What to look for in a gun builder?

Doesn’t matter if you only have one or a safe room full of them, guns are personal items and we all look at differing features and specs when choosing our guns. 

Unfortunately, the act of actually building the gun of our dreams is far from easy and so we need to turn to those that are skilled in the art of constructing the perfect gun for us. The question then remains, what do you look for in a gun builder?

What gun exactly do you want?

Just because a gun builder churns out quality pistols does not mean that level of excellence will transpire over to constructing a rifle and vice versa.

Similarly, those guys making long-range rifles may not be the number one option for a short-barreled tactical rifle.

It is crucial first to sit down and decide what type of firearm you want or in this case desire, pistol or rifle, hunting or competition shooting, semi or fully automatic, wood stock or synthetic, you get the idea. Once you have those qualities highlighted, it will then give you a framework or template with which you can use to select the gun builder that will deliver on your expectations. 

If it is for hunting, do some research into the animal you will target the most and develop a rifle best suited for that particular hunt. For example, if a mountain goat is high on your list then chances are the shots taken will be at distances around the 400 to 500-yard mark, so the rifle will need to have the correct twist rate and barrel length to achieve excellent accuracy at that distance. 

With sheep hunting, there is always a good amount of hiking and climbing so the rifle would preferably need to be lightweight and easy to carry.

Similarly, if tactical shooting competitions are how you like your bread buttered then your gun will need to include a multitude of features from adjustable stocks, ergonomic magazine releases, adjustable trigger pulls, well-placed Picatinny rails, smooth chamber extraction, and reloading capabilities, and so on.

Hey no judgment here, but if what you desire is just a badass looking gold plated AR with some crazy feature like having the rifle scream “Merica!” every time you pull the trigger then all power to you, at least you know what you want and can take those, all be it weird, preferences to find the best possible AR builder that can deliver.

What to look for in a gun builder?

With the first part of this process explained, we can delve a little deeper into what exactly you should look for in a gun builder and how each of these characteristics will not only save you a lot of time, effort, and money but also won’t have to worry about the ATF kicking down your door.

Are you even legal?

Every hunter, gun owner, collector, competition shooter, enthusiast, 2A supporter, firearms historian, and red-blooded American is well aware of the constant scrutiny and potential policy restrictions firearms come under on a daily basis.

With that being said, laws are laws, and it’s best to stay on the right side when it comes to guns. Every gunsmith is required by law to have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) issued to them by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

If the gun builder you are considering does not have an FFL, then don’t even bother with the next steps, walk away and find one that does.


The industry is full of newcomers, not taking anything away from them as we all started somewhere and there are some incredibly talented gun builders out there that are just getting started, but the experience and years of perfecting your craft are invaluable.

Look for a gun builder that has been in the industry for a good number of years, has seen it all, and knows what works and what doesn’t. You may come to them with an idea that you believe to be unique and they could very well explain to you how and why it would not work, saving you a lot of time and money.

Time within any industry is always a good indication as to the quality of work they produce and the level of customer service offered.

Quality work

Mercedes-Benz is the oldest car brand in the world and obviously has immense experience in the automobile industry but that does not mean everyone likes what they produce.

We all have our go-to brands when it comes to hunting rifles or pistols and will gladly hurl abuse and ridicule anyone at a hunting camp that would suggest otherwise. The reason this happens is that we didn’t find the quality in that brand that appealed to us.

Take the time to scrutinize a builder’s workmanship, the way they finish off their firearms, attention to detail, and how they get the components to work together. Don’t simply look at photos and make your decision based on whether or not the guns look cool enough, ask to test fire a few of them, feel the firearm, work the action and try to understand a little more about the finer details of their work.



The creation of the internet has shifted power into the hands of the consumer and made it very difficult for unscrupulous service providers and shoddy builders to hide. Reviews and references are a great tool for providing a little more insight into how the gun builder runs their operation. 

A high number of positive reviews and even more past clients willing to discuss their good experience or possibly show off their custom firearm is obviously a great sign, but value can also be found in negative reviews. You may very well come across a negative review or hear from a past client that was turned down on something specific that you similarly may want in your gun build. The more you look into the finer details and search on reviews, the more you save on time and money.


Remember, it’s your gun, it needs to be unique to your desires and perform a function that you want. Otherwise, why else actively search for a custom gun builder when you could very easily walk into any old gun shop and pick the first rifle off the shelf that you come across?

Working with a gun builder that is open to suggestions takes heed of what you want, and at the same time offers advice and changes that you may not have thought about.

Building a gun is a long process, so there is plenty of time for communication between both parties. Let your gun builder know if they are on track or may need to rectify one or two issues that you do not like.


The price of everything seems to be going up and up without any sign of it slowing down, and the same can be said for custom gun building. People need to make a living and a skilled technician that lays out a quality item at the end of the day needs to be rewarded for their hard work.

You get what you pay for when it comes to gun building, but saying that we are also aware that not everyone has deep pockets. Put together a reasonable budget and work with a gun builder within that budget to ensure you are both on the winning side when the job is done.

In-house services offered

Does the gun builder handle all the work and fabrication in-house or do they source parts of the process to third-party operations? While there is nothing actually wrong with this, it may add some additional time to the build, it adds another link in the process that has to understand the customization needs and could also add to the overall cost.

Additionally, what services does the gun builder offer post-production? Should something go wrong are there warranties and guarantees in place, do they have the know-how to rectify any technical issues? 

Insurance could be another point on its own but in reality, it does not have a direct effect on the actual build of your gun, so we included it here. Knowing a gun builder has the relevant insurance in place will give you peace of mind knowing should something go wrong in the shop, that you won’t be out of pocket.

Choosing the right gun builder is a similar process to choosing just about anything nowadays, it comes down to due diligence and first laying out your expectations so that you can match them against the specific characteristics of the gun builder.

One final factor when looking for a gun builder, and possibly the most important, is to enjoy the process and have fun. 99% of the hunters and firearms enthusiasts out there would love to have a custom gun built for them but in reality, they never will.

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