Half a century ago, “Made in Japan” didn’t always inspire confidence. Today, however, that moniker is synonymous with inspired engineering, precision manufacturing and premium quality. A prime example of the quality of Japanese products comes inn the form Howa Machinery, Ltd.
Established in 1907, Howa makes CNC machining centers, electronics manufacturing machines, pneumatic and hydraulic equipment, trucks and industrial vehicles, metal joinery fittings . . . and bolt-action rifles, in the form of the Howa Model 1500. Our experience with the Howa M1500 over the years has been 100%, and as a result we consider it to be every bit as good as any production bolt-action rifle available today . . . and demonstrably better than some.
The Howa M1500 was popularized in this country by Legacy Sports International of Reno, Nevada, the sole U. S. importer. What started out as a modest collection of models has now evolved into twenty series boasting well over 200 models chambered for thirteen popular rifle cartridges ranging from .204 Ruger to .375 Ruger. More than a dozen package configurations are also offered with factory-mounted Zeiss, Vortex and Nikko Stirling optics.
The newest Howa M1500—the Alpine Mountain Series—is the best one yet for hunter who have to cover a lot of ground on foot. Designed to offer all of the benefits of the rugged and reliable M1500 action, but in an extremely lightweight and weatherproof package, the Alpine Mountain Series is are initially offered in three short-action chamberings—.243 Win., .308 Win. and 7mm-08 Rem.—with 20-inch pencil-profile barrel, ultra-lightweight synthetic stock and weatherproof Cerakote metal finish, priced at $1,199. For an extra $300, you can get it with a factory bore sighted 3-9x40mm Vortex Viper riflescope with Dead-Hold BDC reticle mounted in a set of Talley Lightweight Alloy Scope Mounts—a pretty good deal, considering that the scope and mounts retail for $450.
Our evaluation gun was the Alpine Mountain Rifle chambered in 7mm-08 Rem. with the optional Vortex Viper scope package. The rifle itself weighed only 5.7 pounds; with the scope and mounts it tipped the scale a 6.6 pounds empty—very light for a 20-inch-barreled bolt gun. The rifle’s light weight can be attributed to its 1-piece base plate/mag well and 5-round detachable box magazine, both of which are molded from high-strength polymer. The pencil-profile barrel and Ultimate LWT composite stock also contribute substantially to the low curb weight.
The one-piece Ultimate LWT composite stock is finished in OD green with black speckling, and is fitted with a 1-inch Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, plus front and rear sling-swivel studs. The action is pillar bedded in the stock, and the barrel is free floated over its entire length, for enhanced precision and repeatability across a broad range of temperatures.
The exterior surfaces of the barrel, receiver, bolt head, bolt hood, claw extractor, cocking indicator, bolt handle, sling-swivel studs and bolt-release lever are all finished in matte silver-gray Cerakote for weather resistance and protection from scratching, galling, impact, rust and corrosion, making the Alpine Mountain Rifle good to go in the worst weather conditions right out of the box.
Other key features common to all current Howa M1500 rifles include a forged, one-piece bolt, 3-position safety selector and H.A.C.T. 2-stage, match-grade trigger. The safety selector is mounted on the right-hand side of the receiver, just behind the bolt handle. In its rearmost position, both the bolt and the trigger are locked. When slid into its middle position, the trigger remains locked, but the bolt can be operated to remove a chambered round. All the way forward is the “fire” position, with both the trigger and bolt unlocked.
H.A.C.T. stands for “Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger.” We’ve tested this trigger many times since its introduction a few years ago, and have found it to be excellent in every case. The trigger in our sample Alpine Mountain Rifle was no exception. After about 1/16” of intentional but very light first-stage take-up, the trigger broke smartly at an average pull weight of 3 lbs. 2 oz. No second-stage trigger movement—and no creep or stacking—were even remotely perceptible.
We tested the Alpine Mountain Rifle from the bench at 100 yards using the included Vortex Viper scope.
We tested the Alpine Mountain Rifle from the bench at 100 yards using the included Vortex Viper scope and two popular brands of 7mm-08 Rem. ammu- nition: Hornady American Whitetail 139-gr. InterLock (2,840 f.p.s./2,489 ft. lbs.) and Winchester 140-gr. Ballistic Silvertip (2,770 f.p.s./2,386 ft. lbs.). The best 3-shot group of the test—measuring 0.65” center to center—was turned in by the Hornady American Whitetail. All other groups from both brands of ammo printed under 1 MOA (one inch at 100 yards., and reliability was 100% Hunting-rifle accuracu doesn’t get much better than that!
See the Howa Alpine Mountain Rifle at your firearms dealer, or for more information contact Legacy Sports International, Dept. OT; Tel.: (800) 553-4229; Web: www.legacysports.com