Volquartsen Left-Hand Extended Safety

As a left-handed shooter, I’ve always found it a bit awkward to reach under the trigger guard to flip the safety off at the beginning of a stage of fire. So when I heard about the 40% off sale at shootersdiscount.com I had to try the Volquartsen Extended LH safety.

Swapping the safety is an easy job, particularly if you have the Gunsmither Safety Tool. The most important part is to put your hand over the top of the trigger group or put the entire group into a large plastic bag when removing the safety plunger, or the spring will go into orbit.

The Volquartsen safety has a much bigger button than the original, as shown in the left photo below. So much that the button has a flat cut on the top edge, so that it will clear the stock. As the right photo shows, it’s also substantially longer than the OEM safety at .985″ compared to .904″.

This presented a problem, as the width of the stock inlet at this point is only .915″ and the action would not install into the stock until I made some relief cuts in the stock using a file. Also, the oversize button would not clear the stock without cutting a bit off the lower edge, as shown below:

Relief cuts for VQ safety

This is just a plain birch sporter stock on my personal 10/22 on which I do most of my product tests, so I don’t feel bad about the imperfect job on the cuts. I will seal up the raw wood with some lacquer to protect it.

The safety works great. It is taking a little while to acclimate to it, and I still find myself flipping the safety on when starting to shoot.

Would I recommend it? I would certainly recommend a left-hand safety for my fellow southpaw shooters. But there isn’t any real advantage to the large button or the extra length, and I don’t like cutting into a nice stock. After searching Volquartsen’s website, it appears that the LH safety is only available in the extended size. There are a few other sources of LH safeties, including Tactical Innovations which has a standard-size safety. Power Custom also has a LH safety, but its oversize button are so large that they have to screw into the safety body after installing the stock.

Most of my other 10/22s are sometimes used as loaners for Appleseeds, so I will keep their safeties original to avoid confusing the students who use them. This was an interesting experiment that I feel no need to repeat.

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An Advantage for Left-Handed Shooters

A few weeks ago a fellow Appleseed instructor told me about the difficulty his daughter, a left-handed shooter, was having operating her scoped 10/22. It’s particularly a problem during the rapid-fire stages of the Appleseed Qualification Test, which require a magazine change during the stage. Unlike other semi-autos, the 10/22 bolt does not lock back when the magazine is empty, so the shooter must manually charge the first round in the new magazine. This can upset your NPOA when shooting with a sling.

At my recommendation, he installed a TandemKross Advantage on her rifle.



She likes it a lot. I like it, too. The Advantage attaches on top of the receiver using the scope base screws. The left-sided handle is comfortable and easy to pull, riding smoothly on the highly polished guide rod. On the right side, a finger with a rubber bushing sticks down from the guide rod to push against the rifle’s bolt handle. Both guide rods are highly polished, tool steel enabling the Advantage to operate with perfectly smooth feel and no binding at all. The aluminum handle on the left side is comfortable and easy to grab for quick mag changes.

The Picatinny rail on top of the Advantage provides a good scope mount. It’s a little higher than a simple, receiver-mounted rail such as the UTG, but with the Vortex mount shown above (or a Primary Arms mount or even Nikon P-223 rings) will pose no problem for zeroing as close as 25 yards. As the photo below shows, you will want a riser on the comb to get a good cheek weld when shooting with a scope.


The only weak point I see in the Advantage is that the rubber sleeve on the right-side post is a slip fit – you may need to handle it with care so that it doesn’t drop off when carrying or moving the rifle around.

The Bottom Line: this is a very handy product for left-handed shooters of the 10/22. If you compete in position shooting events that involve rapid-fire stages, it will make the rifle more comfortable to operate in a way that eliminates your disadvantage to righty shooters, and that is a definite advantage which should improve your scores.


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Nylon Bolt Buffer

Today I bought a nice 10/22 from a fellow club member. It has some interesting features including a 20″ standard taper barrel with Tech-Sights and a trigger that was tuned by Randy at Connecticut Precision Chambering (CPC as it’s known on the forums). I’ll write about those bits another day. The thing that jumped out at me today was the DIY nylon bolt buffer. Here it is shown next to a urethane buffer from another 10/22:

nylon vs urethane 1   Nylon vs urethane 2

The green urethane buffer has been in its rifle for about five years and many thousands of rounds. I don’t know how old the white nylon one is, but notice how deformed it is, flattened on one side and wearing out between the ends.  It took some heavy tapping with a punch, followed by much effort wriggling it out with pliers, to remove the nylon bolt from the receiver.

Many of us use bolt buffers to replace the steel bolt stop pin supplied by Ruger. They make the action quieter, and prevent pounding of the aluminum receiver which over time and many rounds, can loosen and oval out the holes for the stop pin.

Many people say that using DIY nylon bolts is just fine, and that it’s the perfect 25-cent solution to the bolt buffer issue. I’ve never used on in my rifles. Now that I have seen this one in my new (used) 10/22, I see no need to try one. I have a stock of Tuffer Buffer urethane buffers, and one went into this receiver today.

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My Target Sights

Several people have asked for the details of the target sight setup on my match 10/22. Here are the details:

The rear sight is a Williams FP-AG-TK – meaning Foolproof, Airgun, with Target Knobs, mounted on a Weaver sight base. I chose this one because when I bought it, the sight Williams made for the 10/22 required one to drill and tap the side of the receiver to mount the sight, and remove material from the left side of the stock in order to fit the elevation section.  I think it’s still the same. The AG model sight clamps onto a Weaver scope base, which is much easier. The photos below show how it mounts, and how the height of the sight mount enables the elevation section to clear the stock:

Rear sight rear  Rear sight left

I use a Merit adjustable iris on the rear sight. At the time, my shooting glasses (needed for astigmatism, my vision is about 20/15) were set at my distance prescription. The smallest settings enhance the depth of field so that I could see the front sight in clear focus. The trade-off is that the smaller the aperture, the dimmer the image, so in low light conditions it was hard to see the target. My new glasses have a different prescription with the sighting eye pulled nearer so that I can focus sharply on the front sight and still see the target quite clearly.  Now I can take advantage of a wider range of aperture sizes. The photos below show the iris at its smallest and largest settings:

Rear iris smallest  Rear sight largest

This photo shows how the iris fits onto the rear sight:

Rear sight iris

The front sight is a Lyman 17A globe, with the highest profile of .852″. Because of the height of the rear sight, I had to install a 1/4″ riser in order to zero at 25 yards. The riser is from Williams; it has a set screw vertically in the center of the base. Tightening the set screw presses the riser against the dovetail groove in the sight boss for a solid fit. Here is the setup:

Front Sight

For the front sight insert, I typically use a flat-top post. This gives me the most consistent and precise sight picture for a 6:00 hold. I bought a Lee Shaver insert kit which has a good variety of front sight profiles.

The sight setup is actually pretty simple and total cost was under $200.


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Brimstone Tier 2 Trigger

My current favorite 10/22 is the model 1149 Sporter which is featured on the cover of The 10/22 Companion. I use it as a test mule for parts to review, and in CMP Rimfire Sporter matches. A few weeks ago I bought a new, take-off trigger group on Ebay and sent it off to Brimstone Gunsmithing (brimstonegunsmithing.com) for a trigger job.

Brimstone is perhaps the best-known of the 10/22 specialist gunsmiths in the US. They offer three grades of trigger jobs:

  • Tier 3 (Basic) reworks the OEM trigger parts to make the movement as smooth as possible on both pull and reset, and lighten the pull weight to as little as 2 lbs. It also includes modifying the bolt lock to an auto-release. As of today, the price quote is $38.50 plus $9.50 return shipping.
  • Tier 2 (Intermediate) is much more extensive. The trigger blade is replaced with a Rimfire Technologies (or similar) trigger, which has a wide, flat surface that makes it hard not to press straight back. Also, the trigger return mechanism is replaced with a torsion-spring system, which is a major improvement. I’ll describe the system in more detail in a minute. Today it costs $73.50 plus shipping.
  • Tier 1 (Advanced) is the ultimate trigger job. In addition to the Tier 2 work, this adds an adjustable sear which removes nearly all of the pre-travel, or take-up, at the start of the trigger pull. Additionally, all parts of the trigger are “hot-rodded” with polishing, alignment, and other enhancements to make it the best it can be. Today it costs $110 plus shipping.

I opted for the Tier 2 job for this trigger. This one will be used specifically for Rimfire Sporter matches. The CMP rules require a minimum trigger pull weight of 3 lbs. That’s heavier than any of my other 10/22 triggers. Since the pull weight is so high, the little bit of take-up won’t even be noticed.

Here’s why the Brimstone Tier 2 trigger is so much better: The OEM Ruger trigger return uses a spring-loaded plunger in the rear of the trigger guard to push the trigger forward. It works fine, but there is friction as the plunger moves in its hole, and the resistance of the coil spring increases as you press the trigger. Brimstone’s system places a torsion spring on the left side of the trigger (similar to the bolt lock spring on the right of the trigger group), one leg of which is held against a set screw which is installed in the side of the housing. There is essentially no movement of the spring, so the reset is friction-free, light, and positive. Where the plunger and spring used to be, Brimstone installs a set-screw as an over-travel stop.

In the photos below I have not shown some of the work Brimstone does to the engagement surfaces, which are all modified to a degree. The details of that work are proprietary and I don’t want to reveal them.

Here’s how it looks from the outside. The set screw is to the right of the hammer pin:

TG showing set screw

This photo inside the trigger group shows the spring captured by set screw, just to the right of the front edge of the disconnector:

Showing position of torsion spring

This photo shows how the torsion spring fits onto the trigger blade:

Trigger assembly with torsion spring

While this trigger is heavier than I would like, it has to be in conformity with the CMP-RS rules. Aside from that, it is one of the best triggers I now own, thanks to the work done by Brimstone. The high quality, flat-faced, straight aluminum trigger blade is a huge improvement over the mushy feeling OEM plastic trigger. No, it isn’t a Kidd single-stage, because Kidd has its own proprietary sear/hammer geometry. It also isn’t $200.

I’m very happy with this trigger and recommend Brimstone’s work absolutely.


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More on Stovepipes

A reader wrote me yesterday about problems with his new 10/22:

I have been struggling with a new 1022 for about two months regarding cases getting jammed by the bolt on their way out. I have tried every thing I have seen suggested on the web, new extractor, changed the ejector, kept the action very clean and not over lubricated and held the gun steady and tight to my shoulder. I have noticed ejected cased fly forward and not back as other 1022 I have seen?

Here’s my reply:

Dear Reader,

Here are some possibilities. Of course, it’s impossible to diagnose without seeing the rifle in action. Are the malfunctions happening on every shot, or intermittently?

When cases eject forward, it’s usually due to hitting the bolt handle on their way out. This could be evidence of short-stroking.

1. Some ammo just doesn’t work well in a particular rifle. For example, I was testing my match 10/22 earlier this week. Federal Automatch stovepiped once in each of two magazines. That’s unacceptable for competition. I switched to CCI Standard Velocity and had zero malfunctions for the next six mags. This rifle, whose barrel was reworked by Que, has a very tight chamber.

2. Are you cleaning the chamber with solvent and a brush? I think I’ll put up a video about that.

3. Are the malfunctions from one particular magazine? It’s possible that a loose fit could cause the mag to be misaligned slightly and the extracted case isn’t hitting the ejector on the feed lip. The magazine’s left-side feed lip is the primary ejector in a 10/22. I recommend numbering each mag with a Sharpie so you can recognize if a particular one is causing the issue.

4. Is the bolt going all the way back after the shot? If anything is obstructing the full travel of the bolt, it would short-stroke and not give the fired case enough time to get clear of the receiver before closing again. If you have a scope mounted, verify that the mounting screws are not sticking down into the receiver and that there is no drip of loctite in there. I also smooth out the inside of the receiver with a green Scotchbrite pad lubed with a little oil – there is a lot of oversprayed paint inside the receivers of new 10/22s.

5. New 10/22s can be a little stiff until they are broken in, which usually takes at least 500 rounds. I like to use high velocity ammo which provides more energy to cycle the bolt. My current favorites for break-in are CCI Minimags (1260 fps) and a new round from Browning which gives 1435 fps with a 40-grain hollowpoint bullet. That Browning round is hell on varmints, too.

Let me know how these ideas turn out for you.

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Ammo: Good, Bad and Ugly

I’ve had some interesting experiences recently with various brands of ammo in 10/22s and similar rifles. Here are my (subjective and opinionated) notes:

Good: Norma Tac-22 works great in my match 10/22. At a CMP-RS shoot in April, in 40-degree weather, my Eley Target would not feed. The cold hardened the wax bullet lube so that it would jam. But the Norma was noticeably oilier and while a bit messy, functioned perfectly and shot quite accurately.

Good: Browning has a hyper-velocity, 40-gr. hollow point round with an advertised muzzle velocity of 1435 fps. I tried some in my rifle and in a Ruger MkII pistol. It fed great and you can both hear and feel the extra power in the round. From the pistol, I tested shooting the 8″ plate rack at my club, and my usual target round (CCI Standard Velocity) would not knock the plates down. Then I ran the Browning – one shot, one plate down, every time. Unlike the CCI Stinger it has a standard-length case, so it should feed properly in any chamber that isn’t match-grade tight. I haven’t tried it on varmints yet, but it occupies the middle ground in power between Minimags and .22WMR, and I bet that with its hollow-point bullet it’s hell on groundhogs.

Bad: Those Remington Golden Bullets are so popular, even though they often are not the best bargain on price. I’ve had Appleseed students who experience terrible feeding problems with them, but when we switched to a better grade ammo their rifles worked fine. Often the bullets were a loose fit in the case and the force of semi-auto feeding caused the cartridge to bend at the case mouth. Yesterday I was cleaning an Appleseed loaner rifle and the first wet patch was covered with little bits of gold-colored metal that had flaked off the bullets. That can’t be a good sign.

Ugly: I had a customer in the shop last week who said he had a squib with Winchester M-22 ammo. The bullet had almost reached the muzzle, but he had to poke it out with a dowel. This past weekend at least one Appleseed after-action review reported multiple case blowouts with the same brand. I don’t trust the stuff.

You don’t have to be an ammo snob, and you don’t have to shoot $.13/round ammo for plinking and practice. But certain names appear consistently in reports of malfunctions, so choose even your plinking ammo wisely.

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