How much is a custom rifle going to set me back?

WebleyGreene455

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Hi y'all.

Ever since I joined AH.com, I've had one particular kind of firearm in my mind whether I needed it or not. A vintage-style single-shot big-bore rifle. The exact type of rifle has varied a bit, as has the calibre, but the basics have remained the same.

At first I thought about a Shiloh Sharps in .450 or .470 Nitro Express. Ahistorical, anachronistic to the design, and chamber pressure might be a problem, but it'd be one hell of a thumper and pricing a Sharps is relatively straightforward because they're currently produced. A Sharps in .45-70 is still on my want-list and if I thought the .45-70 with a modern smokeless loading was gonna be OK in a potential lion gun, I'd just snap it up no problem, but having one in a guaranteed Africa-used cartridge would be all the better.

Then I considered a classic Farquharson. Unfortunately, the only maker I know of is Soroka and those are $19K rifles to begin with. I've opened up some to the idea of a reworked Ruger No. 1 as an alternative but finding one that either exists in or could be readily converted to the .450 No. 2 Nitro Express (which I've started leaning towards instead of the original .450 Nitro) could be a bugger. R.J. Renner would be my choice for reworking the Ruger into a more vintage-looking rifle but I'm admittedly unconvinced that would make me happy in the end. An original Farquharson-type rifle is a possibility if I can find one in the calibre I want that isn't in plumb-awful condition or vastly more expensive than a Soroka.

But in my searchings, I happened upon the Dan'l Fraser side-lever falling block action and I've rather fallen in love with it and the idea of a side-lever in general. Bradshaw Gun & Rifle has a sidelever action that, while not an exact copy of the Fraser, is ideal for a lookalike turn-of-the-century-appropriate rifle, but I don't believe they're made for anything upwards of 9.3x74. However, I also found Mr. Steve Earle's copy of the Fraser action, and there lies the point of this thread:

Mr. Earle's Fraser action is some $2800 including an additional safety mechanism, but it's presented fully in the white and not heat-treated. For my interests, color-case-hardening the receiver (possibly the lever) and bluing the rest is all I'd want. I'm unsure who I could turn to for that service, so I can't really price that myself. Possibly Turnbull could help with that?

Then there's the stock work and the barrel work. I'm fully out of my depth here and haven't the slightest inkling of how much either would cost or really who I could turn to. There was one riflesmith I happened upon a few days ago who specializes in guns like this and who I think I recall has the stock patterns for a Fraser available for duplication but I've forgotten his URL and google has failed me in my attempt to find him again.

How much does stock work, barrel work, and finishing typically go for on something like this? Will it likely surpass the price of a vintage rifle or a Soroka?

~~W.G.455
 

BnC 04

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Sky is the limit when one starts talking from the ground up custom rifles.
Count on $5000+ for a nice wood blank and turning of it.
Metal work, assuming nothing extravagant,is going to be $1500+.

You might find a lower price on the blank and turning but if it comes out wrong its wasted $. Best use a fellow with the experience and they dont come at a discount but you will have it right the first time.

Best of luck on the build!
 

DG Gunsmith

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A decent custom Tailored Rifle is gonna run you $25,000USD+(For a Custom Tailored Scratch Build)... There aren't a lot o' Gunsmith's in North America that can Tailor a Rifle to fit you properly... The UK & Germany are the go to places for this...(Although I do properly Custom Tailor Rifles to fit people, as far as I know, I'm the only Gunsmith in Canada, that is still doing this...)... Eventually, I will be set up to scratch build custom Martini Action Big Bores...(Hoping to start on my Prototype, this Winter) If you find a Barreled Action, I can build you a custom Tailored Rifle...
 
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John458Lott

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Hi y'all.

Ever since I joined AH.com, I've had one particular kind of firearm in my mind whether I needed it or not. A vintage-style single-shot big-bore rifle. The exact type of rifle has varied a bit, as has the calibre, but the basics have remained the same.

At first I thought about a Shiloh Sharps in .450 or .470 Nitro Express. Ahistorical, anachronistic to the design, and chamber pressure might be a problem, but it'd be one hell of a thumper and pricing a Sharps is relatively straightforward because they're currently produced. A Sharps in .45-70 is still on my want-list and if I thought the .45-70 with a modern smokeless loading was gonna be OK in a potential lion gun, I'd just snap it up no problem, but having one in a guaranteed Africa-used cartridge would be all the better.

Then I considered a classic Farquharson. Unfortunately, the only maker I know of is Soroka and those are $19K rifles to begin with. I've opened up some to the idea of a reworked Ruger No. 1 as an alternative but finding one that either exists in or could be readily converted to the .450 No. 2 Nitro Express (which I've started leaning towards instead of the original .450 Nitro) could be a bugger. R.J. Renner would be my choice for reworking the Ruger into a more vintage-looking rifle but I'm admittedly unconvinced that would make me happy in the end. An original Farquharson-type rifle is a possibility if I can find one in the calibre I want that isn't in plumb-awful condition or vastly more expensive than a Soroka.

But in my searchings, I happened upon the Dan'l Fraser side-lever falling block action and I've rather fallen in love with it and the idea of a side-lever in general. Bradshaw Gun & Rifle has a sidelever action that, while not an exact copy of the Fraser, is ideal for a lookalike turn-of-the-century-appropriate rifle, but I don't believe they're made for anything upwards of 9.3x74. However, I also found Mr. Steve Earle's copy of the Fraser action, and there lies the point of this thread:

Mr. Earle's Fraser action is some $2800 including an additional safety mechanism, but it's presented fully in the white and not heat-treated. For my interests, color-case-hardening the receiver (possibly the lever) and bluing the rest is all I'd want. I'm unsure who I could turn to for that service, so I can't really price that myself. Possibly Turnbull could help with that?

Then there's the stock work and the barrel work. I'm fully out of my depth here and haven't the slightest inkling of how much either would cost or really who I could turn to. There was one riflesmith I happened upon a few days ago who specializes in guns like this and who I think I recall has the stock patterns for a Fraser available for duplication but I've forgotten his URL and google has failed me in my attempt to find him again.

How much does stock work, barrel work, and finishing typically go for on something like this? Will it likely surpass the price of a vintage rifle or a Soroka?

~~W.G.455
A Lot!!! Is the answer.

But after you forget how much it costs you'll get years of enjoyment!

Have way too many rifles and several custom guns. But I only have 1 rifle custom built for me. An M70 375H&H which took 3 years to complete and 16 years before its first hunt in Africa in 2019! It performed wonderfully and I took 7 animals including a Cape buffalo! Then all the cost is forgotten!
 

uplander01

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Please buy the Rigby farquharson in 450 Nitro that is currently for sale at First Stop Gun in Rapid CIty SD, USA. It is listed on Guns International. Please buy it so I don't. It's a super rare english stocked version in what can only be described as vintage perfect shape
 

DG Gunsmith

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VertigoBE

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Please buy the Rigby farquharson in 450 Nitro that is currently for sale at First Stop Gun in Rapid CIty SD, USA. It is listed on Guns International. Please buy it so I don't. It's a super rare english stocked version in what can only be described as vintage perfect shape

That was gorgeous to see! Thanks!
 

Code4

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If you have to ask you probably can't afford it. Lots of good higher end commercial stuff around, that can be modified for the same result
 

John458Lott

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The biggest downside to a custom is not the cost but the wait! Mine was promised in 12 months it took 3 years. But given I never hunted with it for another 16 years I should have told the to take it easy instead of worrying about it!

Most of these guys are artists, perfectionists but certainly not businessman.

So if you can tune your head accordingly you'll enjoy the process. Me I found it nerve wracking! Which is why I only have 1.
 

DG Gunsmith

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If you have to ask you probably can't afford it. Lots of good higher end commercial stuff around, that can be modified for the same result
Aye, a Customized Rifle, will virtually always be considerably less expensive than a Custom Built one... But, they can be just as accurate... The most important aspect, is that it should fit you like a well tailored suit... This will make the Rifle feel like a part o' you... There is no finer feeling, than the confidence a well fitted Rifle brings, when in pursuit o' your favourite game...
 

BeeMaa

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If you are looking for a big bore (over .40 caliber) single shot, I'd highly recommend a cartridge that is rimmed or flanged for ease of extraction.

Not to be called an enabler, but it's hard to argue with a Ruger #1...and this one is a Tropical 450NE. Add in a stock blank with custom fitting and refinishing the metalwork to a high blue polish. This could be done for $10-15K.
https://www.gunbroker.com/item/916672084

One rifle that I'm in love with is the Krieghoff Hubertus. This is a Kipplauf style of single shot stalking rifle...light and easy to handle. Comes in calibers up to 9.3x74R and available with complete custom stock fitting. Not sure if this is up your alley, but it's something to think about.
 

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Major Bonkers

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My advice, for what it's worth, is this:

- don't commission work yourself if you can avoid it - you'll end up spending money which will not be reflected in the value of the rifle and you will never get back. Try and find someone who has paid to have the rifle that they wanted and buy it, usually at auction, for a quarter of what they spent on it. You will get 95% of what you want for 25% of the cost.

- in my time I have bought two rifles in the white; they started as the cheapest and ended up as the most expensive that I ever dealt with. Caveat emptor

- Rigby are working on bringing a Farquharson-actioned single shot rifle back to the market. It seems to be taking some time, and presumably they are keeping matters under wraps until one of the big shows. Although - to put it mildly - not known for producing reasonably-priced rifles, it might be worth waiting and seeing what comes along. Check out the blog element of their web-site ('Campfire') or drop them a line - they are quite approachable.

- probably the best option, so far as I can see, might be for you to approach Mark Crudgington at George Gibbs & Co.; he can tart-up a Ruger No. 1 action, should that tickle your fancy, or provide a new Gibbs Farquharson. See: https://gibbsgunmakers.com/?page_id=14 Perhaps he would sell you an action alone.

- three points or questions to consider: tang safety; rimmed/ flanged cartridges work best with the extractor (essentially you are limited to them); cock on opening or closing (the later Woodward version of the action cocks on closing).

- on a purely personal level, to my way of thinking an action like this needs very tight and detailed engraving. Mr. Earle's is, perhaps, a little 'loose', but each to his own. I have previously recommended Andy Miles, who is an out-worker for the London trade. I'd also avoid the wog safety - that bar that holds the tang safety on and requires a separate movement to push aside; if you are going to be using the rifle on big game, it is simply a dangerous impediment.
 

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