I got a new chassis when I was in South Africa this last time so, I had to run right out and buy a rifle for it right away. I picked up a new Howa 1500 in .308win along with some extra bits, a scope and trigger and such. I had a Columbia River Arms 3-land polygonal rifled barrel cut for it in 6XC, profiled in a straight taper to an .850 muzzle and crowned it at 25.5′ with the muzzle threaded 5/8×24. For the several weeks while I was doing the build-up it was wearing a Nikon P-223 optic but I also picked up a US Optics SN3 3.8-22×44 ERGO scope. This is basically identical to my other USO SN3 optic but has a 44mm objective instead of a 58mm objective. I’d planned this rifle being my backup gun for PRS/NRL/etc…
Comes with a super cool bubble level that you can actually see from behind the gun
without moving your head.
I already have a Deadpool rifle so this one got painted in Deathstroke paint scheme. Action/bolt, scope rings and bottom metal in orange. A few little nicknacks in silver and everything else in blue in front fading to flat black.
Here it is mocked up with the factory pencil weight .308win barrel still on it and a Nikon P-223 optic in Warne rings, which I hate more than I think I can convey. PTG bottom metal and a Timney trigger started it off and Triggercam scope camera topped it because I have one and wanted to play with it a little.
I rattle-can painted the stock with the Deathstroke colors and added a
Harris bipod to hold it up while the paint dries.
One thing of note with Howa 1500’s is, there’s a small action modification you need to do to properly run AICS magazines. There’s a little protrusion in the rear of the magazine cutout. Just buzz that down flat with a Dremel and a sanding drum. That little nub will otherwise prevent cartridges from riding up to engage with the bolt nose so it’ll never feed. This is a good time to replace the factory trigger with a Timney or a Jard too.
Once the modifications were done, I added the US Optics 3.8-22×44 ERGO scope and a new Jard trigger set at 1lbs. I had earlier spun off the .308 sporter barrel…. Well actually my gunsmith did because the 800lbs gorilla that spins them on apparently also uses a breaker bar to torque them. Once that was out of the way and the paint job cured for a few days, I spun on the new Columbia River Arms 1:8 twist barrel along with a McGowan barrel nut for Howa 1500.
Using the gold master gauge from my Exact Shooting Custom resizing die, I set it up for zero headspace which will keep brass growth down, at the expense of a small amount of feeding/extracting reliability.
A Howa 1500 is basically what happens when you correct the more stinging deficiencies of a Remington 700 and then hobble it a little so you don’t overturn the definition of “perfect rifle”. You improve over the R700 by giving the receiver a flat bottom, using a 1-piece bolt body and handle and using an integral recoil lug. It doesn’t matter if it’s forged or cast or machined. If that was the case then Savage or Remington or Ruger or all three would no longer be in business.
A Howa 1500 does provide a couple “features” that are argued by some as deficiencies and by others as features. Chiefly, the M16 style extractor on the Howa is a bone of contention. It’s much loved in the aftermarket if you judge by popularity of doing that modification to a R700 but, people in the know realize that the stock R700 extractor is stupid strong and was not in need of replacement to begin with and a Sako or M16 type extractor is not in fact an upgrade but the opposite. They also put in a 3-position safety which is actually quite nice and a good thing.
All the stuff I like about Remington rifles… the silky smooth bolt, low bolt cocking effort, decent aftermarket support, a round top receiver, a one-piece bolt body (yes I love Savage’s floater for making it easy for dolts like me to build a great rifle at home but I prefer a fixed bolt head philosophically), easy trigger replacement, 3-rings of steel… it’s all there in my Howa 1500. So, too, is Japanese manufacturing standards which greatly outpace American manufacturing in terms of consistency and quality for price.
This rifle is my backup only because I already had my primary. It’s funny that my primary is a Savage 10 which has a ton of features I don’t really care for but which seem like the actual reason that I started using it in the first place.
Deadpool at top. Deathstroke at bottom.