Range Report: Howa HCR (.308 Win) & Meopta Optika6

Here’s this year’s Boomershoot rifle — headed towards one lucky Reader after the event:  the Howa HCR 1500 (.308 Win), topped with the Meopta Optika6 3-18x50mm glass.

So postponing my Breakfast Gin, I hie’d me off to the range.

Some background:  I popped the scope on last night without boresighting it — just bolted it on, and trusted to luck and the several craftsmen who had built this rig.

Here’s the gun’s very first target (point of aim was the black diamond, at 100 yards):

Explanation:  Shot #1 was actually an accidental discharge because the trigger caught me by surprise (despite having dry-fired it a dozen times the night before).  Anyway, I cursed a little, and then took some care and touched off the next 9 shots (#2-#10).  I should remind everyone that all these came from an unsighted scope and a cold virgin barrel.

So I adjusted the scope, and of course Stupid Kim can’t tell right from left, hence the appearance of #11 and #12 way off to the right.  So I said some Bad Words again, and clicked back to the original setting (#13), then adjusted the reticle to the left this time, and a tad upwards (#14-#16).

The target was starting to look a little cluttered, so I put up a new target, sent it out and popped off the last four boolets in the box — but alas, at this point the barrel was hot — way too hot, because I was getting excited — and the group opened up with the last two shots.

Lesson learned:  in future, only five shots at a time before letting the barrel cool properly.

Still, I was moderately pleased.  I came home and gave myself a reward:

Some additional thoughts:

Holy crap but this Howa is a sweet gun.  (Here’s a pro’s take.)  Everything works as advertised, BUT:  the stupid plastic adjustable stock is a little loose, and I can’t get it tight.  (Wouldn’t have happened with a proper wood stock, of course, but these are the times we live in.)  Still, I’d prefer a regular-style stock over this “chassis” thing… even a plastic one like the Hogue:

There is apparently little difference between this gun and the Weatherby Vanguard as they’re made in the same factory. No prizes for guessing which one I’d like.

Okay, enough about the gun.

The Meopta scope is likewise a gem.  Crisp, clear sights (I forgot the battery, so no illuminated reticle, but it didn’t matter), and the clicks are positive and accurate.

Ammo was the excellent PMC Bronze 147gr FMJ/boat-tail.  I’m not going to try anything else, for obvious reasons.

The entire rig cost a tad under $1,500 — and I have to tell you all, I would have to spend a LOT more to get even marginally better results than I did, because it’s far more accurate than I can shoot it.

In Mae’s words, if war were declared, I’d take this rig off to battle, without hesitation.

Boomershoot Rifle Option

******************UPDATE:  I ordered the Howa**********************

As my Loyal Readers all know, our Boomershoot CZ 557 rifle was most foully stolen from my house during the Great Flood Catastrophe Of 2021.  (I say “our” because I was simply holding it for whoever the raffle winner might be.)

I have been waiting patiently to replace the damn thing, but I despair.  I’m on about six gun outlets’ waiting list, but time is getting tight and if I want to take it up to Boomershoot 2022 to see if it’s fit for purpose, I need to get one of similar quality — PROVIDED that none of the current (and I have to say, most patient) ticketholders object.

The one I’m looking at as a replacement for the CZ 557 is this one:

It’s the Howa Chassis Rifle (HCR), chambered in .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO (here’s a review which should tell you everything you need to know about it).

I found one, it’s in stock, black as pictured, and the dealer is holding it for me.  All I need is ticketholder approval and it will be on its way to me tomorrow.

Responses in Comments, ASAP please.

Replacement Options – .308 Win

(For those who missed the earlier post on this topic, go here first — and read the comments too.)

The general consensus, both in Comments and by email, suggests that 1.) I should wait for a CZ 557 Varmint to become available, and 2.) if not that, stick to the .308 Win chambering but in a rifle of similar quality to the 557.  I have no problem with any of that.  I’ll talk to my Merchant of Death and see if they’ll even take an order for the 557 (remember, that’s where I lucked upon its predecessor);  and if so, I’ll go ahead and order one.

Assuming that no FFL might be willing to commit to that action, or that the wait could be close to a year (!!!), let’s take a look at some of the options that are available right now (with all the usual caveats).  Before I go on, I should point out that none of the guns that follow have wood stocks;  the CZ 557 seems to be an outlier in this regard.  Here are some interesting .308 Win choices, culled from various online outlets and ranked from low- to high price (rounded).

Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range (Cabela’s, $1,100)
I was frankly amazed to find this rifle as cheap as listed (Browning is not known for inexpensive rifles, and Cabela’s ditto for its low prices).  I like it, Longtime Friend and Rifleman Combat Controller swears by his, and Browning is seldom a bad choice, whether handguns, rifles or shotguns.  Here’s the Ewww Choob video.)

Howa 1500 HS Precision (Bud’s, $1,100)
I love Howa (a.k.a “the Japanese Sako”) rifles, have shot several and been impressed with all of them).  I’m pretty sure that this would be a MOA/all day gun.  My only reservation is that this is more a hunting rifle than a bench rifle — or perhaps that’s a feature, not a bug…

T/C Performance Center LRR (SWFA, $1,200)
This is one of those “chassis” stocks (which I’m not especially partial to, but they do work for bench-type shooting).  The gun is actually a collaboration between the “performance centers” of T/C and S&W, so it’s going to be a good ‘un (I think — here’s a Ewww Choob test).

Christensen Arms Mesa Black (Sportsman’s Warehouse, $1,300)

I’m not that familiar with Christensen rifles, but a lot of the cool kids like ’em, especially their triggers.  Here’s the Ewww Choob review.

Those four rifles, assuming a scope costing around $750, will push us right up to the $2,000 budget, but I don’t think that any one of them would be a bad buy, at all.

If I get a rush of blood to the wallet — it’s been known to happen — here are a couple more (pricier) options:

Savage 110 Precision (Cabela’s, $1,400)
My earlier problems with the cheaper Savage Axis notwithstanding, I would have no problem picking this rifle because it’s a different breed from Savage’s budget lines.  Like the T/C LRR, it has a chassis stock.  Here’s Ewww Choob.

Finally, there’s the Sako S20 Precision (Sportsman’s Warehouse, $1,700)
Its price would put me waaaayyy over budget, but hey… it’s a Sako.  Here’s a long Ewww Choob review.

So there you have it.  If no vendor/FFL is prepared to commit to a CZ 557 Varmint order, these are the options available today (unless one of them sells out over the next couple hours grrr grrrr grrrrrr….).

Your thoughts are welcome.

Afterthought:   although not set in stone, I’ll most likely be looking at the Meopta 3-18×50 Optika6 FFP:

That is, unless I end up with one of the “cheaper” guns above, in which case I’ll step up a little, say to the Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50:

But it’s early days, yet.

Replacement Options

After the Great Gun Robbery, and following a very pleasant discussion with our insurance claims person, it appears that I will be getting full (i.e. replacement value) payout for both the (raffled) Boomershoot CZ 557 Varmint .308 Win rig (including scope) and my own CZ 550 (ditto), but this discussion will ignore the latter, as it’s my personal gun (whereas the Boomershoot gun belongs to someone else, so to speak).  The payout will come soon after the insurance company receives the police report, so figure on a week or two from today’s date.

Replacement cost for the Boomershoot rig looks like about $1,000 for the rifle, $725 for the Vortex scope and $200 for the hard case (which I added, for shipping to the eventual lucky winner).  If we can all agree to leaving off the case — shipping it in the manufacturer’s box — then we’re looking at about $2,000 for the rig in total.

Here’s where the discussion begins, and I’m going to need the input of the ticket holders here.

I am perfectly willing to get a “straight” replacement rig — CZ557 Varmint .308 Win + Vortex Viper 6-24x50mm, and if the general consensus seems to favor that package I will do so. Here’s what it looks like:

Remember, it’s a monster and I was getting sub-MOA groups with relative ease.  The only problem — and please correct me if I’m wrong — is that the damn 557 is out of stock pretty much everywhere I look, which means I’d have to order the thing and wait, and wait, and wait.  (The scope is not a problem — it’s available pretty much everywhere.)

If we (and I mean we) decide to get a substitute rifle of similar appearance, ability and cost but immediately available, a couple of options present themselves.

Here’s the first:  do we stick with .308 Win, or go for a different chambering, e.g. 6.5 Creedmoor ?  Here’s one such gun, from Europtic:

(They also have the S20 in .308 Win and some others, for a couple hundred bucks more, btw.)

I don’t know about y’all, but that Sako turns my crank, big time.  (They also have the “Hunter” version, which has a thumbhole stock, in several calibers, for about the same price):

Nothing wrong with that, either.  Add a similarly-priced scope to the Vortex, and we’d be right at the $2,000 budget.

Over at Sportsman’s Warehouse, there’s the same gun I got last year (Ruger Hawkeye Long Distance), also in 6.5 Creed:

…and I think my local Merchant Of Death has it in stock for about the same price.  I have to tell you, I have no problem whatsoever with the Hawkeye — I loved shooting last year’s gun, even in the magnumthumpenblitzenboomer [sic]  .300 Win Mag, and it was as accurate as all hell.

Anyway, that’s the principle of the thing established.  The question remains:  straight copy of the original offer (and wait until the gun gets back into stock), or something slightly different “immediately”?

People who already have stocks of .308 Win ammo, for example, might have a different opinion from whose with 6.5 Creed on hand — or people who might just want to try this new wonder-boolet.   Or, the prospect of that excellent Sako S20 Precision might just be too much to refuse….

I will accept all thoughts, queries and suggestions, as always.  If there’s an overwhelming response for one particular option, then we’ll go with that.  If there’s no real consensus, then I’ll make the decision.  Fair enough?

Well, There’s That

Email from National Treasure Joe Huffman, concerning The Great Gun Robbery:

That really sucks.
I have moved your entry to next year. Same position, etc.
The event will probably be April 29th -> May 1st.

Joe Huffman
Boomershoot Event Director

For me, Boomershoot is becoming like the Jews’ mantra:  “Next year in Jerusalem Orofino.”

Disaster

Yesterday I went over to our (still-being-rebuilt) apartment.  Not having any room in our tiny hotel room, on Wednesday I’d taken all the Boomershoot stuff and stored it in our (locked) garage, to be loaded into the rental SUV for the trip up to Idaho on Monday (tomorrow).

On Friday night, the garage was burgled and all the guns and related stuff stolen.

Rifle #1:  CZ 557 Varmint (.308 Win)
Scope #1:  Vortex Viper HS-T

Rifle #2:  CZ 550 American (6.5x55mm)
Scope #2:  Meopta Optika6 Illuminated (4.5-30x50mm)

Revolver:  Ruger Single Six (.22LR/.22Mag)

Also, a double-rifle hard case and two range bags.

And, of course, about a thousand rounds of .308 and 6.5x55mm ammo, all helpfully loaded into ammo cans, and a few dozen rounds of .45, .22 and 9mm (in the range bags).  Amazingly, a pair of expensive Steiner binoculars were tossed aside (!).

Total value of the stolen goods:  just under $6,000.

All our brand new replacement furniture, and electronics (TV, computer etc.) and all my tools (!) were untouched.  They were after the guns.  (Thank gawd I’d already moved all my other guns over to Doc Russia’s place, or else I’d be in even more trouble.)

According to the Plano PD (yeah, I have a case # and everything), there were no fingerprints left, which points to a pro job.  There is a pretty substantial group of suspects — this was not a case of a couple guys walking past and deciding that this looked like a likely place to burgle — but I’ll leave that to the cops to figure out.  They have the list.

What this means:

1.)  I’ve had to cancel Boomershoot this year — no point in going, no guns to shoot, no ammo, nada.  I’ve already canceled the rental SUV and hotel accommodation.  So we’re all clear on this:  I am spitting angry, but most of all I am embarrassed because many of you kind folks sent me money, not only for the drawing but to help with the costs of associated purchases for the trip — several items of which have already been bought.  Aaargh.  Nevertheless, if you are one of those people who specified that the money was for expenses, email me and I will refund you your money.  (Almost all the paper records I have were being kept — where else? in one of the missing range bags — so I have no clue what the total amount is;  but I’ll trust in your honesty.)

2.)  When the insurance company reimburses me for the guns (less my $500 co-pay of course), I’ll replace the CZ 557 and scope, and hold the lottery for that rig then.  I don’t know how long it will take for them to do this, most likely a few months.  Please be patient with me while I speak to the insurance company over the next few days.

3.)  I have no idea whether the guns will ever be recovered.

Fuck.