Howa 1500: Howa-Hogue Buffalo Camo Varminter

When I first heard about Outdoor Sporting Agencies “build it, dream it” plan whereby the buyer picks out a barreled action an drops it into an aftermarket stock I was pretty dubious. In my experience, this sort of thing seldom works out, unless the outfit is properly bedded. However, I changed my mind after I played with a friend’s Howa blued heavy-barreled action in .223 Remington which he dropped into a Hogue Buffalo Camo stock and topped with a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14×50 MC scope, sighted the rifle in and proceeded to fire a few test groups. Big surprise! The Howa consistently produced 3-shot shot groups of a 1/2-minute and less. Better still it was a handsome looking outfit. Not having time to do a full review, I obtained a similar assembly from Outdoor Sporting Agencies in .22-250.

The rifle was accompanied by a Picatinny rail and a Zeiss Victory HT 3-12×56 scope, the optics of which are unsurpassed. No rings were included but I had on hand a Nikko Stirling Match Mount set with medium height 30mm rings that positioned the scope the right height over the heavy fluted-blued barrel.

The Hogue stock is a pure classic design with high straight comb and semi-beavertail forend slightly flattened on the bottom to sit steady on a rest and keep the piece from canting. The sides of the forend are rounded and grooved along the upper edges for the fingers of the leading hand. There’s no cheekpiece but the thick comb enables the shooter to get a good firm contact with the cheek for steady holding. A slight flare on the bottom of the pistol grip helps keep the right hand firm to control the rifle. The buttstock has a 355mm length of pull, with barely discernable cast-off, and is fitted with a soft black recoil pad 23mm-25mm thick. But it’s the overmolded Buffalo Camo pattern featuring tree branches, brown bark and green leaves against a light grey background that I find so attractive. The finish is soft and user-friendly. In place of checkering there’s panels resembling a stippled finish on grip and forend that furnish a secure grasp to wet or sweaty hands. There is a tendency today for sporter stocks to have some bizarre and offbeat shapes and to depart from the simple utilitarian lines of the classic stock.

This Hogue design fulfils my idea of what a practical varmint stock should be, having superior shooting and handling qualities, as well as a striking appearance.




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