The perfect custom long-range rifle setup on a budget
Let me start with a simple disclaimer: I do not claim to be a long-range rifle specialist. But I am a hardcore hunter just like you that wants to optimize my equipment and become the very best at my craft. Like many hunters, so much of my extra cash is spent on the latest and greatest equipment. Hunters like to keep our edge and if we feel something is going to give us an advantage, many of us do not hesitate to spend our hard-earned money. Items like clothing, boots, packs, bows and guns are all necessities, but can really drain the pocket book. I am a father of three small children and, like everyone else, I have to carefully calculate every purchase. My journey to buying a custom gun was no different.
Why go with a custom long-range rifle?
Two years ago, I decided I wanted a custom long-range rifle. I started to research different calibers and companies that produced long-range rifles. I quickly learned one thing: long-range custom guns are very pricey. A custom gun can cost between $5,000 and $10,000. There are a number of companies in the industry and, while they make some amazing pieces of equipment, there was no way that I could not afford an $8,000 set up. My total setup cost $2,498 and was purchased over the course of two years so I could plan and budget out this rifle build.
This is where my research paid off. I quickly learned that with the right enhancements I could build a gun that would reach out to 800 yards and give me the long-range rifle I was looking for at a fraction of the cost. I decided on the .25-06 caliber in the Remington brand. I chose the .25-06 caliber due to how quick and flat the bullet flies. This is a great caliber for deer, antelope and predators. I felt with this caliber and the right upgrades I could build a gun that could shoot 800 yards with the accuracy I was expecting. I also liked that it had very little recoil when shot, which means that it would also be a great caliber for my kids to get started on.
I chose Remington due to how easy this manufacture is to work with. In talking with various gunsmiths and part manufacturers, Remington was constantly referred to as an very workable brand, making it very easy to replace parts and add enhancements. Since I am a rookie gunsmith I am all about ease of use.
Over two years ago, I purchased the Remington Model 700 Classic .25-06 from a friend. The gun had been shot very little and was in great shape. The original gun set up had a traditional wooden stock and a simple sightron sight. This is a good setup out of the box, but I really wanted to make this into a customized gun that I could use for decades. I am the type of person that does not like to change my setup too much. Once I become comfortable with something and understand how a gun or bow works, I tend to stick with it for a long time. This is what I wanted from the .25-06. A gun that both myself and my kids could use for years to come.
Used rifle price: $600
I spoke with a lot of companies over my two-year journey. They all built good quality products. Many of them wanted to only build a custom gun and not use an existing gun. Some companies would allow me to use my Remington .25-06 but were so expensive that I could of just bought a new custom gun. Fortunately, nearly six months ago, I started talking with Patrick Henrie of Outlaw Custom Guns. I explained to Patrick what I wanted to do and he really caught my vision and understood my goals. Patrick and I discussed what enhancements we would make to my Remington .25-06 to turn it into a legit 800 yard gun.
With the help of Patrick and the Outlaw Custom Guns team, I was finally able to create my long-range rifle. To give you an idea of what we did with this gun I interviewed Patrick to provide the process step-by-step.
Kody Smith: The trigger is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to upgrade a rifle. Why did we decide on the Timney trigger?
Patrick Henrie: We chose the Timney 40x trigger because it is a very simple drop in trigger with a simple adjustment. It varies from 1.75 lb. to 4.50 lb. on the pull poundage. This can be adjusted by the shooter and allows you to customize the trigger pull to what the shooter feels comfortable with.
Timney was also in the price range that we had predetermined and works really well with the Remington brand.
Trigger upgrade cost: $135
Kody: Why did we choose the Choate Machine and Tool Chassis/Stock?
Patrick: We went with the Choate Tactical Remington 700 long action BDL. What I like about this stock is the full length bedding block and adjustable spacer system to adjust the length of pull.
The spacer system would allow you to shorten or lengthen the gun so that you can fit a variety of shooters. You had discussed using the gun for your children and this will allow you to adjust for a smaller shooter.
This stock has a sliding bipod swivel rail and sling swivel studs on both sides for easier carrying and handling. The Choate stock also allows for a free floating barrel, felt comfortable to you as a shooter and met your price range criteria. We felt this stock would perform to your specs.
Choate chassis/stock cost: $269
Rail mount upgrade
Kody: What about rail mount? We went with a one piece. Can you explain why we went with this option?
Patrick: We went with the Warne Tactical single piece long action base. The reason we went with the one piece is that it gives us a large surface to move the scope rings and is a high quality steel. It is a single piece that is really easy to use and very dependable. With you being a hunter and hiking in the mountains we wanted to have a very easy durable system.
Rail mount price: $119
Scope ring selection
Kody: Talk to me about scope rings. My research shows that this little piece is often overlooked. Why did we go with the Burris?
Patrick: We chose the Burris Zee Ring 1” high scope rings. The high ring gives us the clearance we needed for the Zeiss scope that you wanted mounted on the gun. They will provide plenty of contact from the scope rings to the scope itself giving you optimal accuracy. These scope rings are very high quality steel that also meets your budget.
Scope ring price: $75
Rifle scope selection
Kody: I am a huge fan of Zeiss optics. I have both the Z-600 and the Z-800 on other rifles that I own. We went a different direction with the Zeiss Conquest 5-25x50 HD5. Can you explain why we went with this model?
Patrick: Optics are very important when creating an accurate long-range rifle. You really like Zeiss and we wanted to stay with a brand that you are comfortable with. Not only is the Zeiss Conquest 5-25x50 HD5 one of the best rifle scopes on the market but it also allows us the ability to cut a turret. For those that are unaware of what a turret is, basically you have the scope dialed in for various ranges. You can have a 200 yard mark, 300 yard mark, 400 yard mark, etc. All you have to do is range your target and then adjust your scope accordingly. This is a very user friendly way to shoot long ranges. The turrets eliminate a lot of the math that is used in long-range shooting.
There is some real complexity when shooting long ranges. You have to know your bullet speed and drop rate. As a hunter, the turret system eliminates having to know the math and allows you to quickly make an adjustment to your scope and shoot. The HD5 offered everything you were looking for in a scope.
Zeiss HD5 scope price: $1,000
Custom gun finish upgrade
Kody: Aside from looking very cool, what functional purpose does cerakote give a gun owner?
I really liked how my cerakote finish turned out. I actually pulled this design off a t-shirt that I own. I brought the shirt into your office and said this is what I want on my stock. I would say that you nailed the design and exceeded what I thought was possible.
Patrick: Cerakote H-Series is a ceramic-based finish that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers and wood. The unique formulation used for cerakote coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength and hardness. Cerakote ceramic coating utilizes state of the art technology to outperform any competitive coating in both the laboratory setting and the real world applications.
Cerakote price: $100-350 depending on the complexity of the gun. My cerakote finish was $300.
In conclusion, after two years I was finally able to finish my first custom long-range rifle. As we continue to develop and grow as hunters our ability to optimize our gear continues to grow. The advancement in optics and rifle technology gives us the ability to shoot longer ranges.
I strongly believe that long-range shooting cannot be done without a lot of practice. I plan on spending a good amount of time behind this gun gaining an understanding of my potential as a shooter. I will have this gun in my family for a long time and I anticipate all of my children using it. I was able to stay within my budget and have a gun that makes me smile when I shoot it.