While my initial tests with 90 grain bullets had some problems, improved performance with this cartridge may be fixable.
by Joe Carlos
When the .224 Valkyrie was first introduced, I yawned as I didn’t get what it was good for. AR-15 gunners have already been successfully shooting 90 grain bullets at 600-1000 yards for over a decade and a half. With .223 Remington we simply seat the bullets out longer than magazine length in an appropriately-chambered rifle and single feed by hand. Competitors have been turning in good scores in Service Rifle, High Power, Mid-Range, Long Range, Palma, and F-Class using this technique. Recently, .22 Nosler gunners have been using the same long seating technique with 90 and 95 grain bullets and achieving higher velocities than either the .223 Remington or the .224 Valkyrie.
Gun writers, however, ignored these successes and gave the impression that absolutely everybody in the shooting community had been waiting with baited breath to be able to stuff 90 grain bullets into a magazine and then emptying that magazine as quickly as possible and out to distances of 1,300 yards. I am very much reminded of legendary Border Patrol officer Bill Jordan’s famous admonishment, “You can’t miss fast enough to win.” It appears to be true that one can reach that far with the Valkyrie depending on barrel length, the specifics of the powder charge, elevation of the range, etc. The same can be said of the older .223 Remington, though have never had anyone say they tried shooting it beyond 1,000 yards. Furthermore, where are all these ranges with safe backstops out to 1,300 yards? In another lifetime I spent nearly two decades as a firing member of the All Army Reserve Shooting Team. I shot all over the U.S. and a fair share of the rest of the world and can’t remember ever being on a rifle range that allowed shooting beyond 1,000 yards (or perhaps 1,000 meters in some countries). While there are some places open to civilians where one can safely engage targets beyond 1,000 yards but few places exist within a two hour ride for most of us.
Gun companies would have readers believe that the very act of buying one of their Valkyries will make the owner a successful long-range shooter. While it is important to long range shooting success that bullets arrive traveling faster than the speed of sound, that is only one of the important points. Also important is for the gun/ammo combination to be capable of shooting tight groups and may be the greatest challenge for the Valkyrie. Last, but certainly not least, the shooter must be capable of delivering a perfect shot on demand. Over and over again. On top of all that, the shooter must be able to notice changes in range conditions that will move the impact of the bullet from target center. It takes many, many years for most of us to develop these skills (some never do) and if the gun store salesman tries to convince you that buying a Valkyrie will allow you to shoot through varying range conditions, he either doesn’t know his business or isn’t being honest.
Meanwhile, gun writers kept publishing…
Read more in the August 2019 issue.