November 09, 2023
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The Howa series of rifles is an interesting line of push-feed bolt-action rifles built to tackle everything from hunting to competition shooting. The American Flag Chassis series, seen here, is perhaps their most distinctive looking model thanks to its red, white and blue finish. It’s an eye-catching rifle a bit different than the rest of their offerings. The heart of the American Flag Chassis model is the popular Howa Model 1500 short-action receiver. This is machined from forged steel. The Howa features a rotating bolt with dual front locking lugs. Bolt length is 6.9 inches. Examining it you’ll note the bolt face sports a plunger type ejector, claw extractor and the design cocks on opening. The forged steel receiver features an integral recoil lug. The bolt features a single-piece steel bolt handle and the entire bolt can be easily stripped without tools.
A two-stage trigger is standard with an advertised pull weight of between 2.5 and 3.8 pounds. One feature I like is the inclusion of a three-position safety. This locks the bolt closed or allows the rifle to be unloaded and cleared with the safety on. It is a practical feature, especially at a match. Plus, the action is designed with three gas ports for pressure relief in case of a catastrophic failure. These will vent gases away from the shooter. This rifle came with a distinctive looking 24-inch-long carbon wrapped barrel. The muzzle features 5/8-24 threads and an effective two-baffle muzzle brake is fitted. This thread pattern allows a wide variety of muzzle devices to be easily mounted if you desire something else. It also makes it very easy to add your favorite sound suppressor onto.
This model is offered in both .308 Win and 6.5mm Creedmoor. I selected the 6.5mm Creedmoor model for testing. This features a one turn in eight inches rifling twist for optimum performance with a wide range of bullet lengths/weights. This twist allows use of very long 147-grain Match bullets to much shorter and more economical 100-grain pills for dusting coyotes and the like. It should be also noted that the bolt face is true and square to the chamber. The barreled action is installed into a rugged chassis system. The action is a flat flush fit into the chassis reducing stress. The chassis is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. The chassis is an aluminum bedding block/bottom metal combination to which attaches a tubular forend. At the back you’ll find an adjustable buttstock. The buttstock is the Luth-AR MBA-4 with adjustable comb and length-of-pull (LOP). Being able to adjust the comb height is a highly desirable feature.
Length of pull adjusts from 11.7 to 14.7 inches. The M-Lok slotted tubular forend completely encircles the barrel. The slots allow the shooter to conveniently attach a bipod or other accessories. A feature contemporary shooters demand is its method of feed, a detachable box magazine. The polymer magazine holds ten rounds and features central feeding. This is enough for a PRS stage if things don’t suddenly go bad. If things do, a magazine release lever at the front will facilitate a quick swap. The magazine locks securely into place with a simple straight-in push. The rifle’s overall length is 43.5 inches with the stock fully collapsed and 46.5 inches fully extended. It weighs in at only 8.5 pounds thanks to the light weight barrel. Models are offered with a conventional steel barrel as well. Prices of the American Flag Chassis line start at $1,229. It is also available as a package with a Nikko Sterling (NikkoStirling.com) 4-16x50mm Diamond LR scope as seen here.
The Nikko Sterling 4-16x50mm Diamond LR scope is a good looking optic. It has large finger adjustable and locking turrets. The model I received featured tactile and audible ¼ MOA adjustments. It features a side parallax adjustment knob, an illuminated reticle and fast focus diopter eye-piece. The reticle features hold-over marks and is user friendly. The optic was nicely finished and performed well. Accuracy at 100 yards proved a bit spotty. The rifle has an accuracy guarantee of being able to put three rounds into less than an MOA at 100 yards. It would indeed do that with three rounds, but five-round groups got a bit on the large side for my tastes. I tried four different 6.5mm Creedmoor loads from Black Hills, Federal Premium and SIG Sauer which ranged in weight from 130 to 147 grains. Best accuracy was obtained using Black Hills Ammunitions 147-grain ELD-M load which averaged .8 inch for four five-shot groups from the bench at 100 yards.
Shooting prone off the bipod at 500 yards proved quite enjoyable. The recoil is very light, thanks to the brake, and the rifle is very comfortable to shoot. Howa actions need to be run with a lil bit of gusto, but feeding, extraction and ejection were flawless. The trigger on this example was very good and broke crisply at three pounds. It was a fun rifle to shoot and posted some nice four and five-inch groups at 500 yards with the Black Hills load. If you are looking for a rifle with a head-turning distinctive look, Legacy Sports Howa American Flag Chassis rifle certainly has it. Everyone who saw it commented favorably on its Red, White and Blue finish Cerakote and hydro-dip finish. While the .308 Win is the old favorite, I personally lean towards the 6.5mm Creedmoor. Either way though you will have a distinctive piece!
About the Author
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007, he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist. He has written extensively on opposing forces small arms, ammunition and optics and has traveled through Russia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. His writing has been translated into both Russian and Mandarin. He was a regular on the Outdoor Sportsman Group’s network television from 2003 to 2020. He is currently the Editor of the Outdoor Sportsman Group prepping title Be Ready! magazine, as well as the Executive Editor of Firearms News. Prior to 1998, he was in the Aerospace and Defense industry.
Howa M1500 American Flag Chassis Rifle Specs
- Type: Manual turn bolt with dual opposed front locking lugs
- Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
- Barrel: 24 in. Carbin-Fiber wrapped (tested)
- Muzzle Threads: 5/8x24
- Rifling: 1:8-in. twist
- Overall Length: 43.5 in. to 46.5 in.
- Trigger: H.A.C.T. two-stage
- Sights: None
- Length of Pull: 11.7 in. to 14.7 in.
- Magazine: 10-rd. detachable box mags
- Weight: 8.5 lbs.
- Stock: Aluminum chassis
- MSRP: $1,445
- Importer: Legacy Sports International, Howa USA
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