Volquartsen Update: The Case of the Mysterious Crown

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Hello TTAG. Well, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the Volquartsen to shoot as well as it should. I dirtied it up with rounds (sometimes barrels shoot better that way), but that didn’t help. I cleaned it gently with a pull through (always breech to muzzle, of course). Still didn’t shoot well. I checked for loose parts, cleaned any gunk out of the feeder…you name it. It still was off (1-2 inch groups at 50 yards). I shot other rifles to make sure it wasn’t me (too much coffee maybe?) but those rifles shot MOA or better. Compared to the sub-MOA groups Volquartsen expects from their rifles, I knew something had to be wrong . . .

So, Scott from Volquartsen, (great customer service btw, he answered calls and e-mails promptly) sent me a return label and told me to ship the rifle on back to him. The verdict? The crown was damaged. If you’re not familiar with rifle terms, that’s the end of the barrel, the very last point the bullet touches before exiting the gun. It also has a big impact on accuracy. Just a tiny bit of damage can go a long way, so be vigilant about protecting those crowns.

The question was how. Neither of us can figure it out. The gun shot poorly right out of the box, so it had to have happened before it arrived at my FFL. But the biggest mystery? The crown is protected by a blow compensator, that can’t even be removed. So it’s quite a feat to damage the crown on this particular Volquartsen. So, my friends, we’re left with this: was it Professor Plum in the kitchen with the pipe wrench? Or maybe Colonel Mustard in the parlor with the candlestick….

We may never figure out exactly what happened, (my bet’s on the butler…its always the butler) but Volquartsen has repaired the rifle, included a test target and, along with sincere apologies, they’ve sent the rifle back to test once again. Stay tuned.

comments

  1. avatar Jeremy S says:

    Was there a test target with the gun originally? Because, no offense to Volquartsen, but it sure sounds like it happened during manufacturing or assembly. This ‘damage’ may have just been a defect or accident during some stage in the gun’s creation, such as installing that permanently-attached compensator, before it was boxed up and shipped. Of course, if it came with a test target (one showing better results than you were experiencing, obviously) and that target was truly shot with your gun, then it’s a little more confusing since we should be able to assume that no changes are made after that point besides typically a little cleaning after the test firing…

    1. avatar Kirsten says:

      Jeremy,

      No test target was included with the rifle originally. I will have my hands on the rifle soon (I’m away, its waiting for me when I return) and Scott sent a test target with this one.

  2. avatar dlj95118 says:

    “I cleaned it gently with a pull through (always breach to muzzle, of course).”

    So, I’m a newbie to all this and have a question: why does it matter in which direction the cleaning is done?

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      So you don’t damage the crown with your cleaning tools.

      1. avatar Jon says:

        I had no clue…thanks!!!

    2. avatar Layne says:

      You could …maybe… slightly… in theory… damage the muzzle end, assuming the rifle is accurate enough in the first place to matter. Ordinary guns cleaned at ordinary intervals using ordinary (brass or plastic) cleaning rods, it does not matter.

      1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

        Ordinary intervals with a new gun, agreed. However, take a look at some old milsurp bolt action rifles once in a while. You may find some truly shocking wear in the first few inches of rifling from the muzzle.

      2. avatar Southern Cross says:

        It’s why some old milsurps are “counter-bored” where last few inches of barrel are bored out with a new crown about 2-3 inches inside the barrel. Cutting the barrel and recrowning is easier but a counter-bored barrel will still accept standard attachments such as bayonets and grenade launchers.

    3. avatar Ing says:

      As far as I know, it’s just so the lead/copper/powder fouling you’re cleaning out of the chamber and barrel doesn’t wind up gunking up the action of the gun. Doing it the “wrong” way won’t ruin the gun or even have any effect on its accuracy, but it it will help keep the internal parts cleaner (and therefore potentially more reliable) which is a good thing.

      As Layne and Chris said, there’s the very small possibility that you could damage the crown or the last (most important) bit of rifling, but with a brass or plastic rod and weekly cleaning after range trips, that’s probably not an issue.

    4. avatar Jeremy S says:

      ^^^ that stuff is true (more likely to damage the crown if you’re shoving something into the muzzle), and it’s also because you want to push crud like carbon and lead/copper fouling and unburned powder and whatever else out of the gun rather than into the action of the gun.

      Edit: whoops, Ing beat me to the gunking up the action comment while I was posting :P. Except I would note that the steel parts on many cleaning rods can potentially damage the rifling at the crown of your gun. But I think all of these reasons, plus convenience (much easier to clean breech to muzzle with one), are the main reason the pull-through “rope” style cleaning systems, which aren’t stiff and have no hard steel parts so are nearly impossible to damage your gun with, have become so popular.

    5. avatar Jeh says:

      Thanks I was about to ask that same thing, I was always told breach to muzzle when cleaning, I use a bore snake, so maybe it doesn’t much matter, but I cant understand how people can go muzzle to breach considering how difficult it is to pull through and how the chamber tears the fabric/copper.

      If the theory is true that it can wear the crown, can anyone without insulting me tell me if its a simple muzzle-swap fix and how much wearing the crown effects the accuracy?

      Thanks in advance.

      1. avatar Shaun L. says:

        Any competent experienced gunsmith should be able to re-crown a barrel. It’s not usually an expensive ordeal and they’ll likely give you an explanation of which type of crown they recommend and why. As for the other question… I dunno.

      2. avatar Rambeast says:

        This is something I would love to see Dyspeptic Gunsmith do a writeup on.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          He’s talked about it on several occasions before, but I can’t find any of them just now.

      3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        A damaged crown is a big impediment to accuracy. Even very slight damage or wear on a crown affects accuracy at ranges > 200 yards. Gross damage? Feh. You’ll barely be able to keep the bullets in the black at 100 yards. I’ve seen gross damage from crowns being shoved into the rocks (tripping whilst hunting) and long-term wear from brushes being “sawed” in and out of the muzzle.

        First thing is that some firearms don’t need that much cleaning. .22LR’s are one example. I clean powder fouling out of my match .22’s, but it is VERY rare that I put any kind of brush through them. That really nice Annie that Kirsten is using to shoot pencil erasers? Properly cared for, that rifle’s barrel could last between 20K and 50K rounds. Improperly cared for, it’s done in about 2,000 rounds – or less. Most improper care in .22’s is done with excessive cleaning. No lie. The .22’s aren’t hot enough to erode the barrel. They’re pretty soft lead rounds. People aren’t mucking about with hot loads or different bullets… so wearing it out by shooting it is going to take someone a long, long time.

        Big bore rifles? I use new chemical solutions to remove copper, lead and powder fouling a lot more than I use brushes. I might put mops and patches down a bore in great numbers, but something has to really vex me to get me to break out a brush.

        Shotguns? OK, now I’ll break out a brush, especially on plastic residue or heavy fouling. I still soak it down with MPro-7 to get the worst dissolved.

        Revolvers? Lewis lead remover in the cone, but I don’t run too many brushes over the crown. Semi-autos? Which ones? A Glock? Feh. A little copper solvent, a nylon brush and some patches, and I’m done. 1911 barrels with hard cast lead? Now I might need to get a little more aggressive on lead, but not much.

        General rules:

        Don’t pull brushes back into the bore over the crown. Don’t clean from the muzzle, unless you can’t get something into the breech (eg, coal-burning muzzle-stuffers). Don’t use jointed cleaning rods when you’re cleaning, unless you’re willing to un-joint the part of the rod that sticks out of the muzzle. Better yet: get a one-piece cleaning rod. Really.

        Oh, and use a bore guide to hold your rod centered when you’re pushing the rod in from the back.

        BTW, I hold no financial interest in telling people to do this. By telling people to not use the “mil-spec” jointed rods, I’ve been accused (not here on TTAG, but in person by people to whom I’m trying to teach how to preserve the accuracy of their guns), of being in cahoots or financial league with the outfits that make one-piece cleaning rods.

        Not so.

        Re-crowning is easily done by a competent gunsmith and is (for us) quick & easy money. Telling people how to not damage their crown is actually running against my financial interests, because while I do perform re-crowning, I don’t make one-piece cleaning rods, or other cleaning supplies. If I were an unscrupulous operator, I’d tell people to a) clean from the muzzle, b) with one of those (*&*&^&*%% “mil spec” jointed steel cleaning rods, c) to saw one of those cheap-assed copper-flashed steel brush back and forth in the bore like you’re cleaning a beer glass.

        I’d be able to practically mint money, a very, very rare thing in the field of gunsmithing.

      4. avatar pcrh says:

        Re how much crown damage can affect accuracy: for a rifle like a Volquartsen, a damaged crown would cause notable loss of accuracy, exactly as the OP experienced with her loaner rifle. Looks like the damaged crown added one MOA to her group sizes. That is about an inch difference at 100 yards. This may not matter to most shooters, but why add that extra inaccuracy to your gun? Use a bore guide if you have to clean muzzle to breach, and be careful not to scratch the crown. Minor damage can have an effect.

    6. avatar dlj95118 says:

      …thanks all – appreciate the input.

      I’ve been using a cleaning kit that has an aluminum rod to push/pull a plastic “hook-thingy” through the barrel that’s loaded up with paper-like squares (whetted with appropriate cleaner). I’m guessing the plastic and/or aluminum is not going to damage the barrel crown.

    7. avatar Kirsten says:

      Yep, that and when you start at the muzzle, you take all that gunk and crud that is in your barrel and drag it BACK through the gun. This crud can end up in your chamber (the part where the bullet sits) and lead to damage.

  3. avatar SdubM45 says:

    Is there any way I can get the above pic as a poster?

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      I wonder if Ms. Weiss has this idea for a future revenue generator. =)

  4. avatar Rabbi says:

    While obviously not the problem in this case, when a rifle is not shooting well, I always check the rings and scope. If no problems found, I replace the rings and scope with another, as I had one case with an internal scope problem. If the results repeat, it must be the rifle.

  5. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    I always clean muzzle to breach, on the theory that there’s a physical resemblance to cleaning a lint brush, but I’ve got heat-shrink tubing on my rod and tools.

    Perhaps a speck of sand or grit which sneaked in during packing, unpacking or set-up at the range and was ground in by the passage of a bullet?

    I say Mrs. Peacock with the knife in the conservatory; she’s a sneaky one.

  6. avatar Gw says:

    FWIW
    For the benefit of those who may not know, ( if any );
    are shooting a 7.62x51mm / .308;
    don’t hand load; and
    are looking for a standard in reliable and accurate ammunition — consider trying a box of Federal Premium, Gold Medal Match, 168 Grain SIERRA MATCHKING BTHP.
    Additionally: 1. ) consider also trying out an Otis / Otis-style cleaning system with the pull through cable and patch.
    2.) with a new Rifle follow the break-in instructions.
    Clean Rifle before firing. Fire one round then clean; fire two rounds then clean; fire 3 rounds then clean; fire 4 rounds then clean; fire 5 rounds then clean. At this point, you’re done with the break-in.
    ( While some may disagree and contend this method to be unnecessary — if you don’t use it and subsequently find that with good quality ammunition your Rifle doesn’t shoot as well as you think it should, you’ll never know if part of the cause was due to improper break in. )

    1. avatar Kirsten says:

      GW, this is good advice for higher calibers, but in general not necessary for .22s. A few hundred rounds and .22 barrels are generally set. Thanks for sharing the helpful advice. (btw, I used an otis pull through on this semi-auto)

  7. avatar Gw says:

    While seldom rendering advice but most generally willing to offer up helpful suggestions for consideration; and in knowing this one in particular to be much easier to simply demonstrate in person than ever successfully explain in writing; and
    FWIW and for those who may not know:-
    It’s entirely possible to sight in a new Rifle, / scope combination, or say, a new or replaced scope in 5 rounds or less. Yes. Really. With this one simple trick.
    Suggestions as follows:
    Boresight the scope. Make certain all the mounts are tight. With quality ammunition and using a solid benchrest and an uncluttered target and backboard at 50 meters:-
    Center your crosshairs and gently squeeze off the first round. Do Not move the Rifle from your initial center of the crosshairs and…gently squeeze off the second round. There should be some proximity between the two points of impact on the target. (somewhere / somehow ) Do Not move the Rifle from your crosshair center, and squeeze off a 3d round. A ‘group’ of some description should now be apparent. DO NOT MOVE THE RIFLE from the point you’ve been using to center the crosshairs.
    Now.
    DO NOT MOVE THE RIFLE but carefully and with willful intent, turn the adjustments on your scope until the crosshairs line up with the center of the group you’ve fired.
    Congratulations. You’ve now actually matched the crosshairs on your scope to the actual impact point of those politically-incorrect projectiles you’ve been so carefully discharging.
    You may now proceed to realign your Rifle back on the center on the target, fire another round and thereafter fine tune your scope adjustment as, and if necessary.
    Or
    You can start at 100meters, use cheap ammunition, a loose scope, a cluttered target, a backing cardboard already full of holes and waste your time, ammunition and spend a day ( or more ) frustrating yourself.
    ( and yes of course you may use the traditional click-counting method the experts always use, or perhaps just remember to count the adjustment clicks while using the down-and-dirty method described above in your 5-or-less-shot sight-in. )
    Questions? ( if you can put it in writing, someone will be able to interpret it and likely as not provide at least one other suggestion as an answer. )
    ( editor needed, inquire within )
    Gw OAO.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Assuming you can get on paper right away, this works with a single shot at any range. 1) Fire the shot. 2) keep rifle completely steady with crosshairs where they were when the shot was fired. Adjust scope until crosshairs are on bullet hole. Done.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        The preceding is better.

  8. avatar ensitue says:

    Some-one seeking attention?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Yes, you are. Mommy didn’t hug you enough?

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Um, yeah.
    Try this method with a .50 bmg. I put a new scope on him, (Big Mac) and it took me over 20 rounds to get it on the door at 1200 yards. Door being 36″ wide by 80 something tall. After 15 rounds, I was hurting.
    Crown is something I look at to check for accuracy.
    Good call Ms. Weiss.

  10. avatar MadLarkin says:

    So…It’s an $1800 .22 for a writer, and it wouldn’t shoot out of the box? Good customer service aside, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

  11. avatar Shaun L. says:

    Sounds like simple human error at the factory-FFL stage to me. As far as I can tell the entire process is staffed by humans, humans make mistakes, the mistakes were corrected….. Not a big deal in the end and it shouldn’t be a negative for the companies reputation.

  12. avatar jimmyjames says:

    $1800? Yikes. I want to see some 50 and 100yd groups from the “factory” and I want a guarantee. I have a Chief AJ heavy bbl 10/22 that will shoot 1/2″ groups at 50yds and I have shot some 1/2″ groups with it at 100yds when it was brand new 20 years ago. It didn’t even cost $600 (back then).

  13. avatar mrpiggy fingers says:

    I’m only here for the pictures.(but lots of good info here too)

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