Whether you’re looking for a bit of fun at the range, doing some pest control on the land, or working on some shooting fundamentals, it’s hard to beat the utility and versatility of a .22 LR pistol. Throw in the wide variety of competitive matches available across the country, and there are a lot of solid reasons to have a quality .22 LR pistol at the ready. Specifically, one like the Volquartsen Mamba-X.
The Volquartsen Mamba-X
When it comes to current-production, semi-auto .22 pistols — and rifles — there’s no brand more esteemed than Volquartsen. Whether you’re looking for a top-tier rifle in .22 WMR or .17 HMR for varmint take-downs or a competition pistol in .22 LR, they’ve got what you need.
One of the company’s most recent introductions is the Mamba-X. And like its namesake, it’s sleek, adaptable, and fast as hell.
Volquartsen’s Black Mamba line of pistols borrow a lot of features from the company’s Scorpion lineup. However, the Mamba series utilizes Ruger’s polymer Mark IV 22/45 grip frame, which helps to reduce weight for easier carry and faster movement/action. The use of the company’s LLV-4X competition upper separates the Mamba-X from its serpentine siblings. The primary distinction between it and other uppers is the plethora of mounting holes for a wide variety of optics on the market.
Rather than use a rail, the Mamba-X allows the optic to be mounted directly to the upper, keeping the optic as close to the bore as possible. With the slew of available mounting holes, the Mamba-X is directly compatible with various optics, including Trijicon RMR, Shield Mini sights, Burris FastFire, Vortex Viper, Vortex Venom, Vortex Razor, JP Enterprises JPoint, C-More RTS 2, Leupold DeltaPoint and Sig Sauer Romeo1 Pro, Romeo3 MAX, and the Romeo3 XL.
The LLV-4X competition upper is made from a Type III hard-anodized aluminum for weight reduction. However, the Mamba-X still features a stainless steel match barrel and a stainless steel breech for a long life during all those matches you plan to compete in down the road. Another nice touch is the single-port compensator, which is affixed to the barrel via the ½ x 28 thread pattern and with Volquartsen’s included comp wrench. This means that if the user desires, the compensator can be removed for installing a suppressor should circumstances warrant one’s use.
Pushing The Button
The Volquartsen Mamba-X uses Ruger’s polymer Mark IV 22/45 frame that allows for the relatively new push-button disassembly process. It’s simple to take down the Mamba-X and other 22/45 pistols.
First, remove the magazine and make sure the pistol is clear. Then flip the safety on and push the button at the rear of the receiver. While doing so, tilt the barrel/upper down until it clears the bolt-stop pin. Then lift up to remove the barrel/upper.
From there, you can simply extract the bolt from the upper. One difference between the Mamba-X (and other Volquartsen pistols) and a standard Ruger 22/45 is the extended “Bolt Racker.”
Rather than using Ruger’s standard cocking ears, Volquartsen provides a faster and easier way to charge its pistols. I call it the charging handle, but it is integral to the bolt and is machined from 1018 steel. Once it is case-hardened, it is given a DLC finish for a durable and attractive finish.
Volquartsen Specific Details
There are a couple of other differences from the standard Ruger 22/45 frame as well. First, the frame is fitted with Volquartsen’s magazine release. When used with the company’s magazine baseplates, it raises the magazine slightly to improve the feed angle to ensure ultimate reliability.
The frame is also fitted with the company’s accurizing kit. This does away with the magazine disconnect safety, providing an exceptionally clean and crisp trigger with a break right at 2.25 pounds.
The package is topped off with Hogue rubber grips that incorporate finger grooves. As a result, they provide exceptional traction and comfort for all-day shooting. The only thing lacking with the Mamba-X is a set of iron sights. However, this specialty pistol is intended for high-speed and low-drag competition use. So, I don’t personally see an issue with the omission of irons.
I was one of those that came to the red-dot scene for pistols kicking and screaming the whole way. But I finally got there and the one optic that helped make that transition more bearable was the Trijicon SRO.
Aside from Trijicon’s outstanding build quality, with which I was already familiar, a couple of features on the SRO finally sold me on the switch.
First, there’s the top-loading battery compartment. Yes, it makes the unit a little bulkier compared to the RMR, but it’s worth it for me. It allows for quick battery changes without removing the unit from the pistol and upsetting the zero.
Second, it provides an amazing field-of-view compared to the RMR and similar optics. This makes it much easier for me to find the dot quickly. These and other reasons are why I picked the SRO for this Mamba-X review.
Mounting and Using the Trijicon SRO
The SRO fits the same footprint as the RMR. So, there was no issue in mounting it to the Volquartsen Mamba-X quickly right out of the box. It includes eight different brightness settings for easy adjustability, and those settings include two night-vision modes as well.
The SRO also includes windage and elevation dials that offer just the right resistance and “clicky-ness” for easy 1-MOA adjustments with 150 MOA of total travel available.
There are three models currently available with 1-, 2.5-, and 5-MOA red dots. I picked the 2.5-MOA model because that’s about the right balance for my particular needs most of the time. The SRO’s housing is made from 7075-T6 aluminum and is waterproof to 10 feet. So, it will handle just about anything I can throw at it.
On top of that, it’s rated for three years of use on a single battery at a middle-brightness setting. So, I won’t have to worry about that either—at least for a while.
I had a couple of shooting buddies, Addison and Dave, aware that I received the Volquartsen Mamba-X for review. They were chomping at the bit to give it a go. Addison had his own Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Tactical, and I had him bring it out for a side-by-side comparison with the Mamba-X. He had it dressed out with a Holosun HS403B and a Surefire X300. The whole thing was about as heavy as a brick.
Fortunately, this setup gave us an idea of how effective the single-port compensator on the Mamba-X really was. Despite the significantly lighter weight of the Mamba-X over Addison’s 22/45 configuration, the Mamba-X shot just as flat, if not slightly flatter, than its heavyweight counterpart.
By “flatter,” I’m talking about less muzzle flip. The single-port compensator was much more effective than we thought it would be. And that translated to faster and more accurate shot placement with follow-up shots.
I was slightly disappointed with the Eley’s performance when it rang up an average of 1.47 inches, figuring it would do better than that. But the results were much better with the other two loads. The Wolf load averaged 1.19 inches, and the Federal load averaged .96 inches.
Dialing in the Shots
For my usual bench shooting at 25 yards, those groups were fairly impressive. However, something was irking me about the targets I was using. I wasn’t getting a precise picture each time at that distance.
I felt like I was leaving something on the table. So, I placed very small black stickers on the target. I figured, “Aim small, miss small.” I then lowered the SRO’s brightness so the dot wasn’t blooming out too much and then put the red dot on the little black stickers downrange as best I could.
After taking an extreme amount of time with each shot while making sure my grip was perfect, breathing was in check, and my alignment was absolutely on point, I got a couple of pretty amazing groups.
I had to use a micrometer to check these groups. And while using the above method, I got a best group of .532 inches with the Federal Gold Medal Target. Likewise, I got .391 inches with the Wolf Match Target load. These would not have been possible without using the red-dot optic — at least for me.
Though I shot multiple groups this way with each load, I couldn’t get close to those results again. At 25 yards, it was nearly impossible to see well enough to duplicate those results.
All this tells me is that the Mamba-X is absolutely capable of outshooting the shooter. And since these groups were outliers and not typical, real-world results, I did not include them in the original group averages mentioned earlier.
Worth the Step Up
With the lightweight polymer frame from Ruger, the Mamba-X was quick and nimble in the hand. Likewise, reliability was excellent with all of the loads that were tested. Thanks to the accurizing kit, the trigger pull and break were fantastic, taking the 22/45 platform to another level.
Throw in the extremely versatile upper, and the Mamba-X can be just about whatever you want it to be. Run it as a race gun, plinker, or utility pistol extraordinaire.
The Mamba-X has everything you need if you’re ready to take the next step with a semi-auto .22 LR pistol. True, it isn’t cheap, with its MSRP of $1,342. However, it’s well worth the step up in price for such an upgrade in performance.
Aside from the entertainment value alone, it’ll provide all the headroom you need to reach your own maximum potential.
For more information, please visit Volquartsen.com.
Volquartsen Black Mamba-X Specs
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 11 inches
Weight: 29.44 ounces (empty)
Grips: Hogue, Rubber
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.