I was very pleased to discover Hillbilly Custom Rifles as professional gunsmiths are hard to find in the northeast. Nate can do it all from building a custom rifle from scratch to adjusting triggers and installing recoil pads. He does great work on the Remington 7600’s so popular in the northeast and I was delighted to find that he could get my trigger down to a 3 pound pull. Nate has also done some very successful accurizing work for me on a Remington 700. He has freely given me honest advise on my own firearm projects and directed me to those hard to find sources for special little items that make the job successful.
Just a quick note with a picture to let you know how much I appreciate your work on my rifles. This picture is with the 7MM Mag you did work on. I have had many comments on the muzzle break that it is the BEST muzzle break these guys have seen. As I run muzzle breaks on some of my other rifles, this is something the guys I shoot with noticed right away. The fit, lack of recoil and the QUIETEST muzzle break I have ever shot are some of the comments I received. Your glass bedding worked out some of the kinks this rifle had! Without your service, I don’t think this picture would have had a happy ending as you know how that rifle shot when I brought it to you!
I also appreciate your professionalism, knowledge of the products you produce and the rapport I have developed with you. I look forward to the new 257 Weatherby Magnum your building for me and the memories that gun will acquire.
Just wanted to say thanks again for such a great rifle in the 338-06, along with the barrel swap on the 7mm-08. I really appreciated how we talked through every detail of the rifle so you understood exactly what I wanted, and the end result was just that, the very rifle I asked for. The fit, finish and function are flawless, and the fact that it poured the first 12 shots into one ragged hole kept me smiling the whole rest of the day. And that was with 6 different powder weights, and two bullet weights!!! Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to walk me through my first build, I can’t stress enough how much I appreciated the quick email and phone responses every time I had a question. Looking forward to having you build the next one, thanks for the great rifle.
I started shooting NRA F-class a few years ago with a Bushmaster Varminter in .223. I did OK but I wanted something better suited to the sport. When I asked other competitors who should do the work, a number of them suggested Nathan.
I checked out Nathan’s credentials and they were impeccable. A former Vermont F-class champion, he is the protégé of Louis Laberge, a gunsmith and shooter of some national renown. He also has all the equipment that you would expect a first-class gunsmith to have.
I contacted Nathan to discuss the project. I found him easy to work with and helpful. We hit upon the concept of a 30 inch Krieger barrel in .260 Remington with a SAAMI-spec chamber. I didn’t want to have to turn brass. Even though he already had a .260 reamer, Nathan ordered a new PTG spiral-fluted carbide reamer at no charge to me. This thrilled me to no end as I know this to be the absolute best reamer to produce a clean chamber cut.
With the exception of the wait for the reamer, the project proceeded apace. Nathan produced a beautiful barrel job with blueprinted action. The engraving on the polished barrel is first rate, with “HB Rifles” and “.260 Rem” in italic script. Nathan installed a thicker precision recoil lug and produced a bump-gauge made from the stub of the barrel using the same reamer. He also ordered a beautiful extra-long graphite cleaning rod for me.
I wanted to keep costs down, so I installed a Jewell trigger myself and skim-bedded the aluminum bedding block in the factory stock. Being as I shoot a lot of different disciplines, I didn’t have a lot of time for load development. I decided to use Winchester 7-08 brass and neck it down for a tighter neck fit. I settled on 123 grain A-max bullets and H-4350 powder. Break-in was done with factory hunting ammo yet produced groups in the ½ minute area. I quickly worked up a load of 45 grains H-4350 behind the A-maxes for 3000 fps. Groups during load development were ½ minute or less with several one-hole groups. The bump gauge was a big help in this process.
I have shot a couple of F-class matches and even a SCORE benchrest match with this rifle and am doing well with it. I had to make an “Accuracy Asset” type attachment for the forend and am working on a thumbhole laminated stock with a real F-Class profile. When that is complete, I expect this rifle to compete with the best of them.
Throughout this project Nathan has always been friendly, informative and easy to work with. I highly recommend him.
I came to Nathan somewhat versed in custom rifles, mostly bench rest from 100 to 600 yards, so I was not new to shooting. Accuracy was, and still is, the most important factor for me. Nathan understood that. The difference with Nathan as opposed to people who I had worked with in the past is that he did not lack in the three characteristics that I thought was essential: Great knowledge on all components, a fantastic ear for the client, and a genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for shooting.
Just to be clear, I already had a .308 custom rifle before I worked with Nathan. When I told Nathan that I wanted him to build an F class rifle for me, the process of choosing individual parts was done with a great deal of thought on both sides, and Nathan took care to listen to specific issues I had from previous experiences with certain calibers and/or finished rifles. The gun performed well at the initial events that I entered, but as I got better, the appreciation for the gun just grew. I was able to learn more, and become more successful because of the overall functionality of the gun. I have since had Nathan build me a second rifle, also for F class. I am still learning about reloading, and wind, and temperature, and etc., but the point is, both guns have never been the restricting factor in my continued success. Nathan’s guns allowed me to be accurate in the true sense of the word, meaning that I could take them out in a variety of terrains and weather conditions and be confident about every shot within the caliber’s range. To be even more blunt, my other guns are pretty much collecting dust, and my rifle usage these days are centered around the two that Nathan has built for me.
In closing, I have attached my most recent target for the .308. I have many more stacked away, but I think this one serves the purpose. Conditions were cold (duh!), and wind around 5-10 mph. This outing was done as an experiment using heavier bullets than I normally use (175 to 185). The gun is a joy to shoot.
There’s a litany of quality gun-builders out there and to separate and decide can be a daunting task.
For me, it was the blended mix of Nathan’s F-class champion background as well as his passion for hunting and hunting rifles. The understanding of what it takes to build long-range stuff and to put that same understanding and quality into a hunting package is what sealed the deal on my first rifle.
Easygoing as all get out, he’s not about to tell you what you need until he’s listened to everything you’re looking for.
Whether it’s been a full-blown custom build, cerakoting, restocking/painting/bedding, a rebarrel or blinging a bolt, I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences working with Nathan. And I never hesitate to make recommendations to friends.
I have no trouble admitting that I’m not god’s gift to marksmanship. I’m attaching a 400-yard target photo from my Hillbilly Custom chambered in 257 Weatherby – this was the first time I stretched it to 400 yards. Thanks Nathan!!