224 Valkyrie: Hornady 88 grain ELD-M Load Development Success

224 Valkyrie is all about pushing heavy high-BC bullets to crazy-long ranges with an AR-15, or even a bolt gun. For 224 Valkyrie, I started working with a mid-weight bullets (Nosler 70 grain RDF), and have been working my way up in weight- and hope to top out at about 95 grains. While the Nosler 70 grain RDF bullet has shot GREAT out of both of the custom 224 Valkyrie rifles I’ve built, these bullets haven’t really brought out the full potential of 224 Valkyrie.

Enter the Hornady 88 grain ELD-M bullet! This is the same projectile that Hornady uses in their 224 Valkyrie factory ammunition, which is very popular.

Here’s the technical details on these bullets: From the Hornady Product Page:

Caliber 22 Cal. .224″
Product Line ELD Match
Sectional Density 0.251
Ballistic Coefficient (G1) .545 (G1)
Ballistic Coefficient (G7) .274 (G7)
Weight 88 GR
Application  Target/Match
Box count 100
Item #: 22834

Let’s see how these bullets will do with a bit of load development, and the 224 Valkyrie Remington 700 I’m using to test new loads with!

10 Shot Load Development

With the 88 grain ELD-M 224 Valkyrie load- I started with H-4350, but ran into a couple issues:

  1. Bridging of powder in 22 caliber drop funnels (Hornady Lock-N-Load bench measure, RCBS Uniflow powder measure)
  2. Excessive load compression near and at max load causing bullets to stick in seating stems (that’s a first for me)

So I changed over to Varget (thanks to some input from the guys on the 224 Valkyrie Reloading Info Facebook Page), and found success! First up was to shoot a 10 shot load development string- with each charge weight weighed on a digital scale (throw + trickle) down to 0.1 grain accuracy. Shooting these rounds over a chronograph produced the following:

You can see right away the “speed node” (stable velocity region) between 23.2 and 23.4 grains- so I loaded 15 rounds at 23.3 (right in the middle of the speed node) and shot for groups with the Magnetospeed V3 Chronograph recording velocities.

Group #1:

Groups 2,3:

While the group sizes here are “reasonable” – the SD numbers didn’t look so good:

  • Group 1: 29.2 FPS
  • Group 2: 22.5 FPS
  • Group 3: 26.2 FPS

Changing things “UP”

So I decided, even though the 10-shot load development data doesn’t support it, I would try the max charge. My hopes were to  bring out more of the potential of the 224 Valkyrie (velocity), and to perhaps get better groups as well. So I loaded up 10 rounds of 23.6 grains Varget with the Hornady 88 grain ELD-M bullets, and here’s what happened:

Group 1:

Group 2:

Not only are these groups looking good (I’ve read of a lot of trouble with 224 Valkyrie and heavy bullets) but the SD numbers look good as well:

  • Group 1: 11.7 FPS SD, 2650 FPS average
  • Group 2: 12.6 FPS SD, 2643 FPS average

Hornady advertises 2675 FPS at the muzzle for their 224 Valkyrie 88 gr ELD Match factory ammunition, and I’m within about 25 FPS with my ammunition, and given the ambient (and ammunition) temperature of 31 F while shooting, it looks like I’ve pretty much matched the performance of their load. I would expect at 70 F that I’d be within 10 FPS of their claimed velocity.

Load Data Summary:

  1. Starline 224 Valkyrie case (new)
  2. Federal 205 small rifle primer
  3. 23.6 grains Hodgdon Varget
  4. 88 grain Hornady ELD-M Bullet

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.

What Does All This Mean

I’m excited about these results because with this load because I’m very confident I can really take this load out to 1000+ yards with my 224 Valkyrie rifles. 1/2 MOA accuracy is good, and 11-12 FPS SD is acceptable for velocity as well. I expect both to tighten up when I peform more controlled reloading (this was with new brass). We will see! Since both rifles are shooting very similarly (see my post showing both rifles at 600 yards) I’m pretty sure the same will be true for this load.

What’s next? I’ll confirm my “dope” (drop data, etc) at 600 yards with both rifles, and then take them out to 1000 yards with this load. I’ll also do some brass longevity testing to see how many reloads the Starline 224 Valkyrie brass can withstand at this [max] load.

Do you have experience loading the Hornady 88 grain ELD-M bullet for 224 Valkyrie? Please leave a comment sharing your experiences!


5 thoughts on “224 Valkyrie: Hornady 88 grain ELD-M Load Development Success”

  1. This is the first systematic load work up for the 224 that I have seen, and anxiously look forward to your experience.

    Well done!

  2. Hey Gavin
    Great load development detective work. On the topic of brass longevity, do you have, or have you thought about annealing to help get longer case life and hopefully more consistent neck tension. I finally received my new AMP MkII annealing machine and I absolutely love, so much so I have bought a pilot for every caliber I run from 204 Ruger to 300 WM. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

  3. Hey Gavin,

    What dies do you recommend for reloading the .224 Valk for precision shooting? aka – what dies did you use?

  4. What is the twist rate in your test guns? In my lefthandedness I shoot a Stag Arms M14L with a 1/7″ twist rate. It will keep 80gr. Sierra MKs under an inch at 100yds. However, it absolutely sprays anything heavier. There aren’t many affordable 1/6.5″ barrels available.

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