What You Need to Know About the [not so] New 224 Valkyrie

This article about 224 Valkyrie (the .224 Valkryie cartridge) originally ran in May of 2018. With the continued release of specialized .224 loads and 224 Valkyrie barrel options, it seems appropriate to periodically republish it. Updates since its original publication have been made by various Mag Life contributors.

One thing in common in all 224 Valkyrie offerings is the intention to provide exceptionally flat trajectories and match accuracy at extreme ranges. Federal Ammunition says the .224 Valkyrie cartridge(s) offer significantly less wind drift and drop than other loads in their class, with up to half the recoil of cartridges with comparable ballistics. Many reviewers (and end-users) substantiate this.

224 Magazine options
GunMag Warehouse carries several .224 magazine options. (Note that this article is about Valkyrie ammo, not a cyber-valkyrie like kaceytron.)

 

224 Valkyrie

There’s always a new cartridge out there. Some grow legs while others remain relegated to small communities of Wildcat enthusiasts. Meet the…

New .224 Valkyrie Cartridge

Tom McHale, May 7, 2018

Earlier this year, the folks at Federal Ammunition announced the 224 Valkyrie. Its purpose in life is an effective and accurate long-range shooting. What makes it different is that it fits into the same “gun form factor” as the pervasive .223 Remington. Let’s explain that.

224 Valkyrie vs 223

When I say form factor, I’m referring to the practical limitation – magazine dimensions. The well in AR-type lower receivers is only so big, so a cartridge that’s longer simply won’t fit and your rifle becomes a single-shot breech loader. The 224 Valkyrie, like the .223 Remington, uses a .224 diameter bullet but the brass case is different. The Valkyrie is based on the .30 Remington / 6.8 SPC cartridge. In fact, you can think of the Valkyrie as a necked-down 6.8 SPC. So, even though the bullet is the same diameter, you’ll need a 224 Valkyrie barrel due to the different chamber dimensions. You’ll also need a 6.8 SPC bolt although the upper receiver is the same.

.224-Valkyrie
A 6.8 SPC cartridge (left) and 90-grain 224 Valkyrie (right).

Like the 6.8 SPC, the Valkyrie will expect a tweaked magazine made for the round since the geometry is different. So, the practical takeaway is to use 6.8 SPC magazines for your Valkyrie rifles even though the lower receiver and the corresponding magazine well are the same as any other .223 Remington rifle. You might get a .223 mag to work, but you also might find erratic feeding. Spend the extra few bucks and get the right ones.

 

224 Valkyrie
Based on the 6.8 SPC case, shortened to 1.600-inch, the .224 Valkyrie uses a 30-degree shoulder for headspacing. The rimless case functions perfectly in the 6.8 SPC magazines for the AR-15 platform, and the overall cartridge length of 2.260 inches coincides with that magazine dimension. It was in the Savage MSR at the 2018 SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range where I had my first experience with the Valkyrie and immediately saw its benefits. At the Boulder City Rifle Range—where the event is held each year—I waited my turn to have a whirl with the new cartridge. After verifying zero at the 100-yard target, we dialed for the 890-yard steel plate. In the dry Nevada air, the mild recoil of the small cartridge, further reduced by the Savage MSR, allowed me to see the vapor trail in the scope, and both verify hits and make wind adjustments.  Philip Massaro, American Hunter

 

Here’s why the Valkyrie is particularly interesting. While there are other great long-range cartridges available in larger AR-10 platforms, the 224 brings that type of range to the smaller AR-15 family. Standard loads range from 60 to 90-grain bullets, so the projectiles are heavier than most .223 Remington bullets, and since caliber is the same, the Valkyrie bullets are long and slippery. That means that they will carry velocity better over distance. That also helps with minimizing wind drift. So, the Valkyrie drops less and is less affected by wind.

.224 Valkyrie
Left to right: 55-grain .223 Remington, 77-grain .223 Remington, 90-grain 224 Valkyrie.

Marketing materials claim that the .224 Valkyrie can stay supersonic to 1,300 yards. That’s true, at about 5,000 feet above sea level. Where I am, barely above sea level, it stays supersonic past 1,000 yards with ease. With no accuracy-killing super to subsonic transition until well past 1,000 yards, you have a predictable performance to four-digit yardage territory.

To put real numbers on that (considering average atmospheric conditions where I’m located) a 90-grain Valkyrie will drop 381.08 inches over 1,000 yards while a 55-grain .223 bullet will fall 452.99 inches. The difference in drift with a 10 mph crosswind between those two is 59.92 versus 101.5 inches respectively.

 

224 Valkarie Magazine Options

25-round 224 Valkyrie magazine
25-round 224 Valkyrie magazine from ASC Magazines (also available in Flat Dark Earth).

 

10-round .224 Valkyrie Magazine
The ASC 224 Valkyrie magazine (6.8mm as well); 10-round capacity. Black and FDE options available.

 

224 Valkyrie Compatibility

Your .224 Valkyrie mag will also serve as 6.8 magazines — typically. It’s always best to check with the manufacturer of course.

 

224-Valkyrie

The Valkyrie is an interesting cartridge and I’m thinking it’s gonna catch on.

.224 Valkyrie ammunition
Hornady Black 75 gr. BTHP in .224 Valkyrie. Shooting Illustrated says it produces a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps with about 1,500 foot-pounds of energy.

 

224 Valkyrie review
You might say the 224 Valkyrie began life as a .30 Rem., because the 112-year-old .30 Rem. is the case upon which the 6.8 SPC was based. What does that have to do with the 224 Valkyrie? Well, just after the turn of the 21st century, an enterprising wildcatter from Illinois by the name of Roy Winnett created the 22 PDK (Prairie Dog Killer.) The 22 PDK was based on the 6.8 SPC case. As I wrote when I edited the 13th edition of “Cartridges of the World” in 2012: “While the cartridge [22 PDK] does not offer a substantial advantage over the .22-250 Rem. in a bolt-action rifle, it is indeed a lighting rod in an AR-15.” Richard Mann, Shooting Illustrated
224 Valkyrie ammo
.224 Valkyrie is known for shooting flat to begin with: it’s possible the new 80.5 gr. Gold Medal Berger Hybrid and 78 gr Barnes Triple Shock X will improve upon that and stretch the cartridge’s legs even further.

 

Hornady ELD Match 88 gr .224 Valkyrie ammo
Hornady’s match-grade 224 Valkyrie ammo is an 88-grain ELD Match bullet with a polymer tip: initial reports indicate the round performs better than other polymer tip ammunition (which often melts at high velocities).

 

224 Valkyrie ballistics
224 Valkyrie ballistics chart, courtesy of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), provided shortly after the original release of the .224 Valkyrie cartridge. The .224 Valkyrie was originally available in four loads: 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing, 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint, 90-grain Fusion MSR, and 75-grain American Eagle TMJ. The number of options has expanded significantly since that point.
.224 Valkyrie — you shooting something chambered thataway?

GOT MAGS? 

 

.224 Valkyrie magazine

 

Tom McHale is a committed learning junkie always seeking a new subject victim. As a lifelong student of whatever grabs his attention on any particular day, he thrives on beating rabbit trails into submission. In between his time as a high-tech marketing executive, restaurant owner, and hamster cosmetology practitioner, he's published seven books and nearly 1,500 articles about guns, shooting, and the American way.

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