First Look: Federal Premium .224 Valkyrie

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posted on December 15, 2017
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The new Federal Premium .224 Valkyrie round is designed to push the limits of what's possible for a cartridge that still fits and feeds reliably from a standard-size AR-15. The new round is purpose-built to provide enhanced long-range performance, particularly when shooting beyond 1,000 yards.

The new round uses the 6.8 SPC as a parent case, with the case neck sized down to fit a .224-caliber bullet. Fired from a 24-inch barrel featuring a 1:7-inch rate of twist, engineers at Federal discovered that the new round provides enhanced velocity and energy at 1,000 yards and beyond when compared to other cartridges designed for the AR-15 platform.

"It beats the ballistics of all other MSR-15 cartridges, including the .22 Nosler, .223 Rem. and 6.5 Grendel," said Mike Holm, Federal Premium Centerfire Ammunition Global Product Lane Director. "Plus, it offers comparable performance to larger rounds like the 6.5 Creedmoor, with roughly half the felt recoil—and at a more economical price."

When fired from a 24-inch barrel with a 1:7-inch twist rate, the Federal Premium .224 Valkyrie round, loaded with a 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing projectile, produces a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps and maintains its high velocity when compared to other AR-15 cartridges. At 500 yards, velocity measures 1,950 fps. At 1,000 yards, velocity measures 1,359 fps, and the projectile remains supersonic past 1,300 yards, according to Federal Premium.

“The longer you can fly faster than the speed of sound, the more you can maximize the accuracy and ballistics the bullet is designed to provide,” said elite long-range shooter and Federal Premium brand ambassador Jim Gilliland. “Once a bullet falls into subsonic flight, it’s much harder to hit your target.

The ability of the .224 Valkyrie to maintain supersonic speeds past 1,300 yards also means that it requires less adjustment to stay on target. Federal Premium engineers found that, when compared to comparable modern-sporting-rifle cartridges, the Valkyrie projectile produced as much as 128 inches less drop and 69 inches less wind drift (measured in a 10-mph crosswind).

Part of the Federal Premium .224 Valkyrie's ability to produce these numbers has to do with the improved ballistic coefficient of the .224-caliber projectile. The 90-grain Sierra MatchKing projectile loaded in the .224 Valkyrie cartridge has a G1 ballistic coefficient of .563. For comparison, the 69-grain Sierra MatchKing projectile used in the company's .223 Rem. load features a BC of .301.

Another benefit of the new round is less felt recoil, allowing for much more comfortable shooting. During testing, Federal Premium performed free-recoil analysis on similar platforms compared to the .224 Valkyrie. Using a test rifle that weighed 9.64 pounds, the .224 Valkyrie produced a recoil impulse of 4.35 foot-pounds. For comparison, a similar-weight test rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, another popular long-range round, produced recoil energy measuring more than 10 pounds.

Starting in early 2018, four different ammo options will be available from Federal Premium in its new .224 Valkyrie lineup: 75-grain American Eagle TMJ, 90-grain Fusion MSR, 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip and 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing. Suggested retail prices on boxes of 20 rounds starts at $13.95.

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