 Nosler, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem, and .308 Win.
The MSRP may sound steep at $2,495, but this beauty fills a rather small but very demanding niche.
The mid-grip stock is somewhat foreign to those of us accustomed predominately to rifle and traditional pistol or revolver hunting. The mid-grip positioning is ideal for creating balance on the handgun which would be front-heavy with that 15-inch barrel and a more standard rear grip. At over seven pounds with an optic, the M48 is as heavy as many bolt-action rifles, but that weight is welcome in such a precision handgun. That heavy build helps make recoil manageable, especially when firing traditional rifle chamberings.
The cross-bolt safety is nicely positioned, and its inset design allows easy tactile reinforcement as to its position. When controlled from either side, the safety can be moved quietly, which is a consideration for stealthy hunters. Though some will wish for larger calibers, the range of short action chamberings is more than adequate to take down medium to larger game animals.
The M48 Independence is not cheap, but it exudes all-American quality and easily achieves sub-MOA performance. In the hands of a capable handgunner, the M48 will outshoot many rifles. My hunting partner, Stan Pate, and I headed to the range with a healthy mix of premium factory 6mm Creedmoor ammunition from Nosler, Hornady, and Federal.
The 1:7.5-inch twist rate of our 6mm Creedmoor’s barrel stabilized the range of bullets from 70 to 105-grains with ease. Pate fired a best three-shot group of just 0.575-inch with Hornady Varmint Express. Every one of his groups, regardless of ammo, was easily sub-MOA. In addition to the bedded action, quality barrel and aluminum stock the trigger aides greatly in accuracy. Nosler’s two-stage, fully adjustable trigger broke crisply at 3.25 pounds on our Lyman digital Pull Gauge.
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The Optic Dilemma
Though the M48 Independence does not come from the factory as a combo, our T&E Slickgun was initially wearing a Leupold 2.5-8x Vari-X III handgun scope. That’s a fine piece of glass and held up its end of the accuracy bargain. The problem, however, is that we couldn’t get that handgun optic mounted far enough forward on the mid-grip Nosler to make it comfortable to shoot from a natural position. The quick answer here is a simple one, mount a riflescope instead.
In keeping with the American-made theme, we swapped in an older Leupold 4-12X40 duplex rifle scope. That optic change allowed us both to get comfortable behind the Independence. Whatever you do, give this baby some good glass, because it can reach out.
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While this is not a budget Slickgun accessible to the masses, it’s no one-trick pony either. The Nosler M48 Independence does it all, from varmint hunting to bigger game hunting. Nosler’s brand of Independence means an American-made, custom-quality, bolt action, dead-accurate hunting handgun. Let freedom—and steel–ring.
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