Legacy Sports Int.
Howa Lightning 1500

May 2013

In February of 2012 a customer ordered a Howa Ranchland Compact in 223. This rifle came with a 20" barrel and a Hogue "overmold" stock with "Cobblestone Grip" in "Sand" color.

Not only was it a good looking rifle, the stock was awesome. Just had a nice feel to it and good balance.

So naturally I started checking around to see if there were any available in 243. Of course there were but they all seemed a bit pricey.

I had seen Howa products and thumbed through the catalogs but like many manufacturers there were a bazillion product numbers that seemed to change from distributor to distributor. Then one of the catalogs said the new model rifles would sport a new adjustable 2 stage trigger and 3 position safety. Of course that would mean additional product numbers along with all the older models still floating around the industry. Even when a rifle is "discontinued" there are still models scattered here and there but finding them can be a challenge.

Bottom line, I was interested in obtaining one for myself with the Hogue stock.

Late in April I found a couple of 243's (at a clearance price) with the green Hogue stock and a 22" barrel so I ordered one of them for myself. I was pretty excited when it arrived and was not disappointed. Well, I say that, the only thing I didn't care much for was the safety. The 3 position is fine but it is a piece of stamped steel rather the a steel bar or strip with a button fixed on top of it. It functions fine just a little cheap looking.

Otherwise, I love the rifle. The finish work is great, the bolt operates smoothly, etc.

I took it home and ran it through the break-in procedure that I always use and took it out to shoot it the first time on memorial day. The temperature was in the 80's and humid so the barrel did not cool well while cleaning every 3 shots but I gave it a couple extra minutes here and there.

Worked out pretty good because I had several boxes of 243 reloads that each had 3 or 4 rounds that needed to be burned up.

The final box I worked on had 6 rounds with 90 or 95 grain Nosler bullets in them. I had walked the scope in but was hitting a little low. So I bumped it up a little for the final 3 shots and actually put 2 shots through the same hole and made it only slightly egg shaped. I was impressed by the potential.

This was done with a Tasco World Class 4-16x40 AO I had taken in on a return to the shop because it was defective. It seems fine considering 1 of these shots was done with a "clean" barrel. Never intending to leave this scope on the gun, I swapped it out this week for an old Simmons Pro Hunter that had spent 15 years on my Remington 700. It's a great old scope so I am anxious to get out and do some shooting with it. I put together so 58 grain Hornady ZMax rounds for it this week pushed by Varget. I hope to get similar results to the performance I have gotten with Sierra Blitzking 55 grainers.

Update November 2013

I tried some 58 grain "Zombie Max" bullets and they were not fantastic but would kill a coyote. In October I tried some Speer 80 grain bullets with it and they worked quite well. I will quit with the testing for now and will carry the gun some this deer season.

Update February 2014

As usual, I carried a few different rifles during deer season but the day I acually saw something I could shoot at, I was packing the Howa 243.

As stated in the November update, I quit playing with loads and stuck with the 80 grain Speer bullets for the Howa. Had 3 nice does show up at about 100 yards. The sun was in the wrong place for the shot and was shining in my right eye as I tried to look through the scope.

Finally got a view I could live with and the doe was facing me with her head turned slightly to the right. When I squeezed the trigger, the little 80 grain pill plowed through her chest and she dropped in her tracks.

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Last Modified: Saturday, February 8, 2014 9:15 AM