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FN SCAR 16s Review

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Roan, Mar 2, 2012.

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  1. Roan

    Roan Member

    Dec 5, 2010
    Southern Texas
    Executive Summary: It is awesome but expensive.

    I was recently able to acquire an FN SCAR 16S in Flat Dark Earth. It is important to note that the intended operator for this weapon is not a civilian at a range enjoying some accurate shooting with no external pressure, but a soldier in a war zone who absolutely needs the weapon to work accurately and reliably. This weapon is not a highly accurate and streamlined hunting rifle, a cheap and slick looking mall ninja toy, or a general purpose firearm. One important aspect of this weapon is the history and intent behind the weapon and how it impacts the weapon design.

    There is a growing movement in the military that sees a number of critical issues with the M-16/AR-15 platform. While the current generation of M-16s has a number of decent benefits, that platform has seen only mild changes (mostly in the realm of reliability) in the past 50 years, even as firearms design and military sciences have advanced. The FN SCAR is one of the more recent attempts to address a number of these shortcomings as well as to incorporate new philosophies regarding battlefield weaponry. The SCAR was designed to be more reliable than the M-16 (degree of improvement depends on criteria) while maintaining accuracy levels (though this is largely moot based on engagement ranges and physiological reactions to combat) and enhancing functionality. This last is manifested in a number of different ways. The SCAR was designed to be modular, allowing field and armorer levels to rapidly change out worn components or to change the battlefield role of the weapon. The rifle was designed to be customizable, from the telescoping/folding stock to the adjustable cheek rest. The weapon was designed around the concept of enhancements, from scopes to grips to lights, so that the weapon can be fully specialized or generalized for the roles in which it will be employed. This last is a vast change from the previous centuries of military weaponry which focused on interchangeability and standardization, but which allows individual soldiers the ability to more effectively fight.

    Though an army veteran, I will be evaluating the weapon as a civilian recreational shooter. The history and purpose of its design is important to understand, but the weapons sold to civilians will almost certainly never be called upon to fulfill these combat duties. As such, I will begin with:

    Aesthetics and Ergonomics: It is not uncommon to scoff at Aesthetics and Ergonomics, but these are an important and often overlooked aspect of civilian weaponry. Aesthetics are important to many, since we have an innate desire to possess those things that visually match their function. From a traditional standpoint, the SCAR is not pretty. From the tall upper receiver, to the angular design, to the stock that looks like a Ski Boot, the weapon is largely divorced from the sleek wood stocks of old. However, the rifle's overall appearance is distinctive and futuristic. The SCAR is clearly a 21st century design and the bold design certainly attracts attention. The unique appearance of the weapon is not without reason. Ergonomics on the weapon are superb, due largely to the aforementioned customization. This allows the shooter, in a very short period of time, to fit the weapon to their own tastes. The weapon points naturally and feels solid. Controls are largely ambidextrous, allowing the weapon to be operated by either hand. The much maligned charging handle makes manipulation of the bolt simple and intuitive and its visibility makes seeing the status of the bolt simple without needing to lose cheek weld. The charging handle can be easily switched to the other side of the weapon during cleaning without tools. Overall, the look and feel of the SCAR is what should be expected from all modern military arms.

    Accuracy: This is one area that I cannot effectively speak to authoritatively due to only being able to fire a collection of bulk 5.56mm 55 grain softpoint and ballistic tip rounds. Even with far less than match grade ammo, the rifle easily held a 2MOA three round grouping with the rifle's ghost ring sights. I expect this to be more accurate with better ammunition and optics.

    Recoil, Report, and Muzzle Flash: Recoil is pleasant, though no 5.56mm round can ever be said to possess an aggressive recoil. The weapon does an incredible job at softening recoil. The report was very pleasant... for the shooter. When shooting, while I still needed hearing protection, the sound seemed louder after reflecting off of the surrounding walls, giving it the odd sensation of having the echo louder than the initial sound. However, this comes at the cost of redirecting the full force of sound and blast directly at the shooters next to you. While amusing to ruffle the feathers of my friends with this concentrated sonic wave (and it wasn't anywhere near the omnidirectional shockwave produced by the Mosin Nagant carbines), I would hate to fire the weapon next to skittish shooters. As for the muzzle flash, we were shooting in the day so it was difficult to detect.

    Compatibility: The FN SCAR was designed to take AR-15 magazines. While the weapon ships with one 30 round magazine, acquiring new magazines should be simple. All of the handful of magazines I have tried locked into the weapon. However, there may well be AR-15 magazines that don't quite fit or require fitting. Further, the rifle has four picatinny rails, allowing the user to use the myriad of available attachments already in the market.

    Overall impressions: The weapon is a highly accurate, reliable, and pleasant weapon to shoot (not quite as pleasant for those in the focused wave of sound). The fit and finish are high quality. With the modern aesthetics and modular nature of the weapon, it truly matches the desired role of the weapon. However, this specialization in combat means that the standard civilian roles are handled less effectively than cheaper weapons that are focused on these tasks. If one is seeking a rifle for a very specific civilian role, this is not that weapon. For general roles and for interest in military arms, however, this is a fantastic weapon. It will certainly attract attention at the range.
  2. browningguy

    browningguy Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Nice writeup.
  3. CGRifleman

    CGRifleman Member

    Jul 16, 2010
    Great review! How is the trigger pull?
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