The .224 Valkyrie Compared as a Hunting Cartridge
By Gary Zinn with Chuck Hawks
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
.22-250 Rem. - Nosler reloading data using 60 grain Nosler BT; BC .270, SD .171
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
.243 Winchester - Speer reloading data using 105 grain Spitzer SP; BC .424, SD .254
.25-06 Remington - Hornady reloading data using 117 grain Hornady SST; BC .390, SD .259
6.5mm Grendel - Hornady reloading data using 123 grain Hornady SST; BC .510, SD .252
6.5mm Creedmoor - Hornady reloading data using 123 grain Hornady SST; BC .510, SD .252
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.
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.
Copyright 2018 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.