The gun is closer to being finished now. I got the stock bedded, and the barrel free floating. (It was touching the forearm on the left side, so the barrel channel had to be relieved a bit.)
Now I have to cut 6" off of the barrel so that it will be 18", and give it an 11 degree target crown. Then I will replace the bottom metal with some from PTG that lets it use steel magazines.
Howa offers a kit for use of removable magazines for about 100 bucks, but both the magazines and the 'bottom metal' are plastic, and I'm not ready for a plastic trigger-guard. The Pacific Tool and Guage model offers steel magazines and aluminum bottom metal for the Howa.
- Then when it's done, I get to start over from scratch and build an identical rifle (different color stock) in .308 Winchester.
Howa has a barreled action with a 20" heavy barrel in .308 that will do the job for that. Maybe next time I'll get the 'Zombie' color scheme (Flo green and black) or more likely the camo laminate.
That will complete a three gun set with short, heavy barrels and thumb-hole stocks in 17HMR, .223, and .308.
Here's the 17HMR, a Savage that inspired the other two with its fine accuracy and great handling qualities:
The series will stop at .308, that's about as large a cartridge as can be counted on to behave well with an 18" barrel.