Volquartsen Competition Bolt for the Ruger 10/22

At its current retail price of $286, the Competition Bolt for the Ruger® 10/22® from Volquartsen is certainly a pricey component. But there is quite a bit that sets it apart from both factory and other aftermarket bolts. Since bolt upgrades are a common topic on the enthusiast sites that I visit, I figured I’d break down the differences between a factory bolt and the Volquartsen Competition Bolt. Note that some, but not all of the features on this bolt, are also found on most aftermarket bolts. Volquartsen just takes things a bit further.

Complete Volquartsen Competition Bolt assembly for the Ruger 10/22.
Complete Volquartsen Competition Bolt assembly for the Ruger 10/22.

Let’s start with the obvious

Ruger’s OEM bolts are cast (molten metal poured into a mold) and they have a pretty rough finish. Consider that Ruger has to churn out well over 10,000 of them every month, in a complete rifle priced under $300 for some models. In that context, don’t expect a lot of machine time for them. They’re made to a standard I refer to as “Good enough”. And not much more.

Volquartsen uses a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine to make their bolts. Each bolt starts as a block of high-quality steel, and is carefully machined to exacting tolerances. This results in more precise headspace, as well as a smoother finish (more on that later). Where the Ruger bolt has a looser headspace, light strikes and failures to fire are not uncommon. The tighter headspace of the Volquartsen and other aftermarket bolts aids in both reliability and consistency.

There’s smooth, and then there’s smooth

A CNC bolt from Volquartsen doesn’t just get a smoother finish though. Sure, milling is going to result in fewer tool marks, but there’s more to it. The bolt is also given a case-hardening treatment. This makes the surface exceptionally hard and durable. Volquartsen then goes the additional step of giving it a DLC coating. This Diamond-Like-Carbon coating is super slick. It further increases the surface hardness, which improves wear resistance. Other benefits are increased lubricity (requires less actual lubricant) and lower friction. Not only will it run smoother, but it’s generally easier to clean as well. I run my aftermarket bolts with zero lube, but at most, a few drops will do.

What’s inside?

With the majority of 10/22 cycling issues related to the extractor, that’s usually one of the first items to be replaced. Because again, the factory one is stamped, and made for high-volume, low-cost applications. Volquartsen, like other aftermarket manufacturers, uses a different extractor in their Competition Bolt. It’s wire EDM cut out of very hard steel, and more robust than the factory one. It’s large enough for an extra hole so that it can be pinned into place. The EDM process itself uses an electrical current to hold very close tolerances (+/- 0.0002″), resulting in a precisely-made extractor. So they’re also much sharper, with a more aggressive edge, which ensures empties get pulled out with enthusiasm.


Since the flat OEM firing pin can “bounce” inside the bolt, most aftermarket bolts use a cross-pin above it. This can eliminate that bounce. Volquartsen takes a slightly different approach and uses a round titanium firing pin. Shortening the length it travels and using lightweight titanium also decreases lock time. No more bounce, no more unwanted movement, and theoretically faster follow-up shots. It should also contribute to more reliable ignition. And it goes without saying that for precision shooting with .22 LR ammo, reliability and consistency are the keys to good results.

Charging handle and buffer included

Once again, the mass-produced Ruger factory charging handle is a single unit comprised of the handle, spring, and guide rod, all pressed together. Not ideal, but they work. Volquartsen separates the handle from the spring and guide rod. As far as I can tell, this should eliminate some friction at multiple points. It’s also easier to clean, and keep the guide rod polished for smooth operation.

Included with the bolt is a Volqurtsen recoil buffer. This replaces the steel bolt stop pin directly behind the bolt. Rather than have the bolt slam into a steel pin, it hits this softer polyurethane recoil buffer. Although it’s sometimes hotly debated as to whether it makes a difference in the longevity of the receiver, there is one benefit we can all agree on. It’s definitely quieter, especially when using a suppressor.

Complete Volquartsen Competition Bolt assembly for the Ruger 10/22.
Complete Volquartsen Competition Bolt assembly for the Ruger 10/22.

So do you need an upgraded bolt?

If you have failure-to-fire issues, including light strikes, that can be a headspace issue or a firing pin issue. Or both. If it goes bang, but doesn’t spit out the empty, that may be the extractor. And if your rifle goes bang every time, spits out the empty, but you’re getting flyers with quality ammo, that may be the result of inconsistent ignition. All these are good reasons to upgrade the firing pin, extractor, or entire bolt assembly. Or you could just hate money and want something new and shiny, I don’t judge. But an aftermarket bolt will offer more reliability and consistency.

Do you need a Volquartsen Competition Bolt though? That’s a little harder to determine. If you’re struggling with the price, keep in mind that it’s not just a pretty machined bolt with a shiny finish. It has a proprietary firing pin and extractor, both known to improve performance.  And that finish should reduce your maintenance efforts too. It took time and experience to develop these parts, and it takes expensive machines to produce them. They’re also made in the United States, not overseas. If you’re competing on any level, or just want to eliminate a few performance variables, an upgraded bolt should be on your shopping list. Check it out at Volquartsen.com.

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