Custom action VS factory blue printed

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by jmason, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. jmason

    jmason Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    What are the benefits of a custom(aftermarket) action over a factory action that's been blue printed?
  2. Gene

    Gene Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    I shoot in 500 meter ground hog matches with three different rifles. Two are custom actions; a Hall and a Nesika. The third is a fully blueprinted Rem 700 with everything possible done to it. The Rem shoots well, but not nearly so as the other two. The custom action rifles, including all components and gunsmithing, cost me about $2,800 each. I have put more than that in the Remington. Would not go that route again. Custom actions come blueprinted and ready to go. I told my gunsmith a few months ago, that I would never invest in a factory action for competition again. Take a look at the Stiller action. It is less cost and apparently of very good quality. May be my next purchase.

  3. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

    Jun 13, 2007
    blue printed 700s might be as accurate, never will be as smooth and will lose 50 percent of the cost you put in it as soon as you walk out the gunsmiths door!

    Custom actions are smoother, many times slightly larger, longer tenons and always hold their value and cost less to have more quality.

    It is as simple as that.

  4. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    There are a lot of different opinions on this and This is one subject that I
    have mixed opinions on.

    There are good custom actions and good factory actions so it all boils down to
    what you want and can afford.

    The advantage of a custom action is normaly they are machined very true ( But not
    allways and should be checked ) and are a one time expense.

    The disadvantages are custom actions require custom stocks that are quite a bit more
    expensive . ( A good laminate or composit stock for a factory action will run $ 200.oo
    to $400.oo dollars where the same stock for a custom action will start at $600.oo and go
    up to $1000.oo + dollars ).

    The advantage of factory actions are, easy to come by,lots of after market parts and
    plenty of good stocks to chose from at reasonable cost for the biuld and in the hands
    of a good smith can be made to shoot with any custom action with minimal cost.

    The main advantage to a factory action is that most people have a rifle that does not
    shoot and can be used as a donor to build a custom rifle on.

    As to the accuracy advantage of one over the other if a high Quality barrel is used and
    a good chamber and headspace are achieved there are no advantages one way or
    the other.

    Don't get me wrong I love the looks and feel of the custom actions and consider them a
    must for the realy big cartriges because of boltface dia. and length. But with standard
    cartriges they are not nessary .

    On a Custom biuld you should go with what ever you want and can afford ,after all it is
    a custom biuld and should be exactly what you want in all areas.

    Just my opinion
  5. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

    Jun 13, 2007

    Ok you lost me here.

    90% of the custom actions are on "basic remington footprint" (Lawton, Pierce, Predator, TAC 338, Phoenix, Borden, GAP, Nesika, Bat, Hall etc), particularily, any one of them used for a LR hunting gun, and will fit into exactly the same stock as any factory rem 700. At worst, only require very minor modifications to the basic 700 inletting for longer tenons etc.

    They all use the same Remington after market parts, so no advantage there.

    Even wider custom actions will fit into the same laminated stock, just different inletting. You order the same stock (or at most, ask them to leave it about 1/4 wider in the action area) with a different inlet or you order it uninletted and your smith inlets it. Now fiberglass, yes it might be an issue, but that should be on the absolute largest actions and calibers.

    The only actions that require different stocks are the largest custom actions for 338 lapua and up cartridges, in reality 408 size.

    Last I checked McMillan, they had the same price for their stocks regardless of whether it was custom or factory and they all fit in the stock.

    PM me and I will tell you where you can get all the laminated stocks you want at the same price for inletting a 700 and a custom action. No difference and 50 plus patterns and they can mix and match foreends and butts from different patterns. They have a variety of from lightweight sporters to huge BR stocks and in different woods.

    Even if I have a factory action to start with it has a "resale" value that cannot be ignored, so there is no such thing as a "free donor action". I can always sell a Rem for $350 and put it towards a custom so there is no savings here, particularily when you look at the "lost $350" on top of what you spend to rework it and then lose every dime of it when you walk out the gunsmiths door. That means that there in actuality is not any savings here, just lost money even with a donor action.

    You might only be able to afford a factory starting off, but when it comes time to drop a lot of money "fixing" it; IMO time to sell and buy a custom if saving money is a factor. If not, then go ahead and rework the factory.

    Got to admit I have a couple I have done that to, but it has never worked out as inexpensive, smooth, or as high quality as my custom actions, but then it would not be as much fun.

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  6. jmason

    jmason Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Thanks for the replies!!

    This is what I was mainly getting at. I figured accuracy was mainly in the barrel and chambering. As long as it mounted to something true. I don't sell my guns, I let them collect dust (the ones I never seem to shoot) for my kids to sell someday when I'm gone so resale value means nothing to me as I can't take 'em with me.:D
  7. MagMan

    MagMan Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    I hope my trued up Winchester and Remington actions never figure out they aren't custom, I may have a mutiny.

    I to could care less about resale value and would rather have an action trued up in a couple of weeks instead of waiting 4 months or better.
  8. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    B H You are right !!!

    I was talking in generalities but a lot of the actions are flat bottom and longer requiring
    a longer spacing of the bedding screws.

    Also if you ask most stock makers for a special inletting the price goes up.

    I know that some of the actions are clones of the remingtion but if they are not bigger,
    stronger and longer then why buy a custom when the factory is available at a much lower
    cost even after blue printing ( About 2 hrs work ) and will shoot with any custom action.

    I have built rifles on most factory actions and "ALL" of these have shot groups less than
    1/2 MOA and most have been better than 1/4 MOA . I have 4 hunting rifles that have/will
    shoot under 1/10 of a MOA (Less than .100 ).

    I agree with you that there is something special about a custom action But you don't have
    to buy one to get accuracy.

    The donor rifle is a good way to recover the cost of a not so good rifle that is not being
    used or not saleable to someone without telling them how lousy it shoots.

    But the cost of a biuld is still much higher with the custom action and may not be that
    important to you and me but it could prevents someone from building a realy good shooting
    rifle for around $1500'oo dollars as compaired to $2500+ .

    I have allways tried to get a first time custom rifle owner to start with a good factory
    action that they owned to see the differance in accuracy at a cost that they could afford
    then after the first biuld when they knew more and could plan an all out custom rifle if they
    wanted to look at all of the componants and decide what they wanted and were willing
    to spend.

    I would be the last person to knock the custom action because of the ease of biulding
    a rifle on one of them that will shoot well.

    Just wanted to clear that up and thanks

  9. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

    Jun 13, 2007

    OK, I am intrigued.

    What exactly do you "blueprint" for $200 and 2 hrs. Normal shop rates are $75 on the low end and $150 an hour on the upper in most areas.

    That is a really vague term and has many different meanings. A full blueprinting normally covers raceways, lugs, receiver, threads etc and normally runs $350 up.

    We have not even touched bolt face, lugs, recoil lug and sleeving the bolt.

    Touching up one or two items is not blueprinting as a lot of people think and misuse the term.

    Now all that work and money is still not even equivalent to a $700 Predator, Lawton or $850 Pierce on smoothness.

    If you add the sale action ($350) and the cost of the above work, I sure do not come anywhere near another $1000 over the cost of a custom action.

    Never a truer statatement was made. It is so much easier to get a "consistently accurate gun with a custom action. The guys on BR central have a standing $500 bet for the first non BR rifle that can come to a registered match and agg 1/4 inch (5x 5 shots back to back) and they have had no winners yet.:D

    If I am after 1/2 MOA lot of ways to get there and some of them cheaper, however, If I am after 1/4 MOA consistently, damn few.

    Anyway, that is what makes life go round and this so much fun!!!:)

  10. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    B H

    I don't want to hijack this thread any more but hears what I call blue printing
    an action.

    Square the recever face.
    square the recoil surfaces in the recever .
    chase the threads in the recever.
    Square the bolt face.
    square the recoil lugs on the bolt.
    and do a fine lap on the recoil lugs to smooth the serface and improve opening
    under heavy loads.
    And when required work on the race ways.

    Also my rates are a "LOT"cheeper because I don't have to make a living at it.

    And on a final note; I build hunting rifles and not bench rest rifles and 1/4 MOA
    accuracy is fine for that purpose.

    And the best group to date with a Remingtion 700 action is .031 @ 100 yrds with
    a 416 .

    Good post thanks
  11. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    I like to think I'm in a unique position to answer your question since I've blueprinted a ton of mainstream production actions and also served as a production manager for a fairly well respected custom action manufacturer; Nesika Bay Precision.

    There's a couple ways to look at this and I'll use cars as the analogy.

    Stuff an LS2 all alloy V-8 into a Chevette that is set up for road racing/drag racing, what ever and what do you ultimately have?

    A Chevette with a pissed off V-8 and that's all it will ever be.

    Take the same engine in a Corvette or comparable car and suddenly you enjoy a higher status amongst the general population.

    To the masses it matters little that your heavily modified Chevette was/is every bit as capable as the Corvette.

    It boils down to what is important to you. If your someone only interested in function and accuracy, get the Remington. If you want the glitz and bling along with the performance, then go for the custom action and never feel an ounce of buyer's remorse for your decision.

    I will be the first to tell you not to buy into all the hype that goes along with custom built receivers. Much of it is a marketing ploy to get your Visa card number, expiration date, and code from the back of the card. The truth is most of a rifles accuracy comes from the barrel. The best action in the world, made from the most expensive alloys, and machined to aerospace/nuclear/medical standards won't amount to much if you hang a tomato stake barrel that's churned out as fast as the machine will make them by a guy who gets paid 8 bucks an hour. As with anything you get what you pay for and custom anything carries a premium.

    I always tell a customer to buy the best barrel he/she can possibly afford/obtain first. 10 years in this trade with guns that have won Olympic, World, and International events has proven this to me.

    Now, another side to this that may screw you all up, but what the hell.

    When you get to the nuts and bolts, the price difference between a tuned up action and custom really isn't all that different.

    lets take a no frills Remmy 700 as an example against a Nesika Model T repeater.

    Both are open architecture receivers designed to facilitate loading into either a blind or hinged floorplate type magazine system.

    The Remington was picked up at a Pawn shop with a ghetto plastic stock for lets say $300 dollars. That included a Simmons/Tasco scope.

    You decide to make this thing into something and you bring it to "Bob" who has a reputation for building great rifles.

    Bob runs down the list of options he offers and you decide to go with "the works."

    So, lugs, action face, threads, bolt lugs, and bolt face are all tuned up square and parallel to bore centerline. The action face is drilled to accept a pin or key to index the recoil lug. The scope holes are indexed to bore centerline and then milled (not drilled) with a .0625" endmill to ensure the true centerline is observed. A drill will simply follow the existing 6-48 hole and you can't be certain the holes are really on the bore axis that way.

    An external bolt release is machined into the receiver because fiddling for that little lever near the trigger on a cold morning with gloved hands is a pain in the butt. Next he adds a Sako extractor and then helical flutes to the bolt. Finally, Bob modifies the fire control so that the action no longer climbs the helical ramps in the receiver when the action goes into battery. This does nothing to the performance of the action in terms of accuracy, it's just a "bling" thing that makes the action feel smoother during bolt manipulation. He also ditches the fugly Remington bolt shroud and goes with his own which completely encloses the back of the striker/cocking piece assembly.

    Finally, everything is blasted, deburred, and then either polished up or blasted again so that it can be blued to a nice rich finish.

    Bob gets $600.00 in labor for all this work. The parts cost an additional $250.00. You paid $300.00 for the action. You now have a Remington (Chevette) with $1150.00 of your hard earned peso's invested in it. Now, make no mistake, that's one damn good looking Remington and you might even impress a couple chicks and get a phone number or two.

    Now go to a custom action manufacturer's website and do a price check. That Nesika T is a bit more, but it's close enough in price that the difference is justifiable if glitz and bling are important to you. The difference isn't all that much and you can trace the added cost back to the higher grade materials.

    You'll also pick up other incentives like a bolt that is completely made from billet. No more silver soldered bolt handles flying off the gun when a mallet is required to extract a tempermental cartridge case. You'll have a broader range of options available. Maybe this is a dedicated bag gun for varmints and you want the bolt on the right side but the loading/ejection port on the left side so that your free hand can have something to do while you blast at prairie dogs.

    This is getting long winded, but hopefully it sheds a little different light on the subject.

    Good luck and keep em centered.

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  12. road warrior

    road warrior Member

    Mar 18, 2007
    Do'nt know iff anyone else has this oppinion but even though everyone seems to get a new gun built with no plans to ever sell it they do get sold.
    I think its allot easyer to get some of your money back out of a custome actio than a stock one nomater whats done to it.
  13. jmason

    jmason Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Thanks for the detailed explanation Chad. By the way it's nice to see you posting again.:) I was afraid we lost you.