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Discussion Starter #1
Thanks for all the input regarding this build from the guys on the forum that have led to what can only be described as a very good bit of kit.

This build is designed as a cost effective and accurate 'upgrade' from rim fire shooting to a center fire rifle for target shooting and the occasional varmint (fox) when required.

The action.
I have chosen a Howa 1500 barreled action in .223 with a 24" heavy varmint barrel (1:9 twist).
I looked at various manufacturers and options available and chose this combination for the following reasons: Howa has a good reputation for build quality and overall finish. If it's good enough for a high end vendor like Weatherby then I think it will be good enough for me. I looked at the standard Remington 700 offerings and decided that, although they have a great aftermarket spares selection, the recent problems with newer rifle quality made me cautious. I took in to consideration other makes such as Tikka and Savage. Being based in the UK I have greater support for Howa and Tikka than I do for Remington and Savage. It is getting increasingly difficult to find U.S. companies willing (or able) to export to the U.K. so choosing a brand with more European support makes sense.
Cost is a factor. Howa is a decent base for a rifle at a great price point. To seal the deal they offer barreled actions on their own. As I was going to be selecting a chassis system it seemed like a good idea. No point buying a stock if I was going to discard it. This lowered costs still further.
The caliber was an easy choice as .223 Remington is light on the shoulder, cheap(ish) to feed and easy to follow through on target without having a spotter. With target potential running into hundreds of meters if seemed like a no brainer for me. With accuracy and follow through in mind I went for the 24" heavy barrel action with a 1:9 twist which should allow all but the heaviest loads. Being a heavy barrel it promotes stability and limits felt recoil. It wouldn't be my first choice for a rifle if I were lugging it round all day, but for a target gun where weight is not my primary concern, no problem. In the future, if I want to lighten it, I have the option to shorten it, flute it etc.
I ordered my action from The Dorset Gun Company who were able to offer me a picatinny rail and a rifle case as part of a great deal on the barreled action. The Dorset Gun Company's pricing and service is second to none.

The Stock.
I decided on a chassis system for solidity, accuracy and the bonus is that they don't need bedding. I chose an MDT HS3 chassis system with an MDT adjustable skeleton stock, a Hogue rubber finger grooved pistol grip and some polymer ten round mags. MDT make stocks for a wide variety of actions, Howa being one of them. The modular design of their system means that I am able to swap out standard AR15 grips, stocks and magazines from other manufacturers in the future. If I do decide to change rifles in the future I can do without throwing the entire chassis.
I did look at other chassis systems for the Howa from other suppliers like GRS. Although their systems are seriously good and very adjustable I didn't want to be tied into one manufacturers proprietary system, especially given that the GRS base system is nearly twice the price of my total order from MDT (I ordered some extra mags and rails).
What really swayed me was that MDT will be releasing an HS3 stock for my CZ455 so I get to train with my rim fire with the same look and feel as my center fire. Another great bonus of using a chassis system with a Howa is that I get a magazine conversion 'for free'.
I chose my MDT kit in FDE rather than black. I was pleasantly surprised with the colour when I received it. FDE always seems to look very light when photographed but rest assured it is actually darker in tone and not the 'few shades darker than magnolia paint' that many photographs would have you believe.
I ordered direct from MDT in Canada and was impressed with the speed and efficiency of the whole process. Remember; the prices shown on the MDT site are in Canadian rather than U.S. Dollars. That is a huge difference in exchange rates.

The Scope.
I had a spare Weaver V24 x 40 scope which seemed just right for his job. I fell in love with the Weaver V16 x 40 some time ago for my rim fires as their parallax adjustment rages from just 25 feet right out to infinity, ideal for rim fire fun. Weaver parallax adjustment is accurate too. Just dial in and forget. Couple that with great optics and repeatable adjustment and I was sold. I order them from Natchez shooting supplies in the U.S. at around half the U.K. retail price (depending on the exchange rate). When the exchange rate was good I ordered in a couple of scopes for my friends and treated myself to the V24 'just in case'. I'm glad I did because it fits this latest build very well.

Scope Rings.
I used Burris Signature rings (#420521) for this build. I use them for all my rifles since discovering them a little while ago. The rings use plastic inserts to negate the requirement to lap the rings and are available with different thickness inserts to allow for the adjustment of the POA.
Being able to mount a scope quickly and efficiently without lapping (and destroying the finish of the rings) makes a lot of sense. The plastic inserts protect the finish on the scope whilst holding it firm with a good grip 'footprint'. Great if you want to swap scopes onto another rifle.
I order my Burris rings on eBay

Sound moderator.
I chose an Aimsport Triton 50 moderator. It's a modular design that can be modified for multiple calibers and thread sizes, is very light, performs well and most importantly, comes with a five year unlimited round guarantee. No other manufacturer I could find will guarantee a product for unlimited use over five years. It got my .223 sounding like a .17hmr.
The only other option I seriously considered was a little known make called Hausken from Norway. They have been producing moderators for many years and seem to be a bit of a closely guarded Norwegian secret. Their products include over the barrel moderators offering a 39+ db reduction. The only reason I did not order one of their products is that they do not offer a 5/8 UNF thread adaptor (only UNEF). Once again they have a modular design and can be cheaply altered for multiple applications.
I ordered my moderator from The Dorset Gun Co.

In the next post I will go through the technicalities of the build and some tests.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Believe it or not the actual build was quite simple.

Firstly, go and buy two good torque wrenches; one in a really low range 2"lb to 60"lb and another for a higher range say 40"lb to 100"lb. The simple reason is that most torque wrenches are useless at either end of their scales. If you buy one with a huge range expecting it to be accurate accross the board then you will be disappointed. Spend some real money on those wrenches and get a decent make like Roebuck. It will make you wince until you have used them a few times and then you will be so happy you spent the money.

Onto the build.

The MDT stock was assembled to their instructions and was clearly documented with no nasty surprises. It is a well designed and well build piece of kit and I would thoroughly recommend one.

The Howa 1500 action needs only one minor modification to allow it to work with the MDT magazine system, and that is to shorted the bolt stop by 16mm (5/8").
MDT have published a YouTube video on the procedure by searching for 'Howa 1500 Bolt Stop Shortening' on YouTube. I tried to embed a url here but MDT have disallowed embedding on other sites (Doh!)


I am fortunate enough to have a full engineering machine shop available to me so I milled mine off rather than using a vice and hacking at it ;)
I finished the job by repainting the shortened bolt stop with heat activated matt black paint and popping it in the oven to cure. You don't need to do that but my OCD would never have allowed otherwise.

The Front action screw torque setting = 65"lb
The Rear action screw torque setting = 65"lb

I used a Parker Hale Rail for mounting my scope. Most rails seem to come with two lengths of machine screws; long at the back, short at the front. make sure you get them the right way round. I saw two idiots on YouTube wondering why their Howa wouldn't cycle. They had gone through the receiver with the long machine screws and were mechanically blocking the bolt.

Rail to receiver torque setting = 20"lb

Weaver Signature Zee rings next. No drama here either. Make sure they are seated at the back of the picatinny slot so they can't move under recoil.

Base to rail torque = 30"lb

Put the plastic clam shell inserts into the scope lower rings, put the scope in place. The plastic inserts hold the scope nicely whilst you fiddle to get your eye relief correct. Then put the top half of the plastic clam shell in place and then the ring tops. Lightly put in the screws, but do not tighten them at all. Then you put a level on your stock/action and aim the scope at a plumb line a few yards away. That way you can guarantee that the cross hairs are literally 'bob-on'. Keep checking the level then the hairs against the plumb line until you are happy. Then slowly tighten the ring caps down a bit at a time in a cross pattern, trying to maintain an equal gap between the lower and upper rings on both sides. Keep tightening until they are reasonably tight and then torque them down to their final setting. And 'yes' I used feeler gauges for mine to ensure they were equal! One final check with the level and the plumb line and you're ready.

Burris Signature Zee ring torque = 20"lb

That's about it really. Not a particularly eventful build. I did the trigger job mentioned on another thread (http://www.sniperforums.com/forum/rifles/52175-howa-1500-weatherby-vanguard-trigger-hact-trigger-job-specs-instructions.html).

mdtbuild01.jpg

Now off outside for a quick and dirty test...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Eyes and ears on.

Got a little carried away with my quick and dirty test and decided to sight it in.

Oh boy. This is the last ten rounds at 150yrds. I know you are thinking BS! I would too if I saw this pic but that's the truth. Ten rounds, one raggedy hole.

sigting-in.jpg

The rifle shoots like a dream. No kick with Remington Premier AccuTip-V PRA223RC. Can follow through shots and see them arrive on target. Exactly what I wanted!

The only issue I have is that it is too fun to shoot. I may have to mortgage the house to buy ammo.
 

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Those International targets are tough.
A 1 would still be a 4 or 5 on an NRA target.

Sub MOA at break in is encouraging.
What ammo?

Excellent post.
Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Those International targets are tough.
A 1 would still be a 4 or 5 on an NRA target.

Sub MOA at break in is encouraging.
What ammo?

Excellent post.
Thank you.
Thanks guys.
Used a box of Remington 55 grain Remington Premier AccuTip-V PRA223RC to sight in. Ten rounds to get on target and ten ten rounds at the target.

Once again a big thank you to everyone who gave me advice. Very Happy!
 

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The Howas I have been around have been fantastic rifles.

Considering the low price, (even with import costs) it's really a shame an American company can't have that good of a design for that price and maintain the quality.
 

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Very nice looking rifle and target. Thanks for the great write up.
Those Howa barreled are an excellent way to start a build.
 

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Rigid, for some reason that bolt stop conversion video is not playing.
Would you post the title to the video instead of the link?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You're right...
Checked it out and it looks like MDT have stopped that video being embedded on other sites. I have modified the original post with some search criteria to enable people to find the link.

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, I hope that by compiling some information about the Howa (which is surprisingly scant) it will reassure people that there is some support for the rifle within the community.
 

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Why I prefer Howa actions to Remington's

When you compare the Remington action to the Howa from a technically analytical perspective the Remington definitely comes up short.
Howa:
Integral recoil lug
Flat base
CNC machined drop forged receiver which is thicker and more rigid than Remington's
One piece drop forged bolt
Lighter firing pin

More durable steel extractor
Smooooth as silk....well maybe..but much smoother than a Remington
 

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Thats pretty cool brownells selling barreled actions. Anybody know any other places that sell Remington, Savage or Tikka barreled actions?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Did you do anything to the action? Any lapping or blue printing?
Hiya. The action is straight out of the box, no modification. The trigger has had a lighter spring fitted to get the pull down to 1.5lb other than that the chassis system will be helping a little.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thats pretty cool brownells selling barreled actions. Anybody know any other places that sell Remington, Savage or Tikka barreled actions?
I've seen a few vendors in the U.S advertising Howa barrelled actions. Howa have a 'dream it, build it' promotion in their catalogue to allow customers to create their own variations of action, stock, suppressor and sights. In the U.K we are awash with deals for complete, assembled packages. Mine cost was comparable to one of their packages, but I had a infinite choice of components rather than the limited offerings they are currently advertising.
 
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