Custom Rifle advice

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by jbo, May 12, 2009.

  1. jbo

    jbo Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2009

    New to the forum and I need advice in the direction I should go.
    I'm at a point in life where I want a great shooting custom rifle. I'm not rich and I know there not cheap so I have to put a limit of $3000. I could spend more but I'd be living alone in a trail down by the river.
    My friend has a custom Montana Rifle and advises me to buy one like his.
    I'd like advice for other custom rifle makers in my price range that are better. Just to weigh all my options. The gun would be use for deer and possibly elk.
    I was thinking 7mm STW for caliber but was told that its not that popular a round anymore and shell may become a problem.

    Thanks for the help
  2. gamedog

    gamedog Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2007
    $3000 will give you lot's of options for a build.
    Personally, I would talk with some of the site sponsors on getting your rifle built. They are all experienced LR shooters and know what works and what doesn't.
    Allen Kirby, Shawn Carlock and Nate Dagley are all building some exceptional rifles with great track records.
    Good luck!

  3. geargrinder

    geargrinder Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2006
  4. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

    Jun 12, 2004
    To be honest, I would recommend looking hard at a custom receiver, even if it ment you passed on some other options which are more cosmetic then anything such as barrel fluting.

    If you take a Rem 700 and fully machine it to get it ready for precision shooting, you will be within $100 to $300 of what a full custom receiver would cost you anyway and in the end, you would still have a Rem 700.

    If it were me, I would look at the Borden Timberline Magnum receiver. For the money, its the best receiver out there I have used for a Rifle in this class and for anything up to a RUM chambering.

    They are not cheap, around $1000 but again, in this case you certainly get what you pay for.

    There are other options of course, the Stiller receivers are good choices at a bit less cost. Not as tight as the Borden but good receivers.

    For a stock, I prefer McMillan or Manner stocks made of quality composite material. Figure $500-$600 for a sporter style stock of top quality. Again, there are cheaper options out there but you get your moneys worth with these stocks.

    Barrel, take your pick of the top makers, Lilja, Hart, Krieger, Broughton, Rock and many others, they will all work great if installed properly. Figure around $600-$650 for a stainless barrel including installation with recoil lug.

    So now you have receiver, stock, barrel and barrel fitting taken care of for $2200.

    FOr accessaries, a Jewell trigger will set you back around $275 installed and tuned. Floorplate, mag box, follower, spring and receiver bolts will add another $200 or so. Pillar bedding of the stock will add another $150 and simple metal finishing will be around $70. Thats another $695 total for the accessaries.

    That brings you to around $2950 for the complete rifle with the best of the best componants and assembly.

    Muzzle brake would be extra($185 to $285 depending on make) and barrel fluting would also be extra at around $140 on average.

    As far as chambering, there are so many to choose from its hard to say. If you were hunting elk mainly, I would lean toward a larger 30 cal or 338 magnum. Since you will be hunting deer mainly, I would recommend a 7mm with possibly the 30 cals as an options as well.

    What size of case to use would depend on many things, how far you want to shoot mainly. If you will be hunting at conventional ranges, no need to get excessive. A 280 AI, 7mm WSM, 7mm Rem Mag will all serve you very well. So will a 300 WSM or 300 Win Mag.

    If you want to get into long range shooting, Then the STW and RUM class chamberings will have more worth. Just need more information from you on how you will be hunting and how far you want to be able to reach out.
  5. Seven Oaks

    Seven Oaks Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2009
    For 3K you can get you a nice rifle. I would focus on getting the best barrel I could.

    Since it's a Hunting rifle and not a competition gun you can get a Factory action and have it trued, you'll probably never be able to tell the difference.

    You can save the extra bucks to put towards top quaility glass-which does make a big difference.

    Unless you reload, I would probably not go with a 7MM STW. They are also hard on barrels.

    Find a gunsmith that has a good reputation and happily pay the premium that he will charge. I would skimp on everything else before I skimped on the smith.

    Good Luck,

    Last edited: May 12, 2009
  6. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    If you have a Rem 700 action trued, you will never get your money out of it if you sell it. By spending nearly the identical $$'s, you'll have a custom action that has the exact same footprint as the Rem700, it will take all the same aftermarket parts etc. And you will always have a custom (high quality) action to work with. By having a Rem trued, you are simply spending the extra money it would take to upgrade to a custom action.

    The smiths on this site are awesome, I've seen/discussed a lot of their work. I've personally had Kirby Allen and Shawn Carlock perform work for me and am 100% satisfied with both of them.

  7. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2005
    Agreed. Look for a gunsmith with a good reputation for consistently getting the work done properly the first time around. Problems that have to be fixed after-the-fact are more expensive and often result in lesser quality or some type of compromise than getting it done properly in the first place. AJ has identified three smiths that post frequently on this Forum. Based on the feedback I've read, and some personal experience, they will either do it the right way or they won't do it at all.
  8. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    I wouldnt overlook GA precision either. They offer an upgrade from the 700 action to their custom Templar action by Phoenix machine. As long as you keep the "options" to a minimum, you can get a complete rifle for 3K even with their custom action.

    I am not trying to take anything away from the smiths who hang around here. There are some really good ones. For the money, shootability and a decent custom action, I just wouldnt over look GA.

    GA Precision

    Also another good smith I know and trust is George Leichty in Utah. He does good work and knows the ins and outs of how to make a rifle function at its peak. He is also a smith that contributes to this site.

    Home Page Your source for long range tactical and hunting gear.
  9. shooting4life

    shooting4life Active Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    I would get your cash in hand and keep a sharp eye on the for sale forums on different web sites like here and snipers hide because you can get some great deals right now because people are out of work and need money. I bought a brand new 338 norma mag in a phoenix action and mccree stock plus lots of other options for 2600 shipped because the person that ordered it backed out of the sale. Plus you do not have to wait the 6 or so months to have one built.
  10. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    If you would like a very good factory competition action for under $1000, I would suggest a Savage Comp. action. It has a trigger adjustment of 6oz. to 1 1/2lbs. You can buy the ejection port to eject either side as well as bolt placement. The hole is long enough that you can eject an empty 338 Lapua casing even though it is a short action. If it is a loaded round you will have to pull the bolt.

    It is topped with a 32" Douglas barrel, EGW base, Burris XTR rings, Bushnell Elite 4200 and from what I have shot and witnessed on a Ultimate sniper stock, its gonna be a shooter. It is heavy enough that a muzzle brake isn't necessary, but if you plan of benching it for a couple of hours in one day, you might want one. Now the stock required extra smithing due to the third action screw, but I know you could build a rig like this for under $3000.

    The barrel isn't broke in yet and already cutting one whole in the first 5 shots. Just thought I would through in my cents. If you go with a WSM, this would be my first choice. I know you wouldn't have any problems with larger Magnums or long action cases either.

    My .02,
  11. jbo

    jbo Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2009
    Wow, I want to thank everyone for your feed back and I really appreciate all the info.
    I have to digest all this information and see the direction I need to go. I'm already pointed to the people on this forum to build something just think about who and when. Who would you pick, no hurt feelings please ?
    Thank you very much for your help and anything else you add will be a bonus
  12. Kevin Cram

    Kevin Cram <b>SPONSOR</b>

    Mar 9, 2004
    Kirby's price is right with the components he mentioned but, his price was just under your $3000 budget and never mentioned anything about scope bases, rings and a scope which can easily tack on another $1000 plus. I've figured out some prices keeping your $3000 budget in mind. I have several long range specific rifles and all of them are single shots. There really is no need for a magazine when doing this type of shooting as each shot is meticuously calculated and preppared for. It's simple to just reach into the ammo box and grab one shell, close the bolt and your ready to go. We hit everything on the first shot anyway right?:rolleyes: Here is my prices for a complete custom long range rifle including optics.

    Stiller Predator Action = $825
    Barrel from any top name company = $325
    Chamber of your choice = $185
    Vais Muzzle brake installed = $150
    McMillan stock = $500
    Pillar Bedded = $150
    Rifle Basix Trigger = $125
    Leupold Bases = $25
    Burris Signature Rings = $50
    Sightron SII 6.5-20 x 50 = $600
    Triger Guard = $40

    Total for everything $2975

    Now you can save money by opting out of some things and upgrading others.
    If you already own a Remington 700 action have it single point blueprinted for $150 and use the action. You can still have a Sightron 6.5-20 X but with a 42mm objective and a A/O for $375. This cuts down the cost considerably. Now you can have a complete rifle with optics for around $2100. Now you can upgrade to a Jewel trigger and/or upgrade your optics. That's the nice thing about a custom rifle build. You can pick and choose your rifle options to fit your budget and still have exactly what you want when it's finished. When you have taken in all the information everyone has given you, e-mail or call me at Montour County Rifles :D( and I'll work up some prices on exactly what you want.

    As for cartridge, I'm assuming you'll be hand loading so, as long as you limit your shots to 1000 yards and under the 7mm STW will work just fine along with several other 7mm Magnum cartridges. The little bit bigger .30 cal Magnums will hit with a little more authority though and some can be stretched a tiny bit further, but limit your distance to what you feel comfortable shooting with your experience. Again this is something you can discuss with the smith, as there are alot of good choices.

    Good luck with your project.
  13. gebhardt02

    gebhardt02 Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2008
    After having a few customs built, I'll offer a little bit of advise. Call and speak with at least three different smiths you may like to have build your dream rifle. Discuss your requirements, what it'll be used for, different options like stock, action, barrel, trigger etc. and get a quote from each of them. Then do some research and find if you can buy the components yourself for cheaper than you get them from the smith. An example would be Brux barrels, which are currently cheaper in price than some others, but still very high quality. I'd recommend ordering all the parts your self that'll go into the build, and then YOU are the one waiting on them to arrive and you do not bother the smith every couple months calling and asking for a status report. Get the components in hand, for cheaper most likely, then send them all in to the smith of your choice and most likely have a shorter wait.

  14. Alfred Crouch

    Alfred Crouch Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Talking to several gunsmiths would be advisable. Other considerations: Some stocks aren't reasonably compatiable with some receivers & it will likely take some time to get all of the componets. Receivers were ordered in early July of 2007 for rifles for me and my son. They came in around mid March of this year. Everyone says a custom rifle is worth the wait, even if the wait is loooooooong. If we get good quality materials, good quality workmanshiip and tight groups we will be happy even though it has been a loooooooong wait. The range shooting will tell the tale. Best wishes with your decision.
    Last edited: May 13, 2009