Howa Varmint .204

It was an exciting day for me as I had waited quite a while to collect my Howa .204. Having never fired a CF I was excited at the prospect of stepping up the shot range and potential quarry. I gave the gun a good clean as it was factory fresh, picked up 200 32g Hornardy rounds and set off to the field for a zero/run in session. I had drawn out 1" squares on a large piece of card and placed it 23m (25yds) from me knowing 16 clicks of the scope would give an inch of movement.

The first shot was well out (10"). I dialed the scope - next shot exactly where I wanted it. Moved out to 100yds and tweaked the scope through the next few shots then cleaned the barrel. The groups were 3/4" average at 100yds. Never bigger than 1" which was more than satisfying with factory ammo (and seeing it was the only ammo at the shop at the time).

I then moved to 150m where I decided to have my zero set; eliminating any need for hold under at mid ranges. Three 3-shot groups at that range to check the POI. 1 group was 1" exactly and the other 2 were 3/4". I was more than happy with this result considering the targets I had made were very hard to see and I had also forgotten my rear bag rest!

The Rifle

The gun is heavy with the varmint barrel and laminated stock and when walking about with the gun mounted lamp gives a serious bicep workout over an hour or more. It feels very planted with this additional weight and I am growing in confidence the more I shoot and handle this gun.

Home loading will extend this confidence as the accuracy increases yet further.

The stock:
The stock quality is very good with a nice fit and even barrel clearance throughout the forend. The finish is very nice and even without the chequering I did not feel i would lose my grip on it. The thumbhole assists with this anyway. I very much liked the appearance of the stock with the vented forend and well layed out contours. Personally I will benefit from fitting a cheek pad as the comb is a margin flat and low for me. I have quite long arms and feel this stock fits well for LOP and comfort.

It has a positive bolt that was higher quality than I was expecting for the price. Quite smooth and locates home nicely. The action is stainless as is the barrel and there is no signs of corrosion/browning after use as you often get with some gun bluing. The magazine is a permanent type (a hinged floor-plate) and is simple enough to operate - and I can't forget it when going shooting!
The rounds bolt in positively from the mag with no issues.
The 3 stage safety catch is not the smoothest especially when the trigger is tweaked to mininise creep, but it functions well enough.

Good Groups

The trigger was easily sorted by adjusting the pull weight and fine tuning the rear screw to eliminate the small amount of creep present in mine. It now breaks nicely at my prefered lighter setting (I haven't measured the weight) with almost no creep and a nice clean let off. Its nice enough for me to use on targets and I am quite fussy about my trigger settings.

I have been testing some homeloads and have found an accurate combination which I will be sticking with for now. Below is a picture of the group I have recently shot at 144m with 39g Blitzkings.

Load used was: 39g Blitzkings, 29.7g of BL-C(2), Rem 7.5 BR primers and Hornardy factory once fired cases (in my rifle).

Author Simon