Are you currently looking for a barrel to either convert your existing AR-15 into a .224 Valkyrie model or to build a new .224 Valkyrie AR-15 from the ground up? Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Overall Value Option: Ballistic Advantage Premium Series .224 Valkyrie 20” Inch Fluted Barrel
In terms of overall value it is hard to beat the offering from Ballistic Advantage, as this barrel comes armed with a number of impressive features for the money, including a fluted design, 416R stainless steel construction, and a nickel boron coated M4 feed ramp extension.
Best Premium Option: BSF 20” .224 Valkyrie Carbon Fiber Jacketed Barrel
The BSF Carbon Fiber Jacketed Barrel is one of the most durable and indestructible .224 Valkyrie barrels on the market today. If you have the money to get it, this is the barrel to get for your .224 Valkyrie rifle.
Best Budget Option: Brownells AR-15 Barrels .224 Valkyrie Stainless Steel
The Brownells AR-15 barrel is a durable and well-made barrel that is capable of shooting sub-MOA groups (in the right hands, of course). For the lower price that you’ll pay for it, it’s hard to beat.
The .224 Valkyrie is a truly extraordinary round that is designed to maximize the potential of the AR-15 platform and can compete directly with larger long range calibers such as the 6.5 Creedmoor. But of course, the performance of the .224 Valkyrie is really only as good as the barrel it’s being shot through. The .224 may be a great round but it also needs a great barrel for it to do what it can do.
In this guide we’ll dive into the merits of the .224 Valkyrie round and the top features and qualities that you will need to look for in a barrel for your .224 AR. Then, we’ll outline and discuss three of the best .224 Valkyrie barrels on the market that possess those features and qualities.
Why Go With The .224 Valkyrie?
Even if you’re considering building your own .224 Valkyrie AR-15, you may not yet be sold on the merits of the round.
The .224 Valkyrie was developed by Federal by taking the existing 6.8 SPC round and then necking down the barrel to a .244 inch diameter. The idea was to develop a round that could be fired out of the AR-15 platform, while delivering long range performance similar to larger calibers that can only be fired out of the bigger AR-10 platform, such as the 6.5mm Creedmoor or the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm.
Officially released to the general public in late 2017, the .224 Valkyrie quickly and effortlessly gained considerable media attention within the firearms world. The reason why is because the round offers greatly improved trajectories and ballistics over other AR-15 calibers such as the 5.56x45mm NATO or the 6.5 Grendel. Despite this, the .224 Valkyrie also delivers similar recoil to those other AR-15 rounds as well, meaning that you’re getting a round with similar qualities to a larger round like the .308 but with only half of the kick. Basically, you’re taking your AR-15 and making it more ballistically similar to a 6mm AR-10.
Another big benefit to the .224 Valkyrie round is how it can be super-sonic at long ranges (meaning that it travels faster than the speed of sound). There are very few short action cartridges that can achieve this at long ranges, so the fact that the .224 Valkyrie can makes it all the more impressive.
The .224 Valkyrie can also theoretically work in 5.56 AR-15 magazines. That being said, some users report that the .224 functions less reliably in STANAG metal magazines and more reliably in polymer PMAGs. You would be wise to actually test .224 Valkyrie rounds in different kinds of magazines in order to confirm proper function. If you want to make sure you have magazines that work check out our article on .224 Valkyrie magazines.
Besides the magazines, in order to get the .224 Valkyrie functioning reliably in an AR-15 chambered for 5.56, all you will need to do is swap out the barrel and the bolt. You can use your existing lower receiver meant for the 5.56 for the .224 Valkyrie, and while you can replace the entire upper receiver if you want to (many shooters prefer to), technically all you will need to do is replace the barrel and the bolt and we got you covered with a guide on the best .224 Valkyrie bolt carrier groups.
To summarize, the .224 Valkyrie can do just about everything that the 5.56x45mm NATO or the .223 Remington cartridges can do, but there is virtually nothing that either of those two cartridges can do that the .224 Valkyrie can’t. The .224 Valkyrie is a heavier bullet that will shoot faster than the 5.56, and it can be used for precision shooting on targets out to twelve hundred yards or so. This is simply not something that you can do with a 5.56.
So suffice to say, the .224 Valkyrie is an excellent round and one of the best choices of caliber for long range precision shooting out of an AR-15. Next, let’s dive into the top qualities to look for in a .224 Valkyrie barrel.
Buyer’s Guide To Finding The Best .224 Valkyrie
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new barrel for your .224 Valkyrie AR-15:
Here’s a basic rule that you need to remember: the longer your rifle’s barrel is, the greater the bullet velocity is going to be (and likely accuracy will be better too).
With this in mind, and assuming that you’re primarily going to be using your .224 Valkyrie for precision shooting and hunting at long ranges, it will be preferable for you to use a rifle version of the AR-15 with a barrel length of at least twenty inches long. You may want to go with a shorter barrel of 18 inches if you’re going to be using your .224 Valkyrie for hunting in brush or thick woods, or otherwise for home defense.
That being said, a barrel length of at least twenty inches will enable you to truly utilize the potential of the .224 round, and if you’re going to be using your rifle exclusively for long range precision shooting you may want to go with an even longer barrel of twenty two or twenty four inches (this isn’t at all an uncommon barrel length for the AR-15 when it comes to precision shooting).
Think about what you’re going to be primarily using your .224 Valkyrie rifle for, and then go with a barrel length that will enable you to get good performance out of the round while also being practical for your intended purposes (do you really want to use a long and unwieldy twenty four inch long barrel for hunting in the brush or for home defense in tight quarters?).
Equally as important as the barrel length when it comes to accuracy is the twist rate on the inside of the barrel.
The twist rate refers to the number of inches that it will take the bullet to complete one rotation when it is fired down the barrel. So a twist ratio of 1:5, for instance, means that it takes the bullet five inches to complete one rotation.
A golden rule to follow is that the heavier your bullets are, the less you will want the barrel twist to be. An average .224 Valkyrie round will have a bullet weight of around sixty three grains, and a good twist rate ratio for a bullet with this rate will be 1:7.
Ease of Installation
Preferably, you should be able to install the barrel on your .224 Valkyrie rifle without needing to hire a gunsmith to do it for you. The good news is that most AR-15 barrels are easy to install and don’t necessitate a gunsmith. However, some barrels will require some additional adjusting to ensure a perfect fit.
Sure, you can hire a gunsmith if you do end up purchasing a barrel that is a bit more intimidating to fit onto your gun, but it’s going to cost you extra to do so. A barrel that you can easily fit onto your gun yourself will be preferable and cheaper.
The more durable your barrel is, the more abuse it can sustain and the longer it will last. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should go about abusing or torture testing your barrel as much as possible. But it is to say that a more expensive and durable barrel, such as one built out of stainless steel or aircraft grade aluminum or titanium, will be preferable to have than one that it is more cheaply made at the expense of cheapness of materials as well
A rust and corrosion resistant finish will also be a vastly preferable feature to have for your .224 Valkyrie barrel as well. There are few physical enemies to guns than rust, because it can corrode the metal and cause it to break down (and thus harm its performance). While you should always clean your gun down after using it when it’s raining, snowing, or humid out, having a finish applied to the surface of the barrel that is naturally rust and corrosion resistant will be preferable and worth spending the extra money for.
The 3 Best .224 Valkyrie Barrels For 2020
Now that we’ve covered the merits of the .224 round and what to look for in a barrel, here are our top three choices for the best .224 Valkyrie barrels for 2020:
Brownells AR-15 Barrels .224 Valkyrie Stainless Steel
The Brownells AR-15 Stainless Steel Barrel for the .224 Valkyrie is available with both eighteen inch and twenty four inch configurations. Between the two, the eighteen inch barrel will be better for hunting in the woods and for home defense, but the twenty four inch barrel will undoubtedly be preferable for long distance precision shooting.
This barrel also has an inner twist ratio of 1:7, which is excellent for the .224 Valkyrie round, and especially when you are using bullet weights of at least fifty five grains. Remember that you will want to use heavier ammo with the lesser bullet ratios. Brownells also built this barrel using a heavy and high quality stainless steel construction, and keep in mind that stainless steel is also well known for being much more rust and corrosion resistant over other kinds of metals.
It is worth noting that this barrel lacks a dimple in the gas block. While a dimple is not fully necessary in order for the rifle to function (it can function just fine without one), a dimple can help to better orient the gas block and keep it in proper alignment with the gas hole in the barrel. While screws will ensure that everything is kept properly in place, dimples can work to keep everything aligned if the screws become loose at all.
Additionally, when you buy a Brownells product, you know that you’re not just getting a high quality item but also high quality service. If you have any missing or defective parts or accessories, Brownells will always send you replacements right away, and their customer service team also has a solid reputation of being excellent to work with.
Brownells has crafted a solid barrel here for the .224 Valkyrie that is also much more affordable than many other competing .224 Valkyrie barrels out there. This is a very accurate barrel that is capable of shooting sub MOA groups while also offering you a durable stainless steel construction.
- Can be used with heavier .224 Valkyrie rounds
- Capable of shooting sub MOA
- Very accurate
- Available in either eighteen inches or twenty four inch configurations
- Cheaper than several other .224 Valkyrie barrels
- 1:7 twist ratio is good for the .224 Valkyrie round
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Gas block index has no dimple
BSF 20” .224 Valkyrie Carbon Fiber Jacketed Barrel
The most expensive .224 Valkyrie barrel on this list is the BSF 20” Carbon Fiber Jacketed barrel. The twenty inch is a good overall barrel length for the .224 Valkyrie because it enables you to get good performance out of the round while also not being excessively long as to be a burden in tight conditions.
This barrel is designed to be exceptionally tough and will last you for your entire life, as well as the entire life of whoever you choose to pass it on down to. With an inner twist ratio of 1:7, it can easily handle most bullet weights for the .224 round.
The entire barrel is jacketed in carbon fiber, and you can also choose between a black or blue coloring. The carbon fiber material is one reason why this barrel is so expensive: carbon fiber is incredibly strong and durable (as well as very rust and corrosion resistant), while also being relatively lightweight as well. Holes have also been drilled into the carbon fiber to help it vent air out so it can cool down faster; this is a very preferable feature to have for extended firing sessions.
The barrel itself is built out of 416R stainless steel, which is already very durable and corrosion resistant. The stainless steel in addition to the carbon fiber on the outside is what makes this barrel virtually indestructible and why it will last for several decades of hard, continuous use.
Are you looking for a .224 Valkyrie barrel that manages to be incredibly lightweight while also being insanely durable and well made? So long as you have the money to get it, the BSF Carbon Fiber Jacketed Barrel should be exactly what you are looking for.
- Very easy to install
- Very tough and durable
- Twist ratio of 1:7 is ideal for the .224 Valkyrie round overall
- Choose between black or blue coloring
- Built out of 416R stainless steel
- Jacketed in carbon fiber
- Cools fast
- 20 inch barrel length is good for overall performance
Ballistic Advantage Premium Series .224 Valkyrie 20” Inch Fluted Barrel
The last barrel that we will look at today is the Ballistic Advantage Premium Series 20 inch Fluted Barrel. This is a high quality barrel with a durable stainless steel construction and an array of impressive features to provide you with an overall excellent value for the money.
The fact that this barrel is fluted is also a major plus. A fluted barrel means that material has been removed from the outside of the barrel, thereby creating grooves in the surface that both decreases weight while simultaneously increasing surface area, which theoretically improves the overall rigidity of the barrel.
Ballistic Advantage gave this barrel a bead blasted finish, which is both a pro and a con. On one hand, a bead blasted finish is technically more vulnerable to rust over other kinds of finishes such as smooth or polished stainless steel or cerakote. But on the other hand, it does remove any kind of reflectiveness from the surface of the barrel, so the sun from a particularly bright day is not going to be any issue for you.
Fortunately, the barrel itself is built out of 416R stainless steel, which is a very durable and rust resistant finish on its own. It’s just that the bead blasted finish over that stainless steel is going to make the stainless a little less rust resistant that nit could be otherwise.
Additional neat features of the Ballistic Advantage include a nickel boron coated extended M4 feed ramp extension for superior reliability, aesthetically pleasing lines, and 1:7 twist rate.
The Ballistics Advantage is an overall superb value thanks to the number of features it offers, including a 416R stainless steel build, fluted design, and M4 feed ramp extension that’s been nickel boron coated.
- Fluted barrel design decreases weight and increases rigidity
- 20 inches is good for overall performance
- Bead blasted finish removes reflective surface qualities
- High quality 416R stainless steel construction
- Nickel coated M4 feed ramp extension
- Bead blasted finish also technically makes barrel more vulnerable to moisture
The .224 Valkyrie is an excellent round to use out of the AR-15, but remember that the barrel is the single most important component of the firearm that will impact the performance of the .224 Valkyrie the most.
When putting together your personal .224 Valkyrie AR-15, any one of the three barrels that we have covered here today will be an excellent option, or otherwise you could choose any other barrel that has the qualities and features we covered earlier as well.
Featured image by UltimateReloader