Noob question on rifle quality

The Oregonian

Well-Known Member
Jul 20, 2012
Missoula, Montana
So I am a noob to LRH - actually haven't gotten into it yet but spending more time at the range during spring and summer months to relax and have the kids get older those peaceful escapes are more helpful than ever.

But to get back on subject....I have never really taken any big game past 300 yds. Other than consistent accuracy, what it something like a Cooper or on the more extreme end, a full custom rifle going to get me? I.e. if I take game at 300 yds and in, is a std off the shelf rifle, with maybe a trued up action and possibly rebarreled, going to get me that a full custom won't? I do realize that an off the shelf rifle with trued action and new barrel is probably approaching a basic Cooper.

It seems like to me that while the custom quality will be higher and can be appreciated by those with a higher skill set than I possess, it may throwing money away from a purely functionally standpoint. Now I appreciate fine quality much more now, as I have gotten older and have a little more $$ to spend on things that I nice over under will not kill birds and deader than my 20 ga pump that I have had for 30 yrs, but it is beautiful and a joy to take in the field.

So, long way of asking whether the custom quality is something I will notice from a performance perspective at < 300 yds, or whether it is more an appreciation of a quality rifle that I can expect for the additional $$?
You are correct that a basic Cooper will be close to the same price as an off the shelf rifle that is customized with new custom barrel and stock. Coopers are great shooting rifles with custom quality and accuracy. A 6.5x284 Cooper is on my bucket list.

Some advantages of going the custom build route is a greater selection of custom barrels options, lengths, twists, contours, fluting, etc and a great selection of quality after market stocks and maybe bottom metal.

My top choices for factory rifle actions to build from are the M70 and Howa/Vanguard. I look for good price on used rifles as doners.
You're right, for 300 and closer, a factory rifle that shoots sub MOA is fine. You make a factory rifle better by doing some basic 'accurizing' - tune trigger, lap lugs, recrown barrel, bed action into decent stock. My nephew's rifle is a perfect example:

His rifle shoots .25moa these days and is capable of killing deer out to around 800.

The thing you do not want to go cheap on is optics. Put the best appropriate optic on the rifle you can afford. Optics is definitely a place where quality is a definite issue.
Oregonian, consider the typical process the usual "souped up" custom rifle goes through: (I'm assuming a current modern rifle, will not even speak for old Mauser actions)

Acquire "donor rifle"
Completely disassemble the "donor". If possible, sell off stock, trigger maybe take off barrel.
What you are left with is the basic action. This is then "accurized" for between $250 and $500 (lap bolt lugs, square receiver face and cut breech thread square to receiver and concentric with bolt bore on a lathe. Spotface front of bolt so it is square to barrel c/line and flat. Adjust firing pin protrusion. Correct any bolt lift timing issues)
Now buy a match barrel and heavy recoil lug ($330 and $40)
Now go and get a good fiberglass stock (B&C, Manners etc) $500
Do an inletting adjustments needed and glass bed.
Get a decent 20MOA picatinny rail (at least Warne tactical quality in steel $100)
Bed the rail to the action, possibly pin it and fit oversize screws depending on rifle recoil.
Fit an aftermarket trigger from a Shilen, to a Timney this can cost from $100 on the low end to close to $300.

Assuming you have done all the work and not had to pay a smith, you are looking at having spent $1320 on the low end before paying for the donor rifle. All this assumes your not using a cheap boyds stock. If you go to sell this weapon one day, the outsider looks at it and basically sees the high end stock. Usually one cannot sell accurizing and whether someone will pay for the match barrel is highly dependent on their confidence that you don't have 1000 rounds down the tube..

On the other hand, a true custom rifle, with a custom receiver is never a Remington or a Savage and people know that. Its always a question of whether you are going to worry about resale or not. Customizing a factory rifle usually does not entail 16 week lead times for parts, especially with distributors starting to stock match barrels from well known barrel makers.
Just my 2 cents. There are a lot of good savage rifles that would get you into long range hunting without breaking the bank. (sorry i am a savage guy) the accutrigger and accustock make the rifles very accurate. plus then you don't have a custom rifle to try and get you money out of if you decide to sell. if you are just getting in to long range hunting might not want to jump in with both feet. you also have to figure in reloading equipment be cause once you start shooting long range you will want to custom load rounds to get the most you can out of the rifle. thats what happen to me.HAHA
The Oregonian,

Any quality off the shelf bolt rifle / scope will do all you could ever ask for at under 300 yards on big game.

I think you already know the answer. It all boils down to what makes you happy to carry and shoot. Most people who go the custom route do it because they like it, its a hobby or way of life.

Gun guys are alot like car guys...
A lot depends on if you want to eventually shoot past 300 yards. If you are planning on only shooting to 300 yards and never further, there is no need for any sort of custom rifle. A rifle that shoots 1 MOA will shoot 3" groups at 300 yards. No need for anything more than that in my opinion...
The Oregonian,

Any quality off the shelf bolt rifle / scope will do all you could ever ask for at under 300 yards on big game.

I think you already know the answer. It all boils down to what makes you happy to carry and shoot. Most people who go the custom route do it because they like it, its a hobby or way of life.

Gun guys are alot like car guys...

x2...sorry, you posted at the same time as I did. Didn't mean to essentially say the same thing!
I know this topic has been covered a ton but there are quite a few factory rifles out there that are superbly accurate. And I still maintain that you can produce a tack driver for under $2000 dollars if you want to go the custom route. I know that guys spend anywhere from $2000 on up to $10,000 and above for a custom rifle that will shoot IMO the same as a $2000 rig. (or less) Case in point----years ago I was at a police tactical sniper match that involved a HUGE amount of high dollar rifles and a guy from a small town sheriffs department won it. You know what with? A factory Remington 788. Guys couldn't believe it.

For 300 yd hunting, most quality off the shelf rifles will do fine but there is still a difference between a factory production rifle and custom build or a Cooper. One of the biggest differences is the barrel. If people could get a good look at a factory rifle's bore through a bore scope, many would probably never buy another factory rile. With a custom barrel, you will not need to clean near as often which will save you both time, money and barrel life not to mention much better precision and accuracy.

It's possible to stumble across a good shooter and Savages, Howas and Vanguards usually produce very accurate rifles for an off the shelf product. Senderos usually shoot very well but they have a hefty price tag too. That said, buying a factory production rifle is a roll of the dice. Case in point. I bought a high dollar Sako M85 Finnlight that was supposed to have a 5 shot Sub MOA guarantee. It didn't shoot anywhere close to that. It was a very inconsistant 1.5 - 3 MOA shooter and 3 MOA @ 300 yds = 9". I sent it back to Beretta twice and twice they sent it back saying there was nothing wrong with it. Good luck getting any of the large gun makers to stand behind their product. Not gonna happen, not for accuracy. I was actually looking at Cooper the same time I bought the Sako. Should have bought the Copper. I would have been a very happy man.

I have a couple of build projects now using Vanguard action doners. Here's what they're costing me.

Doner rifle cost, $200 & $300 @ gun shows
Action blue print, $325 ea
Broughton Barrels, $350 ea
Chamber and crown, $275 ea
B&C Medalist full aluminum bedded stock, $270, Manners stock $470
Bedding job $100 ea

They will cost $1520 & and $1920 for the basic rifle.
I was able to tune both triggers to a crisp 1.5 lbs. I'll be putting Timney 3 position triggers on them only because I want the 3 position feature. I cannot tell the difference between the ones I tuned and a Timney. One of them will also get a brake installed for $200. These rifles should shoot as well any custom and the both of them will cost about the same as full custom build.

There was also a good suggestion to look at some of the used rifles for sale on this site. There are some very good deals there.

To the OP, I would highly recommend getting a good custom quality rifle (to include a Cooper) if it's in the budget.
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With any factory rifle ,you can,t depended on off the shelf accuracy. If you buy one that is accurate you are lucky.

There are many good donor actions that with some care and a good blueprinting are as good as anything
you can buy.

The next thing needed is a "Good" stock (It descent have to cost an arm and a leg) just a good well made stock with pillars installed or installed by the smith and a good bedding job.

Triggers are another main item to look at.

There are lots of good barrels and this is the heart of an accurate rifle IMO. If an action is trued,and a very good chamber is cut in a top barrel you have the makings of an accurate rifle with the other components mentioned.

If one MOA is acceptable to you , a factory rifle will do ok with some ammo testing. If not a custom rifle should exceed your expectations.

The main advantage to custom barrels are that they are not as sensitive to different ammo,s (They
will shoot everything well and some exceptionally well.

Custom rifles are not just pretty, If they are built right they can be downright amazing.

If you build a custom rifle plan on keeping it, It is very hard to get your money back for it. (mainly
because anyone willing to spend the money will just go ahead and have one built for themselves).
Also most people question why the owner wants to sell in the first place if it is so good.

As one poster said for $2,000.00 you can have as fine of a rifle as an 8 to 10,000.00 rifle it just wont
be as fancy and have a big name on it.

Just my opinion.

Oregon- i am not sure what your objectives are . my sendero cost more than a sporter and is accurate and deadly. my son in law and my son each shot 15 shot groups at 1000 yards , you could cover each with a sheet of notebook paper easily. my other son in law won a 1000 yard match with winchester laredo. he had never shot a centerfire rifle. if you get out your laser range finder 1k is purty far.
I have 4 factory rifles that all shoot sub .5MOA. 3 Savages and remington. I gave another one to my brother a Ruger 220, and I sold a Ruger 220. Both of those rifles were under .5 MOA. Both have factory barrels and actions.

So that is 5 rifles, factory actions, stocks, and barrels under .5MOA. I have others I have not tried to dial in as I don't shoot them. They are safe queens.

My point? I would love a custom and would do a custom in a nano second if budget was not a issue. Custom quality is just better and you tend to FEEL more confident and better in the field. You can feel quality in my opinion and I think they are more consistent.

If budget was an issue I would get the rifle you can afford and hand load. This is exactly what I did. I got a nice rifle, I believe, and I spent the money on a night force scope. Total package is around $2400.00 for LR. Not chump change for me. I could have saved $800-1000 and went with a Vortex or bushnell but I really like the NF. : )
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