Riflecraft’s head riflesmith and director, Andrew Evans-Hendrick shares the past, present and future of the customisation specialists.
How many years have you been a custom rifle builder?
Riflecraft Ltd was started to fill a gap in the then commercial rifle market. It was identified that customers were either offered off-the-shelf factory rifles or full-blown custom builds of exceptionally high costs. There was an obvious need for a service to accurise factory rifles and build custom rifles within the budget of an average working shooter.
We started in February 1998 in a workshop near my home, with three staff. We then moved to an industrial unit, that we still occupy, in December 2007. We expanded to four units in 2012 and up to 13 staff, including a retail outlet, but we closed shop and moved back to two units and five staff 2019 to concentrate back on riflesmithing.
Where did you learn your trade?
As a farmer’s son, I was raised with a rifle rather than a shotgun, and have been a sporting rifle shooter for over 40 years. From the family farm, I entered military service and was drawn, through this fieldcraft background, to reconnaissance and sniping, finishing my military service as a sniper instructor.
I trained in America, where every small town has a good riflesmith and prices are keen. This has heavily influenced Riflecraft’s pricing structure. The company specialises in rifle work only, from 22LR to 50BMG, and from threading a customer’s rifle for a sound moderator right through to complete custom builds.
Who are the key people at Riflecraft?
I am the company director and head riflesmith. I am a lifelong hunter and long-range precision rifle shooter. Amanda runs the office as admin manager, and is organised to a standard we would refer to as ‘gifted’. Gavin is the other qualified riflesmith, and has incredible attention to detail.
Jennifer handles accounts, controlling the company’s finances. Julian, who applies Cerakote and carries out general gunsmithing, is an absolute artist with Cerakote. He has been a professional coater/painter for over
During Covid-19 restrictions I furloughed my staff, but ‘self-isolated’ at the workshop. I carried on and caught up on a lot of custom-build projects such that I have reduced our lead time on new builds considerably. Every cloud!
What makes Riflecraft stand out from the crowd?
We try to put surgically accurate rifles into the hands of the customer, whatever the budget you’re working with. Custom rifles start off from as little as £1,750 + VAT, rising to over £5,000 + VAT.
We use the very best of all components available, and although the matter of cost is always approached sympathetically, it is never at any point allowed to become a limiting factor in the performance of a rifle.
How do you work with shooters to customise the perfect rifle for them?
We try to get what is inside the shooter’s head out and onto a piece of paper, whether it’s a custom build or an upgrade to an existing rifle. In our experience, every shooter has an ideal rifle in their head – our job is to make that a reality.
We will explain all the options of materials like barrels, actions, triggers, stocks, mounts, optics, moderators and cleaning equipment. Enough for a customer to make an informed decision.
Then we let them make that choice rather than making the decision for them. This is their money they are spending! We will only intervene if we know whether components are incompatible or detrimental to the build.
No two custom builds are exactly the same. We are all different, and as such, our needs are slightly different. Only by drinking tea with and teasing
out of customers exactly what they intend to use the rifle for do we get to build their perfect rifle, rather than our best guess of what their perfect rifle should look like. Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted!
Can you explain the benefits of a custom rifle?
Custom rifles are only marginally more accurate than good factory rifles. The real benefit of custom is consistent accuracy without fliers and the ability to build, bespoke, to exactly match the user’s requirements. Factory rifles are always a compromise to fit the widest group of shooters so the manufacturer can sell more guns. Custom is only about the individual and their needs. No compromises!
What services do you offer? And which are the most popular?
We build, customise, repair and accurise, but building custom rifles from scratch is becoming our most common service. We customise or upgrade customers’ existing rifles with new stocks and triggers, and repair damaged or broken rifles and parts.
Riflecraft are the ‘factory warranty’ armourers for six rifle brands in the UK. Lastly, we increase the accuracy of factory rifles by synthetic bedding and rebarrelling to wring the last ounce of accuracy out of existing rifles.
In an average day there will be anything in the workshop from complete custom builds to re-crowning a customer’s .22 rabbit rifle. We can be bedding, Cerakoting, fitting optics, adjusting triggers, or driving to our own 100m range to test rifles we have built. It is a constant variety, and thus never gets boring!
Will the transition away from lead impact the work that Riflecraft does?
The move away from lead will not impact on rifle shooters massively if they start looking now at solid, turned projectiles like those from Barnes, etc. We suggest you start your load development or factory ammunition selection process now!
Don’t wait until you have no choice. There are plenty of good solutions for both match and expanding ammunition natures. Prior planning and preparation…
What does the future hold for you?
We love to work with newer and emerging technology. We work a lot with carbon fibre, titanium, stainless steel and synthetics. There is a lot coming over the next two years from Riflecraft to make rifles even more accurate, lightweight and incredibly robust. We don’t stand still here, if you do you are, in effect, going backwards technologically!
As the famous Townsend Whelen once said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting”, a sentiment that Riflecraft wholeheartedly agree with.
Not content to sell you what they have on the shelf, their team listens to what you want from a rifle. They want to know what you are going to shoot and where. They then apply over 20 years of experience, and knowledge of the latest materials and technology, to build your custom rifle.
Designed with the accuracy and performance that ‘only real precision enthusiasts understand’, Riflecraft tests their custom builds and provides a test card as evidence of the tight groups that can be achieved with the expertly engineered rifle.
Over the years, Riflecraft has built rifles for specialist military applications, as well as for hunting, varmint and target shooting. They embrace technology and new ideas, and see their customer as their best ambassadors.
Furthermore, Riflecraft training programmes are used by the MOD and police, and recognised as best-in-class. A certificate for successful completion of their ‘General Rifle’ course is fully recognised by the police and BASC – the only course of its type in the UK to be valued in such a manner. It can also be used as a part qualification for the BASC Sporting Rifle Award.
Contact details: www.riflecraft.co.uk, 01379 853745
Read more on rifles below
- Set up your rifle for success
- The importance of rifle care
- How to build your dream rifle
- Lead-shot ban: The impact on rifle shooting
- Will O’Meara’s rifle training progress