Rifle Review: The Nosler Mountain Carbon, Part Two

There’s no doubt about how good this rifle is. Are you good enough to get the most from it?

Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon
The new Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon retails for $3,140.Nosler

If you want to you know whether a rifle is any good, look at the little stuff. When I get a test gun whose Weaver-style bases are not screwed tight, that means there was someone on the assembly line who did not give a s--t. It’s a warning flag. A few SHOT Shows ago I was shown a British heavy rifle whose makers were charging a fortune for it. The hand-rubbed oil finish had not filled the pores of the walnut. I would bet you a Bentley Continental GT that there were other things wrong with it, high price notwithstanding. Some gun companies don’t give a damn what they put out, and some do.

In the case of the Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon, look at the bolt shroud, which is the metal cap on the rear end of the bolt. You'll see that it's comprised of two radiused sections and five flats, each one separated by a border line that is dead straight, and sharp. Observe also that the receiver, which is a tube, has flats machined along its sides.

There’s no reason to make the bolt shroud this way; you could use a plain round casting, likewise with the receiver, and the rifle would work as well. But going to this kind of trouble is the Nosler gun shop making a statement: “Nice work, isn’t it?”

Or, look at the bolt face. Every steel surface on the Mountain Carbon is Cerakoted so it won’t rust, and this includes the bolt. The Cerakote finish is only .001-inch thick, and if the coating were left on the bolt face, the fit between it and the base of the case would be tight, but it would probably work. This is not the Nosler Way. The bolt fact is polished down to the bare steel, and “probably” doesn’t enter into the equation.

This kind of work doesn't come cheap. The base price for a stock Mountain Carbon is $3,140. (You can get all the specs on the Nosler website.) If you want something special, there are options:

  • Left hand: $670

  • Non-standard cartridge: $225

  • Non-standard stock color: $125

  • Non-standard Cerakote color: $85

  • Barrel length or twist changes: $125-$450, depending on barrel manufacturer

Most of the rounds Nosler offers for the Mountain Carbon are proprietary, and on the fearsome side. Most of them require a muzzle brake which brings its own set of problems. The solution here is the 6.5 Creedmoor, which is offered as standard. Its versatility and effectiveness are without limit.

There’s another factor. When you invest a lot of money in a rifle, you have to think about getting that money back. After all, s--t happens, and a rifle that’s chambered for a proprietary cartridge and costs a bundle can sit on the used-gun rack for months and months, while the same thing, chambered for a standard cartridge, will be bought within the first week.

You must also ask yourself if you’re a good shot. Light rifles are not easy to shoot, particularly under stress. If your fundamentals of marksmanship are not sound, you’re not going to be doing much hitting with your wonderful new Mountain Carbon. It follows as the day does the night that a 9-pound rifle is a lot less twitchy than a 7-pound rifle.

There’s a lot to think about here. The Mountain Carbon isn’t cheap, and it places demands on you as a shooter. The one thing about which there is no doubt is how good a rifle it is. I don’t know of anything, regardless of price, that’s better.