Rifle Review: The Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic HB-ST (Part I)

Back in 1968, the first Howa rifles were imported from Japan under the name Golden Bear. The magazine for which … Continued

Back in 1968, the first Howa rifles were imported from Japan under the name Golden Bear. The magazine for which I worked assigned a writer to review one, the article he wrote was such an over-the-top rave that I called him.

“Just between us,” I said, “they aren’t really that good, are they?”

“Just between us,” he said, “they’re better.”

And that is why, when Roy Weatherby looked for a manufacturer to build affordable rifles with his name on them, he picked Howa. And nothing has changed since.

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What attracted me to this particular Vanguard was its resemblance to an Ed Brown Ozark, a model which I believe he no longer makes. I was lucky enough to get hold of one a few years ago. It is a 7mm/08 with a 20-inch #3 contour barrel and a weight of 8 ½ pounds with scope. The rifle is not only very accurate, but has almost no recoil, and is a pure pleasure to shoot.

The Vanguard HB-ST is practically the same gun. It comes in .223 or .308, has a 22-inch #3 barrel, weighs 8 pounds without scope, and was obviously thought up by people who are not only knowledgeable shooters and highly cultured, but damned good-looking as well.

I got one in .308 and mounted one of Schmidt & Bender’s supernaturally wonderful 2.5X-10X Summit riflescopes on it, which brought the weight to 9 pounds, 2 ounces. This is heavy for a .308, but on the other hand, the rifle has 14 foot-pounds of recoil, which is about the same as a hard punch from Callista Flockhart. —David E. Petzal