I have no other option but so sing the praises of Steve Beaty and his staff at Ivythorn Sporting.
Having been disappointed by the price hike and therefore unavailability of Boyds riflestocks my project to upgrade a project rifle had to be abandoned.
Having seen and handled the range of Howa rifles some time ago and being impressed by the value for money, I decided to give them a second look.
Like most of the opinions I've read, I was least impressed by the Hogue stock on the standard offerings. The latest range gives a far wider choice to enable an almost custom build. They also offered what I wanted at a sensible price.
Since this was to be mainly a stalking rifle with occasional use on the range my first priority was durability as well as function. That led me toward a stainless barrel/action in a synthetic stock to simplify maintenance. My alternative was a laminated stock (hence the Boyds connection). Research showed that Howa have just this combination as a standard option.
So now I had to find somewhere that I could look at and handle the various offerings (my local RFD was not an option). That is when I read a post on here praising Steve and Ivythorn.A quick search of his website gave me encouragement, so emails and replies were fired back and forth followed by a (lenghthy phone call) which confirmed that Steve was indeed able to assist.
I rang Hampshire FLD to enquire as to the progress of my 1-4-1 application only to be told that it would be between approximately 4 to 6 weeks still.
Having booked an appointment and a day off work, I rang Steve to explain the delay. "No problem, come anyway, no obligation, handle the rifles, have a chat and a coffee or three, and go from there, oh, by the way, I've also got the new Cerakote option in stock in your calibre".
That was my motivation to an hour and a half drive over to Steve's place yesterday.
The drive down was quite horrendous what with the weather, roadworks, accidents and diversions.At the end of it was a warm welcome and a cup of coffee. Both well received.
There then followed three hours of chatting, building the rifle with my scope & mod, zeroing, test firing, chatting, coffee, and so on. The result was my purchasing a Howa 1500 Cerakoted sporter in a pepper thumbhole stock that shot to POA within three rounds!
Steve gave me different options as to how to handle the delay in my FAC, settling on him storing the rifle until such time as I could decide to RFD or collect when it came through.
At no time did I feel under pressure. Nothing was too much trouble. Every query was addressed fully to my satisfaction.
I must thank Steve and the guys at Ivythorn for the most enjoyable and satisfactory purchase that I can remember. In my opinion, Steve Beaty and Ivythorn Sporting are the epitome of good service that we seem to lack these days, and all of this within the price qouted.
I cannot recommend them any higher and will without hesitation deal with them again whenever I am able.