The 224 Valkyrie had a ton of buzz, and I wanted to get in on the fun.
SHOT Show is the biggest industry trade show in the shooting and hunting world. It seems every year attendees head home from the show with new products or new buzzworthy topics that take over the space we all follow so closely.
Last year much of that buzz surrounded the release of the new rocket round called the 224 Valkyrie, brought to us by Federal Premium Ammunition.
Essentially, the 224 Valkyrie was winning over long distance shooters left and right because of its long range performance and so little recoil. Being marketed as the first AR-15 platformed round that was getting flat trajectories and consistent accuracy shots at 1,300 yards, it was opening the eyes and ears of long range shooters and hunters quickly.
Those communities would be getting a whole lot more punch on their shot with way less kick. That is what you consider a dream cartridge.
I witnessed the buzz first hand, and knew I eventually wanted in on the action myself. About a half of a year down the road, I jumped on the train with Palmetto State Armory, who had already proven to me how reliable their firearms can be.
Palmetto State was the perfect option for some precision without a huge price tag. As they like to say, buying firearms on a working man's budget, it was a no brainer for me to test the waters with them.
Since I am always up front with my gun reviews and articles, I'd better stay consistent and let you know I am no gun expert. I enjoy guns and love to shoot and hunt with them, but if you are looking into this editorial piece hoping to find every ballistic calculation and the details of every possibility of what this round is capable of, I'm sorry, but I won't fill that void.
There are shooters who understand and can explain those sorts of things much better than me. I want to showcase the rifle, optics, and ammunition that I went with, because I truly feel this is the perfect blend of products in the AR platform for varmint hunting, predator hunting, and even deer hunting.
Palmetto State Armory 20" 224 Valkyrie
Palmetto State Armory guns have been super good to me in the past. The firearms have operated flawlessly, and the prices you can find with their company are untouchable in the market. Having owned one of their guns in 6.5 Creedmoor, a 1911, and an AR pistol, I was quick to go the 224 Valkyrie route as well. Since they're 100% American made, I figured I couldn't go wrong with another one of their guns.
I was impressed with the MSRP of $999, but on the Palmetto State Armory page, they are currently selling them for $649.99 with free shipping. In other words, if you like what you see, now would be the time to snatch one up.
With a barrel length of 20 inches and stainless steel A2 construction with a 1:7 twist rate, PSA's 224 Valkyrie is built for incredible and optimal accuracy. The stainless steel barrel gives it a nice visual touch in my option with the black rifle profile. The rifle has the PSA 15" Lightweight M-Lok Rail that really gives it a great finishing touch to the gun.
The 224 Valkyrie from PSA meets MIL-SPEC requirements as both the uppers and lowers are machined. The upper is standard and includes both a dust cover and a forward assist.
One of my favorite things about the rifle itself is its light body and soft recoil. Considering what the gun is capable of, it's pretty eye-opening. At around 6.5 pounds, I can easily pack it in and out of predator stands and not feel bogged down. The 20-inch barrel makes it shorter than other AR platforms, too.
And the crazy thing is that it can keep up ballistically with its big bad brother, the 6.5 Creedmoor. That's a win-win for what I use it for, which is mostly coyote hunting. Check out the size of the bullet for comparison. The 6.5 Creedmoor round is on the left while the 224 Valkyrie is on the right.
With a six adjustment position buffer tube that is fitted with a Magpul MOE STR stock, you don't get a cheap feel to the rifle. The grip and trigger guards are also Black MOE components and the gun is loaded with a PSA Nickel Boron 2-stage trigger.
The trigger is super light and took me by surprise; it's far better than I expected. I specifically liked it for the long shots I was taking when predator hunting. It gave me enough confidence to where I didn't even debate about putting another after market trigger into my assembly.
The charging handle is easy to operate, and the safety is what you'd find on most ARs.
There are some rifles that you just fall in love with the first time you hold them, and this 224 Valkyrie from Palmetto State was one of them. It's a perfect combination of weight, size, feel, and quality, and that's before you even get into what the round itself can do.
So there is a bird's eye view of the rifle itself, but what optic did I slap on this bad boy?
Hawke Endurance 30 WA SF
I was super impressed with this scope. I will be honest, before the Endurance, I had never owned a Hawke scope. I decided to give it a try and I couldn't be happier.
I still have this Endurance 30 on my 224 Valkyrie, but I would be willing to move it to any firearm I own.
I do a majority of my hunting in the Midwest, and in Illinois we are only allowed to use shotguns during our whitetail seasons. I plan on going the Hawke Endurance 30 route on my whitetail gun next season instead of my Leupold scope that I currently have on my slug gun. The reticle alone is enough to convince me of that.
The scope is built more for long range, but the lighted reticle and scope clarity makes me fantasize about dropping a big whitetail with it and my slug gun, so I plan on giving it a shot!
The Hawke scope of choice for my PSA 224 Valkyrie was the Endurance 30 WA SF 4-16x50 LRC model. The LRC reticle is exclusive to Hawke, and it really fit well with the gun. This excerpt below is straight from the product description on their website and it does a better job technically explaining the reticle than I could from my use.
Working with your bullet's trajectory the LRC reticle, exclusively from Hawke, provides usable aim points for Long Range Centerfire shooting and hunting. The LRC is built specifically around the ballistics of centerfire cartridges, making holdover/under accuracy more possible than ever before. The glass-etched LRC features an illuminated aim point with windage markers for better accuracy and a reticle that stands out against foliage and dark backgrounds.
The aim points of the reticle are designed with gaps increasing in size. This more closely represents the fall of a bullet's trajectory; the further the bullet travels, the faster the bullet falls. All you need to do is adjust the magnification setting to match your ballistics.
The illuminated reticle is red (which I particularly love) and it has six different levels of brightness with off positions between each of them. This provides you with a perfect illumination setting for any lighting situation.
When night hunting for predators with this scope, seeing a coyote with the illuminated reticle is an incredible sight to see. Talk about getting your heart rate up! The image is forever burned in my mind.
With a wide angle optical system, this scope really allows you to get a full picture and take in what is going on around your target. This bodes well for hunting situations. Along with the wide angle feature, there is a side focus control for parallax adjustment up to infinity.
Combining this wide angle, that adjustment feature, and the 18-layer fully multi-coated optic system the Endurance possesses, the clarity of this glass is absurd.
My thoughts after shooting and hunting with this scope on the 224 Valkyrie is that Hawke is truly underrated in the optics game. I encourage you to give them a look for your next setup. The Endurance came with a sunshade screw on attachment, lens covers and cloth, and a battery for the illuminated reticle. Those are the things that you appreciate once you have the scope in hand and in use.
Unfortunately, I don't have a home range where I have gotten the chance to truly test the really longe ranges yet, so I've yet to see just how effective this particular Endurance scope can perform with the 224 Valkyrie. Hawke has a really awesome app that you can use for exact aim points and holdovers as well, so be sure to give that a try if you jump aboard the Hawke train.
With the 224 Valkyrie being such a new addition to the shooting game, they don't have that caliber in the presets yet. Hopefully an update will come soon.
Hornady 88 gr ELD Match Ammo
As I do with every firearm I own, if Hornady manufactures a bullet in that caliber, I go with the "Big Red H." Because of their proven track record of excellence in the ammunition game, I have found you simply can't go wrong.
When choosing ammunition, I wanted to get a bullet that could really showcase the long range capability, but yet still be used in a hunting scenario. The Hornady 88gr ELD Match cartridge seemed as good as an option as any.
Of course, hunting rounds perform better as a hunting round, but these ELD Match rounds would still get the job done and quite frankly be better on the pelts of any predators I might harvest. Since I drew a bobcat tag this season in my home state, I think this 224 Valkyrie bullet might just be a great option to get some distance and not tear up the hide like a 6.5 Creedmoor would.
I burned through four boxes in a quick time frame and never had any issues with my gun. The accuracy is on point, as expected. With a muzzle velocity of 2675 feet/second, this round is flat out cooking, and coyotes have paid the price on my behalf.
Simply put, I am in love with my Palmetto State/Hawke/Hornady triple threat combo. It looks sharp, performs great, and is ideal for my needs.