224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P8: Barrel Break In, First Groups, First Loads

Breaking in the barrel for a rifle you’ve built is a truly unique and exciting experience. Will the gun blow up? Will the rifle shoot well? Will my new trigger meet my expectations? It’s like sea trials for a new ship, but with a precision instrument. As I was finishing my Remington 700 224 Valkyrie build, I was eagerly anticipating the first groups. It actually took longer to finish the rifle than first expected due to additional shipping delays (didn’t realize I was missing a bolt stop/spring, etc). Finally the day came! Rifle complete, scope installed, and 224 Valkyrie cartridges loaded. It was time to pull the trigger!

Series navigation:

  1. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P1: Planning the Build
  2. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P2: Barrel Prep and Alignment In the Lathe
  3. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P3: Chambering and Machining
  4. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P4: Muzzle Threading and Barrel Install
  5. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P5: Custom Thread Protector
  6. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P6: KRG Bravo Stock, TriggerTech Special Trigger
  7. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P7: AICS Magazine Conversion
  8. 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 Build P8: Barrel Break In, First Groups, First Loads (you are here)
  9. Athlon Midas TAC 6-24x50mm HD Riflescope: In-Depth Overview

First Loads

For this break-in, I used the following load:

  1. Starline 224 Valkyrie cases (new)
  2. Federal 205 small rifle primers
  3. 25.5 grains Hodgdon Varget (25.8 is max, I started at 25.0)
  4. 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

When I chronographed this load, and got a result of 2947 fps average, and an SD of 12.7 for 3 shots. (I would normally shoot 5, but had run out of ammunition 🙂 ).

Reloading Gear

For the first loads, I decided to use the following:

  1. Forster Co-Ax press (very versatile, no need for special priming parts or shellholders)
  2. RCBS 224 Valkyrie sizer die (used only to run expander ball through case necks)
  3. FORSTER 224 Valkyrie Ultra Micrometer Seater
  4. L.E. Wilson 224 VAlkyrie Case Gauge

Above: The Forster Co-Ax single-stage press with Inline Fabrication Ultra-Mount.

Barrel Break-In

The guys over at Benchmark suggested pretty much the same barrel break-in method that Jesse Redell from R-Bros uses:

  1. Fire 1 shot, clean
  2. Fire 1 shot, clean
  3. Fire 1 shot, clean
  4. Fire 5 shots, clean
  5. Fire 5 shots, clean
  6. Fire 5 shots, clean
  7. Fire 5 shots, clean
  8. Fire 5 shots, clean

Or something close to that! It’s tedious, but worth the effort when you have a hand-lapped match-grade barrel to break in.

When shooting groups, I like to shoot prone- as my shooting mentor Jim Findlay used to say: “The ground doesn’t move”.

And during break-in, the best 5-shot group shot at 100 yards measured just 0.377″. This was the last group I shot that day, and I think the shrinking groups over the course of shooting had more to do with me practicing (and getting used to the rifle) than with the accuracy of the rifle. Nonetheless, this rifle is a shooter, and with more load development and practice, I think it will  consistently shoot great groups.

Sharing the Excitement

I’ve been so excited about 224 Valkyrie and this rifle, I have been having everyone that visits shoot it. So when my friend Guy Miner from GMM Defense came by, I had to get him behind this custom Remington 700!

Guy really liked the rifle, and the mild recoil of the 224 Valkyrie (compared to 30-06 and 308 Wincester which he shoots regularly). I even had Guy shoot a canister of Tannerite, just for fun!

What’s Next

Now that this rifle us “up and running” it’s time to start looking at different components, and doing some load development. At the same time, I’ll be building the AR-15 that will complement this bolt-action rifle. And I’ll start shooting at 600+ yards as well. My goal is to regularly shoot to at least 1000 yards with 224 Valkyrie, since that’s what it’s been designed for. Too much fun! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss anything!


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