Custom Rifle Build?


Well-Known Member
Oct 2, 2013
Howdy from Texas -
Could any of you share your wisdom, lesson learned, etc on having a custom rifle built? I've never done so before. Mostly looking for advice on how to chose a rifle builder / smith. Let me know your thoughts. thanks! frank


Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2008
Great Falls, MT
Here's what works for me ...
1. Set a realistic budget.
2. Consult with a reputable gunsmith. I'm fortunate to have access to about 5 gunsmiths within an hour's drive, one of which is 2 miles from my house. I have known my "go to" smith since 2003 and have always done an excellent job for me.
3. Acquire all the components yourself.
4. Have reputable gunsmith build it for you with agreed upon cost and completion date. Don't pay up in full upfront.
5. Discuss other misc issues.

I'm sure I'm missing something but it's a start.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2010
Before you choose a Smith you need to decide what exactly you are wanting from the rifle.
  • What is your max distance you want to shoot
  • What are you wanting to hunt (pick right Caliber)
  • Max weight of rifle
  • Max OAL of rifle
For me I wish I would have answered those questions first because my first rifle would have been the LRKM and not my second custom build.

For me its important to have a short OAL since I want to run a 9" suppressor and my previous build with a 29" barrel was about the same length of my LRKM with suppressor plus the balance is much better.


Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2011
For Texas deer I’d build a 6.5x47. Killed ten there this January with my two x47’s. Worked awesome!! I’m in Canada and am very envious of your deer population. For a builder/gunsmith I’d talk to RBROS. Travis built one of my 6.5x47. Build was done two months earlier than expected and he’s a pleasure to work with. All points above are very good advice.


Well-Known Member
Jun 25, 2010
I work backwards:

1. Determine what the largest animal you want to hunt
2. Determine the longest distance you want to be able to ethically harvest that animal
3. Determine the maximum amount of money you want to spend for the entire build.

Once these questions are answered it’s easier to guide someone in the right direction. You can then answer more difficult questions such as:
-how much do I want the finished rifle to weigh
-how much recoil can I actually handle repeatedly
- do I reload and if so what is my reloading skill level
-am I willing to do a wildcat, obscure or a standard cartridge

I will give you my personal example on my last build.
-hunting elk
-longest shot in the field is 800 yards
-wanted to spend less than $6000 total
-I’m sensitive to repeated heavy recoil on the range (over 20 shots) but am fine in the field executing shots with a heavier recoiling rifle
-I reload and am comfortable with advanced reloading techniques
-I’m fine with obscure cartridges but I do not want to fire form or do any case forming.

So what did I do?

I built a 7mm Blaser Magnum, 26” Proof research carbon barrel with brake and thread protector, manners eh-1, leupold vx-6hd 3-18x44 tmoa, shooting 195 berger EOL bullets at 2900 FPS.

-2000 ft lbs of energy at 800 yards
- weights 8.6 lbs
-removable brake lets me practice with less recoil but I can throw the thread protector on to hunt with as the few shots I take while hunting the increased recoil is worth it to reduce the noise
-7mm Blaser Magnum has available brass, has the dimensions I find produce good accuracy such as a 30 set shoulder and minimum body taper and a long neck, but I don’t have to form brass.

That’s my approach! Let me know if I can help!


Well-Known Member
Jun 3, 2013
Build EXACTLY what you want. Don't settle for this or that. Do it right the first time. Even if it means saving up for another year to do so.

I have several customs. From 15# SA dream to shoot steel/varmint/deer rifles, to sub-9# deer/elk hunting rifles, to 10# super fast antelope/deer rifles, to 14# long range elk super magnums.

I am in the process of putting parts together for a lighter-weight long range varmint/mid-range deer and antelope rifle.

Be prepared to spend $3-6K on a true fully custom rifle depending on your wants, plus optics. Think of it as an investment into your hunting career to be passed down to future generations. You wouldn't buy a Datsun B210 to take to a drag race would you?


Well-Known Member
May 7, 2011
I can without reservation recommend Horizon Firearms in Bryan , Tx
I own several and have shot quite a few that belong to friends and they look and shoot great.

Zen Archery

Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2012
Lots of great advice.
Learn patience (if you’re not the type to wait).
Great Gun Smith’s have a long build period.


Well-Known Member
May 10, 2017
Petersburg Kentucky 41080
Do your research! Decide what you need and approximate cost of parts.
start talking to gunsmiths but don't really let them steer you away from your choices.
The place that built mine wanted to use a Jewell trigger I wanted a Bix n Andy?
Well when I said thanks for your time but I'll go elsewhere.. I got the Bix!
It's your money not his..


Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2009
Welcome! I'm originally from Austin, too. Is this rifle for Texas hunting?

Personally, I wouldn't plan on going all out on your first build; build it to do well what you like hunting most of the time. I threw a lot of money at my first build, and in the end it's not an all purpose rifle or really outstanding at any particular thing either, but I learned a lot from that build...and the next few as I got into building my own.

All of the advice already given is good. I would highly recommend the gunsmiths that sponsor this site, as they have all seemed to be really good folks in my observations over the years. The only one on the forum I've done business with was Nathan Dagley at Straight Shot Gunsmithing, who helped me out with a step in one of my early class builds that I wasn't skilled enough to do on my own or going to be covered in class. Pick your gunsmith based on who does reputable work (not just the gunsmithing, but has a good reputation for customer service; it's the business side that kills most gunsmiths).

While not going "all out" on spending on the first, don't try to skimp on quality work, either. Find one gunsmith to do the job, even if it looks a bit pricier than piecemealing gunsmithing services. I found I didn't come up with as good of a rifle by trying to be my own "general contractor." I sent a receiver to a barrel maker, paid the small fee to have them true the receiver and lugs during the barrel install, then had it shipped to the stock maker for bedding, while sending small parts out for finishing before deciding on the overall finish for the barreled action. I didn't understand how much goes into truing up the action and bolt back then, and only got part of it done by the barrel maker. Lesson learned. Definitely, don't buy one of those pre-trued 700 receivers to try to save some money. No reputable gunsmith is going to stake their reputation on someone else's work, so you're probably going to have to pay for the shop time to set up to confirm it is true, anyway. Picking a single gunsmith to do the work also ensures you are using components they have found to be of quality, rather than just what is trending on forums.

You might also try reaching Bobby Bueltel in Cedar Park to see if he is still taking on work. He does great work, and did a .22 for me when we worked together over 20 years ago. I saw a .50 BMG he built, too, and it was amazing. I've not heard good things from a friend that did business a few times with Hill Country Rifles in New Braunfels; but that could have been him.
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Jul 23, 2007
I agree with Lance. Buy once cry once. save your money and get what you want. I have had multiple rifles built by the some of the best smiths over the years wanting the latest and greatest but as I got older and wiser I finally settled on my perfect rifle for my hunting and shooting needs. PM if you want some gunsmith recommendations.


Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2018
Orlando, FL
I'm interested in getting a nicely set up rifle but I'm not quite ready to spend the big bucks (three little kids at home, private school). I know what I want for my next rifle and know what I want for my next scope, but I'm just getting into hunting and living in Orlando I don't have any place to get the rifle set up and dialed in. Are there gunsmiths out there who you can send a rifle and scope to and they will get it properly mounted and dialed in/broken in, work up a load, and get a turret set up for that load? Yes this is me being a combination of too lazy and inexperienced to do it myself and too cheap to just go to Gunwerks!
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