I have been shooting a Hart-barreled Howa .223 for the last year or so and it has been an amazingly accurate rifle. The problem has been the Hogue "Rubbermaid" stock it came with. It was bad at first and some stiffening and some glass bedding cured 99.9% of it's ills... except the rubber smell and sticky feel when shooting in 100+F heat. LAst summer I picked up a Boyds laminate stock for a Howa/Vanguard. Undecided as to whether this should go on my Hart barreled gun or my son's factory Varmint .223, I left it be. Yesterday while waiting for my lady friend to finish seating bullet in her 204 ammo I dropped the Hart into the stock. Except for a slight misalignment of the barrel channel leaving a larger gap one side of the barrel than the other, it was a good fit and free floated.. I decided to anchor it down and give it a try, unbedded.
I quickly loaded 25 rounds on some prepped brass and later, after M'Lady was done zeroing her 204, I settled in behind the Howa. The first group was 2" low and right and about 3/4" for five shots. I walked the next five into my 100 yard zero and then fired this five shot group measuring .375" CTC.
I let my Lady shoot the last 10 rounds and her groups were .68" and .7 inches.
Today I shot some .3 - .4 inch groups. This with no glass bedding.... I think I got lucky, and I think I'm going to leave it alone til after the prairiedog season! ~Muir