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:
- Pick a powder that meters well, and that others have had success with
- Take the max charge, work down 10%, shoot up to max charge watching for pressure
- 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)
- Case: New Starline 224 Valkyrie Cases
- Bullet: Berger 22 Caliber 80.5 Grain Fullbore Target
- Powder: 26.6 grains Hodgdon CFE-223
- Primer: Federal 205 Small Rifle
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.
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!