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.


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