FN uses a polymer lower receiver and it looks, at a glance, very similar to an M16 lower. It features ambidextrous magazine releases and safeties in the same familiar positions. Note: The safeties only need to be flipped 45 degrees compared to the M16/AR-15's 90 degrees to fire semi-automatic.
My test sample had a trigger pull that weighed a little more than 6.5 pounds. It had some take up and creep before breaking; in other words, it is a pretty typical military type trigger. But it is a consistent trigger and predictable, and I had no problems shooting the SCAR 16S accurately.
The SCAR is designed specifically for 62-grain M855 ammo. Which I did not have. But I am happy to report that the Scar 16S was accurate with every bullet weight that I tried.
Even the light 50-grain V-Max bullet provided excellent accuracy. I would have guessed that it was far too light to group as well as it did. My single best five-shot group measured a scant .64 inches and was produced by Black Hills 69-grain match ammo. For the accuracy portion of the evaluation I used a Trijicon AccuPoint 3-9X scope mounted in an American Defense Ad-Recon scope mount.
For field shooting I switched to a
Trijicon TA31TRD ACOG with a red dot mounted topside for close range shots and found that the SCAR 16S possesses excellent handling characteristics. I was able to make quick and accurate hits on my steel targets.
If you're used to M16s/AR-15s you'll find the SCAR 16S an easy gun to adapt to. Its magazine release, bolt lock, and safeties are in the same general area as those of an M4.
After shooting the SCAR side by side with a 16-inch AR-15, I found it hard to verbalize the difference. Recoil feels slightly different, but I can't say if it is different better or different worse. Just different. At 50 yards, my time between shots during a rapid fire exercise was almost exactly the same with both guns.
FN ships the SCAR 16S with folding front and rear sights that will in all likelihood be used as backup for an optic. The front sight is adjustable for windage and elevation with tools and the rear sight can be dialed in for windage and elevation by hand. Both sights are rock solid when deployed and did not demonstrate any wiggle.
My test rifle came with one steel magazine painted flat dark earth to match the rest of the gun. Based on the M16 magazines any Mil-Spec magazine will work with the SCAR 16S.
Breaking It Down
Disassembly of the SCAR 16S is simple and does not require any tools.
Start by removing the magazine and clearing the chamber. Push the captive take-down pin from the left side until it stops. Push the trigger module forward, separating it from the backplate. The entire module can now be pulled down from the receiver. The buttstock module can now be pushed down and off the receiver assembly backplate. Pull the charging handle rearward and apply downward pressure to the guide retaining plate, then pull the charging handle all the way to the rear. Pull out the charging handle and remove the return spring assembly by pulling it out toward the rear.
The entire moving parts assembly (bolt carrier) can now be slid out through the rear of the receiver. The small end of the charging handle can be used to push out the firing pin retaining pin out of the bolt carrier from right to left and remove the firing pin from the rear of the bolt carrier. Remove the bolt cam pin from the left side of the bolt and then the bolt can be removed from the carrier.
To remove the gas piston, make sure that the front sight is in its up position. Turn the gas regulator clockwise to the
4 o'clock position and remove it from the rifle. With the muzzle pointing down, use a cleaning rod with a bronze brush (FN cautions that stainless steel cleaning brushes should never be used as they could damage the chrome lining) to gently push out the gas piston from rear to front.
FN also warns against lubricating the gas piston, regulator, or gas block as it may damage the rifle. Further disassembly should only be performed by a department armorer.
The one thing that impressed me most about the SCAR 16S is that it was still a very clean gun after firing 400 rounds. Granted, that is a very low round count, but I know there is a significant amount of carbon that needs to be removed from my AR-15 when I have fired this many rounds.
In the SCAR 16S the piston was dirty, as was the front of the bolt carrier. This carbon residue was easily removed. But the bolt and its lugs were still relatively clean, as was the inside of the upper receiver. And that's the real advantage of the piston system: Weapons stay cleaner, work better, and inspire user confidence.
In April, a battalion of U.S. Rangers were deployed into combat with the SCAR-L rifle. Feedback from this and other units will determine what the military does next with the SCAR. It is not unexpected that there will be modifications before the military places larger orders.
My very brief evaluation was just too minimal to develop any true criticisms of the SCAR 16S. It was accurate and reliable and performed exactly like we'd expect a battle rifle to.
Time will tell whether the SCAR-L has earned the right to replace the military's M4 carbine. As for the SCAR 17S, the civilian version of the SCAR H, FN tells me that it will be introduced at the 2010 Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT).
Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.
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