The Howa M1100 is a new rimfire rifle on the market that snuck onto the market earlier this year without much fanfare, and has largely gone unnoticed by shooters looking to purchase a new rimfire rifle. However, after taking a demo unit to the range recently we definitely think these are worth thinking about.
Howa have long been a name associated with quality and budget-friendly rifles, and the Howa 1500 (also sold as the Weatherby Vanguard) are possibly the best selling center-fire rifle in Australia. The new Howa M1100 draws on this well-founded reputation and fills a gap in their product line-up.
Available in either a varmint-style synthetic stock or an adjustable SCSA TSP-X chassis, the comes with an 18″ barrel (with threaded muzzle), two 10-round magazines, and a set of medium-height 25mm scope rings. Coming with multiple magazines and the scope rings is a very welcome addition, considering that this is a new rifle that will require a whole new ecosystem of accessories that aren’t as easy to get on the market at this stage, but presumably scope rails and a wider range of stocks will be available in the near future (a walnut stock is now available as a separate accessory). The M1100 has an adjustable 2-stage trigger that will feel very familiar to people who have used the bigger M1500, as will the 2-position lever safety. The bolt handle is of a modern oversized tactical style, which locks down right next to your (right-handed) trigger finger, making operation fast and intuitive, and the magazine release is well defined and located between the trigger guard and magazine, much like a Ruger or Savage.
The Howa M1100 shoots well, and operation feels quite smooth after the rifle has had an initial clean. As with most .22lr rifles it is worth testing many different types of ammunition to see what kind of load works best with your rifle. Groups at 50m varied quite a lot, and I found it surprising that my regular Federal Bulk Pack 36gr 1260fps was the worst of the lot. Winchester PowerPoint 40gr CPHP 1280fps and CCI MiniMag 36gr CPHP 1260fps produced some very tight and reliable groups, with Hornady Varmint Express 40gr LRN 1070fps and CCI Standard Velocity 40gr LRN 1070fps being close behind. I forgot to photograph my targets, but either of these loads would work very well with this rifle in a competitive target shooting environment.
While most of the Howa M1100s you will see in stores at the moment are in .22lr, .22wmr (1:16, same as the .22lr) and .17hmr (1:9 twist) will be available soon. Available for just $780 in the synthetic stock and $995 in the TSP-X chassis, these are priced to compete with other well-regarded rifles from manufacturers including CZ, Ruger and Savage, the new Howa M1100 is definitely worth a look if you want to buy a new rimfire rifle that is a little bit different from everyone else’s.