Building Your Perfect 3-Gun Rifle: Part 1

(pictured are two custom rifle builds from American Defense MFG. Each rifle is designed to suit the unique configuration requirements of a different shooter)

Part 1: When One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Why the Universally Perfect 3-Gun Rifle Build is a Myth


There once was a time when every firearm manufactured could be considered a custom build, with each piece hand crafted and fitted to a particular rifle, musket, or pistol. Advances in engineering during the 19th century ushered in the era of mass production and component interchangeability, a technological wonder that completely revolutionized arms manufacturing throughout the world.

While the majority of today’s firearms are still produced en masse in certain stock configurations, the majority rarely remain in their original form. While custom rifle builds traditionally required the skills of a gunsmith or a competent machinist, the ease in which a rifle like the AR-15 or Remington 700 can be built and modified has been simplified to the point where a common layman can build a match grade rifle with a few basic tools and a brief tutorial.

The unprecedented modularity of these rifle designs has led to an explosion of aftermarket components, accessories, attachments, optics, lights, and barrels. A new golden age of the custom rifle build is upon us, and the idea of the “perfect rifle build” may vary dramatically from one shooter to the next.

Our sponsored 3 gun competitors are a diverse group who range greatly in firearm experience, professional background, age, and gender. Each individual interviewed provided us a full component breakdown of what they consider to be their ideal 3 gun rifle. Each rifle described proved to be quite unique based upon the individual requirements of the shooter. Here is a brief introduction to each shooter interviewed:

Madalyn & Thomas Stewart

Niki & Heath Clevenger

Sean Dexter

Our next segment will outline the functional requirements and build strategies involved in the construction of each shooter’s perfect 3 gun rifle.

Part 1: Introduction to the Perfect 3-Gun Build
Part 2: Functions, Classifications, and Build Strategies of the Ideal 3-Gun Rifle.
Part 3: Upper Receiver Component Selection.
Part 4: Lower Receiver Component Selection.

Criterion Barrels always welcomes feedback and input from shooters using our products. If you would like to share details regarding your ideal 3-gun rifle build (that includes your preferred Criterion barrel model), feel free to send us a list of build specs and a photo of the rifle, submitting your response to [email protected]

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