Unless you’re already a devoted fan, chances are you don’t know much about the .224 Valkyrie. This cartridge is a relative newcomer to the AR-15 scene. Although .224 Valk has curried favor rather quickly, there are still plenty of skeptics who consider it nothing more than the newest wildcat flavor of the week.
We’re going to take a closer look at this flat-shooting speed demon. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worthy of the hype or destined for the cutting room floor.
What is .224 Valkyrie?
Developed by Federal Premium Ammunition, the .224 Valkyrie made its debut at the 2018 SHOT Show. The drive behind the design was to produce an effective and accurate long-range cartridge that was compatible with the modern sporting rifle (MSR).
The cartridge is based on the .30 Remington and 6.8 SPC, but uses the same diameter bullet as .223/5.56 NATO. When compared to .223/5.56, the .224 Valkyrie has a shorter case length but a larger case volume. That roomier case means more propellant, which enables the Valkyrie to push longer, heavier, more aerodynamic projectiles at higher velocities.
How .224 Valkyrie Performs
Most standard .224 Valk ammo is topped with relatively hefty projectiles. Standard loads run between 60 and 90 grains. However, because bullets in .224 Valk are the same caliber as good old-fashioned .223 Rem, that extra weight makes Valk bullets long and sleek. That means Valkyrie sheds velocity more slowly over distance when compared to .223/5.56. That extra weight also makes Valkyrie projectiles more stable in flight, so they are less affected by wind drift.
Remington claims the .224 Valk remains supersonic (1,125 fps) out to an impressive 1300 yards. While the actual speed varies depending on several factors (including altitude), Valk seems to preserve its supersonic hustle to at least 1,000 yards, and it doesn’t even break a sweat in the process. Shooters familiar with ballistics understand that the transition from super to subsonic velocity murders accuracy. With that transition happening well past 1,000 yards, .224 Valkyrie should be able to engage targets at four-digit distances like it’s nothing more than a walk in the park. At least, it should when the rifle is held in capable hands.
Best of all, .224 Valk manages these amazing feats of long-range accuracy while producing only mild recoil. While that definitely makes for a more enjoyable day at the range, it also means rapid, more accurate follow-up shots in the field.
.224 Valkyrie was designed to do one thing: hit targets at extreme distances. It does that one thing very well.
The Valk’s only real competition for extreme distance shooting is the 6.5 Grendel. While 6.5 Grendel is a highly accurate long-range shooter, it generates significantly more recoil (almost 75 percent more), is more affected by crosswind, and loses supersonic velocity faster than .224 Valkyrie.
If you want to shoot your MSR and consistently hit targets beyond 500 yards, .224 Valkyrie is currently the best tool for the job.
When it comes to hunting, shooters are also making the switch to .224 Valkyrie. For big game animals, .224 Valkyrie relies a little too heavily on velocity for terminal performance. However, with soft points and bonded jackets, .224 Valk can be effective on medium game like whitetails and pronghorn. Just be aware that many states have laws that prohibit hunting whitetails with .22 caliber cartridges. That includes the .224 Valkyrie.
That doesn’t mean hunters should completely disregard .224 Valk. For coyote, hog, and varmint hunters, especially those who face long ranges and high winds, .224 Valkyrie is a godsend.
How to Make the Switch
If you have an AR-15 already chambered for 5.56, you can still make the switch to this hotrod cartridge. The .224 Valkyrie is basically a necked down 6.8 SPC, so if you want to convert your AR-15 to .224 Valk, you’ll need a new barrel (preferably a 24-inch barrel with a 1:6.5 or 1:7 twist rate) and a 6.8 SPC bolt.
While you might be able to get your old .223 mag to work, it could cause feeding issues. So, even though the lower receiver and the mag well are the same, go ahead and splurge on the 6.8 SPC mags. You’ll be happier in the long run.
Because .224 Valkyrie is still so new to the game, load options are still fairly limited, especially when compared to offerings in .223/5.56. However, when you compare Valk availability to some other AR alternative cartridges, you can’t help but be impressed. Although most available loads are specialized for target shooting, expect different options to flood the market as more shooters jump on board the .224 Valk bandwagon.
Prices on .224 Valkyrie ammunition run pretty high right now, especially if you’re looking for target or plinking ammo. You’ll definitely want to add a few more dollars to your ammo budget, if you plan to do any high-volume shooting.
Summing It Up
There is no denying that .224 Valkyrie shoots flatter, resists wind drift, and hits harder than standard .223/5.56 NATO. Its long-range performance makes this cartridge ideal for extreme distance target shooting. It also makes a fine option for predators and varmints, especially when hunters need to reach across hundreds of yards of open farm or grassland. If you want to hit 1,000-yard targets with an AR-15, there really is no better way to accomplish that than the .224 Valkyrie.