I do believe there is value in learning to accurize factory rifles. But, true custom rifles built by qualified smiths are not just a bunch of components screwed together.
I responded to Antler's pm, but thought it might be worth posting...
Sorry. I didn't mean to sound negative.
Savage makes many different models with varying price tags. I believe you can even custom order to your liking.
Some models have cheapo stocks and some are actually pretty good.
Many claim to get custom rifle accuracy with their off-the-shelf Savages. ...though Savage doesn't guarantee specific accuracy that I know of and all of the high volume producers turn out hummers and a few lemons.
Removing one barrel from a factory action and sticking another pre-threaded and pre-chambered barrel on the same unmodified action isn't necessarily going to improve anything.
Good after-market barrels often may or may not shoot tighter groups. The main advantages are often holding accuracy for long shot strings (20 or more) and easier cleanup.
As such, you can spend a lot on customizing and have no real gain in accuracy.
But, there is satisfaction in building your rifle to suit yourself.
The great news with Savage is you can do this yourself with relatively few tools and a bit of research and care. However, there's no particular advantage/disadvantage for a smith who guarantees performance since he's going to chuck it all up in a lathe and true/blueprint the whole thing anyways to ensure the desired end result.
The rifle is just a small part of a long range shooting system. Optics, reloading tools, range finders, etc... and of course, practice... all add up.
Thanks for the PM and replies. I understand the point your trying to make and I agree to that.
I'm not trying to put together a rifle that will compete with a $5000 rig in competitions. I really liked the Tikka T3 TAC in .223. I would rather 22-250 over .223 for coyote hunting but that rifle is only made in .223 and .308 and is $1800.
That got me thinking that if I can do some research I can put together a rifle myself. Instead of spending $2k to buy and ship (rare gun here) I'd buy the pieces and put ons together for around the same cost, I'd get the caliber I wanted and hopefully it's a superior shooter.
I did exactly what you are talking about. I had a Savage chambered in .308 Win. and wanted to build a hunting/target rifle.
After a ton of research and brain picking from people way more knowledgable than I, I decided to go for it. I ended up purchasing a Shilen drop in chromoly match grade barrel with a heavy varmint contour. A bell and carlson medalist stock and I used bedrock glass bedding.
The barrel I had installed by a gunsmith, because It was cheaper than buying the gauges and tools to do it myself. Also, as long as the barrel will last I won't be using the tools often enough to want/need to own the tools.
Fitting the stock took a dremel and a few hours of my time. The most time consuming portion was preping the action and stock for the bedding.
So far the rifle has been consistently shooting between quarter and half moa. It has been very rewarding and an eye opening experience. So if you are mechanically inclined I say go for it.
I'm pretty mechanically inclined, but never worked on a firearm before. The only part of this that makes me nervous is bedding. I have a 22 mag I may bed in the meantime for practice. Feel free to PM a few pics of your .308, mind sharing who makes your "drop in" barrel?