THE FNH SCAR- 16 – Silvercore Firearms Training BC
BY JERRY JONES | POSTED ON 04/17/2014 BY JERRY JONES | IN LONG GUNS REVIEW
In late 2004, FN Herstal won the contract from the United States Special Operations Command for a new, modular, and adaptable rifle system. The FNH entry was called the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR). The new rifle system offering was rumored to be slated for several different calibers, including 6.8 SPC. To date, the FNH SCAR is only available in factory form in 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm. The FNH SCAR saw service with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the two variants, the SCAR MK16 (5.56), commonly referred to as the SCAR-L for Light, and the MK17 (7.62), commonly referred to as the SCAR-H for Heavy. In 2010, SOCOM announced that it was cancelling the MK16 program. The initial claim was that the MK16 did not do anything better than the current M4 offerings. To my knowledge, a couple of units still field the 5.56 SCAR-L in the 10.5 inch CQC variant. The SCAR family of rifles operate off of a short stroke piston system. The SCAR family of rifles are also completely ambidextrous, a bonus for left handed shooters who often are at the whim of right hand designs.
My love affair with the FNH SCAR line of rifles began in early 2010, when I acquired my first personally owned SCAR 16s. The rifle is the civilian version which currently only is offered in the 16 inch, and in semi-automatic only. Some of the features really struck me. The first thing I noticed was the massive size of the bolt carrier. It appeared very well designed and more robust than the standard AR15 offerings.
Looking at the external features, the rifle was fully adaptable right out of the box. It requires no extra purchase of MIL-STD 1913 rails to mount any mission essential gear on. It is fully adjustable for both length of pull, and for cheek weld adjustment. The length of pull is helpful, as the ability to shorten the stock to fit various different day to day body armor styles is very helpful. The folding stock might be an asset for some officers, but I am neither hot nor cold on it. I could see it might be a bonus for some in car mounting systems where space is limited. As I stated earlier, the rifle is fully ambidextrous. It comes from the factory with an ambidextrous magazine release. It also comes from the factory with an ambidextrous selector switch. It is also worth noting that the selector switch only rotates 45 degrees instead of the 90 degree selector found on most AR15 style rifles. The bolt on the SCAR line of rifles is reciprocating, and the bolt handle is designed so that it can be mounted on the left of right side to accommodate a wide variety of shooting styles.
In the next 15,000 or so rounds that went down the tube, one of the major perceived drawbacks to the weapon became pretty apparent to me. The SCAR 16s gets hot when ran hard. While the heat transfer on the bolt is minimal, the front of the factory fore arm and front sight block get very hot. Adding the FNH rail extension helps if your shooting style puts the off hand out front as far as possible. Or if you are going to run it hard, you can simply wear gloves. It isn’t really a problem for me as much as an observation. Aside from that, some officers that I work with and I have found the recoil impulse to be very accommodating to speed shooting.
Another of the perceived drawbacks of the SCAR line of rifles is the length and positioning of the bolt handle. Some operators have rightfully stated that depending on which optic that is used, it becomes harder to use the bolt handle due to how close the bolt handle rides to the mounting of the optic. There are a number of good offerings out there of after market bolt handles if this is a problem for you.
In my humble opinion, the police carbine has a few things that fall in the category of a must, and a couple that fall into the category of things that are nice to have.The first must is a good sling. The SCAR 16s has multiple sling points on the rifle as it comes from the factory. They are both right and left side, and also include a slot in the top of the rear of the stock. It is completely left up to personal preference and the imagination on the set up of the sling. I personally like the HK style hooks on the Viking Tactics line of padded slings. I also added a Magpul Rail Sling Adapter to the bottom rail and run it all the way back near the magwell. I like this a bit better if I have to transition to a pistol, or sling the rifle tight for whatever reason.
Another must is a good white light. While there are literally thousands of offerings out there, some are problematic due to the design of the SCAR rifle. I spent quite a while toying with the various light attachment designs. I am a fan of the Viking Tactics light mount attachments. However, to accommodate the bolt carrier design, the SCAR is a little taller than most AR15 designs. I prefer a lighting set up that I can shoot a high thumb, or C grip from either shoulder, without having to change my grip and style of shooting. The two methods I found that best accommodate this is to either run a 500 lumen SureFire X300 ultra at the 12 0′clock position or the SureFire M720V Raid light with the pressure switch at 12 o’clock on the top rail. A good white light and sling are the must on any police carbine.
The nice to have items start with a good quality red dot sight. The full length rail on top of the SCAR gives an officer a pretty wide latitude on where to mount it. The Aimpoint T1 is a great fit. I bought a tan EoTech and mounted it on one of my SCAR16s and ran it for a while without issue. The T1 in an intermediate mount that provides absolute cowitness is a great option. The T1 has an obscene battery life and I just leave it on constantly. When I pull the rifle out of the trunk of my cruiser, I just have to chamber a round. I do not have to worry about turning my optic on, or worry about the battery running down. I just replace my Aimpoint battery in the spring when I change out my home smoke detector batteries and I am good to go.
I also run the Magpul stubby vertical fore grip on my SCAR rifles. I use it primarily as a hand stop, and it also comes in handy in supported barricade shooting.
The last item that can be problematic with the use of a SCAR as a duty rifle is that not all magazines will work in the SCAR16s. Most GI spec metal magazines will work fine, but some of the Magpul magazines will not work in the SCAR16s. The new version Magpul Gen3 mags will work in the SCAR without issue. Older Magpul magazines can be successfully modified to work in the SCAR16s. All it takes is a few minutes, a file and an internet connection.
The FNH SCAR16s is a great all round police carbine. Its modular design and ruggedness makes it ideal for police service in any conditions.
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