Tam and Chris have great posts about the economics of customizing guns. Bottom line: custom build a gun if you plan on keeping it and using it. Don’t imagine you’ll ever get your money back out of it. If you want a high end gun, buy one to begin with. You’ll be more likely to get your money out of it when time comes to sell it.
Small customizations – like trigger jobs or bedding jobs – can make the piece better. You won’t get all of your money back out of it when it’s time to sell, but you won’t lose your shirt, either. I’ve never regretted paying for a trigger job or custom trigger, even for the one time I later sold the gun. The sights and the trigger are the two most important parts of the gun’s user interface. You can’t be happy with the gun if you aren’t happy with those two parts.
What about buying customized guns?
The reverse of Tam and Chris’s advice is that buying customized guns can be a bargain. You get a lot of value for very little money, assuming the gun is what you want.
Here’s a customized Smith & Wesson 686 I bought through Gunbroker five years ago. The previous owner was an attorney in Grapevine, Texas who had the gun customized to shoot NRA Silhouette. I’m going to brag on it, in the interest of illustrating a point, natch.
The red dot electronic sight and mount are obvious extras, but not really customizations per se. The Elmer Keith Bill Jordan grips are cut to fit the scope mount. (FWIW, the grips didn’t work for me. Way too big. Elmer Keith Bill Jordan apparently had enormous hands. I like Jerry Miculek grips much better for S&W revolvers, or just plain old rubber Hogue monogrips.)
The removable Jarvis underlug beneath the barrel adds 10 ounces out front to reduce muzzle flip. To accommodate the Jarvis underlug and red dot sight the owner had a custom Prezine leather speed holster made. The holster is a gorgeous work of art that had to cost the previous owner several hundred dollars, but he threw it in as part of the deal.
Dallas gunsmith Lynn Patton did the trigger work. The double action pull is 9 pounds, 3 ounces and the single action pull is 2 pounds, 9 ounces. The chambers have been chamfered for quicker reloading.
How much did all of this cost me? I’d rather not say, since I may want to sell this one day, but the price I paid is about what a run of the mill used 686 would normally cost. Even in 2004 that was less than the cost of a new 686 and many S&W fans prefer the parts and workmanship in these older models.
Geez, I need to go shoot it. It’s been too long.