Howa 1100 review
The Howa 1100 is a practical rifle in the field even with its target-type stock

Review: Howa 1100 rimfire rifle, a sharp-priced sharp shooter


Hunters of small game have been waiting for Howa to bring out an inexpensive rimfire for the past four or five decades. Finally, it has happened. The Model 1100 is outstanding, with a budget price and several attractive features not found in the majority of rimfire rifles.

The Howa Model 1500 centrefire rifle has been around for a long time, its lasting success probably due to it being a clone of the highly successful Sako Finnbear action. The new rimfire builds on that success.

Howa 1100 review
Consistent, precise accuracy delivers literally drop-dead performance on ferals

Naturally, the Howa 1100 has a tubular receiver and the polishing and bluing on the metalwork is excellent for a rifle that is relatively inexpensive. At the rear, the bolt sleeve is contoured to match the shape of the receiver, giving it a streamlined appearance.

The Howa’s receiver is drilled and tapped to allow for mounting a scope, just one of several unusual refinements found on this economically priced rimfire.

The bolt is the typical half cutaway rimfire type with dual extractors and a round firing pin rather than one having a chisel nose. The rifle cocks on the uplift of the bolt handle, which has a large pear-shaped hollow handle. Lock-up is accomplished by the root of the bolt handle turning down into a matching square notch in the side of the receiver.

Howa 1100 review
Howa has finished the 1100 so well it belies the low price tag

Another nice touch is having a bolt release catch on the left rear side of the receiver that runs in a slot in the bolt body, instead of using the sear as a bolt stop like most .22s.

The Howa has a 457mm (18.5”) barrel that’s pressed and pinned into the receiver. Much has been made of having rimfire barrels threaded into the receiver ring, but rather than being threaded for attachment to the action the barrel shank has a smooth surface and is force-fitted into the receiver, then pinned in place. This is nothing new. Anschutz, whose match-winning record is exemplary, attaches its barrels using the same method.

The barrel is medium sporter weight and straight tapered from 22mm at the receiver ring to 16mm at the threaded muzzle cap, which makes it pretty stiff — something conducive to fine accuracy. Twist rate is the standard 1:16 for .22LR.

Howa 1100 review
Unusually for a rimfire, the tubular receiver has two action screws instead of the usual one. Trigger housing is steel with integral safety and weight-adjustment screw. Magazine well is polymer

My test rifle had a target-style injection-moulded black synthetic stock with a vertical pistol grip and a butt stock with high, straight comb. It also had sling swivel studs and soft 1” recoil pad. The forend is flat on the bottom with grasping grooves along the upper edges and M-LOK slots for attaching accessories.

The stock is obviously optimised for sandbag or prone shooting but feels like a piece of 4×2 in the hand when shooting offhand. The stock will undoubtably hold most of its appeal for target shooters, but Howa will offer the rifle with a classic-style sporter stock made of walnut. Traditionalists will find it worth the wait.

Howa 1100 review
Butt stock has a high, straight comb that places the eye dead in line with the eyepiece of a low-mounted scope. Grip is straight and verticle

The Howa M1100 comes with two banana-shaped, 10-shot polymer magazines. The follower and magazine well are made of the same material.

I began accuracy testing with Dynamit Nobel Target Rifle ammunition. My mate who was watching through a spotting scope exclaimed, “The groups look small!”

Howa 1100 review
An unusual feature: the Model 1100 has a bolt release catch on the rear of the receiver just like a centrefire

When the first five groups were measured we found they were .500, .720, .580, .660 and .740, with an average group size of only .640 inches. This was only the first target, but it made me form the opinion that the Howa M1100 is a very desirable rifle.

It’s in the orbit of the CZ, Sako and other high-class European rimfire rifles. A summary of the accuracy data obtained using several different types of ammunition is shown in the table below.

The crisp, clean trigger pull helped me gain tight groups. According to my RCBS Trigger Pull Scale, the trigger pull consistently broke at 3½lb (1.6kg). The trigger can be made lighter by turning the adjustment screw located in the front of the trigger housing.

Howa 1100 review
Two 10-shot polymer magazines are supplied with each rifle

The rifle’s accuracy was very consistent. I fired 10 different .22 Long Rifle cartridges and the overall average group size was under an inch at 50 yards. The load that gave the tightest groups was Lapua Polar Biathlon, the best five-shot group with that cartridge measuring just .383.

I believe that the Howa M1100 selling in the semi-budget price bracket will capture a significant segment of the market. The bottom line is that the Howa rimfire showed it is one of the best bargains available today.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maker: Howa, Japan
  • Type: Turn-bolt action
  • Calibres: .22LR, .22WMR
  • Capacity: 10 rounds
  • Barrel: 457mm, 1:16-in twist
  • Overall length: 940mm
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • Stock: Black synthetic; target
  • Grips: Textured
  • Length of pull: 360mm
  • Finish: Blued, matte
  • Trigger: 1.6kg / 3½lb (adjustable)
  • Sights: None, drilled and tapped for scope
  • Price: $690 RRP
  • Contact: Outdoor Sporting Agencies
Howa 1100 review
The ergonomic target-type stock is easy to hold steady from the offhand position

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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