Manufactured by Fabrique Nationale, the FN SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) series of battle rifles is well-known and highly regarded among military personnel and law enforcement officials.
The FN SCAR rifle series is in use by multiple SOCOM units, including the U.S. Army Rangers, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Marine Raiders. They’ve also been utilized overseas in over 20 countries by military allies and counterterror units.
Modular Requirements of SCAR Rifles
Designed based on the requirements of the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle program in 2003 and the U.S. Army Individual Carbine competition in 2011, the FN SCAR rifle series earned the honor of being adopted by SOCOM.
Ben Voss, the project manager for the FN SCAR series, provided a brief overview of the military’s requirements. According to Voss, the U.S. military wanted a light rifle and a heavier version that would have modularity and common operating features. This eliminates the need to train shooters on two different styles of rifles and improves the ease and simplicity of use on the battlefield.
The Scar Modularity
When it comes to modularity for the FN SCAR, the monolithic upper receiver starts out as aluminum. The lower receiver, made of polymer, houses the fire control system and secures the magazine.
The FN SCAR modular assault rifle platform is a completely unique design. It’s a selective-fire, gas-operated weapon with two major rifle subtypes: The SCAR-Light (also known as the SCAR-L or Mk16) is chambered for 5.56x45mm rounds and the SCAR-Heavy (also known as the SCAR-H or Mk17) is chambered for 7.62x51mm rounds.
However, while the SCAR-H can be fitted with a conversion kit that allows it to operate 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, the SCAR-L cannot be converted to operate 7.62x51mm NATO rounds.
The key idea of their modular system is that it provides the U.S. Special Forces with a large variety of configurations that can be completed within a matter of minutes. While the layout, controls, and maintenance procedures of these configurations are all the same, the SCAR-L and SCAR-H have commonality between 90% of their parts.
In addition, these weapons have three detachable barrels that can be easily replaced in under five minutes: a standard (S) barrel, a close-quarters combat (CQC) barrel, and a long-barrel (LB).
While the SCAR-L has 30-round magazines, the SCAR-H uses 20-round magazines chambered for 7.62x51mm ammo. The SCAR-H also accepts AK-47 magazines chambered for 7.62x39mm rounds. This allows U.S. soldiers, after exchanging barrels, to fire other types of ammunition.
The SCAR-H can also be equipped with a 40mm FN40GL-H Mk2 grenade launcher, and the FN FCU Mk3 fire control unit is used to increase the grenade launcher’s accuracy.
FN SCAR-H Adoption
In 2004, the U.S. Special Forces announced that the FN SCAR series would be adopted for use by the military. In 2009, FN SCAR rifles were finally fielded to U.S. troops when soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment were deployed to Afghanistan.
In 2010, SOCOM decided to cancel its purchase of the SCAR MK16 due to a lack of funding. However, the SCAR MK17 continued to be utilized by the U.S. military because the SCAR-H’s caliber conversion kit allowed it to fire 5.56x45mm rounds.
FN Herstal released a statement regarding SOCOM’s decision, standing by the SCAR rifle series. According to FN, the issue wasn’t whether the SCAR Mk16 was the superior weapon system, but whether the military’s requirement for the 5.56mm variant was as important as other costly requirements with the military having a limited budget.
Variants of the SCAR
There are two semi-automatic variants to these assault rifles: The FN SCAR 17S and the FN SCAR 18S.
The FN SCAR 17S, intended for law enforcement use, is chambered in 5.56x45mm ammo. The FN SCAR 18S, which is also intended to be used by law enforcement officials, is chambered for 7.62x51mm ammo.
Law Enforcement and Civilian Use of the SCAR
The FN SCAR is a well-known rifle series, particularly among the military and law enforcement officials, although there are now variants available for civilian use.
Although the U.S. military only uses the SCAR-H, which is chambered for 7.62×51 ammo, the military has a caliber conversion kit that allows it to fire the smaller 5.56x45mm rounds used by law enforcement.
This rifle series has a lot of modularity and commonality with it’s operating features, which improves its ease of use and simplicity. While this is ultimately beneficial for those military forces and law enforcement officials that use them, it’s also useful for civilians who are shooting enthusiasts as well.
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