Do you ever get tired of shooting paper targets? I know I do! Sure, the engineer in me loves to shoot groups, analyze chronograph data, and “hone things in” – but there’s got to be a “purpose” for shooting, and my purpose extends well beyond punching holes in paper. And that’s where a good range trip can clear out your head. As I’ve been talking about recently, I’ve just completed two 224 Valkyrie rifle builds (the Remington 700 bolt gun, and an AR-15), and have put together an on-site 600 yard shooting range as well. This is the making of a great range trip- shooting both of these new rifles at the new 600 yard range. So I decided to give my friend Eric Peterson a call to see if he wanted to be a part of the fun!
Preparing for 600 Yards
Prior to shooting at 600 yards, I went through some load development for each rifle, and happened upon a load that both rifles shoot well. Here’s some targets from each rifle at 100 yards shooting this same load:
Remington 700 Bolt-Action 224 Valkyrie Rifle
This rifle has proven to shoot quite well, coming in at about 3/8″ grouping for 5 shots at 100 yards. I know with some additional load development, and more shooting practice this could likely be a 1/4″ gun. Here’s a picture of the target shot with the 70 grain RDF load that I used for this 600 yard shooting session:
AR-15 224 Valkyrie Rifle
This 224 Valkyrie AR-15 (build story coming soon) has the same barrel length and twist rate as the Remington 700 bolt gun (24″, 1:7 twist). I’ve found that it takes a lot more work to get an AR-15 to shoot tight groups- something I notice each time I switch 224 Valkyrie rifles. But with practice and the appropriate mindset, these AR-15 rifles can do real well! Here’s a group that I shot with the same load that we shot at 600 yards for this story:
Did you notice this load used new Starline 224 Valkyrie cases? I’m wondering what once-fired neck-only sized cases could do! I also believe there’s more accuracy potential for this AR-15, given that I keep putting in practice sessions. Experimenting with rear bags, I was able to tighten up my groups along the “windage axis” as shown above. Now it’s time to tighten in the elevation point of impact…
Shooting at 600 Yards
I’ll admit: what I’m really working towards for 224 Valkyrie is 1000 yards- but I don’t have that range built yet, and I’m also still working on high-BC heavy-bullet loads. More on that soon! In the meantime, 600 yards is both challenging and a LOT of fun! In fact, before going to 1000 yards or beyond, I’ll do the following for each load:
- Confirm 100 yard zero (some say to zero at 200 yards, but I don’t have an on-site 200 yard range, so it’s 100 yard zero for me!)
- Calculate/update ballistics calculations with chronograph data
- Confirm dope (primarily drop) at 600 yards
- Shoot at 1000 yards
So this 600 yard range trip is a part of the overall process, and it was also a chance to compare the two different rifles against each other back-to-back. Here’s what the view looks like for 600 yards from the firing line:
The tiny white specs in the middle of the circle are the targets- very small to the human eye when looking down range. That’s part of the fun!
Here’s What I Didn’t Expect
What I did expect was to shoot tighter groups with the Remington 700, and to have an easier time getting on target. What actually happened was: my shooting performance was nearly identical with both the Remington 700 and the AR-15!
Here’s the 4-shot group I shot with the Remington 700 (two shots are stacked):
That’s about 1.75″ at 600 yards, which translates to about 0.292″ at 100 yards! WOW. But things were just as impressive with the AR-15:
Again, two shots stacked, and 4 shots into about 1.75″.
Here’s why these results are exciting to me: I know now that BOTH of these rifles that I built are capable of shooting GREAT using the 70 grain RDF load as a middle-weight test scenario. The big question is- how will these rifles do at 1000 yards and beyond with the really heavy bullets (90 grains and heavier). I can’t wait to find out, and that’s why I’m working hard on load development for these heavier bullets, starting with the Hornady 88 grain ELD-M bullet.
Lots More to Come
Make sure you’re subscribed, because I have a LOT more 224 Valkyrie content coming up shortly! Are you shooting 224 Valkyrie? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please leave a comment!