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howa 1500 mag length

29 Feb 2016
@ 01:45 am (GMT)

Paul Hales

Just wondering has anyone out there had a go at lengthening the mag box on a 1500 as Wyatts do with the Rem 700.
it looks doable and i have a mag box from Wyatts for a 700 that would would work I think....although it doesn't look quite deep enough.
However it only picks up 2.7 mm and 3.5 even 4 mm would be better.
The rifle really likes Berger VLD 175 and 185 gr proj, but the mag length and seating depth i have to use means there are sometimes pressure spikes , so I keep loads down for safety.Being able to seat out further would mean more combustion space and possibly better accuracy or at least more consistency, if i can get near the lands- seating to mag length currently the bullet needs to carry a cut lunch to get close to the rifling.

Of course theres then the length of the floor plate and the bolt stop to worry about.
Any one got any thoughts??


29 Feb 2016
@ 03:21 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Hi Paul, before we get started, I want to be clear. As you seat closer to the lands, pressure generally goes up, not down, even if there is an increase in case capacity. You have to understand that when seated off, some energy is burned off pushing the the bullet to the lands with a slight pressure release. When the bullet is close to the lands, pressures rise in an immediate manner.

Also, I am not 100% comfortable with the current batches of VLD for game killing. There are other projectiles you might want to look to for the sake of the animal if you are shooting out to low velocity ranges. Furthermore, if the rifle is for example a .300 Win Mag, you should not need to load much past 89mm unless the throat is quite worn. You need to make sure the bullet does not end up hanging out of the case neck.

If you have not read my reloading book, please do. Also the Cartridges book for effective long range game killing.

There are aspects of this that I am not too happy about. You may need to perform cross checks to make sure you have your lengths correct and also take time to understand pressure etc. So before you go further ahead, please take time to investigate.

Now to your question:

Not too long ago, Grant and I came across a Steve Blenkarne built Howa rifle. Steve owned (created) True-Flite before Grant and his co-shareholders took over. Steve loved the Howa I think above all others, it was his modern stainless "Sako" and he built his Prohunter rifles based on these.

The rifle in question was a .300 Weatherby which had come in for a re-barrel. And surprise surprise, the mag box had been opened up.

Note that the internal capacity was still around 94mm, but it allowed the WBY to be properly utilized. This included employing the 208gr A-Max after its release.

29 Feb 2016
@ 06:17 am (GMT)

Paul Hales

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Thanks Nathan,
The rifle is a 308 win,which seems to like bergers above all else, 3/4 in groups with berger swap to sierra match and blow it out 3in, its the first 308 i've ever seen that won't shoot sierras of any weight.
As for seating depth i'm happy to jump proj, i don't want to seat them to close but the long bergers are only just on the flat section such as they are and probably slightly compressing the powder charge.I 've been using the vlds on a few things over here from cats, pigs, dogs , up to the size of some old bullocks and they have been ok but then my general ranges are under 100m as the scrub is fairly close, and longer shots are only down fence lines or firebreaks.
I received your long range hunting rifles book today and have devoured abut 25% of it already.
Thanks for your help.
29 Feb 2016
@ 05:29 pm (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: howa 1500 mag length
thank you Nathan its great to see photo's of things like that. im guessing he made the magazine himself or did he borrow it from something else?

hi Paul there's a lot going on here and i don't want to give away all Nathan's secrets as the books is his lively hood.
have you tried lighter grain bullets?
with such a variety of game i wonder if the 165gr partition might suit your needs?
also the 308win needs to be reloading slightly different because of the freebore, in all i think you'll find that lengthening the magazine is off the agenda and there's so many other things to do before hand.
might be worth searching the forum under "308" and "howa"
as there is some great info already written and one forum member martin has done a beautiful job bedding one, as has kindly uploaded photo's and info
29 Feb 2016
@ 10:18 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Thomas, the original mag box was used, just modified.

Paul, as Thomas says, changing the mag box is not the correct move here. There are other factors at play as I suspected and something is not quite right with either the way the rifle is behaving or the hand loads.

I would like you to read through the Accurizing book and follow the steps, then move on to the reloading book. Sorry to put the hard sell on you.
01 Mar 2016
@ 02:22 am (GMT)

Paul Hales

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Thanks Nathan, I've bee through the accurrizing book a couple of times now and found it quite useful.
I've tried 2206h, 2208 and reloader 15 and about 8 or so projectiles and the howa it seems to like the heavier end, with at lest one group down to 6mm but i reckon that was a fluke as its not consistent, but 11 to 16mm being about it.
The berger 175 long range projectiles give pretty good accuracy and are a simdgen shorter, so have a little more combustion space,it also seems to be fond of 180 gr hornady rnd noses which function well and are my go to general load for , feral cats , dogs, pigs, goats, brumbies, scrub cattle and camels, I tend to try and find a good load and then use it for everything if i can, my small brain won't handle the complexities of remembering the variables of different projectiles in a hurry.
My growing interest in long range shooting has lead me to the bergers, but the mag length is a bit of a handy cap, single loaded rounds seated out to just off the lands won't fit by 3-4mm in the mag, and for the majority of my shooting on mob animals follow up shots are critical although to be honest the 180 gr rnd noses haven't let me down yet either.
Following your advice i managed to find some bore tech solvent over here recently and was a bit shocked as to how green the patch came out, i could have used it as Christmas tree decoration, it moved a heap more than the hoppes 9 or sweets 7.62.
Thanks again for your help
01 Mar 2016
@ 02:53 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Ok, there are small things to watch for here. For example, we could say that a gun likes heavy bullets due to its twist or harmonics (because thats what such and such said on the net). But as we study closer, we may find that our dies are not producing concentric ammo and that the gun likes a heavy pill because of the increase in surface bearing area which helps keep things straight while the mild velocity helps decrease in flight yaw.

The same can be said of bedding- a slower load can cause more mild harmonics- but are talking barrel harmonics or are we talking about bedding and the way the action recoils and returns to battery.

With your Howa, the steps are:

Bed (and stabilize if shooting on a Hogue stock).
Trigger mods.
Bolt lugs have to be seen to.
Throat (on yours especially by the sound of it).
Bullets seated to the bottom of the case neck or deeper.
Ammo concentricity.

I have said this before and will say it again. If your .308 won't shoot with ammo seated for optimum concentricity (see this article here on the website under rifle accuracy), then you can try seating even deeper. This can have the same effect as seating further out.

But as far as case capacity goes, again, seating close to the lands does not increase powder capacity with regards to powder charge potential. It simply jacks pressures up. So you gain at one end of the projectile and lose at the other. If you use 2206H powder, your rifle will reach full potential. There is no need for increased capacity and you cannot make the most of 2208 unless you have a very long barrel.

If I could just get you to see that what you suspect as causes of effects may actually be false indicators, it would help a great deal. Yes, your rifle shoots better with bullets seated out long- but why. If you fix the why bit, the rifle may be a lot better with regards to all bullets, plus you'll have increased learning before you venture into experiments with another rifle in the future.

Most Howa's are finicky in one way or another until all of the listed aspects are addressed. The average grouping for a factory Howa (with good barrel) has in my records in past years, been 2.5" at 100 yards out of the box- but with a great deal of potential.
01 Mar 2016
@ 03:07 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: howa 1500 mag length
I should mention, what you are going through is quite normal and understandable as a learning curve. Your questions are not isolated, others make the same comments (my .308 will only shoot straight if...) but generally speaking, the advice I give turns out the same results each time. This is why I am so adamant in my reply to you.

It can also be very disappointing for shooters when they do come across a 2.5" shooter. Many people go through the "is it me or is the rifle" series of questions and it can become very frustrating if rifle (and reloading die) variables are not fully addressed.
01 Mar 2016
@ 03:51 am (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Thomas offered some good advice in looking at some of the old threads, much of this has been worked through to its conclusion withy great info offered.

Seating to the lands is a folly in the 308w, totally unnecessary to achieve sub moa accuracy! 308's use jump to gain velocity as do many sammi spec cartridges.

Address the rifle as per your book & Nathan has said, start at the heart of the problem. As we discuss on here, Harmonics can be a real pain in the ass, so minimise their effects.

Long for calibre vld's struggle in most calibre mag lengths and you will find better performing options for game without to much trouble that will feed. The ultra high bc's just are overrated unless your pushing things way, way out & beyond its effective range for game anyway.

Please don't take this as preaching, it's just the steps that we have all been through using Nathans info. Unless you have a real brumby, the Howa will give reliable accuracy once you sort things out with multiple weights.
01 Mar 2016
@ 04:11 am (GMT)

Paul Hales

Re: howa 1500 mag length
Thanks for the help, every one , i'll continue to play as its got the potential with regular 12-16mm groups, i've mucked around changing stocks a couple of times so i need to let it settle in and keep experimenting in its current Bell and carlson, after bedding it, as this stock also seems to suit me so that could eliminate one more variable.
Once more thanks for all the help.
Nathan, just ordered a couple more of your books, and a bushing neck die , so that should give me heaps to play with.
And off the streets and out of trouble
01 Mar 2016
@ 06:11 am (GMT)

Chris Murphy

Re: howa 1500 mag length
hi Paul one question you mention trying different pills but are you also doing gradual powder test with each projectiles to explore harmonics? sorry if i missed it in the tread but just a thought.
01 Mar 2016
@ 07:08 am (GMT)

Paul Hales

Re: howa 1500 mag length
yep, working up loads for all projectiles, mucking around with bedding i've gotten it wrong a couple of times on different stocks and then dug it out and started again,.
I guess it 'll get to point of accepting its level of accuracy after trying all avenues, not all barrels will shoot under half inch, but then the tinkering to wring the last bit out is all part of the fun.


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