This is the first rifle I’ve been excited over in years. I have a lot of experience with the FAL and think it is a great rifle, but it is 60 year old technology. Surely there is some tangible improvement? So when the SCAR-17 (SCAR-H) became available in semiautomatic for civilian sales, I was very interested.I read many reviews from reliable sources (meaning they aren’t carrying full page FN ads in their gun magazine) and the reviews were generally positive. So I sold several guns from my collection and bought one.
I have been searching for a general-purpose rifle (GPR). That is, a gun that can handle close quarter battle, as well as reasonable accuracy at 600 meters. A lot of this is in the optic selected. More on that later.
Now this is going to seem like a sin to some collectors out there, but I am not a collector. I am a shooter. And a pretty rifle is hard to really test out for fear of scratching it. So the first thing I did was to spray paint the rifle with Rustoleum Tan, with some sage, brown and green. Good for the Sonoran desert and now that the color is no longer an issue, and I’m no longer worried about scratching it, I can get down-and-dirty with it and see how she runs.Next things I noticed was the light weight, the ease of charging, and the absolutely atrocious trigger (more on that later). I also noticed the stock latch was defective. I’m trying to be nice, but it is defective. It sits too high to latch without the first depressing it. I beveled the edges and rounded the cam surface on the stock and it is now better, but it still takes a good snap to latch open and I’m just waiting for the tabs to shear off.
Iron sights are adequate but I don’t think there is enough material around the rear peep sight aperature. It doesn’t make for a good sight picture. I will probably replace it with a different one after I confirm the heights are the same.
Disassembly is a breeze. Remove front pin (retained) in trigger mechanism housing, slide forward. Slide stock assembly down. remove spring and guide. Retract bolt carrier. Remove cocking handle to free bolt carrier for complete removal. Bolt is rotating like on the HK G36.
The trigger is atrocious. More on that later.
Depress plunger and rotate gas regulator, retract. And this is the part I’m not thrilled with. You need a cleaning rod to push gas piston forward from the rear. I’ll look into that more later. Time to shoot.
Since Accuracy testing was my initial interest, I put a Leupold MK IV on it. 10x scope with .308 BDC and mil-dot reticle. I also added a TANGO DOWN bipod, although this prevents the stock from folding. I’d need to move it forward one more groove on the rail and there is no space for that.Update: VLTOR, MI, Primary Weapon Systems and FN all offer an extended rail. I’ve used both the MI and the PWS. MI includes the bottom rail, and it puts the top rail on the same level as the receiver rail The PWS has the top rail stepped down. What one wishes to mount here may affect your choice, but they are both good. Not necessary unless you plan on mounting something here – I’m using an IR laser with PVS14 night vision.
I fired 200 rounds from 25 to 330 meters. I was using Portuguese FMP 147g ball. Once I got the scope dialed in I fired 20 rounds at 100 meters. 16 of the rounds were within 1.5″. I think that is pretty impressive. I am less interested in the best three round group of the day than the extreme spread of a full mag. I used a sandbag front and a rolled up towel under the pistol grip to eliminate operator error (me!) as much as possible.
While the 10x Leupold is good for a Designated marksman scope, it lacks speed of target acquisition for multiple targets at various ranges.I had one painful malfunction when I obstructed the reciprocating charging handle with my hand. One would think this self-correcting, but I’ve since done it twice more. Okay . . . I’m a slow learner. I moved it to the right side, like on the AK, M14, and M1 Garand.
I tried an Aimpoint for rapid shooting. It worked well out to a hundred meters. Very fast. The rifle balanced well.I cut my finger because the throw lever was on the left side and in the path of charging the weapon. So whatever side your cocking handle is on, the mounting lever/screws for optics should maybe be on the other side.
Off-hand, balance again was nice.Here is YouTube link to my daughter shooting it.
I really think the SCAR-17 is a step up from the other 7.62 offerings, but what about the SCAR-16? It’s probably not as big a step up over a quality AR-15, but in one area I think it is, and that’s shooting with a silencer.DI ARs require some tweaking to function well with a silencer, and even piston ARs that don’t have a silencer setting can have excess backpressure. So I sold off 2 of my ARs and bought a SCAR-16. I’m pleased with it, especially from a training perspective – my light rifle and heavy rifle are functionally the same, other than caliber.
Well, I tried to be conservative and turned the gritty, creepy 8-3/4 pound trigger to a still creepy but smoother 7-1/2 # trigger. This was keeping all the same angles and engagement depths, only truing the surfaces. It still was unacceptable.I took a gamble and cut the hammer like I do on HKs. Using the PSG-1 as a model, I reduce the width of engagement by 25% each side. Then I reduced the height of engagement from .090″ to .050″. For reference, my minimum on the FAL or HK is .022, with .025″ my goal.
It is now a pretty nice 6#, and no amount of manipulation has been able to force a hammer follow, nor did another 150 rounds of live-fire. It still isn’t where it should be, but it’s definitely better.
FN to the commercial market is poor. In their defense – they are supply our military’s Special Operations Command, and I expect support will come eventually. There was a temporary shortage of magazines, but they are now common and around $35 retail.As for the rifle – I like it so much I sold my FALs and bought two more 17s and another 16. And since I’ve had a 20+ year love-affair with the FAL, that’s saying a lot. That’s my best endorsement.