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Old January 30, 2016, 12:14 AM   #1
Join Date: June 20, 2003
Location: Flagstaff AZ
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Howa rifles?

Was browsing the local Sportsman's Warehouse today and noticed that they had a few bolt guns in OD plastic stocks that were made by Howa. Never heard of this brand before today. Looks like they make a range of bolt guns in various calibers. Any positive/negative experiences with this particular brand?
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Old January 30, 2016, 12:26 AM   #2
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They have made the Weatherby Vanguard rifles for years and years and over the years have made rifles for many brands including S&W and others. In the late 1960s they made an unauthorized copy (as well as licensed manufacture) of the Sako Finnbear that is much sought after. Over the last 10 years they have established themselves as a quality marque in their own right and while soft, poorly bedded Hogue stocks let them down several years ago, that has been remedied. I believe their current stocks use an aluminum sub chassis or are at least rigid and pillar bedded. They tend to be a bit heavy.

I owned a1500 in 30-06 with the squishy stock. It was still good for 2 MOA with not particularly well developed hand loads. I would definitely buy another now that the stocks are resolved.
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Old January 30, 2016, 12:27 AM   #3
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They are an Asian brand, I think Japanese. They are generally lauded. Supposedly extremely good rifles for the money, they have their fans.
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Old January 30, 2016, 12:32 AM   #4
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Howa has been around for several years, under their own name as well as Smith & Wesson and Weatherby Vanguard. They make a very solid rifle that is a very good value. They share many design feature with the older two lug Sako rifles. The trigger is the only thing I have had any issues with. Sometimes it is hard to adjust all of the creep out and still have the safety work properly. Timney makes a replacement that works well.
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Old January 30, 2016, 12:56 AM   #5
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Excellent rifles & very much worth the money.
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Old January 30, 2016, 01:17 AM   #6
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Way more rifle than the cost would indicate, I also had an A1500 in 30-06 that was 1 moa. Problem was it had a stock that squeeked when wet. And I bought it for my western Washington hunting rifle. It just was too noisy for woods use for me.
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Old January 30, 2016, 01:20 AM   #7
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Howa = good rifle.

Don't hesitate buying one.
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Old January 30, 2016, 08:34 AM   #8
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They are good solid rifles, Weatherby uses the actions to build their Vanguard. They are not the same rifles. While all the parts interchange Weatherby uses different a stock, barrel, trigger, and safety.

As others have said the basic rifle has been made under several different names over the years. The only downside is that they are the heaviest production rifles made. As long as you aren't trying to put together a lighter rifle for mountain hunting they are a very good choice.
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Old January 30, 2016, 11:33 AM   #9
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I had a bull barrel 1500 Varminter in .223, thing was an absolute tack driver. Like, consistently .5 MOA or better with handloads. Shoulda kept it, but I wanted a .220 Swift and didn't have the funds. My .220 is accurate, too (5 shots .72 MOA @ 200 avg.), but that Howa was better. .223 just didn't have what it took to zap prairie rats at 600+ yards out here on the windy plains, though.
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Old January 30, 2016, 11:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jmr40 View Post
They are good solid rifles, Weatherby uses the actions to build their Vanguard. They are not the same rifles. While all the parts interchange Weatherby uses different a stock, barrel, trigger, and safety.
The Weatherby Vanguard does use different stocks, mostly in order to use Weatherby styling. There are some cosmetic differences in the action such as fluting on the bolt and the shape of the bolt shroud, again to make the rifle resemble a Weatherby Mark V. Otherwise the barrel, trigger and safety are virtually identical between the Vanguard and the Howa 1500.

Howa made all Weatherby rifles including the Mark V when they were made in Japan.
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Old January 30, 2016, 12:06 PM   #11
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They also have a new trigger design that is supposed to be better called a H.A.C.T. trigger.

Here is their website. I would really like to get one of the Ranchland rifles. I just don't need anymore guns.

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Old January 31, 2016, 11:08 AM   #12
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i heard their 223 bull barrels were a 1 in 12 twist, therefore you have to use nothing heavier than a 55 grain. looking at a used one on arms list for 575 with a target scope or a dicks savage vt 11 223. that one has a 1 in 9 twist.
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Old January 31, 2016, 12:01 PM   #13
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Mine is in 308 I love it, I is capable of .25 groups at 100 yards ,I've constantly destroyed prairie dogs at 400+ yards.
Love the short heavy barrel
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Old January 31, 2016, 01:46 PM   #14
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My brother shoots a heavy barreled .243. It's a very nice shooting, well built rifle.
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Old January 31, 2016, 02:18 PM   #15
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They're push feeds, and have a great two stage trigger. The trigger on my Vanguard S2 is the best of any rifle I own (I prefer two stage triggers to single stage though). They tend to be slightly heavier than equivalent makes from other manufacturers. I really like them, especially for the price, but to each their own. Aftermarket support (accessories) is not what it is for Remington or Savage.
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Old January 31, 2016, 02:24 PM   #16
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Two of my nephews have owned them, one still does. The other one wishes he had kept his.

Nephew #1 has a Howa 1500 in 30-06, it's his elk hunting rifle. Accurate and trouble free but as others have noted a touch on the heavy side. I have fired this one a fair bit and really like it.

Nephew #2 had a Howa 1500 in .223, used mainly for deer hunting. He really liked it but wound up trading it in on a larger caliber rifle suitable for elk hunting. Has regretted not keeping it ever since. I only fired a few rounds out of this one, but my oldest daughter shot her first deer with it. I would have made him an offer if I had known he was thinking of getting rid of it.

If the price is right, I would not hesitate to buy one. Solid rifles for the money.
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Old January 31, 2016, 02:45 PM   #17
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I've got two, one in .223 and one in 30-06, both are extremely accurate, and very similar to the Weatherby Vanguard as has been previously mentioned. Wouldn't trade either for any rifle on the market today. Note I don't find either rifles exceptionally heavy, as I've carried them for quite a few miles over rugged terrain in various states out here in the west, during various hunts.
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:01 PM   #18
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Interestingly, when I bought a Vanguard a couple of years ago, there was a nearly identical Howa for sale in the same shop. The Weatherby was less expensive.
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:07 PM   #19
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Howas are billed as having cold hammer-forged barrels. Is this uncommon in the sporting/hunting rifle arena?
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:21 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Slater View Post
Howas are billed as having cold hammer-forged barrels. Is this uncommon in the sporting/hunting rifle arena?
The USRAC Winchester 70's were cold hammer forged so it's certainly not unheard of. I'm not sure how the current FN ones are made. I think maybe Colt forged their M16 barrels but that's just a shaky memory.

How well the barrel is made matters more than the process. For a regular production rifle I would be perfectly happy with either hammer forged, cut or button rifling methods. It's the QC that matters, and Howa has quite good QC from what I've seen. If they made a LH action I would certainly still own one.
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:24 PM   #21
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Howa builds and sells barreled and non-barreled actions to other gun makers like Weatherby and Mossberg and others. My Mossberg 1500 in 30-06 is actually a Howa 1500 barreled action which was given a nice wood stock and Mossberg stamp on the barrel.

It's always been a good shooter, but after I floated the barrel and bedded the action, and adjusted the trigger to about 3 lb (not so hard to do) it is delightful to shoot.
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:26 PM   #22
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Mine did not have the faces of the bolt lugs machined and ground. They replaced the whole rifle.

The trigger is not too hard to bring up to snuff.

I like mine.
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Old February 1, 2016, 01:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Slater View Post
Howas are billed as having cold hammer-forged barrels. Is this uncommon in the sporting/hunting rifle arena?
As others have said, QC is most important in any rifle, especially the barrel. Note that Sako and Tikka barrels are hammer forged and both are known for their out-of-the-box accuracy. My Tikka in .270 Win. consistently averages .5" at 200 meters. It has been my experience that hammer forged barrels are often smoother finished and clean easier than their button rifled counterparts.

I have a Weatherby Vanguard (Howa 1500) in .30-06 and it is very accurate. Less than 1" five-round groups are boringly common. I bedded mine in a Boyd's walnut "Prairie Hunter" stock and can't be more pleased with it.
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Old February 1, 2016, 06:08 PM   #24
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I just bought one a couple of weeks ago. I haven't broken it in yet. Nice rifle and mine is in .308 cal
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