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Discussion Starter #1
Most Howas are pretty darn accurate out of the box but lets discuss some of the finer points of increasing the overall accuracy of these great rifles. For example-

1. The trigger group, frankly it's not great. They can't be adjusted to be a 'fine' trigger either. You can adjust some of the creep and weight out but not a lot. That said the triggers are no worse than most other bolt or lever guns in this price range. Thankfully though there are two drop-in replacements that should serve the purpose well. Timney offers a drop-in that ranges in price from $80-$100. It is adjustable from 1.5lb to 4lb and has adjustments for creep, backlash, and overtravel. Jard is now offering drop-ins for the Howa family of rifles. They are pre-set in pull weight. They are offered in 12, 14, 19, 22, 26, 28, and 36 ounces of pull weight. Adjustments are for overtravel and sear engagement. Prices on these are $132. I have no direct experience with either, although I do have two Jard units coming from Brownells either today or Monday, I'll report back on these as to what my opinion is of them.

2. Boyds, Accurate Innovations, and Houge are just three of the aftermarket stock companies offering stocks. Pillar bedding and glass bedding kits are available as well.

Has anyone tried to glass bed either synthetic or wood stocks on Howas? What were your experiences and results? What about free floating vs full glass bed vs pressure points? For example my .204 with the heavy varmint barrel and pillar bedded Houge Overmolded stock is completely free floated along the entire forearm. But my .308 with the standard barrel and it's pillar bedded Houge Overmolded stock has a light pressure point right at the tip of the forearm. Both rifles are 'out of the box' unmodified at this point, so either the pressure point is accidental or intended. Who knows? So who else is contemplating or already has tried modifiying their Howa or Vanguard for it' accuracy potential?
 

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Jim,
I've got a 1500 in 6.5X55, that I've been fooling around with for a while. Through several handloads and factory ammo, I seem to only average about 2" groups with it, at best. I recently put a Boyds laminated stock on it, and free-floated the barrel and bedded the action. I also replaced the scope mounts on it as well. I just reloaded some 100 & 120 grain rounds, and I have some 140 grain factory loads to try as well. I am planning to get out Sunday and do a little shooting with it, so we'll see if all the changes have done any good. I've messed with the factory trigger a little, and I've got it about as good as I can get it. I may drop a Timney in it, next time Midway has them on sale.

MH
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's my understanding that Howas have long throats, could this be your accuracy nemesis? I don't reload so I have not bothered to check to see if either of mine have long throats. My .308 will do better than 2" @ 100y. Not bragging just stating a fact. How tight are you tightening the take down screws (action screws)? I can't seem to find any specs on how tight to go with them. I do know that the amount of torque applied can cause funny things to happen (that usually are not funny!!!). What stock did yours come with from the factory before you dropped it in a Boyds? Are the Boyds piller bedded (I know you said you "bedded the action" and I'll assume that means Accraglass or the like). I'm fiddling with the Jards drop-ins right now. So far my opinion is mixed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
As posted elsewhere on this forum-


In my opinion, these triggers are not engineered properly. In plain English- JUNK. The trigger group is not a block that is machined out, it consists of two side plates made out of steel. The way the T.G. attaches to the action is via a single machine screw with a washer that fits into the side plates. There is no way to properly tighten the T.G. to the action because the bolt and washer spreads the side plates out largely due to the fact that the side plates are not connected together in the front. The more you tighten the more spread you get. The end result is that the T.G. still wobbles on the action and gives inconsistent pull. A fix would be to drill and tap the front 'ears' of the side plates to connect them, but at $132 plus shipping I'll pass. I guess I'll hunt for a Timney again. I think and I stress I think the Timneys are a solid block of aluminum.


I'm real dis-satisfied with the Jard trigger!
 

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I'm with JimG on trying some different loads and OAL's if you reload. Alot of the reloading info I've read say that the OAL can make alot of difference. I'm working on some 165 gr loads for mine but haven't tested them yet. That's not so much for accuracy as just shooting a little flatter and with bullets that don't come factory loaded.

The Barnes manual has a good article on hunting load development with the least amount of time.
 

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Jim,
The 6.5X55 generally does have a longer throat. It's my understanding that this accommodate the round nose 160 grain slug, should one decide to use that. However, I have seen much more accurate 6.5's using smaller OAL's than that required for the 160gr RN. I have tried various lengths, but all results seem to be about the same.
I have no idea on the torque value for the screws either.
The stock that came on mine was the cheap black synthetic one. I was disappointed in it from the time that it came out of the box. Very cheap and sloppy looking. I had some crazy side stock contact throughout the forearm, it may have caused some problems.
Hopefully, the changes that I've made, (bedding, new stock, and new rings) will make a difference. The 2" groups were pretty consistent, regardless of what round I was shooting. Bear in mind, I'm not the greatest of shots, but my .243 will give me sub-1", and even my 30/30 lever will get 1.5" with factory ammo. I'll try to get with you after tomorrow's shooting.

MH
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did not know that about the 6.5 x 55! Learn sumptin new every day. Yes I do agree that the typical factory plastic stock is usually problematic for accuracy. The Houges that some Howas are being shipped in generally are ok from what I've seen and have been told.
 

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Yes! The new Houges are tremendously better than the one that came with mine. Of course, mine was purchased some time ago. I have several synthetic stocks on various rifles, but the one that came on my Howa was the worst looking and feeling of them all. Mine didn't have the three position safety either.

MH
 

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I have a Weatherby Vanguard I put a Boyd's Laminated stock on. I shoots Ok about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch at 100 yds. It has been glass bedded. I have been trying to get better groups so I was changing scopes and found the mounts loose. I am thinking this is the problem. As to the long throats mine is long also. I can load the bullets long and it helps, my problem is I have to shoot it single shot then. Longer overall length will not go in the magazine. It is a 300 Weatherby Mag. I have also loaded some 190 grain bullets (had been shooting 150) and will try them. Right now it is just boresighted, cleaned and ready to try again. I will post results. For the most part I am getting 1/2 inch groups but then a flier. I hope the loose mounts were the problem cause I love the gun. Kicks like a mule to.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
As posted elsewhere in the forum-


Note- I should add that I'm not claiming ALL Jard Inc products are junk, just this particular line of drop-in trigger groups. Definitely an inferior design. I'm returning them to Brownells today. I tinkered with the factory trigger some more and really have come to the conclusion that it would take an act of God himself to smooth out and lighten the pull on the factory triggers AND STLL HAVE THE SAFETY OPERATE CORRECTLY! Heck I can get a very nice and light pull but of course the safety refuses to work. For those who have discovered the black magic involved with the safety/light pull weight/smooth pull, my hats off to you! It is a good safe design but whomever engineered that trigger should be flogged daily with a handful of boresnakes till he/she understands that not all gunowners are simpletons who can't be trusted with a wrench and a hollow ground screwdriver. I decided to try to talk to Timney to see if they had a couple triggers floating around some dark corner of their shop out of sheer desperation. I found that they do in fact have a very limited number availible for phone and internet orders. They now have two less in that bin. I'll sure that there will be no suprises with the Timney units when I get them on Friday or Monday like there was with the Jards.

Good to hear it was loose mounts JJAMNA. An inaccurate rifle can be very frustrating to diagnos. It's often something very simple or small that we all think of after everything else has been exhausted. After I get the triggers installed on both Howas I'm back to trying to figuring out the optics/mounts issue. I may also bed both Houge stocks in the action area. I also need to figure out how to relieve a small area on one of the Houge stocks. It's at the very tip of the fore-end. The rubbery coating is making contact with the barrel. I'm not sure on how to remove a small amount of this material. Not sure how well this material will sand or file. Might be better to actually try to 'melt' it. Anyone ever need to this on a Houge Overmold? Any ideas?
 

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Hey all,

I have a Vanguard synthetic stainless in .243 WIN with the plastic stock. I have Leupold mounts and rings and a Leupold VX-1 3-9X40. When I got the rifle, I thought I'd free float the barrel to see how she groups. Let me tell you, she did not group very well at all!
I went and saw a smith and he lightened the factory trigger to about 400grams and bedded the action. I also replaced a pressure point under the barrel, first of all with some credit card plastic shims. This improved accuracy to a 15mm group at 100 metres or about 0.5 MOA. I have since made the pressure point a little bit more durable removing the credit card shims and inserting a small block of high density rubber between the barrel and the stock. The top of the block has a shallow V cut in it to allow the barrel to self locate. The block is helf in place by very thin doublesided tape. She still maintains about 0.5 MOA (if I'm having a good day!)with my handloads of Hornady VMAX 58gr over 42 gr of AR2208 with Remington brass and CCI primers. The maximum for this load is 44 grains.

I have tried shooting it off a bipod, however the groups open to about 2-3inches! I'm thinking it maybe the jarring of the forend on the bipod as it fires. I think the plastic stock is too flexible and places unwanted pressure on it when using the bipod.
I might try full length bedding the barrel? Anyone done this?
 

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Yes I forgot to put in that I did put the pressure point back in also. Rubber tape at end of barrel channel in the stock.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Matt243 and JJAMNA-

Does your rifles have the standard barrel contour or the heavier varmint or bull barrel? If it is the standard 'sporter' type barrel contour then I might need to rethink removing what I thought was a manufacturing glitch on Houges part!

BTW- Matt243, where are you from? New Zealand perhaps? The metric measurements threw me for a second. Also I don't know if you have fiber filled 'Bondo' where you are from but you can use that and a small diameter threaded rod to stiffen the fore end. Lay the threaded rod lengthwise in the fore end channel (you might need to gring out some material) and fill with either the fiber filled 'Bondo' or Brownells AcraGlas. Fill in all the open areas (most plastic stocks are 'webbed' in the fore end). The hardest part is getting the stuff to stick to the injection molded stock. Neither the rod nor the Bondo or 'glass touces the barrel. The rod diameter would be something like .1875" or at max .250" or aprox 4.5-5mm. Just an idea i read about in a basic gunsmithing book a few years back.
 

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I have a Mossberg/Howa 1500 30-06 I bought off of a pawn shop shelf in 1991. It came with a very good looking wood stock but had a ridge in the barrel channel that really messed it up. I swapped it out for a Ramline stock and glass bedded the action. I first tried a pressure bed which shot small groups but point of impact changed a lot depending on how i held it. Then I tried free floating. The group size doubled but the point of impact was consistent. A few years later, I read about using Dow "Great Stuff" insulating spray foam as a bedding compound as follows.
Remove barreled action from stock and clamp the stock so that the forearm is free and the stock is supported by the butt and just behind the recoil lug. mask off all off the visible exterior parts of the forearm along the barrel channel and cover the barrel with paste wax as a release agent. Hang a 15 pound weight from the front swivel. Fill the barrel channel with great stuff and immediately screw the barreled action back into the stock with out moving anything. Allow the foam to cure for a minimum of 3 days, a week is better. Then trim away any excess foam, remove the weight and make sure your action is not glued in.
The weight flexes the stock slightly and then the stock slightly compresses the foam against the barrel. This dampens the barrel vibrations with out anything solid touching the barrel. I have seen this referred to as dampened free float. I'm here to tell you it works. I got the group size of the pressure bed and the consistent impact of the free float.
Another thing that gave me great results was using a Lee factory crimp die(FCD). I had found only one bullet to give sub-moa groups in my gun. The FCD slightly improved that bullets groups and almost any bullet with a cannelure will shoot well with it crimped into that knurled groove.
These two things, dampened free float and the FCD both made a significant difference. I can't wait to try a Timney trigger.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I installed the Timneys today. See my other post for further details (Update on Timney trigger).
 

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I found a used (but like new) Howa 1500 in .338 WM about three years ago. Mine came with the standard Tupperware stock. I restocked with a Boyds laminated JRS. The stock required only very minor inletting. I exchanged the Boyd's butt pad for an aftermarket "Sorbothane" job. Glassware: Used Leupold M8 4X.

I first glass bedded in the recommended way (back action screw area, front action screw area through the chamber area). My goal was to load the .338 to .338-06 levels, so I tried most of my accuracy work with "down loads". Range results, however, were disappointing. No matter what I loaded, I couldn't seem to do better than 2.5" or sometimes even worse. I began loading up to more standard pressure levels. Next, I did some experimenting with shims (card stock, credit cards etc.) Results really didn't vary much. Finally, I tried full length bedding the stock. Groups shrank some, but not as much as I though they should.

Then, I read an article that mentioned improvements when loads approached max levels. So, I went back to the bench and started by adding one grain (that's right, 1 grain) of powder. The load put me within one grain of max. Off to the range to pop off three rounds. To my amazement, they fell into almost 3/4"! I ran back home to load another three. During the lunch hour, I returned to the range to see if the group was repeatable. The next three fell into just under an inch!

My formula for success was full length bedding and near max loads. This rifle seems to be consistant and repeatable. I filled a doe tag with the rifle (90 yard/45 degree down angle shot) this week. (Load: 250 gr. Hornady SP, 70.5 H4831)
 

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Have two Howa/Vanguards, a .243 Varminter and a 7mmMag. The .243 shot 1MOA out of the box, the 7mm under 2MOA. I also have a .257 WBY Ultralight which is an outstanding shooter. I tried adjusting the .243 trigger with no success so replaced it with a Timney. Great trigger! Slight improvement in grouping. Since I now had an extra factory trigger to play with I started to work on it to replace the one on the 7mm. After many months I had an acceptable 3# pull with minimal creep. The factory trigger has some beautifully machined and polished mating parts, the springs and stock removal are the key. The 7mm then grouped at 1MOA. Now I love the Bell&Carlson stock on my .257WBY, it has the full length machined aluminum bedding block and just plain feels good. So you guessed it! Replaced both with the B&C. Today the .243 easily does clover leafs while the 7mm does .625MOA. The .243 has a heavy barrel and ended up free floated while the 7mm needed some pressure up front for best accuracy. I don't think all the work on the trigger was worth it except for self satisfaction. The Timney can be found for $70 on sale and is basically a drop in affair.
 

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My 20+ year old vanguard shoots great with a little masking tape in the barrel lug.. just enough to clear the barrel!

 
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