When the wind dies down in the west, you grab the opportunity. You don’t waver, you don’t put it off ‘til tomorrow, you don’t wish it was warmer–you go. That’s why when I looked out of my snow feathered and ice crusted window to see if it was a good day for testing, the answer was yes. The crystallized pine branches weren’t moving — no wind — and thats all I needed to see. Fast forward to the range . . .
Two foot snow drifts were the only obstacles between the target and me. Heck, 50 yards isn’t that far. And I wasn’t about to wait for a “better” day. Warming up the barrel with a few shots, I got in a number of groups before the sun set. My breath hung heavy in front of me, exhaled in a relieved smile. The groups matched the test group beautifully, and the gun performed well.
For those of you just tuning in, I’d tested this Volquartsen a few times before. The groups weren’t holding, so Volquartsen took it back immediately to see what’s what. The diagnosis: a damaged crown. Once fixed, they sent it right back. Now for a few details . . .
The Snake Fluted Barrel:
]The fluting keeps the gun cool even after multiple shots. Not that .22s heat up as badly as higher calibers, but it still does the job. Without testing similarly fluted barrels side by side, I don’t know if the serpentine fluting does a better job at cooling than more traditional designs. All I know is that it serves its purpose AND looks psychedelic. Win win for me.
I’m vigilant about trigger quality. I’m not a gunsmith, but I am a pro shooter and accuracy is my game. Have a shoddy trigger, and you’re basically giving away accuracy. The Volquartsen trigger is a good one. It’s consistent and crisp. For my personal taste it’s a little on the hard side, but that’s because the rifle is a semi-auto rather than a bolt action. It’s safer to have a harder, heavier trigger pull on a semi-auto because it helps prevent the slight jolt caused by the automatic reload from accidentally firing the gun before you’re ready. Pretty important. For a bolt action, I’d choose a different trigger. For a semi-auto it works just fine.
The Blow Compensator:
I honestly am not sure why you need a blow compensator on a .22. I’m sure there’s some marginal benefit to it, but need? Probably not. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’m off on that assessment. What IS nice about the blow comp is that it offers protection for the crown of the rifle – as long as the crown wasn’t damaged to begin with (*ahem*).
That (Gorgeous) Laminated Wood Stock:
Yes, this thing is a BEAUT. The grip is positioned well for trigger acquisition and would fit most people’s hands fairly well. However, while it pains me to say this because I love its looks so much, I’m not a fan of the comb design. Visually it’s great, but practically it kinda…well…stinks. It slopes away from the face, and while the comb is pretty high — its not high enough to easily place your head on the stock and get a comfortable sight picture.
Yes, I know most comb designs don’t allow for this (and the reasons why never made enough sense to me, but thats a different subject). I was just really hoping, because of its higher comb design and since it’s made for silhouette shooting, that this would be different. Its not. Not by much at least. When I place my head on the stock, it settles very uncomfortably to the right and low. This means I have to lift my head so it’s slightly floating, in order to see the sight picture.
This method is less than ideal. Perhaps this style would be perfect for someone with a larger jawline or wider face. If you’re more like me, I’d suggest either building up the comb (while crying over messing up that beautiful laminated wood) or trying a different stock. Volquartsen has a ridiculous amount of options to choose from.
The Zeiss 4.5 x 14 Scope: I’m thankful for good eyesight, but this Zeiss makes me question how good my peepers really are. When I look through the scope, it’s as if I’ve been missing out on the world as it should be. It’s crisp, clean, clear — like biting into a ripe apple for your eyes. Yeah, I like it.
Magazine Feed: I shot CCI, some old Eley (shhhhhh), Wolf and Lapua through this gun. It didn’t jam with any of the ammo except…Eley (and Lapua did not pay me to say that). For some reason, the feeder jammed almost every other shot with the Eley. I didn’t want to report on this because it seems like a problem with the ammo, but the truth must be told. Like I said, I’m not a gunsmith. My best guess is that the old ammo didn’t have much lubricant left on it and might have caught in the feeder. The other ammo did fine with the exception of one Lapua jam (the main ammo I used to test and shoot trick shots with the gun).
Weight/Balance: The weight is much heavier than your average semi-auto .22. It also has a much thicker barrel (for increased accuracy potential) than your garden variety semi. I apologize for not having a scale, but I’d guess the full set-up is between 8-10lbs.
Because of that thicker barrel, the balance is front heavy. This means I had to move my support hand further forward on the stock to compensate. While not ideal for my tastes, it wasn’t so far forward I had to use a lot of muscle (bone on bone is ideal), so it was workable.
If I owned the gun, I’d probably either switch out stock or add weight to the back end (that poor laminated stock’s lifespan keeps looking shorter and shorter) to achieve my ideal balance. However, everyone has their personal preference, so this might be just fine for other shooters. In addition, adding weight to the stock’s butt is much easier than trying to add weight to the barrel. Anything extra touching the barrel will effect its harmonics and performance.
One More Important Note: At this time, Volquartsen only makes scoped rifles. They aren’t made to be used with aperture sights, and they don’t have open sight capabilities — yet. I talked to Scott, the owner, and he said they’ve been getting a lot of requests and are working on modifying their design to include these features. I know I’d love this; try shooting through a scope on a fast moving target. Yeah, there’s a reason why shotgunners don’t have scopes and keep both eyes open. Its darn challenging to limit the visual plane on moving targets.
The final verdict: the Volquartsen is definitely worth a look. I can’t speak for all their semi-auto rifle designs, but this one will certainly does the job (assuming that stock design works for you). Their website is full of options, so there’s a good chance a shooter can find exactly what he or she values. Customer service is prompt, so if the choices overwhelm you, it’s easy to send an email or call for assistance. All this said, with this gun it all comes down to accuracy. This rifle’s accuracy will do for a semi-auto, but I’ve heard of smaller groups achieved from Volquartsen rifles, and…well…who doesn’t want that?
Stainless steel receiver with threaded in barrel
2lb trigger pull
Integral Picatinny rail
22 LR rifle weight shown, add 8oz for 22 WMR or 17 HMR
Price: $1,640 without scope
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy (post crown repair): * * * *
Better than your average semi-auto, but not in the upper regions of what Volquartsen claims to be able to achieve.
Ergonomics: * * *
Grip to trigger ratio is great, but the comb is awkward. If you don’t have a wide face or prominent jawline, look into other stock options Volquartsen offers.
Aesthetics: * * * * *
Metal and wood work is flawless. This is a gorgeous gun.
Function: * * * *
All mechanisms worked well with the exception of a few jams with some very old, dry ammo (Eley) and one jam with some new stuff (Lapua). No jams with either Wolf or CCI.
Trigger: * * * *
In a gun like this that’s built for accuracy, the trigger rates its own review. It’s that important to the results you’ll get with the gun. The Volquartsen’s functions more smoothly than most other semi-autos out there, but not up there with bolt actions.
Overall: * * * *
If you’re in the market for a semi-auto precision .22, the Volquartsen deserves serious consideration. A lot will depend on how the gun fits you personally, but this is a beautifully made gun. Just be sure to check your crown right out of the box.