224 Valkyrie: Should You Buy One?

The name “Valkyrie” comes from Norse mythology and means “chooser of the slain.” Valkyries were maidens who served the god Odin in his rule over Asgard. Odin sent Valkyries to battlefields to choose those who were worthy to go to an afterlife in his magnificent palace called Valhalla.
The 224 Valkyrie is designed for long-range shooting, whether it be steel or paper targets, varmints, or small- to the medium-sized big game. It is developed to mimic the long-range ballistics of the popular 6.5 Creedmoor, but in a smaller package, with the attendant reduction in recoil and implementation costs. It will fit comfortably in AR-15 rifles, although Federal points out it are also extremely effective in bolt actions.
The 224 Valkyrie case is based on the 6.8 Remington SPC, necked down to .22 caliber. The 224 Valkyrie’s body diameter is the same as the 6.8 SPC’s, so 6.8 SPC magazines are required for the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie’s shoulder is pushed back somewhat to give bullets plenty of “ogive space” for long, skinny projectiles. The rim of the 224 Valkyrie is the same diameter (0.422 inches) as the 6.8 SPCs.

224 Valkyrie: History

Interest in the long-range precision shooting has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the past few years. At the same time, the popularity of AR-15-style rifles has dramatically increased among American hunters and shooters as well. Not surprisingly, the big ammunition and rifle manufacturers have developed some new products to satisfy this emerging new market desiring long-range precision capabilities in an AR-15 platform.

Nosler rolled out their proprietary 22 Nosler cartridge back in 2017 to improve upon the performance of the old.223 Remington cartridge, especially at extended range. The Nosler cartridge has a greater case capacity than the .223 Remington and therefore offered a substantial increase in performance compared to the older Remington cartridge while still functioning reliably in a standard AR-15 style rifle.

The designers at Nosler were largely successful in achieving their goals. Even so, the initial 22 Nosler offerings used bullets that topped out around the 77-grain mark, which is also about as heavy as you’ll commonly find bullets used in .223 Remington factory ammo.

So, while the 22 Nosler could shoot those bullets 200-300 fps faster than the .223 (which isn’t anything), that was the extent of the performance improvements of the 22 Nosler vs the 223 Remington at first.

Well, Federal decided to build another cartridge with a similar goal as the 22 Nosler.

However, they set out from the very beginning to build a cartridge that was also capable of using longer, heavier, and more aerodynamic bullets. They formally introduced the resulting 224 Valkyrie cartridge to the world in 2018 about a year after Nosler released the 22 Nosler.

The 224 Valkyrie uses a modified 6.8 Remington SPC case (which is itself a modified .30 Remington case) necked down to .22 caliber. Most importantly though, the cartridge was specifically designed around a 90-grain Sierra MatchKing bullet (SMK) from the start. For that reason, most rifles chambered in .224 Valkyrie have a pretty fast 1:7″ rifling twist rate.

One of Federal’s initial 224 Valkyrie loads fired that 90 grain, high BC projectile at 2,700 fps, which was unheard of performance from a .22 caliber rifle cartridge that would fit in an AR-15 platform at the time.

Compared to other cartridges commonly used in AR-15 style rifles, those long, sleek Sierra MatchKing bullets retain energy exceptionally well, are very resistant to wind drift, and have a very flat trajectory at long range. Indeed, Federal advertises that load as being supersonic out past 1,300 yards and touts the cartridge as an excellent option for engaging targets above 1,000 yards.

To top it all off, the cartridge does all of those things while generating very little recoil.

Federal also really helped out their marketing and promotional efforts with their name choice for the cartridge. Valkyries are female figures in Norse mythology that choose who will die in battle and then take their chosen ones to Valhalla.

As you can probably imagine, there’s been a bunch of buzz around the 224 Valkyrie cartridge from the very start and it does offer some pretty good benefits to hunters and shooters.

For instance, the cartridge is an interesting choice for Precision Rifle Series competition (PRS) shooting, particularly in the gas gun series.

During PRS competitions, shooters must quickly engage targets at a variety of ranges out past 1,000 yards. The competition is timed, so first-round hits are ideal, but there’s more to performing well at these competitions than just shooting small-shot groups. The ability to make rapid follow-up shots and quickly correct for misses is also extremely important, especially in windy conditions.

Shooters also cannot use bullets larger than .308″ or with a velocity higher than 3,200 feet per second. For those reasons, high velocity (up to a point), flat shooting, medium bore, and mild recoiling cartridges with a long barrel life have a big advantage in these competitions.

Cartridges like the 6mm Creedmoor, 6mm Dasher, 6x47mm Lapua, 6XC, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5×47 Lapua all have substantial advantages over the 224 Valkyrie in terms of trajectory and resistance to wind drift. Not surprisingly, they’re all much more popular at PRS competitions.

Even so, the ability of the 224 Valkyrie to use those aerodynamic bullets with very minimal recoil (which can help facilitate a rapid follow-up shot) makes it a compelling choice for some shooters. This is especially true for those shooting in the gas gun series open division who prefer a .22 caliber cartridge.

While the 224 Valkyrie was designed primarily to offer improved performance at long range for shooters who want to use a .22 caliber cartridge in an AR-15, it does offer advantages to hunters as well.

For instance, in addition to manufacturing their Gold Medal line of ammunition featuring the aforementioned 90-grain Sierra MatchKing bullet, Federal Premium also offers a load in their Fusion MSR line loaded with a 90-grain Fusion Soft Point bullet. Though using a .22 caliber cartridge for hunting deer-sized games (especially with lighter bullets) is still a somewhat controversial subject, that 90-grain load is one of the better options out there.

Federal also manufactures a couple of varmint loads in the cartridge. These loads also offer a modest improvement in performance over the .223 Remington for predator and varmint hunting.

At this point, American Eagle, Federal ammunition, Hornady, and Underwood all manufacture 224 Valkyrie factory ammo. At the same time, CMMG, Diamondback, Mossberg, Radical Firearms, Stag Arms, and Savage Arms (among others) all currently produce rifles chambered in 224 Valkyrie. In particular, the Savage MSR 15 is the poster child for an AR-15-style rifle chambered in 224 Valkyrie.

224 Valkyrie vs 223

The 224 Valkyrie is capable of shooting heavier and more aerodynamic bullets than the 223 Remington. Therefore, the 224 Valkyrie has a flatter trajectory, less wind drift, and more retained energy than the 223 Remington at long range when using very high BC 90-grain bullets. 

That’s how the 224 Valkyrie compares to the .223 Remington in a nutshell. However, as we drill down into the details of their similarities and differences though, several factors emerge that are important to keep in mind. This is especially important when we throw the 22 Nosler into the mix as well.

223 vs 224 Valkyrie vs 22 Nosler

The three cartridges have several things in common. First, they all shoot .224″ bullets. Additionally, all three have the same SAAMI maximum pressure of 55,000. Finally, all three have the same maximum overall length of 2.26″, which means they’ll fit in an AR-15.

On the other hand, the .224 Valkyrie has a shorter case length than the .223 Remington and 22 Nosler, which helps explain why the .224 Valkyrie can shoot longer bullets than the other two but still has the same maximum overall length.

picture of 224 valkyrie vs 223
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