Kirsten Joy Weiss Volquartsen Test

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.

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The Trigger:

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*).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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?

Specifications

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.

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28 Responses to Gun Review: Volquartsen Snake-Fluted Barrel Rifle

  1. Wow. Nice shooting!
    Proof in the pudding kind of thing regarding a proper crown, isn’t it?

    Ms. Weiss, wait till you get into your 40’s and 50’s. You’ll appreciate good glass even more.

    Thanks for the write up.

    • I’m in that crowd. I don’t think I could even see a bullseye at 50 yards much less put shots into a half inch circle without a scope.

  2. It really is amazing what good glass can do, isn’t it? Most people wouldn’t think you can improve on “the naked eye” (assuming you have good vision to begin with), but even at low power, a good scope with great glass is really doing the same thing as a night-vision device, just at a much lower scale. It’s taking a lot of light through a big aperture and focusing it down to a smaller aperture for your eye, making everything you see “pop.”

    I didn’t understand it for a long time, but now that my eyes have been opened (pun intended) to what it means to have “good glass,” I’ll never do it any other way. If I have to hold off on the purchase and save for a little longer, so be it.

    • No amount of high quality optics will put more light into your eyes.
      It will be the exact same amount as if you were looking through a toilet paper tube.
      Lenses alone do not amplify light.
      Aperture size is directly related to magnification, as any time you take a large aperture and concentrate that light to an 8mm pupil diameter, the magnification has no other choice but to increase.
      So you may be seeing your target closer, but that doesn’t mean you’re seeing more light.
      Using the lowest effective magnification allows you to see the most available light, which is why most of the giant telescopes spend most of their operational life on the lowest possible magnifications.
      Take it from an amateur astronomer, a scope does not make you see more than what your own eye can see if you were at the same theoretical distance from the target (meaning that if a scope allows you to see a target like it’s 10ft away, you won’t be seeing the target any worse if you were actually standing 10ft away looking through a toilet paper tube…in fact, you would see more light as no optics are 100% efficient in light transmission).

      However, a scope does provide additional benefits for those that have less than perfect vision.
      For one, it’s creating an aperture, and any blurry vision is automatically improved with a point-source image.
      Look through the old lever action aperture sights and your sights become sharper as well as the target itself, look through a scope and the same concept applies.
      For another, you have several adjustments to the image itself in order to focus it to your eye in particular, effectively making it a prescription optic for your eye.
      Lastly, the reticle makes aiming as simple as putting the crosshairs on target, no need to align your sight picture perfectly.

      Like everything else, a scope has its place, but the important thing to know is where that place is.

  3. Can someone let me in on the secret where I can find all these beautiful women who like firearms and don’t worship at the altar of statism?

  4. Nice rifle, and very pretty, but….the price!

    Yes, yes, we talked this to death a few weeks back about cheaper .22’s not being well made, or well-made ones costing far more than many of us can reasonably afford. I could indeed buy the Volquartsen or an Anschutz if I wanted to. I would just have to sell my M1A, and that is something I will not do.

    So. Here’s my question (hopefully Dyspeptic Gunsmith will chime in on this specifically) – wouldn’t a CZ455 American with a glass-bedded action and trigger job be just about as good as the Volquartsen at maybe half the cost (which, while still really steep, is attainable without letting go of something else), all other factors being equal (same optics, ammo, etc)?

    And yes, I have a 10/22, unmodified in any way whatsoever…for the moment.

    Tom

    PS: I don’t know where KJW hails from but it’s way too early to be mentioning snow and frost and all that. I haven’t even so much as winterized the bike yet :p

      • The rifle and not wintertime on a motorcycle, I hope!

        Been car-free for 3 years and change and riding in the wintertime, much less the snow, is not something I care for, not one bit. It’s also been rather problematic for trips to the range – handguns are workable, long guns much less so.

        The CZ455 American combo is definitely on my Christmas list. I’ve been a good boy, honest!

        Tom

  5. 8-10 pounds heavy? Thats the perfect weight for competition 5.5 kg (12 pounds) is a bit on the heavy side, too bad I cant borrow something lighter to shoot with.

    • How did you see this and I missed it?! I’m questioning my girl card right now.

      (no this doesn’t, in turn, make you one. Don’t worry. Just means you’re probably good with the ladies haha)

  6. I just got a Volquartsen Superlight and for a scope on mine I went with a Trijicon Accupoint 1-4 with BAC and a green triangle reticle. You shoot it with both eyes open and when you’re looking through it looks like you’re over open sights. Plus with the BAC…it’s perfect for tracking small and/or fast game. I’m sure that this gun/scope combo would cut swaths through rabbits, prarie dogs, etc.

  7. The one thing about this that caught me, was KJW saying she doesn’t have a scale, What woman doesn’t own a scale? Pure BS, if you ask me.

  8. Ms. Weiss,

    I enjoyed your review, well done. I appreciate your candor and the photos of the groups. I am extremely interested in the WSM model and hope one day to read your review of this caliber.

    Kind regards

    JDC

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