Picking a gunsmith


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2001
So the hard decision is coming...who to have build a gun...

The gun will be a long range 6.5x284 for long range, but not necessarily 1000 yard stuff...6-700 yds?

My short list so far is:

Darrell Holland
Gordy Gritters

This list is largely a function of being a Varmint Hunter reader for many years. Gordy is 3.5 hour drive, so I could actually go see him (I live in Lincoln, Nebraska).

I've had a less than satisfactory experience with a local smith on my 257AI on a Sako LA and Olympic Arms 28" bbl.

I like the looks of NorCal Precision...

Who would you add to the list and why? Anyone you'd stay away from?


GA Precision is located in Kansas City, about 200 miles from Lincoln, NE.

George Gardner has a good following and builds primarily tactical bolt action rifles. His rifles are known for being VERY accurate and extremely durable. I've shot several of his rifles and am impressed with his dedication and products.

He'll build a long range rifle in probably any caliber you desire on nearly any action you desire.

I've shot his rifles in 338 Lapua, 300 WSM and 308 Win all very impressive. His 338 Lapua was pushing the 300 Sierra at better than 2900 fps from a 28 inch barrel.
I would second Dave's recommendation of George Gardner - I shot one of his rifles today and it was shooting better than I can hold. Shot several five shot groups in the 0.4's at 100 yards with 175 Gold Medal. I have also shot a bunch of George's rifles - they are all superb. George is not only a gunsmith, he is a fine long range shot and he loves to pull the trigger.

One intangible that you get with GA Precision is you are dealing with a hell of a nice guy. Tell him Ian and Dave King sent you...
GA precision looks very interesting. He obviously specializes in military/tactical calibers..would you have any concern going with other calibers and "getting outside the strike zone" for the particular smith? The reason I ask is that I think that's what happened with one of my other projects. I asked the smith to do a couple of things outside of his "bread and butter" rifles and it was a mistake...

I have had 4 rifles built by Dan Dowling (so far) and will definately use him again. Being a Tool & Die Maker myself for over 30 years I understand quality machine work and accuracy.

Dan is a bench rest shooter - so he understands accuracy. He is also a long range prarie dog hunter - so he understands long range hunting. His prices are lower then any gunsmith I have talked to and his bedding jobs are second to none.

As an example:
I already had a long Action Rem 700 (BDL)
Rings (30mm) and bases
McMillan GP graphite stock.
Schmidt & Bender 1.5 to 6 X 42 Scope

Dan bought the Schneider S/S barrel, 29" long (finished at 27"), #5 1/2 contour,
Muzzle brake

He completely went over the action, adjusted the trigger to 2 1/2 pounds, chambered the barrel for 375 H&H Ackley Improved, Installed the brake, Bedded the action, had all the metal finished with a "Black Chrome" finish, installed the bases and rings, lapped the rings for the scope, used allen head gaurd screws (I tossed the factory gaurd screws away).

Total price was $755.00

Difficult to beat

I agree on Dan Dowling also K-P builts some fine rifles. You will see his barrels on alot of the 1000 yd rifles. Ken did two 6/284 for me when they 1st started using them about 12 yrs ago as well as afew others. Ken is located in Raton, NM. Dan is also starting to do some 1000 yd rifles now and I think he has his own cartridge a 6DL. He not only builds benchrest rifles he can shoot them also. I've got a 6ppc,6rem,222 and a 17rem that Dan built. Well good luck!
I ONLY use gunsmiths who specialize in long range competition rifles and most compete themselves. There is a big difference between them and the "local" gunsmith who does mainly repairs and occasionally a rebarrel job.
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