For decades now, detractors of the M16/AR-15
rifle have been calling for the US Military to replace that
weapon. Problems have been addressed and solved for the most
part over the years, but more recently, the shorter M4 and M4A1
have been experiencing problems in the deserts of Iraq and the
mountains of Afghanistan, and for at least some units of our
military, the M4 series is on its way out. The replacement is
the short-stroke gas piston operated Special Operations Combat
Assault Rifle MK16 and MK17 rifles from FN Herstal. A few months
ago, the U.S. Special Operations Command began fielding the new
weapons, starting with 600 members of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The two new weapons are very similar,
differing primarily in the cartridge for which each is
chambered. The MK 16 fires the 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge, and
the MK 17 fires the 7.62 x 51mm NATO cartridge. Both weapons
feature user-changeable barrels, and barrel lengths vary from
ten inches to twenty inches, depending upon the weapon.
The rifles are capable of full-auto fire, have
folding/telescopic buttstocks, and both can use the MK 13
grenade launcher. Many in the military have high hopes for the
success of these rifles, as do I. Our soldiers and Marines
deserve to have the best fighting rifles available to them, and
hopefully, these new FN rifles will solve the problems
experienced with the M4/M16 series of weapons.
For the rest of us, FNH-USA is marketing the
civilian version of these newest weapons in the USA as the SCAR
16s and SCAR 17s. The 7.62mm 17s is to be formally
introduced at the 2010 SHOT Show in January, but the 5.56mm 16s
is available now. I recently received the SCAR 16s for review,
and will state right off the bat that this is a fine weapon.
The upper receiver is made from aluminum, and
the lower is made of polymer. The 16s has ambidextrous controls,
and uses M14/M4/AR-15 magazines. The civilian version comes with
either one ten-round or one thirty-round aluminum magazine,
depending upon the model chosen, to comply with local and state
laws regarding magazine capacity. The upper receiver has an
integral full-length Picatinny rail for mounting optical sights,
and also has three additional rail sections for mounting lights,
lasers, bipods, or other accessories. The sixteen and
one-quarter inch barrel is free-floating within the hand guard,
is rifled one turn in seven inches, and has a hard-chromed bore.
The buttstock is adjustable for length-of-pull, and also folds
to the right side for easier transport or use in confined
quarters. The buttstock locks onto the empty case deflector when
folded. There are numerous sling attachment points on the 16s.
The grip is of AR-15/M16 style, as is the bolt release lever and
the magazine release button. The SCAR 16s is very easy to use,
and the controls are logically and conveniently placed.
The SCAR wears a good set of folding sights, fully adjustable
for windage and elevation correction, with dual apertures at the
rear, and is marked for distance on the elevation adjustment.
The comb height is adjustable for easier use with optical
sights. The trigger pull weight averaged six and one-quarter
pounds, and feels pretty much like an AR-15 trigger pull. With
an empty thirty-round magazine in place, the SCAR 16s weighs
seven and one-half pounds.
The SCAR 16s has a reciprocating bolt handle
that can be switched to either side, and it also serves as a
forward assist, for seating a reluctant cartridge, if you like.
The magazine release is also ambidextrous, which is a nice
feature. The muzzle is finished off with a threaded-on PWS
muzzle brake, which is an excellent choice. That is arguably the
best muzzle brake made for a 5.56mm rifle. It is very effective.
The gas regulator has two working positions, plus a disassembly
position. The normal position (12 O’clock) is for unsuppressed
use, and the second operable position (10 O’clock) is for use
with a sound suppressor.
I fired the SCAR extensively using the
folding sights for a limited amount of time, but mostly using a Trijicon
ACOG scope. The ACOG works very well on the SCAR 16s, and
has reticle markings out to eight hundred meters. For accuracy
testing, I mounted my “mule” scope. That is my Leupold Mark
4, 8.5 to 25 power scope that I use often to see just how much
potential accuracy that a weapon possesses. This SCAR 16s is a
target rifle, disguised as a fighting rifle. Accuracy was
amazing, using Wolf Gold Match and Buffalo Bore match ammo, and
was also very, very good using Lake City 1990 manufacture
military ball ammo. This is a half-minute-of-angle rifle.
I only have experience with this one sample, but if they all
shoot like this, it is an extremely accurate design. I realize
that most soldiers and Marines do not need a rifle that is
match-accurate, but it certainly does no harm, and makes the
rifle viable as a dedicated marksman’s rifle as well. With the
SCAR now being in service with U.S. troops, it should qualify
the rifle for use in NRA sanctioned service rifle matches as
Reliability was perfect with every type of
ammo tested. There were no failures to feed, fire, extract, or
eject. Perfect. Recoil is, as expected, very light. The muzzle
brake does a very effective job. I have used the PWS brake
before, and again, it was an excellent choice for this rifle.
With the MK 16, FN Herstal has set out to
build the world’s best 5.56mm fighting rifle, and the SCAR 16s
is as close to that rifle as most of us can get, legally. It is
a well-built rifle, very reliable, easy to shoot, and
match-accurate. The price tag to own such a piece is not cheap.
As of this writing, the MSRP is bumping right up against the
three thousand dollar mark. However, that is not too far out of
line with some of the AR-based piston rifles available, and the
SCAR system must be pretty good, as it beat out other designs
for the USSOCom contract. FN manufacturers the great majority of
our small arms now in use with U.S. troops, and the SCAR seems
to be well-accepted by those who handled, fired, and fielded the
new rifle. The SCAR 16s comes with one magazine and an owner’s
manual, and is available either in black or the Flat Dark Earth
finish shown here. You never regret buying the best.
For more information on the SCAR 16s and
other FN Herstal weapons, go to www.fnhusa.com.
For the location of an FNH dealer near you,
click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the SCAR 16s online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
For a closer look at the optics used in this
review, go to www.leupold.com
To order the Buffalo Bore Sniper ammo shown
here, go to www.buffalobore.com.
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
||To buy this gun online, go to:
Leupold 8.5-25x Mark 4 scope was used for all
Trijicon ACOG scope.
Crimson Trace vertical foregrip / light / laser
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