Howa Super Lite rifle

The Lite fantastic

Con Kapralos salutes Howa’s lightweight winner

For a hunter who prefers to stalk quarry on foot, the weight of a hunting outfit encompassing rifle and scope is something that’s taken seriously. While varmint and long-range set-ups have their place in hunting and shooting, lugging a rifle which can weight 4.5kg or more over hill and dale isn’t conducive to a pleasurable trek. Ever since American custom-rifle maestro Melvin Forbes pioneered the ultra-light hunting rifle decades ago, there has been a dedicated band of manufacturers the world over who still produce fine custom-made ultra-light stalking rifles.

Many respected companies have dabbled in producing some attractive options though most of them are at the top end of the price scale. An ultra-lightweight rifle is one generally weighing less than 5lb (2.3kg) without a scope or rings/bases and it has taken Howa of Japan, in conjunction with Fuller Global, to come up with a truly affordable version in two proven short-action calibres in the Howa Super Lite.

Available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester, the Howa Super Lite tips the scales at a tad over 2kg and is based around a newly-designed reduced scale short action, which size-wise is between Howa’s Mini Action and standard Short Action profiles paired with a carbon-fibre stock. Australian distributor Outdoor Sporting Agencies sent Australian Shooter one of the new Super Lites in .308 Winchester for assessment and review.

At a glance

The rifle arrived in two separate cartons, one containing the M1500 Super Lite barrelled action in .308 Winchester and the other the Stocky’s carbon-fibre riflestock. The gun was assembled as per user manual instructions and the bore cleaned to remove any factory preservatives. A compact Crimson Trace Brushline 3-9×40 riflescope with suitable rings was also supplied, the receiver fitted with a one-piece Picatinny rail designed specifically for the Super Lite action. The rifle weighs 2.08kg bare and with the Crimson Trace optic fitted settled the scales at 2.6kg.

Barrelled action

The Super Lite action has been designed from scratch by Howa. Its size falls neatly between their Mini Action and standard Short Action, being a scaled-down version of the M1500 but retaining some of its features. The receiver is milled from a single piece of circular steel bar stock with the front receiver ring retaining the round profile, while the rear ring has the top milled flat. Top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting though Howa have decided to supply the rifle with a Picatinny rail made precisely for the Super Lite action.

The ejection port still has plenty of room to allow for discharge of fired and unfired cases. The left side of the receiver has a small gas port on the front ring with make and model engraved into the flank, with the bolt release tucked in just behind the receiver tube, butting up alongside the tang. On the right side only the serial number adorns the front ring.

The recoil lug design follows those found on all Howa M1500s in that it’s integral to the receiver frame, milled from the same piece of steel, the action anchored to the stock by two Torx bolts screwed into the recoil lug and rear tang. To match the scaled-down receiver the barrel is of a number-one contour, measuring 510mm (20”) and in the review calibre of .308 Winchester has a one-in-10 rate of twist. The barrel’s finished in matte black to match the receiver and bolt body, handle and shroud. The muzzle is threaded ½x28 threads per inch for use with accessories and in the case of the Super Lite, a muzzle brake would be an advantage to reduce muzzle flip.


The Super Lite bolt when compared to the one on my Howa standard short action .223 Rem is svelte to say the least. It retains all the features we’ve come to know in a Howa bolt, with M16-style extractor and plunger ejector and dually opposed locking lugs with 90-degree bolt lift, with which I’ve never had an issue on the countless Howa rifles I’ve reviewed. The bolt always locks solid and travels smoothly when cycling the action.

Trigger, safety, magazine

The trigger is the superb Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger system (HACT) which is a fully adjustable, two-stage design. It came set from the factory at 1.4kg, breaking crisply and cleanly and was left as-is for testing. The safety is part of the HACT unit and is Howa’s three-position system with middle blocking the trigger but allowing the bolt to be cycled, while rearward the bolt is locked down and trigger blocked. Fully forward allows the rifle to be fired.

The triggerguard and magazine shroud are made from a single piece of polymer and the detachable box magazine follows the trend, being polymer with exception of the steel spring. The magazine is retained by a small clip on front of the shroud and pressing the latch releases it for easy removal. It holds three rounds which is plenty for an ultra-lightweight hunting rifle.


Naturally an ultra-light rifle would need a lightweight stock and the Howa Super Lite is no exception at 480 grams. It’s made of hand-laid carbon-fibre by Stocky’s Stocks in the US and uses their patented AccuBlock technology.

The stock has a pleasant profile with clean lines and no unwanted cheekpieces or raised combs and has a soft-touch finish applied with a grey webbing effect which gives additional grip. A LimbSaver recoil pad is also included which will help reduce some of the felt recoil, while sling swivel studs are fitted as standard. Inletting is perfect with the AccuBlock patented recoil lug bed mating precisely with the steel lug on the receiver frame and the barrel fully free-floating.

Range testing

The Howa Super Lite’s forte is as an ultra-lightweight stalking rifle and not one suited to long-range sessions punching paper targets. To set up the rifle with the supplied Crimson Trace optic, a range session beckoned and it would be interesting to see how the four supplied hunting loads from PPU and Hornady would fare through the pencil-thin barrel and 2.6kg weight.

Single five-shot groups were fired from each ammunition sample and it was pleasing to see all groups less than 1.5 MOA. In all cases, the first three shots printed groups between 0.75-1 MOA but as the barrel warmed up, shots four and five did tend to disperse, even though the barrel was allowed to cool somewhat between shots, considering the temperature was in the low 30s. The rifle was a tad lively to shoot off the bench but with its light weight this was to be expected, though most importantly it was an accurate shooter for the task it’s designed for.

Field testing

The Howa Super Lite was called into action for a deer hunt on a private concession close to home where its light weight was a blessing. The rifle carried superbly over the shoulder and when required, was easy to manoeuvre on the fidgety fallow deer being culled. While shots were less than 150m, the rifle and Crimson Trace optic yielded a couple of deer for the table and two less pests for the landowner to worry about. The outfit’s weight and resultant recoil was never an issue when hunting on foot as you’d be lucky to fire two shots in quick succession.


The Howa Super Lite is superb for the stalking hunter looking for an affordable ultra-lightweight rifle. The calibres in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester will handle all medium to large game species in Australia without any issues. Adding an appropriate optic, in this case the Crimson Trace Brushline 3-9×40, made for a combination that was a joy to carry and use. The gun retails for around $1650 but shop around for the best deal on this cracking little hunting rifle. More at

Manufacturer: Howa, Japan
Model: M1500 Super Lite
Action: Push-feed, dual-opposed locking lugs, steel receiver with integral recoil lug
Calibres: 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester (tested)
Barrel: 510mm (20”) No.1 contour, one-in-10 twist (.308 Win), threaded ½x28 TPI for accessories
Magazine: Three-shot polymer detachable box
Trigger: Two-stage Howa HACT, set at 1.4kg, fully adjustable
Stock: Stocky’s carbon-fibre with AccuBlock bedding system
Length: 985mm
Weight: 2.08kg
RRP: $1650 (guide only)
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies

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