.224-24 Nosler – Wildcatting a Non-Existent Standardized Cartridge

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    With a relatively long neck and perfect overall length to case length ratio, the .224 Valkyrie cartridge is capable of securely holding and launching ballistically superior projectiles thus providing an unmatched long range performance in the AR-15 platform.

    What a nonsense! What in the world is a non-existent standardized cartridge? OK, let me explain. At the beginning of 2018, a new Nosler cartridge was added to the list of SAAMI standard cartridges – the .24 Nosler. However, as of the moment of writing this article (early January 2019), I couldn’t find any place which had this cartridge available for purchase. That’s why I call it a non-existent standardized cartridge. Now let’s discuss the idea of wildcatting this cartridge and creating the .224-24 Nosler.

    The .224-24 Nosler wildcat cartridge is (will be) created by using one of the simplest wildcatting techniques – necking down the parent case. Particularly, it will represent the .24 Nosler case necked down to .224 caliber and trimmed to case length of 1.6″. This wildcat does not exist in a brass form yet. It is just an idea that I decided to discuss with you. If you, my reader, tell me in the comments that this is not a terrible idea and if Nosler starts selling this cartridge, then maybe I should try to actually make this wildcat, chamber a rifle and see how it performs in real life. Currently, only available products related to the .24 Nosler cartridge are the reloading dies made by several companies. The Nosler Model 48 NCH bolt-action handgun also has the .24 Nosler as a caliber option. Technically, I could do the actual wildcatting by using the .22 Nosler brass, but as I said, before making it I first want to hear your opinion. Now let’s see why I consider creating a cartridge so similar to .224 Valkyrie but based on the .24 Nosler case to be a good idea.

    The Rebated Rim

    The .24 Nosler cartridge has a base diameter of .422 which means that it is based on the .30 Remington (or 6.8mm SPC) case. Just like the .22 Nosler, .24 Nosler also has a rebated rim of .378 diameter – identical to .223 Remington rim. The idea of having a rim rebated to .378 is to make the rifles chambered in these calibers use as many common AR-15 parts as possible. Particularly, just like in the case of the .22 Nosler, the rifles chambered in .24 Nosler (and our wildcat .224-24 Nosler) will require using the most widely available bolt – .223/5.56 bolt. Combined with the overall length of 2.26″, which is also identical to .223 Remington, these cartridges will require only a new barrel and 6.8SPC magazines to build an AR-15 pattern rifle.

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    SAAMI drawing of .24 Nosler cartridge

    I am sure that many of you will argue with me by saying that if you are going to build a rifle chambered in a wildcat cartridge, then you can probably live with having a little bit less common 6.8 SPC bolt which is still commercially available. I’ll partially agree with you. However, I think having a higher level of parts commonality with the AR-15 platform will allow to dramatically increase the popularity of the cartridge among wider circles of firearm enthusiast. I am pretty sure that the less special or relatively hard to find parts are used in a new caliber build, the more attractive it would be for shooters and builders. You can literally find .223/5.56 bolts anywhere because it is the standard and most popular AR-15 bolt.

    Another advantage of the .223 Rem bolt is that all other factors being equal, it is stronger than the 6.8 SPC bolt thanks to the thicker ring surrounding the bolt face.

    .24 Nosler (image from www.Nosler.com)

    Some of you may also point out the little drawbacks of the rebated rim design. Rebated rim cartridges are more prone to causing a bolt override malfunction when the bolt slips over the rebated rim and fails to chamber a new cartridge. Theoretically speaking, the likelihood of such malfunction is indeed higher with the rebated rim, however, if you have a properly built rifle with a proper gas system length and BCG weight, this should not be a concern. In the case of bolt action guns, such a problem should not exist at all. There were also reports showing that the .22 Nosler brass is too soft and after firing it deep extractor and ejector marks are left on the rim. This is, however, an issue related to a poorly made case (not hard enough) not the case design itself.

    To wrap up all the above-described reasons of choosing the .24 Nosler as a parent case for the .224-24 Nosler wildcat, I’ll say that I like the idea of rebating the rim to .378″ and I think these Nosler cartridges (.22 Nosler and .24 Nosler) have a huge potential of being parent cases for creating many other wildcat cartridges for the AR platform.

    Case/Overall Length Ratio

    Now, you may be asking, if I want a .224 caliber cartridge with the Nosler rebated rim, why don’t I consider the .22 Nosler? The answer is simple. While having a larger case capacity, the .22 Nosler still uses bullets with short ogives similar to the .223 Remington due to the case and overall lengths being identical to .223 Remington. So all you gain with .22 Nosler is pushing these ballistically mediocre bullets at higher velocities. The result is a not too impressive long-range performance. Evidently, this is not just my opinion, but the reaction of the market in general. I observed this tendency at SHOT Show 2018 which to me denoted the start of extinction of .22 Nosler and triumph of .224 Valkyrie. At SHOT Show 2018, you could barely find anyone offering a new rifle chambered in .22 Nosler, whereas there was at least a dozen of companies offering new long-range rifles (both bolt guns and gas guns) chambered in .224 Valkyrie.

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    SAAMI drawing of .224 Valkyrie cartridge

    It was clear that .224 Valkyrie is a success. Although it has the same .422 base diameter of the case and even has less case capacity than the .22 Nosler, the .224 Valkyrie is a superior long range cartridge because its shorter case allows loading bullets with very long ogives that are ballistically superior and provide an amazing long range performance. The streamline bullets longer stay supersonic, provide less drop at a given distance increasing the point blank range and they are less affected by the wind. I tried many of the .224 Valkyrie rifles at SHOT Show 2018 including shooting one at about 800-meter targets and was really impressed with its performance. I call this cartridge boringly accurate. It was really easy to ring the steel target (at 800 meters) over and over without any recoil and I could literally do it all day long. In fact, the cartridge is capable of such performance at much more extended ranges. Lately, Sniper’s Hide has published a video showing the performance of the .224 Valkyrie cartridge at a one-mile target.

    So one thing was clear to me – the 1.6″ case length of the .224 Valkyrie (for loading to 2.26″ overall length) is perfect for long-range performance with .224 caliber commercially available long range bullets.

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    SHOT Show 2018. Author shooting the .224 Valkyrie cartridge and ringing an 800-meter steel target like a boss (image by Nathaniel F)

    Now let’s get back to the .24 Nosler and examine its case. Well, guess what? It has exactly the same case length (1.6″) and the same 30-degree shoulder angle and a similar neck length as the .224 Valkyrie. That being said, by necking it down to .224 caliber and trimming the case back to 1.6″ length we’ll make a cartridge that has the Nosler rebated rim and very similar if not identical case capacity as the .224 Valkyrie. So, I think it is safe to say, the .224-24 Nosler will be capable of loading and pushing the same bullets to same muzzle velocities as the .224 Valkyrie. Both cartridges also operate at same pressures – SAAMI Maximum Average Pressure of 55,000 psi.

    So the purpose of making the .224-24 Nosler is to make a ballistic duplicate of the .224 Valkyrie that will work with a standard AR-15 bolt. In other words, the .224-24 Nosler wildcat is an attempt to combine the Nosler rebated rim and the optimal Valkyrie case design. Wait, I just came up with a motto for this cartridge: “.224-24 Nosler – Best of Both Worlds!”.

    Again, if you consider the rebated rim more of a problem than advantage and/or if you think the use of a standard .223/5.56 bolt is not a huge advantage, then the idea of .224-24 Nosler wildcat should not make much sense for you. However, if you think the opposite, then you should be intrigued.

    At this point, I’ll use my high-speed low-drag computer modeling skills (*cough* just an MS Paint doodle *cough*) and try to mock up the drawing of .224-24 Nosler cartridge. Behold!

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    Mockup of the .224-24 Nosler wildcat cartridge case drawing. The changed dimensions are in red.

    And that’s the basic idea behind the .224-24 Nosler – the wildcat cartridge based on a non-existent standardized cartridge. What do you think about this cartridge idea? Do you think it is completely useless or do you think this cartridge should be made once the .24 Nosler brass becomes available? Feel free to praise or kill this idea in the comments section.

    P.S. The name .224-24 Nosler also sounds cool … just spell it: “Two Twenty-four, Twenty-four”. Sounds almost like the 22-250. OK, now I am sure you are going to execute me in the comments section for this heresy.

    Hrachya H

    Managing Editor

    Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying the history and design of guns and ammunition. He also writes for OvertDefense.com and SilahReport.com
    Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at [email protected]