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Thread: Howa - Accuracy and Quality Questions

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    Default Howa - Accuracy and Quality Questions

    I have been contemplating several 375 rifles. I'm convinced I want a 375. What I purchase as the bullet-launcher is another thing. I've got great information from folks on this forum in a previous thread...I'm still in the information gathering and decision making process. Here goes...

    I see the Stainless Steel Howa chambered in the 375 Ruger cartridge. Full retail for the complete rifle is $650.00, the barreled action alone retails at $550.00. I have no experience with the Howa brand.

    Use: Mostly trying to make little tiny groups on paper so when I get out hunting I'll have confidence in my rifle, my ability to hit with it, and a rapid second shot if needed.

    My questions for people that have owned a Howa rifle in 375 Ruger, or have fired one:
    #1: Accuracy: What should I expect, what is common?
    #2: Is this a quality rifle?
    #3: Any known problems with it?
    #4: Do you recommend for it, or against it?
    #5: What should I have asked about this rifle that I failed to ask?
    #6: How does it measure up to other brands under $1000.00?

    As for the stock...If it's lousy then I know that HS Precision or another stock manufacturer can probably fit the Howa. I'm not opposed to replacing the stock.

    The decision process continues... I thank you for your comments!

    AJ

  2. #2
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've had a Howa in the past and they are the maker of the Weatherby Vanguard, the older S&W rifles, and others. They are a solid performing (if under rated) rifle.

    I'd not want one based on a couple of factors- the Ruger rifle is a handy bugger with its 20"bbl and open sights, features well worth the moderate difference in cost between a Howa and an Alaskan/African Hawkeye. An Alaskan can frequently be found on the used market with very little wear for a substantially reduced price. I've seen them on the rack brand spanking new for slightly over $700 at more than one place and I've never seen a Ruger on the rack at full retail...ever. The difference in cost just isn't worth considering IMHO.

    Another mark against the Howa is resale- most of the time they just don't bring anything on the used market should you decide to sell it whereas a Ruger will likely recoup at last some of the cost. People see the Ruger rifles on the rack and in camps all the time...I don't know anyone currently shooting a Howa and can't remember the last time I saw one on the shelf. While it says nothing about its worth it does say something about its availability.

    You also will likely not be shooting this thing for tiny little groups all that much. Recoil is fierce from the bench and ammo is spendy- I zeroed mine, got an acceptable group w/ 300gr RN and went hunting. I'm of the opinion that while accuracy is nice you are buying a big (really big) game rifle...not a prarie dog gun. Most of the Rugers I've seen and the one I own is way more than adequate for any task you'd shoot a .375 for and some are simply stellar (even for a prarie dog gun!).

  3. #3

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    hodgeman,

    I agree that it will not be my favored range rifle, I have a 308 GA Precision AR-10 for that. The Ruger Alaskan is in the lead for "I want it" points. If I can get pretty tights groups with a rifle from the bench, then I'll work on offhand shooting until I'm comfortable. Once I'm competent with firing it on on a rest, then offhand, I'll be comfortable using it as a hunting tool.

    At the range yesterday a guy that builds rifles said that he thought the Howa was a better choice than the Ruger brand. I asked why. His comment was that, in his experience, Ruger rifles either are great shooters or really bad shooters and he said he's seen too many really bad Rugers and that has tainted his opinion. He said he thought that the Howa was a better rifle from an accuracy standpoint and the ability of a gunsmith to work on it. No, I didn't pursue his reasoning any further due to the range closing and I had to go. People have different experiences. If you look at Murphy's posts and see his groups with the Ruger Alaskan you can't help but to be impressed with how well that rifle, and Murphy, shoots.

    I currently own a Ruger M77 MK II 300 WM...it's not accurate. I bought it 11 years ago and haven't fired it until 2 months ago; maybe they produce better rifles now. I've hand-loaded different weights and different powder charges and the best I can get is 1.5 inches at 100 yards. I'm not satisfied with this so it'll be a trade-in rifle. I may try reloading some more and giving it another chance, but I think it's a gonner. I can hold tight groups with other rifles, but not in this particular rifle. Bases are tight, rings are tight, stock (factory) is on correctly. Pointy end of the bullet is loaded toward the pointy end of the rifle (HA!).

    I just wanted to know if the Howa as was the best kept secret that I hadn't heard about yet. I'm also interested in other 375 rifles, both H&H and the Ruger cartridge, but I think the Ruger Alaskan is heading up the positive comments.

    Thanks for the reply hodgeman.

    AJ

  4. #4

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    Mytime they have one in 375 Ruger in ss at Sportsman's in Fairbanks for 499.99. No express sights and a bit of a mushy trigger but it was a bit above those Savage specials in 375.

    Best of luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyTime View Post
    At the range yesterday a guy that builds rifles said that he thought the Howa was a better choice than the Ruger brand. I asked why. His comment was that, in his experience, Ruger rifles either are great shooters or really bad shooters and he said he's seen too many really bad Rugers and that has tainted his opinion. He said he thought that the Howa was a better rifle from an accuracy standpoint and the ability of a gunsmith to work on it.
    Both are good rifles. I've more than a little experience with Howa rifles, though none with the 375 Ruger, and they are good rifles. Their triggers need help, but are adjustable with a little massaging. The plastic Tupperware stock that comes as standard equipment on many Howa rifles leaves a great deal to be desired IMO, otherwise they are a sound choice.

    The Ruger Alaskan's Hogue stock has something of mixed reviews though the couple of rifles I've shot and used were passable. The triggers on most Ruger rifles need some tweaking, but the integral bases are indestructible and the rings (also nearly indestructible) are included.

    As for the comments on bad shooting Ruger rifles, I'd say that very few riflesmiths have enough experience to definitively make such comments. Considering the number of centerfire rifles Ruger produces the sampling size is probably several hundred rifles to establish that they "are great shooters or really bad shooters." A few lemons is not a trend. I'd have little concern for the QC from either manufacturer.

    I currently own a Ruger M77 MK II 300 WM...it's not accurate. I bought it 11 years ago and haven't fired it until 2 months ago; maybe they produce better rifles now. I've hand-loaded different weights and different powder charges and the best I can get is 1.5 inches at 100 yards. I'm not satisfied with this so it'll be a trade-in rifle.
    I like accurate rifles too, but 1.5 inches is not inaccurate. In fact, 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards with a factory sporter is an excellent place to begin. There are numerous ways (most of them are inexpensive) to improve upon those groups and it is unlikely you have tried them all in 2 months. Personally, I'd be more hesitant to give up on a rifle that will place all of its shots inside the vitals of a deer sized target at 400 yards. YMMV.
    Esse quam videri

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboku68 View Post
    Mytime they have one in 375 Ruger in ss at Sportsman's in Fairbanks for 499.99. No express sights and a bit of a mushy trigger but it was a bit above those Savage specials in 375.

    Best of luck.
    Thanks Kaboku68, but I'm stationed at Ft Campbell KY, live in Clarksville TN, until spring 2011. I was told that AK is my next assignment so I joined this forum to learn. The gun shop locally priced a 375 Ruger Alaskan at $770.00, and that is the cheapest I've found in a 40 miles gunstore search from my home.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I like accurate rifles too, but 1.5 inches is not inaccurate. In fact, 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards with a factory sporter is an excellent place to begin. There are numerous ways (most of them are inexpensive) to improve upon those groups and it is unlikely you have tried them all in 2 months. Personally, I'd be more hesitant to give up on a rifle that will place all of its shots inside the vitals of a deer sized target at 400 yards. YMMV.
    1Cor15:19, You're right about not doing everything yet. I had the trigger worked on and now it's right at 3 lb and smooth. I could remove and replace the stock, but I haven't gone there yet. I thought that with hand-loading I would be able to tighten up the groups but my efforts were not very effective. I just emailed my gunsmith before replying to you so I'll wait and see what he says. 1 MOA grouping would make me considerably happier than 1.5 to 1.75 does. Thanks!

    AJ

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyTime View Post
    I currently own a Ruger M77 MK II 300 WM...it's not accurate. I bought it 11 years ago and haven't fired it until 2 months ago; maybe they produce better rifles now. I've hand-loaded different weights and different powder charges and the best I can get is 1.5 inches at 100 yards.
    AJ- Ruger outsourced many of their barrel during the MkII run and frankly I've seen several of hit or miss MkIIs. 1.5" sounds perfectly normal in those rifles. The general consensus on the Hawkeye line from everyone I've talked to and the two I've owned is that they are much improved over the MkII. I've seen the photos the Murphy posted- awesome accuracy from a .375. Mine shoots right at 1" with 300gr and 1.5" with 270gr factory rounds.

  9. #9

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    Hodgeman, I've read good things about the Ruger Hawkeye and their Alaskan. In fact I can't recall seeing any accuracy complaints on those Rugers. My M77MK II 300WM was purchased in 2000 so by now it's about an 11 year old model. (Due to locations where I was stationed, it wasn't fired until recently.) I'm going to talk to the gunsmith and see what he can do about it. I might just keep it but not if the tightest groups are at 1.5" at 100. If I decide I don't want it the gun shop has offered to take it as a trade in.

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    Like someone said, the Weatherby Vanguards have Howa Actions.

    To my knowledge, and too bad, it isn't made in .375.

    IMO, the Vanguard is far superior to any Ruger, I've ever seen. I don't know why a Howa wouldn't be as good as a Ruger. The Ruger Action is a bit odd, a bit heavy, and has the gosh-awful angled front action screw.

    You can put another stock on most any old gun. Another stock on a Howa would pretty much make it a CUSTOM rifle, You put another stock on a Ruger, and alls you got is another Ruger, with hopefully, a better stock than the original.

    You'll probably be happy with the Howa, because there's no reason to think you wouldn't be.

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    Wow Smitty, those are harsh words against Rugers. I have three Hawkeyes and a Target 77. The worst one shoots 1/2" groups with a production stock. My twelve year old daughter shoots 1/2" groups with her Hawkeye chambered in 243. I plan on tweaking that one soon.
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    Here's a couple of pictures of other Rugers in my safe. 5 shots in 1/4" from a 204 Ruger M77 and a pretty good shooting 300WM M77. The 300WM could do better if I had spent a little more time finding a solid combination. I was pressed for time and only tested one bullet.

    7955.jpg7959.jpg

  13. #13

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    I PM'ed Brian Richardson to get his thoughts on the 375. He said that I could repost his response so here goes.

    By the way, thank you for the response Brian!

    AJ

    **********************Brian's response to follow******************************
    Hello AJ,

    I have 3 rifles in .375 H&H at present.

    Two guns are semi-custom (series of 20) Model 70 Winchester Classic Stainless/Synthetic w/ 20" bbls. One of these is my do-all anywhere anytime reliable. High cards are handling, weatherproof, shootability, tradition, dependability, and accuracy. --- pretty much in that order.

    The other rifle is a Remington Custom Shop Kevlar/Stainless further refined to 22" bbl w/ Magnaporting and aditional Teflon matte black finnish coating. This gun is varminint/sniper accurate!!! Now quite an expensive firearm, yet this is the extended range gun of my choice. Not as handy as my Winchester, but delivers optimum accuracy past the 250 yard mark. My gun is a .25 - <.5 gun at 100 yards with any factory ammo selection.

    Both guns have a heavier bbl profile... much like the Ruger Alaskan you may be considering.

    Would I purchase a Ruger Alaskan... Maybe??? That said... every Ruger w/ exception being my childhood .243 WIN has never been the real-deal in super-accurate dept. --- so I have no Rugers other than their very reliable handguns in my user-group. If you look at the Ruger Alaskan in .375 Cal... It has all the optimal features (I see necesary) for the Alaska all-around rifle. The Remington XCR series of rifles (in my opinion) do not; unless the niche is mountain/hiking rifle & that would be a stretch.

    As to the merits of the .375 H&H... plenty out there to determine that the cartridge is near perfection all the way around. Talking the .375 Ruger... Solution to non-existent problem! Now the .416 Ruger... That's the one worthy of serious consideration on dangerous and heavy 1000+ lb. game!!!

    If you would like to re-post a copy of my PM resonse in your forum inquiry... please feel free, as it may clarify things for others viewing the thread.

    Brian

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    The Howa is a good rifle, while I've not yet handled one chambered for the 375 Ruger cartridge, I see no reason for them to be of lesser quality than other chamberings. The Ruger Hawkeyes are also very nice rifles, I've kinda got a hankering for one but just can't bring myself to purchase a 375 that isn't branded H&H, but that African model looks like my kind of rifle.

    Anyhow if I were to buy myself one or the other of the two rifles mentioned above, the first steps for me would be much the same on either one.
    1. Trigger job
    2. Buy Bansners synthetic stock for Howa, or bed wood stock full length on Ruger African, I have a strong dislike for Hogue overmolds so no Alaskan model for me.
    3. Add Pacmyer Decelerator pad, in traditional red if the Ruger is chosen.
    4. Mount Leupold 1.5-5

    So the way I see it for me to have a rifle to suit my tastes, the outlay of cash will be about the same in either case. Both good rifles pick the one that jumps out to YOU as being the right one, sight it in, practice, and go shoot critters.

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    Once I settled on a 375H&H I began my search for an older Ruger, found a few at Cabelas down south but purchased while I was there. I shyed away from the 375 Ruger because I'm not a hand loader and I like the idea of being able to find .375H&H ammo nearly anywhere, the 375 Ruger ammo wasn't even available at the first two shops I handled the gun.

    In the end I picked up an InterArms Mark X in 375 H&H at the gun show used. It came with Bell & Carlson synthetic stock that is glass bedded, iron sights and its based on a mauser actions. This satisfied all my wants and only cost me 465. I sighted in the rifle with Federal standard grade 270s and shot about 2.5" group at 100yds. Not amazing but figured it would work on a bear sized target. Switched over to Federal Premium Safari loaded with 300gr. Barnes Triple X and shot a group with all three holes touching each other, figured that would work...

    I realize this doesn't adress your original question but I thought I'd throw out another option on a reasonably priced, quality gun in your caliber of choice (good choice by the way)! I've seen two others on used racks for around the same price as mine since then (within a year) so theres a few around.

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    [QUOTE=limon32;843376] I sighted in the rifle with Federal standard grade 270s and shot about 2.5" group at 100yds. Not amazing but figured it would work on a bear sized target. Switched over to Federal Premium Safari loaded with 300gr. Barnes Triple X and shot a group with all three holes touching each other, figured that would work...QUOTE]


    Your experience was the same as mine. My 375 H&H shot OK groups with factory 270 grain ammo. When I changed to the Federal 300 grain, mine are Nosler Partition, the groups got noticeably smaller.
    NRA Life Member since 1974

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    Wow Smitty, those are harsh words against Rugers. I have three Hawkeyes and a Target 77. The worst one shoots 1/2" groups with a production stock. My twelve year old daughter shoots 1/2" groups with her Hawkeye chambered in 243. I plan on tweaking that one soon.
    Oh, C'mon marshal:

    All I said was, "The Ruger Action is a bit odd, a bit heavy, and has the gosh-awful angled front action screw."

    My wife's 7x57 rifle is a Ruger 77, with the tang safety. It wouldn't shoot worth a hoot, until I heard on, probably THIS, forum that the above mentioned "gosh-awful front action screw" shouldn't be touching the wood. After I rat-tail filed the hole so it wouldn't touch, the gun started shooting fine.

    Now, on the Mk II, don'tcha think that the 3 pos safety kind of sticks up in the way?

    Surely, you know that you can twist the back of the bolt, that collar thingy, and it turns reely easy, could happen accidently, and of course the gun is out of action until you figger out how to put it back.

    The wood stocks on Rugers are IMO, poorly designed. They're too thick on the forend, and don't have enough drop at the butt. The Magnum versions with wood stocks tend to split from recoil.

    Those skeleton stocks, made of some kind of hard plastic, are tough as nails, but UG, Lee, and they hurt when you shoot.

    Are the Hawkeyes any different than just the cheap plastic stock? Or, are there other improvements?

    That's all I could think of, or MAKE UP, in the time allotted, but I enjoyed it.

    If you have a hunting rifle that shoots 1/2" groups, why would you "tweak" it?

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    Thats interesting, same gun or just same caliber? I'm very impressed with that Federal Premium Grade ammo. I was going to get into re-loading for the .375 but with that kind of factory ammo i'm not going to bother!

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    I believe you said you purchased a Ruger in 375 H&H. Mine in that caliber is a Remington. While different makes of rifle, we have the same experience with the rounds we were firing. I agree completely, why reload if you can get good performance and groups from factory loaded ammo.
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    Smitty,

    I'm not trying to butt heads. It's obvious I like the Rugers and you don't, no big deal.

    By looking at your two posts there are plenty of negatives and not a single positive, again no big deal. However, mine shoot great and so do others that I make an effort to load for. As far as making one that shoots 1/2" groups shoot better goes, that's what I like to do.

    As far as the stocks go, many manufacturers use junk stocks that's why the aftermarket stock makers are doing well. A lot of shoppers are looking for a bargin and the manufactures are responding with entry level products at a reduced prices. Some use cheap import actions and barrels and others use cheap stocks. Personally, I like the Hogue rubber-over aluminum pillar stock. Some will say it flex's, that's true but it doesn't seem to affect the accuracy in my examples.

    The original poster asked about the Howa. I steered him to it in another thread. He was looking for a less expensive alternative than the Alaskan or African in a 375 Ruger chambering.

    It's well known that the Vanguard is a Howa for all practical purposes. As a matter of fact my Nephew has one in the 7mm-08 youth model that shoots very good. However, putting a stock on a Howa does not make it a custom rifle by any stretch of imagination just like working the trigger on a Ruger doesn't make it a custom rifle.

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