Building a custom target rifle


June 6, 2009, 02:54 PM
I am interested in building myself a custom .308 to use mainly for target practice, but also varmints if the opportunity presents itself. Any tips or suggestions? I would *like* to keep the price down as much as possible, but my #1 goal is accuracy. I would like to mount a scope and bipod. Other than that-what do you think?
Please feel free to post links, or tell me all the components you would use!

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June 6, 2009, 03:06 PM
If I had the money I'd use a Surgeon Action in .308, (insert your favorite brand name here) barrel, (insert your favorite stock here), (insert your favorite trigger here), Harris bipod, and either a USO, S&B, or Nightforce scope of your choice.

This would all cost about 5K.

June 6, 2009, 03:33 PM
what i did. got a savage 110 LA 30-06, replaced the barrel with a 24" 1/11 .308 savage take off barrel form (which can be done by anyone with a savage barrel nut wrench and a go-headspace gauge.) later on, i got a nice stock, bedded the stock, got a bi-pod and scope, and replaced the stock recoil lug with a 1/4" parralled recoil lug. it shoots awsome with cheap white box winchester FMJ's (1 to 1 1/2 inch at 100 yards.) working up a load now, and im getting one hole 3 round groups. its nice that i can say that i built this rifle. of course, its not like a surgoen, or a BAT actioned custom rifle, but it wasnt 3000.00$ !!!! ill try to get some picks up soon. brian

June 6, 2009, 03:37 PM
Yea, or you could get a factory action and dress it up.

June 6, 2009, 07:02 PM
Buy a decent factory rifle with a heavy barrel and put it in a stock you find comfortable, and shoot it until the rifle starts holding you back.

I'm guessing that you'll be at it a while before you get to that point. I know I sure have been.

Look at it this way: There's no point in dropping $6k on a rifle you cannot take full advantage of and then wearing it out shooting crummy groups while you're trying to get your technique practiced out.

Better to spend $1,500 on a nice factory rifle with a nice off the shelf scope that will shoot better than you are able (for now), and wear it out with practice.

Then, when you've got your chops worked out on the beater, you will truly appreciate the better performance of the high end rifle when you step up to it.

Find someone with a nice Savage, and someone with a nice Remington 700, make sure they're wearing decent glass, and go shoot them to see how you like them. Choose accordingly.

For most uses, any factory rifle is going to be more accurate than you can take advantage of (right now), so my advice is to use a factory rifle (or a slightly modified version thereof) and spend the rest of that money on ammo or reloading equipment to facilitate growing your shooting skills.

That's just my opinion though, I've been FOS before. ;)

June 6, 2009, 07:19 PM
Have built a couple rifles economically this way: bought a used rifle and sold off all the parts except the action. Then, picked up a used target stock, and sent it and the action off to my gunsmith with instructions as to the barrel I wanted him to install and the chambering.


June 6, 2009, 08:09 PM
LogicGS I fully agree. I'm in the same boat as the OP. I'd like to get into target shooting, mainly F class. I'm going to get a decent factory gun to learn on while I build my rifle myself. Hard part is the caliber choice. .223, 224 TTH, 7mm-08, 7mm WSM, 308. Maybe something that's just "cool" but probably won't win matches (defeatist attitude but I'm after personal improvements).

June 6, 2009, 09:32 PM
The 7mm chamberings have a lot of followers, but I believe there is something to be said for standard or common calibers.

If it's not going to be out past 500 yds, the .223 Rem will be cheaper to shoot.

If you're reaching out to 1,000 yds, you'll have to bump up to the 7mm at the very minimum.

For me, past 300 yds, you're into .308 cal territory. Past 600 yds, I'd step up again to one of the .338 cals.

That means the list would look like this:

Range < 300 yds = .223 Rem
300 yds < Range < 600 yds = .308 Win
600 yds < Range = .338 Lapua Mag

All those calibers have brass, bullets, dies, and load data readily available, and are already in common use for this purpose, so it will be easy to find people who have experience with the load you're working up.

Again, that's just my opinion, and I have been FOS once or twice before. ;)

I skipped the .223 Rem, as anything you can do with it, you can do with a .308 Win, so I only have scoped rifles chambered in the latter two.

June 6, 2009, 09:33 PM
Thanks for the tips, guys. I have a .22 and a Remington 700 in .243. It has been a while since I've shot the .243, but I remember the groups being everywhere. I now usually shoot my .22 at 50 yards, and am pretty happy with my groups. I know I have quite a while to work until I can actually appreciate the abilities of a custom target rifle.

June 6, 2009, 09:42 PM
Really, you use a .338LM for over 600? I always thought that the .338LM is for >1,000, and the .308, .260, or 7mm was for >300.

June 6, 2009, 09:51 PM
Actually, I use the .338 LM at 500 yds. ;)

It's damned hard to find 1,000 yds in a straight line that belongs to the same person around here. 500 yds is much easier to find, but even that I've gotta drive a ways for. Thusly, the .338 LM don't get shot a lot. Just as well, as I'm not sure my bones could stand a weekly range trip with it anyway.

I mostly shoot my .308, at ranges under 500 yds, 'cause that's what I've got handy around me.

When I'm feeling extra lazy, I've got 150 yds off my back deck to a nice high backstop that I can use, but that's gotten to be not much of a challenge anymore, so I gotta be wanting to shoot real bad, while simultaneously not wanting to drive anywhere before I'll use it with a centerfire rifle now.

To the OP - Does that .243 have a sporter contour barrel on it? If so, that's likely the cause of your group wander. Heat can be a problem with the very thin contours. Try shooting something with a varmint barrel on it and you will see the difference in groups. Sporters are meant to be carried on a sling for 10 hrs and then shot once or maybe twice maximum. Varmint/Target rifles are meant to be carried 15 ft to the bench and shot in 5-10 round groups all day long.

June 6, 2009, 10:02 PM
Man, I sure do wish I had a 150 yard range!!!!!!

June 6, 2009, 10:05 PM
It's awesome, I know. :D

Living out in the boonies has its perks.

I've actually got near 350 yds, but I'd have to cut a trench through the crown of the hill to see the target. ;)

And that's assuming I'd already moved the 1,500 cu yds of backstop I've got built up.

June 6, 2009, 10:06 PM
Probably won't be past 500y. Short ranges up here. All I have for rifles is an M16 and a 375 H&H. If I went with the .223 I'd have to build a semi auto AR or build a bolt gun.

I like the higher BC, less recoil, drop of the 7mm-08 versus the 308. For a medium bore rifle I'd probably go 7mm-08 and use the 168-180gr low drag bullets or turn my own on my lathe.

Probably start off with .223 on an AR to see if I like it. I can always ditch the upper if I don't like it and move onto something else if F class isn't my thing.

June 6, 2009, 10:31 PM
yeah, it's a sporter. I bought it for hog hunting, but I'm transitioning into more target shooting.

June 7, 2009, 05:31 AM
Give me your budget and I will give you a rifle. Who ever commented on Surgeon I will agree with you everyday of the week. I want the Surgeon Remedy Rifle. Too bad they have none in stock.

June 7, 2009, 07:57 AM
Alot of people build or buy the 6mm BR Savage has an F clas in the 6 mm BR an ithink its about 850- 950 price range an the thing shoots 1 1/2 inch groups at 400 yards or just a little under that as long as the shooter does his part:eek:

June 11, 2009, 03:41 PM
this is waht you should do. send your .243 into a reliable smith and have the action trued (or blueprinted) have him fit a barrel in your choice caliber, and get it back form him. go to order some brownells glass bedding compond and read the instructions. bed a nice after market stock, and start shooting. this would get you a custom rifle ready for target shooting without all the money, since you already have the rifle. if you get out of target shooting, you will still have a killer hunting rig, as long as you dont go with a 30" 1 1/2" thick barrel.

June 11, 2009, 04:52 PM
I'm suprised Zak hasn't said this yet, but look at the 6.5mm's. They combine mild recoil with excellent BC's, higher than anything I've seen short of a 50 bmg. The tactical competition guys are making good hits out to 1,000 yards with them, cheaper, with much less recoil and better barrel life than a 338 lapua. I'm in the process of, slowly, building up a long range varmint and target rifle in 6.5x47 Lapua. Surgeon action and bottom metal, fluted Krieger barrel, Mcmillan A-5 stock, Shillen trigger, bedding by yours truly. Current cost estimate is a smidge over $3K, but this is my dream rifle. If I had a tighter budget I'd swap the Surgeon action and bottom metal to a nice Rem 700 with an internal box mag, lose the fluting and a lot of the bells and whistles on the stock. I think I could get it down to under $2K.

Zak Smith
August 11, 2009, 03:13 PM
article | Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting, Part I - Rifle & Equipment (
article | The Case for .260 Remington: A Better Cartridge For Practical Long-Range Shooting (
article | 6.5 Creedmoor - .260 Done Right? (
article | 6.5mm Shootout: .260 Remington vs. 6.5x47 Lapua vs. 6.5 Creedmoor (
article | 6.5x47 Lapua Tactical TackDriver ( Gun Of The Week) (

It's hard to beat a .260 for a practical long-range rifle. If I wanted more terminal effects at distance, 7mm RM/WSM or .300 WM/WSM would be the choice. The 7mm RM/WSM is better ballistically but more costly-- however, many of the elite LR bolt gunners around here who shoot .260 also have a 7mm.

The 7mm's hang with the .338 Lapua within inches of the same windage out to 1500 yards, and are cheaper to shoot.

I won the 2006 Steel Safari with my .260, and won my division in 2007 with the same rifle. The 2009 winner shot a 7mm WSM. I won this month's Sporting Rifle LR match with my .260. In 08 and 09, the best .308 showing at the Steel Safari was 7th.


August 11, 2009, 04:19 PM
Zak, while your argument has value, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the calibers of choice are better than others. I believe that would just prove that the shooters were better. Equipment plays a large role too. It can be proven that the bc of different bullets for the calibers are more efficient, but there is still too many variables. Please note that I am not bashing in any way. I've got a 6.5x55 on my list.

Zak Smith
August 11, 2009, 04:45 PM
No, they are better than others. If you take two shooters of the same skill level, the guy on the .260 will make more hits than the guy on the .308. We can see this in the results of the Steel Safari. At the Sporting Rifle match, when someone "slums" with a .308 for a match instead of his .260/7, his score typically goes down about 10%.

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