By Mike Deming
Owning a rifle that shoots Sub-MOA (1” groups at 100 yards) was once reserved for those custom rifle owners who had deep pockets or the guys who reloaded religiously and had the time to find that sweet spot. Occasionally, a person would get lucky and get a factory gun that would shoot lights out and when they did, they would never get rid of it.
Thanks to Nosler and the Model 48 Liberty rifle, everyday shooters without the deep pockets can now own a rifle that shoots consistent MOA groups with factory ammo and have a guarantee behind it.
Nosler has been a household name for well over half a century due to their great bullets. They have been building rifles to test these bullets for quite some time now as well. In 2005, they started delivering custom rifles of the highest quality to consumers. This has yielded them numerous awards and accolades from the outdoor industry and now in 2016, they are producing production rifles with the same high quality standards.
Production rifles are done in small batches to bring costs down, while still delivering high quality. The Model 48 Liberty comes in numerous calibers from the .22-250 all the way out to the .35 Whelen, but their most well-known calibers and cartridges that are setting the world on fire are the .26 Nosler, .28 Nosler and .30 Nosler, which are all powerhouse cartridges capable of taking down anything North America has to hunt. Each rifle comes with a Model 48 custom action, which is contoured to accommodate any standard 2-piece scope base that would otherwise fit a Remington 700 rifle. It has a custom hand-tuned trigger set at 3 to 4 pounds, a side mounted rocker safety, and every action is proof tested to ensure it can handle overpressure if it ever happens.
Barrels are premium, hand-lapped, match grade with a target crown. Stocks are an aramid fiber reinforced composite that are both lightweight and extremely durable. An aluminum core provides a consistent foundation for the action. It has a glass aluminum pillar bedding. Each rifle is finished with a Cerakote all-weather finish that will last for years. One of the most important aspects of each rifle is that is has an MOA accuracy guarantee with prescribed Nosler Ammunition.
Nearly six months ago, I picked up my first Liberty 48 rifle, chambered in .28 Nosler. After mounting a Leupold VX-6 in 3-18X50 with Firedot reticle on it with Talley 2 piece rings, it was time to see how this thing would perform. Since this caliber is fairly new, the ammunition is somewhat limited. However, there were several boxes of Nosler Trophy Grade ammo loaded with 160 grain Accubond bullets on the shelf at Sportsman’s Warehouse. This is one of my favorite bullets for hunting and since Nosler has an accuracy guarantee when using one of their rifles with their ammo, it was a perfect fit. After a quick bore-site, we were ready to rock.
We followed the break in procedures in the owner’s manual to the tee. We were consistently shooting sub MOA groups while doing this, but the true test would be once we started to extend the range of this rifle. Targets were set out at 200 yard with ½” dots and we settled in for some serious grouping and evaluation. I was focused on everything this rifle was designed for when I squeezed the trigger. There was no creep whatsoever and I was truly surprised when the rifle reported. I replicated this process each and every time until a group of three shots were visible on the paper. At 200 yards, I had just pulled off a 3-shot group which could be covered with a nickel. Pretty impressive for a factory rifle and factory ammunition.
As we moved to the steels set at 600, 800 and 1,000 yards, I was pretty excited to see the performance of this rifle and ammo combination over the next few hours as it was already holding sub ½ MOA consistency. With the use of my StrelokPro app on my phone, I plugged the appropriate data into the app to give me the appropriate clicks for elevation and windage for this 3,300 feet per second setup. The dope was correct and we shot a 3” group at 600, 4” group at 800 and closed the day with a 5.5” group at 1,000 yards. We had done the break-in, sight-in and validated data all the way out to 1000 yards in less than two boxes of factory ammo. I knew I was holding a rifle in my hands which would spend a lot of time with me in the field going forward.
Our annual trip to Texas for free range Aoudad would be its’ first real world experience at game for me. I knew that my confidence with this rifle was high and I felt that given the right conditions, I could hit just about anything with this setup. It took us until the very last day of the hunt to find a ram that was worthy of my tag. At 525 yards and with a 10-12 MPH full value cross wind, I knew that this would be the true test for the rifle. As I slowly squeezed the trigger and felt the recoil, I could hear the team respond with a cheer. I knew I had just connected on a great ram with a perfect hit.
Guaranteed and proven MOA accuracy with a factory rifle and factory ammo, which is readily available, make this a deadly combination. It totally eliminates the need to spend excessive dollars on a custom rifle.