.224 Valkyrie [Complete Guide]: Specs, Ammo, & Guns

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Every year there’s a new wonder cartridge that’s going to let us shoot further, faster, flatter or with more force.  

PSA .224 Valkyrie Bolt
PSA .224 Valkyrie Bolt

The current flavor of the month is the .224 Valkyrie from Federal that’s been in the works for quite some time.

I’ve been hearing rumors and mutterings all over the place about what these new magic bullets are supposed to be able to do…

hype train
The Hype Train stops for no one.

What did I find out?

Well, you’re just gonna have to keep reading, but I’ll give you a hint: I was impressed.

Let’s talk about why.

Table of Contents

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What The Heck is .224 Valkyrie?

The .224 Valkyrie started out in life as a .30 Remington/6.8 SPC case.  It’s basically a necked down 6.8 SPC with a .22-caliber bullet, in this case, a long and skinny .224-diameter bullet that has a high ballistic coefficient.  We’ll talk more about what that means in a second.

5.56, .300 BLK, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC
5.56, .300 BLK, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC for comparison.

The important thing to note here is that you have a bullet and casing that’s pretty similar to your .223/5.56 rounds (same bullet diameter, actually), but with a lot more *oomph*.  For those of you playing along at home, that means that with a new bolt and a new barrel, your regular ole AR-15 can run .224 without a problem.

You can even use the same magazines, although I would suggest function testing them to make sure everything feeds okay first after a couple rounds.

90 gr American Eagle .224 Gold Medal Match
90 gr American Eagle .224 Gold Medal Match in 6.8 SPC Mag

I’ve heard of folks having problems getting .224 to feed reliably from metal GI mags. STANAG mags are great, but most of us have a few dozen packing peanuts PMAGS laying around anyway so it shouldn’t be too big of an issue.  You just won’t be able to load the mags to their usual capacity.

6.8 SPC mags and bolts should work just fine.

The overall goal here is to get a round that is ballistically more kin to 6mm long-action cartridges you’d normally need an AR-10 for but in an AR-15 lower, which is cheaper.  You can read more about the differences between the two in our AR-10 vs AR-15 Guide.

AR-10
AR-10’s like this one are more expensive to buy and more expensive to feed than their AR-15 brethren.

There’s a sizeable amount of ballistic witchcraft that goes into that, and we’ll also touch on that in a minute.  If you’re just looking for the immediate rundown, the gist of it is the bullet goes really, really fast, and maintains that speed really, really well.

How Does the .224 Valkyrie Work? 

Warning…nerdy stuff…skip if you don’t like numbers.

PSA .224 Valkyrie At High Bar Homestead
PSA .224 Valkyrie At High Bar Homestead

The .224’s real party trick is its ability to stay super-sonic (faster than the speed of sound) at longer distances than most (if not all) other short-action cartridges, and even a few big boy cartridges.  This is important because while a bullet remains supersonic, we can use our ballistics calculators or even just some quick mental math (if you’re better at math than I am) to get some very predictable accuracy adjustments which will allow us to hit our target on the first shot.

You can, of course, estimate a bullet’s point of impact at ranges beyond where it drops below super-sonic speeds, but your estimations will be less accurate.  Here’s where the most common bullet I use in my AR-15 stacks up against the Valkyrie at 1,000 yards according to my ballistics calculator.

BulletVelocity at 1,000 Yards
.223 Remington 77-grain Matchking960fps
.224 Valkyrie 90-grain Matchking1,419fps

The speed of sound at my elevation and current temperatures is about 1,118 feet per second, so while the 77gr Matchking .223 loses its supersonic status before it hits the 1,000 yard mark, the Valkyrie maintains that speed out for a few hundred extra yards, nearly making to the 1,300 yard line while still moving faster than the speed of sound.

This gives you more distance where you can accurately predict bullet impacts.

The shift from supersonic to subsonic speed makes a bullet behave more unpredictably, and at longer ranges where every little thing adds up to dramatically affect your accuracy, this can make a huge difference.

A faster bullet also, obviously, reaches its target faster.  This, of course, means you have to compensate less to hit a moving target.  Somewhat less obviously, a faster bullet also has less time to be affected by gravity and wind.  This means less compensating for bullet drop and an easier time compensating for a crosswind.

For example, say you have a 10mph crosswind blowing directly from left to right across the path of your bullet. How much is that wind going to push that bullet to the right?  

BulletWind Drift at 1,000 Yards
.223 Remington 77-grain Matchking75.35 inches
.224 Valkyrie 90-grain Matchking57.51 inches
                                                                                  

As you can see, the Valkyrie has noticeably less drift, which means you have far less adjusting to do to get your shots to land where you want, and you’ll have less of a windage hold left or right of your target if you’re using a mil-dot reticle.                 

Finally, a faster moving, larger projectile is going to carry more energy into the target, which is important for hunters and other folks like military and law enforcement who need better terminal ballistics at range.

Deer hunted with 6.5 creedmoor
If you’re a hunter, terminal ballistics are going to be more important than if you were just shooting at paper or steel targets.

If you’re punching holes in paper, you can skip this section.  

So, going back to our 77gr Matchking .223 bullet, how does the Valkyrie stack up when it comes to energy down range?

BulletFoot Pounds of Energy at 1,000 Yards
.223 Remington 77-grain Matchking158 ft-lbs
.224 Valkyrie 90-grain Matchking402 ft-lbs

Looking at this data, and assuming my math is right (it is, I used a calculator), we have a heavier bullet impacting with over twice the energy at 1,000 yards.

For hunters, that means long-range shots on medium game aren’t just possible, they’re relatively easy.

Basically, the Valkyrie makes absolute mincemeat out of the .223 in every category.

The Really, Really Nerdy Stuff 

beat-it-nerd
Look, I promise this is important.

The reason the .224 Valkyrie has such superior ballistics is because of something called ballistic coefficient.  

Ballistic coefficient is a function of the bullet’s weight, cross-section, and coefficient of form and tells you how well the bullet fights air resistance in flight.  It is inversely proportional to negative acceleration, meaning a high number indicates a low negative acceleration, and in turn higher velocity at longer ranges

This is because the drag due to wind resistance facing the projectile is small compared to its mass.

If you’re shooting bullets in space or somewhere else without air, this is irrelevant.

You can read more about all this here, but the basics are:  SD/i=BC  where SD is the sectional density (Mass/cross-sectional area) and is your bullets coefficient of form.

All of this means that a bullet with more sectional density compared to its coefficient will have a higher ballistic coefficient, which means it has an easier time fighting the drag from air resistance.

The Simple Explanation

Bigger numbers are better. The .224 Valkyrie 90gr Matchking has a ballistic coefficient that’s a whopping .563 compared to the paltry .372 of it’s nearest .223 competition.  

That means you get a bullet that, ballistically, is more similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor with a 143-gr. Hornady ELD-X bullet has a ballistic coefficient of .623.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor
This much harder-recoiling and more expensive cartridge is very similar to the .224 Valkyrie.

Which is what I told you at the beginning of the article, but now you have the numbers behind it (that you can easily verify with your own ballistics calculator) so you know I’m not talking out of my ass when I say that this new cartridge from Federal kicks a lot of ass.

Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor
Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor – Also doable with the much cheaper .224 Valkyrie (Image courtesy of Gavin Gear from Ultimate Reloader)

Buying .224 Valkyrie Ammo

If you’re looking to buy .224 Valkyrie and get in on this new cartridge, you probably have a few questions.

Federal American Eagle 90 gr vs 75 gr .224 Valkyrie
Federal American Eagle 90 gr vs 75 gr .224 Valkyrie

First, is it worth it?  

For me, I like the idea of being able to comfortably stretch an AR-15 caliber out to 1,000 yards.  I know several hunters that are excited about being able to take larger game like whitetail more reliably with an AR-15.

If you don’t hunt and you don’t reach out past 500 yards ever, I’d say maybe wait awhile on this one.  Sleep on it and maybe save your money.

If you shoot long range or want to start, absolutely get on this.  You’re not going to find a cartridge with this kind of ballistic performance any cheaper or more accessible.  It’s a light recoiling bullet backed by one of the biggest and most reliable names in the industry.

Which leads to the next question: what options has Federal put out there?

Our current .224 Valkyrie offerings are as follows: The 90-grain Gold Medal brand with a Sierra Matchking bullet that we’ve been discussing, a 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, a 75-grain American Eagle Total Metal Jacket, and a 90-grain Fusion MSR. There will also be a 100-grain bullet out shortly, but details on that are sketchy, so I’m sticking with what’s on the shelf right now.

This gives you a number of options, depending on your needs.  First, we have the 90-grain Gold Medal option that is optimized to give you the optimal performance in a target shooting environment, whether you’re competing or just trying to better your long-range skillset.

gold medal matchking .224
Gold Medal Matchking .224

Next, we have the 60-Grain Nosler Ballistic Tip which has a thin-jacketed, polymer-tipped projectile designed for maximum expansion and fragmentation on impact, making it perfect for clean, efficient terminal impacts against small game such as varmints and predators like coyotes.

The third option on the go is the 75-grain American Eagle Total Metal Jacket, which is a full metal jacketed round that is going to be the go-to option for plinking at the range and training.  You still get the superior .224 ballistics but in a slightly cheaper package.  Think of it like you would a 55-grain FMJ .223.5.56. Basic, but will get the job done.

Finally, we have the 90-grain Fusion MSR.  Federal’s Fusion MSR line is known for its accuracy and excellent terminal ballistics at longer ranges, but the new .224 offering gives you all the terminal ballistics of larger calibers, with about half the recoil.  This is the option I’d recommend for law enforcement or hunters looking to bring down Whitetail-sized game.

Building a Rifle in .224 Valkyrie

Of course, all this fancy ballistics talk is useless if you don’t have a gun that can take advantage of this new cartridge, so let’s talk about how to get into the world of the .224 Valkyrie.

The easiest thing to do would be to just go out and grab an upper.  Everybody seems to be jumping on the .224 Valkyrie train, so feel free to go with your favorite manufacturer.  I’ve had luck with the PSA upper below, so if you can find those when they’re in stock, go for it.

PSA 20" .224 Valkyrie Upper
PSA 20″ .224 Valkyrie Upper
Best Long-Range AR-15 Budget Upper
PSA .224 Valkyrie Upper

PSA .224 Valkyrie Upper

Prices accurate at time of writing

*Update* Check out our full review where we shoot it out to 1250 yards…and videos of fast hits at 600.

PSA .224 Valkyrie At High Bar Homestead
PSA .224 Valkyrie At High Bar Homestead

The other way to get into .224 Valkyrie is, like I said earlier, to just swap out your bolt and barrel.  This is an awesome option for builders and those who are comfortable tearing down an existing upper, but I know not everybody is cool with that.

If you like, check out our guide to building an AR-15 upper for everything you’ll need to swap parts in and out.

If you’re going this route, I’d recommend trying established companies like Faxon or Ballistic Advantage or one of the carbon fiber barrel options I’ve talked about before.

Best .224 Valk BCG
Stag 6.8SPC/.224 Valkyrie Full Auto Bolt Carrier Assembly

Stag 6.8SPC/.224 Valkyrie Full Auto Bolt Carrier Assembly

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re swapping bolts, companies like Stag make a complete BCG like the one above, and JP enterprises makes just a bolt assembly you can swap onto an existing BCG.  Again, a 6.8 SPC bolt will work just fine…they’re the same case, just a different length.

Best .224 Valk Bolt
JP Enterprises Enhanced Bolt - 6.8 SPC II/.224 Valkyrie

JP Enterprises Enhanced Bolt - 6.8 SPC II/.224 Valkyrie

Prices accurate at time of writing

Parting Shots

That about does it for this one.  

PSA Valkyrie .224 (Complete)
PSA Valkyrie .224 (Complete)

The .224 Valkyrie is an awesome little cartridge that shows a lot of promise, and its backing by one of the biggest names in the industry, Federal, means that it’s here to stay.  I for one am looking forward to using this round for years to come.

I’m impressed with the ballistics, and my wallet is happy that I can not only switch to .224 and still use a lot of my old gear, but also that I can leave the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .270 in the safe more often when I want to hit targets past 800 yards or so.

What do you think of the .224 Valkyrie?

Readers' Ratings

4.9/5 (344)

Your Rating?

Have any other questions I didn’t answer?  Let me hear from you in the comments!  Or check out our favorite guns & gear in Editor’s Picks.

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John Doe
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John Doe

My experience with the .224 Valkyrie: Interest: Long range target shooting. Background: I’m new to the shooting sports, having purchased my first firearm at the age of 44. At 48, I’ve shot less than 4,000 rounds total in my lifetime. The spent cases that I collect from my shooting sessions don’t even fill a 5 gallon bucket half full. I get the opportunity to shoot maybe twice per year. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Summary? I’m an amateur with limited shooting experience and less than expert skill. Firearm: A CMMG Mk4 .224 Valkyrie, 24″ barrel, 1:7 twist.… Read more »

Casual Observer
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Casual Observer

How does the 224 Valk compare to the 6.5 Grendel in terms of ballistics?

MagicDave
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MagicDave

I too was wondering the very same thing. Also curious about throat erosion common with elevated velocities. Barrel life is an important consideration. I am a hunter so long range shots aren’t of much importance. Low recoil with enough ft.lbs. to instantly drop a whitetail. I can put the bullet where it needs to go. The bullet needs to have enough energy to do the job. I know the 6.5 Grendel works very well on a 160 lb. Whitetail.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

Just FYI PSA has Valkyrie uppers with 200rds of the federal fusion on sale for $449.
I just ordered one

David, PPT Editor
Admin

Good find! I was going to throw that on our daily deals today but I forgot with the huge sale over at Brownells. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll add it now for people!

Jeff D
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Jeff D

Why everyone wants to compare these AR-platform wonder cartridges to 5.56 (and each other) WITHOUT discussing short barrel performance is beyond me. Listen.. if we are sticking to 18″, 20″, 22″, 24″ barrels.. and only talking long range, fine. but if you want to compare to .223 & 5.56 or even .300 etc, you HAVE to discuss short barrel performance. 16″ 14.5″ 12.5″ … A lot of AR-15 AR-10 consumers want an ass-kicking round for close quarters, but one that can also reach out and touch something at distance, with effective terminal ballistics. That allows the AR to hunt, defend,… Read more »

Jesse Borgelt
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Jesse Borgelt

Stay away from airborne arms. I’m stuck with my piece of shit Airborne Arms “premium” pathfinder barrel . I’ve requested warranty work because they have a 1 MOA guarantee. The best group I’ve ever gotten in 650 rounds is not any better then a 4 year old could get with a sling shot. Its a ridiculous piece of junk and the owner Ryan Morgan is a bigger piece of junk. He is claiming that I abused my barrel and that he is voiding the warranty without being able to provide any evidence of this “abuse.” Beware, if you have a… Read more »