By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
Whether for FT-R, PRS, long range, ELR, or hunting, every custom built rifle begins with a fleeting thought deep in the brain-housing group. Then it moves to a little online research looking for similar rifles, but not finding exactly what you envisioned.
At this point you have two choices: 1/ dump the whole project on the work bench of a custom riflesmith, or, 2/ begin collecting the component parts.
The first step in my next project rifle — a Stiller’s Predator magnum action.
The primary parts of a custom rifle are the action, the barrel, and the stock. Since one or more of these components may have one to six months manufacturing lead time, depending on their back-orders, it is best to order all three when you make the decision to pull the trigger on this project.
But before all that, the first mental exercise is to decide on the purpose for the rifle – hunting, tactical, or competition – and if the latter, what form of competition. Taking a look at what the champions are shooting will indicate the ideal caliber for that application. If for hunting, the type, size, and relative danger of game will drive the caliber. Once you know the caliber and ideal bullet weight, the next step is to select the action and barrel.
This Rem 700 .375 H&H Magnum was the inspiration for my current project rifle. I’ve always kept a .375 H&H in my safe just on the off-chance of an invitation to head to the dark continent. But I sold this one to a local guy who had won a safari hunt in Africa. This got me thinking about the ultimate .375 H&H
The above Rem 700 .375 H&H fulfills its destiny in South Africa
In the past few years I’ve had considerable success with Stiller’s Actions so selecting the Predator magnum long action was an easy decision. Similarly, I shoot Bartlein barrels in competition and prefer barrels a little on the heavy side, so after talking to Frank at Bartlein, I settled on a 24″ Bull Sporter contour. I also knew I wanted a fiberglass stock that would be stable in all weather conditions, so after looking at McMillan’s range of hunting stocks, settled on their Tactical Hunter. This stock was selected partly because it had an adjustable cheek-rest to facilitate moving between a scope and iron sights.
The McMillan Tactical Hunter is available with or without an adjustable cheek-rest and in a variety of colors and camouflage.
The other components of a custom rifle include the trigger, scope, scope rings, scope level, bipod, and sling – so stay tuned as this project comes together.