Re: Is custom worth it?
$1600 now is a lot less than what you'll pay in 3-5 years when you burn out the factory barrel. Handlapped barrels alone have gone up $50-65 in the last 2 years.
I'd advise you go ahead and order a pre-turned blank barrel from the manufacturer of your choice, Keep in it your dehumidified safe until you are ready to use it. Worry about smith labor later.
As for H-S precision, I have a few on my rifles and they are superior to the factory stocks. There's no rule that says you cannot still add glass bedding to the aluminum block.
I personally do not feel that getting an action squared/trued is a waste of money. Accurizing a rifle, even a hunting rifle, is nothing but a benefit that gives you an edge. I found that it became easier to find a consistent handload with an accurized rifle and handlapped barrels. JME.
If $1600 bothers you now, know this, it will never be cheaper.