In 3-gun competitions, having an accurate rifle doesn’t matter much if the shooter doesn’t know how to work it. The interaction between the shooter’s body mechanics and the rifle is so important that pro-level shooters spend many hours on the range and in the shop tuning their rifle to exactly fit their body and shooting style. What they come up with at the end of the day is a unique firearm. Having spent the last few years perfecting my own AR-15, I was a little hesitant to switch over to the SCAR 16S when I joined Team FNH USA. But after a couple months of tinkering and adapting the gun to my own shooting style, it’s starting to grow on me . . .

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When I started getting into 3-gun competitions, I didn’t immediately jump on a top-shelf AR-15 rifle. I still didn’t know if 3-gun was for me, so I cheaped out – my first choice was a WASR-10 AK clone. Being a poor college student, the affordable price of the gun combined with readily available low-priced ammo made it the perfect beginner’s competition rifle. Add a muzzle brake on the end of the barrel and strap on a chest rig and I was good to go for most competitions within driving distance of Penn State.

As I kept practicing with the rifle, I started to understand it better. I could predict how accurate I would be in a given situation and adjust my strategy accordingly. I knew its ballistics like the back of my hand, and anything 150 yards and closer, I was dead-on. I loved that AK, and if it weren’t for my teammates I probably would still be shooting it today. But after hearing me complain about the slow reload process and lack of long-range accuracy one too many times, they convinced me to dump the AK and get an AR-15 instead.

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Transitioning to the AR-15 was difficult, but after a couple months I finally came to understand it at the same level did my AK. I’ve been running the exact same rifle for a couple years now, and I finally have everything set up exactly the way I want it. It was perfect, exactly suited to the way my body works and how I like to shoot. That’s when FNH USA handed me a SCAR and I had to start from scratch all over again.

When Dan and Robert first ambushed me about joining the team, my first concern was about whether I could compete at the same level as the rest of the team. But right after my shooting ability, my next worry was the rifle I’d have to use. I had fired a SCAR 17S before, and I wasn’t pleased. The combination of the short handguards and the reciprocating charging handle weren’t my cup of ballistic tea. And the rifle just seemed… bulky. The prospect of having to use a SCAR 16S for an entire year didn’t seem like much fun to me at the time.

Shows you what I know. Five months and a whole ton of trigger time later, I’m running the gun harder and better than I ever ran my AR-15. And I don’t think I could ever go back.

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The first modification I made was absolutely essential. The original SCAR trigger is terrible for competition shooting, and the reason is that it was designed for combat. It’s heavy and over-engineered, which is great for going “downrange” into the “sandbox,” but for competition shooting something a little lighter with a much crisper break was in order. One call to Timney later and I had a replacement trigger in my hands.

While we’re mucking around down in the lower receiver area, the other modification I made was to the grip. The SCAR takes standard AR-15 grips, and since I had become used a Magpul MIAD grip on my old competition rifle, I figured it would be a good idea to stay with what works. Magpul was more than happy to ship one off, and it works great.

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The second most important modification was adding an extended rail to the gun. A couple different shops make extended rails for the SCAR platform, but this particular one is an FNH USA extended rail kit – it even came in a blue and white box.

The extra rail acreage lets the shooter get a more aggressive grip on the gun, which allows for greater maneuverability and makes the gun feel much lighter. It also gives you an advantage if you ever need to shoot through a hole in a wall at a long distance target, since you don’t need to stick the rifle into the hole quite so far to let it rest on the handguards instead of the barrel.

Hand in hand with the extended handguards were some rail covers. The guys over at Ergo Grip make a set of slim rail covers that, in my opinion, provide an excellent gripping surface while keeping your hands from being ripped apart by an abrasive Picatinny rail. The Texas state flag (from customgunrails.com) was just a little extra state pride-related bling with no real competition related purpose. That said, people at the local matches seem to love it.

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Change #3 was something that was necessary when I had the shorter handguards, but with the extended rails it has become more of a nifty gadget than a necessity.

When I was running my gun with the shorter handguards, I kept the charging handle on the right side of the gun. That kept it out of the way of my thumb, but it left open the possibility of it getting snagged on something. The side folding charging handle I helped design solves that problem by keeping the charging handle close to the gun, but big enough when deployed to clear the larger mounting devices used for optics.

Thanks to the  extended handguards, I no longer have any trouble keeping my hands forward of the charging handle, so I’ve swapped it over to the left side of the gun. Nevertheless, I still find having that extra bit of length is helpful in keeping my knuckles from being busted, especially with the gigantic nuts that Warne uses on their scope mounts.

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Finally, the last thing that has made all the difference is the choice of optics. When I started shooting the rifle, Leupold, a Team FNH USA sponsor, had sent me a Mark 6 1-6 scope for the gun and it was massive — not only in its dimensions, but also in the weight of all that glass. My SCAR started off being much lighter than my AR-15, but with the addition of the scope, it was practically a boat anchor.

Following the Zombies in the Heartland match, I needed to send the Mark 6 scope back to Leupold. I had somehow managed to break an optic that was designed for heavy use in combat zones, and they needed to see it back in the shop. To replace it, I slapped on a Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 1.5-4x scope that I had picked up at the local Bass Pro Shops for about $450. And honestly, I much prefer it over the $2,000+ alternative.

While the scope doesn’t have the extra 2x magnification of its big brother, it uses a standard Mil-based reticle instead of the pre-computed ballistic reticle. And it also weighs half as much, which is a big improvement. The addition of a SwitchView throw lever makes it perfect.

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When I first got my new SCAR, I wasn’t a big fan. Out of the box, it just didn’t fit my shooting style or my body mechanics. But after a couple tweaks, and about 3,000 rounds later, there’s no way in hell that FNH USA is ever getting this rifle back. The only question I’m left with is what I’m going to do with my old competition AR-15 . . .

34 Responses to Learning to Love the SCAR: How a Couple Modifications Make All the Difference

  1. Since it sounds like it’s taking up too much room in your safe, and since you practically begged me, I guess I’ll go ahead and offer to take that AR-15 off your hands.

    Email me for the particulars on the FFL to send it to. 😛

  2. I know this has nothing to do with the SCAR, but I noticed your AK picture was taken at Scotia range. I’ve been shooting there for the better part of a decade now and still try to get out about once a month. You might be happy to know that in the last few years there have been a lot more college aged men and women showing up at the firing line. The second ammendment is alive and well in State College, PA.

  3. The practical rifle competitions are what drive young men and women to go shooting. Ranges need to adapt to this type of shooting… especially Fudd dominated ranges.

  4. I know exactly what you mean. Started with an AR, then an AUG, back to an AR, then an HK 91, back to an AR. Even though I placed better with the 91, the AR just fit better.

  5. “The only question I’m left with is what I’m going to do with my old competition AR-15 . . .”

    Ahemmmmm…. {cough, cough} need my address?

  6. While I do feel tempted to make the “Send me your AR!” joke, I think you should put it up for auction on Gunbroker (or some similar website) and donate the proceeds to a charity (my suggestion would be for the Wounded Warrior Project, but whatever works).

  7. Never have or will like that POC FN plastic CRAP! Want a good 5.56mm rifle get a AR-15. If you have to go Euro get a SiG-552. SOCOM ditched it because it offer nothing over a M-4/M-16 why do you need it for matches then. Any way Say go back to a AR Nick you kick butt with it in the match.

    • Have you actually handled & shot the SCAR?

      I have, in both S & H versions & it is no more a piece of plastic crap than the AR, so how about criticising the rifle based on functionality, rather than NIH syndrome?

      • I see “Lance” has found his way over here. If it’s the same person, he used to post controversial comments over on TFB. Eventually his post quality deteriorated to the point of near-gibberish and most people started to view him as a troll.

    • I think we need an article entitled “SCAR” in which the word “SCAR” is repeated 400 times. Nothing else in it.

      The people who love SCARs can get their adoration out, the people who start quivering in rage at the sight of the word “SCAR” can have their heads explode like watermelons at a friendly summer shooting gathering, and everyone else can ignore it and enjoy the quiet that ensues.

    • They are still crying because the military said what everyone else already knew, the SCAR is an over hyped POS. Let them have their little articles so they can feel better.

  8. Hey look, it is Nick shilling for FNH again. Not really at all surprising when you consider this site is ran by Jews, they’ll do anything for a few more shekels.

  9. What aftermarket mag is that by the way that fits the SCAR. I have used standard Pmags but they have feed issues sometimes.

  10. The best part of this article, is the fact Nick left his giant Timiny Triggers advertisement off the stock, gun fans everywhere are happy….

  11. It’s sad to hear that racist crap on anotherwise upbeat and informative thread.
    Do you really think FNH is owned by Jews? Do you have any factual basis for your conclusion?
    If so, they’re doing a fantastic job. I have an FNX 45, and I find it to be the best large handgun in my collection. I have a SCAR 16 S on layaway, to be followed by a 17 S. They are expensive weapons, but if you don’t like the prices, simply buy something else. Saying that a Porsche is a good/bad machine, but if you don’t want to part with the funds, just say so, and don’t go racist/xednophobic. Just remember, we are all enthusiasts of firearms. I have mine in case somebody trys to give me and my family a free train ride to a “summer camp”

  12. I just bought a scar 17s…Haven’t shot it yet but just picking it up…I don’t like the plastic/polymer lower receiver which I’m planning on upgrading to aluminum. Looks like it may be a long wait on one that’s complete…Also looks like a long wait on a parts kit for non complete one. Also plan on upgrading the plastic butt stock…but can’t find one that looks credible. Oh…gonna have to replace the charging handle…it just sucks. They say the trigger can be problem…The receiver and barrel look nice.

    • Lower parts are interchangeable. No parts kit needed…unless you just want to change the trigger. Buy the Stryker put in your parts, done.

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