Budget Target Rifle - Howa Varmint + Vortex Viper?

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  • Budget Target Rifle - Howa Varmint + Vortex Viper?

    Now that my Savage F/TR 6.5x47 has been sold, I am looking to fill the hole in the safe.
    I want a rifle for target shooting at the range out to 300m or so. It is a case of the age old conundrum of quality vs price. I want something accurate and reasonable quality without spending too much.

    I have a budget of $1500 all up - and I would like to stick to that figure. So here is what I had in mind.
    Howa 1500 Varmint in .308 - $620
    Boyds thumhole stock - $150
    Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 scope - $600

    Add rings, pic rail and a set of dies, and that is the budget gone.

    I have 3 questions:
    1. Just how accurate are Howa Varmint rifles? I have heard some big claims, but not much to back them up.
    2. Vortex scopes get great reviews for being very good quality for the price. Does anyone have any experience with these? Good or bad.
    3. Any other suggestions? I am open to suggestions on a different rifle/scope combo that will suit my purpose.

    Note that I am not looking to win any benchrest comps, it is just a "messing about at the range" rifle. I have been around the sport long enough to know that you get what you pay for - I just sold an expensive target rifle, and I am not expecting a $1500 rifle to shoot like my 6.5x47, so please spare the "save your money and buy a Savage + Nightforce" lectures please.

  • #2
    You sold your 6.5x47 ....


    • Guest's Avatar
      Guest commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep. Too much money, so I sold it, put the cash towards a new car. I got $3k for it, so I only want to spend half that on a new rifle.

  • #3
    I bought a Vortex Viper, but it was confiscated by the Mrs and now lives on her 243, but the few times I have used it its a beutiful scope.
    As for the Howa, my 223 will happily put 10rds into a 10c at 50m and smash crows out to 150 and its a sporter. I have a 308 coming so will let you know how it goes aswell.


    • #4
      Hi mate have a look at the marlin xs7 vh I have used the sporter in 308 and can hold decent groups at 100 wih cheap factory loads the vh has a 26inch heavy barrel


      • El-Skippo
        Skip commented
        Editing a comment

        Now and then you can pick them up dirt cheap.

        Thread done

        Howas are pretty good .... Enjoyed mine. Sadly have to sell or trade in Jan 2014

    • #5
      howa varmint accuracy =
      very easy to get the howa's shooting under 1/2 moa once they are in a good stock with good scope and good trigger, and good ammo.(& good shooter )
      i'd say the barrels and action tolerances are as good as any other mass produced rifle.
      fine tuning them from "all day" 1/2moa guns to "all day" 1/4 moa guns takes about the same as the others (tikka, rem, etc).
      i have a 22-250 which is an "all day" 1/2 moa gun, my father has a howa 243 varmint supreme (no longer avail) which is also a 1/2moa gun.
      i haven't bothered chasing better accuracy out of it, coz it out shoots me.


      • #6
        I had thought of an Omark too... There is one Mod 44 for sale which has been drilled for scope mounts for $500... could be worth a look. A brand new Howa would only cost about $200 more though. I didn't really want to go with something that I need to do a bunch of work to. I guess for a budget F-Class project rifle, then it would be good.


        • #7
          Originally posted by Quinny" post=32074

          I have 3 questions:
          1. Just how accurate are Howa Varmint rifles? I have heard some big claims, but not much to back them up.
          2. Vortex scopes get great reviews for being very good quality for the price. Does anyone have any experience with these? Good or bad.
          Hi Quinny.
          Re: your first question: check out the Howa Thread (link below). Plenty of pic of Howa set ups and some example targets as well. People are getting them to shoot pretty good. Even a beginner pleb like me can manage some 1/2MOA groups and 150-200m head shots with my .223 Varmint.


          As for Vortex. I don't know a lot about scopes and only have an el-cheapo to compare it to but i bought a Vortex Diamond Back 3-9 x 40 pretty cheap and am happy with it. When i can afford it I will replace it with a Vortex PST 4-16 x 50 and shuffle the 3-9 down to a .22LR. Most people who own Vortex seem pretty happy with them, from all feed back i've read.

          Anyhoo, check out the thread for more claims of Howa accuracy with a little bit to back it up.


          edit: PS. By the way, you can get the Howa factory trigger worked pretty damn good by a dude on ebay. His details are on here somewhere. Got mine done from 5lb down to 2lb, clean, crisp and reliable. The dude will work it down to less than 1lb if you want, from memory. Heaps of Howa owners on here have used him and recommend the service.
          List to tick off:
          - TICK!!! NEW SCOPE: Sightron S-tac 2.5-17.5 X 56mm
          - TICK !!Left handed 223rem, Zastava M85
          - wildcat build in progress: 223McShort
          - TICK!!! Rebarrel Howa to 7mm-08
          - TICK!!! case trimmer/turner
          - Comp dies for 7mm-08
          - Case annealer
          - Custom dies for wild cat


          • #8
            Theres actually a .308 omark in the classifieds for $175.
            If i had the spare coin id by it just for a do me up project!


            • #9
              You sold the savage? damn man.

              Are you sure you want 308 again? you now have a chance to buy another caliber to experience. some of which have some pretty good target pills.

              .223 (1in9-1in7)
              6.5x55 (DO IT)

              .308 is a pretty good all rounder though, and you should already have the dies/brass/pills for it right?

              Here is a thread on an pretty decent omark used for F Class the whole setup didn't cost him much at all.


              I was talking to Ex_Reven a while back about doing a similar build with a howa varmint, i will be keen to see how this turns out!

              GL HF dude!



              • #10
                The problem is the price. Howa don't make a 223 in 1:9, or 260, 6.5x55 only in sporter profile. And there really isn't anything in the price range available in those calibres.

                There is a 260Rem Tikka Varmint for sale for $1160, bit over budget though. I would actually like to get a 7mm-08, though good quality brass is hard to get.

                The thing here is that I don't want to go and spend thousands on a rifle (if that is the case then I would have been better off with keeping the Savage). There is always the "if I spend a little extra, and a little extra over that......" mentality, and I have to draw a line somewhere. I have drawn the line at $1500. I can afford to go a little over that, but I want to try and stick to that if possible.

                The thing with 308 is that it is cheap and easy to load for. Lapua 260 brass is well over $100 a box.


                • SmoothOperator_87
                  SmoothOperator_87 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Howa varmint 308
                  Vortex 6-24x50 ffp pst, or if sfp suits that'll bring price down.
                  Vortex PMR rings
                  Egw 20moa rail

                  If u choose ffp its slightly over budget if sfp should be very close

              • #11
                Gday Quin

                I hope to fondle your old Savage now it is new hands...

                I have seen some tack driving howas.
                I have seen some that are not quite as good and will not live up to your level of shooting skill.

                How about,,,

                Tikka 260 rem
                Warne rings
                Weaver or Sightron 36x

                I am yet to see a bad tikka and we all know the 260 is inherently accurate in most cases,



                • several
                  several commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Give the Howa a go. My 308 varmint will shoot. 5 shot groups into a 5c @ 200m with Federal Match ammo. I'm pretty fond of it.
                  Well I admit I've only done that once but I've only really tried it once also.

              • #12


                $750 and probably a lot more accurate than a factory repeater.



                • #13
                  G'day Quinny,

                  I've got to be honest here, Howas are great for the money, but they are not target rifles. Great budget hunting rifle or 1-200m range rifle, not your 300m+ kinda rifle like your Savage.

                  With your budget, and in .308, I'd seriously consider an Omark.
                  Sometimes life gives you lambda points. Just chill, once the bubbling stops s'all good mate.

                  Brotha's got spinners!


                  • #14
                    I have a 6-24 PST FFP on top of my Weatherby Vanguard (Howa 1500 copy) and use the combo to shoot 1000 yards F-class.

                    Granted, I wont be winning any medals any time soon, but thats all due to the cheap rifle. The scope is excellent at those ranges.


                    • #15
                      At the end of the day a howa isnt a target rifle and it is more expensive than a omark. My omark was 600 in a phil mastin stock with an almost new barrel fitted and had weaver bases. buy a set of rings for 100 ish and this leaves you 900 for a scope. about the price I payed for my sightron s111


                      • Guest's Avatar
                        Guest commented
                        Editing a comment
                        A used target rifle is the go. Contact your local rifle association and they will probably be able to find half a dozen to choose from already set up.