October 2003

Quest for a Great .22-250 Heavy-Barrel Varmint Rifle: We Like Howa

In our view, the Howa 1500 offers as many features and as much accuracy as the more expensive Sako 75.

The .22-250 cartridge, which got its name from wildcatting the .250-3000 Savage (introduced in 1915) to accept .22-caliber bullets, has been around a long time. Early experimenters like Gebby put the finishing touches on it back in about 1937. In 1965 Remington adopted the cartridge as a standard offering, and it has been successful ever since. Although some think the round is about ideal for serious varminting, especially at longer ranges and in the West, the Swift will sling 55-grain bullets about 200 fps faster. Yet not many manufacturers chamber the Swift compared with the vast numbers who chamber the .22-250 Remington.

A common trick among serious users of this cartridge is to “improve” it by blowing out the case to eliminate much of the taper. This simple alteration results in performance essentially equal to that of the Swift.

Although many makers offer rifles, we selected just two this time for a serious look. In upcoming issues we’ll look at several others. The two test rifles were both outstanding “lookers,” though with vastly different looks. The lines of the Sako Model 75 Varmint (about $1,200) were strictly classic. The Sako had a Monte-Carlo stock, dark and figured walnut, and a wide forend that all spoke “business.” The laminated thumbhole stock on the Howa Model 1500 Thumbhole Varminter Supreme (MSRP $692) screamed “modern,” though its metal work was pretty classic. Would they shoot? Let’s find out.

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