Howa M-1500 Review, and a.. RANGE REPORT


December 23, 2010, 12:01 AM
Alright, for those of you who dont know me, I am J.D. a 14 year old shooter, I was gifted a Howa M-1500 for my 14th birthday from My dad, I got it a couple weeks early. In late September, I was in love with the rifle from the first time I handled one, In the Stockbridge Army Navy Store.
So, I returned a couple weeks after looking at it, and dad let me pick it out.
I was very happy, It included a Nikko Stirling 3.5-10x44 Illuminated Reticle scope, some cheap rings I was not too impressed with after the slipping started, and a nice solid EGW 20 MOA if I'm right, base.
The total cost of the Howa, was about $550.00 out the door, and they were nice enough to let me have a box of Hornady A-Max 168 grain ammo. :D
I was like a dog with his head out the window, really exited.
I got to shoot it two days later, I at first thought it was the ammo, but I realized, it was me, I had developed a terrible flinch I am now over, but I was all over a target at 100 yards.
After that I was shooting with an adult who was watching me, and corrected my flinch.
Thats when I realized the rifle's ability to group, and how rewarding it is too shoot something so accurately, I had always been a squirrel sniper with the Model 67 Winchester single shot .22 but the .308 is a different game.
The rifle has produced groups recently that are 1 inch or under with Hornady factory match ammo.
down to some .5" 3 shot groups, and some .75" 5 shot groups.
I am now a big fan of Howa, the fit and finish from factory is good.
The trigger is at about 5 pounds, with a little creep, but I have yet to correct it. It doesn't bother me much anymore, and hasn't hurt the accuracy much.
The rifle has not shot accurately with Winchester Powerpointammo, or Remington Core-lokts.
It does, however shoot well with Hornady A-max 168, Hornady Interlock 165 grain BTSP, and Federal Gold Medal 168, it will shoot about anything 2 MOA, but with the listed ammo Mine has shot the tighter groups.
I have today, ran 150 grain Hornady BTSP in a Hornady match case, over 46.5 grains of Varget, I don't load myself yet.
These loads were by Don, the rangemaster cooked em up for me, and It's what I have favored over others, due to the recoil not being as fierce as the heavyer bullets.
So, after about 3 months. All I can say is WOW. :D
I'm happy.
The bolt is silky smooth, and the Hogue stock it came in is good enough for anyones hunting or casual shooting needs, and the rifle can easily be dropped into a Bell and Carlson if desired.
although it is a sporter barrel, my scale says the rifle weight 9.5 Lbs.
It balances well in hand, and feels tough.
I have shot it out to 300 yards today and was impressed with the group, since I have never shot that far before, and I didn't test the loads at 200 yards, so I guess I went out on a wild hair and did it, I fired 5 shots of the 150 grain hornady handload, all hit, and 3 federal GMM 168 grain, all missed.
But were more likely due to the heavier bullet dropping faster and the group was already low on the target.
I know, I know, get it over with..
Wrapping it up I give this rifle a rating of 8 out of 10, the only thing to be desired is a smoother bore, because this rifle will foul after about 200 rounds if you don't use a copper solvent, sorry Hoppes No. 9 original guys. Didn't work.
Thanks for reading if you did, here are the pics of targets from the range today. Along with a picture of the rifle.

First group shot, with 150 grain handloads.

Second group shot, also 150 grain handloads, after adjusting scope.

Third group shot, With 175 grain BTHP M118 L-R Sniper ammo.

Heres the fun part, 300 yards, a little wind, Moved Up 12 clicks in scope, which I returned to zero afterwards. still hit low, 3 shots of Federal GMM missed. The 5 150 grain loads fired hit, and groups fair if you ask me, I have never shot out to 300 yards before.

Thanks for reading ;) any questions about the Howa you may have are cool. :D

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December 23, 2010, 12:36 AM
nice work! and good review

someday, you will really appreciate having learned to shoot with a crappy trigger. if your fundamentals are good, you can shoot just fine with heavy, gritty triggers with too much overtravel, etc. and then when you get a good trigger, it's a walk in the park.

something to think about when making your own targets, is to make the sight picture something very easy to replicate. if your scope is a cross-hair, then consider making the target a cross-hair instead of a big dot. that way, you can line it up horizontally and vertically. with a big dot like that, it is hard to find one point in the dot to aim for.

you might consider making yourself a stencil out of a thin sheet of plastic or something with an xacto knife, and get a 99 cent can of spray paint and paint your target onto the cardboard boxes you're using, or paper plates, etc.

December 23, 2010, 12:41 AM
Cool, I'll try that, my scope has a crosshair 11o clock vertical cant I have been told is normal, anyway I won't be shooting again until after Christmas, so I will have a new scope that has the Nikon BDC reticle I will try to make something for, also, I have printed a nice stack of targets, so I doubt I will be making my own for a while.
I have paper targets. I just feel like making my own sometimes, guess it's that inner kid.

December 23, 2010, 02:03 AM
Nice report and great shooting! Keep it up!

December 23, 2010, 02:09 AM
One place I get good targets is to print them off the internet. Check out this link and you'll find some. There are lots more sites to find animal targets and all sorts of others.

December 23, 2010, 02:12 AM
Nice. I have a Howa 1500 heavy barrel .308 and agree it's a great rifle and very good value.

December 23, 2010, 10:13 AM
that there is some dang fine shootin' JD. your group at 300 yds. looks better than my 100 yds groups.
what did you do to get over the flinching?

December 23, 2010, 10:37 AM
Thanks for the write up. I just ordered a full length bedding block Hogue for my Interarms Mark X 7x57. I hope I get accuracy similar to yours.

December 23, 2010, 10:56 AM
sappyg- Many people feel they need to go in depth about getting over flinch, the way I did it... Dry firing, ALOT, when I get the chance I still do it.
Just practice it from all positions you're planning to shoot, and remember, ALOT. ;)

Mr Pale Horse- My hogue stock is not the model with the bedding block, it is only pillar bedded, many people complain about the stock flexing and touching the barrel, however I have never had this happen when shooting, sandbags, or bipod.
Have fun with the new setup :D

December 23, 2010, 03:52 PM
my scope has a crosshair 11o clock vertical cant I have been told is normal

If your vertical reticle is pointing to 11 top and 5 bottom that is certainly not normal...

Trying to level the reticle on your scope can be maddening at times. One method that I find works very well is to use set of metal feeler gauges from an auto parts store (simple & cheap)... Simply find a size that fits between the flat base underneath your scope's adjustments and the flat top of the rail (not all scopes have a flat base under the adjustments, my Bushnell Trophy does not, but my Simmons and Nikon both do) There is usually about an inch of surface are there, and with the appropriate feeler gauge you can get within a degree or less of being dead on level with the base and the barrel... and as a plus you dont have to worry if the rifle was level or not when you did it, because that makes no difference.

Now if the reticle is canted from the factory, which has been known to happen a time or two, then that is a "send it back and get another" situation...

December 23, 2010, 04:01 PM
I'm not worried about it, the scope is a Nikko Stirling that came on the gun, and it has preformed well with the slight cant.
If it wasn't shooting better than me, I would complain, but it hasn't bothered me.
I'll be replacing it christmas morning with a Nikon Prostaff BDC 3-9x40.
Thanks though I might try that with my Nikon.

December 23, 2010, 04:03 PM
Good shooting. If you ever get the itch to change out the trigger, try adjusting it first. Howas 1500s have very underrated adjustable triggers. I have 2 and I got them both to break like glass with no creep or travel whatsoever. If you go too light, you lose your safety though. Oh and you have an awesome dad to get you that for your 14th birthday!

December 23, 2010, 04:06 PM
Yes sir, my Dad is awesome, he got back into shooting recently and has dropped some coin, he got a nice AR and ACOG we have a blast with.
You mind sending me a message of how you adjusted your trigger?

December 23, 2010, 04:09 PM
JD, That BDC reticle is, to put it bluntly, a bit of a pain in the rear but they can be nice. It will definitely take some getting used to but you are young so you have that advantage. I have it in my Coyote. Took my old rear a bit of cussing and flailing about but I finally got used to it. You most DEFINITELY need to have it dead on level though. Some "cant" their rifles in their shoulder and tent to "cant" the scope in mount as well. That is why you see the 11-5 sometimes. If you are properly formed, your buttstock position will be vertical and not canted.

December 23, 2010, 04:13 PM
Have you ever handled a Hogue stock? Just curious if you noticed the slight cant to the left.. Mine has that, I was told it was normal after looking over other Howa's in the LGS, that also had it.
I'm 100% sure it will be better than the wierd Nikko Stirling Ballistic reticle that never lands the bullet like it should.
Anyway, I don't cant my rifle, I shoot prone alot now, and have a swivel Bipod, I won't take a shot I don't think is 100% good.
But I don't think I cant my rifle, I've been thinking of having the scope mounted by someone experienced and have one of those bubble levels snipers use.

December 23, 2010, 04:14 PM

Good work. Thanks for sharing. I wish I could have shot that well at 14!!

Edit to agree that you should get or borrow some automotive feeler gauges. I have 2 of them. I use them with every scope to assure that the reticle is level.


December 23, 2010, 04:34 PM
Nice write up JD:) Now get out there and smoke the lack luster target I posted in my match:p

December 23, 2010, 04:37 PM
what kind of rest were you using, that's an impressive 300 yard group

December 23, 2010, 06:28 PM
Here's a great writeup of how to adjust the factory trigger. It's pretty easy and very rewarding.

December 23, 2010, 08:25 PM
JDG- I'm going to try after christmas, I usually shoot groups, but I'll make an exception for that match :neener:

Vyacheslav- For the 300 yard group I used a 9-13" swivel bipod, with a rear sandbag at the rear of the stock, for only 2 shots, It was hopping so I switched to using an Allen front sandbag and the same rear bag for the final 3 of that group, I could've finished the group with the bipod but I hate hop, and was shooting prone so I didn't want to get dirt slung at me.

Furious- I guess I'll be paying someone because I'm not gonna do that, but thank you, I'm not patient enough to deal with that. ;)

December 23, 2010, 08:27 PM
By the way, that 300 yard group measured 2.25" wide, and 2.5" tall measuring from the outside of the bullet holes and using a plain stick ruler. :)

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