Tom68: thanks for the response. Just the type I would expect here - informative. I feel the same way on "entry level" guns. They all seem to be pretty darn accurate (or claim to be) and come in a wide range of calibers which leaves shooters preferences. I have had great experiences with my TCs but a muzzle loader ain't the same as a bolt action.
I have handled pretty much all the $600 range bolt rifles out there in the last 6 months. Browning A and X, Savage 110/11 and axis, Weatherby, Ruger American, Mosberg 4x4, Rem my 700 sps, Marlin Xl7...and so on. Missed the Howa because I couldn't get ahold of one. I liked the feel and look of the Browning's but the weather guard, pricing and feel of the TC had me.
I'm looking at purchasing a durable, accurate versatile hunting rifle. From varmints to big N. American game like WT and elk (when we make it north). As for the combo, I am not usually a fan. Like to add my own glass but the combo comes with an extra mag as well at pretty much the same cost. My other rifles have a Nikon pro staff and a Bushnell banner. One at 150 and one at 70. Funny thing is I can't really "see" the extra 80! Guess I am getting old.
Glad to hear you are satisfied with yours and the recall wasn't that big of an issue.
I appreciate the comment and hope for a few more.....