Field Test: The .224 Valkyrie On Coyotes

The .224 Valkyrie is young, the development on it has been massive and the results when taken into the field say this is the advanced cartridge to watch this coming year.

Field Test: The .224 Valkyrie On Coyotes

The .224 Valkyrie is young, the development on it has been massive and the results when taken into the field say this is the advanced cartridge to watch this coming year. (Photo: L.P. Brezny)

When the .224 Valkyrie was introduced almost three years ago, the first impression at the news of the new round by many shooters was, “What is this and why is it being offered at all?”

Well, my fellow fur takers, with the new cartridge well into its second full year of field application by this writer I can say clearly to my way of thinking this new round has begun to find a home among the grand American list of hunting cartridges, and for some very good reasons.

One of the major elements surrounding any new cartridge is justifying its place among the true greats in ordinance development. Without question, we have seen one pile of cartridges go the way of the buffalo during the past decade. To my way of thinking, it is largely due to far too many new loads being offered to the shooting public at almost the very same time. While many of them were quite good cartridge designs, they just fell off the grid, plain and simple.

In terms of exactly what the Valkyrie is as a new cartridge, it’s a .30 Remington/6.8 SPC parent case necked down to .224 caliber. Then it is paired to the AR-15 platform by way of a larger bolt face than the .223 Rem. Existing 6.8 SPC magazines work with the Valkyrie in an AR-15. Tack on a high quality 21-inch or so 1:7-inch twist barrel, and you’re home free with the Valkyrie as a field-ready fur-taking machine. My personal pair of Valkyrie rifles are a Satterlee Arms LLC turn-bolt custom and a Palmetto upper with Mossberg tactical lower matched as a very effective AR-15 platform.

Compare and Contrast

How exactly does the new cartridge stack up against the old standbys in fur-harvesting rounds?

Comparing a 55-grain .223 Remington and 90-grain Sierra MatchKing out of a .224 Valkyrie, at 1,000 yards the Valkyrie produces about six feet less drop. How about compared to a fast-twist barrel and heavy bullet in the .223 Remington? I have been there and done that and, yes, the fast-twist .223 Rem. adds range with heavy 70-grain bullets, but it’s still not even close to the overall speed and flexibility of the .224 Valkyrie. 

The end result is clear — the standard 55-grain .223 Remington drops a full 452.99 inches at 1,000 yards, while the 90-grain Sierra MatchKing in the Valkyrie drops 381.08 inches.

In terms of wind deflection, there is no comparison. The .223 Rem. 55-grain pill slides off 101.5 inches against a 10-mph full value wind, while the Valkyrie’s 90-grain Sierra MatchKing moves over 59.92 inches.  

Why the increase in bullet performance at long range? Even though the .224 Valkyrie is a small package, the bullets are state-of-the-art in terms of their ballistic coefficient rating (BC) and as such, the high BC bullets hold velocity well, move out of the pipe quickly and tend to return some flat out deadly results against targets. 

If you think you have the answer in terms of an old standard and ask, “What about the .22-250 Remington or even the .220 Swift?” Like the .223 Remington, those cartridges depend on lightweight bullets to do the deed when barreled in standard barrel types. You can duplicate the velocity of the aforementioned pair, and even run by them with the 60-grain Nosler bullet in the Valkyrie. 

The bottom line regardless of how you twist and turn the results, the .224 Valkyrie is in a hunting rifle, target rifle and varmint rifle class unto itself. Designed at first to up-gun the AR-15, the net effect in the field shows a totally different story. Now, the .224 Valkyrie is taking a place in the list of proper modern predator hunting rounds. 

If you still believe that there is not much of a place for this new cartridge among fur hunters, all I can say is that you may as well go back to the old .30-40 Krag or .25-35 Winchester, set arms and ammunition history aside and just go hunting. The name of the game is ballistic performance progress, and it is showing itself in spades in this case. 

The selection of effective .224 Valkyrie coyote rounds that cover both long range and high wind conditions, with both situations being confrontational to shooters, are the following: Federal’s 90-grain Fusion with a BC of 0.450 and Hornady’s 88-grain ELD-M with a very high BC of 0.545. Both are sold performers against warm targets.  

When shooting for zero or groups, those bullets produce one-hole accuracy in my turn-bolt Satterlee Arms LLC custom rifle, and solid 1/2 MOA accuracy in my home-built Palmetto Arms AR-15.

Currently by my count there are 11 factory loads by Federal and Hornady for the .224 Valkyrie. In terms of handloads, the practicable combinations of bullets and velocities are about endless. For ballistics simplification, much of my field work on warm targets is based on the 90-grain Fusion by Federal and the 88-grain ELD-Match loads offered by Hornady.

Field applications regarding coyote targets started in central South Dakota late in the 2018-19 season. When going afield, I teamed up was with my friend, Jim Smith, owner of Fur Quest Outdoors, a young company that turns out videos on YouTube regarding coyote hunts and guides those same video hunts at times. My second seasoned guide was Big John Willcuts. This combination of shooters was relevant as Jim and his partner record almost every shot sent down range at a coyote via camera, and evaluate it in terms of the animal’s reaction to the hit or the missed shot.  

From the first coyote shot by way of the .224 Valkyrie to the last, I have been impressed with the ability of the cartridge to go easy on pelts. Currently, fur prices are marketing at the rate they were at the about the 1980s here in the United States. A good male ’yote brings close to $100 on the market. Low pelt damage is a real concern to active dog hunters these days.  

When it was time for my bullets to meet warm targets, the first dog took a hit through both shoulders. The Hornady ELD-M entered by way of a pencil-sized hole and disintegrated in the animal’s body, leaving no exit wound whatsoever. A broadside vital shot with the Federal Fusion 90-grain bullet resulted in slipping a bullet between the first and second rib. This one did exit, leaving a hole about a half dollar size on the backside of the mid-body. 

According to Smith, a number of shooters who have turned to the .224 Valkyrie are having positive results while shooting a variety of handloaded and factory bullets. The heavyweight bullets retain their velocity at long range and hang together better after the hit, leaving something to sell the fur buyer at the end of the winter prime pelt season. If you want to go with lightweight bullets, I would stay with the 60-grain class of bullets based again on what I was seeing in terms of damage. 

Lighter bullets, however, are not as effective against stiff open country wind conditions such as those we encountered almost every day in western South Dakota. 

Today we are living at a time when centerfire rifle ballistics has hit an apex in development. To get much farther regarding performance will require some advanced designs that may not even include the metallic rifle cartridge. Bullet development has hit the top of the performance ladder, and cartridges such as the .224 Valkyrie illustrate that fact clearly.  

Leaving a rifle fast enough so as to out-gun a pile of other rounds, but not so fast that bullet jackets become separated or accuracy goes away, I predict the .224 Valkyrie is going to be around for a very long time. If there is one thing for certain in this business of cartridge review and evaluation, it is that there is always going to be change, and today that change is spelled “Valkyrie.” 

With a year on steel to 1,000 yards and plenty of time in the field, I cannot find a single thing as applied to the .224 Valkyrie that is not to like a great deal. Built and designed so well for ARs and to also press the cartridge into the turn-bolt rifle market, there is a model and design available to anyone who wants to make the move into this new hot rod of a predator gunning system.

As a side note, also be advised that the .224 Valkyrie is easily rebarreled with an existing rifle in .223 Remington, making the bolt gun possibilities almost endless until a raft of manufacturers get on board with turn-bolt rifles.  As such, I have been turning a Remington VS heavy barrel target/rat rifle into a .224 Valkyrie as I write these lines. The cost of this work is about a third the price of a new rifle, and she will retain a custom touch as well.  


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