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Factory vs Custom Rifle...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by deerhunter61, Jun 22, 2013.

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  1. deerhunter61

    deerhunter61 Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    In the Dallas Ft Worth area
    Ok guys, Lets just say I have a few rifles but all of them are factory. I've read a lot about guys building or having rifles built for them or buying a custom built rifle. For those who are fans of custom built rifles tell me why...what are the advantages? Accuracy?

    I have a Rem 700 BDL 300 WM. It will shoot sub MOA. It's just an incredible rifle so what would I get out of a custom rifle that I don't get with this one? And I do reload for it.
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    May 26, 2007
    I've had 1 true custom. In my opinion the main reason is to get something not offered by the factory. Mine was a 338-06 which isn't commonly offered in factory rifles. There are several approaches to a custom. Some guys want special calibers, barrel lengths, twists, etc not available from the factory, but still build a working rifle. If you go with a quality barrel, and have the work done by someone who knows what they are doing you wll probably see some improvement in accuracy. But many factroy barrels shoot pretty well. Others want fancy wood and engraving.

    I also have several semi-custom rifles. Which is basically a factory rifle with some custom touches such as a better aftermarket stock and having a gunsmith tweak a few things. I'm not a fan of heavy rifles, so several of mine are in McMillan Edge stocks which took anywhere from 8 oz.-20 oz. off the factory weight. The fact that they are a lot tougher and stable helps too.

    If someone had an old rifle laying around they rarely if ever used, and they wanted to build a custom off the action it can be done for not much more than buying one of the better made factory rifles. If you have to buy the action, barrel, stock and pay to get everything put together and finished it can get a little expensive.
  3. mdauben

    mdauben Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Huntville, AL
    I'd say in most cases, pride of ownership, the thrill of having something no one else has or the satisfaction of having exactly the gun you want are more significant than any actual, practical advantage of a custom rifle over a high end production model.

    I guess the only exception might be something like high level benchrest shooting competition, where custom guns become a necessity to be competitive.
  4. sage5907

    sage5907 Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    Wild & Free Oklahoma
    My opinion is that you have to think of a custom rifle in three parts. The action, the barrel and the stock. Like jmr40 said, you can get a lot of money tied up in a custom rifle in a hurry. You can build one for $3,000 and sell it for $1,500 a year later so it needs to be something you want to keep. The stock is the easiest part, as I would buy a McMillan stock for any future project. They are tough and they work really good. For an action I would buy something with a flat bottom receiver such as a Model 70 or Mauser supreme because they are easy to bed. For a barrel I also like a featherweight contour and Douglas will duplicate the old Winchester featherweight contour. It's all about what you like. Chances are you will build a rifle and not like it any better than one that you already have. A rifle has to earn it's respect by the owner and if it doesn't feel right and doesn't shoot good you won't be happy no matter how expensive and custom it is.
  5. USSR

    USSR Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Finger Lakes Region of NY
    The number 1 reason for a custom rifle is a much better barrel. A cut rifled barrel with a heavy contour is a world of difference from a factory barrel. First, your cold bore shot is normally not in any different place from where the barrel puts them when it warms up. Second, the heavier contour barrel takes more shots before becoming hot, and even then your POI doesn't normally change. Third, a good quality barrel does not copper foul. My Krieger does not show a bit of copper fouling when I clean it with Montana Extreme .50BMG Copper Killer after 60 shots. Accuracy? With a good load, I expect .5 to .75MOA at 100 yards.

  6. witchhunter

    witchhunter Member

    Aug 29, 2012
    Lassen County, California
    I do not own a "custom built" rifle, I have several rifles that have been customized with trigger, bedding, barrel, stock etc. The reason I did this was accuracy. There is a big difference in a custom barrel, as already stated. I do own some factory rifles that shoot exceptionally well with handloads. I usually bed and trigger any new rifle though. A custom gun is built to your specifications...caliber, barrel contour, stock shape and length of pull, etc. If you like your .300 just the way it is, cool. Would it be worth it to spend 2 grand to build one exactly like you want? Only you can decide that.
  7. Zeke/PA

    Zeke/PA Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    Southeastern Pa.
    Time was when a milsurp barreled action or just an action alone was the basis for a custom rifle , a beautiful hand made stock included.
    I think that that era is past with today's newer innovations. First of all the milsurp stuff supply has all but dried up and the composite stocks are preferred these days some available to be installed by a home handyman.
    All in all though a very accurate and pleasing to look at rifle can be the result.
  8. fragout

    fragout Member

    Feb 16, 2010
    Mine was built for several reasons.

    I wanted it built with very specific parts, and on a very rigid budget.

    Found the parts I wanted here and there, which took over a year to do, and already had the receiver I wanted to use for the build.

    All told, the research I put into making the decision on what exactly I wanted took close to 4 years.

    It was worth it in the end, as it is exactly what I wanted.:)
  9. Flatbush Harry

    Flatbush Harry Member

    Mar 31, 2008
    I have never gone the full custom rifle route though I have "customized" a few of my Remington 700s that I like quite a bit. In one case, I had a 700 SPS-Varmint glass-bedded in a Bell and Carlson Medalist A5 stock and added a Vortex PST 6-24x50 scope with medium rings. It's a consistent 0.5-0.75 MOA shooter. I had my 700 XCR II in .375 H&H glass bedded in a B&C Medalist Sporter stock in the Weatherby configuration because I like the monte carlo and slight cast-off for a heavy recoiling rifle. I added Leupy QR rings with both a 3-9x40 Zeiss Conquest scope and a 1.5-6x24 scope for multiple duties. It also is a sub-1 MOA shooter. Finally, I put a Rem 700 5R in an AICS AX chassis with a 20 MOA NightForce rail, NF med. high rings and a NF NXS C173 scope. Not surprisingly, it is also a shooter that can produce 5-shot 0.4 MOA groups with good loads. For the two target-barreled rifles, the adjustable stocks made 90% of the difference while with my hunting rifle my goal was to improve stock fit, stock rigidity, and flexibility of use.

    I have handled some true custom rifles, especially a GA Precision, and it is a masterpiece. I may go that route down the road but, for the moment, have my needs met well with what I have in the above plus several bone-stock hunting rifles. As long as the stocks fit and I can get a good cheek weld with the scopes I've mounted, the factory rifles suit me and I feel comfortable banging around in the woods with them.

  10. Bushpilot

    Bushpilot Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    The advantage of having a custom rifle built isn't just whether or not it will be more accurate than a factory rifle. It depends. If ultimate accuracy is one of the owners major priorities and that is where he wants a significant portion of the money spent then it will be. The real advantage to a custom is that you can have your rifle just the way you want it, to match your tastes and the purpose that you have in mind for it.
  11. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Oct 23, 2004
    I think there's a lot more to it than most of the posts above. Ussr cOvered the barrel pretty well. I will address the rest.

    Take a defiance custom action. Left hand bolt. Right hand port. Pica tinny rail and lug are integral. This means it is sturdier and you have more threads holding the barrel to the action in the same length as a rem700 factory.

    Larger bolt knob is easier to operate. The feed and ejection ports are smaller leaving more metal so the action is stiffer.

    The bolt travel is much much smoother and it doesn't bind up in the back. It's also one piece so if you kick it it won't snap off.
    The bolt stop isn't in the trigger guard.

    You can pick the type of extractor and ejector you want.

    So yeah maybe some factory guns shoot 1moa from the bench when you keep them clean and baby them. But will they do that after you knock them around on rocks and barricades and get dirt and sand everywhere?

    Does the factory stock fit you? I've never had one fit me. Do they put your hand in the right position to grip the trigger? Usually no. Do they slide well on bags in front or rear? No.

    We could go on all night
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  12. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

    Jul 1, 2008
    NW Montana
    Some factory rifles are better than custom rifles. For example, the Accuracy International AE which sells for around $3,500 is an excellent factory rifle that will shoot 0.5 MOA groups out of the box with quality ammunition. You could spend $3,000 on a custom build and still not have a rifle as rugged and as accurate (cold/clean, hot/dirty) as an AE.

    One thing I will say about quality custom or factory rifles, they're much less "finicky" and in my experience much easier to shoot well. They seem to perform well over a much wider set of variables whether it's ammunition, weather or even shooter. My AI AW in .308 Win is the easiest rifle to shoot that I've ever owned or shot, and I've shot numerous custom, semi-custom and high-end factory rifles. To me that's an indication of a truly great design.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  13. jaysouth

    jaysouth Member

    Sep 1, 2003
    Middle Tennessee
    When you look at the factory rifles available for 5-600 bucks that shoot under MOA, the main difference is bragging rights.

    In the good old days, one could spend more on smithing that the cost of the rifle to get acceptable hunting accuracy. Target shooting accuracy bumped that up even more.

    Now you can send 12-1500 bucks to Savage and be a target competitor as soon as you mount a scope and get a load worked up.

    Still, nothing like pride of ownership in a custom package.
  14. jim243

    jim243 Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    No, don't tell me that there are some out there that think "my rifle is better than your rifle", or that "if I out spend my competition, a magic bullet will come out of the barrel and win me fame and fortune", or "I have so much money invested in my equipment that your's has to suck". I can't believe that there are people like that. (Not here!)

    When I go out and get a customized rifle I spare no cheapness. The bottom of the barrel is the limit. First i get a "package rifle" with synthetic stock, $59.95 scope and scratchy trigger. Then I equip it with a Wally World knock off of a Harris bi-pod for $39.95 and to top it off (literately) I get a $10.00 pair of Wally World rings and a NcStar 6-24 x 50 mm P-4 range finding reticle for the huge amount of $89.95.

    This makes me feel great because I just under spent the next guy by $2,375.00. Cheap is my middle name (LOL).

    That's how I think a custom rifle should be made.

    The Rifle:

    5 Shot group 130 grain SST's in 270.


    PS: it's the skill of the shooter not the rifle and a good re-loader can make any rifle a super star.
  15. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    North Carolinian
    My friend built my rifle as his competition rifle. I finally talked him out of it. It is built off of a Remington 700 action. I have never shot nor seen a more accurate rifle. Krieger barrel,Near base, side bolt release, Manners T5A, Timney Trigger, custom brake, and lapped and trued. It is a 300WM and I was shooting mk248 mod1 in it. Sorry I don't have photos of a five shot group but here is one of a three shot at 302 yards(we were on a slight hill and could not move back).
    The same rifle at 100 yards

    The three shot at 100yards was done by the builder, the three shot at 302 yards was done by me at his range. It measured just under an inch.

    Now is the accuracy worth the money? Only you can decide.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  16. chaser_2332

    chaser_2332 Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    Customs rifles comes down to what it takes to make the owner happy and get the most he can out of his rifle. My main match rifle is a full blown custom on a defiance action, its gone through 2 barrels in the last year and is only getting better. I have another rifle coming the only differnce is going to be the action, the new rifle will wear a GAP templar V2 action, and a bartlein gain twist barrel. Does it need to be a custom build, NO do i like it absolutly. In all honesty if your going to shoot out a rifle and have it rebarreled your basically getting a custom build anyway. Almost all smiths out there are going to true up a factory action before a rebarrel, and every stock needs a good bed job to insure the most of the rifle. So when you look at that, doesnt that stock rifle turn into a custom?? Dont get me wrong i have stock savage rifles that i feel confident with to set down a ring steel at 1000Yd, and stock remingtons that are setting in the safe untouched from the factory. It all comes down to owner preference. As 1858 said the AI is an incrediable factory rifle im a fan however, i hate the orignal AI skins, however now that they offer viper skins and AI's version not to mention the new AX, AI has found a whole new croud. As awesome as the AI actoin is is alot heavier than i would want to build a match rifle on. My rifles are built for practical field long range matches that involve alot fo movment, getting to pick and choose the parts that go into my build are worth alot to me.
  17. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Member

    Aug 23, 2007
    The way I see it, you can buy a Remington rifle, for the action. Then have it trued or "blueprinted" by a gunsmith, you then buy a new bolt and have a Sako style extractor fitted. Maybe you recoup some of your "investment" by selling the barrel, bolt and stock.

    Or you can buy a custom action for just a little bit more. I do believe that a custom action from one of the recognized manufacturers will sell for more used than the accurized, blueprinted, Remington action. Either way it is not likely that one will sell either action for more than they put into it... unless it was they who blueprinted the Remington, and they don't factor in the cost of their time and labor.

    After that it is apples to apples, oranges to oranges, comparison. If you want one of the less popular chamberings that are not offered by Remington in the barrel configuration you desire and twist rate necessary to stabilize bullets, you will be purchasing a custom barrel, whether for your blueprinted Remington, or for your custom action. Same for a stock... to get one you really like that fits you and your style of shooting.

    So in the end I opted for a custom rifle built on a BAT action. There are Savage rifles with better shooters who will outshoot me every single time. But then I am only after my best performance, not so concerned about their best performance. And for me, ultimately, if I am not engaged in the activity, and enjoying myself, I'd just as soon go to work. :(

    I reckon any time you shift away from a box stock rifle, you will rarely regain your "investment" whether it is a Remington with a custom barrel, or a BAT or Kelbly action. I do tend to see, among those who are likely to buy a custom action, a sort of dismissive attitude toward the blueprinted Remington action, and a reluctance to spend money on used ones, unless it is disassembled from the rifle and can be inspected etc., as nobody knows how good a job a run of the mill gunsmith did in the "blueprinting."

    So, in sum, with my custom rifle I did not buy it with the thought in mind of resale, or of whether I was "getting a good deal" on the rifle. There is no doubt in my mind that if you put Taliv or Hoser behind a factory Remington for which he has loaded the ammunition, he will likely outshoot me and my custom rifle... but that doesn't really matter, to me. :)
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  18. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    West GA
    I've noticed a well fitted stock makes a big difference for me. Settling in on the shot is much easier and when I pull a shot, it's not near as bad as I thought it was going to be. YMMV.
  19. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Oct 23, 2004
    the envy and sarcasm and shooter skills are all just distractions to keep you from concisely, clearly framing a problem and getting an answer. comparing two shooters' skills is irrelevant. if you want to compare shooter skill, attend a match. What is a relevant comparison is how well a given shooter does with a factory vs custom rifle. how much you spend is also irrelevant (though often strongly correlated). your ego and status symbols and estimation of your own value as a human are also not the question and bringing them up only clouds your judgement (though in my experience, confidence is critical to shooting as shooting is 90% mental).

    the question is, do the features available on a custom rifle allow someone to do something more effectively than they could with the features on a factory rifle? the answer depends on the feature. some have tremendous value. some make things worse. it's the nature of 'custom'; you could spend a ton of money and wind up with something that doesn't work as well as a factory gun. i've done that before. or you could wind up with something far, far better than a factory gun.

    the question is really no different than handloading. you all seem to just accept that custom ammo is superior to factory ammo. why? for the same reason. attention to detail and higher quality, but more importantly, the right mix of bullet and powder and dimensional configuration for a specialized application.

    do you realize you could customize a rifle to factory ammo just as easily as you can customize your handloads to a factory rifle? i buy my own reamers. I select the size of the neck to match my brass thickness so I don't have to neck turn. I select the freebore to put the lands where i want them, instead of moving the bullet back and forth. I just ordered a new 260AI reamer last week. I'm switching from a .296 neck to a .295 neck and moving to 60 thou of freebore. it would be pretty easy to pick your favorite factory match ammo, measure the neck and bullet depth and chamber a barrel for it.

    though a slight tangent, i agree with stubbicat on the costs and resale. it's usually just a wash to buy a custom action vs paying labor to fix a factory action. your resale on the custom will be much higher. you won't get your $ back out of a trued factory action.
  20. DM~

    DM~ Member

    Jan 6, 2011
    upper mid west
    I'm with you! It's NOT just about accuracy, it's also about getting a "properly" fitted stock that makes a BIG difference in getting off fast ACCURATE shots.

    I have several custom guns, they fit me properly and i shoot them well...

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