How to build a rifle - your help needed


Well-Known Member
Aug 30, 2009
What I am trying to find out is how a guy gets started doing this without messing up the first ever rifle he makes.

I had thought I wanted to buy a Weatherby Vanguard .300 WSM, but then I had the chance to have a gentlemen that I have met help me make a rifle. That now may or may not happen - I just have no control over that, and so now I'm wondering this: Can a newbie who knows absolutely nothing about making/putting a rifle together, do it?

To be safe lets all assume that I know absolutely nothing (we wouldn't be far off the mark, and it would be a very safe bet in assuming that). In assuming that, feel free to correct me and even point me to web sites containing information and or the correct parts.

The use still stays the same. Anything from coyotes on up to Moose sized game would be what I would want the rifle for. Shots taken anywhere from 100 yards to the 800-1000 yards arena. I'm still thinking that I want the .300 WSM.

At this point I have no idea how much I want to spend. I've seen the article about making a rifle on a budget, but I'm just not sure yet on a dollar figure. I'm not the type to rush into much of anything, I like to do a bit of research and try to make an educated decision so that when I do spend my money, even if I spend a little more than I first had thought I would, that I can come away knowing that I'll be happy with the money I've spent. (Is that the definition of being anal?)

A guy has to know what parts to buy, obviously. So, here goes my guess on what all I need to build a rifle:


Is that it?

I like how the Vanguard felt as far as the stock goes. Do I try to find where they buy them and buy one exactly like it? If so, how do I know I'm getting the same stock? Is that even a good stock or should I go with something fancy like this:

(I pulled that off Greybulls site in case anyone doesn't recognize it)

And if I do buy a stock, how do I know if the action I buy will fit in it properly? With the stock, what else is there that would be needed? A pad. Swivel studs. Mount for Bi-Pod? Or do those things come with most/any stocks?

I'm not sure what to do here. Can you buy these anywhere that sells gun parts? Should you? Or do you go with a custom made action, something like this one:

I got that photo off of Big Horn Arms.

What all comes with an action? Are there other parts you need to hook it to the stock, the magazine, the trigger and the barrel?

Is this an item you buy anywhere that sells gun parts? Do you do a box magazine or one that is just the hinged floor plate or is that totally subjective depending on what the builder likes? Pros and Cons? Are there other parts that you need to attach it to the stock and the action?

I've seen stuff about Timney Triggers. Much more than that I don't know anything about them as far as what's good and what's not. Are there other parts needed to attach them to the action and the stock?

What length do you get? What twist (I don't even know what that's for)? How heavy? How many shots is a barrel good for? Do you get a muzzle brake or crown or both? Do you buy them anywhere gun parts are sold? What else do you need to attach it to the action and the stock?

I don't think I'll go into optics yet. I think first on Optics a guy needs to decide how much he's willing to spend and then ask more. I'm not sure on this right now without knowing more about how much the rest of the rifle will cost to build and or how much I'll be willing to part with, or how long I'm willing to take to build it (meaning, do I want it sooner rather than later, as later means being able to save up more for higher dollar items).

Have I asked the right questions and or given enough information to be able to get help in finding out what I need?

If you're gonna make one yourself from one end to the other I'd start low and slow. I did one myself that way and so far she works well.

To keep the margin of error and the cost of experience low I'd go Savage. When you get really good a machining you can step up to fitting the barrel with out the barrel nut.

Actions, new and used are plentiful. Good pre chambered barrels are available in many cartridges.

Good stocks are available from several manufacturers.

Just a thought.
That's a tall order !!!!

Even though gunsmithing is not rocket science it is a learned skill and requires some training
if a person wants to be good at it.

Everyone that gunsmiths started with "The First One" but probably had some skills before they
soloed or a coach to keep them out of trouble.

I started by working on factory rifles that did'nt shoot very well. and learned what they needed
Cleaning, crowning,bedding,floating,Better ammo in the right bullet choice to improve there
performance .

Once I learned this the only way to step up to the next level was to re barrel with better barrels
and chambers.

You Have a good list of parts, But proper assembly is the key to safety and accuracy and for
this you have to have proper tools( A good Lathe and tooling is a must) reamer and headspace
gauge for the cartrige of choice and all of the tools for assembly(Barrel vice for assembly and
disassembly)+ stock working tools for en-letting and floating ETC.

I am not trying to discourage you but just let you know what it takes. In fact I encourage
everyone in this sport to work on there own rifles to learn more of what makes them accurate
or not.

There are books that will get you started but the best way to learn is to work with the smith
or a friend that knows how and can coach you.

It is very rewarding to turn out a finished rifle that not only looks good but that shoots good.

Just some suggestions

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Tools - yeah I pretty much neglected that entirely. I should have been thinking not only of all of the parts that would be needed but the tools it would take to work on all of that, of which I'm sure I don't have everything I would need to do that.

Thanks for the responses though, I do appreciate it. I'll just have to try to get together with someone that knows how to do all of this and learn what I can or buy off the shelf, or so it would seem.

Thanks again.
for your first build, the easiest to do is the BERGARA drop in for remington or savage. I just finished a 22-250 on an old 721 rem. (was 30-06) used the 26" stainless varmint bbl. very easy to do, and an EXCELLENT bbl. next will be .308 varmint bbl. Remingon 700's as very inexpensive in the used market and make geat actions to work with, just match bolt face dia. to cart. you want to build.
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