SCAR field testing

Several months ago I spent a few days helping my old unit field test the new Scar rifle that is supposed to replace the M4.  All and all I came away with a favorable impression of it, with a few tweaks I think the Special Operations community would be pretty satisfied with it.  The Scar, isn’t the revolution some make it out to be, after all, the gas tappet system (or gas piston as FN likes to call it) has been around for a long time but it is a step up from the gas system on the M16 family of rifles.

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8 Comments

Filed under Weapons and Tactics

8 responses to “SCAR field testing

  1. Interesting to see you’ve used this weapon system and had a good experience with it. As I recall, there’s a “heavy” 7.62mm and a “light” 5.56mm version, correct?

    Also, any idea if there’s still a move towards that 6.5mm round in terms of special operations?

    • Like many weapon systems being marketed to the military these days the SCAR is sold as being a “modular system” meaning that you can switch out the barrel, bolt face, and magazine well from 5.56 (light) to 7.62 (heavy). This was a savvy decision on FN’s part, it effectively ends the never ending argument over the merits of these two calibers as far as which is better. Theoretically, everyone gets what they want.

      As far as 6.5, I’ve heard of a SF team testing it during a deployment a few years ago. They came away with a good impression but I don’t think anything ever came of it. It is like some Special Operations units switching to .300 WinMag for sniper rifles…now you have the rifle, but how to do get the ammunition for it in theatre when it is not a part of the Army’s logistics system. With some growing pains that problem was over come but as far as 6.5 being accepted and used by the Special Operations community, well, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that, especially now that the SCAR provides both light and heavy supposedly eliminating the need for an “intermediate” round.

  2. Interesting re: the SCAR. Reminds me of the old Stoner system, and a little more recently, the AUG and it’s ability to go from bullpup SMG to pseudo-LMG in a few moments (I can’t remember if the bolt assembly and barrel can be swapped out to give you the 9mm AUG SMG version or if that’s a separate weapon based on the same design).

    The logistics problem regarding the 6.5mm makes sense. If you’re going to be out with the locals for weeks or months at a time, you’ll need standardized ammo or a really big backpack…

    • Interesting comparison, you’re right that the concept is the same. The SCAR is an attempt to do it all with heavy and light barrels but they also fit short, medium, and long barrels of both calibers. By long, I mean length wise, I think 10 inch to 16 inch barrels. FN also designed another SCAR variant to be a Designated Marksman rifle to replace the Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) which was basically a more accurate M16 with a nice two stage trigger. Last word on that was that the project had been canceled, probably because it couldn’t compete with a rifle that was built from the ground up for long range precision fire.

      The ammo issue can really plague the military even in this day in age. My last deployment I had trouble getting normal rounds already in the inventory and assigned DODIC numbers. Some people will even insist that some types of ammunition just don’t exist! Then there is so called “black” ammo and explosives that is only for Special Operations… Needless to say I’m glad I was in operations rather then logistics.

      • Along that same vein, while I’ve got your ear, could you share for a moment the official/unofficial policy on “scrounging” weapons and ammo?

        By this I mean, do teams in the field ever decide that it might be worth it to pick up a couple of AKs and some mags to have on hand in case ammo gets a little sparse, or was that really frowned upon? I imagine this would apply much more to teams way out in the boonies, living hand in hand with the locals, whose weapons and ammo are similar to those the enemy is using.

        I’m sure there are tactical reasons against this, but I was curious if it happened with any regularity.

      • Good question, I can at least get into some aspects of this. It’s strange, officially, this is definitely frowned upon by the brass. So much so that they tell you horror stories about what you can and can’t do with weapons. One of my favorites was the story about how a SEAL put a different butt stock on his M14 and was thrown in the brig for it. They also tell these stories to stop guys from chopping the springs on their guns to create a lighter trigger pull, specifically on the double action M9 Beretta.

        On the other hand, in the Special Forces Qualification course you are trained as a part of doctrine to conduct “battlefield recovery” which as you can imagine means using captured enemy weapons, ammunition, and material to augment your own forces. I did this personally when I was with a patrol that found a sizable enemy cache in the desert by arranging for those weapons to be handed over to the Iraqi SWAT team I trained.

        As far as US forces doing it, well, it happens. For instance, I carried a AK-47 in Afghanistan because using the SR-25 I was assigned in a vehicle was unwieldy to say the least. I’ve also heard of contractors having to scrounge whatever they can because the firms they worked for didn’t provide everything (or anything) they needed. Regardless of what the reg’s say soldiers are going to adapt using what they have on hand if that is what it comes down to but I wouldn’t say it happen regularly.

      • One last question regarding the SCAR system if you don’t mind – I see in the photo that the weapon has what appears to be a suppressor of some sort fitted with a bicycle tire-styled quick release.

        I’m curious as to how effective such a small suppressor is for a weapon firing (I’m guessing) a 5.56mm round. I’m guessing that it’s more to muffle the report / hide the muzzle flash so that in low light and cover-heavy situations it’s more difficult to pinpoint the shooter based on the weapon’s report / muzzle flash, and that it doesn’t come anywhere near making the gun “quiet”.

        Could you comment briefly on the tactical use of suppressors like that on non-pistol caliber weapons like the SCAR or M4?

        I really appreciate the time you’re taking to provide feedback here – it’s very helpful for my own research.

      • No problem J.E. What you are looking at as the bicycle style quick release towards the front end of the rifle is actually the flip up front sight post. As I recall the suppressor didn’t fit on with a conventional locking gate mechanism but had a internal metal disc that you had to rotate into place.

        I found this suppressor to be fairly impressive, a step up from the old SOPMOD ones we had for M4’s. You are right that suppressors don’t work like you see in the movies (most soldiers I’ve trained are shocked by this) especially with a rifle that isn’t really designed to be silent. The suppressor obscures the sound of the shot, makes it more difficult to discern where the shooter is located, and helps hide the muzzle flash as you mentioned.

        Tactically, the way I’ve seen suppressors used during missions is for the point man to carry a suppressed weapon during infiltration to the target. This isn’t so much for killing sentries, although that could work to, but for shooting the feral dogs that make a racket and bite the assaulter team members.

        Now, you can load your rifle with sub-sonic ammunition and you pretty much would have the silent shot you see in movies. The only problem is that with so little powder behind the round the rifle will not cycle forcing the shooter to rack the bolt manually to chamber the next round, in other words semi-automatic is out of the question.

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