First time custom rifle


Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2005
This is for the person considering having a custom rifle built for the first time. This has been a long process for me, way longer than I anticipated; and I still don't have a rifle in hand but it's just around the corner.

1. Pick a gunsmith with an impeccable reputation. Got this one right. Even though I haven't seen Kirby's work first hand, he's been with me throughout every step of the process. He's answered dozens of emails very promptly; even the ones with stupid questions.

2. Parts. Don't be in a hurry and plan on at least double the expected date of delivery.

My Borden action took a lot longer than promised. Jim Borden is an excellent person to deal with, I just got on in the first production run and he had a few issues to deal with. However I did not learn until after the fact I needed a special base for the Timberline which Borden hadn't got around to producing yet. He now makes the bases.

Enter Glen Seekins. Called him and described my pedicament. Glen said "no problem" called Jim Borden and got the specs and now makes bases for the Timberline and Alpine actions. Now that's what I call service.

ABS barrels. Here is were it turns ugly. I'll try to keep this short. Ordered barrel. Three, four, five promised delivery dates come and go. Tell's me he got a cull barrel from Rock and tries to talk me into another barrel maker. Couple of more promised delivery dates go by. Now I'm ****ed because Mike at ABS quit returning emails or phone calls. So I call Rock barrels because they advertise ABS on thier website so maybe they will intercede for me. Upon hearing my story the guy at Rock (forget his name) is also ****ed because "We don't send out cull barrels!" Furthermore, to his knowledge Rock has never made a stainless 30 in. 1 in 8.25, .277 blank for ABS to wrap. Hmmmmm, sounds a little suspicious. So the guy from Rock makes me a barrel and sends it to ABS and tells him he wants it carbon wrapped now, has it shipped back to him and then off to Kirby; no charge. As far as I know ABS still thinks they owe me a barrel as I paid in full up front.

Manners Rifle stocks. I advertise an AICS stock on a few forums that I found out to my dismay, won't work with RUM class rounds. This is way late in the game. Tom Manners got me out of a jam by offering to build me a GAT to my specs (every bell and whistle) for the AICS (one of his employee's wants it),
and build it the next day.

Kirby Allen, Jim Borden, Glen Seekins, Rock Barrels and Tom Manners, I highly recommend any and all of these guys and hope you support them.

3. I tried to re-invent the wheel with the AICS stock. Leave the research and developement to the professionals and save yourself a lot of frustration.

Hope this wasn't to long winded. Maybe it will help someone out.


Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2001
Potomac River
It is indeed a worrisome process when you build a "different, one of a kind" rifle, but Kirby is really excellent to deal with in those kinds of projects.

James Jones

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2002
It can be a nerve racking , hair pulling , life threatening process to have a realy nice gun built but great folks like the ones you mentioned make things alot better.

I have heard smiths flat out say "the delivery date is not my problem its yours , you want your gun faster then you call the parts makers" I personaly don't think thats the attitude to have but he is basicaly right your at the mercy of the vendors.

I have found that its easier for me to oerder the parts get them all together and sned them all to the smith at once rather than have your stuff cluttering his shop possibly getting damaged or lost for months on end waiting for parts.