Howa/Axiom- opinions?


August 18, 2009, 09:43 AM
I stumbled on these the other night, helping my friend find his next toy. This rifle caught both of our eyes. Pistol grip, compact, heavy barrel....sounds really intriguing.

We're looking at the heavy barrel configuration, chambered in .308 Win.

Anyone tinker with these rifles? I'd really like some reviews on how they perform on paper. Gimme the good and bad.

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August 18, 2009, 10:28 AM
The one review I read was in a magazine and they said accuracy was "acceptable" which generally means "poor." It was a .308 shooting 1.75" groups. I don't believe what I read in the magazines too often, but it was something I noted. I like the platform, but MOA accuracy is not a difficult thing to achieve these days, and I've come to expect it. I really haven't heard much other than that.

August 18, 2009, 11:21 AM
Heavy barrel Howas tend to be capable of excellent accuracy with the right loads, as in people use them to shot prairie dogs at 500+ yards.

My sporter-weight .30-06 does 1/2 MOA with half-decent handloads. With Wal-Mart factory hunting ammo, it might do 1.5".

The long-range p-dog guys handload very carefully.

That said, the Howa/Axiom heavy barrel is pretty heavy all around. What I'd say about it depends on what you want it for. For any kind of offhand shooting, a traditional stock works better.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 18, 2009, 12:25 PM
They used to be extremely accurate on average, but Uncle Mike (dealer) says he's seen a quality decline in Howa recently, so be careful.

August 18, 2009, 12:48 PM
So Howa is actually selling a 1.5 MOA rifle for $800?

No thanks, I'll stick to my $300 Stevens to drive nails with.

August 18, 2009, 12:55 PM
No, I wouldn't call it a 1.5 MOA rifle. It'll probably do 0.25 MOA if you load for it.

Depends on what you want to shoot through it, like most guns. I don't know anyone who wants that kind of accuracy and doesn't load his own.

August 18, 2009, 01:05 PM
I just bought a Howa 1500 in .308 that shoots sub-moa out of the box, WITH cheap Winchester 150gr power points. I am pleased to say the least.


August 18, 2009, 01:18 PM

For pretty much the same amount of money, I can get this little "Precision Carbine" from Savage.

Heavy 20 inch barrel, .308, compact....fits the bill also.

I believe we have a winner. Now for that job thing...:uhoh:

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 18, 2009, 01:19 PM
The conventional wisdom WAS this: The Sub-MOA versions of the VANGUARD were cherry picked after testing with standardized ammo, and fitted with a better stock, labeled "sub-MOA", and the price raised considerably. But on the Howas, this procedure was not done, so you had a fairly decent chance of getting a Howa that was sub-MOA with ammo configuration X. But your chances of getting a Howa which was sub-1-MOA with TUNED ammo to that rifle was very good. Sub-MOA rifle in most cases was the result, without the two premiums paid (one for the Vanguard designation, and one for the sub-MOA designation). So Howas got a well-deserved reputation for accuracy.

But see allegation of recent decline in quality and customer complaints from the perspective of a shop owner/seller.

August 18, 2009, 01:30 PM
Ok..but lets throw the Savage into the mix.

Savage is well known for out-of-the-box accuracy, as well as it's tunable trigger. Apparently, Howa is having some issues on consistent products as of recently. For $30 more MSRP, I can get the Savage, and almost guarantee that the accuracy is superb with factory ammo out of the box.

I do reload, btw.

August 18, 2009, 01:32 PM
No reason I can think of not to get the Savage (with the new Accustock, NOT without it!). Just thought you were interested in the Axiom package specifically.

August 18, 2009, 01:35 PM
I was at first...until I looked on the Savage site just a minute ago. Comparing them side by side for their purpose, they both are exactly what my friend and I are looking for.

August 18, 2009, 03:17 PM
fwiw... i've shot 3 inch groups shooting offhand with my savage with factory ammo. it's a pretty accurate rifle, especially for the price.

Zak Smith
August 18, 2009, 03:42 PM
article | The Howa Axiom Rifle (

Relevant excerpts:

# 4. Accuracy testing at 100 yards revealed both Howa Axiom rifles averaged just under 2 moa groups with a variety of match, hunting, tactical, and surplus ammunition.


To test the Axiom, first I zeroed the Burris at 100 yards using 168-grain Federal Gold Medal Match ammunition. Accuracy results were mixed. I tested seven types of match, tactical, hunting, and surplus ammunition including loads Black Hills, Federal, and Hornady. The average group size was just under two inches at 100 yards. Groups strung both vertically and horizontally. The Black Hills 175-grain load managed one group around an inch.


If the scope is tracking correctly the first and last groups will coincide, and the distance between groups will correspond exactly to the knob movement. Since the Axiom was giving me inconsistent accuracy results, I clamped the rifle in place and dialed the scope, watching how the reticle moved on my target.


Next, I took the rifle out to some open land where my shooting partner and I regularly place targets out to 1500 yards. Since the practical limit of 308 is 800 to 1000 yards, we set a full-size IPSC silhouette at 980 yards and several smaller steel plates at 300 and 500 yards. Accuracy at medium and long range tracked right around two moa, which made sense considering the 100-yard results. The 940-yard plate could be hit about 50 percent of the time, while the closer plates which were larger in moa at their distances, could be hit closer to one for one.


One of the main features of the Axiom stock is its recoil abatement design. The stock is spring-loaded in two spots to cushion the stock's impact. I found it effective for that purpose, but an unintended side-effect is that the barreled action now moves during the shot and follow through. A tenet of rifle marksmanship is to get the rifle tight into your shoulder to keep everything the same shot to shot. The movement inherent in the Axiom design works against this. The other practical effect is that spotting impacts is more difficult because the rifle, and thus the scope, is moving in recoil. This observation was echoed by my shooting partner.


While I might expect a sporter with an unbedded lightweight barrel to shoot 2 moa with hunting ammunition, there's no excuse for a heavy-barreled, free-floated 308 to average over one moa shooting Federal Match ammunition. The Howa has potential, with good build quality and no major flaws, but needs to address out-of-the-box accuracy.

August 19, 2009, 10:35 PM
I like them they shoot well better than the test results

August 30, 2009, 10:29 AM
I believe we discuss HOWA previously

Where in my test they proved to be unworthy; also we agreed that Weatherby is a better choice over new HOWA

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