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Author Topic: Customize Your Deer Rifle  (Read 651 times)

Offline Dutch-Hunter

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Customize Your Deer Rifle
« on: March 08, 2013, 03:14:44 PM »
Why Customize Your Deer Rifle?

We don’t like to leave things alone. We love customizing everything including our guns. With the exception of a few collectibles, there’s not a gun in my safe that has been left totally “stock.” Deer rifles are no exception; they can be improved by minor tuning or tricked-out to the extreme. In fact, the modern American deer rifle was born out of the customized or “sporterized” surplus military rifles of World Wars I and II.
When customizing a firearm, it’s important to have a clear objective—are you trying to improve accuracy or aesthetics, shave weight or all of the above? Methods for addressing each can run from economical to insane. Your preferred hunting style and geographic location are key components to answering this question. If you hunt with dogs in thick brush your needs are different than those of a hunter who hunts deer in the open plains or steep canyons. Your rifle can be altered (customized) to fit your hunting needs.
No deer rifle begs for custom work like one that displays poor accuracy. Many firms and gunsmiths offer troubleshooting services for a set price that can bring the best out of a factory rifle. The services generally focus on the usual culprits that plague the accuracy of hunting rifles: improperly-mounted optics, poor bedding and a damaged or rough barrel crown. Unless the rifle has a major flaw such as a bad barrel, these steps are generally quite effective. With some simple troubleshooting and a bit of experimentation with different loads, most deer rifles are capable of excellent accuracy.
Recoil pads
This may be the simplest of modifications but it can really ease the pain of heavy kickers. An aftermarket buttpad like the Pachmayr Decelerator or the LimbSaver can absorb recoil as well as lengthen or shorten a rifle’s length-of-pull.  If it is more comfortable to shoot you will shoot it more and better.
One of the simplest ways to customize a deer rifle is to replace the factory stock with a quality synthetic unit. A stock can change the look, handling qualities, felt recoil and accuracy potential of your deer rifle. Wood-stocked rifles can be accurate and durable, but all things being equal, it is easier to achieve repeatable accuracy with a composite stock.
Not all synthetics are created equal—the injection-molded stocks offered on many factory rifles are often too flexible to offer a real benefit. McMillan, H-S Precision, Lone Wolf and Manners all offer excellent stocks in configurations to suit every body type and taste and in a range of prices. Though many of these stocks advertise as “drop-in.” spending the extra cash to have the rifle properly bedded can pay large dividends in the accuracy department. If you are a traditionalist, custom wood stocks are always an option but they can be quite pricey—beware of Internet “bargains.”


No single factor can affect the practical accuracy or shootability of a rifle like the trigger. If I alter only one thing on a firearm, it’s usually the trigger. Depending on the rifle in question, triggers can either be tuned by a qualified gunsmith or replaced with an aftermarket model such as one from Timney or Jewel. This is one area that kitchen table “gunsmiths” should stay away from—this modification should be done by a professional. However it is not rocket science either, with some time and preparation most gun owners can do it themselves. If you do make a mistake you can take it to a pro for help and learn from it. The cost of a good trigger job or replacement is usually quite reasonable, often under $100.


Many of us hunt in foul weather where corrosion can be a real problem; others fear that a shiny rifle can spook game. Fortunately, we are now in the days of great metal finishes that are durable, corrosion resistant and easy to apply. Coatings such as Cerakote, Duracoat and KG Gun Kote each have their advantages. Duracoat is probably the most user-friendly for the home hobbyist, with kits available for under $30. With any of these coatings, the combinations of colors and various camouflage patterns allow virtually endless variety for the hunter wanting something “different.” For the extremely frugal, a couple cans of spray paint and some masking tape can do the trick. A word of caution any time you add to the barrel you will affect its harmonics and you’ll have to re-zero and hopefully get repeatability.

Scope mounts
The weak link between a quality scope and an accurate rifle is a cheap set of scope mounts. Quality mounts are an insurance policy against the bumps and bangs that can knock a scope off its zero. Be sure to install them properly or have them installed by a pro. Over-tightening of scope rings is a common culprit in erratic shooting performance.
Not all deer rifles wear scopes, and in some jurisdictions scopes on muzzleloaders are prohibited, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room to make improvements. Lyman receiver sights were cutting-edge optics several decades ago and they still work quite well. Aperture sights can be used effectively at great distances and are a distinct improvement over the cheap open sights available on most rifles. Larger ghost ring apertures are fast and are great for quick action in thick brush, such as hound hunting. Fiber optic or tritium beads can be a game changer in the low-light situations where a lot of deer hunting occurs.

For the hunter who wants an exotic chambering or extreme accuracy, a custom barrel is often the only option. When a hunter is willing to go the custom barrel route, the possibilities really are endless—this is where true “custom rifles” really begin.  If this is the way you want to go do a ton of research first.
Full Custom
A proper custom deer rifle is built from scratch components and built to the hunter’s specifications—cost is the only object. Simple synthetic-stocked customs can start at just over $1,000 and a masterpiece can easily top $10,000.
Custom touches can make your deer rifle a more effective and attractive tool on the hunt or at the range options are available for very budget. Accuracy, looks and handling can all be improved if the proper components are chosen and the job is done right. You can have it your way.

Long story short; Make it fit you! Make it work for you! You'll like it much better trust me.
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Old enough to know better!
TO old to care!

Offline russcat

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Customize Your Deer Rifle
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 04:12:17 PM »
Good stuff Dutch!  And thank you for your time in sharing your knowledge.
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Offline Gutshot

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Re: Customize Your Deer Rifle
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2013, 06:52:41 PM »
Good stuff Dutch, one question, what are your thoughts on raised see through mounting rings?
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Offline Split toe

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Re: Customize Your Deer Rifle
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2013, 07:44:37 PM »
Good stuff Dutch, one question, what are your thoughts on raised see through mounting rings?
Gut years ago see through mounts were all the rage. ( 35-40 years) I had a set mounted on a Remington 742  "Carbine" 30-06 and found myself never using the iron sight but only the scope. The see through mounts have long been gone.  My personal opinion is they are not as accurate as I like my scope as low to the barrel as I can get it. A good set of rings and mounts is money well spent.

Dutch another great read, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge...
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Offline wvwhitetail

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Re: Customize Your Deer Rifle
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 01:57:31 PM »
Always enjoy reading your posts Dutch,very informative.


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