Big sky country is something that every eastern seaboard American should witness at least once in their life. I was lucky enough to be invited to the High Bar Homestead in Gillette, WY by Palmetto State Armory. If the scenery wasn’t enough to get excited about, the High Bar Homestead and the ranges on the property were enough to get this prior service Marine giddy with excitement. Between the known distance 1000+ yard range, and some unknown distance ranges located in the foothills of the Blackhills, I would have ample opportunity to stretch the legs of Palmetto State Armory’s 2018 lineup, which included the PSA-224, chambered in the new .224 Valkyrie.
I am not an avid long range shooter. Mind you, it is not by choice, but by geographical location. Living in Western Pennsylvania, nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, my long range shots typically can’t go further than 500 yards, with most opportunities not going past 350 yards. During my time in the Marine Corps, 500 yards was the money maker during known distance rifle qualification. Being a newbie to long range shooting, at first I felt that there would be a learning curve, but using the .224 Valkyrie from Palmetto State Armory proved to be like cheating on the test.
Solid Set Up
The PSA-224 uses a 416R stainless steel barrel with a rifle twist of 1:7. Standard mil-spec receivers in T6 7075 aluminum are used, and a 15” MLOK handguard was installed. The trigger used in this model of the PSA-224 used PSAs EPT Two Stage trigger, which proved to be a high quality trigger for long range shooting. The barrel was threaded for ½”x28 TPI, and comes with a standard A2 flash hider. The optic used during this range evaluation was a Vortex Viper PST 5-25X50mm first focal plane scope using a cantilever Warne 30mm mount. Ammunition tested was the Federal Premium 90 grain Sierra Match Kings (SMKs). The magazine supplied with the rifle was a D&H 25 round 6.8 SPC magazine. This setup proved to not only be highly reliable, but also incredibly consistent and accurate, even with shifting winds and a strong mirage across the range. Not to mention the nearly 500 rounds this rifle had seen from multiple shooters without being cleaned.
A Long Way Out
After some time at different yardages, stretching out to 1000 yards became easy. While behind the gun, making a windage call became second nature and hits kept stacking up on a standard steel silhouette. At one point, I took advantage of a lull in the wind. After firing 5 rounds, fairly rapidly given the range, I scored 5 hits within an 8” area directly center mass. After that experience, which was visible behind the rifle due to the low recoil of the .224 Valkyrie, and verified by a spotter, I became sold on the cartridge, and more importantly the PSA-224 sold by Palmetto State Armory.
After having fun at 1000 yards, myself and my official shooting buddy, Kat Ainsworth, began dialing in the scope for 1250 yards. We just barely ran out of elevation at 1250 yards, and shots required a 6 MOA hold over which proved to put the point of impact on the lonely steel silhouette. The mirage on our second day of shooting proved the be a challenge to see impacts, but after taking a trip up the mountain with our Range Safety Officer Jeff, we found the target to have a couple dozen impacts from the .224 Valkyrie. The only other impacts on the steel target was a half dozen shots from the 6.5 Creedmoor that PSA had out on the range.
The Grendel Killer
Personally, I am a 6.5 Grendel guy. I built one for myself, and I shot a 6.5 Grendel that Palmetto State Armory had on site at the High Bar Homestead. As much as it may pain me to say, the .224 Valkyrie may just be the king of 1000+ yard shooting with an AR15 magazine well. Between less drop, and more importantly less wind drift, the .224 Valkyrie with Federal Premium 90 grain SMKs, compared to the 6.5 Grendel using Federal Premium 130 grain Bergers proved to be better at yardages over 1000. The science behind what Federal was able to accomplish with this .224 caliber powerhouse is well thought out, and is noticeable on the range and behind the rifle.
Although credit is due to Federal Premium for the development of this cartridge, just as much credit is due to Palmetto State Armory for how affordable they made a rifle that shoots the .224 Valkyrie. A complete PSA-224 rifle from Palmetto State Armory sells for a reasonable $799, as configured in the rifle I was able to test and evaluate. Complete upper receivers with a bolt carrier group and charging handle go for $499 on sale, while blemished models sell for an even cheaper $349 when on sale at the time of this writing!
If you are thinking about long range shooting, I would highly recommend this rifle or complete upper from Palmetto State Armory. You wont go broke buying it, and you’ll have a blast pushing out past 1k yards!
Barrel Length: 20″
Barrel Material: 416R Stainless Steel
Barrel Profile: A2
Chamber: .224 Valkyrie
Twist Rate: 1 in 7”
Gas System: Rifle-Length
Gas Block Type: .750″ Low Profile
Upper Receiver: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Receiver Style: M4 Flat Top with Feed Ramps
Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Anodized
Forward Assist: Yes
Dust Cover: Yes
Handguard Type: PSA 15″ Lightweight M-Lok
Handguard Style: Free Float Rail
Handguard Length: 15″
Bolt Steel: 9310, Nitride Coated
Bolt Carrier Profile: Full-Auto
Staked Gas Key: Yes
Lower Receiver: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum, Caliber “Multi”
Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Anodized
Fire Control Group: 2-Stage Nickel Teflon Trigger Assembly
Buffer Tube: 7075 T6 Aluminum
Stock Adjustment: 6-position
Stock: Will accept any Milspec pattern stock
Magazine: 6.8 Aluminum Mag