We've rounded up the best .224 Valkyrie Upper options currently on the market to help your AR-15 to reach out.
What Are The Top Valkyrie Uppers:
- Savage MSR Long Range
- Aero Precision M4E1
- Atheris Rifle Co. A15-M
- CMMG Endeavor
- Palmetto State Armory 20″ Valkyrie
The 5.56 NATO is a medium-range master and the .300 Blackout is lights out when quarters are close. However, until recently reaching out with your AR-15 was a shaky proposition. Then the age of the .224 Valkyrie dawned.
Specifically designed to reach out past 1,000 yards, the small-bore cartridge has won its share of advocates. Not only thanks to its ballistic talents but also its firearms compatibility. The small-fry is the only long-range cartridge designed with the AR-15 in mind.
To some, this is a small detail, after all, jumping up to the AR-10 unlocks nearly limitless country-mile options. There are, however, advantages with sticking to America’s favorite rifle. The biggest plus, if you already own one and want to pitch the .224 Valkyrie, you simply invest in a .224 Valkyrie upper without a worry of compatibility. No fuss, no muss. Not to mention, a heck of a lot cheaper than investing in a brand new iron—especially if you’re just dabbling with the cartridge.
Why Go .224 Valkyrie?
The answer to this is fairly self-evident—long-range shooting. Essentially, the Federal-designed cartridge was concocted to accept heavier-for-caliber bullets, thus improve the ballistic profile of the .224-inch diameter projectiles. The company did so by necking down the 6.8 SPC case (derived from the .30 Remington), thus providing a system that would seat the bullet without compromising case capacity. Overall, it wildly succeeded.
By Federal’s telling, from a 24-inch barrel, the .224 Valkyrie remains supersonic out to 1,300 yards. Results vary depending on a number of factors, but get pretty darn close to that mark with most appropriate loads out of most rifle-length setups. Which is to say, it bests nearly anything else spit out of an AR-15.
Along with improving range, the cartridge also enhances the hunting potential of the rifle, particularly in terms of deer-sized game. Not that the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO hasn’t harvested its share of backstraps. However, heavy-for-caliber bullets offer more peace of mind of a one-shot kill given their longer profile boosts their penetration potential.
New King Of ARs … Not So Fast
Despite its long-range and hunting prowess, the .224 Valkyrie isn’t a replacement for standby AR options. Not by a long shot. At medium range, the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO shoots flatter and hits harder, in turn, the newer cartridge won’t dethrone the king anytime soon. That said, investing in a .224 Valkyrie upper adds a ponent arrow to a rifle’s quiver, giving an AR-15 and its shooter the tools to truly reach out.
Get More .224 Valkyrie Info:
- Does The .224 Valkyrie Make Sense For Most Shooters?
- .224 Valkyrie Rifle: Building A Small Bore Precision Bolt-Action
- .224 Valkyrie Ballistics: A Small Fry With Legs
Note On Selections
Our .224 Valkyrie upper selections are the complete variety. That is, the upper is completely assembled and factory head spaced. They’re practically ready to shoot when they reach your doorstep. That said, some of the builds are not so complete as the term implies, shipping sans charging handle, bolt and carrier group. In those cases, you’ll have to supply your own, which deserves a word.
The .224 Valkyrie does not use the same bolt as the 5.56 NATO or .300 Blackout. The parent case for latter two cartridges is the .223 Remington, which has a head diameter of .378. The .224 Valkyrie, on the other hand, is a derivative—reaching all the way back—of the .30 Remington, a case with a head diameter of .422. In turn, when you go shopping for this part you’ll need to shop specifically for .224 Valkyrie/6.8 SPC bolts. Don’t get the right one, guess what … your rifle won’t run.
Best .224 Valkyrie Upper Options
Savage MSR Long Range
Best known for its bolt actions, Savage Arms in recent years has proven an adept AR-15 manufacturer. No more so than when it comes to the Valkyrie. When the cartridge was introduced in 2017, the gunmaker and Federal were owned by the same company. Thus Savage was in at the ground floor of its development and understands the Valkyrie inside out.
The company offers two .224 Valkyrie upper options, but we tend toward the longer barrel Long Ranger, especially for a precision build. Outfitted with a 22-inch stainless-steel heavy barrel, the system offers more than enough bore to ensure top ballistic performance with most loads. It being Savage, the barrel is button rifled. The company has used this process for years, and is among the best, producing extremely smooth and consistent rifling, thus reducing friction and bullet deformation. As for the twist, it’s 1:7”—fairly standard and versatile.
The upper is complete with a bolt, bolt carrier group (BCG) and charging handle. Savage doesn’t skimp here, particularly on the BCG, which is a self-lubricating nickel-boron affair. As to the handguard, it certainly tends more to precision shooting than tactical, given its sparse M-Lok slots—situated fore and aft. The assumption is, if you are looking for a more “tactical” .224 Valkyrie, you’ll opt for the 18-inch Recon upper, which has much more real estate for accessories.
MSRP: $899; https://www.savagearms.com/
Aero Precision M4E1
Among the largest selection of .224 Valkyrie uppers, the M4E1 series is a variable candy store for Valk enthusiasts. They’re affordable to boot. Generally speaking, Aero offers one of the best price points of any manufacturer on this list, making it a logical starting point for someone just getting into the cartridge. That said, don’t think you're getting the AR equivalent to a Sizzler's steak—Aero turns out quality components and backs them up.
As for different models, don’t get too amped up. Mainly we’re talking different barrel lengths (18, 20 and 22 inches) and handguards here. Though, it's difficult not to prefer the models with Aero’s Atlas S-One handguard. Slim as a fleeting second and extremely lightweight, due to the elimination of a full-length rail, the handguard helps keep the rifle-length uppers more manageable and nimble. Definitely a plus if you’re aiming yours at hunting.
As to the brass tacks, the receiver itself is forged, yet Aero machines them to a billet appearance. No matter length, the barrel is bead-blasted stainless-steel and heavy profile, an aspect that sloughs heat and maintains optimal harmonics. Though it’s worth noting, this upper does not come with bolt, BCG or charging handle—Aero, however, sells all of those.
MSRP: Starting at $524; aeroprecisionusa.com
Atheris Rifle Co. A15-M
Like betting the horses without a racing form, you don’t quite know what you’re putting your money on with many small manufacturers. It could be a nag, it could be a winner. Atheris Rifle Company falls into the latter category, especially with a thoroughbred .224 Valkyrie upper at a decidedly affordable price.
A few of the A15-M highlights include in-house manufactured nickel-boron BCG, heavy-contour stainless-steel barrel and lightweight M-Lok compatible handguard. As for receivers, the company offers both forged and billet, with the latter running a touch more, but not so much to dissuade a motivated buyer. What Atheris doesn’t make—charging handle and dust cover—it turns to a top-end supplier, namely Strike industries.
Nice package, but certainly tailored more for a dedicated long-range shooter. The choice is between a 22- and 24-inch barrel, sizable on both counts. Furthermore, Atheris uses a very faster 1:6” twist, good for 90-plus-grain bullets, but a tough on lighter, thin-jacket options.
About the only nit to pick is the handguard length, which at 15 inches does tend short for the build. However, Atheris is more than willing to swap them out with an option more fitting to your style simply by contacting them.
MSRP: Forged Receiver $749; Billet Receiver $649; atherisrifle.com
Given the Banshee blitz of the past few years, it's easy to lose sight CMMG still turns out a top-notch rifle. It’s not all shorties coming out of Missouri! The gunmaker was an early adopter of the .224 Valkyrie, embracing the cartridge within a year of its release and now offers it in its outstanding long-range Endeavor series of complete uppers.
Don’t let the fact it’s part of CMMG’s long-range catalog scare you off if you have a field gun in mind. There are three Endeavor variations of the .224 Valkyrie, the 100 and 200 sporting more hunting-friendly 20-inch barrels. The 300—with 24 inches of pipe—is perhaps better fit ringing distant steel.
Regardless of iteration, the guts of the build are the same—medium taper stainless-steel barrel, CMMG’s proven forged Mk4 receiver and chrome-lined phosphate finished BCG (9310 steel bolt). But each one comes with different accouterments. Perhaps the most notable, the 100 is capped with an A2 comp, while the 200 and 300 come with CMMG’s SV compensator brake. Furthermore, the 300 comes with an ambi charging handle and choice of 10 Cerakote finishes—if you need a dash of flare.
No matter where you land, you’ll end up with a solid and versatile upper. CMMG goes with the standard 1:7” twist, making them compatible with most off-the-shelf ammo. And the Endeavor can shoot, easily falling in the sub-MOA category.
MSRP: Starting at $674; cmmg.com
Palmetto State Armory 20″ Valkyrie
Honestly, when talking AR parts or builds, you knew Palmetto State Armory would crop up sooner or later. Prolific supplier of everything black rifle, the company isn’t prohibitive on coin spilled, yet washes out as a solid option, even against high-tier names. Not a bad starting point for those looking to invest in their first .224 Valkyrie upper.
The company offers fourteen options in this corner of the market, though really, you’re only selecting between handguards and barrel lengths. The meat of the builds is the same, the matting of PSA’s A3 forged receiver and a 18- or 20-inch heavy stainless-steel barrel. In any case, the real feel of the catalog is to hit the middle ground, a flexible system at home tracking deer or pitching copper-jacked lead to the next zip code.
As to the handguard, since that’s the choice to be made, we tend to prefer the lightweight cross-cut model on a 20-inch barrel. M-Lok compatible, the system does away with much of the optics rail—there are sections fore and aft—cutting weight and making for a much more comfortable system.
PSA outfits its uppers with BCG and charging handle, so you can slap it on and start shooing once you receive it. As to twist, this being a jack-of-all-trades option, it should surprise no one Palmetto opted 1:7”.
MSRP: $539; palmettostatearmory.com