Rare is the cartridge that grabs so much attention immediately upon introduction, but the .224 Valkyrie has done so — for good reason.
Why The .224 Valkyrie Tops Other Long-Range Cartridges:
- Necked down .30 Rem/6.8 SPC case.
- Improved trajectories vs .22 Nosler, .223 Rem. and 6.5 Grendel.
- 2,700 fps muzzle velocity from a 24-inch barrel.
- Vs .22 Nosler, .223 Rem. and 6.5 Grendel, 125-inches less drop at 1,000 yards.
- Less recoil than 6.5 Creedmoor.
- Shoots heavy-for-caliber bullets.
- Existing AR can be converted with a new barrel, bolt and magazine.
In late-2017, Federal Premium Ammunition released a new cartridge that’s been getting a lot of attention. The all-new .224 Valkyrie soared into magazines, online shooting forums and, of course, social media. Touted as the first AR platform cartridge with true long-range capabilities, it had everyone in the industry on the edge of their seats.
It wasn’t long before articles were flying and gun manufacturers were jumping on board. But has all the hype been warranted, now that enough time has passed for true testing by the masses? Is the .224 Valkyrie really as versatile as the marketing has painted it out to be?
Breaking It Down
The .224 Valkyrie was designed for AR platform rifles to be the new long-range dominator. Simply, the .224 Valkyrie is based on a .30 Rem./6.8 SPC case necked down to .224 caliber. It offers dramatically improved trajectories over all other AR-15 cartridges, including the .22 Nosler, .223 Rem. and 6.5 Grendel, with roughly half the recoil of larger cartridges offering comparable ballistics, such as the 6.5 Creedmoor.
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Initial numbers from Federal boasted 2,700 fps at the muzzle from a 24-inch barrel, with the bullet still carrying supersonic speeds at 1,300 yards. When shot through a 20-inch match barrel, I saw 2,650 fps consistently through the chronograph. To say it’s fast would be an understatement. Even if you use the old equation of losing 25 fps per 2 inches of barrel cut-down, a 16-inch carbine will still fire the 90-grain SMK at roughly 2,600 fps. That’s what most modern sporting rifle owners can expect.
The .224 Valkyrie offers 125 inches less drop and almost 70 inches less wind drift at 1,000 yards than the .223 Rem. and other short-action calibers like the .22 Nosler and 6.5 Grendel. Plus, its ballistics are comparable to much larger, harder-kicking calibers like the 6.5 Creedmoor, with as little as half the felt recoil. While I haven’t been able to stretch the cartridge past 850 yards, I trust that this truly could be the first 1,000 yard cartridge for modern sporting rifles.
Truly Diverse Options
Federal currently offers the .224 Valkyrie in four options:
- The 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing will be the flagship round. The bullet design has been shot to win more matches than any other, thanks to a uniform jacket that ensures consistent, long-range accuracy, and a sleek boat-tail that maximizes ballistic coefficient. Precision and long-range shooters will love this round.
- The 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip will be my go-to predator and varmint round. A lighter bullet with unmatched speed will be a favorite for people hunting prairie dogs and predators across the country. At 3,300 fps out of a 24-inch test barrel, this round will be blazing fast, and it holds speeds up to 934 fps at 1,000 yards.
- The 90-grain Fusion will be the mid-sized game-leveling cartridge. Fusion already has a name for itself among deer and other mid-sized game hunters from coast-to-coast, and in .224 Valkyrie it’s going to be a deer hunting dream. With half the recoil of calibers with similar ballistics, this will be the perfect deer cartridge for the entire family.
- The 75-grain American Eagle TMJ will be the entry-level, low-cost round in .224 Valkyrie. At just $13.95 MSRP per box, it’s selling for $10-12 on the shelves; this will take plinking to a whole new level, and it will be a favorite amongst 3-Gun shooters and casual shooters alike. With the low entry-level cost, you won’t be disappointed in its speed or accuracy. It’s still thumping close to 3,000 fps out of the muzzle.
Other manufacturers are putting out .224 Valkyrie as well. Hornady has their 88-grain ELD Match for long-range performance. Underwood Ammunition offers a 72-grain Lehigh Controlled Chaos fragmenting hollow-point, which is a 100 percent lead-free hunting round.
The timing of this round was absolutely perfect, as the gun and ammo market is stable and prices are reasonable. The fact that you can get into a .224-chambered rifle by just purchasing a new barrel, bolt and magazine for your existing AR lower makes it an affordable setup from the get-go. If you prefer to purchase a full package, several companies offer .224 Valkyrie guns that are tack-drivers out of the box.
The Flip Side
We’ve all seen the numbers and heard the hoopla, but — what are some of the downfalls of the .224 Valkyrie?
The obvious is that it’s a new round. Look at what has happened with several new cartridges over the past century: You just don’t see guns stocked on every shelf in the sporting goods stores, and ammo is fading from shelves — not due to consume demand, but rather due to dust on the boxes. With any new round, the future is always a question mark. While things look very promising, and long-range and competitive shooters are already rocking the .224 Valkyrie with great results, word needs to spread. And, rightfully so, leery consumers need to see that it’s here to stay.
Gun availability is another issue. While the list continues to grow daily, the market isn’t flooded with manufacturers making barrels and bolts, or complete guns. JP Enterprises has several options for hunters and long-range shooters. Other players include Seekins Precision, LaRue Tactical, MasterPiece Arms, MagPul, LMT Defense, LWRC International, C&H Precision Weapons, and Savage Arms. If the round sticks, the list will continue to grow.
The .224 Valkyrie isn’t very bolt-friendly. The round was centered on AR platform guns, and it shows. While there are precision rifle makers out there putting out incredible bolt guns in .224 Valk, don’t expect to see low-cost hunter packages showing up at your local gun shop. Unless you’re set on having a bolt gun and are willing to fork out some cash for a high-end build, stick to the AR platform guns available.
Ultimately, Federal Premium’s .224 Valkyrie will unleash a new era of 1,000-yard-plus accuracy and performance for gas-driven AR-15s, without the hefty recoil and price tag of larger-caliber options. Thanks to the continuation of Federal Premium’s 95-year commitment to excellence, shooters can expect best-in-class ballistics, supersonic flight past 1,300 yards and extreme long-range accuracy from this exciting new cartridge. And with the full array of high-performance projectiles available, it’s poised to deliver on virtually every shooter’s needs.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the 2018 Long-Range Shooting issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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