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  • Building First Custom Rifle... Opinions Please

    I've done a lot of precision shooting and reloading, however it's always been with factory-ish rifles (i've upgraded stocks and dbm, but that's about it), or what was provided to me when I competed in college. Having said that, please excuse me for my ignorance.

    I will be out of the country for several more months so I want to get the ball rolling now so it's ready when I get back.

    My intent is PRS style shooting. I reload and will primarily shoot recreationally out to ~600m. I will participate in matches when my schedule permits.

    Here's what I'm looking at right now (I'm open to opinions):

    6.5 Creedmoor <--------- Although, I've been reading a lot about the 6mm, and I'm intrigued.
    Defiance Deviant or ARC M5 <------- I've watched all of the ARC M5 videos and have read several articles on the Defiance Deviant. Curious what the community thinks.
    24" Kreiger or Bartlein (not sure on contour yet)
    Timney Trigger
    Manners MCS-PRS-1 with MCS DBS Mini Chassis Gen 2 <---- already ordered this because of the lead times

    I'm also looking for a quality gunsmith to put it together. I've reached out to LRI and GA Precision. I'm open to other suggestions as well.



  • #2
    Literally either of those barrels and actions are going to work great, and the same goes for the cartridge choice, it's just personal preference beyond that, and I think any advantages either way would be splitting hairs. And being your first custom rifle, you won't know what you like best until you try everything.

    My advice is to talk with LRI as they have experience with both. If you get into the custom rifle world, having a good relationship with your gunsmith is key. Now is the perfect time to start building one.
    Sling Shooter

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    • #3
      Go with LRI just because of lead times. GAP has insane lead times, like 3-4 months for a rebarrel job. Let alone a full build.

      LRI can make a shooter with any action but if you're willing to spend the coin, I'd go Mausingfield. Chad Dixon is a huge fan of the Mausingfield and it is extremely feature packed.

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      • #4
        +1 on building a relationship with a good gunsmith. Lots of good ones out there; my money goes to Robert Gradous.

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        • #5
          I'm a big fan of Short Action Customs. They've done a full build for me as well as multiple barrels and all have been great. They are also very familiar with the Mausingfield.

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          • #6
            I basically built the rifle you're discussing (6.5cm, barlein, defiance, timney) with the only difference being the stock. Marc at Spartan Rifles did the build and is awesome, but as others mentioned, lead time is a deciding factor. I haven't heard of many that can match LRI's lead times.
            I am The German's spirit animal

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            • #7
              I've got a Short Action Custom in .308 and am LRI built 6.5 cm built on a mausingfield, extremely happy with both. Would highly recommend either to you.

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              • #8
                Thanks for the feedback guys. Waiting on some email replies from several of the gunsmiths you all mentioned. I'll keep you posted

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                • #9
                  Sounds like you are already on the right track. Don't forget to save some coin for a worthy scope for that rifle, haha

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                  • #10
                    Another vote for LRI

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                    • #11
                      Talk to a couple different gunsmiths,to get a feel to see if you can work with them.They should be able to guide you.I like Defiance machine,Mcmillan and Bartlein for parts.

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                      • #12
                        For barreling lead times LRI is the fastest i've seen. Chad barreled both my Tempest and my buddies deviant and his turn around time is 14 days.

                        When i did mine i went GAP at first, knowing the lead times would be pretty extensive but i figured if i supplied the parts it would cut down on it. It was 6 months. They make excellent products that much is certain,a result of their popularity is that George & Co. are busy, like Manners nearly year around. I was looking for the quickest way to have my gun. I bought my action and barrel, and then ordered my T4A through the SH group buy. Sent my barreled action to get ionbonded, which took a month or so. Then the Tempest wasn't quite a drop in fit for the Manners Mini-chassis so i sent my barreled action and stock to Manners and let them fit it. Then i let them walk it over to GAP to polish the breaching ring. All said and done it was still 9 months in the end. There is a wait going with a single smith from start to finish but there is added benefit to that. That is, that the smith ensures it's good to go once it leaves his shop.

                        I'm not entirely sure on the nuances of the footprint of the Deviant and Mausingfield but i would think you'd be fine to drop it in the manners and go. If you're looking to get this done in the next 6-7 months. Otherwise pick a smith and supply the parts and let them do it from start to finish. My dad's 6.5 SAUM i'm surprising him with will from start to finish be done at one place. I wont be sourcing it out to multiple smiths this time around. Right now i'm thinking Tooter Meredith, end goal once i get the SR3 is to have it by Dad's birthday in November, his turn around times are not too long right now.
                        "Combined synergy of a man and rifle is matchless, the steadiness of hand and acuity of vision, and finally the art of knowing how to make the rifle an extension of the body, all equate to the ultimate synthesis of man and machine."

                        "Quidvis recte factum quamvis humile praeclarum"

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                        • #13
                          Hey I just barely got done building my first custom rifle in 6.5 creedmoor so I understand what your going through. I can't argue with any of your build choices but if you haven't haven't looked into Jewell trigger I would highly recommend it. Thats what I put on mine and its amazing! Nothing wrong with Timney and this is my first experiance with Jewell but I am amazed by it. I don't think you can go wrong with any of mentioned, I used a local gunsmith here in UT and couldnt be happier. Good luck in your build and i know your going to love it.

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                          • #14
                            I believe the ejection port relief is very slightly different on the Mausingfield (compared to the Deviant) - probably comes down to how picky you are on fit/finish - but LRI should be able to massage that to perfection, as well...

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                            • #15
                              Luckily there are many smiths out there now who seem to be doing great work. As others have said, LRI has got to be the quickest smith out there and do great work. It is probably a good time to ask if a higher end production rifle like the AI or Desert Tech is something you would want to consider? I have a Surgeon and a Desert Tech and while I would say the Surgeon was more accurate with factory ammo, the simple caliber conversion capabilities of the Desert Tech is great for allowing you to train with the same exact equipment setup (308 or 223 for training and 6.5 for comps) without wearing out match barrels, and Is every bit as accurate with the right load. I get that those platforms aren't for everyone, but like I said is something to consider.

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                              • #16
                                I have a rifle built on the Defiance Deviant and one with the Tempest. For PRS take a good look at the Tempest action.

                                But you can't go wrong with any of them. I thought hard about a Mausingfield, and I agree with these fellas that it's a fantastic action, speaking only for myself, I couldn't justify the extra shekels for it. They are damn proud of it and I just couldn't find the added value over other quality custom actions. But at the end of the day, we drop a lot of money on these builds, so what's a couple hundred extra if it's something you really want.

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                                • #17
                                  I would consider the ease and user ability to replace barrels if you go with a 6mm and even 6.5. When I was shopping, it was between a MF or AIAT. AI barrels can be had from many smiths while a few sell pre-fit shouldered barrels for the mausingfield, or you can use a barrel nut/bugnut with any action. Bighorn actions are a bit less expensive than the MF and have enough unique features that make it worthy of a custom build. Unless you are particularly attached to the 700 platform, its hard to justify a 700 clone when there are so many options for advanced actions, many of which share aftermarket parts with the 700.

                                  It seems unnecessary to have to smith assemble a rifle, especially for a user/not a show piece. Bolt action rifles are becoming more modular like the AR platform, a user can purchase all of the components and just screw them together on their bench.
                                  Last edited by Dtarget; 02-17-2017, 10:27 AM.

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                                  • #18
                                    PVA has pretty short lead times, too, and his work is exemplary.
                                    Joe

                                    ex meus gelu mortuus manuum

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                                    • #19
                                      Do yourself a favor and just true a Remington action. Custom actions are the single most overrated part of a "custom" unless we are talking about a AI factory rifle. I wish someone had told me this before dumping over 1000 into a custom action. It's all about the barrel and Smith

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                                      • #20
                                        As far as a smith goes try Pierce Engineering in Lansing Michigan. They have built & re-barreled several rifles for me & my friends.
                                        Only used SAC once but they did a great job re-barreling my AW

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                                        • #21
                                          The most recommended smiths on here will do a good job for you. I have personal experience with Short Action Customs, Spartan Precision, Accurate Ordnance, and LRI. Accurate Ordnance has match rifles ready to ship pretty much all the time, so If you want zero lead time check them out. For all of them their work load will vary throughout the year and depending on what you are having done.

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                                          • #22
                                            +1 on what g101489 said. Long as you go with a high quality base that is rock solid into your action. I'd suggest near mfg, theirs are about as good as it gets. A good smith can square up everything else and you'll be good to go and save lots of $

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                                            • #23
                                              Josh at PVA - cutting edge tech in his shop, Tier 1 PRS competitor, makes rifles for other Tier-1 competitors. "nuff said.

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                                              • #24
                                                Old Fart talking...

                                                I've lived through a somewhat similar situation to yours; only my war was 'Nam, and the subject was cars. All of us young Jarheads were stoked up on having a lump of ready cash and getting back to the real world again. What to do with it?

                                                Fifty years later, let me share some subsequent observations.

                                                What pretty much all of us did was get home, get back on the civilian economy, pick out what was the most instant of gratification choices, then always rode it hard and put it away wet, while slowly readjusting our mindsets back to something that didn't stand out like that nail just begging for the hammer.

                                                For your consideration:

                                                The most important part of what you're asking for is that it be ready when you are. Lead times are estimates, and getting things custom and perfected will mitigate strongly against this most important consideration. Perfection is an abstract concept, it varies widely by viewpoint, and believe me, it is a constantly moving target. Besides, unless you are already performing at a PRS-Competitive skill level, you very likely don't really know what you really need. Dreams do not often deliver. I know this is hard to read, but for this once, recognize that experience is taking.

                                                I seriously doubt that the existing market of factory offerings is totally incapable of delivering a highly reliable and adequate performing rifle that is equal to your needs and a realistic estimation of your abilities. The custom makers will be there when that highly adequate factory solution demonstrably and unarguably fails your needs. If I were the custom builders, I''d rather see you go this route, because they don't want customers with expectations of perfection in this clearly imperfect world. Reality and perfection do not coexist. Neither of us is likely to harbor perfection within our own psyche.

                                                Find that solution by examining the requirement. Define the task. Invest the time in examining the catalogues. Compare those likeliest candidates against what folks who are starting out are using with success. Select something that has been in production and is still selling. Make sure you choose enough gun. Stay away from extreme anything. Keep in mind that this is an investment that may someday need to be liquidated, and needs to appeal to the most common buyer. Buy reality, upgrade to perfection when there are no deadlines looming.

                                                Your only real problems here are that deadline and a compulsion to achieve perfection on your first try.

                                                Just last week, I competed at the National level in an F T/R Midrange(600yd) prone competition, using a factory rifle. I failed miserably; but the failing component was my archaic semi-cadaver and an appallingly inflated set of expectations. The rifle did its job just fine. I was adrift in a sea of mega high-dollar equipment.

                                                However, my 20 Y/O Granddaughter shot alongside me in her first attempt at this sort of thing, also using a factory rifle, also in that selfsame sea; and she did well enough to draw praise and expectation of excellent prospects from her fellow competitors. You can't buy that sort of stuff. She is utterly and thoroughly stoked.

                                                It's not about the arrow, it's about the size of the fight in the Indian. She's 5' 3" and she ain't small.

                                                Greg
                                                Last edited by Greg Langelius *; 02-18-2017, 11:42 AM.
                                                Life is more interesting when one keeps a neurotic cat... (Oops, make that two cats...), (Oops, add two Jack Russels...) Greg Langelius

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                                                • #25
                                                  OK, to brass tacks.

                                                  Instead of what not to do, here's my suggestion for that adequate factory rifle. If 600yd is your immediate goal, .223 is a damned fine answer. It is accurate, adequate for the distance, and eminently affordable.

                                                  Factory rifle? Savage 11VT .223, available only at Dick's Sporting Goods. There is nothing on it that it doesn't need (except the OK-for-hunting scope), and it lacks only that scope and a bipod, maybe a sling, too. $550-ish with a rebate (mine was $75). Not sexy? Sexy doesn't win matches, solid reliable rifles do.

                                                  Really can't stand the stock? Mine are fine (.223 and .308), but Choate makes a good replacement.

                                                  Handload? Win brass, 24.4gr Varget, CCI BR-4, HDY 75gr HPBT-Match at 2.255" OAL. I know it works, I just shot it last week in those F T/R MR Nationals. So did my Granddaughter, out of a Stag Model 6 Super Varminter. The 11VT's 1:9" twist limits bullet length. This load maximizes the 1:9" twist's performance at MR distances.

                                                  Scope? Mueller 8-32x44 Side Focus Mil Dot. $215. I have two of the target dot version, and I'm looking for a third. One caveat, this scope does not like being gripped tightly in rings that are very close to the turrets. That is why I chose the rings below, they can grip well without being cranked down way tight. This is a known problem, and the solution is these rings, mounted a least 1/2"-3/4" from the turret.

                                                  Rings? Vortex.

                                                  Bipod, a Harris type for starters, Yes they have their flaws, but they also get you into the comp straightaway.

                                                  Too cheap to be good/ Too good to be true? I've been shooting this setup for a couple of years now in club comps. It delivers, and keeps delivering.

                                                  Upgrading to 1000yd? Same setup, same rifle, just get the .308 version.

                                                  The .223 and .308 chamberings are absolutely excellent for bringing a newer shooter up to speed, especially about learning winds. They have the added feature of being fine for F T/R. Finally, they will sell fast and without any buyer reservations when their proper time comes. Ergonomically, the .223 is the perfect trainer for the .308.

                                                  Try the Hornady 178gr .308 Precision Hunter factory load for starters. This bullet is a match grade performer. I am developing the 143gr 6.5mm version for my .260.

                                                  Greg
                                                  Last edited by Greg Langelius *; 02-18-2017, 12:50 PM.
                                                  Life is more interesting when one keeps a neurotic cat... (Oops, make that two cats...), (Oops, add two Jack Russels...) Greg Langelius

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