Selby, Sawyer on target at Rifleworx

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wallace Selby at Rifleworx in Bath prepares an HS Precision stock rifle for custom camouflage finishing. (Contributed Photo)

Every job requires some degree of skill.

Wallace Selby and R. Cole Sawyer’s occupation requires a specific skill.

The two men operate Rifleworx gunsmith shop located at 70 Ormond Road in Bath. Rifleworx offers custom-built highly accurate rifles for competition, long-range hunting and law-enforcement purposes. Another aspect of their business includes custom-ammunition development and loading. The avid gun enthusiast looking for the complete package may also find custom firearms finishing, general gunsmithing repair, special-order firearms, optics and shooting accessories.

Selby and Sawyer’s rifles are built on commercially available bolt actions. They may be built on custom-built actions and semi-automatic platforms.

Commercial actions are production receivers from companies like Remington, Winchester, Savage and FN Herstal. Custom actions are custom built to exact tolerances. Semi-automatic platforms used by Selby and Sawyer include AR10 and AR15 types from DPMS and Rock River, and M1A types from the Springfield Armory manufacturer.

Sawyer said that he and Selby work as a team. Sawyer serves as the rifle smith and Selby as the product specialist and finisher.

A riflesmith is a gunsmith who specializes in the customization and repair of rifles. A product specialist has extensive knowledge of rifle design and ammunition development.

They can assist customers in making the proper choices concerning caliber and build components. A weapons finisher is skilled at the preparation and application of firearms finishes from simple, single-color coating to elaborate multi-color camouflage.

Sawyer explained how he got into his current line of work.

“I started in the gunsmithing and custom rifle field in 1996,” Sawyer said. “This was while I was assisting the armorer at my old job and competing in various bench-rest rifle competitions. I got into it because I knew I could do a more precise job than the other smiths around.”

Sawyer said he competes in National Rifle Association F-Class long-range rifle competitions. People participating in these events fire guns from the prone position at ranges between 600 yards and 1,000 yards.

They usually use bipods or front rests. Matches are held at numerous shooting ranges around the country, as well as in Canada, England, Australia and South Africa. The closest matches in North Carolina are held at the Camp Butner National Guard training site in Butner. F-Class competitions are well-attended.

Sawyer offered some advice for anyone looking to go into custom-rifle building.

“Custom-rifle building is very rewarding, and is not off limits to anyone who has natural mechanical abilities. It does require absolute attention to detail and training from a skilled riflesmith. It would be a great field for someone with a machinist background,” he said.

Rifleworx clients come from across the nation and as far away as Sunnybrook, Nev.