What are the best .224 Valkyrie uppers?
The AR-15 platform in its standard caliber, the 5.56mm NATO, is an excellent rifle, but at 500 yards or so, the round’s limitations become pretty apparent. It was, after all, intended as a multi-role combat rifle and not a long-range tack driver.
That’s why, in recent years, people have been going with bigger pills and, for instance, giving the rifle a 6.5mm twist with other long-range rounds like the 6.5 Grendel or 6.5 Creedmoor. Another quality option for those interested in extending their AR range is the .224 Valkyrie.
With just the swap of an AR-15 upper, this caliber can add some serious range to your rifle with better ballistics, a flatter trajectory and less drift than the traditional AR chambering. In this article, we’re going to list six of the best .224 Valk uppers available then walk you through our reasoning behind recommending a .224 Valkyrie rifle.
Quick List: The Top .224 Valkyrie Uppers
To start things off, we have this slick-looking upper from DoubleStar, which comes with a 416 Stainless steel barrel that’s 24” long and has a 1:7 twist rate to stabilize the round out to, they claim, 1000 yards.
Like most you’ll find in this caliber, this upper is optics ready: since the Valk is all about long-range performance, the gas block usually has a section of Picatinny rail instead of a front iron sight. One standout on this one is their custom handguard, which is both free-floated and much more elegant looking than the chunkier options on the market.
While it could do with more bottom rail sections, it is a great-looking and performing upper receiver.
2. Adams Arms
This option, a 20-inch barreled model from Adams Arms, is all business. That’s clear from their Jet Comp muzzle device, which will help keep recoil down to a minimum, and the rifle length gas system ( in this case, a piston system instead of the standard direct gas system), which helps the rifle run clean.
Additionally, the handguard is surrounded by the rail system on top and M-Lok around the barrel to attach any accessories that you feel necessary. If you’re the kind of person who likes many attachments on their rifle, this is an excellent option for you.
3. Brenton USA
Breton’s USA Ranger Carbon Hunter is one of the best-looking rifle uppers we’ve ever seen. That’s because this one has a carbon fiber handguard, which not only looks great but does a great job at protecting your hands from the hot gas tube and cutting down on the overall weight of the rifle.
Since .224 Valkyrie is gaining popularity as a hunting cartridge, it makes sense to go with such a light handguard in this barrel length: you want to carry as little weight as possible with you into the field while maintaining the accuracy of a 22” barrel.
With a barrel twist rate of 1:7 and, as we mentioned, a 22” length, it’s not just a beauty — this option by Brenton USA is likely to be an excellent upper for those looking to hunt with the Valk.
The .224 Valkyrie is a long-range, precision rifle cartridge. Thus, it benefits from longer barrels that give the powder more time to burn and build pressure, resulting in higher muzzle velocities. If maximum range is your goal, this offering with a 24” barrel is a great option.
One thing we like about this option from GLFA, in particular, is its pepper pot style of the muzzle brake. These brakes direct much of the muzzle blast up and to either side, keeping the rifle nice and flat for the next round should you either want to spot for yourself or get a quick follow-up shot.
5. Palmetto State Armory
Palmetto State Armory has made a name for itself in recent years by making quality uppers and complete rifles at competitive prices, and their offering in .224 Valkyrie is no exception.
This 20” upper is optics ready, coming with a standard A2 birdcage flash hider and a stainless steel barrel, making it an excellent all-around option. The addition of a lightweight M-Lok rail is a nice value-add as well.
6. Radical Firearms
Most of the uppers on this list are relatively long, with barrels at least 20” in length, which is optimal for getting every last bit of range out of the .224 Valkyrie. But if you’re looking for a little shorter rifle, this 18” upper from Radical Firearms is a great way to go.
A slight loss in barrel length might affect accuracy negatively at super long ranges, but this free-floated barrel with a pepper-pot style muzzle brake is still more than accurate enough for most people’s shooting needs. To take advantage of the weight savings from the already shorter barrel, Radical Firearms also included a skeletonized M-Lok rail that saves even more weight. For a more general-purpose rifle, this upper is an excellent choice.
Why Choose a .224 Valkyrie Upper?
As a relevant NRA publication explains, .224 Valkyrie is an excellent round for long-range precision shooting. Often coming in a little bit heavier bullet weights than standard 5.56mm, and packing a lot more muzzle energy, it is becoming a popular hunting round.
Introduced by Federal in 2017, the Valkyrie builds on the 6.8mm Remington SPC case (an oft utilized round of Spec Ops snipers) paired with the bullet most found in your standard AR-15, producing something remarkable when combined with an appropriate long-range upper receiver.
Many people already own an AR-15 — and the prospect of taking that AR in a long-range direction with just the swap of an upper (rather than a whole new rifle) is an attractive approach if you want to dip your toes into the world of the Valk.
The ability to simply pop two pins on your receiver to install the new upper and get a lot more range out of an AR makes the .224 Valkyrie uppers we’ve discussed here worth a look.
Advantages of a .224 Valkyrie Upper
Shooting 4" groups from truck bed at 650 yards.
Again, the primary advantage here is long-range performance. The .224 Valkyrie is based on a necked-down 6.8 SPC cartridge and usually runs 90-grain pills. That combination means a lot of powder behind a relatively small round. It offers 34.5-grains of case capacity, almost 30% more than the traditional .223’s 28.5-grains, packing the extra pow into a shorter, stubbier case.
The stubby round gives the Valkyrie room for a larger– and more importantly, longer—bullet that can deliver better performance while simultaneously fitting in the magazine well of your standard AR-15.
The ability to get 500+ yard accuracy out of an AR-platform rifle makes it a popular choice with hunters and people who practice long-range shooting more generally.
Compared to the typical AR caliber, 5.56mm NATO, the main downside is cost. When ammo supplies are regular, 5.56MM is one of the cheaper rounds to buy, so going to the range is not prohibitively expensive.
Since it’s purpose-designed as a hunting round, .224 Valkyrie can get pretty expensive. To be fair, most people hunting at extended ranges understand that they’re building a somewhat specialized piece of equipment, and bullets are part of that expense.
Choosing the Best .224 Valkyrie Upper
Ultimately, we recommend choosing the upper that fits your actual shooting needs the best. It’s great to say your AR can hit targets at 800 or more yards, but if you’re likely going to be shooting at much closer distances, saving some weight from reduced barrel length might be worth it.
In this piece, we’ve walked through some of the best .224 Valkyrie uppers available on the market today. All of them are excellent, and if you have a specific feature set or aesthetic in mind, there’s a great option out there for you.
- NRA, 224 Valkyrie, Comparisons and Capabilities
- Outdoor Life, Exclusive First Look: Federal’s 90-grain Fusion in .224 Valkyrie
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