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.221 fireball reamer or rifle builder ?

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Think you may need to ring around the rifle smiths to see if anyone has that reamer 


I don’t 👍🏻

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Top quality reamers are readily available in the UK with relatively short lead times these days. I wouldn't choose the rifle builder based on whether or not they just had a suitable reamer.

Your location isnt really relevant these days unless you specifically want to visit the rifle builder, I doubt I ever meet more than 10% of my customers in person and Ive got rifles Ive built all over the country and some far flung places around the world for that matter. I think the internet and social media/forums has made the world a small and relatively safe place to do business remotely now.

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That’s true alan but not many clients are willing to absorb the cost of reamers and gauges that are not in a riflesmiths inventory for a one off build

Different if the client is shooting in competitive circles and they want “their own reamer” for their own barrel work 

The other thing to consider with the op request is even if a rifle smith has that reamer in stock may not preclude the client to use that individual if they had or have a poor reputation for instance or history of using inferior products / practices 


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12 hours ago, Ronin said:

That’s true alan but not many clients are willing to absorb the cost of reamers and gauges that are not in a riflesmiths inventory for a one off build


I wouldnt dream of asking a customer to buy me a reamer, its my job to have the right tools to do the work, within reason.

I dont have a .221 reamer and in 7yrs Ive never been asked to chamber anything in .221 but I would consider it something I should have so I would buy it and take a reduced margin on the first job. Next time I need one it will be in the drawer with the others.

I would only look for a customer to supply/pay for a reamers if it was a real weird chambering that I would never expect to use again, in that case they can buy it and keep it once Ive used it. I think arguing over the cost of a reamer and go gauge with a customer is mean and not something Ive gotten into.

If I go to the local garage I dont expect to buy the mechanic the tools he needs to fix my car.

As for who to use, yes its best to get some feedback from others if they can. As for the chambering, I dont really see a lot of point to the .221 Fireball, its a load of hassle in terms of brass supply for no real return, might as well go .223 or 20 Practical but if they need to scratch an itch then someone will provide the finger.

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Alan - thanks for the reply - to expand a little on my list so I or anyone else don’t appear to come across as, “mean” if a client is asked to contribute towards the cost of a one off reamer purchase 

The last chamber reamer and guage set I bought in the UK (6 months ago) was £316

Prior to that I bought four reamer sets and guages - again a UK source, the cost being just under £1500 (12 months ago )

All the above were common or about to be common cartridges with perceived popular appeal

I’ve been doing rifle work since 2007 and in that time span (16 yrs) carried out 30-50 rebarrels or builds per year every year


During this period I’ve never been asked for 221 fireball and for instance can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been asked for a niche cartridge (6mm Rem being one instance and 338-06 another ) 

Both times the customer and I came to an agreement on the supply and ownership of the reamer

In one instance the reamer was supplied for 50% of its value which I think fair considering it’s only been used for one job, on the other the client supplied it and it remains their property 

I have a few reamers that clients own so that their work is carried out using only their reamers - this is a common practice both here and in the US - none of these reamers are listed for use on my web page - but the other forty or so that I have, are. 

There are some calibres I don’t work on .17 and .20 for example and I refer those enquiries to colleagues who are kitted out for this work

At the end of the day, a quality reamer and guage set costs what most rifle builder charge for a re barrel job and let’s face it none of us work for nothing otherwise bills wouldn’t be paid 





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The good thing about running your own business is you can decide how you want to do it, there is no right or wrong way so long as you are happy with your profits at the end of each year and you develop a good relationship with your customers and ultimately a good reputation.

Im comfortable that my costs and profit margin are well covered so I adopt the plan Ive already laid out. If I have to buy a reamer and go gauge (no need to waste money on a no go gauge) I can still make a profit from job one with the reamer albeit a reduced profit.

When I first started building rifles this was common practise for me, get an enquiry but dont have a reamer so buy one and do the work. I could have spent £10k buying everything I felt I needed reamer wise but it seemed to make more sense just working for a smaller margin on job one and keeping my cash in the bank or investing it in barrels, machinery or other tooling.

If every job that came in was a weird reamer that was unlikely to ever get used again then I wouldn't be so flexible but thats not the case. Looking back at even the last 30 jobs they were all your regular stuff, maybe the odd lengthened throat but all bread and butter work with a few common reamers from the drawer, on that basis I dont mind losing a few quid on the odd reamer purchase rather than asking a customer to pay, as I said it reminds me of the 'mechanics tools' analogy I gave earlier.

I do talk to people who tell me stories about some rifle builders that either try to steer them onto a reamer they have or ask them to pay for the reamer and in some cases even keep it afterwards. There are all kinds of rifle builders out there hence my reference to some being mean, Im happy with the way I see it.


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Thank you all very much . 

I've had a .17 rem fireball . Ive got a .223 that i love . Id just like to try the .221 fireball really . To me its like the natural progression on from hornet which i also love . 

i feel like i could have a short heavy barrel rifle in a nice chassis for out the truck (more and more common for me as i get older )   I like the idea of it very much . Although if its unbearably expensive  i would happily go with .17 rem fireball again or either of the hornets  . I dont have an open ticket yet so still bound by the police land checks . And some land including my own little farm they have been very specific about. 





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