Test: Howa 1500 Heavy Barrel – What can the hunting bolt-action rifle offer for under 1,000 euros?


Our evaluation of the Howa 1500 Heavy Barrel

Howa rifles are advertised with the attributes “reliable, rugged and precise”. In principle, there is nothing to add to this. Nevertheless, there are a few practical comments about the test gun: the dull, slightly velvety stock with the rubber finish is unfortunately not at all forgiving of dirt. Dust, smudges, fingerprints – everything sticks to the outside and quickly makes the stock look grubby. Its surface is quite soft, the butt plate is particularly comfortable. Unfortunately, the lower corner is so flexible that it gets caught in some fold of the outerwear every now and then. So much for the negative about the stock.

On the positive side, the dot texture on the pistol grip and forend doesn’t look like much at first glance, but it feels very grippy both with and without gloves. The stock with the practical, flat forend underside clearly shows the manufacturing seams, but they are cleanly reworked. Does it have to be exactly this stock in the end? Not necessarily for the tester, above all because of its sensitivity. But Howa offers a variety of different stocks and so you can simply choose a more suitable one. For example, GRS stocks, Hogue stocks or H-S Precision stocks are on offer. The pistol grip is short and easy to grasp.

The index finger intuitively finds its way towards the trigger. The trigger pull itself works great. The pre-travel is not too long and at 1,100 g, the trigger then breaks quite straightforwardly. If that’s still not crisp enough for you, you could make further adjustments with the Rifle Basics Trigger. Starting at 180 euros, there are triggers that can be adjusted between 300 to 700 g, or 250 to 500 g.

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The part described by the manufacturer as an “internal box magazine” accepts the cartridges cleanly and feeds them well during cycling. If you find this design old-fashioned and think that it should absolutely be a removable magazine – no problem, there is also a conversion kit for this. The bolt handle is easy to operate. The bolt action runs smoothly. The fired cartridge cases describe a nice trajectory on their way to the ground during quick cycling.

The three-position safety works well, but is unfortunately not completely silent to operate. With the thumb, the safety can be operated positively and without too much effort, and that is basically the most important thing. The matte black blued barrel is immediately noticeable due to its diameter of 21.7 mm. The knurled thread protector draws the eye and somehow the overall look of this rifle is round and coherent. Visually, it has something. In any case, it won’t let you go. In the back of your mind, plans emerge as to what could be done to the rifle to make its advantages even more apparent.

It wouldn’t necessarily need that, but why not, if you had the possibility? You could use it to build your very own (low budget) custom gun. There are stocks made of simple wood, plastic stocks from GRS or Boyds, even an aluminum chassis from MTD. The triggers from Timney can also be fitted to a Howa. The action body, for example, is very generously and evenly designed. A full bedding would be a good idea here. Maybe add a silencer or muzzle brake?

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>