Thursday, June 12, 2008

The cost of custom...

Some of the comments on the post below got me to thinking. I've had one custom rifle built so far, and it's a fairly rack-grade, utilitarian piece. When you add it all together...

I got the Mauser (a Turkish tomato stake with a shot out bore) for $35. The gun was stripped to the bare action and the lugs were lapped for free. I paid a friend $200 for the .30 cal Lilja barrel. I paid pretty much cost on a bolt handle, a Timney trigger and a bolt shroud and safety. I paid retail for the Boyd's stock, the recoil pad, Leupold bases & rings, and the Millet scope. Labor for fitting a short-action Savage mag box, welding up the bolt face, custom-fabricating bottom metal, threading the end of the barrel & making a thread protector, cutting the .300 Whisper chamber, and hundred-and-one other things involved in generally putting the whole thing together was done at "Good Buddy" rates (along with which you have to accept "Good Buddy" time; when a working 'smith is doing your gun in his spare time as a favor for a friend, you don't bitch if it takes a couple of years.) The matte bluing job was picked up at employee discount.

And even with all that, my plain-jane, rack-grade, budget Mauser custom came out well over a grand, probably closer to two . And the stock is still unfinished.

13 comments:

Rabbit said...

I had wondered what had become of Project Whisper. I followed progress on it for a long time over on THR.

Good things take time. Really good things take time and money.

Regards,
Rabbit.

Zendo Deb said...

Yeah, a while back I looked into having a 308 palma put together. The stocks were about 600, the Kreiger barrel (30 inch) was nearly that much for what was basically a rifled blank. High-grade actions were more, then there was the labor to put it all together....

Then I came to my senses and moved to Florida where the nearest range that would let me shoot out to a 1000 yards - assuming I could find a coach - is too far from home to worry about.

Still, they are works of art. Since they aren't hunting rifles, though the 308 round certainly could be coming out of 30 inch barrel, so the stocks usually look like like sports cars with custom airbrushed paint jobs.

I wouldn't trade Florida weather for my old gun club, but I would like better access to a decent gun club.

Steve Skubinna said...

I believe I've mentioned my $800 10/22 in these pages before. And none of it was by a pro - one neat thing about that rifle is that it's so easy for DITY customization. I once remarked that there are probably people with two grand in their little 10/22s, and immediately afterwards thought about a Norell full auto trigger group, which I think will set you back about eight grand.

So yeah, there's no such thing as a cheap rifle that will stay cheap once you start tinkering.

og said...

How do you intend to finish the stock, Tam? I can maybe point you at some people.

Rob K said...

It sounds to me like you have a whole new rifle there. How much of the original gun is still there?

HTRN said...

I build rifles. I know several people that build rifles, one of which was the guy who taught me enough to call myself "machinist".

Unless you get smoking deals, the general consensus is anywhere from 1400(uncommon) to 2500 for a basic custom rifle. Nothing exotic. Mass produced action, mass produced stocks. standard(IE round, octogonal barrels get pricey, especially when they have integral sling eyes and ribs) barrels. That's just in parts folks.

For your consideration:
Montana 1999 long action: $582.
Pac-Nor Barrel: $205
Accurate Innovations Walnut stock $539

That's $1300 right there, and that leaves out all the odds and ends, optics, if any, tools, cost of finishing, etc. Start making changes, and the price goes up dramatically. Just going from CroMo to SS adds 200ish to the basic materials cost.

And then there's labor. Cheap Gunsmiths work at $40/hr. $75 is common, and three figures an hour is becoming so.

John B said...

4-5 grand on a .505 gibbs. And I'd have to drop $20,000 on the Africa experience. I definitely didn't have that.

Kevin said...

I have two "customs." One was a custom built AR-15 that Fulton ARmory put together for me. I've got about $1,700 tied up in that, but AR's are like Volkswagens. Everybody makes parts for them. Douglas 16" bull barrel, FN upper parts, Bushmaster lower with Jewell 2-stage trigger, standard A2 buttstock. Freakin' tack-driver, though.

The second was a clapped-out '96 Swedish Mauser I had a Shilen medium-weight 1:9 twist 6.5x55 barrel put on, bolt handle bent, reblued, and bedded it to a Fajen thumbhole stock (pictures here).

Unfortunately, I can't get it to shoot worth a damn. Still, it only cost me about $800 in total for what would be a decent deer rifle. But what I wanted was a sub-MOA silhouette rifle.

Matt G said...

Someday, I'm going to shoot that rifle. Maybe during your next trip to Art's stomping grounds?

Nathan Brindle said...

Tam, you should see my dad's rebuilt Model 98 (built 1944, picked up on a French battlefield in 1945) sometime.

Jay G said...

And here I am debating on dropping $100 on a new stock for the Universal M1 carbine...

Steve Skubinna said...

Jay, I've been pondering Col. Cooper's scout rifle concept applied to the M1 Carbine. The only area it falls short is the caliber... but a lightweight stock, one of the Fulton handguards with rail, and a forward sight would work pretty well.

But even then, with a CMP carbine, you're looking at a total cost of nearly a grand. I have an Underwood and one by NPM and can't bring myself to doctor them up, so for now the idea is just percolating.

John A said...

Hey, how about a .50 BMG for under fifty bucks? The Armed Canadian tracked one down after the Brady Bunch cribbed a probable type from a gov report -
*29.95-worth of ineptitude*

Good thing I cover my keyboard with plastic film.