Howa rifles any good?


September 3, 2004, 09:37 AM
I was in one of my favorite pawn shops the other day and he had a rack of Howa bolt actions in a variety of calibers all with scopes. Had a .308 and was asking $250--figure you could walk out of the store with it tax and all for a few bucks less than that.

The caliber was desireable and I would like it in a bolt action. However, I know nothing about the Howa brand (reliability, durability, accuracy).

Any thoughts?

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September 3, 2004, 11:04 AM
Howa is a Japanese manufacturer. Several American companies have used their actions including S&W and Weatherby. The current Weatherby Vanguard is a Howa. The actions are sound and decently made. The rifles should be quite usable.


September 3, 2004, 11:06 AM
What he said!

September 3, 2004, 11:14 AM
I seem to recall that some of the Howa bolt actions were Mauser-style (controlled feed) and some were not. Does anyone have any more specific info?

September 3, 2004, 11:38 AM
Howa does make some Mauser-type actions, but their most common rifle, the 1500, is a push feeder. I have a heavy barrelled 1500 in 223 that I got unfired from a coworker and absolutely love it. I haven't fired more than 100 rounds through it in the year I have had it and haven't really worked up any loads for it, but is is pretty accurate out of the box. The trigger is pretty good, but could use a little adjusting, but that is no big deal since it is adjustable. I can't say how durable it will be long term, but it hasn't let me down yet. If it is good enough for Weatherby, it is good enough for me. I love my Howa and recommend them to everybody that asks. I don't care for the synthetic stock that came on my 223, but that will be remedied soon by a call to Boyds.

Hope this helps,

September 3, 2004, 03:54 PM
I've got one in 300 Win that I like. It has the same wood as a Weatherby too.

Black Snowman
September 3, 2004, 04:01 PM
I heard there was a recall on the early Weatherby Vanguards but things are well now. From what I understand they are a very good value although I haven't had a chance to fire one.

September 3, 2004, 04:05 PM
I appreciate all the helpful information. Once again, THR'ers have never let me down. Quality help.

September 5, 2004, 12:53 PM
I have handled several of these rifles. Very smooth action, and they appear well made. Like the man said, if they are good enough for Weatherby...
At that price, I'd jump.


September 5, 2004, 09:06 PM
Question to those who've shot them: what kind of accuracy have you been getting?

September 5, 2004, 09:15 PM
With my heavy barrel 223, I got moa or less groups with starting loads. I have more loads worked up for it, but haven't had a chance to test them yet.

Hope this helps,

Jim Watson
September 9, 2004, 03:13 PM
It may not be as obvious now, but when Howa-made rifles first came on the market, it was pretty apparent that they were copies of Sakos. And not bad ones at that.

The last few NRA Competitor magaziness have had a series on F-Class competition (long range with artificial support allowed.) One of the "build your own" examples they used to advertise vendors was a Howa barrelled action in a McMillan stock. So the author thought it had possibilities at 1000 yards.

September 9, 2004, 04:57 PM
At one time Howa had an agreement with Sako to use some of the patents for the Finnbear (model 61?). Howa interpreted this agreement to mean that they could make an absolute copy of the Finnbear. Sako disagreed and they prevailed. Howa ceased production on the (almost) exact copy. The rifles were sold here as Dixon-Howa Golden Bear, sometimes spelled Dickson-Howa Golden Bear. They were apparently 30-06 only with 25" bbl length. They were good high quality rifles with the appearance of a Sako.
The modern Howa is not a direct copy of the Sako but bears some resemblance. I wish I had bought a Howa instead of my last Ruger.
Good Luck
edited for spelling

Jim Watson
September 9, 2004, 06:27 PM
Interesting how the companies get in bed.
I recall years ago a local store had a Golden Bear. Looked just like a Sako but was very slow to sell because nobody knew what a Dickson was and the stock was an ugly light color.

September 9, 2004, 06:31 PM
Not my direct problem, just an FYI, read down to the bottom. I have heard a lot more good about Howa's than bad, But....................

September 9, 2004, 06:58 PM
When Smith and Wesson was selling long guns, they were Howas. Also, the Howa made AR180's are considered better than the ones made by Sterling.

September 10, 2004, 04:10 AM
The problem of manufacturing a wood gunstock for the Japanese is difficult. They have, as a nation and a culture, a system called JIT delivery. It means Just In Time. The supplier is supposed to be one with your company and deliver just the right amount at just the right time to suit your production needs. This is the gold standard of quality in manufacturing.
Land is very expensive and the concept paying for space to age wood slowly doesn't fit with JIT. Also, the concept of highly figured wood being beautiful is a distinctly Caucasian concept traceable to the earliest firearms of the Caucasus Mountains. A nice piece of wood that stands out is an anathema to Japanese. They prefer subtle and even looking wood that does not stand out. One common saying is "The nail that sticks up will be hammered down." They also do not see the gun as an object of beauty as they do the sword.
Still I wish I had a Golden Bear --

Jim Watson
September 10, 2004, 08:07 AM
Jac Weller, who used to do factory and foreign army reports in American Rifleman, described the room at the Miroku factory staffed by women equipped with paint, brushes, and picture books of wood grain patterns. Take a sanded Citori stock off the In rack, paint in faux grain per page 7, put stock on the Out rack to be picked up for finish, turn the page, repeat.

The Japanese may have a more subdued culture, but they are excellent businessmen at reading and accomodating the market.

The Golden Bear was pretty early in their entry into sporting arms and they might not have realized the salability of fancy wood, but they had been putting good finishes on wood for centuries and there was no excuse for the orangish mess I saw.

Master Blaster
September 10, 2004, 08:26 AM
I have a weatherby vanguard/ Howa 1500, and I have a remington 700 made about the same time. If you handle them side by side and inspect the metal work, the Howa is the clear winner. The Howa has a very nice machined and polished trigger guard and floor plate, the Remington a very rough MIM poorly finished trigger guard and floor plate (it looks like poorly molded plastic!!). The action of the bolt on the Howa requires 1/4 of the force required of the remington action to open (cock ) and cycle, the Howa smooth as silk the Remington rough as can be. The Howa came witha a 1 moa guarrantee for 5 shots at 100 yards with ANY quality factory ammo.

The remington guarrantee :rolleyes: It will fire and a bullet will go somewhere:uhoh:

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