With the rise of Precision Rifle competition, and the long-range craze touching segments of the firearms market, many have considered dipping their toes into the custom rifle world. With the surge in popularity, we're going to show you how to save money by turning an old hunting rifle into your dream PRS setup. Word of warning, though, be prepared to repeat this process -- once you bring one rifle to life, you'll only want to build another.
While there are several platforms you can use, we're going to take a look at the most common way, repurposing an older, pre-owned Remington 700. I built my first custom rifle years ago with a Remington 700, originally manufactured in the 1960s. Like many others before me, I was able to turn an old, depreciated rifle into a brand new one.
It's worth noting that there are plenty of great actions made by many companies, but the Remington 700 enjoys aftermarket part support like very few others.
Putting a custom rifle together can be a lot of work, gathering all the right parts in the correct order. If you do it properly, it can come together pretty quickly, though.
The first step in the process is to settle on the cartridge and bullet combination. Everything else revolves around this, so knock that out first. Decide what the rifle will be used for and then tailor the cartridge to that purpose. To add a little panache to this project, I decided to go full custom with a wildcat cartridge, that is, a cartridge not yet legitimized by factory production.
The core of my build was a .257 Blackjack, a short-action magnum cartridge based on the SAUM case. This cartridge fits in short-action rifles, feeds from AI patterned magazines, and pushes the Blackjack 131-grain Ace beyond 3,200 feet-per-second. Falling somewhere between .25 WSSM and .25 SAUM wildcat, making it a perfect round for Rocky Mountain Hunting.
The second step is to procure the action, which you can usually find lying around used shelves at gun stores, pawnshops, and even the used section of online retailers like Guns.com. This is the best way to get your action on the cheap and cut costs so you can indulge in other areas. When selecting a rifle to repurpose, make sure to there's no pitting or rust accumulation. Keep just the action, and discard the rest.
For a barrel, I splurged on a Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel. Proof Research is a little pricey, but I wanted to keep the weight down on this rifle as I intend to use it for hunting. So, for my purposes, I went a little above budget to get what I needed. Regardless of what barrel you use, ensure you have the right twist for the bullets you intend to shoot. For my build, a 7.5 twist is recommended.
The length of the barrel also depends on the cartridge. Typically, the more powder a cartridge holds, the longer the barrel. I decided to cut mine at 24-inches, a slight compromise between portability and velocity. I also had the muzzle threaded to attach either a muzzlebrake or suppressor. This is a strength of the Remington 700 -- it has dozens of aftermarket options.
Once the barrel is cut, chambered, and mounted in the Remington 700 action, I matched it to a lightweight carbon-fiber stock from Iota Outdoors. Plenty of stock and chassis options exist for the Remington 700, so do yourself a favor and research which one fits your budget and shooting needs.
My next tweak was to swap the factory Remington trigger for a Trigger Tech part. This has been a standard practice for me on all my Remingtons. Like the stock, trigger options are prevalent, so do some research and keep it within your budget and preference.
A Few Extras
After working out the parts, I mounted a US Optics TS 20X riflescope. Remember that it's important to use the right height rings to match your scope base. The rings should hold the scope as close to the bore line as possible, while still giving you a proper cheek-weld and comb height.
I also ditched the Remington BDL magazine floorplate in exchange for a Hawkins Precision DBM, which allows me to run detachable box magazines in various capacities.
On the Range
With no shortage of space here in the Rockies, I decided to take the rifle out to see how far she could stretch. I zeroed the rifle at 100-yards, and after some test shots, pushed it further.
I touched 1,025-yards first, then reached out to 1,250-yards. At both distances, the hits were impressive. A well-built rifle, with an action that offers a tried and trued design, yields exemplary accuracy.
A custom rifle built just the way you want is satisfying. With deer, antelope, and elk to harvest this fall and winter, this lightweight but potent rifle proved a perfect candidate for the rugged Rocky Mountains that have become my winter range.
If you find yourself bitten by the custom bug and now have an itch to jump into the precision rifle game, know that a good, used action from an old rifle can save money and time. It's a solid starting point for those taking their first steps into PRS.
Ready to dive into PRS? Grab a Remington 700 from Guns.com and start building!