Just put a stainless Howa together with a Shilen barrel for my son's first hunting rifle. It is chambered for 6.5x55 Swede. Got a great deal on Lapua factory ammo and it shoots it sub half MOA. Barrel isn't even broke in all the way yet either. Just shooting up the factory ammo to get to the Lapua brass for reloading. Judging by how it shoots factory ammo, this thing is gonna be a hummer for sure. Especially since the barrel is twisted 1 in 8" for the 140's and the factory ammo is only 108gr Scenars. With handloaded 140gr Berger VLD's, i expect this rifle to put them all in the same hole
This was the first Howa I have ever worked with and I personally think it is a superior action to many others. It's as if they took the best features of the Rem 700 and the Win model 70 and put them all together, then added even better features like the M16 extractor. The Howa even uses two piece 700 scope bases. Many aftermarket parts are also available.
The only down side to the Howa action when thinking of youth hunters is that it is a pretty heavy action. Mostly because of the flat bottom receiver with integral recoil lug and the heavy duty thick metal used on the bottom metal. But because of that you will surely see that it's obvious Howa actions are built to last through a lifetime of heavy abuse.
Anyhow, here is a picture of the rifle and the target it shot with Lapua 108gr Scenar factory ammo.