Lots of great info here. If you doubt going custom, you're basically down with that idea. Usually one knows or has a specific reason for wanting a custom rig, will talk with their smith about shooting/hunting requirements and work from there. It doesn’t sound like you’re at those cross roads yet.
Here's my $0.02 worth.
If you like your gun the way it is, but you want it to shoot better this is the best advice I can give and what I did with my .300 WSM Model 70 featherweight. I loved the warmth, look and feel of the featherweight wood stock. I wanted to see if I could get it to shoot before going radical. Out of the box the first two shots were around 1 moa but the 3rd shot was 2 to 3” left. I wanted better and more consistency so here’s what I did.
Have the action +1” of barrel epoxy bedded to your current stock, free float the rest of the barrel. Bedding job around $50.00 to $75.00.
2.5 pound crisp trigger job $50.00
Have the barrel hand lapped, around $50.00 or buy Tubb's final finish and give that a try.
Now see how it shoots. For about $150 to $175.00 you might have solved your problem.
This is what I did with my .300 WSM featherweight and it shoots .6 to .75 moa. Which for a big game hunting rifle is superb, I don’t care what anyone says.
With your savings invest in good glass, and a good laser range finder. Now if that doesn't work for you, try a new stock first and work your way up from there.
Best of luck
Distance is not an issue, but the wind will make it interesting!
I can find no mention of the calibre you are using. Therefore I must assume you are content with whatever you have. You might be rather surprised what you might attain with a minimum of expenditure from a person qualified to accurize your rifle. You [yourself] might be able to do this too! Good bedding and a dose of Wests [with micro-baloons] in the foreend to stiffen the front might do wonders! Cutting a 11 deg crown, lapping your lugs are all things that don`t cost too much and DO help. THis will also give you some "breathing room" [money wise] to ascertain if this is really waht you want to do. Then you can either go ahead with a full blown custom or sell it and get something else. IE: I acquired a 6.5 barrel of unknown parentage for cheap on an auction site some time ago. Being a light weight nut I cut the H--l out of it and put it on a Rem 600 action. Chambered it in 6.5/08. This shoots the 129 Hornady into 1/2" at 100 if I can do my part. I got lucky. You might too with what you have already. Try this route BEFORE going to all the extremes of $ output. Just my .02 cents worth. Good luck.
My Sendero is factory except that I adjusted the trigger. I bought 2 boxes of ammo; one I shot at 100-200 yds to sight in. I burned the second box half at 600 yds and half at 800 yds. It's meant to be an elk gun, and even in high winds every 800yd shot would have dropped an elk.
Enter handloads, and it went from a .75 moa to a .5 moa gun. Why would I even want to mess with this, unless I had money to burn or shot competition?? Sure, when I fry the barrel (it is a 300WM) I'll put a nice tube on it. Maybe I'll even get a better trigger. But why do more to it? It would LOOK cool, but any improvement in performance would be very, very marginal.
A lot of good advice from all, but if you are not
sure about a custom start with a good stock and dont buy
something that will have to be replaced later on.
I would recomend a varmint style stock in a laminate
so it could be opened up later if you wanted to rebarrel
with a heavy contour without weakening the stock. Bedding
and floating the stock with the factory barreled action
would be a good place to start.And you could install a by
pod at this time if you wanted to.
Bedding an action is not that difficult and with a little
help from this site you could do it your self.
Being a gunsmith I can tell you that machine work cost money
and if you start setting the barrel back,truing the action,
touching the chamber, crowning and any other machining you
mite as well go with a full blown custom.
A good stock will normally help a factory setup but if the
barrel or chamber is bad thers not much hope for a real
shooter.so plan your steps and dont spend good money after
bad by doing a lot of machine work that may not help.
A lot of factory setup's can be made to shoot well with some
basic modification's and by working up a good reload. But
some will never shoot well because it was mass produced and
tolerance's are not very good.
So if your ok with one inch groups at 100yrds there is no
need to spend money on a custom rifle.
The reason for building a custom rifle is to get exactly
what you think is the perfect rifle for what you like to
hunt or shoot. It can be any weight,action,barrel length,
camo, shinny or style that you want and one of a kind.