The Howa 1500 is a bolt-action centrefire rifle that is manufactured by Howa Machinery of Japan. Currently, it is the only large-calibre, bolt-action rifle produced in Japan but sold worldwide. Its biggest draw is, despite its comparatively low price it was determined to be robust and finely crafted as one would expect of a Japanese brand.
- Length – 42.25 to 46.50 inches
- Barrel Length – 22 to 24 inches
- Weight – 7.75 lbs.
- Rate of Twist – 1-9 to 1-12 inches
- Magazine Capacity – 4- or 5-round drop box magazine
The Howa 1500 bolt-action centre fire rifle is reviewed to be the best Howa rifle ever produced. Its simple design belies its solid performance and accuracy. The firearms’ bolt features the classic twin opposing locking lugs as well as a large extractor with plunger similar to that of an M-16.
The Howa 1500 is reminiscent of the early models of the Sako centrefire bolt action, and features a single-piece forged bolt. It also has an easy strip-out firing pin assembly so that cleaning is easy.
One of the most useful features of the Howa 1500 is its 3-position safety mechanism. This allows the user to set the safety switch in the middle position so there are no accidental discharges and unloading becomes a safe endeavour. The forward-most position is the “fire” option, while the full backward switch position is the “safe” mode.
The 1500 rifle uses a 12-gauge calibre and has a 5-round capacity. The 22-inch barrel is finished in blue synthetic stock. Barrels are offered in sporting length, weight, and profile and Varmint length and weight. Howa guns distributed within Japan undergo testing at the Toyokazu Company, and all new rifles come with its paper test target enclosed. Also, the trigger is grooved and has a medium width, the pull is between 5 to 6 lbs with nearly no creep.
Howa offers a variety of stocks and finish options for its 1500 model. It used to have a stainless finish but was replaced by the Hogue, a rubber over-moulded unit. This basic version has a fibre glass chassis with aluminium pillars and the rubber moulded directly over it. This type of stock provides a positive grip in all-weather conditions and has high resistance to many types of gun solvents. The Hogue Overmolded stock, which comes in black and OD green, also offers reduced shooting fatigue.
The barrels are free floated to ensure maximum accuracy and the forearm of the stock is firm and rigid when compared to other factory synthetic stocks. This adds to the stability which contributes tothe Howa 1500’s consistent precision.
There are 2 products made for the domestic market (Japan). There is the Deluxe model which is fitted with open sights, and the Varmint-hunting model also known as the “heavy barrel”. Both models have either a blued or stainless steel barrels and are available in short- and long-action calibres, including the:
- .223 Remington
- .204 Ruger
- .300 Winchester Magnum
- .375 Ruger
- .308 Winchester
Meanwhile, Howas exported internationally have their barrel action and trigger mechanisms stripped down for distribution to other small arms manufacturers. This is common in that the maker will often choose and attach its own stock to the Howa’s barrelled action to sell under their own brand, like the Weatherby Vanguard. Some manufacturers, though, like S&W, Inter-Arms, and Mossberg will sell the gun under the Howa 1500 model.
Among the problems encountered by users with the Howa 1500 is a stiff bolt. Meaning, it is difficult to put it into action and then close it. The user would need to fire a few more rounds to ease it up. Also, while it was easy to clip rounds into the magazine, chambering the first one was not as smooth as can be expected. Some of the users discovered that the bolt would not move the round. It appeared that the feed ramp was not fully cut and the nose of the round was banging the face of the magazine box.
Other than the problems mentioned above, the Howa 1500 is a solid rifle that offers the same accuracy and quality as higher priced rifles.