View Full Version : Is it simply a matter of money?

03-02-2004, 02:13 PM
This post is not related to tactical topics. Am adding this here simply because you are "my people", and because I do not have a nice fire, glass of bourbon, or hunting pal nearby to discuss this with.

I have been considering having a custom rifle built for a friend to whom I owe much. While planning this rifle, I was directed to the web site of a highly renowned custom rifle builder, who builds his actions from scratch. He is reputed to be the best of the best in his particular genre. Nonetheless, and intending no disrespect, I am flabbergasted at the prices he lists for his actions. His actions are of a style suited to a practical rifle and are not often (if ever, I have never seen it) used as a platform for a bench gun. Prices for a bare action start at $5,000 and run well into the five figures – again for a bare, unpolished action.

Now, don’t get me wrong - I own my share of custom guns. However, I have shot competitively and am generally a more experienced rifleman than the average deer hunter, and I am quite aware that I cannot shoot up to the potential inherent in my very slightly accurized M70 Compact .308.

What gives? It is as simple as “worth” being purely market-driven, and he charges that much simply because people will pay it?

The Searcher
03-02-2004, 03:04 PM
It's a great topic.

It's market driven. Most of the custom guns that I've seen are nice but many are not worth nearly what's being asked.

People are willing to pay for features and performance they don't need and can't use. Smiths accomodate them.

Part of it is that there are some seriously rich people who want a gun and don't care between $500 and $5000. They'll pay too much to get it done right.

At some point, the very high price becomes a positive. It's like the guy who drives a Rolls or Ferrari becuase he wants to be seen driving a Rolls or Ferrari. It's a prestige thing.

I've dealt with shotgunners and safari types who make sure that you know their English double costs over 50 grand. My feeling is that if I can't tell that from looking at it or shooting it, you got took. The guns are very pretty. The actions are slick. They handle well. They're nicer than the Brownings Beretta's that I've shot but not 50 times nicer. It was certainly not 200 times nicer than the 870 I used.

Of course you can take this too far. There is no doubt that a Mosin Nagant is a wonderful value in rifles. Sometimes you can find them for less than $50. They are sturdy and they work. Most of the time you could get the job done with one if you had to. Yet most of us would pay a lot more for something nicer.

03-02-2004, 03:42 PM
I would ask, What are the builders claims as to what you are paying for? (I would think you would get very fine steel well fitted)

I can not say five thousand is too much for hand made metalcrafting (stockmaking?), because I would not say this would be to much to pay for a very fine sword either. And some of the price may be because one man only has so much time if he is doing the work himself and if he is much in demand and well known he can ask more.

You said it will be practical, but do you also want to add some inlays or ingraving too? What is a "ruff draft" of just what you want the rifle to be?

A lot of questions, I know, but this would be a wonderful predicament to be in. You have many options for that price!

03-02-2004, 09:12 PM
I don't know Jon, kind of hard to say, a friend of mine who is a former gunsmith at Colonial Williamsburg builds 1 or 2 black powder rifles a year, and they go for the very lest 8 grand, and he has a 5 year waiting list.

I would surf the gun grafter guild and talk to a few more, but 5 grand now a days is not that much when it comes to a custom

03-03-2004, 10:04 AM
Most interesting replies guys. Glad you too like to drop out of the purely tactical topics once in awhile. Searcher, you summed my opinions up well, and better than I could've.

sponge - Generally, these (plural b/c I'm having identical rifle built for yours truly, the only differences being those needed to compensate for our anotomical differences, e.g.: drop, length of pull, sling length) rifles will be built on controlled-feed actions (won't tell you what kind b/c that'd give away the identity of the company I mentioned above, which I don't want to do since the questions were about theory, not a specific person's business), short (say, 40" or shorter), tactical bolt knob, irons - hooded front, and peep rear, wide QD mounts, low-powered, variable (say, 1.5-5) Euro glass, and as light as possible, with the limitation that I do want nice wood, probably English Walnut (stiffened as much as possible and fully bedded hard, probably in Devcon titanium). Engraving will likely be limited to the gentleman's initials on the receiver, and a very tiny capital "B" on the steel floorplate, which only he and I will know stands for "Brothers". Caliber: .308, tuned for Georgia Arms 168 match.

The crusty, ex-Marine builder I have used in the past did superb work building my heavy M700 .308, heavy match AR, and CAR. I have also found a very interesting site, which I am still investigating: http://www.virginvalleyguns.com . Here, from that web site, is a photo of a rifle that's very close to what I'm looking for:



03-03-2004, 10:33 AM
Dave - Thanks for the reply. Yep, I can see why someone would be able to command that sort of money for such a unique item. I was looking at a different animal - $5,000 plus for only the commercial-style action, and apparently in the rough at that. Wow!

03-07-2004, 04:24 AM
Okay Jon, I miss read the post, 5 grand is alot for an action, the best masuer action going imo,that can be had is from germany and its only 3 grand, a Granite arms or a wells will set you back close to or over, HART"S BAT"S and such are near the same, even the Dakota action is about 2 grand, you buying hand made stuff, thats why the price is high.

If you want a hell of a lot of other opinons pop over to the accurate reloading site and post your question in the different boards, those guys can give you the low down on building rifles, there are several smiths that post there

03-08-2004, 11:00 AM
Roger that, Dave. Thanks for the reply.


03-17-2004, 10:55 AM
A custom made action may cost more to build, but is it truly better than one off the rack? I think if I wanted custom features not available on a stock gun I would consider modifying a stock gun if at all possible. But I realize pride of ownership is not entirely about function. However, if you are buying this rifle for a friend and spending these kinds of dollars, I hope you know what he wants and that he takes pride of ownership in a unique article that is not tied completely to function.