The 28 Nosler may be one of the most versatile rounds on the planet.
For big game hunters who like variety, versatility is the name of the game.
It's nice to have a centerfire rifle cartridge that can be used on multiple species, especially in western states where you might encounter everything from whitetails and mule deer to elk and black bears. There are very few hunting cartridges that pack the punch needed for larger animals without skimping on ballistics and long range capabilities.
Well, in recent years, the fine folks at Nosler have released a whole line of rifles and new cartridges that fit the bill. It all started with the 6.5mm 26 Nosler in 2014. Since then, the Nosler cartridge line has been expanded to include the 27 Nosler, 28 Nosler, 30 Nosler, and the 33 Nosler. All are great options for hunting depending on what you want out of your hunting rifle.
However, it's arguable the 28 Nosler has become the most popular of the bunch, mostly for its pleasant recoil, blistering speeds, and the ability to take down everything from a pronghorn antelope to a giant bull moose. It was time to take an in depth look at this interesting round and examine some of the current offerings on the market.
28 Nosler as a Hunting Round
Introduced in 2015, the 28 Nosler creators took from several inspirations to build this interesting round. Much like the 26 Nosler, this round uses the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum as the parent. It's worth noting Nosler was also taking some inspiration from .404 Jeffery, a classic dangerous game round primarily used for hunts in Africa. They later used that case as the parent for the 27 Nosler. In any case, the the 65.8mm case length of the 28 allows the round to fit in a standard-length action.
The goal with the 28 Nosler was to create "the most powerful 7mm cartridges commercially available today." This was the second SAAMI-approved cartridge the company designed, and it's safe to say they hit a home run with the ballistic coefficients. Nosler ballistic charts list a 3,300-fps muzzle velocity for their Trophy Grade, 160-grain AccuBond Long Range factory loads. It doesn't slow much at 100 yards either, still doing 3,114 fps. Even at 500 yards, it's still doing 2,420 fps.
Even more impressive are their heavy, 175-grain bullets in the ABLR line. Nosler advertises a fast-paced 3,125-fps muzzle velocity and says this round has zero drop at 400 yards. The speeds are still 2,570 fps and it's hitting with 2,567 ft-lbs of energy at that same 400-yard distance. This round is a flat shooting tack driver. It's little wonder it has become so popular in just a few year's time.
Other ammo companies have also introduced some great factory loads for the 28 Nosler. One of the most notable is the Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter, which uses a 162-grain bullet weight. It boasts a 3,175-fps muzzle velocity that's still doing 3,017 fps at 100 yards while delivering 3,275-foot pounds of energy to the target.
If you really start comparing them, you will notice similarities and comparisons to the 7mm Remington Magnum with the 28 Nosler. That's because this round is essentially a shortened version of that round, but with a few extra benefits.
While many of these factory loads are pushing the case capacity to its limit, we have heard of reloading enthusiasts being able to squeeze even more speed and energy out of handloads. Some reloaders have been able to seat the bullets in a slightly different way to increase the case capacity and get a slightly hotter powder charge. Before you get too excited, it is worth noting that this round hasn't really taken off as much with reloaders as some other rounds. We suspect it's because some would argue that the barrel life leaves a little to be desired. The 28 Nosler is more of a serious hunting tool. The factory loads are plenty powerful enough to get the job done in most scenarios anyway.
Most would agree that the 28 Nosler is an excellent round for hunters in western states who want a cartridge that will kill deer, antelope, elk, and black bears with a flatter trajectory than most any other option on the market.
Nosler Model 48 Long-Range Rifle
This Nosler rifle was one of the first offerings for the new cartridge when it launched and it's still one of the go-to options for big game hunting. There are a couple different variants. It is offered with either a 24- or a 26-inch barrel length with a 1:9 twist rate that's going to be perfect for those heavy, 175-grain bullets. They are also threaded for a suppressor straight from the factory.
It's offered with a carbon fiber stock. Nosler kept the weight of this rifle at just six pounds, which is going to make it extremely easy to lug along on those treks deep into the backcountry where the big bucks and bulls are hiding. These rifles have a Cerakote finish to protect them from the elements and are contoured for a two-piece scope base. Nosler guarantees MOA accuracy with their factory ammo.
Bergara B-14 Wilderness Ridge
Another rifle built to withstand the rough elements of the backcountry, the Bergara B-14 features a free floating 26-inch barrel with a 1:9.5 twist rate. The muzzle is threaded and comes with an Omni muzzle brake from the factory. The action features a two-lug system with a sliding extractor plate. The bolt is fluted and made from a single piece of 4140 chromoly steel. The finish of this gun is a sniper grey Cerakote, and the scope mount fits anything with a Remington 700 base. It is slightly on the heavier side at 7.9 pounds, but this rifle is built to last and stand up to the elements. The price point comes in at just under $1,000. The Bergara name is known for accuracy and the B-14 is no exception.
Savage Arms 110 Ultralite
Savage Arms took their classic 110 action and fitted it with a 24-inch carbon fiber-wrapped stainless steel barrel to make an incredibly nice backcountry hunting gun. This rifle has a 1 in 8.44, 5GR rate of twist barrel and is also threaded. Combined with the synthetic sporter stock, Savage kept the weight of the 100 Ultralite down to just six pounds. They did this by creating a melonite skeletonized receiver. The bolt is also fluted to help keep the weight down for those long hikes deep into the wilderness.
One thing we've always appreciated about Savage is their AccuFit system which allows you to change the length of pull and comb height to perfectly fit your frame using simple tools at home, no custom gunsmithing required. The rifle also features their AccuTrigger system which allows you to adjust the pull between 1.5 and four pounds depending on your own preferences.
Christensen Arms Mesa FFT
This one is brand-new to the market and makes use of the latest developments in production techniques from Christensen Arms. The stock is built using their new "flash forged technology" (FFT). This results in a stock that's almost a pound lighter than anything else on the market today and is also more environmentally friendly than anything else currently being made.
This rifle comes in at a trim 5.5 pounds. The 28 Nosler version features a free floating 22-inch barrel with a 1:9 twist rate. It's also threaded and comes with a removable radial muzzle brake. Christensen Arms also skeletonized the bolt handle and gives this rifle either a tungsten or burnt bronze Cerakote finish to protect from the elements. The company also backs it with a sub-MOA guarantee. This Mesa rifle is likely going to prove very popular for seasons to come.
Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range
For anyone who wants to reach out to extreme long ranges for their quarry, the X-Bolt Long Range is a great choice. This rifle is ergonomically designed with features like the Max stock system that allows you to adjust the comb height quickly and easily. The vertical pistol grip and textured grip panels will help you make a smooth, accurate shot every time. We also like the fact Browning included spacers to help adjust the length of pull quickly and easily. The Inflex recoil pad is going to make a moderate recoil gun even more comfortable to handle. This rifle has a 26-inch barrel with a 1:8 twist rate. Like the other guns on this list, it's also threaded and comes with a muzzle brake standard from the factory. Add a bipod and you're ready to drop a buck at long range come the fall.
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