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Old July 15, 2013, 08:33 PM   #1
mj246
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Help with Caliber/configuration - Howa 1500

Sorry in advance for the long rambling post.

So I have been looking at the different options in budget but not "cheap" rifles for the past couple of weeks trying to find what to lust after and save up for. Budget around $500-$700 with a decent starter scope that will be upgraded as money allows.

After much fondling of anything I could find I have settled on a Howa 1500. Starts around $450-$500 and seemingly quite upgradable. The rifle shoulders great and the action is the smoothest of anything in that Price I have tried.
This part will not change (although I guess Weatherby Vanguards would be on the table, but they tend to cost more for the same setup).

However, I am completely lost on what would be best for my intended purpose. I would like it to be a good accurate target rifle for ranges between 100 and 300 yds with the ability to move out to 500 yds or so once I feel comfortable attempting that range and can find a place in the desert to safely shoot up to that distance. I will probably often shoot anywhere from 30-50 rounds a session, so it must be able to keep accuracy and remain comfortable for that many rounds over the course of about an hour or two. I would also like it to be good for hunting any small-medium game if the mood ever strikes me or it becomes necessary for some reason. Basically a good do-almost-anything rifle for a shooter on a budget.

Before discussing calibers (the meat of the question), I'll say that I do reload so price and availability of components is more important than that of factory ammo.

My problem is that I was originally thinking something in 7mm-08 because it is fairly common to find and has good ballistics, but the 1500 only comes in that caliber in the compact 20" tapered barrel. That seems like it might not be great for extended range sessions because of the barrel and action heating up quickly.

Other possible options include 6.5x55, 308, 270 win, and 25-06.

The 6.5x55 sounds perfect for my intended purpose, but is harder to find ammo/components for and the rifle and components plus the rifle itself seem to be more costly than more common calibers.

The 25-06 looks good too, but I've heard it has a significantly lower barrel-life than my other options.

The 270 and 308 win by far in the areas of rifle/ammo/component price and availability, but may have more recoil than I'd like to endure for 40-50 rounds (I currently have a Mosin 91/30 and 40 rounds is about my fun limit with a recoil pad). Also, how much bullet drop can be expected from a 308 at 300 yds or more?

So what do all of you good folks think is the best option for my intended purpose(s)? Links to in-stock rifles or barreled actions with prices are greatly appreciated too.
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Old July 15, 2013, 09:26 PM   #2
steveNChunter
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Of the available options, I'm gonna recommend the .243 with the heavy varmint barrel for your stated uses. Buy it as a barreled action and get yourself a decent stock, like a Bell & Carlson Medalist. Or buy a Boyd's and glass bed it.

I have a Howa .25-06 that I bought as a barreled action. I use it as a hunting rifle, it's sub-MOA with my hand loads but if I were to fire 50 rounds in an hour accuracy would not be so great from the barrel heating up. My three shot groups look a lot better than my five shot groups if I don't give the barrel time to cool. A .25-06 heats up fast, especially in a sporter weight barrel, so nix that idea.

The 6.5x55 is a good option as well but it only comes in a sporter weight barrel and brass will be harder to find/more expensive than .243

Long range bullet selection is great in either .243 or 6.5 but you're gonna need that heavy barrel. Get the .243
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Old July 15, 2013, 09:30 PM   #3
Ajtozzi
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Help with Caliber/configuration - Howa 1500

I just bought a Howa 1500 in 308 on special at a local store for $269. They had a few left - may he worth it to call them. Ramsey Outdoor 973-584-7798
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Old July 15, 2013, 09:41 PM   #4
mj246
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steveNChunter,

Any idea where I can get barreled actions? I really like the idea of starting from the ground up and buying parts as I can save the money, but I can't seem to find any info on who sells just the barreled actions that can ship to my local preferred ffl.
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Old July 15, 2013, 10:19 PM   #5
hammie
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@mj246: I don't know if this will be helpful, but Legacy Sports (the howa distributor) lists a telephone contact for barreled actions. It is (800) 553-4229. Their website is legacysports.com.
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Old July 16, 2013, 05:53 AM   #6
steveNChunter
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mj246- I just went to a local gun dealer and he was able to order it for me. Since Howas are made in Japan they have to be imported by another company. AFAIK Legacy Sports is the only US importer of Howas (besides Weatherby). But any FFL dealer should be able to order one for you. Mine was a blued/standard contour barrel and it was a little under $400.
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Old July 16, 2013, 10:12 AM   #7
dgludwig
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Quote:
I have settled on a Howa 1500. Starts around $450-$500 and seemingly quite upgradable. The rifle shoulders great and the action is the smoothest of anything in that Price I have tried.
This part will not change (although I guess Weatherby Vanguards would be on the table, but they tend to cost more for the same setup).
I wouldn't arbitrarily rule the Weatherby out in terms of finding the least expensive Howa variant. Just last year, I bought a new Vanguard from my lgs for $299.99, chambered in .257 Weatherby. Granted, the store was apparently closing them out in advance of the "new" Vanguards but I have generally found Howas stamped Weatherby to be in the same price range as "regular" Howas.
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Old July 16, 2013, 01:42 PM   #8
steveNChunter
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Another good thing about the Vanguards is they come with 2" longer barrels in most calibers and have a sub-MOA guarantee. But its hard to find those great deals around the Howa price range since they came out with the "Series 2" line. You pay mostly for the Weatherby name, the accuracy guarantee, and maybe a bit better stock. I still think your better off to build-your-own Howa from a barreled action. By the time you buy a good stock and maybe a bedding job for it you will be close to the Vanguard's price, but you will have a better stock.
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Old July 16, 2013, 02:17 PM   #9
mj246
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Yeah I think I'm going to try and get the barreled action from Legacy Sports through one of my local FFLs. I already have an idea for a decent stock choice from Richards Microfit Stocks. And will probably start with a weaver k6 scope as I don't really like messing with adjustable magnification and will not be shooting more than 400-500 yds (and again usually only out to 200yds). Any other recommendations for fixed magnification scopes under $300 for target shooting 100-500 yds are welcome

It looks like my last big decision except for searching around to actually find good deals on these things would be caliber and barrel length still. I am seriously contemplating a 308 with 20" barrel. The availability of components and load data are tremendous, including light loads for my close range shots that I could easily shoot several groups of without putting too much strain on the heavy barrel and my shoulder. Barrel wear from the 243 is a serious concern for me, and I like the idea of the 20" barrel to keep the rifle under 10lbs.

Is my reasoning flawed? Should I just bite the bullet and go with a 243 24" heavy barrel (~6 3/4 lb barreled action) with a Richards Cascade Classic Stock and 6x or 8x scope? Or will a 308 20" heavy barrel (~6 lb barreled action) with the same stock and scope work just as well for heavy target use and possible small-medium game hunting out to 500yds?
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Old July 16, 2013, 02:29 PM   #10
steveNChunter
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Quote:
Any other recommendations for fixed magnification scopes under $300 for target shooting 100-500 yds are welcome
my only recommendation is more than 6x magnification for target shooting, but that would be fine for hunting. I'd want at least a 10x fixed for targets



Quote:
Is my reasoning flawed? Should I just bite the bullet and go with a 243 24" heavy barrel (~6 3/4 lb barreled action) with a Richards Cascade Classic Stock and 6x or 8x scope? Or will a 308 20" heavy barrel (~6 lb barreled action) with the same stock and scope work just as well for heavy target use and possible small-medium game hunting out to 500yds?
as long as you aren't recoil sensitive the .308 is fine. But for extended periods at the range, I'd rather have the .243. If you take care of the barrel theres no reason you can't get 5,000 rounds out of it.
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