While dodging thunderstorms complete with switching winds and dime-sized hail, I managed to snag a few calmer hours to test the Volquartsen properly. I shot a stack of targets with my Lapua ammo, and still no luck. The inch-sized group is still the winner for the smallest group I can get out of the current Volquartsen at 50 yards. Every other grouping was larger (around an inch and half, sometimes more). As I tested . . .
I stayed painstakingly consistent, but I actually started to doubt my own ability (stems from deep-seated training to always blame myself first, not the rifle). For comparison, I shot a few half-inch groups with my Anschutz, but knew even those should have been better.
But when I went to clean my Anschutz, I discovered the bedding screws were loose. And not just a little loose, but barrel-wobble loose. (Yes, even pros make mistakes.) If I’d been shooting with those loose bedding screws off-hand, the shots would have been everywhere! But the sandbags provided some stability to allow “decent” groups. Many turns on the bedding screws later, I tightened the rig up and gave it another go.
With about a 5 mph wind, my Anschutz shot five shots in the same exact hole at 50 yards. The wind picked up slightly, and it put five more in a one-hole group hanging off the previous cluster in a perfect diagonal wind pattern (see photo). It was good news for my mental game, bad news for the Volquartsen.
Prior to this session, I noticed quite a bit of gunk, lead, and lubricant near the chamber opening and bolt face of the Volquartsen. It seemed excessive to me, so I cleaned it out with Q-tips, and ran a dry patch through the barrel with a pull-through. I was hopeful that the group sizes would magically tighten. They didn’t.
Now before we move on, let me add a few things. My iron-sighted Anschutz is shooting an ammo lot that has been exactly matched to it. (“Lot” is the batch of ammo made at one continuous time without interruption so it’s all consistent in its components and recipe, similar to a run-on-sentence without any period stop until *deep breath* the batch is complete.) Different lots vary in their group sizes depending on many factors including the barrel itself.
While lot testing can be picky, quality competition ammunition should never be the cause of groups more than an inch at 50yards. I would like to shoot other brands through the Volquartsen (Lapua hasnʼt obligated me to use only their ammo), but finding 22lr ammo on the shelf right now is like finding hens teeth.
Another factor to consider? The Volquartsen is a semi-automatic rifle. Generally, shooters donʼt expect as much accuracy and consistency out of semi-autos, for various reasons. That said, I still expect at least consistent one-inch groups at 50yrds from the scope-mounted Volquartsen, which it’s failed to do so far.
Iʼm not the only one with expectations for the rifle. Volquartsen expects more out of their rifle too. Much more. Scott Volquartsen, in my email exchanges with him, is perplexed. When I called Scott and mentioned the results, he said Volquartsen is used to seeing a half-inch or smaller groups at 50 yards–even 75 yards–from their rifles. Scott and I brainstormed about the possible causes, eliminating them one by one. Everything seems tight on the rifle, the “gunk” has been cleaned and quality ammo is being shot.
I did notice a very light scrape of the bullet on its left side when ammunition is being loaded from the feed. I also mentioned when attempting to eject an unfired round, the cartridge doesn’t eject easily. This can happen with a gun with a chamber that needs to be cleaned (not the case here). Or, perhaps it’s the bullet size itself.
Scott seems to think that the type of Lapua ammo Iʼm using may have a larger bullet head size than what they normally test, which could cause the sporadic shots. This Volquartsen was tested with Wolf at the factory. Wolf is the brand I began with when I started competing. I never noticed this big a difference in performance between Lapua and Wolf, but bullet size can be a factor. Scott will be sending me the exact ammunition they use to test their rifles so I can eliminate this variable.
There is a chance, of course, that this rifle is just an unfortunate fluke. If that’s the case, Volquartsen will send me a return shipment slip, and weʼll get this baby back to the factory so their expert gunsmiths can take a look. With over 30 years of experience in rimfire testing and design, Iʼm sure Volquartsen will discover the issue quickly.
In the meantime, Scott and I discussed our thoughts on a suitable trick shooting style rifle, a gun simple and fast to shoot offhand even in street clothing. He quickly settled on one of their lighter set ups and is enthusiastic to have me shoot it. Comparing both rifles should be interesting and valuable, once the lighter rifle arrives. In the meantime, I’ll wait for the ammunition. The Volquartsen rifle is practically a piece of artwork in its beauty, so I canʼt help but hope we can get it shooting like a masterpiece it is. Thanks for your patience and Iʼll keep you posted.