Sep 28, 2010
Just purchased a Nosler 48 Heritage in 7mm-08. It should be delivered within a week. My quest for a wood stocked 8# hunting rifle ended with the decision to buy a short action Nosler 48 Heritage, after considerable thought. Caliber was not as important as the character of the rifle. I had considered the 260 Rem, 7mm-08, and the parent case 308 Win. This will be the fourth 7mm-08 that I have loaded for and hunted with. As with the caliber, I had several candidate rifles in mind. Compared to other manufacturers product line strategies, I think that Nosler’s direction with the M48 is more in line with my concept of a hunting rifle. I like the fact that Nosler has chosen to limit the number of models and focus on producing a quality hunting rifle. I’ll explain how I decided on purchasing the Nosler 48..
My go to whitetail rifle for many seasons was a Sako AII Hunter 7-08 that lived in a McMillan Sako Hunter pattern stock. That rifle pretty much exemplified what I wanted out of a hunting rifle. The design attributes of the action were perfect. The trigger was excellent and tunable to 3# without smoothing. It was a flat bottom action with integral dovetails, integral recoil lug, a hinged floorplate, a non-plunger ejector and a bolt lock safety.
Like any rifleman, I am always seeking the Holy Grail of hunting rifles. As we hunt with a rifle, our requirements are refined and we make adjustments, based on our hunting style and needs. I was well into my hunting career when I started using the 7-08. It satisfied my needs for many years. There was a point where too much redundancy existed in the gun safe and I needed to generate funds for a match rifle. Additionally, I wanted to try one of those trendy new calibers, the 6.5 Creedmoor, in the Cooper platform. So, the old hunting partner went off to a new owner.
The Cooper Excaliber had similar size and weight to the Sako, however it certainly did not feel the same. The classic pattern stock by Bell and Carlson was a very stiff platform with a pleasing forend shape. The grip radius and thickness were just not comfortable in my hand. I prefer a more open and slimmer grip. The Cooper trigger was very good and the action was smooth. Believe it or not, having used two lug bolt action rifles all my life, the three lug bolt lift took some getting used to. The design deficiency that the rifle had was the safety. I didn’t care for the rotary style, the fact that it did not lock the bolt closed, and there didn’t seem to be a positive detent for the positions. Detachable box magazines are a convenience that some may like. At least Cooper keeps them below the stock line so they do not interfere with carrying. I can't understand why replacement magazines cost as much as they do. In the case of the 6.5 Creedmoor, Cooper uses the 308 family magazine box. A casual look at this application says that it should work. There is a problem because the headspace of the Creedmoor is shorter than the 308 family. The side of the magazine box has ribs formed at the case shoulder to stop forward movement under recoil. Because the Creedmoor case body length is shorter than the 308, the Creedmoor is free to move forward with the bullet point of the second round down snagging in the magazine latch boss punched into the front of the magazine. This resulted in feeding failures unless the bullets were deeply seated into the case. I sent the magazines back to Cooper who made some tweeks to the follower spring and gave me a free magazine. This was not a first principles correction of the problem. The ribs on the box sides need to be properly positioned to endgage the 6.5 CM shoulder. One last criticism of the Cooper was the bedding. At the price point that the Excaliber is at, they should at least put the barreled action in a decent bedding job. I put about 300 rounds through the Cooper developing loads. The accuracy was around MOA, which I felt could have been improved with a good bedding job. Although Cooper provides a test target with their rifles, I feel that it is deceptive. Their test range is just 50 or 60 yards and three shots don’t reflect the statistical accuracy of ANY rifle. I have handled several Cooper wood stocked rifles that I find pleasing in hand. Unfortunately they are off of my short list because of the safety. Their customer service was very good.
When we look at current semi-production rifles at the Nosler 48 price point, we have to consider Cooper, Sako, and the Montana Rifle Company. For me, Kimber is not in the running because of previous experiences. Being an old Sako advocate, I took a long look at the current Model 85 offerings. The laminated stock stainless Grey Wolf model comes close to meeting all of my criteria. Unfortunately, in model designs after the A-Series, Sako has changed their design to be more production friendly than technically correct. The recoil “lug” system is a real abomination. A little internet research illustrated the separate recoil lug plate that is sandwiched between the action and the stock. Maybe it works for their production engineers but it doesn’t work for me. It is just another place for movement in a vibrating system. That’s too bad because the Sako rifle does offer a lot of attributes that I like in a hunting rifle. If I make any future purchases of Sako rifles it will be the vintage L-Series or A-Series actioned rifles.
The Montana Rifle Company deserves a hard look. What’s not to like about stainless Model 70 Action. It’s flat bottomed, integral recoil lug, the most excellent safety ever designed, and hinged floorplate. For me, it came down to the stocks. Their wood stocked American rifle doesn’t suit my taste at all. The new X2 Extreme stock is very interesting. However, there is one detail that I noted while looking at pictures of the rifles offered on the internet sites. For some reason, the barreled action is set high in the stock above the barreled action centerline. This results in the trigger not fully extending into the guard such that the trigger finger would have comfortable purchase in the trigger radius. This deficiency is attention to detail in the manufacturing chain that could easily be corrected by making the trigger longer or dropping the barreled action to centerline in the stock. The barreled action above centerline is more cosmetic than a functional problem. However, the trigger placement would be uncomfortable to deal with. Finally, in the 7mm and 6.5 bores, I prefer a slightly faster twist rate than Montana uses, in order to shoot the heavy for caliber bullets. The Montana Rifle is at the lower end of this semi-production rifle price range and has a lot to offer at the price point. If they would offer a decent classic style wood stock or correct the inletting production problem, they would be viable options to me.
At this point you are finally saying to yourself, “This guy can’t be pleased!”. That’s not entirely true. I am willing to compromise and find work arounds to get what I want. As I worked through this decision making process, I also considered building a rifle from scratch or finding an old Sako in a caliber that I wanted. Further research was a call made to Nosler to talk about the stocks and safety. The salesman confirmed that the synthetic stocks were B&C and suggested that I might prefer the Heritage because it is slimmer through the grip. I was able to handle a couple Heritage rifles in 26 Nosler and found the stocks pleasing in the hand. I also learned that the trigger could be had in a 3-postion bolt lock safety. A call to Timney confirmed that the bolt lock 3-position safety trigger could be purchased and installed in the M48. I examined a Heritage to confirm that a slot was machined in the bolt handle and receiver tang to pass the safety bolt lock blade. It just amounted to an extra cost.
So I listed the attributes of the M48 Heritage, as I saw it. When I look at any wood stocked rifle, my eye first runs to the grain layout. A proper stock pattern layout on a wood blank has the grain running from the butt, linearly through the grip and rising slightly in the forend. Ideally you would be able to trace a straight grain run from the forend tip at the barrel through the grip to the middle of the butt. This promotes the greatest strength and if the stock swells and moves, the forend tends to move into the barrel instead of away from it. This is particularly important to three point (tip contact) bedded rifles. In examining Nosler Heritage rifles in pictures and hand, Nosler does a very good job in this critical detail. I was able to purchase a rifle on Gunbroker where the picture of the actual rifle was presented. This would not be the case with a rifle that is ordered from inventory. Cerakote is another desirable feature in the Nosler 48 along with the hinged floor plate. The barrel twists that Nosler uses are in concert with my opinions for the various calibers. Looking closely at the action design with the extractor style and integral recoil lug, the Nosler 48 offers a very good dollar value. The true test will be in the shooting. About all that I would change in the M48 is either integral scope mount bases (picatinny) or a simpler change would be to open the mount screw hole to 8-40 as H-S Precision does. That kind of makes using standard Remington bases a minor problem because they are designed for 6-48 screws. The fiberglass stocked models would be more attractive to me if they were in a style more like the McMillian Sako Classic. Better yet, why not replicate the Heritage stock pattern in the fiberglass Liberty model?
I have not hunted with a wood stocked rifle in decades. I am looking forward to hunting with this more traditional style hunting rifle. In spite of all of my criticism, I am sure that I will enjoy shooting and hunting with my M48 Heritage 7mm-08. I will report on shooting results after I get to know this rifle.
Congratulations on your M48 Heritage 7mm-08. You will be pleased with the quality and accuracy of the rifle.
We are pretty happy with ours in 280 AI. The wood is gorgeous.

It is always nice to be able to get as close as possible to what you want. Hope the rifle performs well for you.
I've never handled any of the Nosler rifles, but they look fantastic. Since 2008 I've hunted exclusively with different 6.5 calibers. I do love the 7mm08 though. I have loaded for a few of them and shot several. I figure it will be the next caliber I purchase. Congratulations on the new rifle though I'm sure it will be a fantastic shooter.
Great write up on how you selected your rifle. Haven't heard many complaints from Nosler owners and the rifles seem very accurate.

Please show us pictures when you can. The 7-08 is a great cartridge. I've got a good friend just getting into rifles and hunting, 7-08 and 270 are among my two top choices for a new shooter.
JD that figure in your 280 AI is stunning. I'd have bought that one just for the wood. The Heritage that I bought isn't close to yours as far as color and figure. I'll get pictures when it arrives. I hate the waiting. Patience is not one of my virtues.
I have a good 300 Win Mag and also a 7mm Rem Mag but was missing a medium capacity cased hunting rifle, a little shorter and lighter, from the safe.

Man, I can't wait for you to get your M48 Heritage and post some pictures.
I really like the 7mm-08 and was actually going to go that route but got lucky getting the 280AI.
You'll have to give the 150 gr ABLR a try. Should be a good match up with the 7mm-8.

Nice write up... I think you'll be well pleased with your Heritage. Everyone I know with a M48 (including mine) just shoots lights out.

I just love the 7-08 since I "discovered" it a few years ago in my son's rifle- it is definitely on my short list in its category.
Like I said, HATE the wait! Buying from pictures only go so far. Need to lay eyes and hands on it. I've always been a 7mm nut. When I started culling the cabinet I had a hunting rifle in 7mmBR, 7mm-08, 280 Rem, 7x57 and 7mm Rem Mag. Never really got into the "Ultra" case capacity craze. I could go on about all of them endlessly. Great bore diameter. Like I said, for me it often becomes more about the character of the rifle. I just passed on a gorgeous Sako AIII Classic in 7mm Rem Mag during this latest thrash. Few of those were made and this one has a dark walnut oil finished stock, full fiddleback, end to end. .and. it was priced right in great condition. But, it weighed 8#2oz without scope. You can run a 7RM at 280 velocities and get great accuracy. I just didn't want a 9# hunting rifle or I'd still have my Pre-64 Model 70 270. Yup, I like bolt guns a lot.
Hang in there, it is worth the wait. She will be here before you know it.
What loads are you going to run with?

For the 7-08, I’m partial to 140’s but will try some 150’s. Not interested in going lighter. Actually, I wish that there were some good 160 gr RN’s available to play with. Will try all of the Nosler offerings, some Barnes and maybe Sierra if nothing stunning happens with the Nosler’s. I’ve had good luck with 760 in the 7-08 and have both 4350’s on hand to try.
Give RL17 a try with 140's and 150's. If the accuracy is good you'll smile at the velocity. Turns the 7-08/7x57 into an animal.
Yep- RL17 is nice in the 7-08. I like the 140s but I'm going to give 120s a shot in my son's carbines since we shoot really open country. I've had a 140gr Fusion pencil through a caribou at 150yds. The same bullet expanded beautifully at 55yds though.

I've got a bunch of 7-08 loads and a Ruger American to test this spring when the weather gets more tolerable.
Hodgeman, I have always stayed away from Reloader powders because of temperature sensitivity. My best shooting buddy used to use them and had taken good statistical data throughout the seasons to prove that they are temperature sensitive. You are in a region where extremes are the norm. Do you have statistically credible data to prove otherwise? Can you point me to a credible scientific study that says that they are not? It is true that they produce good velocity and accuracy.
walkinhorseman":vyqpw6lc said:
Hodgeman, I have always stayed away from Reloader powders because of temperature sensitivity..... Do you have statistically credible data to prove otherwise? Can you point me to a credible scientific study that says that they are not? It is true that they produce good velocity and accuracy.

I don't have any data that says otherwise. Even though we have some really extreme temperature swings in the Interior (the record high and low for every month is almost 100F delta), our main hunting season is August and Sept- usual temps of 40-60F Occasionally you'll get a dip into the teens in the AM.

We can get -30,-40,-50F but there's little shooting going on then.

I have heard that RL17 is more temp stable than some older Reloader powder- don't know if it's true but I've never had any issues that would cause me to investigate it further. I've done some target shooting at -10F and -20F and never noticed anything specific (I wasn't looking for data, just shooting several rifles).

Might be a fun project to pursue though....and I have been wanting a Magnetospeed.... (y)
RL17 has been no more temp unstable for me then any of the extreme powders . Great accuracy and awesome velocities with it in many different guns. It is one of my favourite powders. I have chronied load in temps from -15C to +25C and it was great.
For you fellas using RL17 in the 7-08, what kind of speeds are you getting with 140-150 gr bullets?

JD338":n9xm2mom said:
For you fellas using RL17 in the 7-08, what kind of speeds are you getting with 140-150 gr bullets?


with a broughton 24" bbl . Berger 140 hunting VLD's , norma brass , cci 200 primer , I get 3080 FPS . no pressure signs and good brass life . the bergers have a pretty short bearing surface so I doubt you would get that velocity with a more traditional shaped bullet .
JD338":k1n7wist said:
For you fellas using RL17 in the 7-08, what kind of speeds are you getting with 140-150 gr bullets?


The 22" barrel on my sons 7x57 gets 2960 with 140 ABs and 2890 with 150 PTs. A 7-08 set up about the same should do just about the same speeds as that.