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.
In This Article:
Comparison of the Best .224 Valk Uppers
Below is my list of the best .224 valkyrie uppers for 2021. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of uppers.
|PSA 20-Inch Billet .224 Valkyrie Upper|
|Doublestar 24-Inch .224 Valkyrie Upper|
|Adams Arms 20-Inch .224 Valkyrie Upper|
|Brenton 22-Inch .224 Valkyrie Upper|
|CMMG 20-Inch Endeavor 100 Upper|
|Radical Firearms 18-Inch .224 Valkyrie Upper|
.224 Valkyrie Upper Reviews
1. 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.
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
Brenton’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 — their MarbleKote™ camouflage is designed to add to concealment. This option by Brenton USA is one of the most exciting options if you’re planning on hunting 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 20” barrel is a great option.
One thing we like about this option from CMMG, in particular, is its forged 7075-T6 AL aluminum. The harder aluminum adds durability to the receiver, ensuring tight lock-up with the lower and keeping the rifle super stable for the next round should you either want to spot for yourself or get a quick follow-up shot.
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.
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
Shooting 4" groups from truck bed at 650 yards.
Advantages of a .224 Valkyrie Upper
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.
Important .224 Valkyrie Upper Features
1. 20" or Longer Barrels
The .224 is decidedly flat shooting and offers similar terminal performance as the more powerful 6.5 Grendel at 500 yards — all with less drift and drop.
Plus, you can use smaller bullets with the Valk if you’re principally interested in varminting — all of which means a barrel of 20 inches or more will help you ring the most of the Valk.
2. Mid-Length Gas System
In addition to long-range antics, the .224 Valkyrie as developed delivers less felt recoil than other high-performance MSR rounds (6.5 Creedmoor we’re looking at you) which gets even easier to manage when you pair the 20-inch barrel with a mid-length gas system .
Worth noting, like the Creedmoor, the Valk can work both with the AR platform (something the Creedmoor can’t do FWIW) and bolt guns chambered for the round.
3. Rail Support
The Valk is decidedly versatile, which means you can get down with much more than putting tight groups into paper targets — and with remarkably light-weight bullets on order — down to 60-grain pills — you have options for plinking, varmints, and predators. Plus, you can dial up the grains for medium game hunting if desired.
This flexibility means you’ll need to have a handguard with rail support to ensure your rifle is flexible enough to enable you to maximize the Valk’s multi-faceted capabilities.
Speaking of which, although Federal introduced the cartridge and had its specs logged with SAAMI, Hornady and others are now producing loads in the caliber as well, providing more options for Valk owners to be long-range contenders with an AR-15-sized platform.
Types of .224 Valkyrie Uppers
As with any caliber of AR upper, not all Valk uppers are the same, but we can report that — why not as plentiful as standard 5.56 uppers — the variety of Valkyrie upper options ensure a good fit for any budget or use case. We found quality products from known, reputable brands and manufacturers with a variety of barrel lengths, handguard styles, and materials. Before you finalize your purchase, think about these key factors to determine which type of safe is best for you.
- Complete Uppers. These uppers will include the barrel, handguard, BCG, gas system, and all the springs and components necessary for a fully functional upper straight out of the box. You don’t get the flexibility of tweaking specific elements with a complete upper, but they’re made to fit together like a glove. Pair one with a complete lower and you have a .224 Valkyrie rifle that’s ready to rock.
- Stripped Uppers. These receivers give you the starting blocks of a truly custom rifle build — all while supporting your caliber or cartridge of choice. They won’t include a barrel or internal components, but they provide an unparalleled platform to build the rile of your dreams.
Price Ranges for Valk Uppers
- $500-$750: This is the most common price range for .224 Valkyrie uppers. Products in this price range are readily available — often stocked deep by various retailers and offering the widest variety of brands, styles, and dimensions. You’ll get a lot of value out of uppers in this price range, but you won’t get some premium features like incredibly lightweight, tailorable dimensions, or superfine fit and finish.
- Over $1,000: .224 Valk uppers in this price range tend to be more premium products, at times requiring hand-milling or assembly that can increase the wait times for the final product. That said, if you’re investing more than some people spend on a complete rifle on a premium .224 Valkrie upper, you can be sure it’s built to last, will provide unparalleled performance, and will be the most durable upper in your collection.
How we selected these products
As much as I would love the put all these Valk uppers to the test there are times when certain products or categories are a real challenge — be it availability, cost, or simply a lack of resources — we can get stymied going hands-on with all the potential candidates. Rather than present a never-ending list of all the Valk uppers on the planet, we selected those which we felt best represent the price points laid out above — giving you a solid representational list to serve as a jumping-off point for your own research (you are going to do you own research, right?)
To avoid disappointment or steering you in the wrong direction, we bolster our own experience with conversations with experts, comb through reviews on retailer sites & sales data, review industry publications, other blogs, and otherwise surface the best information available.
We aim for all thriller, no filler, as they say.
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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