Howa 1500 HS Precision Rifle is a wise choice for any new hunting rifle purchase.
By Kevin Madison, WHJ Shooting Editor
In 2018, Howa Machinery, Inc., partnered with HS Precision, a stock manufacturer with a long-held reputation for producing excellent rifle stocks, to produce the Howa 1500 HS Precision model rifle, available in a wide number of cartridges, ranging from .223 Remington up to .300 Win Mag. Built around the Howa 1500 action that was first introduced in 1979, and has since built a following for producing excellent results at a very reasonable price, this rifle tested out to be an excellent rifle.
The Howa 1500 action is similar to the standard Remington 700 in that it utilizes a push feed design with dual locking locks. It is also essentially the same action used in the well-regarded Weatherby Vanguard line of rifles. It features a three-position safety and Howa’s proprietary trigger, the HACT (Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger) that achieves a crisp, light trigger pull in a creep-free, two-stage trigger.
BARRELED ACTION: The blued barreled action is built in Japan by Howa Manufacturing, Inc. and imported by Legacy Sports International, with barrel options range from standard contour 22” and 24” to a 26” semi-heavy barrel featuring a ½”x28 threaded barrel with a thread protector.
STOCK: The HS Precision stock is built one at a time here in the United States from the highest quality raw material. The aluminum bedding block is CNC machined to the specific dimensions of the Howa 1500 barreled action. The block is then placed into a mold, both sides of the mold are hand laminated with Kevlar, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. The mold is then injected with a proprietary mixture of a dense polyurethane foam. Finally it is hand finished to ensure that it is perfect and ready for your needs.
TRIGGER: The HACT two-stage trigger was creep free and came set at a very reasonable 2 lbs. 10 oz.
SAFETY: A 3-position safety is standard, combining ease of handling with maximum reliability.
MAGAZINE: The magazine on the Howa 1500 6.5 Creedmoor holds 4 plus one in the chamber. The magazine features a hinged floorplate activated on the trigger guard.
PERFORMANCE: After shooting a .260 Remington for years and more recently picking up a 6.5 PRC, I was very interested to shoot this rifle as it would be the first 6.5 Creedmoor that I’d ever really shot. My testing was done with Hornady factory ammunition with their 143gr ELD-X bullets. With barrel break in theories all over the map, my plan was simply to clean the barrel prior to any shooting to ensure there was no leftover debris or oils from the manufacturing process, then shoot four rounds of five shots at 100 yards, allowing the barrel to cool to ambient temperatures between each round.
I also added a Maven RS.1 2.5-15×44 scope held in place by Talley Lightweight Alloy Scope Mounts, an industry standard when looking for a lightweight scope mounting system.
After making the necessary adjustment to get closer to my point of aim after the first shot, the next four rounds fell into a very tidy group of just over a half-inch. The next round of five shots proved equally as precise. Taking advantage of the threaded barrel, I installed my SilencerCo Harvester suppressor for the final two rounds. While the rifle didn’t produce much recoil before, this combination made the rifle laughably fun to shoot. Point of impact changed a bit with the addition of the suppressor but the size of the group did not as it remained at, to slightly larger than a half-inch, which easily surpasses the SUB 1 MOA guarantee that Howa makes for the rifle. The velocity I measured during this initial shooting averaged 2,550 fps, which is less than the stated velocity from Hornady for the ammunition but I anticipate the barrel will speed up after another 100 or so rounds and come close to ultimately matching Hornady’s specs of 2,700 fps.
After the 100-yard range work, I was able to shoot another 20 rounds at a 6-inch target at 300 yards before I lost shooting light that day. Positions ranged from prone, to seated and kneeling, to off various different barricades. Between the balance and fit of the rifle, the smooth action, the crisp trigger, and the tame recoil, keeping shots on target at that distance proved to be no issue at all.
BOTTOMLINE: The 6.5 Creedmoor has proven its place amongst Western hunters as well as competitors. The ability to easily grab Hornady factory ammunition off the shelf in just about any local gun store and have the confidence it will shoot accurately and perform well on game should give one piece of mind choosing that cartridge. Since the 6.5 Creedmoor’s introduction by Hornady in 2007, it has proven to be an excellent match for many Western big game species, from blacktail to muleys to whitetails, to pronghorns, to bear, cougars, and coyotes, and even to elk at reasonable distances. Combine that with the performance of the Howa 1500 HS Precision Rifle, and it makes this a very wise choice for any new hunting rifle purchase. With a rifle weight of 8.1 lbs., it could be a consideration for all but the most strenuous of backcountry hunts where every ounce is accounted for. And while the price tag doesn’t exactly qualify the rifle as a budget gun, it stands up as a very solid value when one considers the quality components like the stock, the Howa 1500 action that has withstood the test of time, and the overall fit and finish of the Howa barreled action.
Model Howa 1500 HS Precision Rifle
Manufacturer Howa Manufacturing, Inc. / HS Precision
Action Howa 1500
Offerings .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum
Tested 6.5 Creedmoor
Scope Used In Test: Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44mm
Magazine Capacity 4+1
Barrel 26” Semi-heavy barrel, ½”x28 threaded
Overall length 45.5”
Weight (no scope) 8.1 lbs.
Length of pull 13.25”
Trigger HACT (Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger) 6.5lb
Sights/scope mounts None; drilled and taped