Building a Custom Rifle: What to discuss with the gunsmith?

nksmfamjp

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I’m on my sixth(wow....I’m surprised!) custom firearm build. A big part of this seems to be translating your dream into words without going outside what you really know.

What do you (experts) discuss with the gunsmith? How do you do it? I have decided over time to write up a document separated into action, stock, barrel and extras. I try to describe what I am providing, what the gunsmith is providing and what work is to be done. I think this is working. I haven’t been able to evaluate this yet as the rifle is not in my hands. One key item I have been lacking is to clarify my budget or exact cost up front...

Some key items to me: chambering details, barrel length, trigger pull weight/feel, stock feeling, length of pull, recoil pad....I also like to provide barrel blank, action and stock if the gunsmith prefers this.

Customer:
So as a customer, what do you discuss? What are key points? Do you always provide a dummy round or loaded round dwg or?

Gunsmith:
Lots of great gunsmiths on this site....As a gunsmith, what do you discuss with the customer? What do you want from the customer?

I’m hoping this thread can help me refine what I do and others who are ordering for a first time. I think everybody wants the customer to receive satisfying custom build.
 
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sedancowboy

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Avoid the do everything gun. They don't exist. Be honest about the intended use of the gun. Be honest about weight expectations. Don't give the smith a weight limit and then keep adding things to the rifle. Discuss the Max budget and once you get a quote don't add items to the build or expect the cost to go up. Generally the less a rifle weighs the more it costs. Select a good smith in the first place. Don't select a smith with quality issues and then complain when you have quality issues. You get what you pay for and good smiths are not cheap. Then again it is also not cheap to have a rifle done over if you can find a smith that will work out another smiths problems.
 

nksmfamjp

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...Don't select a smith with quality issues and then complain when you have quality issues. You get what you pay for and good smiths are not cheap. Then again it is also not cheap to have a rifle done over if you can find a smith that will work out another smiths problems...

Sounds reasonable. How do I know if a gunsmith has quality problems. Sometimes it is hard to find references for a gunsmith.
 

sedancowboy

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If a gunsmith will not give references I don't use them. Don't be afraid to ship it. It costs almost the same no matter where you ship it to. There are several really good gun smiths that are sponsors here at LRH.
 

sp6x6

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Ive only had a few customs built.But have looked at a lot of sites.Most are how I think and have a detailed item list.And that is what I did.On one I wanted light 338 build,so I researched many components so I knew I would meet my goal,Had list of items right down to aluminum bolt knob.I asked shooters I knew for reference .It all worked out.
 

Taylorbok

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Personally I like to supply my parts then there is no confusion on what exactly you want.
obviously make sure you know what chamber you want.
things to consider are,
Do you want the action trued?
Trigger work?
Bedding? (some stocks almost have to be bedded, rail bedding?)
 

Subzero

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Build it yourself. With the use of barrel nuts I would say most people that are competent with hand tools can put their own rifle together.
You may have to buy an action wrench and go gauge, but that's pretty much it.
 

Idaho Lefty

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Sounds reasonable. How do I know if a gunsmith has quality problems. Sometimes it is hard to find references for a gunsmith.
Look up, Mike Bryant at, Bryant Customs, in Texas
Top notch builder, REASONABLE and fairly Prompt, on
getting work, out the door ! And LOTS of,.. "References" !
Pick a Bullet desired and it's USE then,.. get the "right" Twist !
Top accuracy Barrels,. Bartlien, Krieger, Brux !
Freebore, Neck dia ( Turn / NO Turn, etc. ? ),...
IF you don't know, this stuff ,.. ASK Mike
As a former Gunsmith, ( retired, now ) myself,. he's WHO,.. I'd use !
This is a COMPLEX thing that, you are asking and YOUR "Taste" ain't gonna be,.. MY "taste"
What will Rifle be used for ???
 
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Idaho Lefty

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Throating, Chambering, Turn or, NO turn neck, best Rifling Twist, Barrels / Lengths, Bullets, Brass etc. "issues", are thoroughly discussed at,.. Accurate Shooter. com.
 

Taylorbok

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Throating, Chambering, Turn or, NO turn neck, best Rifling Twist, Barrels / Lengths, Bullets, Brass etc. "issues", are thoroughly discussed at,.. Accurate Shooter. com.
Throating is a big one that almost everyone needs to consider, Make sure you know what bullets you want to shoot, that will have a big influence on throat length, you may also want to consider mag length in this equation. (the bullet will dictate twist rate also)

personally I don't see the gain in neck turning unless your shooting F-class but to each their own.
 

Zen Archery

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We’re guys. We don’t talk much. Hahahah...
He just needs me to be clear on my goals and expectations. For me it’s “trust in his experience and wisdom” in obtaining my goals.
But used the same guy for years. First build I’m sure I was annoying with too many questions. Now I’m like. Going elk hunting. 10 days deep country. Want something light. Distance 800 yards. What you suggest. Or in 2021. I got this bullet. I need to (fill in the blank). What do you suggest.
 

Tiny Tim

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Jan 26, 2015
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Its a relationship. You need to be clear in your expectations, but as the gunsmith is the "professional", he can also add valuable insight. Be open to suggestions. "Custom" is a loosely defined term, meaning many things to many people. Great suggestions above. My last couple of builds, I knew EXACTLY what my end goal was and once I was able to effectively communicate that to the smith, he was able to make some suggestions that I accepted and am grateful for his insight. Some of his suggestions cost me a little more, others saved me a little. I also understand that in the end, his name is going on the rifle. If he has a problem with what I ask him to do, I should listen to him. To me, these are value added services.
 

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