Which Action and Caliber for Custom Rifle?


Zeke Menuar
September 18, 2004, 02:00 AM
I want a new rifle.
Not another milsurp. A REAL hunting rifle with a wooden stock and honest to goodness bluing.
Got the approval of Her Supreme Majesty "The Imperial Red-Headed Scorpio" to save for the project. She even dumped about 20 pounds of change into the slush fund to help get things going. The folks at work are assisting funding by insisting on twelve hour shifts.
I have no idea what I would use this gun for, but that has never stopped me before, and it won't stop me now.



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September 18, 2004, 02:18 AM
OK, Its a big bore rifle so I'll bite.

Why three different rifles, and three different cartridges? I am not following your thought train on this one.

What cartridge do you want? There is a scale of magnitude of difference in price on these.

What are you looking to get out of this? A dangerous game hunting rifle? A big bore cause you want one and there is a hole in the end of your gun rack?

Give us some more info.

Zeke Menuar
September 18, 2004, 04:22 AM
In no particular order:

A big bore because I want one.

I don't own any centerfire rifles bigger than .311

I just built a second rifle rack. Need to get started on filling it.

This is probably the first and last time my wife is going to allow me to spend big money on something other than her.

As I said before, I have no real need for a new rifle. I want one.

When it's time to buy, the final decision might be dictated by the time tested method of "This is what was available when I had the money in hand."

If I can't find a reasonably priced M70 action, I know I can find a M700 and will go that route.

I would like to build a gun for me, not the gun Remchester thinks I need.

The 375 is a longshot. If the right gun happens to magically appear at a store or show, then maybe..........

A 9.3 or 375 would pretty much cover anything I needed to hunt or shoot at.

Dare to be different. In my neck of the woods you would be hard pressed to get two 9.3 x anything within 20 miles of each other.

A big bore because I want one.


September 18, 2004, 06:17 AM
The American Safari I've seen was a disappointment. I'd rather start out with a barreled action and do it right. I vote for 9.3x64 only because the 9.3x62 need just about 175 fps more velocity with 286 grain partition to be the ONE. My last big game rifle is going to 9.3 on an necked up, blown out 8x68S case loaded out to fill a 3.6" deep magazine. I only have to finish about a thousand current projects first.


September 18, 2004, 12:48 PM
In the 375 H&H, Winchester has a model 70 with about a $1100 MSRP which puts it on the street at just a tad under a grand. There is another lower end model but I am not real impressed with that, I would spend the extra 150-200 dollars for the higher end rifle.

Not sure if you know CZ does make a 9.3x62. This rifle will need some stock work, but bang for the buck your not going to beat it. I would steer away from the "64" case, the brass it difficult to get, I know once you find it 100 will probably last forever but something in the back of my head says Norma, which means expense and finding it. The bonus to the 62 case in a pinch 06 brass can be used and finding 35 Whelen brass isn't tough.

If your looking for stock rifles, your selection is limited, I would at least give the new Sako's a look if price is not a stickler.

In custom rifles the world is your oyster so to speak, figure out what you want within reason and have it built. I would add that for less than you will have tied up in a custom, you could have both the CZ 9.3x62 and the Winchester model 70 in a 375H&H, and still have money left over for ammo, and dies. Custom guns in this day and age are expensive, do the math, it adds up quick and it just isn't like the 50-60's where it was cost effective to custom build. If its your dream rifle and you have both the time and the dollars to get something built go for it, but in fairness add up the dollars on the custom, then go look at the Winchester custom shop, the $2500 custom rifles are really a pretty good bargin.

I keep looking at the Winchester 404 Jeffreys, it just seems to be a proper hole in the end of a barrel, but I already have a 375H&H and I figured out not too long ago I didn't have a real big bore, and it needs to be 40+ caliber to fill that "WANT". I have no need either.

September 18, 2004, 12:52 PM
Course you did not mention what you hunt, or where you hunt.............

But I would suggest a Ruger International, or Remington Model 7 full length stocked carbine, in .250/3000, rechambered to Ackley Improved. Light, handy, gobs of power. This makes a great rifle for stalking, still hunting, or just carrying all day in the woods.

September 18, 2004, 03:33 PM
Before I read the other responses including your second post, my first reactions were to say: 257 Roberts, 6.5x284 or 35 Whelan. Of course, these aren't quite on par with what you're looking into.

I assume you reload... right? If not, I'd stick with something easier to find than 9.3x64.

Zeke Menuar
September 18, 2004, 03:39 PM
Yes, I handload.


September 19, 2004, 03:23 AM
9.3x64 brass is available for the time being (never been more available AFAIK). The brass is available from OWS and Huntingtons. I like RWS brass, which is good because until recently it was the only choice. Recently Dieter Horneber has started making it. Cost is 1.25 to 1.50 a pop, but a couple hundred would be a lifetime supply.

I never said it was practical, just perfect. It certainly is a catridge for the advanced handloader and rifle nut. Just the thing for a custom.


Zeke Menuar
September 19, 2004, 05:21 AM
I read that the 9.3 x 64 can be built on a 30-06 length action. Is that true?

If so, wouldn't a CZ 550 in 9.3 x 62 be a good candidate for a rechambering? Open up the bolt face, new barrel and away we go. Seems logical. A little more economical than a full blown custom job.


September 19, 2004, 10:52 AM
Well, actually, the .35 Whelen IS on par with what Zeke is looking to do.

My thoughts are a .35 Whelen Improved, a .358 Norma Magnum, a .358 Remington Ultra Mag (simple conversion of their .338 RUM), or a .358 STA (gee, anyone sense a theme this?:) )

Absolutely the most accurate rifle I have is my .358 Norma, and the Improved Whelen should be right in there with the 9.3's. Should the unthinkable happen on a hunt and the ammo gets lost, one would have an infinitely greater chance of purchasing .35 Whelen ammo than any 9.3, .358 Norma or STA.

September 19, 2004, 03:31 PM
I'll throw another option into the mix, the .416 Rigby. a great big bore with controllable recoil.

I also like the thought of the .35 Whelen Improved. A dandy cartridge that will take anything on the continent.

Zeke Menuar
September 19, 2004, 04:01 PM
I would love to have a 416 Rigby. I am not sure my shoulder would like it. But my shoulder can deal with 3" magnums from my 18.5" HD shotgun. Shooting a 416 Rigby wouldn't be much of a stretch.
I foresee lots of cast bullets and reduced loads for practice. Isn't a 416 Rigby bit much for elk?

Isn't Rigby brass something like two or three dollars a case?


September 19, 2004, 05:13 PM
If so, wouldn't a CZ 550 in 9.3 x 62 be a good candidate for a rechambering? Open up the bolt face, new barrel and away we go. Seems logical. A little more economical than a full blown custom job.

I was just looking at the case dimensions and I don't even think you would need a new barrel. I think just setting the barrel back 1 ( maybe 2) threads and running a chamber reamer should do it. It would save a couple hundred dollars on the barrel, if your smith did it right the old chamber stamp would end up down towards the stock. I would plan on fiddling with the stock though, the CZ's are having a real problem now with splitting stocks in the big calibers, and a little work on a crossbolt is fixing the issue.

All in all I would say its a definately workable plan.

Zeke Menuar
September 19, 2004, 06:40 PM
When I wrote the original thread I was brain dead from too many twelve hour shifts. Didn't consider the CZ in 9.3 x 62.

Sportsmans Warehouse has just started carrying some CZ boomers. They have a 375 H&H and a 458 Win Mag. I think I will have to bug them to get a 9.3 x 62 in stock so I can have a look before I put one on layaway.

Might even shoot the 9.3 x 62 to pieces then move up to the 9.3 x 64.

I hope all this OT is worth it.


September 19, 2004, 07:31 PM
If you reload the .416 Rigby, the initial investment of the brass is the most expensive. They are a low pressure round and last many many loadings. For just plinking around you will want some reduced loads anyway.

September 19, 2004, 08:47 PM
There was a guy over on accuratereloading.com that had a CZ 550 in 9.3x62 rechambered. Very little feed work was required. No flys on the 416 Rigby, I just consider it a another class of rifle.

The various .35's are very adaptable, but lack options when it comes to heavier weight hunting bullets. The .366 diameter doesn't have the options of the various .358 bulk bullets.


September 20, 2004, 12:17 AM
Hrmm... I don't know... Top safe loads for the 35 Whelan (not even the improved) show a 250 gr bullet at 2,484 fps. That seems like it would have a very good chance of killing pretty much anything in North America...

Never been bear hunting but I'd still lean towards having hot loaded 45-70 or some sort of 44 or 45 caliber bullet rather than anything in the .30 to .35 range but I'd have to think that if the elk was meant to die, a 35 Whelan would be as good as anything at making it so.


September 21, 2004, 10:44 PM
Since you're going to build the whole thing, you may consider a Montana Rifle Company action, as it offers a modest improvement on a Win 70 action, without the price of the Dakotas.
My custom bolt gun is planning on using that action as well, so I thought I'd throw it out there.


John Deere
September 21, 2004, 11:26 PM
My vote goes for a 1909 Argentine Mauser action, in 9.3x62. Nothing says custom like a mauser. and the caliber made it`s name in Africa a long time ago
That being said, I`ve a vz 24 action on my bench that keeps whispering 416 Taylor, and my shoulder whispers back 22-250 LOL.

September 21, 2004, 11:45 PM
My vote goes for a 1909 Argentine Mauser action

I have had issues with 09 Argentine actions. They are soft and the heat treating wasn't good on them. I have one that has set back the locking lugs, no it wasn't on a 9.3x62 which is lower pressure than what I built.

There are better Mauser actions to start with, look for 30's production or later. I don't have my Mauser book handy but Peruvian, and Venezala come to mind. The late 30's German actions are very good.

If I ever build another Argentine I will heat treat it, that is what I had to do to fix the above. It is a royal pain in the you no what to fix if you encounter the problem. It costs about $25.00 to get one heat treated. Usually a smith will get several done at once and its a lot charge deal so doing three or four makes it economical.

Trust me on this one, if it happens its a mess to fix, and if you have done a bunch of custom machining to get one nice, its either scrap it and start over, or fix it, both are painful options. I ended up setting back my barrel a thread, basically it really sucks.

If your going to use a 09 get it heat treated, there is even a warning in my mauser book about them being soft, and watch the application. To me if I ever do another I will pay the $25.00 and save the hassles and a whole lot of additional dollars.

I will add in the 09 defense they are nice when they are cleaned up, thats why I started with one. I am just trying to save you the PIA I had with mine.

John Deere
September 22, 2004, 07:22 AM
Hmmmm. Didn`t Know that about the 1909, but those that I`ve admired were chambered for low pressure rounds. Personally, I`ve only built on Czech and K-98 actions,andhad good luck with them.
On a side note, Schromf, have you thought about a synthetic stock for your G 33-40 instead of retiring it? I have a Choate on mine right now, but I`m thinking about a Lone Wolf, anyone ever try one? I love beautiful wood, but my rifles need synthetic, `cause like mama says, I ain`t got sense enough to come in out of the rain.
Dang you Zeke, now you`ve got me thinking about a 9.3x62

September 22, 2004, 10:47 AM

I will do some hunting on the SAAMI spec on the 9.3x62 and see if I can find it. It shouldn't be high pressure cause of the big bore. Your K-98 was heat treated better, so was my G33/40.

I am am not trying to scare anyone on not using a 09 action, there good sevicable actions, just spend the few dollars and heat treat them and then you have nothing to worry about. I have a small ring Mexican mauser that if I use iit I probably go the same route. And once the 09 action's are heat treated they are strong, the weakness wasn't for lack of metal in the design, or poor design, it was heat treating methods when they were manufactured. As a big blanket statement I am suspect of anything made before WWI, and by the mid-late 30's manufacturers were doing a much better job in this regard. The big advances in heat treating happened right before and during WWII and post war guns are much better and were using modern methods. And no I'm not saying that someones pre war model 70 is and issue, cause that isn't true, both Winchester and Remington had this worked out way before that.

I soul searched this weekend and decided I am not retiring my G33/40 7mm. It just wasn't going to happen for less than $3000-4000 and a custom rifle, I like the rifle too much. I made a command decision I am going to build up another rifle and see where it goes from there. My thoughts on this are; a Model 700, with a three position safety, change out the bottom metal to steel. Krieger barrel, which I am going to get long and figure out how short I can cut it later. I have a good wood stock blank for this, so a stock and checkering project is in store. I am also thinking of getting a McMilian stock so I can swap it around. I am going to chamber it in a 284 Win.

One last comment on building on the old Argentine actions, the one big downside is value after you get them built. Depending on how much work you are plannning on a custom they can be a black hole for dollars which you can't ever get back out if you sell it. If you do the work yourself and have the tooling this can be a labor of love so to speak, and helps. But the reality is your better off starting with a slightly more expensive action to start with. Do the math, if you start with the 09 and pay $150-200 for the action, then add changing the bolt handle, some mill work cleaning it up, heat treating, changing the safety, buffing and polishing you have over $400 into it easy. By the same token if you started with a Sako or even a Remington you paid that up front for the action but when its done its worth about about twice that the mauser is. Not all mausers are that bad, and there are some models that are worth the effort, but look on gunbroker or gunsamerica and see how many "custom" mausers there are at not much over $500. Enfield customs suffer the same problem.

I don't sell many guns so I build or buy what I like, but I do try to be smart on this and don't like dumping dollars into projects that there is no upside to if I ever decide to sell it. A for instance is if you built the same rifle on a Pre 64 Model 70 Winchester, yeah initially you will have $200-300 more into the action. But you have no changing safeties or bolt handles, no additional work, so you save that cost, which gets this close in costs. But when its done the Model 70 is going to be worth way over a grand. And in the 9.3 bore that would be a very sweet rifle.

From my digging around research on my own projects, and based on what I found if I was going for a 9.3 caliber rifle, go look at SARCO. They have some 9.3x57 Husky rifles right now. They can be had for $250-300. The bolt handles are bent, they are a good strong action, and all that needs to be done is run a reamer through the barrel, set it back a thread and your done. I think this could be a done deal for under $400, I just don't see a cheaper route and you can always get your dollars back out if you decide to.

September 22, 2004, 11:28 AM
I picked option number two, because I think unique rifles should be, well, unique.

Then again, looking at my last custom rifle project, one might assume that I am a mite touched in the head. :uhoh:

John Deere
September 23, 2004, 11:41 AM
Schromf, I have to agree that for most folks, building a mauser doesn`t make economic sense. I have the advantage of being able to do everything but the barreling here on the farm, and I get my actions cheap through a couple of Amigos in the trade. Evenso I doubt if I could get my money back out of them, but since they are not for sale, this is a nonissue.
I have several commercial hunting rifles, and like them all, but it seems that if I am going further than out behind the barn, I have a mauser along.
My G33-40 is my 'go to' rifle, I have a spare headspaced bolt assembly, Ejector box, mag spring and follower, trigger, and zeroed scope in my kit that goes with me. I can and have disassembled it by coleman lantern light under the kitchen fly to dry and oil it after hunting all day in the rain. And, you are not likely to run into another one, as Tamara said, a unique rifle should be unique. Nowadays, even a K-98 is rare enough for comment among older hunters, and most younger folks require a complete history lesson before they can understand just what it is that you handed them.
Oh, Tamara, "a mite touched" is okay, It`s when they look at you and say "You was dropped on your head when you was little, weren`t you? " do you have cause for concern. Me? I get it all the time. LOL

September 24, 2004, 02:46 AM

Whats your G33/40 chambered in? Mine's in 7x57 and it is my favorite hunting rifle. I wish I could find another, these were cream of the crop actions, I always have my eye open for another, and never see them anymore. Just for your knowledge I heard the action alone on these are running about $400 if you can find them nowdays. That is an old mauser worth doing a custom on. Incidently are you aware of the police version of the G33/40? I think it is one of the rarest of all, supposedly only 500 were made in carbines, model was G33 only.

John Deere
September 24, 2004, 02:43 PM
schromf, mine is in 8x57, its the original barrel turned & polished. I have it in a Choate stock with a 1.5x4.5x20 scope. With a sling, scope, and 5 rds it is about 7 lbs. I used to use straight 4x scopes, but for my hunting style, the lower power works better.
I knew about the 16-33 but not the Police version, wouldn`t that be something to find in your Aunts attic? I found my rifle in a little local gun shop, it was partially sporterized and trapped in a homemade KOOL ********** KUSTOM gunstock that was magnificent in it`s hidiousness! I got it cheap, and gave that poor tortured chunk of walnut a decent burial. After some work, it turned out to be a delight to hunt with, and a source of great joy when you have a packframe full of vension at the bottom of the hill, and a truck at the top.

September 25, 2004, 04:20 PM
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