I have a custom Howa in 308. Fit and finish are very good. The bolt shroud was a problem on certain rifles but repaired free of charge. I haven't done much load development because I usually pick up my 30 Ackley before the 308. I have no experiance with a Savage centerfire.
I've got a Howa in .223 and love it. It's the varminter version with the heavy barrel. It shoots great, I would purchase another over any savage!! Fit and finish are top notch, it's a good investment.
Basically, you are shooting a Weatherby when you shoot a Howa. I have a Howa Lightning M1500 chambered in 300WM and, once I got the load worked up, it shoots sub MOA groups at 100yds with the 200gr. SMK's. I would have to say that it's my favourite 300WM ever. The only drawback I have seen with the Howa's is (since they are essentially Weatherby's) is the amount of freebore to be found. This makes shooting the smaller pills harder as you cannot seat the bullet out far enough to get close to the lands. I had this fixed by having my smithy cut a couple threads of the bbl and spin it a full turn to take out about .070" of play in the throat. Other than this, I like it MUCH better than any of my Savage or Rem rifles chambered in 300WM. The Howa is exceptionally strong and it also comes with a good quality syn. stock from Butler Creek and the action is SILKY SMOOTH and tight. Overall, it's an excellent rifle for the money. My .02....
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