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The Good Life: Made-to-measure firearms

Calgary-based Alberta Tactical Rifle Supply specializes in custom guns

Jun 2, 2014

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The heavy tactical weighs 20 pounds. The carbon fiber hunter a scant eight
Photograph Bookstrucker

Customization used to be the purview of the elite, but no more. Whether it’s a suit, a pair of shoes, a piece of jewelry or a set of golf clubs, there’s someone offering custom-made products to meet every desire. It only makes sense, then, that there’s a business offering made-to-measure firearms – and people that are taking them up on it.

Calgary-based Alberta Tactical Rifle Supply specializes in two kinds of custom guns. The first, the AR-15, is what owner Rick Timmins describes as “the Barbie doll of the gun world,” given that users can dress it up any way they like. “It’s modular,” he says, “so you can make whatever changes you want yourself.” But he says the one that really benefits from customization is the precision rifle, which can be custom-fitted right down to the bolt. “What we’ve found over the years is when you take a rifle and fit it to the purpose, it works better.”

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The benefits of a made-to-measure gun are the same as any other custom-tailored item: a closer fit. “It’s like golf clubs – you can buy generic, or you can have them fitted to you. The guys who want to take it to the next level, when they know exactly what they want and fit it to them, typically shoot better.” How much do they cost? It depends on how much you’re willing to spend. “It’s the sum of the components plus the labour,” Timmins says, “so if you decide to go with economical components and a mass-produced action, you can end up with a really nice custom rifle for under $3,000. Conversely, if you want to go absolutely over the top, you can get a gun that’s over $12,000 – about $4,000 in action and barrel that’s wearing a $6,000 piece of walnut. And you’ve got everything in between.”

Web Extra: Looking for a gun that doubles as art?

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