Looking for a high-quality rifle that will still fit your kids in 10, 20, even 30 years? The Howa Hogue Youth 2-N-1 from Legacy Arms is a well-designed package rifle designed for a young shooter to grow into, with the quality and versatility to be their gun for a lifetime. The two Hogue stocks that are included with the rifle are well-made, with many accuracy-enhancing features like pillar bedding and vibration-dampening construction. The youth stock is small enough to fit young shooters well with a 12½-inch length of pull (LOP), but has enough heft that adolescent and smaller-statured adult shooters could still shoot it easily. The full-size stock is perfect for when the shooter is grown. The package also comes with a NikkoSterling 3-9X42mm scope and all the necessary mounting hardware.
Action, trigger and magazine The Howa 1500 action is a smooth, sturdy push-feed-type bolt action. The magazine is a hinged floor plate with a five-round capacity (.223 tested), which feeds flawlessly. The hinged floor plate means the magazine can be safely and easily unloaded without the need to chamber each cartridge in the magazine. The trigger is a match-quality, two-stage trigger. A two-stage trigger means that there is a “take up” stage before the gun fires. The second stage of the trigger is crisp and shootable, but not so light that it’s unsafe. The safety is a three-position safety: forward is fire, the first position rearward makes the gun “safe,” but the bolt may be manipulated to unload the gun. The furthest position rearward locks the bolt shut while making the gun “safe.” (Of course, you should always be careful to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction with your finger off the trigger, regardless of the safety position!)
Stock The Hogue stocks included with the 2-N-1 feel great. They have a slightly “grippy” texture that does not feel cold or slick. The material the stock is made from and texture in key locations provides great grip in wet and icy conditions. Overall, it’s an excellent stock; the bonus of having two stocks (as opposed to an add-on stock lengthening attachment) adds greatly to the aesthetics of the package. The stock has a nice palm swell on the grip and a straight comb with no cheekpiece. The fore-end is wide and allows for a good grip, sitting well on a benchrest. Each stock includes sling swivel studs, which come installed. The recoil pads, though not needed on the .223 Rem. we tested, are supple and do a great job of soaking up the recoil—a great asset to shooters of all ages and skill levels.
Barrel, sights and scope The barrel is a light contour 20-inch barrel, which reduces the weight of the rifle. This is a great feature for smaller shooters, as it is easier to shoot offhand. The .223 Rem. that was tested has a twist rate of 1-12 inches, which means the bullet rotates one time for every 12 inches that it travels down the barrel. The consequence for the shooter is that the gun will favor lighter bullets, like 40 to 55 grains. Heavier bullets generally don’t fare as well in a slower twist barrel like this, but the test gun shot Winchester 64-gr. PP adequately for hunting larger varmints and medium game. Iron sights are not included with the package, but it does come with a NikkoSterling 3-9X42mm scope and all the necessary mounting hardware. The scope was easy to mount and the optics were very good. The crosshair is a #4 duplex, which is a great hunting and general-purpose reticle. The adjustments are ¼ MOA, which is roughly ¼ inch per click at 100 yards. The adjustment knobs are knurled, so a screwdriver or coin is not required to make adjustments. A sun shade was also included, which is a nice addition—especially when shooting on bright days on prairie-dog towns or calling coyotes in the snow. Not missing a single detail, the folks at Legacy also include a neoprene scope cover to keep the lenses clean while you’re storing and transporting the rifle.
Ammunition and accuracy Four different loads were tested for accuracy, each fired from 100 yards off sandbags on a benchrest. The first was PMC 55-gr. FMJ-BT (a great practice cartridge, as it is affordably priced), and exhibited more than adequate accuracy, delivering a five-shot group measuring 1.097 inches. (The FMJ bullet is not the first choice for hunting as terminal performance can be somewhat unpredictable.) The second was Hornady 55-gr. V-MAX ammunition, which shot 1.085 inches; the V-MAX bullet is an excellent choice for varmints from prairie dogs to coyotes. The next load was Hornady 53-gr. Superformance ammunition, which delivers velocities up to 200 feet per second (fps) faster than a conventional 55-grain load, and accuracy was excellent—a .992 of an inch. The 53-gr. bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .290 and would be an excellent choice for all varmint hunting. In some states, the .223 Remington is legal for hunting game like deer or antelope; one of the best .223 loads on the market for this purpose is Winchester 64-gr. PP. The accuracy opened up a bit with this load to 2.142 inches, but is still more than sufficient for hitting a vital area at the average distance most hunters use—200 yards or less.
One other item of note is that while 5.56x45 NATO ammunition will chamber in the .223 Remington, it should not be used in guns marked .223 Remington as over-pressure issues may arise.
Conclusion The Howa Hogue Youth 2-N-1 is a great choice for a beginning shooter who is looking for a turn-key package that is a great value. It’s packed with numerous features; it’s very high quality; and Legacy’s attention to detail means that it will likely be around when the next generation of shooter is ready to get started on their first centerfire rifle.