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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi guys,
I am based in the U.K and I am putting together a .223 bolt gun using a Howa 1500.
The rifle is predominantly going to be used for target use, initially at 100 - 200 yards with some seriously long range experimentation on the cards. My real buzz is tack driving that target consistently as far away as my skills and my equipment will allow. I will have the occasional fox to despatch for local landowners and .223 seems like a good choice as it has low recoil, is relatively cheap to run and allows for some longer range training. I have had my shoulder rebuilt twice and find recoil tires me out quickly. Most of my shooting is prone.

I have a three way dilemma: 20" varmint barrel, 24" varmint barrel or a 20" fluted varmint. All come with a 1:9 twist. Each has its own virtues, fluted is lighter, heavy is good for felt recoil and accuracy.

I know all the science behind fluting and understand that the cooling advantages are actually negligible in the real world and it renders the barrel less stiff etc... A heavy, short barrel may be stiffer and have better accuracy... A longer heavier barrel may help with felt recoil.

So my question is this: What are the real world differences in the choice I am deliberating over and what would your recommendations be based on your experience?

Any views would be greatly appreciated.

King regards
 

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What twist rates are the barrels. If you want to shoot long distance with a 223 you are going to need sufficient twist to stabilize the heavies.

Best piece of advice I can give you is to wait to do anything until Nate (nadscott) has given his advice on this and then listen carefully to every word he says. But he is going to need to know the twist rates of the barrels you are looking at.
 

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If recoil is your primary concern can you add a muzzle break or suppressor?

You can adjust your powder / projectile combinations to reduce recoil as well if you are reloading.

I load a little 223 and find that in my 20" rifle I get less recoil from 27.9gr RL 17 and a 77gr TMK than I do with 25.5gr TAC and 55gr bulk SP.
 

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If your main purpose is target shooting, get the 24" heavy barrel. The extra length will help you out with shooting at distance.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Khavic,
I have a suppressor on hand, keeps the neighbours non-the-wiser. Didn't think it would have a real bearing on recoil. A mussel brake is an obvious answer but sound suppression is more important.
 

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All the supressors I have used have had a big effect on reducing recoil, and reducing muzzle rise. Last rifle / suppressor combo I shot was a 300WM and the suppressor cut the recoil in half.

Most of the suppressed rifles I have shot have been short barreled fully automatics in 9mm and 223/556. My favorite to date is a full auto UZI with 50rd mags and a suppressor. Makes me grin just thinking about it. :)

Anyway, yes suppressors also reduce recoil. Partly due to the added weight and partly due to the fact that they catch the gasses being pushed out the end of your barrel with the bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sooooo, back to the original question; Am I thinking too hard about this choice of barrel? In the real world is it going to make THAT much difference?
 

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Yes you are. Long range means longer barrel. That's the simple not over thinking it choice.
 

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Sooooo, back to the original question; Am I thinking too hard about this choice of barrel? In the real world is it going to make THAT much difference?
How far is long range that you will be shooting? My AR is a 20in barrel, 1:8 twist. I shoot the 69gr SMK's to 600 yards with regularity.

Could I extend the rifle farther? Yes, I probably could. But 800 or 1000 yards is stretching a .223 and you want the long heavy bullets for it which means longer barrel and faster twist.

Other rounds will offer you much better ballistics and less wind drift at 1000 yards than a .223.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi guys,
Thanks for the input. I have chosen a heavy barrel 24" Howa 1500 with a MDT HS3 stock. I have some Burris signature mounts and a Weaver V24 Scope floating around to pop on.
Build starts on Monday and I will be publishing a full review of the action/barrel/stock combination. I will also document the build and some stats such as weights, points of balance, break-in procedure, adjustments and practical observations. I will top it off with some factory ammo comparisons.

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This is what I finally went for...

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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Sounds like a great setup.
Howa makes a very good product, I have zero complaints with the 2 I have.
Looking forward to your assessment.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Hahaha. Unashamedly correct.

I spec'd this nice bit of kit for the same money as some of Howa 'Dream it, build it' packages, and my components are much better quality and are definitely fit for purpose. So this is not just porn, it's cost effective porn! :cool:
 
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