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SCAR 17: Game Changer Or Pretender?

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The FN SCAR 17S is the civilian version of the popular .308 rifle currently used by U.S. Special Forces. Read more here at Recoil Magazine.

Time for the SCAR 17

FN SCAR 17S Range Test

As the current line of military firearms surpasses the half-century mark, manufacturers are working to produce the next generation of small arms. Enter the SCAR 17.

Aging designs patterned after the AR-10 and AR-15 have served the U.S. military well, but there is always room for improvement. Through the use of modern design theory and advanced materials, FN Herstal seeks to change the game with an entirely new design, the SCAR.

A Look at the SCAR 17S

The SCAR 17S is the semi-automatic civilian version of United States Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) newest battle rifle, the SCAR-H.

What initially impressed us was the light weight and compact size of a rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win). We were able to fit it in a short, 30-inch zippered bag, thanks to the SCAR’s folding stock.

The AR has always needed a folding stock, but the buffer tube assembly rendered that impossible. FN overcame the problem with a totally different design that moves the recoil assemblies forward far enough for the stock to fold.

FNH SCAR 17s folding stock side view.

FNH SCAR 17s folding stock side view.

Overall, the SCAR 17S is a solid, rugged design, and the weapon has a very nice feel and balance in the hands. Its light-profile 16.25-inch barrel features a 1:12 twist rate and a hard-chromed bore.

An FN-marked PWS FSC muzzle brake  comes standard. This four-pronged brake is great for both its recoil- and flash-reducing properties.

The Test Gun

For our review, we equipped the SCAR 17S with a TangoDown Stubby Vertical Grip, Surefire X300 Weapon- Light with XT07 Remote Switch, and the aforementioned Aimpoint optics.

We also switched out the Aimpoint optics for Trijicon’s ACOG 6×48 (factory calibrated for 7.62) for longer-range shooting. To stretch its legs, we first ran the SCAR 17S as a tactical carbine.

Our course of fire was up close and personal, with paper targets situated at 10 to 20 yards and steel targets at 50 and 75 yards. We fed the SCAR American Eagle .308 Win 150 grain and didn’t experience any hiccups.

The .308 definitely packs a big punch compared to .223 Remington, and the steel gongs we engaged swung violently each  time they were hit by the SCAR 17S.

This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 1.

Be sure to check out the new book Tactical Gun Digest.

Corey Graff contributed to this article.

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  • wag1911 says:

    I read this article from your magazine which I borrowed and think this is one of the best overall articles on this rifle. It was more insightful and well written than most of the gun rags would do.

    Here are my thoughs on what could have been done to make it better.

    A little more time should have been spent with the gun and different ammo tried especially.

    #1 – Nothing was mentioned of the Mil-Spec trigger which is rather rough at about 7-8lbs with quite a lot of creep and a rough reset. Frankly, the trigger should be smoother on a $3k gun. Alternatives are to have Bill Springfield smooth it out to around 5-to-5.5 lbs and eliminate the creep, get a 2-stage Geissele Super SCAR, or go with a Timney Single Stage that apparently isn’t precisely fitted and has some play within the trigger housing. My take is that the trigger is either about the same, or slightly worse, than a Mil-Spec M16 trigger. Frankly it is the biggest impediment to accuracy in the system.

    #2 – There are options available for the bolt handle for optics such as the Trijicon ACOG.(p.100) I.E. custom mount with screws on opposite side (that’s what I did w/a Nightforce Scope) / use the bolt handle on the right side instead of the left / use an angled bolt handle…it angles downwards for more clearance. You touched on some of these but didn’t actually try them….

    #3 – the PWS FSC 30 is basically a Muzzle Brake that can also reduce flash signatures. It is not as good at flash suppression as other designs – like the Smith Vortex – nor was it meant to be (caption p.100). A MUZZLE BRAKE is a muzzle climb reducer that channels the muzzle gas in such a way as to keep the rifle’s muzzle from climbing & moving side-to-side as much as it normally would after firing. Put a suppressor on it and you not only reduce noise, but you reduce muzzle climb and virtually eliminate the flash signature. You are right on the money about it being loud but it isn’t because of the muzzle device per se. It is because of the shorter carbine barrel.

    #4 – 175 gr bullets in a .308 carbine with a 1:12 twist barrel tells me that that ammo selection was an afterthought. This is not a sniper rifle and long, slow, bullets like the BH SMK 175gr are not optimal for this barrel. The reason is the shortened barrel will reduce muzzle velocity to about 92%, on average, of the stated MV. So everything is slower. For factory ammo most 168’s are as high as you’d want to go for this platform / 155 gr should be optimal / 147 gr Military Ball is a little over-spun but works in all atmospheric conditions – exactly what it was designed to do.

    3” groups with Black Hills loaded 175gr Sierra MatchKings is not very good though maybe you guys were not shooting from a rest to test the rifle’s capability? Depending upon atmospheric conditions a 175gr is most probably under-stabilized according to the Miller Stability Formula. I will say that I do better than that with 34 year old 147 gr surplus ammo. With reloaded match-grade SMKs at 168 gr, I have shot 3/4″ groups at 100 yds from a not-so-good rest and I don’t claim to be a great marksman. I think most rifleman can shoot around 1.5-2.0 MOA from a rest with the appropriate ammo.

    Take care and Happy Easter.

  • Raj says:

    hmm .i just got a savage 11. the short ciaton variant of the long ciaton 110. savage 110 $500 (I actually didn’t really look at the 110 s prices, so this is a random guess)stainless factory or aftermarket? factory would add on $200. aftermarket then who knows. brake depends on whether it’s part of the barrel (from the barrel manufacturer), you had a gunsmith thread & install a brake, the barrel was threaded and you installed a brake, or you threaded and installed hte brake. suppose you had a gunsmith or the barrel marker install it. add $350. suppose you DIY, the brake cost $120. new stock is $100recoil pad + ammo holder is $25never head of Caldwell. suppose its a decent brand. $40Simmons has nice scope, but you could got a better deal with Barska. $70.never heard of this sling but assuming it’s a decent brand, $40. what’s the total?$1225. stainless factory barrel that you had a gunsmith thread and install a $125 brake on$1500 if you got a very nice barrel from Keriger (sp?) that’s all threaded an stuff all you had to do is screw on a brake.$1095 if you got a factory SS barrel and DIY thread & install brake. now how did you buy this rifle?off Buds’: add $125 for shipping & FFL transfer fees.from a retail store: add $350 to rifle’s cost and $100 for SS barrel option. and sales tax if applicable.from a other online store: add 15% to gun’s cost.from a good buddy that’s also a 01 FFL: as-is price as provided.References : I got my rifle off Bud’s.its $420 for gun, $6 for scope base, $7 for rings, $77 for FFL. $510 out the door.I plan on threaded muzzle, adding brake (DIY) and buying a decent scope, right now I’m using my .22lr’s scope. while I really like Barska I think it’ll try and get a high end scope. something fancy with a BDC.thread & brake adds $200 to the gun’s cost.the scope will probably tack on another $350-$380, making this rifle a $1000 gun.

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