A Hard Look at the .224 Valkyrie

By Bob Campbell published on in Ammunition, Firearms, Reviews

The AR platform is the Mr. Potato Head of rifles. From the .22 rimfire to the .458 SOCOM, the AR-15 is available in a host of different calibers. The newest and brightest addition to the AR-15 family is a 5.56mm diameter cartridge with more punch and long-range potential than the .223 Remington.

Box of Federal Premium .224 Valkyrie ammunition

The .224 Valkyrie is a highly-developed cartridge with excellent long-range potential.

The .224 Valkyrie is designed to remain supersonic to 1,300 yards. The .224 Valkyrie is immensely interesting, more so with the introduction of a premium-grade rifle for the cartridge. An initial .224 Valkyrie loading was the Sierra MATCHKING 90-grain load. I have also used the 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint load and the 75-grain American Eagle loading—all from Federal Cartridge Company.

The 90-grain bullet should be suitable for deer-sized game and the 60-grain bullet would be a great varmint load. The 90-grain bullet breaks 2,700 fps and the velocity is maintained to 1,950 fps at 500 yards. At a long 1,000 yards, the load is still hitting nearly 1,360 fps. (This is 24-inch barrel velocity.) The goal is to provide a cartridge that shoots flat and is easy to hit targets with at long range. With all cartridges there is some buffeting when the cartridge goes subsonic. Some bullets handle this better than others. Without this buffeting long range accuracy is easier to obtain.

The 90-grain MATCHKING features a ballistic coefficient of .563, which makes for a very solid long-range projectile. The .223 Remington 69-grain .223 MATCHKING has a BC of .301 by comparison. 77-grain 5.56mm bullets typically range to .340. Put simply, the BC of these bullets means the projectile shoots flatter and slips through the wind better. This also means that it hits harder downrange because of greater retained velocity.

Wilson Combat Super Sniper AR-15 with scope

This is a rifle and cartridge for the hardest duty.

The 90-grain Federal load using the Sierra MATCHKING bullet generates 1,457 foot pounds of energy. At a long 1,000 yards, 369 foot pounds of energy is retained. The .224 is a light kicker. Repeatability is high without having to reaffirm the sight picture after each shot, or at a minor adjustment at most. Interestingly, the .224 Valkyrie is based on the 6.8 case necked down to .224.

The 6.8 hits harder than the 5.56mm at close range, but it isn’t a long range cartridge in the class with the .224 Valkyrie. The .224 Valkyrie is intended to go against the 6.5 Creedmoor as a long-range champion, An advantage of the .224 Valkyrie is that it may be chambered in 5.56mm size rifles rather than the heavier, less standard and sometimes more expensive, AR 10 rifle.

Federal Cartridge is going all out with the .224 Valkyrie and the cartridge is not only available, it is affordable. The cartridge will fall between the 5.56mm and 6.5 Creedmoor in price, but closer to the 5.56mm. The cartridge hits flat and hard because gravity doesn’t have time to work on it. Gravity affects stones and cotton equally. The amount of drop is determined by duration, so a fast bullet drops less at a given yardage.

Leupold scope mounted on a Wilson Combat Super Sniper AR-15

The Leupold scope was responsible for much of the rifle’s excellent potential.

I fired most of the .224 Valkyrie loads with the Wilson Combat Super Sniper. This 20-inch barrel AR-15 is supplied with the Leupold Vari-X 4 x 12 x 40. There were no malfunctions of any type, but the rifle remained tight.

The rifle isn’t inexpensive at a total cost with optics of about $4,000. Hand fitting and labor are involved in a rifle like this, and the production of top grade receivers makes for a tight fit. With this type of background, the rifle is intended to be more accurate than most and light enough to be useful as a tactical and hunting rifle. The rifle’s match-grade heavy barrel is hand fitted, and the machine work is flawless.

This rifle is custom fitted to ensure the alignment of the bore axis is mated with the chamber and bore to provide top grade accuracy. A stiff barrel that is properly fitted is certain to provide good accuracy. The self-loading Super Sniper is superior, in my opinion, to a bolt-action rifle.

The AR-15-based Super Sniper offers an instant second shot, and the ability to direct accurate fire on target with an instant repeat shot. You do not mash the 3.5-pound trigger with 5 pounds of force, something many shooters do not master. The rifle is superbly accurate.

Bob Campbell shooting the Wilson Combat Super Sniper AR-15

The Wilson Combat Super Sniper is reliable, accurate, and lively to handle.

The rifle was delivered with a single magazine marked 6.8. I complimented this 10-round magazine with several 20- and 30-round AR 15 5.56mm magazines. The magazines fed and functioned without any difficulty. However, the MagPul polymer magazine spread slightly with the fatter .224 Valkyrie magazines and was difficult to insert.

By loading only 18 rounds in the 30-round magazine, there was no problem inserting the magazine. I would be certain to check the seams and welds of the magazines for stress as you use the .224, or simply order 6.8 specific magazines. During the firing of 400 .224 Valkyrie cartridges from Federal Cartridge Company, there were no malfunctions of any type.

During the first few cartridges fired, I fired a three-shot group with two bullets through the same hole and one touching, actually one single hole with the three bullets forming one hole in the paper. This rifle will compliment a trained shooter. The longest yardage, I was able to fire the rifle at was 200 yards. At this range, firing carefully with the 90-grain SMK loading, I was able to secure several one-inch groups.

One-half MOA at 200 yards is good enough to ride with. This is a great rifle with much to recommend. For use by special teams, the rifle offers excellent accuracy, hits hard, and allows the engagement of multiple targets quickly. The .224 Valkyrie is going to make a big mark on the shooting world.

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Comments (34)

  • Mash

    |

    Ok , wow .
    You only need a bolt face and barrel not a new upper don’t believe . Buy a MGI HYDRA.
    But the Valkary I use was customized and at 800 feet to lower 600 feet with a 24 inch barrel you will go past 1000 yards super sonic . But the largest factor is not the rifle or scope . It is the shooter a millimeter off on zero or notpulling between heat beats poor finger position. poor hand grip , not controlling breathing not reading a thermal plain or mirage . In the early 1900s a man in England sat down for 81 shots at 800 meters all dead on that record is a measure amongst some for others a goal.
    But once again They make drop in caliber changes for ar style and bolt actions .MGI is only one.

    Reply

  • Kent

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    This Valkyeri is likely the outer practical limit for a .224 bore in the AR-15,
    but it’s only a matter of time until someone expands the neck to 6mm and blows out the case to minimum taper. ‘Looking forward to that.

    Reply

    • wr

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      Well, you know, the man said that the parent case is the 6.8——

      Reply

  • Adam

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    A .224 Valkyrie WILL NOT chamber and fire from a .223/5.56 chambered rifle. It’s bullet diameter is close, but not the same. The brass is also much larger. The author meant that the cartridge can be used in an AR15 sized rifle, rather than the larger lr-308/AR10 sized platform.

    Reply

    • Robert Keith Campbell

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      Thank you Adam for clearing that up.

      This cartridge is just borning

      Reply

  • randall

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    is there any issues about firing 223 ammunition in my 556

    Reply

    • VieteranGunsmith

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      Your weapon will not be harmed by this as long as you stick to ammunition that is loaded to SAAMI specs. That being said, there are small differences between the two, and you will probably get better accuracy out of 5.56 Nato ammo, but .223 will not hurt you gun.

      Reply

    • G Norman

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      .223 will fire just fine in a 5.56 chamber. Don’t fire 5.56 in a .223 chamber though. 5.56 is loaded at higher pressure and .223 at lower pressure. Other than that, they are the same cartridge.

      Reply

    • Matthew Hardin

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      Or you can swap your barrel out for the 223 Wylde barrel which is designed to handle both cartridges competently.

      Reply

  • Eugene Marstaller

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    When I read “we put the valkyrie through it’s paces”, I wasn’t expecting to hear about three shot groups and a 200 yard max distance. The $4000 rifle surly should have been able to shoot good 5 or 10 round groups, worthy enough of a picture in the article. No mention at all of velocity testing. The cartridge claims to be a hotrod, what velocity did you get out of the 20inch Wilson barrel? Federal, Nosler and whoever else are going to continue to spread exaggerated claims about these new cartridges. We want truth in reporting, you fell a little short on this one.

    Reply

    • Eric

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      I aggree completely, this article was nothing more then the sales pitch we already hear, you only added a $4k rifle too it.

      Please be actually thorough when saying your gonna be

      Reply

    • Robert Keith Campbell

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      In these days when everyone has a chronograph you can take the factory velocity figures to the bank- they actually exceeded Federal claims in the WC rifle.]
      However—–you have a valid point concerning 200 yard accuracy. No excuse, but with a short period of time and a loaner rifle, I drove 1.5 hours to 200 yard range. The closest 300 yard range is 3 hours/6 hours round trip. Just the same the 2 inch 200 yard group seemed so easy with a new rifle the first day at the range, surely the rifle will do better for the person willing to master the piece.
      Thanks for reading

      Reply

  • Alex

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    Can I use 224 valkyrie in my ar15 with a wylde barrel? If not what changes would i need to make to my upper? 20 inch 1/8 Twist if it matters. Thanks

    Reply

    • VieteranGunsmith

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      Alex, This should tell you the answer to your question is NO:
      the .224 Valkyrie is based on the 6.8 case necked down to .224 –

      There are substantial differences even though the bore diameter is .001 larger.

      It is generally not a good idea to swap ammo calibers in and out of a barrel chambered specifically for a given caliber.

      Reply

    • G Norman

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      You’ll need a new barrel, bolt, and magazines. Base cartridge is WAY different than a 5.56/.223 chamber. Only thing that is the same is the bullet diameter.

      Reply

    • Slade Jones

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      No you would need a barrel chambered in .224 valkyrie and a 6.8 bolt.

      Reply

    • Tom

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      NO! There is NOTHING alike about the 2 rounds! You need a whole new upper chambered in .224.

      Reply

  • Tony Beal

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    I own an AR-15 chambered in 5.56mm. I know I can shoot both 5.56 and .223 rounds with it. When you say, “An advantage of the .224 Valkyrie is that it may be chambered in 5.56mm size rifles”, do you mean it can be loaded into a 5.56 rifle and fired?

    Reply

    • VieteranGunsmith

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      I wouldn’t if I were you.

      Reply

    • Tony

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      You can use. The lower, but you a complete upper chambered in 224. However, if you have a spare upper you could swap the barrel for a 224 and add Bcg chambered in 6.8/224.

      Reply

  • Randy Donk

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    Firing the Valkyrie @ 200 yds is no test of this cartridge. What makes it special is its long range capabilities. Would you review a 300 win mag @ 200 yds and conclude it hits hard? If you are only going to shoot 200 yards, you may as well just use a 223, its accurate too. what is special, is 1000 yards from an AR platform, with potential to 1300 yards. Using a 20″ barrel for a Valkyrie reduces muzzle velocity greatly and therefore its reason for being. Like putting a 16″ barrel on a 300 blackout, it goes against its primary purpose. The Valkyrie, with a 24″ barrel from an AR platform is something to behold, its long range target capabilities are still being explored. with a trajectory of the 6.5 Creedmoore, and half the recoil, this cartridge is amazing. I am still exploring the handload potential, and so fsr, its mind blowing. Come on Sierra, lets get that rumored 100 gr SMK on the market!

    Reply

  • John

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    Do you need a specially chambered barrel or is it totally 5.56 compatible?

    Reply

    • VieteranGunsmith

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      I would say because this cartridge is based on the 6.8 case necked down to .224, you should have a specifically chambered barrel to safely shoot this caliber.

      Reply

    • Tony

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      John,
      You can use your existing lower. However, you will need a upper chambered in 224. If you, like me, are in a Budget, check palmetto State armory. They have excellent complete uppers. There is an excellent review of it at http://www.pewpewtactical.com

      Reply

  • Karl

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    $4,000 for a 20″ barreled rifle..hmm perhaps for a military or police sniper team or some buddy of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or as the only rifle one would own.I have to wonder whether a 30Win with a 22 caliber sabot wouldn’t do the same and at a much lower cost??, or for that matter a 22-250 or 220 Swift??Not trying to rain on your parade regards interesting developments.No criticism re Leupold ,they’ve been good for me and some[at least]are still made state side.
    If I were going to get an AR[obviously not in this Marxist paradise of New York State,I’d get one in a piston version in 7.62×39 or 358Winchester.Oh and by the way willa left hand ejection and 14.5″l.o.p and a flash suppressor[glaucoma/cataracts]

    Reply

    • Lance

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      You can still buy and build AR platform carbines/rifles in NY, you just need to pin the magazine and reload by breaking the action open. Building a Valkyrie now with a Proof Research 22″ barrel. Barrel arrives in a week or so. Looking forward to running it at the range.

      Reply

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