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Thread: Is it worth buying a 2nd hand custom rifle?

  1. #1

    Question Is it worth buying a 2nd hand custom rifle?

    Two friends of mine have bought beautiful 2nd hand custom rifles, both saving themselves a few thousand pounds and a long wait.

    Sounds good? Well after the initial excitment, including the fun / trials of load development, neither have "bonded" with their new rifles.

    Why not? It seems to me to be because they would both have made a number of different decisions if specifying the rifles for themselves. In other words the rifles were not exactly their dream rifles and surely that is what you are trying to create when you go to the expense of buying a custom rifle?

    One rifle has now been sold and the other is likely to be sold at some stage.

    Hence the question, if considering a custom rifle are you better off getting exactly what you want and having the fun of specifying, the anticipation of the wait, etc... or are there circumstances when a 2nd hand custom is a better bet?


  2. #2

    Hmmm, it depends what floats your boat. I have owned more rifles than I have fingers and I do like window shopping, both on here and generally on the web. However I am limiting my self to two red deer legal rifles as per my gallery. Neither are exactly what I would like, but they have been built up as funds have permitted. I certainly would always entertain offers for them and would look seriously at any custom rifles, new or otherwise.

    Owning centre fire rifles is a journey. When I bought my first .243, I didn't know what I know now and I thought I had got a good deal. If I was starting again, I would buy a 'Remington' type rifle and then I can re-barrel and restock it as I feel appropriate.

    I know I won't ever ask Calum Ferguson to build me a rifle, but I have looked at his second hand rifles when they have come up. I think each opportunity needs to be looked at on its merits when it comes up which is not a very constructive answer to your question.

    Good shopping. JCS
    Last edited by jcampbellsmith; 08-02-2011 at 22:57. Reason: more words

  3. #3
    Neal, most look far too space age for me but a friend bought a second hand a Callum Ferguson .22 PPC foxing rifle. I could live with that.

    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  4. #4
    You only have to look on the classified adds on here. There are several very nice custom rifles for sale but they don't seem to be moving. There is a McMillan for 1950 or there abouts, its worth every penny but its chambered in 7mmSTW! if it was a .243 or .308 it would have sold five times over.

    A full custom rifle is one persons dream at the time of ordering. If, when that rifle comes up second-hand, it happens to be another persons dream rifle then both are happy bunnies but thats alot of ifs.

    If you do buy a 2nd hand custom rifle, make sure you know all about it, some have very specific loading requirements and some have niggley problems, I know of one that was made where you can't get the bolt out without adjusting or removing the stock, not very good on a tightly run range when you are ordered to remove the bolt!

    My advice, as always. Buy a Sako in a 'normal/sensible' calibre!


  5. #5
    Hello Neal, I have owned a custom-built rifle. It was built to my specifications on traditional lines with a walnut stock, but as a working-style rifle rather than something which was just too pretty to use. It comes up like a good shotgun, but with none of the little quirks which some budding owners demand off the riflemaker. The new owner knows its history, he has shot with it in the past - he loves it and the only thing required is to have the butt shortened a little.

    And this is the thing. All too often these individual ideas of the costomer don't satisfy the imagined result after all - they do not turn what is after all a rifle - into some dream-machine, no matter how much money you throw at it.

    I'd say, handle the rifle. Be sure that the cartridge it uses is well within your capacity to obtain - and consider how much that cartridge will cost. It's best to stick to common cartridge types for ease of purchasing, or resale of the rifle at a later date if you have it at the back of your mind to move on at some stage. Some rifles will be chambered to utilise factory ammo but will convert, (Fireform), the case into an Ackley shape for homeloading. This does not matter as long as the factory ammo will produce good groups.
    The rifle should be simple to use, pleasant to the eye, with no little expensive wrinkles to make life complicated for you.

    OR - simply as JC275 says - buy a sensible, good quality rifle which uses a commonly-used cartridge with a good reputation. (There will be plenty opinions on the cartridge to use).

    Not all rifles made by a bespoke riflemaker are good. The single-handed riflemaker can only provide what you pay-for and he does not have the ability, for the same money, to compete as an individual with the production of a high quality production rifle company such as Sako, whilst I've seen a much more expensive rifle by a so-called respectable rifle-making company give endless problems, then when stripped for examination, be revealed to have one of the cheaper forms of trigger mechanism. The wealthy but trusting owner had been conned because of his assumption that he was buying into a reputable name.

    Just be careful, and better still, obtain the help and advice of a shooting friend with plenty of experience who would have a good idea of what to look-for. It's not always so easy to be openly critical in front of the seller, but after all, you are considering parting with a lot of money. A privately made rifle of 1000 might just not match up to a good production rifle for the same money.

    Opinions often differ according to unknown circumstances.

  6. #6

    I bought a secondhand custom rifle last autumn.

    I think it comes down to what you want from the rifle, what's available secondhand at the time you're buying and how much you're willing to pay.

    You're probably unlikely to find a second hand custom rifle that is exactly the same specification you would choose if you were having one built from scratch. There is likely to be some compromise. However, you will be paying a lot less than the brand new price. Most custom rifles depreciate signicantly as soon as they become second hand - especially if they are a bit unusal. The market for them is much smaller than, for example, a Sako in a popular calibre.

    Only you can decide whether a particular rifle you are looking at is an acceptable compromise between not having your exact spec. but paying significantly less than the new price.

    One thing I would suggest if you are thinking of buying secondhand is have a chat with the person who built the rifle in the first place. They will be able to tell you the spec. it was built to and any any other quirks i.e. whether it was designed to shoot a particular weight or type of bullet etc. Ideally, get the builder to inspect it to give you a view on whether its "as built" and how much work its done. This will help you to inform your decision.

    One last thing I found when buying secondhand - people have different definitions of "custom". Fuel is expensive these days and I was particularly unhappy about driving over 150 miles to look at what was described and priced as a custom rifle but in fact was an overpriced Remmy 700 with a few aftermarket bits bolted on by the owner.


    Last edited by Dovebob; 09-02-2011 at 12:21. Reason: spelling

  7. #7
    I guess it is a bit like women buying shoes in the sale - it is only a bargin if you have a use for it and if it fits.

  8. #8

    I have used many diffrent rifles from top of the range customs to bog standard parker hale and i found that if you match the right ammo with almost any rifle will will probably out shoot yourself.

  9. #9
    Account Suspended
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    For me no.

    If I purchased a custom rifle I want exactly what I want and I want to know exactly how many rounds have been put through it. I also want to know how well it has been looked after. The seller of custom rifles always seem to tell you they have put very few rounds through them and to be honest I am never convinced. I am not even convinced that with good quality factory rifles shooting as well as mine does that your AVERAGE custom job produces accuracy that warrants the additional cost. I have spoken to Callum Ferguson personally and asked him about the accuracy of custom rifles and he told me that if I am getting even close to .5moa consistently that one of his custom hunting rifles will produce no better results.

    If I am going to pay 5k for a good quality custom rifle I want to see tangible results and I would insist on sub 0.5moa guaranteed with a proven load suitable for what the rifle is for. Otherwise I will stick to new factory rifles and get them shooting out of their skins with custom loads.
    Last edited by robbobsam; 09-02-2011 at 13:50.

  10. #10
    Thanks for all the experienced advice. I am not currently looking to purchase a custom rifle, but was curious as a good number of the stalkers on the DMG I shoot with have them. I have effectively followed JC's recommendation as I have a Sako 85 with 20" barrel in 6.5x55 (with Swaro 8x56 and Northstar mod). It is very accurate (especially with homeloads) and to me it handles well, looks good and all works smoothly with a quality feel. I suspect I am not immune to being seduced by a sexy custom piece, but I feel it would be a heart over head decision, especially given the amount I actually shoot and the fact that my shooting is predominately for deer within 200 yards.

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