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224 Valkyrie
Discussion regarding the reloading of ammunition and tuning of loads for accuracy
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slimjim
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:10 am    Post subject: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

Dawgdad wrote:
slimjim wrote:


I'm shooting the 95gr SMK from Sierra in my 1:6.5 twist 224 Valkyrie (needles)

Slim - how are you liking the Valkyrie? What loads are you finding work in your 6.5 twist? I have a Kreiger barrel 224 Valk and have been shooting 88ELD Match, Berger 85.5’s and the SMK 90’s. I have found RE-17 gives decent results but the velocity is not what I have been expecting.

I shot in a match where we shot 200-300-600-1000 yards. I used the Hornady75 BTHP Black at 200-300 and the ELD at 600 and 1000. Shot well enough to win. Before all of this virus madness I was planning on shooting a lot more at 1000 with it. On hold until the matches start up again

Dawgdad, glad you ask. I'm really liking my Valkyrie. I have done well with in in competitions and don't worry about guys with Creedmoors. I'll post some of my results and load development in this thread using 75 A-Max, 77 TMK, 88 ELD-M, 95 SMK, and just recently Berger's 85.5 Hybrid.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:41 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

I purchased one of the first Valkyrie barrels that were made with the original reamers that were mistakenly made with the freebore about 0.050” longer than SAAMI. I knew this before I bought the barrel because I wanted to be able to load “long”. I've been loading longer than mag length on the 6.8mm for almost 5 years now so I was excited to get one of ARP's 22" Valkyrie 1:6.5 twist barrels with longer than SAAMI freebore and apply what I have learned. I have modified magazines and receivers to allow COALs out to 2.410". I wanted to shoot the 95 SMK close to the lands in the Valkyrie which would be a longer than mag length COAL in a SAAMI chamber to begin with so I wanted that extra freebore the "mistake" version provided.

The primary reason for loading long is better accuracy potential because you can seat the bullet right off the lands and have more COAL to tune the accuracy node if needed. A side benefit is that, by doing so, you increase cases capacity. That doesn't mean you can load to higher pressures but it does give you more case volume which you might be able to use for more powder if the mag length COAL was below max chamber pressure. I have been exploring both these potential benefits with this 3R barrel.

I am not a fan of Federal brass which most of the production ammo is loaded in. Starline has been good brass in the 6.8mm but has the least case capacity. I want as much case capacity as I can get so have been using Hornady brass. Hornady brass was hard to get initially because their production was going to produce 88 ELD Match ammo. I since have been able to find Hornady Valkyrie brass in bulk which is good for loading up the close to 200 rounds needed for long-range precision matches.

I started out loading 75 A-Max, 88 ELD-M, and 90/95 SMKs. Below is a picture of some of these bullets. You can see the crimp in the factory ELD-M bullet I pulled plus home much extra freebore my barrel had with the ELD and 95 SMK on the right. To determine distance to the lands, I pulled a 75 TMJ from a Federal case, deprimed it, and cut a slit in the neck. This allows a bullet to slide freely back into the case when pushed into the chamber. I used a dental tool to hook the rim and pull the case back out. Below are the distance to the lands I measured with my barrel. COALs for the seated bullet will be at least 0.010" shorter than these values. You will need to measure your specific barrel because it will be different. I expect these numbers to increase slightly once I have fired, resized brass with the shoulders pushed back 0.003". Initial measurements indicate that just a windowed mag from CavityBackBullets.com can accommodate the 90 SMK without having to modify the receivers.

75 TMJ 2.220"
88 ELD 2.380" (bullet shank was to the bottom of the case neck)
90 SMK 2.352" (bullet shank was to the bottom of the case neck)
95 SMK 2.390" (boat-tail is at the bottom of the shoulder)

Not shown
69 SMK 2.227" (bullet shank was only 1/2 way down the case neck)
77 SMK 2.235" (bullet shank was to the bottom of the case neck)
75 A-Max 2.363"



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:55 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

Here are the initial rounds loaded to establish a reference baseline for further load development. I would recommend a light to medium crimp for these bullets using the Lee Collet Crimp Die. The start of the ogive is evident from the reflections off the bullets.

75 A-Max 28.3gr 2.353" COAL Federal
88 ELD 26.8gr 2.370" COAL Hornady
90 SMK 26.8gr 2.342" COAL Federal
95 SMK 26.1gr 2.380" COAL Federal

Note, I'm using a Redding busing due and competition bullet seating die. This set-up comes with the standard seating stem and the VLD seating stem has to be ordered as an extra.

55722 Redding VLD Competition Seating Die

Redding suggested I could take lapping compound and spin a few bullets in the standard to shape it to the bullet to be loaded. He said it would take less effort to lap the VLD stem but the standard stem could be lapped. I found the Redding VLD stem worked fine on 88 ELDs and 95 SMKs so did not lap.



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"To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth." - Theodore Roosevelt

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Last edited by slimjim on Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:01 pm    Post subject: Modifications for Loading Long Reply with quote

You can always hand-load single rounds that are longer than mag length to see if any benefits you would gain are worth it. If positive, the first step to loading longer than mag length for auto-loading vice single feed is to cut out the front of the magazine. This allows COALs up to about 2.36” COALS or longer and could vary depending on your receiver and magazines. I've done this modification on my 6.8mm for hunting situations were I’m not concerned about reloading magazines and can insert the mag in controlled conditions. I've had no issues in action matches either (yet). The cut-out doesn’t go below the lower receiver’s magazine well, can be long enough to hold up to 12 rounds, and the mag’s side-walls still remain stiff.

CavityBackBullets.com now stocks 10-round PRI magazines modified to load longer than mag-length COAL. They are professionally manufactured and available in 6.8mm as well as 5.56/.223 (shown on the right below).

To load even longer COALs, you can widened the center groove in the front of the mag well by taking your time with hand tools to be wide enough to accommodate double stacked rounds or have it expanded by a machine shop . You will also need to use a rat-tail file to add grooves leading up to the upper receiver feed ramps to match. These modification to the upper and lower receivers allow for COALs of 2.41”. Note, I place soft velco on the front of my ASC mag followers to improve the bolt locking back on the empty mag.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reloading Data Reply with quote

With the COALs established with each bullet, I did some powder vs velocity ladders with various powders to determine my performance boundaries and see how the powder charges compared with the Sierra reloading data which was first to release load data for the Valkyrie (link below). Hodgdon now has loads for the Valkyrie which I have found to me more reliable than the Sierra load data. Interesting to note that they choose 53,000 psi as max pressure. The 6.8mm chamber/brass can be loaded to 58,000 safely.

sierrabullets.files.wo...kyrie1.pdf



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Last edited by slimjim on Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:15 pm    Post subject: Powder vs Velocity Ladders – Range Results Reply with quote

Velocities achieved have been higher than the published Sierra load data (gray lines in the graphs) while closer to the velocities listed in the Hodgdon load data. Note: I had all my charge weights selected for the Ladder and loaded before I saw the Hodgdon load data. I did load Superformance at what I thought would be a minimum charge weight just to get a reference. Based on the Hodgdon load data, Superformance has significant potential remaining.

The publish load data sets the max pressure at 53,000 psi. With quality bolts, many of us have been running 58,000 psi in the 6.8mm which gives us some room to play with in the Valkyrie. This is why I went to max and over with some of the powders in this ladder.

Max charge weight that Sierra listed for W760 would not fit in the new Hornady brass. Correspondingly, I started running into what I felt was a high pressure situation a grain short of Sierra’s published max.

Some velocity readings were missed on 90 SMK with TAC and 95 SMK with Varget which is why you see a single point instead of a line for those bullet/powder combinations.

I’m still trying to figure out max pressure indications for the Valkyrie. As a practice when working up loads for the first time, I measure case web expansion on new brass as a relative pressure indication. I expected case expansion to be similar to the 6.8mm but I was getting higher measurements with no swipes or primer craters (primers were flat). Some of the higher case web measurements, if on the 6.8mm, would have created a loose primer pocket. However, all the primer pockets shot from the Valkyrie, even cases with the most expansion (marked in yellow for high pressure), were still tight. So be cautions. For reference, LEVERevolution (LVR) then CFE 223 produced the most velocity with the least amount of chamber pressure. LVR has been less temperature sensitive than CFE in the 6.8mm.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:35 pm    Post subject: Down-Range Results Reply with quote

Even though the charge weights in the 3-shot groups varied by 0.5 grain increments, the 88gr ELD Match grouped well and shows promising accuracy potential. The ELD-M also had the most consistent length but the least consistent weight. The 90 SMK has not been impressive so far. It has been the least accurate and has significantly more velocity decay than either the 88 ELD or 95 SMK. Its measured BC was much less than it’s advertised number. I will likely suspend loading this bullet. I believe there is good accuracy potential in the 95 SMK, however, in a 1:6.5 twist, it is not achieving the full BC potential making the ELD Match the front runner for me initially. BCs results are posted below and were measured with the aid of a LabRadar chronograph. The LabRadar can measure velocity 10x more precise than an optical chrony and does it every 3 feet of travel but a consideration is the velocity decay can only be measured within 100 yards of the muzzle. It is possible the 95 SMK may achieve a higher BC when it goes to “sleep” after 200 yards but long range shooting and trajectory drop will need to be used to determine if this is occurring. Though one could view these measured BCs too low, it is data and the relative performance valid. I will continue to track BC and update these measured values.

Ballistic Coefficients (Advertised - G1) [length] {weight}
88 ELD - 0.539 (0.545) [1.241” +- 0.001”] {88.2 grains +-0.3}
90 SMK - 0.492 (0.563) [1.165” +- 0.003”] {90.0 grains +-0.0}
95 SMK - 0.547 (0.600) [1.293” +- 0.006”] {95.1 grains +0.1}

Note, Federal has subsequently admitted that there were issues with the 90 SMK and the bullet has been redesigned. My initial experience was so negative, I didn't bother further with the the 90 SMK especially with the BC being so low compared to advertised.



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_________________
"To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth." - Theodore Roosevelt

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:16 pm    Post subject: Long-Range Precision Matches Reply with quote

I have participated in two long-range precision rifle matches with 75 A-max in new Hornady brass and 88 ELD-M in resized Hornady brass.

75 A-max _ 2950 fps_28.3 grains of R17 _ CCI450 _ 2.353” COAL
88 ELD-M _ 2690 fps _ 26.8 gr R17 _ CCI450 _ 2.370” COAL

In the first match, I shot the Valkyrie from 50 to 1000 yards off of/out of many different platforms, e.g., barrels, barricades, roof top, boat, helo (sitting on tires on top of a cliff), through cars, and raised platforms. The Valkyrie performed great! The 75 Amax held a 3-shot 6” grouping at 1000 yards. The 75-80grain bullets in a 1:7 twist may beat the heavier 224 bullets with a flatter trajectory to 1000 yards on paper but, if you are shooting steel, the 1:6.5 twist and 88-95 grain bullets have more kinetic energy at distance ringing the steel louder with noticeable more movement. I used the factory 88 ELD-M beyond 600 yards during the match. Temps during the match ran from 32 to 65F. I may look at a more temp stable powder as the weather warms up this summer but I’m going to stick with R-17 for now. The windowed CavityBack magazines feed flawlessly over the two days with the longer than mag-length COALs. The two guys that beat me were shooting 18-pound, 26” barreled, bolt-action 6.5 Creedmoors. The only disadvantage I saw with the Valkyrie is I didn’t have the optics to spot my .22-cal hits on paper at 300 yards so was unable to make corrections on stages with paper targets.

At the second match, they gave little information ahead of time what the events would be or how they would be run except be prepared to shoot out to 1200 yards which the 88 ELD-Ms will do. The match was very interesting and challenging. It had 12 stages of the most challenging shooting I have ever done ... and I was not prepared like I should have been. The first thing they told us was to pack up all our gear and leave our trucks behind. We hiked all day to all the stages and you could only use what you carried with you. With all the rain we have been having, the land was carpeted with wild flowers. We shot support and unsupported, prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. The targets were as small as 1/4" at 100 yards used for precision drills. We also shot varying targets out to 1000 yards. Some long-distance targets were unknown distance out in open fields and you were only allowed to determine the range with the scope's reticle. The 88 ELD has significantly more KE than the faster 75 Amax and had no problem energetically ringing the steel at distance. We had 5 people drop out so only 15 finished. I thought I personally and my loads could do better but still finished in the top 1/3. The guy that won has shot this event for 10 years straight, had a 20 pound rifle that cost close to $10,000 with scope, and he carried and used a tripod with him all day (a bit over the top in my view but it contributed to his success when he was allowed to use it).

Since the matches, I have tried R15, Varget, and 2000MR but none of those powdered matched the performance of R17. I’ve upgraded to a Vortex 5-25x PST Gen2 scope and 20 moa scope mount so I can dial past 1000 yards.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:33 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

The Valkyrie can be used for more than target shooting. Barnes has developed a 78gr TSX and 77gr LRX specifically for the Valkyrie. I found some 78 TSX available thought why not use it on my upcoming pronghorn hunt. The 78 TSX is 1.143" long and touches Lands @ 2.312". Barnes recommends starting load development 0.050" off the lands and work COALs +- 0.020". That places the COAL at 2.282" with my longer freebore barrels. Though this may be only a .22-caliber bullet, this TSX is essentially the same weight as the TTSX for the .243 but will have a slightly better BC with comparable muzzle velocity.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:39 pm    Post subject: 78 TSX with CFE Reply with quote

For the hunt, I swapped out for my Leupold 4-12X and did a quick load check with a CFE223 charge weight (no load development or ladder) that would give me 3000 fps mv. I guessed the BC (G1) would be 0.340. Achieved 3024 fps with 27.5 grains, a 0.6 MOA 3-shot group (3" Bull), and measured 0.330 BC. Only needed to make a minor scope adjustment to be on at 200 yards. The charge weight was not compressed. I believe I was at or slightly over max chamber pressure compared to Hodgdon's load data so do not intend to push farther in new brass.

A word of CAUTION, just because I gambled due to time constraints and this load worked for me, it doesn't mean it will for you. Please do not follow this example. Work up your loads and start at least 1.5 grains below published max. If I wasn't familiar with using CFE223 in other calibers and hadn't already tested multiple powders in the Valkyrie, I likely would not have taken this approach.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:45 pm    Post subject: 224 Valkyrie Hunting Results Reply with quote

The pronghorn hunt was successful. I took this buck quartering away at 130 yards out of a group with 10 does. I heard the wallop of the impact and he dropped right there. I was impressed with size of the exit wound. The 78 TSX had to expand to more than double in size to leave that large a hole in the offside hide (seen just under my hand). I have found that monolithic copper bullets have increased expansion with faster barrel twist. I believe the 1:6.5 twist contributed to the terminal performance shown here.



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:09 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

The sniper matches in this area often have stages out to 300 yards which require high round counts. Since I can only fit 10 to 12 rounds of 88 ELD-M/95 SMK in my windowed mags which works fine for the long-range work, I've wanted to develop a mag-length load for this rifle and take advantage of high capacity magazines. Most 6.8mm magazines (what one uses with the Valkyrie) work fine with COALs out to 2.295". Some have suggested using the Sierra Tipped Match Kings. I have some 77 SMK which would work but I feel like loading a 2.1" to 2.2" COAL is not taking full advantage of the cartridge. So I picked up some 77 TMKs. I choose this bullet over the 69 TMK because it should handle the faster 6.5 twist better and have a higher BC. With the 77 TMK 0.010" off the lands, the COAL is slightly longer than the factory 88 ELD-M. You can clearly see the extra freebore available in this barrel. A bullet line-up is pictured below.

77 SMK vs 77 TMK Comparison
Length BC (advertised)
SMK 0.987" 0.362
TMK 1.065" 0.420

The first thing to note about the 77 TMK is the copper jacket seems pretty thin. Any powder compression results in the impression of the seating stem on the bullet nose. I had to switch out the VLD seating stem on the Redding seating die to the Standard seating stem when I load these bullets. That ended up being a pain so I took a Foster seating die and used JB Weld to make the stem perfectly fit the 77 TMK seating stem.

For load development since I'm only interested in accuracy and performance out to 300 yards, I only looked at Varet and found 25.2 grains to be a sub-moa accuracy node. I'm averaging 2825 fps at 60 F.

With the thin copper jacket, this bullet will likely be an acceptable varmint choice for me.



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Last edited by slimjim on Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

Dawgdad, I need to cover just a couple more items to bring you up to date with my Valkyrie experience. The BC measurements with the 88 ELD-M have consistently come in above advertised at 0.551. Most Valkyrie barrels at 1:7 twist and I’ve concluded that the 1:6.5 twist in my barrel is stabilizing the bullet more allowing it to achieve its true BC potential. I’ve developed a moa load with the 95 SMK using 26.7 grains of W760 (2650 fps mv). I am planning going to do a 1000-yard trajectory comparison between the 88 ELD-M and 95 SMK to see if the ELD-M is really exceeding advertised BC and if the 95 SMK is falling short with a 1:6.5 twist. I've been reading positive comments on Berger's new 85.5 grain Hybrid so finally gave in and ordered a box. If I’m going to all this effort, why not include Berger’s new 85.5gr Hybrid?

I did some single-charge-weight vs velocity ladders with R15 and 2000MRin 0.3 grain increments and found amazing accuracy results right from the start. 2000MR fills the case nicely while R15 become compressed at the higher charge weights. 2000MR was the clear winner for my rifle.

My impression of the 85.5 Hybrid is that it has been perfectly tuned to fit and give optimum performance in the Valkyrie. The shank of the 85.5 Hybrid seats perfectly into the case neck at a 2.295" COAL. To be 0.010" off the lands, my COAL is 2.380". Here is a picture comparison of the 77 TMK, 85.5 Hybrid, 88 ELD-M, and 95 SMK. Note that the COAL (2.380”) for the 85.5 is slightly longer than the 88 ELD and 95 SMK indicating it has a longer ogive. Since it is loaded longer, I’m getting additional case capacity then just being a lighter, shorter bullet. I believe this combination of bullet, powder, and loading long is allowing me to load more powder charge and not exceed max pressure.

I now am ready for a 1000-yard trajectory comparison.



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Last edited by slimjim on Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Elvis
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:48 pm    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

poke a 50 grn ttsx through it for grins n giggles mate...they are giant slayers in the humble .223 and would be dynamite at velocity and spin you could achieve.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 9:35 am    Post subject: Re: 224 Valkyrie Reply with quote

You did not disappoint me Slim. I will digest this and post some of my own observations as well.

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