Volkmann Custom Combatant Carry









Luke Volkmann is a custom gun maker with a mighty bold mission. He advertises "One Masterpiece at a Time"!

The pistol which was sent to the Model of 1911 Pistols Organization E-zine for testing and evaluation is Luke's "Combatant Carry". The gun is a Commander-sized weapon (a true 4.25 inch barrel) with a bob-tailed frame, tritium combat sights, checkered front and back straps, and completely finished in hard chrome. Okay, nothing particularly new there. We've all seen examples of similar pistols from a variety of sources, ranging from mass produced weapons to exotic custom-made guns. I have experience with most of these, and found them to be very nice, serviceable firearms.

Are the products manufactured by Volkmann Custom Inc. better than the rest? This review will try to answer that question.

The Pistol

Guy Downing (of Downing's Guns and Family Treasures) was more than pleased to be the FFL transfer recipient of the Volkmann Custom “Combatant Carry”. I don't think he had ever held a bob-tailed frame 1911, and the Combatant Carry fit his hand perfectly. Obligations with the gun shop and his family kept us from getting together for an impromptu shooting session, which is unfortunate. This pistol really seemed to put the “hook” into Guy, and I would have enjoyed seeing his reaction to actually firing the weapon.

What Guy presented to me at the gun store was a finely crafted, fully padded black nylon pistol case, containing the Combatant Carry and three stainless steel 7 round magazines. In a side pocket, I also found the full color owner's manual, as well as a booklet containing an easily read version of the United States Constitution.







The slide and frame are forged carbon steel, and all corners have been de-horned and smoothed to prevent any snags or jagged edges. This treatment is most apparent when viewing both sides of the slide.



This photograph illustrates the "Combatant Carry" roll mark on the right side of the pistol's slide.




This photo shows the rear portion of the right hand side of the slide. The slanted cocking serrations and de-horning treatment add to the overall appeal of this weapon.




The "Volkmann Custom Inc." roll mark is shown in this photograph, taken on the left side of the pistol's slide.


Concentrating for a moment on the pistol's slide, the top of the Combatant Carry has serrations running from front to rear, to diffuse light and remove glare. The combat sights consist of Novak-style, dove-tailed front and rear sights, with three dot Trijicon tritium inserts surrounded by a white ring. The front sight's base is blended seamlessly into the angle of the slide.







A hand-fit premium match barrel is mated with the slide, and as shown in previous photographs, the ejection port is lowered and flared for increased reliability during ejection of spent cartridge casings. Further refinements include a polished feed ramp and perfection crowned barrel.







In addition to the crowned barrel of the Combatant Carry, a Volkmann Monogrammed Bushing is shown in this photograph. This bushing is an extra cost option.


A hand-fit extractor and ejector are included as standard features with the basic pistol. Since this is a custom-made firearm, the close tolerance fit between the slide and the frame is best seen in the following photograph, taken from the rear of the slide.





A slotted Commander-style hammer is complimented by the beavertail grip safety.




The base of the grip safety has a pronounced palm swell, which aids in the positive disengagement of this safety, prior to firing.


Tool or machine marks are not present on this gun, nor would one expect any such blemishes. The frame has been de-horned, and there is no discernable movement between the slide and frame, whether the pistol is at rest or in battery. The single side thumb safety has an extended shelf. Whether pushing up to engage, or pushing down to disengage, the operator feels a distinct "click", indicating a well installed safety device.



This photograph shows the single side thumb safety in the "off" position.




Photographed in the fully engaged position, the thumb safety shows the detail of fit and finish present in the Combatant Carry.


The slide stop is standard in configuration, and positively engaged whether manually operated, or holding the slide open after the last shot fired from a magazine. It is worth mentioning that each Volkmann Custom pistol is fired for function and accuracy before leaving the company's Lakewood, Colorado facility.





The trigger on the Combatant Carry is serrated vertically, and equipped with an over-travel adjustment screw. The hand fitting of this weapon is quite apparent in the excellent 4 pound, 7 ounce release of the sear. One millimeter of take-up is followed by a crisp break. The trigger pull was measured with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, and represents the average of twenty measurements.


Ed Brown Bobtail (trademark) mainspring housing, sporting 25 line-per-inch checkering, is one of the features listed with the Combatant Carry. This unit is blended perfectly with the rear of the frame, with no gaps or unsightly seams present where the beavertail grip safety meets the mainspring housing. Likewise, the beveled magazine well flows smoothly from the rear of the grip area, and combined with the 25 line per inch checkering of the front strap, provide a very stable platform for gripping the pistol during firing. Guy Downing and I were both disappointed that he was unable to shoot this weapon, as he suspected the bobtail would alleviate the unnatural feel of a standard size 1911 grip.









This photograph depicts the beautiful wood stocks that came with the test pistol, as well as Volkmann Custom's own logo mounted in the center of the grip.






This extreme close-up photograph of the magazine well shows the Volkmann treatment at the front of the well, and the beveled angle for easier insertion of magazines.


Each Combatant Carry comes with three 7 round magazines which have been pre-tested for reliability prior to leaving Volkmann Custom Inc.



This photo shows the body of the magazine, with sight holes and number of rounds.




The follower and feed lips of the Volkmann Custom Inc. magazine are shown in this photograph.




This photograph shows the base of the Volkmann Custom Inc. magazine.


Disassembly



Unlike several notable custom makers of 1911-type pistols, Luke Volkmann approaches the "break-in" period of his guns quite rationally. From the Volkmann Custom Inc. owner's manual:


"We recommend that you fire at least 100-200 rounds of standard ammunition prior to initial disassembly. This will allow the contact surfaces to properly 'seat', insuring reliable function in the future".


Mr. Volkmann also recommends trying several different types of factory ammunition in his 1911 pistols, to find "the round that performs most satisfactorily for your needs and specific shooting style".

The Combatant Carry field strips in the manner of 1911 pistols since the beginning of the design. Making certain that the pistol is totally unloaded, remove the empty magazine, ease the slide back into battery, and use a bushing wrench to turn the barrel bushing clockwise. (NOTE: A non-marring bushing wrench is recommended for this procedure, as the barrel bushing has a very snug fit to the barrel.) Be aware of the spring tension behind the spring plug, and slowly allow the tension from the spring to push the spring plug free of the barrel bushing. Remove the spring plug.

Line up the rear of the slide stop with the disassembly notch on the left side of the pistol. Push the slide stop pin from the opposite side, and remove the slide stop from the frame. Turn the pistol upside down, and remove the frame from the slide assembly by sliding the frame away from the muzzle. The recoil spring and recoil spring guide rod can be removed toward the rear of the slide assembly. The barrel bushing may then be turned counter-clockwise and be removed from the barrel and the slide. The final step is to remove the barrel from the slide by making certain the barrel link is horizontal with the barrel, and while lifting the barrel slightly to clear the locking lugs, pushing the barrel out of the slide, toward the muzzle.

Reassembly is in reverse order.

Range Time



At the risk of destroying some pre-conceived notions, this photograph shows "your humble servant", prior to having a Great time with the Volkmann pistol on my home range.


The Volkmann Custom Combatant Carry lives up to its creator's slogan of "One Masterpiece at a Time", nowhere more than when firing the weapon. My usual protocol consists firing a few rounds through a test pistol, to determine reliability and basic accuracy. In the case of the Combatant Carry, "a few rounds" became three 50 round boxes of full metal jacket ammo, as well as forty rounds of jacketed hollow points. Various targets were used, from standard bullseye and silhouette paper targets to water jugs, aluminum cans, and 4x6 inch index cards. Distances at which these targets were engaged ranged from a few feet to over 25 yards. I'm too old to claim hits on everything (especially the index cards), but the pistol accurately placed every bullet where I thought it would go when the shot broke. In fact, I was so anxious to see exactly what the Combatant Carry was capable of doing, I asked a friend and neighbor to assist me in the accuracy phase of the testing. Bill Hough kindly agreed, so the twenty five yard readings in the following table (when marked with an asterisk) are courtesy of his very good 28 year old eyes.




Ammo for this review was donated by : Sellier & Bellot and ATFIC .


These readings were taken on five separate days, over a three week period. Wind speed was of no consequence, and the average temperature each day was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (about 13 degrees Celsius).

These accuracy readings should loudly speak for themselves!

However, in a pistol which is built more for defensive purposes, the bullseye results of a padded rest should take a back seat to real world conditions and situations. In this arena, the Combatant Carry comes through in spades. The gun was fired in low light conditions, and the excellent sights performed as intended. Extremely windy days occur around my part of Texas this time of year, making targets difficult to hit with any degree of accuracy. Once again, the Volkmann gun was up to the task, aided by the exceptional checkering and bobtail design of the back strap. While snow is seldom an issue around here, it gets cold. I fired the pistol with and without gloves, and the results were always gratifying. Simply put, this pistol shoots every bit as good as it looks.


Evaluation



Let's start this part of the review with a cold hard fact! The Volkmann Custom Combatant Carry is an expensive pistol. There are those reading this review that might never be able to afford such a weapon, or justify in their own minds the initial expense involved. A distinctly different group occupies that rarified air at the top, where price is never an object, and only the very best will do.

Between the two aforementioned groups lies the majority. These folks recognize quality, but are concerned about "pulling the trigger" on the purchase of a pistol which costs the equivalent of two, three, or even four of the guns they currently own. Those weapons might have involved some saving or sacrifice on the part of the owner. The M1911.ORG Forum is full of comments from people who spent "X" amount of money for a pistol, and expect a certain degree of quality from that pistol, that either is or is not justified by the price paid. I agree that quality control and customer support of any consumer product is the least that should be expected from any purchase. But the old adage of "you get what you paid for" sometimes comes into play.

So, where does that leave us with regard to the Volkmann Custom Combatant Carry?

I have examined every part of this pistol. Particular attention was paid to how the parts fit, how well they functioned, and any wear observed after the firing of many rounds of full power ammunition. While I have observed weapons having equal quality parts, I've not seen any which were better than those on the Combatant Carry. The wear and tear on the gun was slightly less than I observed on similar high-end pistols, and due to the hard chrome surface, was actually less than seen on others I have tested or fired.

The care taken in the building of the pistol is evident in the accuracy and functional reliability I saw and recorded during my range sessions.

Being like most of you, I had to ask myself some hard questions about whether I would spend the money involved in owning a pistol having this degree of quality. Since I will shortly be retiring from a railroad career spanning over forty years, there are some financial issues that prevent me from sending Luke Volkmann a cashier's check, instead of returning this test pistol to his Lakewood, Colorado facility.

BUT, I have started a separate savings account, so that hopefully I can order a similar pistol from Volkmann Custom Inc. sometime in the not-too-distant future. In the final analysis, perhaps that is the highest praise I can give this outstanding weapon.

Specifications

Volkmann Custom Combatant Carry
Hand fit premium match barrel (4.25 inch)
Carbon Steel forged frame and slide
25 line per inch checkered front strap
25 line per inch Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing
Perfection crown
Fixed Combat Sights w/tritium inserts
Beveled Magazine Well
Three 7 round magazines, tested for reliability
Hard Chrome finish
Monogram Bushing
High Grip Cut
Checkered Double Diamond Cocobolo Stocks w/Volkmann Custom logo
Suggested Price : $2,845 US Dollars

Acknowledgments

Gun tests are impossible without the cooperation of those who build the pistols. Luke Volkmann is a gentleman of the first order, and was kind enough to send the Model 1911 Pistols Organization an example of his work for evaluation. Luke was helpful throughout the process, and I'm grateful to him for his trust and expertise.

Ammunition costs have risen dramatically in the last few months, and these tests would be much less comprehensive without the generous donations received from Advanced Tactical Firearms (for their excellent re-manufactured Armscor ammunition) and Sellier & Bellot (for that company's 230 grain full metal jacket ammo. My thanks to these two fine organizations joins the thanks of all the gun writers at M1911.ORG E-zine.

Whether providing affordable transfer fees, excellent advice, or quality guns and associated products at a fair price, the gentlemen at Downing's Guns and Family Treasures in Cleburne, Texas have been there for me for years. My most sincere thanks go out to all three of you, and I recommend this gun shop to anyone looking for value in the D/FW area.

Thanks for your young eyes, steady hand, and good humor, Bill Hough. You are the epitome of a friend.


You may discuss about this pistol, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site:

http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=64353



SOURCES

Pistol:



Volkmann Custom Inc.
1595 Carr Street
Lakewood, CO 80214
USA


Tel: 303-888-4904
Fax: 303-232-7318

Web site: http://www.volkmanncustom.com/
Email: info@volkmanncustom.com



Ammunition



Sellier & Bellot, U.S.A.
P.O. Box 7307
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207
USA

Phone: (913) 664-5933
Fax: (913) 664-5938

Email: ceg@sb-usa.com
Web Site: http://www.sb-usa.com/
Web Site: http://www.sellier-bellot.cz/


Armscor Ammo



Advanced Tactical Firearms
150 N. Smart Way
Pahrump, NV 89060
USA

Phone: 775-537-1444
Fax: 775-537-1446
Web Site: http://www.advancedtactical.com



Chronograph



Competitive Edge Dynamics USA
P.O. Box 486,
Orefield, PA 18069-0486
USA

Orders: (1) 888-628-3233
Phone: (1) 610-366-9752
Fax: (1) 610-366-9680

Email: info@CEDhk.com
Web site: http://www.CEDhk.com