FWIW, I have a Savage 12BVSS IN 300WSM with a Burris 3-12 x 50 XTR scope. Great setup for me hunting and range work. While many people will steer him away from a 10+ lb rifle, I like the accuracy prone and off an improvised rest which the weigh allows me.
So, I like the Howa or a Savage. I agree with many others that a package scope and mount are usually junk. He could sell it and get a decent mount and scope.
Given his price range though, he might be better with more of a "mountain gun" type setup of a normal sporter rifle like a Savage 10, good scope mount(TPS, Warne, EGW, Leupold, etc) and a nice 6x fixed power scope. A 280 Rem, 308 Win, 30'06 or 338 Federal would all be good calibers.