Custom Guns: Are they worth the extra money?

A couple of days, ago, a colleague was quizzing me on the difference between factory rifles and the semi-custom guns that cost a lot more. “What sets the high-priced machinery apart?” he asked.

Two things, I told him. First, you don’t see the flaws in a $4,000 rifle that you do in a factory rifle. As an example, take the .325 WSM Browning A-Bolt I bought a few weeks ago. It’s certainly not a bad gun, but the barrel is too long for the fore-end, there are gaps between the stock and the barreled action that a reasonably gaunt weasel could dive into, and the trigger was not adjustable, which meant that the rifle would be limited to a decent, but not good, trigger pull. Also, some of the parts, notably the trigger, are pot metal. I don’t mean to pick on Browning, but this is pretty typical of what comes out of the factories.

If you want to spend a whole lot more money and get a rifle from Charlie Sisk or Ed Brown Precision or New Ultra Light Arms or Mark Bansner, you don’t see things like this. There are no gaps, no pot metal, no triggers needing adjustment or replacement, and no errors in proportion. You also get a premium barrel in place of a mass-produced barrel, and a very, very high level of accuracy.

I’m a very fussy shooter, and there are very few mass-produced rifles that I can look at and not see something that could have been done better. With the above rifles, I can’t do that. They are simply done right. To me, that’s worth the extra money—and then some.