The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

The Nosler Custom Handgun (NCH)

LONG SHOT WITH A LITTLE GUN

Little is a relative term. In relation to centerfire, rifle-caliber guns, the Nosler Custom Handgun makes it possible to take a long shot with a little gun. Designed for handgun hunting, the NCH is in a class of its own, as a rifle-caliber, bolt-action pistol. Two decades ago, Remington retired its version of a similar hunting handgun, the XP-100. So, the NCH is currently the only hunting handgun platform of its kind that’s available direct from a manufacturer.

At first glance, the NCH is confusing. It’s even more perplexing when you have one in hand, because you immediately realize it’s nothing like a pistol and vaguely resembles a rifle. But it serves a niche market of hunters who like to be challenged by medium to long-range shots with a rifle-caliber pistol.

To understand why the NCH is even a thing, I talked to one of the most-experienced handgun hunters in the world, Mark Hampton, and then put it to the test in the field. Having used a multitude of weapons for hunting, the NCH proved to be the most difficult for me to master. Once I figured out how to problem-solve this abstract pistol, hitting targets became easy and fun.

Handgun Rundown

Based around Nosler’s Model 48 short action, the NCH is a single-shot pistol, fed from a solid-bottom receiver. It looks like a rifle with the stock cut off, but there’s much more to the engineering than that. “The Nosler NCH is a product of a well-thought-out, high-quality, well-designed handgun,” says Hampton. “Nosler didn’t cut any corners; they tried to get it right the first time, and I think they did.”

Past the action, the NCH was developed from the ground up. The bedded action and free-floated barrel rest in a 6061-T6 bar stock aluminum stock. A cross-bolt safety prevents the trigger from being pulled when on safe, but is effortless to disengage with your trigger finger right before taking the shot, as long as you aren’t wrong-handed. A reversible safety may be offered in the future. The custom part of the NCH comes in the form of different Cerakote colors, barrel lengths, muzzle brake, fluted or non-fluted barrels, and six calibers to choose from.

With three spots to attach a QD swivel, I opted for a Spartan Precision Equipment Javelin Bipod Mount. The magnetic bipod was stored in its belt pouch while hunting, because a prone shot was unlikely.

With three spots to attach a QD swivel, I opted for a Spartan Precision Equipment Javelin Bipod Mount. The magnetic bipod was stored in its belt pouch while hunting, because a prone shot was unlikely.

Taking a note from the AR platform, the NCH pistol grip can be swapped out for any standard AR pistol grip. This is great because pistol grip preference is as personal as your choice of boxers or briefs. The NCH comes from the factory with a Hogue OverMolded rubber grip with generous finger groves.

A new cartridge can be quickly loaded into the solid-bottom receiver.

A new cartridge can be quickly loaded into the solid-bottom receiver.

Most rifles have noticeable recoil. Imagine that same amount of recoil, but without the additional contact point of the buttstock in your shoulder. Chambered in a rifle caliber, the NCH undoubtedly has recoil that has to go somewhere. Nosler engineers were wise to thread the barrel, allowing for a muzzle brake or silencer. Using a muzzle brake will mitigate some of the recoil, but it will be offensively loud. On my loaner NCH, I used a silencer.

But, Why?

Why would anyone want to hunt with a handgun? For the same reason some hunters choose a bow instead of a rifle; getting close to your prey is a rush and a challenge. Using a handgun to hunt is a middle ground between using a rifle or bow. The type of handgun you use determines how close you need to get to make the shot. For the NCH, the limitations are related to the caliber selected and your proficiency level.

Just like the M48, the bolt can be removed with a press of a button and no extra tools, unlike the XP-100.

Just like the M48, the bolt can be removed with a press of a button and no extra tools, unlike the XP-100.

In addition to hunting, there are dedicated competitions for long-range handguns. Silhouette pistol shooting is a game where old people shoot from contorted positions at metal targets shaped like animals. Targets vary in size and are usually placed out to 500 yards. It’s these types of competitions that spawned unique freestyle shooting positions with names like the creedmoor or dead frog. Another type of competitive shooting for handguns like the NCH is the Annual MOA Long Range “Cold Turkey” Handgun Match in Sundance, Wyoming. Target distances start at 500 yards, advance to 750 yards, and finally end at 1,000 yards. This intriguing match proves how capable long-range pistols can be in skilled hands.

The Real Test

I was given the opportunity to go on an antelope hunt with the Nosler crew. My loaner NCH was chambered in 22 Nosler, and came with a case of 55-grain Nosler E-Tip. To put it into perspective, the caliber is roughly 12-percent more powerful than a 223; the muzzle velocity listed on the box was 3,300 fps.

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 41


Nosler NCH spec


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