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Thread: Average labour cost to build custom rifle ?

  1. #1
    SND
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    Default Average labour cost to build custom rifle ?

    If some of you don't mind sharing, what do you find is your average labour cost when you build a custom rifle. Lets assume all new components and no messing around truing up a donor action. How many hours/days of work does it usually take for the guys doing this regularly? bedding and testing and all that included.

    trying to figure out howmany a year would be to be done roughly to make this worth the added overhead, I have rough numbers in mind but need to know if I'm off track...

    thanks

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    Add 1 hour and $65 for triage and egress to book the gun in and out if its just for that job. Installing a barrel $450 and about a day. Cutting extractor cuts $100 2 hours. Dovetails $100 each 2 hours. Drill and tap for scope $150 including weaver base 2 hours. Drill and tap for sights $175 labor only. Bedding $300 no pillars Marine -Tex ONLY 5 - 6 hours. Pillars $150 2 hours. Paint stocks $300 5 hours. Breaks, mine only $220 stainless or blue 3 hours. Thread protectors $65 stainless or blue. Thread a barrel for customer break $150. Fluting $300 1 day. Recoil pads $220 4 hours. Timney tiggers $250 for all gun types $250 2 - 3 hours.

    I encourage customers to supply their own barrels, reamers and head space gauges if I don't have them. It saves them money and I don't have to deal with the 500 "is my gun done yet" phone calls waiting for components to come in and canceled jobs because of the long wait times for these components. I will pay for half the reamer and put it into inventory if the customer does not wish to keep it unless its a freak in which case he bares the cost and keeps the reamer.

    I don't do range testing or test firing. If I did it would be $400 per day.

    Barrel work or bedding returned in under 1 week approximately if all components are at hand.

    Repairs returned in three days.

    I install or rechamber 30 to 50 barrels per year. I make 95% of my money on repairs and machining.

    I do walk in traffic ONLY, no mail order. All guns must be accompanied by a current PAL or POL, all restricted and prohibited devices or firearms must also have a current ATT. All records of POL, PAL and ATT are returned to the customer at time of pickup and NO permanent records are kept in accordance to the change in Canadian Gun Control legislation bill C-19, 4/13/2012.

    I refer to Gordon Gritters price list a lot because he spends so much money on advertising and everyone knows his prices.
    S_W_Bausch likes this.

  3. #3
    butchlambert is offline Aluminum
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    Speer did a good job answering your question. It is hard to do as everybody has a different idea of what a custom consists of. I was at the DSCI show yesterday. The ACGG had their show in conjunction with them. Their customs ran from $10,000-$50,000. Just encredible workmanship.
    If I were you I would check the websites of several custom smiths. Most have prices posted. I believe Brownells has a price guide for smiths also.

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    Something That Butch brought up does need some clarification. I have made many custom riles in the past, but I don't build custom rifles anymore. Its not worth my time and I don't have a market for it anymore. I have built actions only out of novelty and although I have helped build barrels from scratch I do not own the equipment to build them and I have only a moderate interest in ever doing so.
    What I make now are Orange County Chopper Guns. Only one step over Sons Of Guns guns. Custom guns are start to finish actions or actions so heavily reworked in cosmetic ways that they stand alone. Stocks are always of high grade, traditional woods. Freaks, like East Indian boxwood, cocobolo, ebony and rosewood are allowed only for trim as time has shown them impractical for full stocks because of weight and strength. Nor do I place para-military guns in the custom gun category or fiberglass stocks or the use of plastics. I am still having a bit of a problem with the use of stainless steel on custom rifles although others have started to bend a bit.

    Its one thing to install a glass stock and a barrel on an action and assemble a working rifle in a couple days. Its an entirely different matter to sit down for 2 to 3 months and build a custom rifle. Both are both highly serviceable items and in the long haul do the same thing, but hardly interchangeable !

    Of the 1000 or so guns that pass through my shop every year I would have to say that I see LESS THAN one custom rifle every two years. Most Canadians won't pay for them and very few people in Canada build them anymore and most of their clientele is still Americans.

  5. #5
    SND
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    I meant ones assembled from action you can get like barnard, borden, and such, good match barrel, usually fiberglass stock, the kind you see doing most of the target competition.
    Not the super fancy forge your own iron, all engraved in gold and lubed with unicorn tears type customs.
    Seems pretty common these days that if it ain't a stock factory rifle when its in the " custom " category, or so I though. If not, what is it? usually its still somewhat unique in some feature though that often seems to be mainly the color if they go for a fancy paint job.... I could do custom paint alright... just not the pretty kind.

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    For the stuff people talk about in here, the prices I've listed are the going rate with guys that do it for a living. Or have a look at Gritters prices.

    "EXTREME ACCURACY INSTITUTE" and "Gordy's Precision"

    The hobbyists will charge half to nothing for their work. My best advice concerning them is to just ignore them. NEVER try to compete and NEVER, EVER match their prices. Fix a profitable price and stick to it or DON'T DO IT ! If you fall into the matching price habit or the being competitive habit you will get stuck there and people will price shop you and in the end you won't make money and if you don't make money you will go broke. If someone wants to work for assholes for free, LET THEM ! They make a gun for all their buddy's and then outstrip their market and get sick of working for whiny assholes for free and quit. Trust me, I have seen scores of wannabe gunsmiths come and go.I no longer give special rates to bench rest shooters, trap shooters, sporting clays shooters, people who want to put my name in print or women with nice tahtahs. I don't care if they are shooting in the Olympics, and I have worked on guns that went to the Olympics, its the same price. No one ever gave me a solid gold medal for being nice and no ones going to give you one either. The only exception are very close friends or people that have spent more than $5,000.00 per year with me for the last 10 years or more. I only have about a dozen guys that are in the $5,000 club so its not a big deal to give them a break and do work quicker and cheaper.
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    Long Tom is offline Stainless
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    Good stuff 'Chucker. Reminds me of the business I was in for 20 years, which was running a music recording studio. Very similar in many ways; an arcane skill set with lots of very expensive gear, a fussy and whiny clientele, and since it's viewed as "sexy" by the unwashed masses...... ALWAYS some trust-fund dufus coming along doing it for free or very cheap. They'd last a year or two then realize a) it's HARD work and b) it's not so much fun after you do it XX number of times, and the novelty wears off! So they'd bail, but be replaced by 3 more up and comers.

    In the pop/rock music world there was a corresponding change in taste- in how music was "supposed" to sound- in which a DIY, low-fi sound became cool, at least in some genres. It would seem that since rifles have a measurable performance standard (how they shoot) they'd be insulated from that at least.

    Just some Sunday mornin' ramblings...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Long Tom View Post
    Good stuff 'Chucker. Reminds me of the business I was in for 20 years, which was running a music recording studio. Very similar in many ways; an arcane skill set with lots of very expensive gear, a fussy and whiny clientele, and since it's viewed as "sexy" by the unwashed masses...... ALWAYS some trust-fund dufus coming along doing it for free or very cheap. They'd last a year or two then realize a) it's HARD work and b) it's not so much fun after you do it XX number of times, and the novelty wears off! So they'd bail, but be replaced by 3 more up and comers.

    In the pop/rock music world there was a corresponding change in taste- in how music was "supposed" to sound- in which a DIY, low-fi sound became cool, at least in some genres. It would seem that since rifles have a measurable performance standard (how they shoot) they'd be insulated from that at least.

    Just some Sunday mornin' ramblings...
    The gun world according to Rod:

    Custom guns are more timeless, a combination of art and function = Classic Rock & Roll

    Off the shelf guns are the working mans standard = Country & Western

    Handguns are expensive and hard to master = Classical Music

    Para-militarily and surplus is whatever everyone happens to be buying today = RAP & Disco

    LOL
    bebop likes this.

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    LKeithR is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by speerchucker30x3 View Post
    ...or people that have spent more than $5,000.00 per year with me for the last 10 years or more...
    Doesn't matter what business you're in. These are the customers who make you money. They've earned special treatment...

    Quote Originally Posted by speerchucker30x3 View Post
    The gun world according to Rod:

    Custom guns are more timeless, a combination of art and function = Classic Rock & Roll

    Off the shelf guns are the working mans standard = Country & Western

    Handguns are expensive and hard to master = Classical Music

    Para-militarily and surplus is whatever everyone happens to be buying today = RAP & Disco

    LOL
    What a spot-on analogy. Could probably be applied to a lot of other businesses as well...

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    Long Tom is offline Stainless
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    I made a lot of money recording the Mossberg Maverick of music... grin...

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    Chucker has enligtened me on pricing.....I think : ). I need to raise my already high prices. I don't go with the price shopping people out there just to get "the job". The price shoppers are usually the complainers about.......everything you can think up.....trust me on that one. The old axiom, "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" applies. I do give my customers quotes prior to commencing, and that is only right. To answer the original poster......using premium parts (actions, barrels, stocks, triggers, etc) the machining, fitting, assembly, etc, etc is around 2000 in labor. Want to shoot round after round in the same hole gauranteed, costs money.

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    Long Tom is offline Stainless
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    Guaranteed one hole, eh? Tell us more about that!

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    I forgot to mention that I guaranty dimensions, finish and that it will go BOOM. Nothing more. If you want one hole groups, go see keydiverfla.

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    keydiverfla's Avatar
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    I gaurantee the gun will do it with proper ammo, can't gaurantee the shooter

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    BobRenz is online now Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by speerchucker30x3 View Post
    For the stuff people talk about in here, the prices I've listed are the going rate with guys that do it for a living. Or have a look at Gritters prices.

    "EXTREME ACCURACY INSTITUTE" and "Gordy's Precision"

    The hobbyists will charge half to nothing for their work. My best advice concerning them is to just ignore them. NEVER try to compete and NEVER, EVER match their prices. Fix a profitable price and stick to it or DON'T DO IT ! If you fall into the matching price habit or the being competitive habit you will get stuck there and people will price shop you and in the end you won't make money and if you don't make money you will go broke. If someone wants to work for assholes for free, LET THEM ! They make a gun for all their buddy's and then outstrip their market and get sick of working for whiny assholes for free and quit. Trust me, I have seen scores of wannabe gunsmiths come and go.I no longer give special rates to bench rest shooters, trap shooters, sporting clays shooters, people who want to put my name in print or women with nice tahtahs. I don't care if they are shooting in the Olympics, and I have worked on guns that went to the Olympics, its the same price. No one ever gave me a solid gold medal for being nice and no ones going to give you one either. The only exception are very close friends or people that have spent more than $5,000.00 per year with me for the last 10 years or more. I only have about a dozen guys that are in the $5,000 club so its not a big deal to give them a break and do work quicker and cheaper.
    Speerchucker is at least 100% right! Once you start knocking a few percent here and there, it can grow out of control. Do your suppliers, landlords, tax collectors, grocers, etc give you any special deal? Nope. The only product you have to sell is your skill. Once you know what your costs are, and the profit you need, stick with it. You can't compete with a basement machinist on price, but remember a basement machinist can't compete with you on skill.

    Good, quality work will do more to bring in customers than a cheap price will. If someone wants custom work done, they want a custom job, not a hacked up home workshop project. Your work will sell itself to other shooters as well.

    When you do run into a cheapskate who wants discounts for all kinds of reasons, tell them SORRY, the price is what it is. If they take their work somewhere else, you haven't lost a customer who was worth keeping. Let them discover the joys of finding a discount gunsmith who works out of a basement.... Odds are, they'll be backto see if you can fix the cheapo's screwups.

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    SND
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    Thanks for the replies, great information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keydiverfla View Post
    I gaurantee the gun will do it with proper ammo, can't gaurantee the shooter
    Proper ammo ? Only with a dyed-in-the-wool bench shooter ? You mean I have to haul crabby old Lambert around all over the place to load voodoo ammo and pull the trigger every time I want to vanquish some varmint from the face of the planet ? You know how much beer that would cost me ? It sounds like you're making excuses here. Is it guaranteed to shoot one hole or not ? he he he

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    Butch is tired of you hauling him around. Beer is cheap, ammo is the culprit : )

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    polish avenger is offline Aluminum
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    Quote Originally Posted by keydiverfla View Post
    I gaurantee the gun will do it with proper ammo, can't gaurantee the shooter
    I get this question too and always give this answer but a little more direct.... "you could be a terrible shot, I dont know how you can shoot"

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    Accuracy can be fun some times.

    I ran into one of my competition, whom I had never met at an out of province gunshow. He had a table and as I walked by I recognized his business card and before I could get passed he spoke up and said "and how about you Sir, have you ever thought about having a long range tactical rifle built. We guarantee a minute of angle at 1000 meters." I looked at him and without smiling added, "and for another $50 you will dig up my dead grandmother, toss on a set of mudders, drop in a small block Chevy and guaranty me 200 MPH." He gave me the bovine stare so I just walked on.

    A new customer once asked me what kind of accuracy I would guaranty on a barrel job. I flatly told him that I guarenty dimensions, cosmetics and that it will go BOOM!" He repeated the question so I thought for a second and said: "it will shoot one hole groups at 1000 yards, and if it does not, you will give me another $950.00 and I will screw on another barrel and we will keep doing that until it does." The guy ended up being one of my regular customers. I dis-remember how the gun shot but I guess it must have shot well enough. I still work for him a couple times a year.

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