We are often restricted by our budgets when it comes to buying equipment, (whether you are looking for a new rifle or a new fly rod) but sometimes more money does not necessarily mean more quality.
Not too long ago I started looking for an affordable plains/varmint rifle for Springbuck and Blesbuck sized animals that will be able to fire a light bullet (55gr to 100gr) at a high velocity to produce a flat trajectory, which has many advantages when shooting at longer distances.
I narrowed my search and then decided to purchase a Howa model 1500 with a 22″ factory barrel. It was not just the price tag that was the deciding factor, but the reviews from people who have extensively tested them, both on the range and in the hunting field. The caliber that will suit my needs most is the .243 Winchester. Although there are better long range calibers available these days, the .243 Winchester got my nod because of it’s ballistic characteristics and it’s availability of reloading components and accessories.
I fitted a Boyds featherweight thumbhole stock, a Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14 x 42 scope with Warne bases and mounts and a UTG bipod. I am going to fit a Silent Hunter screw on suppressor in the near future, which I will review on it’s own.
I tested the rifle with 100gr PMP factory ammunition and the results were quite pleasing. At 100 meters I got a group of around 1″, 200 meters gave a group of around 2″ and at 300 meters the grouping was between 3″ and 4″. I was not bothered too much with the results as I am going to reload ammunition for the rifle which will produce better results. Currently I am looking at developing loads for 80gr Sierra Blitz Varminter bullets which will give me a flat trajectory and hopefully sub MOA accuracy!
The little Howa behaved extremely well and I am more than happy with it. It has a reliable extractor mechanism which is in my opinion better than the majority of push feed actions available. The trigger takes some getting used to but it is crisp and it has no creep. The sensitivity of the trigger can also be changed, however I will advise that it be done by a qualified gunsmith.
Over all I can highly recommend the Howa model 1500. It is affordable and it is great value for money, however it can easily compete with rifles in a higher price class.
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