There’s always someone out there trying to create a better widget. And there’s perhaps no other industry in which that occurs as frequently as the shooting industry. No matter what platform, someone is trying to create a better whiz-bang cartridge that performs better than what already exists. One of those recent developments is the .224 Valkyrie.
The .224 Valkyrie was created by Federal Ammunition in an attempt to provide superior performance to the 5.56mm NATO cartridge in the AR-15 platform. Based on the 6.8mm SPC case, the .224 Valkyrie features a slightly shortened case to allow it to use specially developed heavier .224”-diameter bullets. That allows the .224 Valkyrie to feature better long-range performance than the 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington.
The .224 Valkyrie’s closest competitor, .22 Nosler, featured a case the same diameter as 6.8 SPC but with a rebated .223 Remington-diameter rim and a case length the same as the .223 Remington, meaning that it couldn’t run the longer, more ballistically efficient bullets. Thus, while the .22 Nosler has struggled to gain acceptance, the .224 Valkyrie has become more popular with long-range shooters.
The performance of the .224 Valkyrie at long distances rivals even that of more established cartridges such as the 6.5 Grendel. The long, heavy .224” bullets feature less drop and less deflection from wind than the 6.5mm bullets of the Grendel.
With the larger case volume of the .224 Valkyrie, energy is superior to the 5.56mm NATO. But one disappointing aspect of the cartridge is that its performance isn’t head and shoulders above its older competitor. The .224 Valkyrie can push 62-grain bullets to 3,300 feet per second, 69-grain bullets to 3,200 feet per second, 75-grain bullets to 3,000 feet per second, and 90-grain bullet to 2,675 feet per second. The .223 Remington, on the other hand, can push similar bullets to 3,100, 3,100, 2,900, and 2,550 feet per second respectively, although the 90-grain bullets have to be loaded to longer than magazine length.
That results in energy levels of roughly 7-10% greater in the .224 Valkyrie, which might lead many shooters to wonder whether it’s worth investing in a different bolt, different barrel, more expensive brass, and specialized more expensive magazines for that small amount of extra performance. The cheapest .224 Valkyrie ammunition available costs 60 cents per round, nearly double that of the cheapest .223 Remington ammunition. Between those extra costs, and some early problems with factory ammunition that didn’t live up to its promise, the .224 Valkyrie has had some growing pains. But with the increased popularity of AR-15 cartridges that perform well at long ranges, it could still end up becoming quite popular.
If you already own an AR-15 chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO, you probably won’t see much of an advantage by switching to .224 Valkyrie. But if you have the need to shoot at 500+ yards and can afford the cost of ammunition, you might want to give .224 Valkyrie a look to see if it might suit your survival needs.