Japan can often be an afterthought when talking about modern firearms manufacturing. Perhaps it’s the nation’s Draconian gun laws or the fact that the sector, in the scheme of the greater gun world, is rather narrow. Whatever the case, the Land of the Rising Sun typically doesn’t make it into gun banter.
Maybe it should, however, given the quiet role it plays in the American gun market. Howa Machinery Company in particular has become a major player in the U.S. over the years, producing components for a number of well-known and popular American gunmakers. The manufacturer has especially built a name for its precision machining and quality barrels, drawing on more than a century of Japanese industrial know-how. The company has also carved a comfortable niche for itself in the consumer market this side of the Pacific with the help of importer Legacy Sports International.
For four decades, the Model 1500 has been a popular choice in many hunting and target-shooting circles. And Howa’s tried-and-true design has been tweaked this year and configured to satiate the growing throngs of shooters aiming a country mile. The Long-Range Rifle (HLR) — available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. — integrates much of the company’s proven designs into a platform meant to hit the mark no matter the distance.
Of Howa’s time-tested technology is the 1500 bolt action that features a two-lug bolt and M16-style extractor. It is topped off with a 26-inch heavy bull barrel (#6 contour) and the company’s two-stage HACT trigger that has a pull-weight range of 2.8-3.8 pounds (factory set for 3 pounds).
Where Howa has tweaked the rifle to go the distance is dressing it up with a Bell and Carlson tactical stock. The rigid composite stock should provide the steadiness to make precision shots, no matter the difference.
It features a raised cheek piece to more intuitively shoulder the rifle and has a wide-based forend, meant to better facilitate a solid reset or incorporate a bipod. It also has been outfitted with ports beneath the barrel, to help it cool on longer shot strings, comes with with a Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad and is available in green/black or tan/black color choice.
Unsurprisingly for any rifle even remotely sold as tactical at the present time, the HLR comes with a threaded barrel, giving users the opportunity to add a suppressor right out of the box.
Similar to past rifles, Howa's new long-range model can be purchased as a stand-alone gun or scoped. With the scope package, the HLR comes topped off with Nikko Stirling’s new Diamond First Focal Plan 4-16x44mm scope, which should give shooters enough power to hit the bull’s eye right off the bat.
The MSRP on the stand-alone rifle is $1,015, while the scope package runs $1,299. Given the price and the accouterments, Howa could get shooters talking Japanese guns when it come to long-range options.
Calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win.
Overall Length: 46 inches
Length of Pull: 13.5 inches
Barrel Length: 26 inches
Weight (w/o scope): 9.5 pounds
Weight (with scope): 11.4 pounds
MSRP: $1,015; with scope $1,299