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Thread: Custom build: What's the process?

  1. #1
    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    Default Custom build: What's the process?

    I am new to the rifle building world. I grew up with a Rem Mod 700 chambered in .284 (7mm Rem Mag). My dad (an x-marine sniper) said it was the "only" rifle I'd ever need. Growing up on his wisdom and watching him nail elk/deer/moose/bear over 700 yds (consistently I might add) proved to me his concept. This is where my story twists...

    When I moved up here 4+ years ago, I still had my 7mm. Something convinced me to purchase a Kimber Montana in .325 WMS, so I sold my customized 7mm. The action was squared & true, balanced & blueprinted by Darrell Holland of Holland Guns in Powers Oregon. I also had his glass stock with an agressive comb. I installed a timney trigger set at 2.5lbs, had a Zeiss Conquest 4.5x14x44 for optics, talley rings/bases, titanium firing pin, HD recoil lug, Holland muzzle break, jeweled bolt and a bunch more little things. Man, I miss that rifle!

    To make things worse, I rolled my quad and the Kimber went along with it. I shot it and it was 2' low & 2' to the right. I have yet to make the necessary re-sighting to try again.

    Here's my dilemma. I'd like to purchase a custom rifle, but don't exactly know the process/proceedures. I want a 700 action, but I am torn with the mod 70 as it is controlled push/feed. I like the Sako 85 with its 3 lug bolt, but want a #5 barrel.

    Weight is of concern, after all, I love the high country and sheep hunting is top priority. Factoring in all my concerns where do you suggest I start?
    Not that price is an option, I do have 3 mouths to feed, so it does factor in...
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

  2. #2

    Default Custom Rifle

    If weight is paramount in a rifle build start with a short action. A Dakota action will give you the best of all worlds, CRF, the locking lugs, 98 style action.
    If the rifle is to be light weight choose a caliber that is mid-range like 284 Win., uses a standard bolt face with a larger body diameter un-belted case (rebated case).
    You can have a #5 barrell and lighter weight by fluting the barrell, it'll still be stiff but light.
    The stock out of necessity will surely need to be synthetic maybe kevlar or carbon fibre, McMillan would be a good place to start.
    The barrellad action should set on aluminum pillars or an aluminum bed and be glass bedded. A sportsman style adjustable trigger with a safe trigger pull weight of around 3 or so pounds will be a requsit piece of equipment.
    It makes little sense to build a lite rifle with a heavy piece of glass on top. Choose your glass to match your rifles intended use.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The key to success on any project is to identify the scope, schedule and budget. I.e., exactly what do you want, when do you want it, and how much are you willing to spend.

    The two reasons that folks aren't happy with their custom rifles is either they really didn't know what they wanted when they ordered one, or they didn't have the $ to get what they wanted so either they went cheap with the gunsmith, and/or cheap with components.

    Since you're really up in the air on what you want, spend time defining for yourself what it is you want, and what is most important to you. If you can nail it down to say a Rem 700 action that is trued, McMillan classic stock, Pac Nor #3 barrel, 24" long, chambered for a 300 win mag with neck 0.003" over loaded rounds, throated 1 1/2 deg 0.309" to a depth that a barnes 180 gr tsx loaded to a COL of 3.30" is kissing the lands and you find a competent smith who will build to those specs you are highly likely to be satisfied with the results.

    However if you just tell a smith you want a 300 win mag "mountain rifle" then odds are his concept of a mountain rifle and yours just might not quite match.

    In order:

    1) Figure out exactly what you want
    2) Figure out who can build it, and really narrow it down to the top folks who get consistant praise from their customers
    3) Whatever it cost to get what you want, spend the $, and wait however long it takes. You're spending the $ and taking the time vs. buying an over the counter factory rifle, so the results best be superior acccuracy, ergonomics, and it's exactly what you want.

  4. #4

    Default Start Now

    And start now if you want it in time to shoot it a little before next hunting season. Many of the high quality components such as custom actions, McMillan stocks, and barrels take a long time to get, and most top gunsmiths have a backlog of work. Also, choose a gunsmith first and take their advice. Get what you want but listen carefully to what they tell you will work and what won't. Also check out this thread on another forum to get a good idea of what's possible/available, and what appeals to you.

    http://24hourcampfire.com/ubbthreads...LUEPRINTS_ONLY
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  5. #5
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    If you go the Win 70 route here is what I suggest. Find a nice used Win 70 Classic on Gunbrokers in 300 WSM. Look for a Featherwight version if possible, but no big deal if you can not find one. With a little luck I bet you can find one for about $500.
    Bring it home and put the scope of your choice on it and head to the range and find a load that it likes. If your lucky the factory barrel will give good results but if it doesnt play around with it and glass bed it and see what happens. If this works, great! Practice with it and save your pennies and order a nice McMillan swirly for it and call it a day.

    Now if it doesnt shoot well enough for you after trying different loads and bedding adjustments buy a nice tube such as Lilja, Hart, Kreiger, etc and have the action squared and rebarreled. The add the stock afterwards.

    Be careful though, this is an addiction that has no cure.
    Tennessee

  6. #6
    Member Matt's Avatar
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    A Winchester classic action and a #5 barrel contour is going to leave you with a heavy rifle, regardless on what other parts you're going to add.

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    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    With regard to the action, can you get a Mod 700 with a 3-lug bolt?

    Like I mentioned, I'd like a dependable accurate rifle, prefer a .300 WSM for I like short action magnums. Based on what's out there and the how-to-do its, I'm a little lost.

    1) Weight is of consideration, I do love the high country where the sheep dwell. Packability goes hand-in-hand.

    2) Accurracy to carry out long-range shots (I love to reach out & touch them)

    3) Barrel; so many choices/contours. Would like something beefier than typical factory types (fluting is an option)

    Where to go, what costs are typically associted, ect

    I appreciate your help! And Thanks for what info has been provided!
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

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    Purchase a 700Ti Short Action chambered in 300RSAUM.
    or
    Send a 700 action to Darrell Holland for another build.

    P.S.
    Sell the Kimber

  9. #9
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Native View Post
    With regard to the action, can you get a Mod 700 with a 3-lug bolt?
    No, and I would argue that the 700 does just fine with two locking lugs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Native View Post
    1) Weight is of consideration, I do love the high country where the sheep dwell. Packability goes hand-in-hand.

    2) Accurracy to carry out long-range shots (I love to reach out & touch them)

    3) Barrel; so many choices/contours. Would like something beefier than typical factory types (fluting is an option)
    If weight is a concern, even a minor concern, you really don't want a #5 contour barrel, or anything beefier than a factory barrel. I have a fluted #5 on my .280AI, and it's a pig. In my experiences, fluting is NOT a very effective way to reduce weight. If you want lighter rifle, a better way is to start with a lighter contoured barrel from the get-go.

    The good news is, you don't need a heavy barrel to shoot accurately. I have a couple of rebarreled Remington 700's with light contoured barrels that shoot amazingly well, and they are a dream to carry compared to the .280AI, mentioned above. Proper bedding and gunsmithing go a long way to getting the most out of a barrel, regardless of contour.



    When ordering parts, the stock & barrel usually take the longest to get, due to wait times. I prefer McMillan stocks on hunting rifles, and they currently have a 4 to 5 month wait. Plan on waiting 5 to 12 weeks for a barrel, depending on what brand you order.

    Scopes & actions are usually easier to come by, so once you figure out what you want your custom rifle to be, place the order for the stock and barrel. While you're waiting for those, you can peruse the gunshows and the classified ads looking for a "donor" rifle you can use for an action. Remington 700's are plentiful, and usually pretty easy to find. I've bought used donors for as little as $185. I've also bought brand new rifles, torn them apart for actions, and sold off the unneeded parts. I've ended up with pretty affordable actions this way as well.

    If you'd like to see some custom 700's, I have a few. We can meet up at the range sometime, and you can handle different configurations and see what you like the best. We can talk about gunsmiths & costs, and after fondling/shooting a few rifles, you'll have a better idea of what you want in your rifle and make decisions accordingly.

    I'll PM you my contact info.

  10. #10

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    Drive to Eagle River and go into Boondocks. They have the 300WSM of you dreams. Not mine! To long of barrel for my taste.

  11. #11
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    LOL. Welcome to a lifelong obsession. You should have followed your father's advise. Now, you will never be satisfied. As I look at my pile of rifles, they are all very good. But none are perfect. I think I have about 6 in the works. LOL. Enjoy. J.

  12. #12

    Default Hope This Helps

    It's always best to build what YOU want, but a lot of what you seem to want is exactly what I had built.

    Stiller Predator short action magnum
    Lilja #2 contour 23" w/muzzle brake
    McMillan Hunters EDGE stock
    Wyatt Extended Magazine Box
    Remington bottom metal
    Jewell HVR Trigger
    Talley 1 peice lightweight rings/bases
    Leupold 2.5-8 B&C reticle

    Weighs 6lb 15 oz with the scope
    Shoots one hole at 100, better than I can shoot it most of the time

    This all put together came in around $3500. You will find that most rifle builders will charge upwards of $4000 for a rifle like this, although you can buy the components seperately and have it pieced together for less. Rifle builders charge a premium for their warranty and expertise, so make sure you know what you want. If you want a parts gun you can do it cheaper. You can sub any similarly priced custom action, or a Remington or Winchester if you have one, but make sure you have it trued. First is get a budget, next is talk to some gunsmiths about your project. They will have good advice for you. If you're not willing to spend some coin and wait a while, a nice factory gun is a better value than going half way with a custom. Here's a couple links to check out:

    http://www.bordenrifles.com

    http://www.viperactions.com

    http://www.kampfeldcustom.com/
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  13. #13
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfoot View Post
    If you're not willing to spend some coin and wait a while, a nice factory gun is a better value than going half way with a custom.
    A simple rebarrel job of a factory action & a quality stock is nothing sneeze at, in the performance department. You get a solid, no frills hunting rifle that out-shoots factory offerings for about the same money. I have many rifles that fit this description, and they cost me less than a grand, sans optics. You've got to shop around for inexpensive parts, but that's half the fun!

    Donor actions: $200-$300 (cruise the gunshows looking for used rifles or buy new, closeout rifles and sell off the unneeded parts)

    Barrel: $150-$300 (new barrel blanks often pop up on various on-line classifieds, but I've ordered news ones as well)

    McMillan stock: $250-500 (again, cruise the on-line classifieds for used stocks)

    Ti & LVSF take-off stock: $150-$200 (the B&C stocks used on the Remington Ti's & LVSF's are a great stock for the money)

    Gunsmithing: $150-$300 (shop around, get feedback from previous customers, and don't be afraid to send your stuff out of state)



    Here are some examples:
    My .338-06: $250 for donor, $300 for the Krieger barrel, $250 for the McMillan stock, and $200 for gunsmithing (square action/lap lugs; install, chamber, cut & crown; blead blast & re-blue). Total = $1000.



    My .25-284: $200 for the donor, $275 for the Pac-Nor barrel, $150 for the Ti stock, $255 for gunsmithing (square action/lap lugs; install, chamber, cut & crown; bead blast & re-blue the action; return shipping). Total = $880.



    My .375 H&H: $235 for the donor, $125 for the Rimrock stock blank (I finished & painted it), $275 for gunsmithing (included the cost of the stainless Douglas barrel). Total = $635.



    My latest .223: $200 for the donor, $225 for the Rock barrel, $135 for the LVSF stock, $145 for gunsmithing (square action/lap lugs; install, chamber, cut & crown; return shipping). Total = $705.
    <<<Sorry, no photo yet. I just got it back last week.>>>


    While over a grand, here's another example of a fine rifle, for little dough.....
    My .223AI heavy barrel: $300 for the action (after selling off the parts from a brand new .204 Ruger SPS), $320 for the Pac-Nor barrel, $480 for the McMillan stock, $145 for gunsmithing (square action/lap lugs; install, chamber, cut & crown; return shipping). Total = $1245.



    Disclaimers: With all the rifles above, I didn't include cost of the bedding materials I used....because it was dirt cheap to do it myself. The .375 has a Duracoated action, that I did myself. The .223AI has a Jewel trigger that I swapped from a different rifle that I already owned, all the other have adjusted factory triggers, that I did myself.

  14. #14

    Default Good Points

    Good points Dan. You've got some pretty inexpensive donor rifles in there. I've got some rifles like you examples also, but I always add a Jewell trigger over the factory triggers. That adds about $210 to your total. As I said you can build a parts gun cheaper, which is what you are showing examples of. If they don't shoot well, have feeding problems, etc., you are into more of your own money. Your costs for gunsmithing are VERY reasonable, I haven't found anybody that does a quality job for those prices. You are lucky to get those prices if you are getting quality, and I'm not doubing you are, just saying it's pretty reasonable. Going rate for just a thread, chamber, and crown is around $175, another $100+ to properly true the action, and another $50+ for bead blasting and or blueing. Also any stock work such as a quality pillar bedding job is going to run some more. I don't trust myself to do it so I pay for it. They are good examples of what can be done, but you must compromise to find the deals on the parts that you show, especially those stock prices. If you pay going rate for stocks, add the trigger, and don't have such a reasonable gunsmith, you are easily into $1500-$2000, which is where a lot of customs based on a Remington start at. Here is where I'm estimating something like your examples if you don't find the screaming deals like you did:

    Donor Action: $400 minimum for stainless Remington
    Lilja Barrel: $320
    Jewell Trigger w/ top safety: $210
    McMillan Stock full inlet: $400
    Rings/Bases: $80
    Thread/Chamber: $175
    True Action: $100
    Recoil Lug or surface grind lug: $50
    Bead blast: $50
    Pillar Bed: $150

    That's over $1900, and I'm sure I've missed some things. There are so many levels you can take it to. That's why I suggested first set your budget, and then start talking to some gunsmiths about options. I have a 6BR that ran around $1500 taking the same approach as Dan and I'm very happy with it, until I operate the silky smooth bolt on my Stiller Predator and actually feel the tighter tolerances. It's like a watch, do you want a Timex or Rolex, to each his own. I still think a nice factory gun is a better value than a custom done half way. A custom rifle should shoot and operate like a full custom gun, and a parts gun from a factory action just doesn't do that without putting so much money in it you might as well have gone full custom from the start. Of course this is all opinion, and as I said to each his own.
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  15. #15
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    blackfoot, last year Northern Security had a bunch of guns on the cheap (confiscated/former evidence guns?). Anyway, I bought eight or nine blued 700's. The cheapest was $185, and the most I paid for one was $300. I lucked out and picked up a nice stash of cheap donors.

    I've bought brand new guns for "donor" purposes, as well. I picked up two new brand-new stainless Remingtons to use as donors, and after selling off the unneeded parts, I had about $300 in each of the actions.

    The stocks are the hardest part to find deals. The word is out, and even used McM's demand a pretty decent price. I saw one used McMillan sell for less than $100, but that is certainly the exception to the rule. A few years ago, I bought two brand new McM's from Gander Mountain for $250 each. That was a cool score!

    As for gunsmithing, I'm sworn to secrecy. Sorry.

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    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    As I express my novice abilities, I am getting the "feel" for what to do. Here's one thing that I still have questions about:

    If I obtain a Mod 700 action will it work for ANY caliber? I've always wondered if you could do this...

    If I had ANY Mod 700 (say .223 Rem Mag) could I used that action to build a .300 WSM?

    I've talked to a few gunsmiths regarding a build. Now after talking to (I think it was Don Feltman on the phone) I am drewling over the thought of a 6lb custom .300 WSM w/carbon fiber barrel!

    I guess I need to get into this a tad more. One reply on this post was I should have stuck to Dad's advice. I see myself not paying any attention to his wisdom now, thanks, you all have "set the hook!" Now, how do you convince your wife to accomodate those expendatures?
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

  17. #17

    Default Action

    You could use any short action Remington for a 300WSM, but you will have to have some modifications like the bolt opened up, etc. Would be better to find one with a magnum bolt face like a 300SAUM or something. Don likes to build on the Remington Titanium for a really light rifle, and those carbon rifles he has built are rediculously light AND accurate. Good luck and please keep us updated on your project. With another little one on the way I can't start a new project right now, but we can live vicariously through you :-)
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  18. #18
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Native View Post
    If I obtain a Mod 700 action will it work for ANY caliber? I've always wondered if you could do this...

    If I had ANY Mod 700 (say .223 Rem Mag) could I used that action to build a .300 WSM?
    With enough machining work, I suppose you could make just about anything. But what's common is to stick with a "family" of cartridges suited for your particular donor action. Here are some common examples:

    Short action, with a small (.378") bolt face ---- You could build just about anything in the .223 family of cartridges.

    Short action, with a standard (.473") bolt face. This includes the entire .308 & .250 Savage families of cartridges.

    Short action, with a magnum (.532") bolt face. This includes the original Remington short action magnums (6.5 & 350RM), and all of the new "short mags."

    Long action, with a standard (.473") bolt face. The '06 family of cartridges.

    Long action, with a magnum (.532") bolt face. The magnums & ultramags.



    NOTE: There are some other details a person should consider, when choosing a donor action.......

    There are some feed rail differences in the various actions. I used a .221 Fireball as a donor for a .223AI, and the feed rails weren't all that conducive to proper feeding with the longer cases. I was able to make it work, but starting with an actual .223 would have been a better way to go.

    I know the ultramags use different box magazines than the standard magnums, but I'm not sure if the feed rail are different or not. I've never built an ultra from a std magnum, so I can't comment with 1st hand knowledge.

    A standard bolt face can be "opened up" to accept the magnum calibers. This requires the install of a Sako-type extractor, and of course, more expense.




    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Native View Post
    ....I am drewling over the thought of a 6lb custom .300 WSM w/carbon fiber barrel!
    Personally, I don't see the benefit of a carbon fiber barrel. You can get a nice, light contour barrel with the same weight, and you can slap it in a nice svelt stock. With the fat contour of the carbon fiber barrel, you're kind of limited in your lightweight stock options. Something to think about, anyway.

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