What’s newer might also be better, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to dethrone an old standby. The 224 Valkyrie may very well outperform the 5.56×45 enough to obsolete it – on paper. Whether American shooters will abandon the classic AR-15 cartridge for one just introduced in 2017 is another matter altogether.

Federal designed the 224 Valkyrie for semi-automatic modern sporting rifles (although bolt-actions are available chambered for it as well). Federal did intentionally design the 224 Valk to outperform the 5.56×45, which means the two beg comparison.

So how does the 224 Valkyrie stack up against the 5.56? Is it superior enough to make a case for throwing away your old rifle? Or do the two rounds perform differently enough that they should coexist? We’re going to compare the 224 Valkyrie vs  5.56 so you can decide for yourself.

224 Valkyrie vs 5.56×45 – Specs

 224 Valkyrie5.56x45
Bullet Diameter.2245.224
Neck Diameter.256.253
Shoulder Diameter.4031.354
Base Diameter.4207.377
Rim Diameter.422.378
Rim Thickness.049.045
Case Length1.61.76
Overall Length2.262.26
Primer TypeSmall RifleSmall Rifle
Maximum Pressure55,000 psi62,366 psi

Case Size Comparison

224 valkyrie vs 5.56 ammo side by side

The 224 has a significantly more spacious case than the 5.56. Its 34.5 gr H2O case capacity has 18.4 percent greater volume than the 5.56 at 28.5 gr H2O. This naturally gives room for more propellant, which the 224 puts to good use firing a larger bullet. You see, the 224 Valk’s bullet’s diameter alone doesn’t tell the entire story. It is longer than the 5.56 bullet. Plus, at 60 to 90 grains it is far heavier than the 5.56’s usual 55 to 77 grains.

224 Valkyrie’s greater case capacity means it is able to send a 75 grain bullet out of the muzzle at 3,000 fps. Compare this to  classic 5.56×45 ammo with its 55 grain bullet and similar 3,250 fps muzzle velocity. This info helps us appreciate the 224 Valk’s great advantage: long distance accuracy.

A heavier bullet moving at the same velocity is naturally better at resisting deflection from crosswinds. Furthermore, it retains greater momentum so it can transfer more energy downrange.

224 Valkyrie vs. 5.56×45 – Trajectory

Looking down range through a rifle scope

The 224 Valk’s long, slender, and heavy bullet conveys a very flat trajectory. And with its greater immunity to wind drift, the 224 makes long distance shooting more accessible to those who haven’t got the free time or land they need to study the 5.56’s bullet drop and windage.

This table shows how two similar rounds stack up to one another. When zeroed in at 200 yards the 224 Valkyrie vs 5.56 velocities and trajectories are virtually identical.

 
224 Valkyrie
5.56x45
Bullet88 Grain ELD MatchBullet DropBullet Drop
Muzzle Velocity2675 fps-1.52790 fps-1.5
100 Yards2513 fps22564 fps1.9
200 Yards2356 fps02349 fps0
300 Yards2205 fps-8.32144 fps-8.2
400 Yards2060 fps-23.71950 fps-24
500 Yards1920 fps-47.41764 fps-49
G7 Ballistic Coefficient.274.2

At greater distances the rounds begin to behave noticeably differently. When zeroed in at 500 yards the 224’s higher ballistic coefficient lets it exhibit a slightly flatter trajectory:

Here is the key takeaway from all this: If you’re looking for a round that will give you a flatter trajectory for greater accuracy, the 224 can certainly help you. However, you’ll only reap an advantage while you’re shooting over very long distances.

Not all shooters care about pulling off 1,000 yard shots. If you’re one of them you may not find the 224 worth your trouble.

Energy Comparison: 224 Valkyrie vs 5.56

Because it has a larger propellant charge, the 224’s heavier bullet doesn’t necessarily suffer from a slower muzzle velocity than the 5.56. That means the 224 bullet is able to transfer significantly more energy over the same distances. Comparison of two rounds reveals 224 Valkyrie ammo is indeed more powerful.

Barrel Length: 24"
224 Valkyrie
5.56x45
Bullet60 Grain V-MAXEnergy (ft. lbs.)55 Grain V-MAXEnergy (ft. lbs.)
Muzzle Velocity (fps)3300145132401282
Velocity at 100 Yds292411392854995
Velocity at 200 Yds25788852500763
Velocity at 300 Yds22586792172576
Velocity at 400 Yds19615121871427
Velocity at 500 Yds16903801598312
G1 Ballistic Coefficient.265.255

Of course, in tactical situations where you’re unlikely to stand several hundred yards away from your assailant the difference between 1,139 and 995 ft lbs of energy is likely to be moot – land either round’s bullet in a human-sized target and it’s not likely to remain a threat for very much longer.

But consider the 224 Valkyrie’s flatter trajectory coupled with its marked energy advantage, and you can easily appreciate why more and more hunters are beginning to favor it for hunting predators and whitetail.

Recoil

224 Valkyrie rifle at a shooting range

You can calculate recoil energy with four variables: bullet weight (gr), bullet velocity (fps), powder charge weight (gr), and firearm weight (lbs). For the sake of comparing the 224 to the 5.56 in terms of their recoil, let us assume that both rounds have 25 grains of propellant and we are firing a 6.5 pound rifle.

 224 Valkyrie5.56x45224 Valkyrie5.56x45
Bullet weight88 Grain73 Grain60 Grain55 Grain
Bullet velocity2675279033003240
Recoil energy (ft lbs)6.345.275.094.49

Here the simple fact about recoil is quite obvious: Heavier bullets and faster muzzle velocities both contribute to greater recoil energy. That said, neither the 224 Valkyrie nor the 5.56 have very much recoil energy to offer, yet the 224’s recoil is going to be slightly more powerful. Keep in mind that the recoil you actually experience is bound to be subjective.

Availability and Affordability

Hornady Frontier 5.56x45 ammo

Here is the best argument in favor of sticking with 5.56 instead of converting exclusively to 224 Valk. As the most popular rifle cartridge in the country, 5.56×45 is absolutely more available and affordable than 224 Valkyrie. The newer 224 is still a relatively niche cartridge, which alongside the fact that its larger size necessarily makes it more expensive to produce gives it a heftier price tag.

The Takeaway

The 224 Valkyrie offers a flatter trajectory, superior downrange energy, and negligible increase in recoil over the 5.56×45. Its superior performance may not provide any advantage to the casual shooter who isn’t concerned with long distance shooting, however, and its novelty means that ammo – as well as rifles and rifle parts – is simply less available and more expensive.

Of course, our hypothetical about ditching 5.56 in favor of 224 is exaggerated. Ideally you would be able to enjoy both rounds, preferring the 5.56 for casual plinking and range training while turning to the 224 when you’re trying to group shots through a bullseye at 1,000 yards or pick off distant whitetail.