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Thread: 1st Gun Build

  1. #1
    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    Default 1st Gun Build

    I'm looking to build my first gun and was hoping I could get some advice from the expert audience. First off, I'm unsure of the caliber I want but I'm thinking .22-250, .243 or .270. I have plenty of .30 cal rifles in the safe so I don't need another one...just yet

    1. What action should I use?
    2. Can just an action be bought and if so where?
    3. Recommendations on barrel make, length, twist?

    I plan on using a B&C Stock and a Timney Trigger to finish it up. That is unless there's something else I should go with that you all recommend. I realize this will all take time and money but I've been wanting to build a rifle for years now and want to take the plung! I've heard a lot about Stan Jackson on the forum so I'll most likely take the action and barrel to him for final assembly.

  2. #2
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default What do you want to do with it? What do you want it to be?

    Do you want a full-on custom knock yer eyeballs out wall hanger?
    Or how about a fully functional matte finish stainless/synthetic made to take abuse in the marsh for a few days...Do you want a thumper to take Saber Toothed Tigers and Mastodons, or a Gopher Gun?
    What have you got for a budget? You can get anything you want, if yer wallet's fat enough!
    On the cheap end of things, there are still inexpensive Mauser 98's floating around, and everything in the world is available to modify and customize them. Commercial 98's are out there, and give you some of the modifications, such as already bent bolt handles, drilled and tapped receivers, and adjustable triggers, installed. You can go with a Montana action for less than a thousand bucks with a barrel and finish, leaving just the stock work, couldn't swear about the Kimber...lots of ways to go!
    You could even just find something already close to what you want in the second hand and pawns and give it a goin' over...
    There's a fella in Pocatello that'll build you one for upwards of $30K, if you're into Circassian and engraving. He's done a few of the SCI guns.
    You could also pick up a Stevens 200 for around $300 and buy Adams and Bennet barrels from Midway for a switch barrel gun.....
    All depends on what you want to do with it...

  3. #3

    Talking Custom Rifle

    When it comes to recommendation on barrel length and twist, you will need to figure out what caliber rifle you want to build. The reason for that is one caliber will give you more accuracy with a certain twist. Same is true with barrel length and velocity etc.

    For example a 300 win mag the best twist might be a 1 to 11 where as a 270 the best barrel twist might be a 1 to 12. Same will be true with barrel length. The optimum barrel length for a 300 win mag to get the most velocity etc might be 28 inches and the 270 might be 26 inches. "these are just figures off the top of my head".

    So with that being said the first thing you need to do is figure out which caliber rifle you want then you can start figuring out what barrel length and twist you want.

    As to your question if you can just buy the action the answer is yes. I will add a link to this message that will send you to a benchrest shooting magazine article that talks about most of the top rifle actions and a link to each companies web site. If I recall right most of the actions for the top companies start at 745.00 dollars and go way up from there. Lawton makes a good complete action with the only thing you will need to add is a trigger. "Look at the model 7000"

    ACTIONS: Click here: Custom Actions

    I will also add another link that talks about barrels which also has links to a lot of barrel manufactures. As to the cost of barrels. I just placed an order for a custom Broughton C-5 5.75 barrel and the cost including shipping was 321.00 dollars.

    BARRELS: Click here: Premium Barrels



    As to triggers another good trigger is the Jewel trigger.

    If you are going with a Bell and Carlson stock I would look at the medalist line of stock made by Bell and Carlson. They have a alum rail-bedding whatever you want to call it already in there stocks. Stocky's seem to have the best prices on stocks from what I have seen.

    STOCKS: Click here: StockysStocks.com (MBI Promotions, Inc.) Home Page

    As to a gunsmith I do not know Stan he might be the best gunsmith in the world. But whoever puts it together for you make sure he is the best you can find. Because you can buy the best of everything and if the person putting it together, cutting the barrel, placing the crown or have everything true does not do it as best as humanly possible then you will not get the best accuracy from your rifle.

    If you decide to you want Joe in Texas, Montana, Colorado or where to do it all you have to do is pack it up and send it via the mail. If you are sending your rifle to a gunsmith for repair via the mail you do not have to use a FFL dealer.

    I hope this helps you!

  4. #4

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    I'd come at it backwards. Figure out what you want to do with the rifle. Then decide on a caliber. Then decide on how much you want to purdy it up along with whether you want it weather tough or traditional. If I wanted to use it lots, I'd go with some middle of the road caliber that would be useful for lots of things, but you could just as well specialize and go bigger or smaller, faster or slower.

    I'm assuming you're talking a bolt gun, but then there's the possibility of a lever or single shot. You also need to consider whether you want a new action or are willing to shop the used guns racks for an existing gun to rob the action. For example, I know where there's a used LH Remington 700 that will cost me less than a new bare action. If I pick it up, I'll probably shoot it a while as-is, then maybe rebarrel, and eventually maybe restock. In doing so I get to start out "cheap" yet be shooting my new gun right away, then spend a little money at a time to turn it into a custom slowly.

    But there's a danger in that. I've got a Ruger #1 in 22-250 that I picked up for $500 three years ago, intending to rebarrel it to something interesting. But the darned thing shoots so well, I'm not going to do another thing to it. I don't really need a 22-250 right now, but I just can't bring myself to go messing with an already great gun. Yup.... I'm back to shopping for a cheap #1 for a rebarrel project.

  5. #5
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Default

    You know, I have also toy'd with the idea of a custom rifle for a few years now, and actually know exactly what I want but since this thread is about YOUR custom gun, I wont trouble you with my perfect gun dream details. I guess for me, it has always first boiled down to this: 1 What is the intended purpose for this rifle? 2 is there any "off the shelf" rifle that exactly fits my criteria? (frequently yes) 3 is there any "off the shelf" rifle that nearly fits my criteria, ie. it's perfect EXCEPT for the caliber, or barrel length, stock type etc.? (almost always yes) Obviously if you can find something you like off the shelf, you are going to be money ahead, and time ahead versus "building" a rifle, and frankly, there are allot of really nice factory guns being made today, for almost every concievable type of shooter and shooting task. Only after you have determined that there is not a single rifle produced today (or in the past that you could find on gunbroker.com or at a gun show) should you then start thinking "custom gun build" in my opinion. It is ALWAYS easyer and cheeper to start with something, and modify it to your needs, than to start from scratch. Once you reach that point (and I never have, yet) you need to decide just how much money you can realisticaly come up with for this project and the time frame you are willing to accept to make it all happen. I have friends with lovely sticks of highly figured wood sitting around in the garage next to a spendy Lilja barrel just waiting for the day that a nice action can be purchased. It can literaly take decades to piece one together as in some cases the components can be very expensive, and the last thing you want is to burdon you gun smith with a poorly planned or financed build project. Have all the components and cash on hand BEFORE you walk into his shop to start your project. I know I have seen dozens of half finished "custom rifles" sitting in gun smith shops due to a lack of funding from the owner.......... thats bad for you, and its bad for the gun smith. Finantial preperation is key, the rest, as they say, is acedemic!

  6. #6
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    I always approach the problem from the angle of what size bullet will it take to get the job done. Which means, you have to have a good idea of what you want the rifle to do or said another way, what do you want to do with the rifle?

    If you can give us an idea of the above then we can sure give you a better idea of some options.

    If you have to many .30 cals in the safe, why not look to one of the safe queens as a candidate for a re-barrel?

    In the current state of a shaky economy, this maybe a good option. Or perhaps save your chips and watch the used gun market.

    I've noticed the used market is really starting to open up. I know a fellow that just picked up a vary fine English sideXside, that would have fetched over 7K a few months ago for right at 4K today.

    What we have now that is different from past hard time and great deals is the Internet. My point is, when you see a gun offered, the sellers when contacted are more open to offers.

    Seller motivation is on your side (you know the seller has already made up his mind to unload). The trick now is to find just how motivated the seller is. It's called play low ball!
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    You guys are great and I thank you for all the advice. I knew my issue would generate more questions than answers. What do I want to do with the gun? I love to shoot at the range (bench) but I also want a tool in the tool box that will serve a purpose in the field. I want a small/medium game caliber rifle. Small/medium game as in fox/coyote/wolf/lynx. (Thus the .22-250 or .243) I realize there are plenty of guns on the shelf I could buy and use but that's not what I want. I find it hard to put in words for easy understanding but I want a gun that's mine, not a gun that's mine and everybody else has one too. Am I on a budget for this...no, but I also don't want to spend thousands on thousands of dollars either. I definitely want to go with a bolt action on this one, SS or Blued, doesn't matter. Heck, I might even get it parkerized. I'm not opposed to starting out with a used gun/action either. So, back to where I started with my questions...recommendations, round 2?

    I must state the obvious, I know not what I am doing, only that I want to do it and am looking for advice from experienced gun builders to hopefully save me some hard earned cash and headaches in the long run.

    lovefishing1965,

    Thanks for the great links...simple outstanding and educational (to me anyways).

    Big Al,

    All of my safe queens are to varied and valuable (to me) to alter. I have levers/bolts/semi's, Ruger/Winchester/Weatherby/Browning. I've been eyeing the Model 54 and kicking it around but I just can't bring myself to do it.

  8. #8

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    If you added deer/antelope to your list, it would definitely give the nod to a 243. But if you went that way, more "personal" to me would be a 250 Savage or a 257 Roberts instead. Yeah, yeah, I already have those, but only one of them (a Roberts) is custom. A custom 250, lightweight on a short action, would be a really sweet addition.

    But if you stick with fox/coyote/wolf/lynx, then there's no need to go bigger than .224 and a 204 Ruger might be a lot more interesting than a 22-250. I'd play around with your thinking about bench accuracy versus field portability, then what kind of velocity you want in relation to fur preservation.

    On my personal list in that category, the 222 Rem and the 222 Rem Mag ride really high. I've had both over the years, but sadly let them slip away. I've got a couple of 223 Rems along with my 22-250, but I've sure got an itch to get back to one of the 222's, not only because they are such great performers, but also because almost no one has them any more. My 222 light bench gun was so accurate that it was banned from our "tack" shoots-- Stick thumbtacks in your target board, then shoot at the tacks. First one to move far enough from center and produce a crescent rather than a donut owed the other guys $5 apiece. Until that rifle got kicked out of the "club," I never had to pull a fiver from my pocket. Yet it was under 10 pounds scoped, so it wasn't bad for field carry.

    If you want your gun to be "personal," why not think along either of those lines?

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    Action
    http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/sto...=CZ+550+ACTION

    Barrel
    http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/sto...MAUSER+BARRELS

    Stock
    http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/sto...LES+DALY+STOCK

    Go here to mix and match whatever stikes yer fancy. Go down to "bolt-action rifles" if that is what you want.
    http://www.brownells.com/categories.aspx?c=4816

    If you have a C&R license, Brownells offers a discount.

  10. #10
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    well, with that criteria in mind, I would personaly save up some cash for the Wassila gun show in the spring and try to find a old nasty looking remington 700 short action for a couple hundred bucks. Throw away everything except the action and send it off to the gun smith of your choosing for a true up on the action, sleeve the bolt etc. add an aftermarket trigger, then have the barrel of choice, and there is many to choose from that are of great quality, chambered in a cartrige with a 308 dia bolt face, pick out a stock that suits your needs and budget, have it bedded to your action and barrel, apply the finish you want to all the metal work and find a scope to match it...............presto! Custom rifle!

  11. #11
    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    well, with that criteria in mind, I would personaly save up some cash for the Wassila gun show in the spring and try to find a old nasty looking remington 700 short action for a couple hundred bucks. Throw away everything except the action and send it off to the gun smith of your choosing for a true up on the action, sleeve the bolt etc. add an aftermarket trigger, then have the barrel of choice, and there is many to choose from that are of great quality, chambered in a cartrige with a 308 dia bolt face, pick out a stock that suits your needs and budget, have it bedded to your action and barrel, apply the finish you want to all the metal work and find a scope to match it...............presto! Custom rifle!
    You sure make it sound so simple and that's scary. I would love to hear about your dream custom rifle, might give me more insight on mine. BTW, is the short action the way I want to go with the caliber I want to shoot? I always thought the short actions were for those compressed rounds, WSSM type?

  12. #12
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    I get the impression that you are looking for a custom all weather hunting type rig, and the good news is that this type of custom job is really the least expensive way to go (or at least can be the least expensive) because you are essentually eliminating two of the most labor intensive and expensive things. those would be artistic metal work i.e. engraving, plating, inlay and the like, and exibition wood work i.e. claro or turkish walnut, hand checkering, fitting etc. for most "all weather" custom guns, neither of those items is reqired (or desireable) and can litteraly shave thousands off of your budget and greatly simplify the logistics of your build. With custom (read expensive) highly figured exotic wood you will likely have to send the wood blank and barreled action to someone who specializes in that area, same goes for custom metal work. So at a minimum, you would have three different individuals performing work on your project. Not in itself a bad thing, but now factor in the timing of everything, shipping and communication, and you can see that it would add aditional layers of complexity to your project.
    For an "all weather" custom build, most or all of the work involved is going to be in truing/blue printing the action, chambering and cutting the barrel and some trigger work. Most everything else will be drop in, off the shelf items like the stock, recoil pad, scope rings etc. off the shelf stuff does not make it any less "custom" it just meens that your rifle was mostly "assembled" rather than "manufactured" and frankly, that is a good thing....after all, who would want a composit stock that some gun smith layed up in his garage when you could likely buy a Bell and Carleson that will fit perfectly for half the price you would have to pay someone to try and make one?
    As for actions, it can be a little confusing and I dont have the dimmentions handy to type them down for you. but you can think of them this way: Magnum action= 375 H&H and most anything born of that case, i.e. 458 lott, 8mm mag etc. and larger. Long action = 30-06 and the like, 338, 300 mag etc. Short action = 308 sized stuff, like 243, 7mm-08, 260 and I belive but dont know for sure, that most of the newer short magnums fit this action. Micro Action = as far as I know, only CZ sells the "micro mauser action" and they are for cartiges like 22 hornet, 223, 204 etc. Some folks claim that a short action is faster to operate than a long action, weighs slightly less and makes for a shorter easier to carry rifle versus a long or magnum action In the field, I have never really paid enough attention to notice much of a difference, but it may be an important factor for you. It might be a good idea for you to head over to one of the gun stores and just look at a bunch of rifles, play with them and handle them. get an idea what you like and dont like as far as stock design, action length etc. before you fork out a wad of cash for components.
    As for my dream custom gun....... it will be either a Winchester 95 or Savage 99 and will have the schnable fore end, case color reciever, and the most wonderful wood I can afford! My buddies who prefer "all weather" guns call my kind of guns "expensive canoe paddles"

  13. #13

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    Now you went and did it Alangaq!

    Long ago a friend had a wildcat 25 caliber on the 222 Rem Mag case- called the Copperhead if I recall correctly. I greatly admired how it shot, and for a 25 cal nut like me it has always tickled at the back of my brain.

    I can pick up the CZ American in a lefthand version and rebarrel it to that round, or even a version based on the 204 for a little more whoop.

    Suddenly that appeals even more than a small rifle built up in 250 Savage.

    And speaking of dream rifles, it looks as though we share a fondness for the Savage 99. I've got half a dozen or so in calibers ranging from 22 Hi Power to 358 Winchester, including a 284 Winchester. It occurs to me that I need one in 338 Federal. I know, it doesn't make sense to anyone else but me. The problem now is finding a 99 that I'd be willing to hack up for the new gun. But man, what a fun gun that would be in 338 Fed!

  14. #14

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    Super advice on this post, great reading and you should have a great idea of what to do. This was really good stuff guys.
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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    BrownBear, I apreciate the fine bolt guns as much as anyone, but like you, have a fondness for the leaver! Unfortunatly my meager collections of guns (about 20 or so) does not yet contain a single Savage 99 I keep checking the gun stores hoping that some fool has traded one off on an AR-15 or something like that, and have also dillegently scoured the gun shows looking for a suitable 99 at a reasonable price that hasnt had more holes drilled into the reciever than the Prudo Bay oil fields. So far, no luck. Gunbroker.com always has a good selection, but I get the feeling they are rather overpriced.......... I of course want the older models with the crescant but plate and schnable for arm, rotary magazine.......well, you know what I mean. Caliber is not that important to me, and I would even take a 30/30 or 303 if the price was right. But would love to have one re-barreled to 375 winchester, or if I found a late model, re-barrel to 260 remington and add the old style for end and but stock.

    If only I could some how learn to like "modern" rifles with stainless barrels and composit stocks my life would be so much simpler

    But then again, my friends always say "at least when we hunt with you, we dont need to worry about freezing to death, because we can always burn your fancy wood stock to keep warm". Ahhh the verbal abuse is relentless with those guys..........got to love it!

  16. #16

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    We're getting all teary eyed over 99's, but in the context of Whitetail1der's original question about custom builds, it's probably okay.

    Just to focus your search for older guns and candidates for actions, keep your eyes open at garage sales and moving sales. You aren't likely to see guns out in the open, but you might see accessories on the table. If you do, quietly tell the host you were actually hoping to find some older guns. Don't be pushy- if they're really moving or need the cash, they sometimes remember some "old" gun in a closet somewhere.

    Gotta tell a story.

    I got that 99 in 284 by spotting accessories on a table, then asking. The old guy said "Yeah, I've got a rifle collecting dust and I don't hunt any more. Come on in and we'll look at it." It was work to keep my hands from shaking when I saw it was a cherry 99 topped with an old Lyman Alaskan 4x scope, and I had to lay it down to stop the shaking when I saw 284 Winchester on the barrel. I asked him how much he wanted, and I had to sit down when he said " How about $150. That's what I paid for it new." I had to be honest and told him it was worth a lot more, but he said "not to me" so I pulled out my wallet. A couple of hours later he pulled into my driveway, and I figured he had second thoughts. Instead he got out of the car with a grocery sack full of stuff. Said he forgot to give me all the other things that went with the rifle. There were 22 boxes of newer and older Wincester factory ammo, four boxes of once-fired brass (all he ever shot through it), reloading dies, and half a dozen unopened boxes of Speer 145 grain spitzers!

    You won't often fall into such nice deals, but you won't find them if you don't ask. And you surely won't find them at the usual auction sites, gun stores, and gun shows.

  17. #17
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    BrownBear, that is indeed an AWSOM story! I will take your advice and be more vigilant durring garage sale season!

    Whitetail1der, I have seen some of these newer spray on finishes that can be applied to the metal work and then baked in a oven to cure them. I have no personal experience with them or the process, however they are reported to be very durable, and with all the colors avaliable, and even patterns that could be applied may add a style of customization that would interest you instead of the parkerizing?! The one I saw, was a short action remington with a flat black composit stock, black action, olive green barrel and bolt. While that isnt reall my kind of rifle, I have to admit that it was very sharp looking in a "militaristic/sniper" sort of way. Another thing you may wish to consider is multiple barrels for your custom rifle. Since you are staring from scratch, it is not (in the grand scheem of things) much more expensive to have your gun smith drill and pin the barrels and recoil lugs to make a switch barrel rifle. Of course you will have the additional expense of the extra barrel (or barrels) and they will need to be chambered for cartiges with the same basic length and case head size, and have the same exterior profile, but some guys find the multi barrel rifle concept really apealing.

  18. #18
    Member Whitetail1der's Avatar
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    The words of wisdom and advice is outstanding and I can't thank everyone enough. Correct me if I'm wrong here but based on all of the advice so far, I should be looking for a short action to build a .22-250 or .243 caliber rifle. What would the audience recommend as a type of action that would be best? (I realize this is a loaded question but had to do it anyways ) When is the gun show/auction in Wasilla normally held? If it's in the spring I don't think I want to wait that long to get started, any other recommendations? Perhaps something like this will work!

    "I got that 99 in 284 by spotting accessories on a table, then asking. The old guy said "Yeah, I've got a rifle collecting dust and I don't hunt any more. Come on in and we'll look at it."

  19. #19
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    700 Remington action, would probably be your best bet.

    The story reminds me of a rifle I bought because of a box of .338 mag ammo. When I bought this box of shells at a garage sell I asked the old boy selling what rifle he used this ammo in. He said he was planning on a trip that never happened and had never shot the rifle. He told me he had bought the rifle used and would like to sell it, but the shop he bought it from went out of business years before and he didn't think beyond that shop that any one would want it?

    When I first got sight of the old WINCHESTER model 70, I nearly wet my pants. I just knew I didn't have enough cash on me. Strangely he just knew it was worth a lot less than I did, so it came home with me.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    those "rare rifle deals" are great when the happen! I picked up a Rem BDL in 243 for my Nephew that made in the early 80's but looked new, the guy said he didnt feel right asking much for it because it shot so poorly, and as I looked down the barrel and saw all the copper in there I started digging out my check book. Cleaned it up (and it did take a lot of cleaning), took it to Rabit Creek with a box of factory federal ammo and proceeded to shoot the only 100 yd 5 shot 1/2" group I have ever shot in my life.........and then gave it to my nephew (I had already told him I got a rifle for him)............Form a line here to punch me in the face!

    As far as prefered action brands goes, its kind of a Ford, Dodge, Chevy kind of thing. I personaly prefer the Remington actions, and I know many Gun Smiths that also prefer them for building varmint and compatition guns, but to tell you the truth, you would be hard pressed to find a modern action that was a total piece of crap. I also hear that the Savage actions work well in custom applications, and the new ones have that tricky/cool new trigger set up that is supposed to be the "ticket" but I personaly have no experience with them. I think the newer Winchesters and Rugers have the Mauser style "claw extractor" that some folks think very desirable as does the actions from CZ. There is also Weatherby and Brownings to look at, although for me, they have always exceeded my budget, but are said to be very nice.......again, I have no first hand experience with them. The Brownings have that 30 degree bolt throw that some claim makes for a faster action cycle. Then you have the Sako and Tikka actions, and I know that a fair number of custom guns have been made using these actions over the years, but again, they are also priced out of my reach. The CZ's kind of intriege me because they have that cool looking detachable magazine. You could always go the "old school" way and find a small ring Mauser action to have worked up, but far more knowlege that I posses is required to know what to buy with those old WW1 and WW2 actions. It seems to me, after walking about a thousand miles thru gun shows over the years, that your best bet for an inexpensive short action rifle (in both quantity and price) avaliable at the local gun shows (Palmer, Anchorage and Wassila) will probably be Remington, Ruger and Savage, but not nessisarily in that order.

    I am not sure when the Wasila gun show is, but I think it is put on by the hockey boosters? and is usually in the early spring.......March / April time frame?

    If you can afford to go with new, and you know what you want, I think a number of the manufactures still sell barreled actions. But I have always found that if I could be patient and wait for a gun show or watch the paper, I could find a complete rifle for less than the cost of the barreled action.

    If you already have a gun smith picked out for your project (there was another tread posted on gun smiths recently) you may want to contact your guy and see what he prefers to work on, or his "specialty" so to speek. All those many verious actions require specific and expensive tooling for set up and machine work. And if you purchase a Ruger for instance and you gun smith specalizes in Remingtons, it may equate to additional cost, time etc. Or you may want to change guys and find someone who specilizes in Rugers............you get the idea. Or its quite likely that a profesional gun smith will have far more insight and knowlege on the action subject than a layman like myself or you, and can "steer" you towards something he knows will work well for your purposes. I am certainly NOT an expert on custom gun building, and if your going to pay somebody to build one for you, I would certainly hope that they ARE an expert and may for example be able to tell you "brand A is a good action, but it usually cost X amount of dollars to blue print and accurize, brand B is great out of the box and costs much less to blue print and accurize".

    There are obviously a lot of variables when it comes to custom gun building, and I guess my best advise would be to spend a lot of time on deciding exactly what it is that you want, and be dilligent in your research. Dont rush into it only to find out a couple of years from now that the gun you spent so much money on, is not really the gun you needed or wanted.......... that would suck

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