224 Valkyrie Laser Beam: Berger 80.5 Grain Load

With a 22 caliber high-power rifle like 223 Remington, you’ll start running out of steam beyond about 500 yards using conventional factory ammunition. Traditional 50 grain 22 caliber bullets just don’t have the momentum or aerodynamics (Ballistic Coefficient) to penetrate the wind much further than that with predictability. That’s really where cartridges like 224 Valkyrie come in. The promise of 224 Valkyrie has been a 22 caliber platform that is AR-15 compatible *and* capable to 1000 yards and beyond. Here’s a graph that shows the performance difference between a typical factory 223 Remington cartridge, and the 224 Valkyrie 80.5 grain Berger load that will be tested in this article:

Here, the 223 load has a higher velocity (by about 400 fps!) at the muzzle, but you can see how quickly the velocity is burned off, and gravity takes big effect compared to the 224 Valkyrie load. I should note that if you load 223 Remington with better bullets (heavier, with high-BC) you can get closer to what we see with 224 Valkyrie here, but there’s still a big difference between the two! Plus, with 224 Valkyrie you can get performance like I’ve shown here with factory ammunition (more on that towards the end of this article)!

To achieve this,  224 Valkyrie uses a relatively simple formula. It boils down to enhancing the long-range performance of cartridges like 223 by adding more powder capacity, and allowing long high-BC bullets up to 95 grains in weight. More velocity and less drag equals much better long-range performance. In this article I’ll share my experiences with 224 Valkyrie and the Berger 80.5 grain 22 caliber Fullbore Target bullet: a match made in heaven!

Gavin’s Berger 80.5 Grain “Laser Load”

My 224 Valkyrie load development for the Berger 80.5 grain bullet went like this:

  1. Pick a powder that meters well, and that others have had success with
  2. Take the max charge, work down 10%, shoot up to max charge watching for pressure
  3. Shoot groups at max load

That was it. Since I got a load that shot sub-half MOA right out of the gate, I didn’t really look any further. Instead, I worked on practicing for the match I would use this load for (I’ll be posting a separate story on that later).

Here’s the specifics for this load: (this is a MAX load)

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.

All of the ammunition tested in this article was loaded on an RCBS Pro Chucker 7! That’s right- I can load one round for every pull of the handle.

100 Yard Performance

You know you’re onto something good when the very first group you shoot has all shots touching!

This group measured 0.485″ for 5 shots fired at 100 yards. I also chronographed this group, and got the following results:

I’m hoping that with reloads (as opposed to new-brass loads as shown here) I’ll be able to tighten the SD of velocity down below 10 fps. At 13 FPS variance, the bullets drop is affected by a few inches at 1000 yards! For example: if the SD of velocity is down at 6fps, the total elevation variance on impact about be just over an inch. I could also monitor and optimize barrel temperature to help reduce velocity SD. We’ll see!

Further testing produced this 0.370″ 5-shot group at 100 yards, and I think with better conditions (less boil/mirage) I could get this down to about 1/4 MOA.

1000 Yard Performance

At 1000 yards, things get REALLY interesting… Wind becomes a big issue, and every error is magnified due to the distance involved. Fortunately, the day I hiked up to the 1000 yard Ultimate Reloader range to test this load, there was a direct tail wind, no side-to-side component involved that we could tell. This would help isolate the wind from the accuracy potential of the this 224 Valkyrie load and rifle. This was my first time hiking up the hill with my drone and camera gear all in one pack (the Condor 3-day assault pack).

I decided to take the Remington 700 224 Valkyrie rifle that I built using a Benchmark Match-Grade barrel blank (see series HERE) and KRG Bravo chassis/stock (my new favorite), and it was smooth sailing up the hill hiking with my buddy Eric Peterson. We flew the drone over to the 1000 yard target (ranging at 980 yards) and got to work.

I missed a couple shots, and looking closely at things we figured the shots were high for some reason. I then put four shots in about an 6.8″ circle, saw they were high and then dialed down. My last shot on the large target literally center-pinched the bullseye! (part luck, part equipment, part shooting).

At the time I didn’t see the fact that I had center-punched the aiming dot, so I dialed down a couple clicks before moving to the steel. I still managed to hit a small steel target (10″ wide) on the first shot! Reviewing the footage later, I found that I had hit it near the bottom edge. So I didn’t need to dial down after all… Here’s a picture of the targets side by side:

I didn’t hit the steel target on the second try, and now I know why! If I hadn’t dialed down a couple clicks, I could have been closer to the center. Kind of hard to see 22 caliber holes on a wood target when you’re looking through the eye of the drone on your phone screen. These are all things we’ll be working on as we optimize the 1000 yard shooting setup and process at the Ultimate Reloader Outpost.

Conclusion

I could not be happier with the first results I got with the Berger 80.5 grain bullets for 224 Valkyrie loads. I don’t really see a reason to do more work on the load itself, but I would like to get the SD numbers down a bit- perhaps with once-fired brass and more careful powder trickling. I do know one thing, I don’t want to back off on the powder charge, because I want to realize the “full potential” of 224 Valkyrie. This load also did quite well at the PRS match I shot in, but I do wish I had done more work at 600 and 1000 yards before the match- I’m pretty sure I could have gotten a lot more hits. But that’s all part of the process of joining a sport- you have to work to get the best results, and there’s no substitute for practice and experience!

Another quick note: Federal has released factory ammunition with this Berger 80.5 grain projectile! It’s called Federal GOLD MEDAL BERGER (Part #: GM224VLKBH2), perhaps something I should test out!

Look out for more 224 Valkyrie stories coming up… And don’t miss out on Ultimate Reloader updates, make sure you’re subscribed!

Thanks,
Gavin

18 thoughts on “224 Valkyrie Laser Beam: Berger 80.5 Grain Load”

  1. I have a new .224 Valkyrie on an AR platform and am contemplating where to start on bullets, loads, etc. How, or would, you adjust this load recipe for an AR, considering the added safety and functionality concerns of an auto feeder?

  2. Thanks for sharing this with me! I’ve been getting 1/2″ to 3/4 moa with SMK 90gr. In a Home built AR with a White Oak’s 24″ 1 in 7 heavy Barrel. Was looking to do a little bit better. The CFE223 and Burger 80.5 bthp will be used in the next load work.
    God Bless 🙏

  3. Hey great stuff ! I’ve been pulling my hair out with this .224 valkyrie lol . I’ve used a rainier arms 24” ultra match barrel on the ar platform and can’t get anything better than 2.5” groups with federal , Hornady or any other ammo . The barrel is a 1/7.5 twist and I’m about to toss it ! Do you have any recommendations for a barrel for the ar platform ? Thanks , Steve ..

    1. Steve, I just spoke to a Federal technician at length on barrels, among other things. They optimized their factory .224 ammunition for the 1:7 twist. I forgot to ask what length but I bought a 20″ stainless steel blem AR upper from PSA. The Federal 75 grain TMJ is consistently sub-MOA and ofter 1/2 at 100 yards. I tried the 90 grain SMK and it was all over the place, horrible. Same with Hornady 88 grain ELD Match. That was until the 90th round I shot. Then I tried my last three rounds of ELD and was around 1 MOA at 100 yards. Maybe my barrel is coming in now? I have been looking all summer for the 80.5 Berger ammo but Federal says they are not producing much yet.

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