The .224 Valkyrie Compared as a Hunting Cartridge

By Gary Zinn with Chuck Hawks


Federal .224 Valkyrie Cartridge
The .224 Valkyrie. Illustration courtesy of Federal Premium Ammunition.

The .224 Valkyrie cartridge, loaded with 90 grain Sierra MatchKing bullets, is being touted as equal to or better than the 6.5 Creedmoor for long range match shooting (Precision Rifle Series). To quote the Vista Outdoors Press Release, "it offers comparable performance to larger rounds like the 6.5mm Creedmoor, with roughly half the felt recoil and at a more economical price."

The .224 Valkyrie was designed primarily for use in AR-15 type autoloading rifles, although it can also be used in bolt actions. It is based on the 6.8mm SPC case necked-down to accept .224" diameter bullets and claimed to outperform the .223 Remington, .22 Nosler and 6.5mm Grendel.

I do not know enough about the intricacies of PRS shooting to judge how valid is the argument for the .224 Valkyrie. What prompted this little piece is the cartridge will surely be touted as the "Next Big Thing" for varmint and Class 2 game hunting. Federal Premium, which developed the cartridge, is already offering factory loaded ammunition with 60 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint and 90 grain Fusion bonded soft point hunting bullets.

What are the ballistics of these hunting loads, and how do they stack up against established and proven cartridges and loads? Here are some basic facts and relevant comparisons. Let's start by comparing the .224 Valkyrie to the very popular .22-250 Remington as a varmint cartridge. The following data for velocity, energy, trajectory and killing power score (KPS) is taken from 24" test barrels.

.224 Valkyrie - Federal factory load using 60 grain Nosler BT; BC .270, SD .171

  • Velocity: 3300 fps MV, 2930 fps at 100 yds., 2589 fps at 200 yds, 2273 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 1451 ft. lbs. ME, 1144 ft. lbs. at 100 yds, 892 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 688 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 1.5" MPBR = 235 yards (far zero at 204 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 7.7

.22-250 Rem. - Nosler reloading data using 60 grain Nosler BT; BC .270, SD .171

  • Velocity: 3500 fps MV, 3099 fps at 100 yds., 3742 fps at 200 yds., 2413 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 1632 ft. lbs. ME, 1280 ft. lbs. at 100 yds., 1002 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 776 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 1.5" MPBR = 249 yards (far zero at 216 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 8.7

The .22-250 shoots flatter and is more powerful than the .224, shooting identical bullets. Note that all 10 of the powders listed for the .22-250 in the Nosler Reloading Guide can drive a 60 grain Ballistic Tip bullet to at least 3500 fps MV and eight of the 10 can exceed this velocity by up to 112 fps. Nor is the .22-250 the highest performance .22 caliber varmint cartridge.

Next, let's compare the .224 Valkyrie factory load for deer and other Class 2 game to four larger caliber cartridges, using bullets with sectional densities very close to that of the 90 grain .224 bullet. Once again, the comparison velocities are easily attainable with several powders.

.224 Valkyrie - Federal Fusion 90 grain factory load; BC .450, SD .256

  • Velocity: 2700 fps MV, 2503 fps at 200 yds., 2314 fps at 200 yds., 2133 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 1457 ft. lbs. ME, 1252 ft. lbs. at 100 yds., 1070 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 909 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 3" MPBR = 267 yards (far zero at 227 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 12.6, 250 yards = 10.0

.243 Winchester - Speer reloading data using 105 grain Spitzer SP; BC .424, SD .254

  • Velocity: 2900 fps MV, 2675 fps at 100 yds., 2467 fps at 200 yds., 2269 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 1961 ft. lbs. ME, 1668 ft. lbs at 100 yds., 1419 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 1200 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 3" MPBR = 284 yards (far zero at 242 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 19.7, 250 yards = 15.4

.25-06 Remington - Hornady reloading data using 117 grain Hornady SST; BC .390, SD .259

  • Velocity: 3200 fps MV, 2938 fps at 100 yds., 2697 fps at 200 yds., 2470 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 2660 ft. lbs. ME, 2243 ft. lbs. at 100 yds., 1890 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 1585 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 3" MPBR = 307 yards (far zero at 262 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 30.3, 250 yards = 23.5

6.5mm Grendel - Hornady reloading data using 123 grain Hornady SST; BC .510, SD .252

  • Velocity: 2450 fps MV, 2283 fps at 100 yds., 2125 fps at 200 yds., 1974 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 1639 ft. lbs. ME, 1424 ft. lbs. at 100 yds., 1233 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 1064 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 3" MPBR = 246 yards (far zero at 209 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 19.6, 250 yards = 15.8

6.5mm Creedmoor - Hornady reloading data using 123 grain Hornady SST; BC .510, SD .252

  • Velocity: 2900 fps MV, 2712 fps at 100 yds., 2537 fps at 200 yds., 2369 fps at 300 yds.
  • Energy: 2297 ft. lbs. ME, 2009 ft. lbs. at 100 yds., 1758 ft. lbs. at 200 yds., 1533 ft. lbs. at 300 yds.
  • Trajectory: +/- 3" MPBR = 289 yards (far zero at 246 yards)
  • KPS: 100 yards = 27.8, 250 yards = 22.7

As these comparisons clearly show, like all .22 caliber cartridges the .224 Valkyrie is a very poor choice for hunting Class 2 game. It is just barely adequate for hunting deer at 100 yards. (The minimum KPS is 12.5 for deer-sized game.)

The .224 Valkyrie would generally be inadequate for deer and pronghorn antelope beyond 100 yards and inadequate for larger or tougher Class 2 game at any range. Even the 6.5mm Grendel, also designed for use in AR-15 type rifles and generally inferior to other 6.5mm cartridges, is clearly superior to the .224 Valkyrie at all ranges. Practically any common Class 2 game cartridge from .24 caliber on up would be a preferable deer cartridge.

Conclusion

The .224 Valkyrie may have some utility for PRS match shooting, but it is not a world beater as a varmint cartridge and it sucks as a deer and pronghorn hunting cartridge, even from a 24" test barrel. Unfortunately, most AR-15 type rifles sport much shorter barrels (20" or less) that significantly degrade its already inferior performance as a hunting cartridge.

Note: This article is mirrored on the Rifle Cartridge Comparisons index page.




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