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

WAB

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VertigoBE

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- 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.
This should be interesting... Looks like the current strategy of Rigby is to bring back all the favourites of old in a newly manufactured form. A very good strategy it would seem to me.

I wonder if they will be able to be competitive with Blaser/Merkel/Krieghoff and other single shots on the continent. The Ruger N°1 derivatives are far less common here. But I would dare say that they might be even handier in their use in a kansel (closed high seat). As it is only a falling block, not "breaking" the rifle, it should be easier in the confined space of such small blinds.
 

AZDAVE

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I also give a vote to Leroy, at Canyon Creek Custom Gunstocks for custom stock work.

You might want to also consider the Westley Richards in 450/400 that is currently at Vintage doubles.

.
 

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WebleyGreene455

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Good afternoon, gents.

Much as I hate to say it, I reckon a true custom is out of my depth. Would be a glorious thing and maybe one day in the future I'll be able to own one, but seeing as there's small enough demand for such things, I suspect it'd take a lot more than I'd like to think about. In that case, let's shift position back to the other ideas.

So, a Shiloh Sharps. If they're made in .405 Winchester and can withstand Ruger No. 1 pressures, it might be worthwhile at least shooting them an email to ask if I could have a rifle in .450/400 3" Nitro or .450 No. 2 Nitro. Worst they can do is say no, and then I'd be right back where I started with a .45-70 on the ticket.

As for a Ruger, I can look further into gussying one up to be a little more old fashioned, and it might be a fairly cost-effective solution to having my own The Ghost & the Darkness rifle (which is how I got introduced to the Farquharson in the first place). It's not my #1 choice, if I'm honest, but then again my Italian Colt Lightning and Remington 58 don't bother me for being Italian clones and not true Colts or Remingtons; I still call them by their original names and not "my Uberti '58" or "Pedersoli Lightning" when I think about them. I reckon I'd start feeling the same about a Ruger No. 1 once I got used to it.

Lastly there's an original. Well, folks, I wish I could drop the cash on one right now and settle it with no problems so some of y'all would drool in envy at my new shootin' iron. But the fact is, I can't. I don't have the cash on hand so I'm doomed to gaze longingly upon them with you and hope I can get one when I'm able.

Thank y'all for your input and suggestions. This thread is by no means closed or over, mind you, but it's going to steer towards semi-custom and original vintage rather than full custom for the time being.

~~W.G.455
 

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Major Bonkers

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Have been having a think about this.

(1) The advantage of 'doing it yourself' is that you can spread the cost of work on your rifle at your pace, as and when you have the money to fund it. However - bear in mind that you will almost certainly end up paying more than if you can lay out the cash in one instalment.

(2) In the forthcoming Holts auction, there are at least three Westley Richards (all proofed for black powder), and one Jeffery (in .303), single-shot/ Martini actioned rifles (all around lot 700). There is also - ta da! - this rifle, which may be of interest. I have never heard of the maker or cartridge. I suspect that I can guess where the action came from and, with a bit of luck, you might be able to pick up a completed rifle in the UK for the price of an action in the US.

From France, a WR Martini action in - ? - .450: https://www.interencheres.com/meubles-objets-art/militaria-296514/lot-29871920.html NB - buying from France is a bit bureaucratic nowadays, but not insurmountably so. Still a pain the arse, though.

(3) The falling-block action is an extremely strong action. The actions that are proofed for black powder ought to be strong enough to support a nitro cartridge (not so the barrel, though). I am not an expert and - if you decide to use one of these rifle actions as a basis for a new build - you must take proper advice: I know where to go in the UK for such advice; not in the US, though.

(4) Finally, Nick Holt charges an outrageous 33% commission, and you will have shipping expenses, plus any import charges.
 

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DG Gunsmith

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Have been having a think about this.

(1) The advantage of 'doing it yourself' is that you can spread the cost of work on your rifle at your pace, as and when you have the money to fund it. However - bear in mind that you will almost certainly end up paying more than if you can lay out the cash in one instalment.

(2) In the forthcoming Holts auction, there are at least three Westley Richards (all proofed for black powder), and one Jeffery (in .303), single-shot/ Martini actioned rifles (all around lot 700). There is also - ta da! - this rifle, which may be of interest. I have never heard of the maker or cartridge. I suspect that I can guess where the action came from and, with a bit of luck, you might be able to pick up a completed rifle in the UK for the price of an action in the US.

From France, a WR Martini action in - ? - .450: https://www.interencheres.com/meubles-objets-art/militaria-296514/lot-29871920.html NB - buying from France is a bit bureaucratic nowadays, but not insurmountably so. Still a pain the arse, though.

(3) The falling-block action is an extremely strong action. The actions that are proofed for black powder ought to be strong enough to support a nitro cartridge (not so the barrel, though). I am not an expert and - if you decide to use one of these rifle actions as a basis for a new build - you must take proper advice: I know where to go in the UK for such advice; not in the US, though.

(4) Finally, Nick Holt charges an outrageous 33% commission, and you will have shipping expenses, plus any import charges.
Aye, that Westley Richards Falling Block(W-R's modified Martini Action), is actually Circa 1880's...
 

sestoppelman

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"(2) In the forthcoming Holts auction, there are at least three Westley Richards (all proofed for black powder), and one Jeffery (in .303), single-shot/ Martini actioned rifles (all around lot 700). There is also - ta da! - this rifle, which may be of interest. I have never heard of the maker or cartridge. I suspect that I can guess where the action came from and, with a bit of luck, you might be able to pick up a completed rifle in the UK for the price of an action in the US."

The cartridge of this rifle is most likely the .45/90 Winchester, a slightly longer version of the .45-70 Govt, being 2.4" in case length.
 

WebleyGreene455

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Have been having a think about this.

(1) The advantage of 'doing it yourself' is that you can spread the cost of work on your rifle at your pace, as and when you have the money to fund it. However - bear in mind that you will almost certainly end up paying more than if you can lay out the cash in one instalment.

(2) In the forthcoming Holts auction, there are at least three Westley Richards (all proofed for black powder), and one Jeffery (in .303), single-shot/ Martini actioned rifles (all around lot 700). There is also - ta da! - this rifle, which may be of interest. I have never heard of the maker or cartridge. I suspect that I can guess where the action came from and, with a bit of luck, you might be able to pick up a completed rifle in the UK for the price of an action in the US.

From France, a WR Martini action in - ? - .450: https://www.interencheres.com/meubles-objets-art/militaria-296514/lot-29871920.html NB - buying from France is a bit bureaucratic nowadays, but not insurmountably so. Still a pain the arse, though.

(3) The falling-block action is an extremely strong action. The actions that are proofed for black powder ought to be strong enough to support a nitro cartridge (not so the barrel, though). I am not an expert and - if you decide to use one of these rifle actions as a basis for a new build - you must take proper advice: I know where to go in the UK for such advice; not in the US, though.

(4) Finally, Nick Holt charges an outrageous 33% commission, and you will have shipping expenses, plus any import charges.
Hmm that .45-90 certainly is interesting. As @sestoppelman says, it appears to be the .45-90 Sharps, a bit more potent than the .45-70 and while it does say "Not for Nitro", if it's not an original late-19th Century action, I think it might be OK with a nitro loading after all. I think. I'd want it checked 200%. The listing does say it's circa 2001, so... It also appears to have no sights, just the mounting points for a tang sight. I wonder why...

Importing a firearm from the UK or continental Europe could be an irksome experience, however. As you say, not insurmountable but difficult enough without COVID complications, I'm sure.

The W-R Martinis are a curious breed, not exactly my favorite look but certainly unique. The French one there, I'm not sure what cartridge that would take.

I can give that auction rifle some thought, though. Keeping it .45-90 would be okay, and reaming the chamber to one of the longer Sharps cartridges a la Quigley and Billy Dixon's buffalo-thumper isn't a difficult prospect if I wanted to. Converting it to a British cartridge would make it perfect, but I think I'd need to rebarrel to do it right; the .450 Nitro Express is fairly doable with a chamber modification, while the .450 No 2 or .450/400 would probably need a new barrel. But, still, something to consider even with commissions and import hoopla.

~~W.G.455
 

sestoppelman

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I actually said Winchester but the two rounds are nearly identical I think, without looking up the specs on the case.
 

WebleyGreene455

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I actually said Winchester but the two rounds are nearly identical I think, without looking up the specs on the case.
So you did. My bad. But I think you're correct; the case seems to be identical with the Sharps typically having a heavier, less-deeply-seated bullet and the WCF having a lighter, deeper-seated one to let it cycle in the '86 rifle. I seem to have thought they were the same cartridge 100%, and I suppose with the right bullet and powder charge they would be identical. If it's a 2001-ish rifle, I might expect it to be .45-90 Sharps, though. The long barrel, tang sight drill-and-tap, and lack of irons points me towards thinking this was intended to be a long-range Creedmoor-type rifle, and those were in .45-90 Sharps back in the day.
 

WebleyGreene455

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Gents, can I get some advice for bidding etc, and input on what's involved with importing a rifle and what I might expect for shipping to the USA? Would my local FFL take care of all the nitty-gritty for the import and just hand me an invoice? What would I need to prep for the post-auction process were I to win?

I've never bid in an auction of this sort before, just gunbroker ones where the gun was already in the US and there wasn't much of a commission or anything else involved.
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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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
@Webley Greene455
Mate asking a question like that is akin to saying how long is a piece of string. The cost of a custom rifle is as much as your wallet can stand.
Doug turnbull could probably do all the work you need but he ain't cheap.
May I suggest a Winchester Hiwall for your project either original or repo. Instead of the c as libers you are looking at why not look at a couple of classic od American cartridges capable of taking really big stuff if loaded properly. The 45/90 and 45/120 would suit your needs. Maybe not as classy as a farquharson or other but still beautiful in it own right.
Both those old cartridges will do everything the 458 win mag will do so you aren't lacking in power.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Bob
 

WebleyGreene455

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@Webley Greene455
Mate asking a question like that is akin to saying how long is a piece of string. The cost of a custom rifle is as much as your wallet can stand.
Doug turnbull could probably do all the work you need but he ain't cheap.
May I suggest a Winchester Hiwall for your project either original or repo. Instead of the c as libers you are looking at why not look at a couple of classic od American cartridges capable of taking really big stuff if loaded properly. The 45/90 and 45/120 would suit your needs. Maybe not as classy as a farquharson or other but still beautiful in it own right.
Both those old cartridges will do everything the 458 win mag will do so you aren't lacking in power.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Bob
Thanks Bob. A High-Wall ain't a bad idea but since I can already plan out a Shiloh Sharps to the T, it'd be my preference. In fact, I've already planned and priced one exactly as I'd want it. All I'd have to do is call up the dealer, place the order, and arrange the down payment and in some five-six months I'd have one. That said, I'm gonna give the auction for that .45-90 Fraser-type a harder look-see and I reckon I'll put in a bid for it. Worst that can happen is I don't win, best that can happen is I get a unique rifle that I can enjoy the hell out of and maybe modify over time if I so choose! And the Sharps, or a High-Wall, will still be available if I do lose out.

The trouble is, I've seen so much scuttlebutt about whether a .45-70 or .45-90 would do the trick properly; most folks here seem to only ask about buffalo and elephant and while I may never go for a lion, what I want is an example of a legitimate lion/tiger-capable gun. Yes, there are hot smokeless loads for .45-70 that have allegedly been used on lion. Yes, there are members here who've used .45-90 and possibly -70 to take leopards, and of course those cartridges have been used on puma without issue. But since it's hard enough to find suitably convincing information, I always returned to the guaranteed lion-taking cartridges when considering such a rifle.
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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Thanks Bob. A High-Wall ain't a bad idea but since I can already plan out a Shiloh Sharps to the T, it'd be my preference. In fact, I've already planned and priced one exactly as I'd want it. All I'd have to do is call up the dealer, place the order, and arrange the down payment and in some five-six months I'd have one. That said, I'm gonna give the auction for that .45-90 Fraser-type a harder look-see and I reckon I'll put in a bid for it. Worst that can happen is I don't win, best that can happen is I get a unique rifle that I can enjoy the hell out of and maybe modify over time if I so choose! And the Sharps, or a High-Wall, will still be available if I do lose out.

The trouble is, I've seen so much scuttlebutt about whether a .45-70 or .45-90 would do the trick properly; most folks here seem to only ask about buffalo and elephant and while I may never go for a lion, what I want is an example of a legitimate lion/tiger-capable gun. Yes, there are hot smokeless loads for .45-70 that have allegedly been used on lion. Yes, there are members here who've used .45-90 and possibly -70 to take leopards, and of course those cartridges have been used on puma without issue. But since it's hard enough to find suitably convincing information, I always returned to the guaranteed lion-taking cartridges when considering such a rifle.
@Webley Greene455
Mate ifn y'all wants a genuine lion rifle git yourself a 95 Winchester in Teddy's lion medicine cartridge the 405 Winchester. I'm sure @ sesstoplem could find you one and teach you to load it properly.
Bob
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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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.
@John458Lott
Try 3 of them mate.
That takes even more patience.
Bob
 

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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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...
@DG Gunsmith
I've had a few custom jobs done
One is a 35 Whelen AI built on an M17 Enfield action that was modified to Remington 30s design. I provided the parts and even with gunsmiths costs it was still cheaper than a new Winchester mod 70 in Australia.
My Lowall was 2,500 AUD for everything sans scope.
Bob
 

Major Bonkers

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Holts are quite easy to talk to and patient. The first thing to do is ask for a condition report and details of provenance, photographs, and so on. Mr. Red Leg, who posts here, would be a good person to approach for help as to what to do after that.

As for shipping, that will be difficult. I should ask Holts who would know far more about the likely cost. You might be able to include a single rifle as part of a larger shipment. There are two specialist rifle shippers in the UK (Hamish Gordon and Bob Nagra; I'm told the latter has retired, but his business is still going).
 

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