Guns and Gear

Gun Test: Nosler Model 48 Legacy Rifle

Mike Piccione Editor, Guns & Gear
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By NRA Staff, American Rifleman

Since its initial offering, the NoslerCustom Rifle, the famed bullet company has introduced subsequent models—the 48 Custom Sporter, 48 Varmint, Trophy Grade Rifle (TGR) and 48 Professional Rifle—to fulfill customer requests. The Model 48 Legacy, however, was designed by company founder John A. Nosler shortly before his passing, and thus stands as a tribute to the industry legend.

The Legacy is built on a push-feed action of Nosler’s own design that combines the best attributes of several existing rifles. Machined from a 4140 steel investment casting, the receiver is flat on the bottom, sides and upper quadrants. The top, however, is round and drilled and tapped in the Remington Model 700 pattern. There is a large, integral recoil lug at the receiver’s front, and an integral block at the tang serves as a second lug. In addition to the traditional raceway, located on the receiver’s left side, there’s a full-length anti-bind rail on the right to maintain bolt alignment. The ribbed bolt-release lever is on the receiver’s left rear. The receiver is coated with NIC Industries’ Cerakote—in “Midnight Blue”—for corrosion-resistance and wear-prevention.

As with the receiver, the one-piece bolt is machined from a 4140 steel casting. It has dual-opposed locking lugs, the right of which has a groove that corresponds to the anti-bind rail, and six length-wise grooves both reduce surface area—for smoother cycling—and capture debris that could cause galling. Extraction is provided by an AR-style extractor, and ejection is by way of a plunger-type ejector. The bolt handle sweeps rearward when nearing the knob, with the latter having a single band of checkering. The bolt’s exterior surfaces receive Cerakote matching that of the receiver, and the interior surfaces and components—such as the firing pin and firing pin spring, for example—are coated with the dry lubricant Micro Slick, also an NIC Industries product.

Attached via a single screw, the Legacy’s Rifle Basix trigger unit is fully adjustable, and the test rifle’s trigger exhibited zero discernible creep or overtravel and broke with a 2-pound, 10.8-ounce pull—no tuning was necessary. The two-position safety enables the operator to cycle the bolt to unload when in the “safe” or rear most position.

Depending on the chambering, the hand-lapped, match-grade 24-inch Pac-Nor barrel is free-floating and in either a “standard” or “magnum” contour. Standard chamberings are .243 Win., .257 Roberts +P, .25-’06 Rem., 6.5×55 mm Swede, .270 Win., 7×57 mm Mauser, .280 Ackley Imp. and .30-’06 Sprg. Magnum contours include .308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., .338 Win. Mag. and .35 Whelen. The button-rifled stainless-steel barrel is absent of iron sights, has an exterior Cerakote finish and has a standard radius crown.

The rifle’s stock is Missouri-grown, No. 3 fancy-grade walnut, and the test rifle’s stock exhibited good figure. There is little doubt the wood’s density contributed to the stock’s 2-pound, 8-ounce weight and the rifle’s 8-pount overall heft. Immediately noticeable are a thick pistol grip with a noticeable cast, a roll-over cheekpiece and extensive, finely executed 20-l.p.i. checkering on the pistol grip and fore-end. The four basic Legacy groups (short and long action, light and heavy contour barrel) each have unique stock shapes to yield optimal balance with the rifle’s other parts.

The stock has glass-bedding in the bottom metal screw areas, the tang and the recoil lug. The company also uses pillars to prevent collapsing the bedding when the receiver and bottom metal are tightened (by the two action screws). Concerning the bottom metal, it is CNC machined from billets of aluminum. The hinged floorplate has John A. Nosler’s signature—a fitting feature—and is secured by a Winchester Model 70-type push-button release. The stagger-column magazine accommodates either three (magnum chamberings) or four (standard cartridges) rounds, and tension is provided by a steel follower atop a leaf spring.

To test the .300 Win. Mag. Legacy, we fitted it with a Leupold VX-3 4.5-14X 40 mm riflescope in Leupold rings and bases and headed to the range with three hunting loads. In the standard chambering, Nosler guarantees the Legacy to shoot three-shot groups of 3/4 inches or less (standard cartridges) or sub-m.o.a. (belted magnums) at 100 yards using Nosler ammunition; however, our protocol calls for five consecutive, five-shot groups at 100 yards, so it was tested as such. That being said, after “formal” accuracy testing was completed, a single three-shot group using NoslerCustom 200-grain Partition from a Caldwell Matrix rest was fired at the range’s maximum distance of 372 yards, and it measured 1.57 inches. Could it meet the company’s guarantee? We’d say so.

During testing, there were no malfunctions; we wouldn’t expect any either, given the Legacy’s $2,595 price and Nosler’s reputation for producing high-quality products. The rifle’s heft, stock design and recoil pad work in concert nicely to help attenuate recoil. And despite no liquid lubricants on the moving parts, functioning was smooth and without issue—a testament of NIC Industries’ products. We simply cannot say enough about the Rifle Basix trigger; its performance was stellar and as good as you’ll find.

The Legacy is what the late John A. Nosler envisioned the ideal rifle to be. It is classically styled, elegant, thoughtfully designed and, during testing, proved flawless in functioning and quite accurate. Those who purchase the Legacy will discover this, too.

Manufacturer: Nosler, Inc.; (800) 285-3701;

Mechanism Type: bolt-action center-fire rifle

Caliber: .300 Win. Mag. (tested); 12 chamberings from .243 Win. 
to .35 Whelen

Overall Length: 44″ (short-action); 44½” (long-action)

Weight: 8 lbs. (as tested); 7 lbs., 4 ozs. to 8 lbs., 4 ozs.

Receiver: 4140 steel

Barrel: 1:10″ RH twist (as tested); 1:9″ to 1:14″ twist, depending on chambering

Sights: none; receiver drilled and tapped for scope bases

Trigger: Rifle Basix; adjustable; 2-lb., 10.8-oz. pull

Stock: Missouri black walnut; length of pull, 13½”; drop at heel, 19⁄16″; drop at comb, 1¼”

Accessories: owner’s manual

Suggested Retail Price: $2,595

Thanks to the NRA staff at American Rifleman for this review. Visit them here