Custom Rifle where do you start

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by WSM55, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. WSM55

    WSM55 Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Where do you start if you want to own a custom hunting rifle that has match grade accuracy at long range? Is a custom Action neccessary if so who makes the best? What manufacturing method is the best for the barrel? What contour is critical if any.....

    Who makes the most accurate custom hunting rifles? I would like 1/2" or less moa at 100 yards!I want to shoot paper out to 600+! Which will be more accurate 300WSM or 300WM? Which cartridge will the best for deer and elk?

    I have read so many things on the internet that I am not sure what is really the best. I am sure there are a few experienced custom rifle owners in here that have gone through the process. Please help!!! Any feedback will be appreciated!
  2. angus-5024

    angus-5024 Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2008
    I dont own a custom, simply because I dont have the $ at this point in my life but i think I can help point you in the right direction. you asked if you need a custom action. no, you can have any remy, winchester, savage, weatherby.... blueprinted (trued and squared). The exception is rugers, and they can be fine, they just have a silly mounting system (IMO). Custom actions are nice though.
    As far as best smith, quit a few of the smiths on this site can put out 1/2 MOA rifles.
    The 300 WSM-WM debate, both are equally as accurate. The WM has a bit more case capacity so that would be my choice. Either cartrige is a good 600-800 yard elk rifle (depending on how competant you are and elevation). both are good on deer too. Hope this helps.

  3. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    There is NO best. The easy way to get an accurate custom rifle is to put all the sponsoring gunsmiths of this site's names in a hat and pull one out. Then pick up the phone and give him a call. Any of them will get you a 1/2moa rifle.

    Either the WSM or the WM will meet your needs. The WSM is a little more efficient and works great. The WM is tried and true. If you are building a custom, you can use the WSM with an extended magazine, so you can seat your bullets longer. The gunsmith will throat your barrel to match the bullet you've chosen and you will be good to go.

  4. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    The savage target action is a great option for a new build. For the calibers you are wanting you could use the target action giving you optimum performance without the optimum price. The blue printing is only necessary for bolt action rifles that are single solid bolts and bolt heads. The savage offers a two piece bolt head that negates the necessity of truing and squaring the bolt face.

    Use a quality barrel. My cousin is having good luck with his Douglas barrel. I know of another shooter that swears by the Lothar Walther brand drop-ins. They offer a variety of barrels that will be threaded and chambered for the savage actions. I'm sure they offer for other brands if you inquire to whom they will thread for.

    Some guys don't like the Accu-Trigger and opt for a regular type trigger. There are company's that offer after market triggers, but in my opinion they are not necessary. I have rather enjoyed the Accu-trigger and use it with great success. If you don't like the barrel nut, then you can have the barrel sent rifled only and have it installed just like any other barrel. The nut is not necessarry either.

    Look into good bases and rings. I like EGW, for two reasons, 1. They are just as good as any $100+ dollar base for $40; 2. They are made in my home state and I support the little guy. They also offer rings that are comparable to NF, Luepy, and IOR for about the same price and maybe a little less.

    Last but not least, I use a 300WSM with good effect. Even out of a 26" factory Savage barrel, I can ring a steel plate at 1100 yards with a factory rifle using 200grn SMK, and H1000. I bit the bullet and I am going to try some RL17 to see if I can bring my speeds up. With a nice long barrel of 28-30" you should be able to push a 210 berger at 2950+. There are guys shooting from 30-32" barrels getting a little over 3000+ fps from a WSM. If you want a shorter barrel and that kind of speed out of a bullet that heavy, than I would upgrade to old reliable.

    The 300 WM is going to do a better job and with long barrels you will probably touch the 3100 mark. Food for though, there are a couple of guys going for Pdogs with a 300Wby and a 300WSM at 2000 plus yards. As for deer and elk, the 300WSM at 2950 should get you to the 1000yrd mark, but shot placement is always essential. Deer can be taken at 1200+ at those speeds.

    Sorry for being long winded, but I want to share my knowledge of Savage actions and the 300WSM.


    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    I have a few customs. But IMO the best way to do it, is buy a rem 700 in 300 win mag or wsm. Tune the trigger. Trash the junk stock and get a Manners, HS Precsion, or Mcmillan have it bedded and shoot the rifle until it, will not shot any more. Then have the barrel replaced and action trued. Dont waste money up front. Get some good bases rings and quality glass.
  6. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

    Jun 13, 2007
    Ha, what a loaded question.

    OK, I am not a fan of spending money on an off the shelf remington, accurizing it and losing $200-400 the moment you leave the gunsmiths door!

    Blueprinted and sleeved Remingtons sell for $450-500 tops after $600 to $900 have been put in them. I have done a lot of them to only spend custom money on at best a semi custom rifle.

    Plus no way in hell it will be as smooth as a custom. That is undisputable.

    BUY a custom action, you will never ever regret it. You can by a Stiller predator for $695-$750 and will love it. Plus there are other 700 clones such as Pierce, Phoenix, Borden, etc that are absolutely great smooth actions that you will love.

    Buy an exended box from Wyatts if going with a magazine gun.

    As for barrels, pick one. Hart, Broughton, Krieger, Shilen, Brux, Bartlein, Douglas etc all build great barrels. Decide first if you want cut or button rifled. As for accuracy any will be well under .5.

    I would focus on finding a good local smith from this site or the "Top Recommended Smiths" from They are all great proven LR smiths that can easily build what you want. It is nice to look the smith face to face and to be able to take the gun to them if needed in lieu of shipping charges and time. Just not a fan of the "UPS gunsmith", others may be and so be it. I like being able to talk to them and eye to eye.

    Discuss what you are looking for in weight, type stock (wood, fiberglass, etc) and go from there.

    I personally love the 300 WSM and it will do anything you want it to in a short action. Brass is very good and accuracy is absolutely there all the way to 210 gr bullets. The WSM will run right with the Win Mag to the 210 level and just as accurate if not more so with 2-3x the barrel life over the Win Mag. By the way we can easily run the WSM with 210s from 2975-3050.

    Now if you want to spend your $ on a non custom, then go straight to Sharpshooter Supply and buy an accurized and time Savage action for $500. I personally would set it up for a recoil lug vs the barrel nut.

    Manners, HS Precision make great fiberglass stock. Joel Russo here makes some great laminated wood or solid wood stocks of all designs. I have a 2.5 lb butternut thumbhole on my WSM that Joel can make for you.

  7. blipelt

    blipelt Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    +1 custom action

    I pay around $750 for a pheonix custom action with all the bells and whistles(oversized bolt handle, accel. fire pin, target port, helical fluted). I like the 7wsm more than my 300wsm. The BC is so much better. You can always run a 7-300wsm if you want to use the better 300wsm brass.

    Each gunsmith has their pet calibers. Find one you enjoy dealing with, mine happens to be a good friend. You asked where to start, find a good gunsmith(alot are sponsors on this site) and visit with him and write him out a check.

    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  8. corncounty

    corncounty Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    I have had a few customs done in the past and believe that if you are going to spend the money make it a true custom. BAT actions are excellent, and all of my guns have had lilja barrels and easily shot under .5 moa. - not to say that some of the other premium barrel makers don't produce top notch barrels. Jewel triggers and McMillan stocks and you can rest knowing you went with the best. I have used Randy Melvin (Bull Mountain Rifle Company, Billings,Mt) - he does an excellent job and is willing to take your project where you want to, but also has an opinion that I believe is worth listening to. A custom rifle should be about having a gun built your to your wishes and it should shoot better than any factor rifle thought about shooting / the down side is they take time and can get a little spendy. My last little bit of advice is don't skimp on your glass. I have seen more than one beautiful custom gun wearing whatever scope was on sale at cabelas when they brought the gun home. Hope this helps. C.C.
  9. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004
    I started a thread like this one several years ago. I received a myriad of responses that helped but didn't answer the question.

    If then was now here's what I'd do:

    Get in touch with several of the rifle smiths here. email. phone or visit. Let them here your situation. All will be helpful. Back then all I could think about was saving dollars. I had a donor REM 721 action. I asked a smith here if it would handle the cartridge I wanted he said that it would. About $1750 later I had a more accurate than I could ever imagine 270 Allen Mag.

    There are many ways to get this done. Get the smith that will work with you as its their quality of craftsmanship that increases the odds in your favor.
  10. squirrelduster

    squirrelduster Well-Known Member

    Dec 9, 2007
    There have been some great responses to your questions.

    Here is my opinion.

    You have two choices that will both accomplish what you are looking for.

    First choice is full blown custom action - Bat, Lawton, Stiller or other with a High quality barrel and a Jewel trigger set in a McMillan stock. Expensive but very accurate and good resale if you ever want to sell it.

    Second choice get a Savage Model 12 Varminter in 300 WSM. 1000 bucks you are done. Comes with a laminated stock and detachable mag. I would be very surprised if you didn't get under 1/2" at 100 yards.

    I have always been a Remington guy until I purchased a Savage several months ago. Model 16 in 7WSM and it shoots 1/2" at 200 yards with 168 Berger VLD's. I have 2 grand in a Remington 700 with Hart barrel and Holland pillar bedded stock and it will shoot 1/2" at 100.

    Savage is making some incredible equipment for less than half of what you would spend on a custom. Of course the Savage bolt is not as smooth and its no quite as purdy as the custom but you saved some serious money to put towards a Nightforce scope.
  11. trueblue

    trueblue Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2008
    I have had good luck with Brux barrels. Own 4 of them. They break in quick, fowl very little, clean up great, and accurate as hell.
    +1 on what BountyHunter stated.
    Go with a custom action, it will hold it's resale value better than a trued Remington.
    I would choose the 300 WM over the WSM. I have a friend that has had 3 different 300 WSM and not been happy with the accuracy of any of them. He switch to a 300 RSAUM and now has a tack driver.
    Any of the gunsmiths on this site will build you a great rifle, just give them a call. Maybe there should be a listing on this site for availible gunsmiths along with contact imfo, to make it easy for someone looking to have a rifle built.
  12. Ridge Runner

    Ridge Runner Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2002
    Knowing what I know now, I'd start with the bullet I intended to use, do your homework, figure what velocity you need to give you the energy needed to take the intended game.
    That decision will give you the choices of cartridges to chamber it in. barrel twist, length, and contour then pick an action designed to, or modified to reliably feed and fire that cartridge.
    why a custom action? I can see it with the big jugs, but for running most cartridges a well accurised 700 action will serve you as well as a stillerpredator.
    then just keep figuring, how far will you be shooting, how many MOA of scope adjustment will you need?
    Narrow it down to what you need to accomplish what your goals are, ask ?'s from guys who have been there.
    Before I came here I spent alot of money that would gain me 50 yards, sometimes not. I was stuck at 500 yards for years, 5 years later I took a whitetail at 1350 yards and I give all the credit to the guys who post here. Good luck.
  13. archerross

    archerross Member

    Jul 17, 2009
    The previous posts have a wealth of great info. I wouldn't discount a Ruger action, though. My first "semi" custom rifle was finished in March. It started with a trued Ruger M77 Mark II action formerly in .270. It is now a 6.5-284 shooting strong 3/8 moa with 142 gr SMKs at 2975 fps. Glen Demaray in Three Forks, MT did a fantastic job on it!

    +1 to Brux barrels. Short lead time, accurate, fast, quick break in, fouls little, easy to clean. I like the #4 contour. Heavy enough for long distance, light enough to carry long distance.

    +1 to good glass. I spent the extra $$ on a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x44 with Rapid Z-800! The 3-9 x 40 Sightron on my other rifle doesn't hold a candle...

    If this is primarily a hunting rig, go with a no-turn neck.

    Either .300 will do what you are looking for as long as you take the time to build a good load and do your part.
  14. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

    Jun 12, 2004
    Iam contacted by many more looking for information then turn out to actual rifle orders. That is part of the job in my opinion of putting yourself out there as a precision rifle builder. Some do not feel this way but most smiths on this site are more then willing to discuss a project even if they do not get the job in the end.

    Again, of the 150-200 e-mails I reply to every week about rifle projects, I would estimate that less then 5% ever turn out to be actual projects in my shop.

    Find someone with a good rep and get ahold of them, several if you prefer. When someone contacts me, the first thing I ask them is:

    - What will be the function of this rifle?

    The answer to this question will take us down one of several possible paths. If a target or varmint rifle is wanted, that will take us down one line of conversation. If they want a long range big game rifle, that will take us to another discussion, if they want a do everything rifle, again, another conversation.

    The key to getting customers what they want is to ask more questions then make statements to them. By this I mean, its the smiths job to find out what will serve the goals for this rifle best but to so in a manner that is what the owner will want.

    I know alot of old time smiths that will "tell" you what you need. I have never been that type. Its my belief that its our job to listen to the customer and make the best recommendations we can to get them what "they" want not what we want to build.

    Now, obviously if we see something that we know will not work, of course we will recommend something else.

    Simply put, get ahold of a quality smith with a good rep and just talk things over. Think about what you really want this new rifle to do and be honest. Your not expected to know everything about custom rifles, thats why you pay a smith for a custom rifle, because of their experience but they should work with you to get you what you want and often times that is NOT the latest wonder on the market.

    I talk more customers out of my wildcats by many times then actual rifles that leave the shop with barrels chambered in one of them. Why, most have no need for something that extreme and I have no problem at all telling them that and in the end they are far more happy with their rifle.

    Listen to your smith, offer your thoughts and opinions, and work out the process. What the rifle will be used for is far more important then what the specifics of the rifle will be, that will come later in the process.

    Have fun, thats what its all about.