Volkmann Combat Custom

.45 ACP Railed Pistol

"A New Emphasis on Tactical"

A gun review by Steve Clark (Rio Vista Slim) steveclark@m1911.org

I received an e-mail from my friend Luke Volkmann at Volkmann Custom, Inc. the other day. He stated in his e-mail that I should check with my FFL, as a new test pistol had been sent. Sure enough, a phone call to Todd Downing at Downing's Guns confirmed Luke's correspondence. Having reviewed and tested the Volkmann Combatant Carry almost a year ago, I was looking forward to seeing the new pistol.

Prior to receiving the weapon, Luke's e-mails had informed me the pistol would be a 5" barreled Combat Custom, with a frame-mounted light rail, finished in Robar's NP3 satin grey. The gun would have Trijicon night sights, with a green dot on the front sight, and two yellow dots to the rear. VZ slim Gator Grips in black and grey would be on the pistol, which had been built for one of Luke's personal friends. Because this person is understandably looking forward to receiving his gun, I hurried to Downing's Guns to pick up the weapon.

"Let me know what you think of the pistol and the hard case I sent with it", Luke wrote.


The exterior of the pistol case is a very hard plastic, measuring 17"x12"x6.25", with "Volkmann" molded into the top section. The carrying handle has a rubber grip, and is spring-loaded, folding against the side of the case when not in use. There is a vacuum dial on the front of the case, which must be turned in order to relieve the interior pressure before opening, or turned clockwise to insure a tight fit before sealing the case.

The interior consists of hard, porous foam, with cut-outs for the pistol, magazines, and in this package, a Surefire E2D LED Defender flashlight. This pistol case is an optional feature provided by Luke Volkmann, and is priced at $200.00 on his web site. Rarely do I give more than a cursory examination of how a test pistol is packaged, but insofar as I've never seen a better pistol case, I am covering this one in some detail.

The Volkmann Combat Custom Pistol

Some of you "old folks" might remember a cigarette commercial that said "it's what's up front that counts!" In this instance, it's what's inside that counts!

This is my first experience with a pistol finished in Robar's NP3. Luke says it is the most popular surface treatment he offers. This finish will add $250.00 to the price of the base pistol. I've heard many good things about NP3, but decided to judge for myself. Rather than belabor this review with statistics, the reader can go to Robar's web site for details. http://www.robarguns.com/np3.htm

Beginning at the top of the slide, the Combat Custom features Trijicon tritium night sights, which are perfectly blended into their respective dovetails. As previously mentioned, these sights present a green dot, bracketed by two yellow dots, when viewed in low light circumstances. The tritium vials are surrounded by generous white outlines, for optimum daylight use.

Nine serrations, running between the front and rear sights, help to reduce glare in bright sunlight. Slanted front cocking serrations, as well as slanted rear serrations appear on both sides of the slide. The left side features "Volkmann Custom, Inc.", as well as the Volkmann logo. The right side of the slide has the words "Combat Custom" embossed between the muzzle and the ejection port.

The hand-fit premium match barrel is perfection crowned and beveled at the muzzle. This particular example features Volkmann's monogram on the recoil spring cap.

Moving to the frame, the most notable feature is the integral light rail.

I own a Surefire X200B Weapon Light, so I mounted it on the front of the Combat Custom for a couple of photographs. In the "Firing Line" portion of this article, this light was used for some low light and darkness shooting tests.

The 25 line-per-inch checkering on the front strap of the pistol, combined with the same treatment of the mainspring housing, makes for an extremely secure grip on the gun. The VZ Gator Grips are the slim model, and add a great deal to controlling this pistol while firing. While admittedly not for everyone, I have done a similar modification to a personally owned Colt Government Model, and found the stocks aid in concealment, as well as providing a solid grip during rapid-fire drills.

The preceding photographs also show the upswept beavertail grip safety, with "memory bump", to assist in reliably deactivating the grip safety.

The serrated slide stop, serrated and extended thumb/slide safety, and the checkered magazine catch all performed perfectly throughout the test. The vertically serrated trigger has an adjustment screw for over-travel, and proved to be the best trigger I've ever used. The trigger pull consistently averaged 3 pounds, 6 ounces (as measured by my Lyman Digital Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge), and never varied from that figure by more than two ounces. The initial take-up is inconsequential, and the sear is released crisply, with no creep. In other words, I would be ill advised to blame this trigger for any inaccuracy at the range.

This photograph shows the slotted Commander-style hammer on the Combat Custom.

The lowered and flared ejection port is featured in this picture, taken from the right side of the pistol.

The magazine well is nicely beveled, making the insertion of the three Volkmann magazines an easy chore.


The Volkmann Combat Custom is field stripped a bit differently than most standard Government models, because the monogram recoil spring plug cannot be removed from the muzzle end of the firearm.

Making certain that the pistol is completely unloaded, push the slide back so the take-down notch is aligned with the hole in the frame where the slide stop engages. Carefully remove the slide stop, and then position your fingers to prevent the recoil spring from flying out of the pistol. Remove the slide from the frame. The guide rod and recoil spring can then be taken out of the slide, and the recoil spring plug removed through the rear of the spring tunnel. A bushing wrench will be needed to turn the barrel bushing, as this part is quite snug over the end of the barrel. The bushing and barrel may then be removed from the slide, completing the procedure.

Reassembly is in reverse order, and will necessitate compressing the recoil spring against the already installed spring plug. While slightly difficult, I was able to do this quickly, after a couple of tries.

I had misplaced or lost my bushing wrench, but Todd Downing graciously allowed me to borrow his, for this test.

The Firing Line

Loading up several magazines with Winchester 230 gr. full metal jacketed cartridges, I stepped out my front door, made a left turn, and thirty paces later I was on my gun range. (Yeah, I know I'm fortunate...)

I always fire a hundred rounds, or so, in the first part of any gun test to check for reliability, function, and ball-park accuracy. Prior to firing the gun for the first time, I discovered that two of the three Volkmann magazines would only hold six rounds, no matter how hard I tried to force that last round. So, I let them sit with 6 rounds loaded until the next day, when all functioned perfectly. While this was going on, I used some Tripp CobraMags for the initial session.

This photograph shows the pattern achieved when firing the Combat Custom, 60 ft. from the target. From a non-padded, two-handed bench rest hold, these fourteen shots made a confirmed believer out of me.

Eighty rounds later, the pistol was displaying exceptional accuracy, and total reliability. I decided to go ahead with the accuracy phase of the testing, since everything, but my chronograph, was ready to go. The following table reflects two days of shooting. The temperature both days was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.78 Celsius), with a northerly breeze of 12 miles per hour.

All accuracy testing was done from a distance of 25 yards.

As I expected, the expensive Federal Premium Gold Match ammunition recorded the best 5 shot group of the day. It's worth noting, however, that this light target load did not generate enough power to send the pistol to slide lock. Since the Combat Custom is "sprung" for standard velocity loads, I don't consider this to be a malfuntion.

I waited until later in the day to complete my shooting tests. The contrast between the green front dot and the two rear yellow dots is quite an aid in sighting the pistol when the light begins to fade. After sunset, I turned on the Surefire X200B, and engaged B-27 targets from 3 to 10 yards. Rapid fire spread the groups out a bit, but nothing hit outside the 9-ring. Slow fire brought my groups back to sub-3 inch.

A total of 479 shots were fired from the pistol, with no malfunctions, other than the slide lock issue described above. This only occured with the Match ammo.

Evaluation and Impressions

I bought a Surefire X200B several years ago, when that model became available. While the newer X300 is much brighter, I've never felt the need to upgrade. Why?

Simply put, I have a Glock Model 32 in .357 Sig for a nightstand gun, and don't like the light on it except at night. I've never wanted a 1911 with an integral tactical rail, so the Volkmann Custom pistol I eventually buy will not have this feature. I know alot of you like 1911s so equipped, so I'm just throwing out my own personal opinion. This is truly the only thing I would change, were it my gun.

The NP3 finish on this gun is astounding! When I first held the weapon, I feared the "slickness" of the finish would have a negative effect on cycling the pistol. After a few shots loosened the action a bit, this ceased to be a concern. Every surface on the gun matches perfectly with the other parts. While the tolerances are tight, these do not effect reliable functioning one iota. The pistol was such a pleasure to shoot that I soon realized I had depleted all of my test ammunition. Once again, I have to mention the marvelous trigger on this pistol. Absolutely outstanding!

Everything on this pistol works as intended, and very well indeed. Thanks to the aforementioned NP3 finish, clean up was less work than with any surface finish I've yet experienced.

When I reviewed the Volkmann Combatant Carry, I stated how much I liked everything about that gun. The integral light rail notwithstanding, I feel the same about the Combat Custom. If one is looking to purchase a full size, custom 1911 with a light rail, there is no better pistol on the market than the Volkmann Combat Custom!


Base Pistol Price.........$2,395.00 U.S. dollars
Barrel.......................5" hand fit premium match grade
Sights......................Trijicon night sights. Fixed front, drift adjustable rear
Frame......................Forged steel W/intergral tactical light rail
Slide........................Forged steel W/front cocking serrations and top of slide
25 lpi checkering on front strap & mainspring housing.
Stocks.....................VZ Gator Grips in black/grey. Slim profile
Finish.......................Robar NP3
MSRP (as tested).......$3,045.00 U.S. dollars


Volkmann Custom, Inc. is a one-man show. Since Luke's name is on every gun that leaves his Lakewood, Colorado business, you can bet he checks, double checks, and then checks again. The result, in my opinion, is the best custom pistol you can buy. Luke Volkmann is a true gentleman, and an exceptional gun maker. Thank you, Luke, for giving me the opportunity to test another one of your fine pistols.

I mentioned donated ammunition several times in this review. Without it, this test would have been much less comprehensive. It's all gone now (happens when you're shooting a very good gun), but I want to express my sincere thanks to Olin/Winchester and Sellior & Bellot for providing some of the quality ammo used in this test.

Thank you, Downing Guns, in Cleburne, Texas, for everything you do to insure the readers of the Model 1911 Pistols Organization E-zine will never wait for a delivered test gun. Whether one is a first time gun buyer, an old curmudgeon (like me), or anything in between, the Downings always treat their customers like family. You're the Best! (Thanks for the barrel bushing, too, Todd!)

If you want to discuss this review, please use this thread in our Forums Site: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=80264



Volkmann Custom, Inc.
1595 Carr Street
Lakewood, CO 80214
Phone: 303-888-4904
Fax: 303-232-7318
Web site http://www.volkmanncustom.com/
E-mail info@volkmanncustom.com


190 Carondelet
Suite 1530
Clayton, MO 63105
Web site http://www.winchester.com/

Sellior & Bellot
Magtech Ammunition Company, Inc.
248 Apollo Drive, Suite 180
Lino Lakes, MN 55014
Phone: 763-235-4000
Fax: 763-235-4004
Web site http://www.magtechammunition.com/
E-mail info@magtechammunition.com