Since its inception at the 2018 SHOT Show, the Federal Premium 224 Valkyrie has quickly become a fan favorite among long-range shooters. Following on the heels of the 22 Nosler, the Valkyrie proved that a .22-caliber centerfire could be consistently accurate beyond 1,000 yards, with supersonic velocities a reality past 1,300 yards. Better yet, the 224 Valkyrie can be housed in the lighter AR-15 platform, whereas the typical go-long cartridges, like the .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor, require the bulkier and heavier-recoiling AR-10 platform.
Based on a shortened 6.8 SPC case with a 30-degree shoulder, Federal originally released the 224 Valkyrie in 60-, 75- and 90-grain variants, each of which provide excellent downrange ballistics but little recoil. Since then, Federal and Hornady have introduced different bullet and load offerings to cover a smattering of applications, from competition to big game and predator hunting. Whether you’re looking to ring steel at 1,200 yards or thin out a herd of pesky vermin, there’s plenty of ammunition selections to choose from. Here’s a look at five of the best new loads for the 224 Valkyrie.
Federal Premium Gold Medal Berger 80.5-grain OTM
Featuring the 80.5-grain Berger Hybrid bullet, Federal’s new Gold Medal load is the stuff precision-rifle shooters dream about. Leaving the muzzle at 2,925 fps, the 80.5-grain bullet has proven itself time and again on the competitive circuit, with inherent accuracy and outstanding long-range ballistics. It helps that the bullet was specifically designed by Berger for competitive applications and the AR platform, while the combination with Federal’s tight loading specifications and Gold Medal match primers makes for a perfect marriage between bullet and load.
As a result, the Gold Medal Berger provides the kind of repeatable long-range accuracy you’d typically get from the best custom loads. Featuring an open tip and boattail design, the bullet offers shooters a high ballistic coefficient with less wind drift and drop, everything you’d want for the 1,000-yard shot. Best of all, the Gold Medal Berger was built for the AR platform, so it functions flawlessly in magazines and gas-operated systems.
Federal Premium Barnes 78-grain TSX
At 78 grains, the Barnes Triple-Shock X (TSX) bullet is considered to be one of the most well-constructed, lethal rounds on the planet. With an impressive weight retention of nearly 100 percent on living flesh, the bullet has proven itself in hunting and defensive scenarios alike. The bullet features a deep hollow-point tip and grooved bullet shank for devastation expansion and improved accuracy, while the one-piece copper construction makes it virtually indestructible.
It’s a perfect pairing for Federal and the 224 Valkyrie, since it gives hunters a viable big-game option. Leaving the muzzle at 2,850 fps with 1400 foot-pounds of energy, the load is a legitimate selection for small- and medium-sized game or for home-defense use.
Hornady Black 75-grain BTHP
Black guns matter, which is why Hornady introduced the Black line of ammunition. Optimized to run in the AR platform, Black ammunition utilizes high-quality components, from cases to primers and propellants, that allow it to function well in virtually any firearm. One of the newest additions to the Black family is the 75-grain BTHP in 224 Valkyrie, which produces a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps with roughly 1,500 foot-pounds of energy. Ideally suited for target or match applications, the 75-grain Black loading delivers consistent accuracy and function from the AR platform with minimal recoil.
Likewise, the 75-grain boat-tail design is an ideal fit for the 224 Valkyrie, giving shooters plenty of opportunity to slap steel out to 1,000 yards with consistency. With more velocity and flatter trajectories to conquer extreme distances, the 224 also gives current fans of the .223 Rem. an excuse to add one more AR-15 to their collection.
Hornady ELD Match 88-grain
Hornady’s match-grade 224 Valkyrie load features an 88-grain ELD Match bullet with a polymer tip that, unlike standard polymer-tipped ammo, won’t melt in flight at extreme velocities. For long-range shooters, this means the ELD bullet provides greater accuracy past 400 yards. For this reason, the 88-grain ELD has quickly become a favorite among competition shooters, especially when making the all-important 1,000-yard shot. At a recent shooting event in Utah, several of us had the opportunity to slap steel at 1,000 yards with ARs chambered in both .223 Rem., with standard OTM ammo, and the 224 Valkyrie, with Hornady’s 88-grain ELD Match bullet.
The difference in performance at that distance between the .223 Rem. and 224 Valkyrie is remarkable: the 224 requires substantially less adjustment for elevation or windage, something that played a huge role as winds gusted up to 15 mph. Hits on steel came much more frequently with the 224 Valkyrie, and even at close range less holdover meant less room for error.
Hornady Varmint Express 60-grain V-Max
There’s no question Hornady’s V-Max bullet is one of the greatest small-game and varmint projectiles on the face of the planet. Until recently, there just wasn’t a home for it in the 224 Valkyrie. That all changed with Hornady’s introduction of the 60-grain Varmint Express load, which sends a V-Max bullet at a blistering 3,300 fps from the muzzle with 1,451 foot-pounds of energy.
The effective result is that nearly every coyote hunter’s lethal range just increased by at least 100 yards, while even close-range shots require less adjustment. Because of the polymer tip, V-Max bullets deliver match accuracy at distances out to 400 yards and offer shooters relatively high BCs. It’s not the bullet for the 1,200-yard shot on steel, per se, but it is the perfect option for running targets at 350 yards.