Here beginneth the dry, technical part of my FN-SCAR review. I can’t help it; I was (briefly) an engineering student, and whenever I notice myself starting to write a technical paper I get drier than a box of hard pretzels. So grab a beer (or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice) to wash it down with, and read on . . .

After the previous weekend’s run-and-gun, I picked up some heavier-weight bullets (commercial reload 64-grain BTSPs) and mounted a 3-9×32 scope on the SCAR’s full-length top rail for some serious accuracy testing. As before, the SCAR fired everything it was fed without a single malfunction. And almost without perceivable recoil; how cool is that?

The following table shows the results of a long afternoon of shooting with budget-priced ammunition. None of the rounds fired were match-grade ammunition; in fact all these measured groups were obtained with commercially reloaded ammunition. (Note: TTAG has recently secured the benevolence of an ammo sponsor, which may save me from having to hunt the reload shelved at gun shows.) Each of the following data points represents a five-shot group, fired from sandbags placed under the foregrip.

50 yds (Aimpoint) 50 yds (9x scope) 100 yds (9x scope)
55 gr FMJ 1.75” 0.72” 2.1” (1.4” w/flyer)
2.15” 0.53” 1.9” 6 shots (1.1” w/flyer)
2.4” 0.70” 2.1” (1.0” w/flyer)
1.4”
2.5” very hot barrel
2.1”
AVG 2.05” AVG 0.65” AVG 2.03” (1.16” if flyers excluded)
64 gr BTSP 0.95” (vertical string) 1.1” (cold barrel)
0.84” (vertical string) 1.7”
2.1”
AVG 0.9” AVG 1.6”

From this data, I would conclude that the FN-SCAR 16S is a two-MOA rifle, or slightly better, when fired with the kinds of ammunition that most of us could reasonably afford to shoot in large quantities: 55-grain PMC, Remington Green Box, and commercial reloads.

I noticed that the SCAR’s pencil-thin barrel heats up quickly, and also cools down quickly, at least in the damp cold conditions I experienced. The day’s smallest group, 1.1 inches at 100 yards, was fired from a cold barrel after I walked downrange to change targets, and after I paused at least 60 seconds between shots. On a sunny, hot day the SCAR might never cool down enough to behave like this.

My limited data sample also suggests that the SCAR’s fast-twist barrel prefers heavier .223 bullets than the 55-grain variety most often encountered on the cheap. I was not able to test the really heavy 77-grain bullets, but the 64-grain bullets produced groups that were both smaller and more consistent than those produced by 55-grain bullets. (There were no flyers with the 64-grain bullets, and I consider this significant.)

I may be speculating without basis, but I wonder if the 55-grain bullets are spun too quickly from the SCAR’s barrel, causing unpredictable flyers that ruin otherwise excellent groups. Almost every 55-grain group consisted of a very tight 4-shot group, ruined by one conspicuous outlier. Another explanation might be that my sample 55-grain ammo suffered from poor quality control, but I didn’t feel like weighing each round and putting it through a concentricity gauge to find out. In fact, I probably never will.

While not documented in the above table, I noticed that the SCAR is more accurate when the fore-end is supported on a sandbag or its vertical foregrip, and slightly less accurate when fired with a barrel-mounted bipod. This, along with its heat-sensitivity, I attribute to the thin barrel profile. A heavier barrel would alleviate these issues (if they were actually serious enough to be called ‘issues’, that is) but would upset the SCAR’s delightfully quick and precise handling.

It may look like a large and unwieldy rifle at first glance, but it handles with a speed and precision that another half-pound of barrel steel could easily ruin. Considering that the SCAR is already as accurate as many bolt-action .223 rifles, this would be a poor tradeoff.

I don’t consider my results to represent the best accuracy possible from this rifle, because of several variables I could not eliminate. First, a more thorough test would have included at least two brands of premium match-grade ammunition, which our budget did not allow.  Secondly, I would have preferred to test this rifle using the large-aperture Leupold 10x scope which I’d planned on using, but which through no fault of its owner was not available on my range day.

Finally, I am not a premier marksman and cannot consider myself the last word on a rifle’s accuracy.  My eyesight is not what it used to be, and I don’t put enough rounds downrange from scoped rifles each year to qualify as more than a reasonably good shot with one.

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12 Responses to FN-SCAR Accuracy Results

  1. Thanks Chris. I always like to see the numbers. The stringing is common with another thin barreled .223-the Mini. Supposedly you can fix the Mini by doing good job of bedding the stock, it doesn’t seem like that would apply here. While it seems like a great rifle, $2300 can buy a lot of customization on your AR or Mini (or Sig 556 or MSAR STG, if you are into that kind of thing).

  2. The SCAR was designed around the military’s current M855(62gr) ammunition.

    Battle rifles are NOT designed to be sharp shooters. A soldier wants 1.5 to 2 MOA accuracy. Loose spec = reliability when dirty. Increasing a battle rifle’s accuracy decreases its reliability.

    I have AR that will shoot 1.2 MOA, but I would not want them in battle.

    You can not convert an AR15 or Mini, at any cost, to offer the benefits of this rifle, the primary of which is an in-line piston system, and no, AR pistons are not “in-line.”

  3. I shot the SCAR and thought it was a straight-shooter, less accurate than a good bolt action .223 but more than accurate enough for its purpose. I couldn’t justify the price differential betwen the SCAR and a quality black rifle except for one thing: the SCAR is dead sexy, and looks do count. It’s a sweet rifle.

  4. Bolt guns will be more reliable and accurate than semi-autos.

    From Zack Smith:

    The bolt gun will be more accurate and easier to shoot.

    As background, I owned a high-end AR-10 built by JP Enterprises in the 2003-2005 timeframe; I know several shooters who still use them from time to time for long-range shooting; and I have seen a bunch of people try to campaign them in 3-Gun competition (which is not really the same as long-range shooting).

    The AR-10 is more finicky for accuracy. While a good bolt gun will usually shoot almost anything as accurately as the ammo is able to shoot (eg, an AI-AWP shooting Aus surplus into 1-1.25 MOA), the AR-10 will be more specific in the loads it will shoot accurately.

    The AR-10 more moving parts, and those parts start to move during firing. The practical effect of this is that absolute accuracy will be reduces vs. a bolt gun and the shooter will need to be more cognizant of a consistent body position and control over the rifle during firing for consistent accuracy.

    The AR-10 has a lot of reciprocating mass. There are basically three recoil impulse events during firing: the initial impulse from the bullet starting to move at ignition; the buffer and bolt carrier group changing direction when the buffer bottoms out in the receiver extension tube; and the bolt carrier group slamming forward into battery. A bolt gun has the first, but does not have the second two events. The effect of the two extra impulse events is that it can be much harder to keep an AR-10 on target throughout firing to stay on target and spot your hit or miss.

    Also, historically, AR-10’s have been significantly less reliable than AR-15’s (not to mention bolt guns). I have heard good things about some of the “new” AR-10 pattern makes, such as the DPMS.

  5. I really don’t think you could ever get an AR-platform rifle to handle like this one.

    We shot a Rock River AR-10, all too briefly, in our Black Rifle comparison, and the Rabbi’s words ring true. The AR-10 has a stout recoil pulse, especially from a carbine-length version. I have little experience with AR-10s, but Rock River puts together 1st-class rifles and our example behaved perfectly through about 100 rounds of Remington green box.

    Let me say a little more about the almost complete lack of recoil from the SCAR, also. Up until now, I considered the AK-74 to be the most nearly ‘recoilless’ tactical carbine on the civilian market. While none of the 5.45mm or 5.56mm carbines really give you a ‘kick’, there is always some degree of weapon jiggling and muzzle climb that tells you (aside from the muzzle blast) that you’re not shooting a Ruger 10/.22.

    HK-93s manage to be the hardest-shooting carbines in this class, because their roller-locking operating system doesn’t bleed off any combustion gasses or toss any counterweights rearwards to lessen the recoil. HK-91s and CETMEs, in .308, are worse still. AR’s always end up just a little off target after a shot is fired for me (and I don’t care for that ‘klung’ sound that the buffer spring makes), while the AK-74’s very low boreline and highly effective muzzle device let me keep the gun squarely on-target, even during very rapid firing. There is a little nudge of recoil, but it’s almost perfectly in line with the bore and shoulder stock so there’s no muzzle climb. I suspect that the small ‘recoil’ pulse actually comes from the reciprocation of the AK’s massive piston and bolt carrier, and not from the bullet or gasses leaving the muzzle.

    On the SCAR, basically, none of these phenomena occur at all. There’s a loud report, a swirling of combustion gasses upwards a rearwards from the muzzle brake (quite visible in cold weather), and the tiniest of straight-line taps on your shoulder. Whether you’re shooting irons or optics, there is *no* muzzle climb and *no* deviation from your point of aim. You’re never too old to rock and roll with the SCAR.

    The rapid-firing videos of my friend Andrew show this perfectly. (Not that he’s old.) In a further review, I’ll include some video that shows how the AK-74 behaves in the same situations; it’s good but not SCAR good.

  6. Would be greatly interested in any reports/testing of the SCAR 17S.

    Maybe there are some available and I just don’t know of them???

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

  7. well once again you guys did not notice the defective sliding buttstock. It’s too loose, and thus rattles too much. When attached to a sling, this clacking noise can be heard out to 200 yards on a quiet night, giving away the shooters position – a deathtrap in combat. The military and FN are aware of this, but a fix has not been made yet. Too bad – otherwise it seems like a good rifle.

  8. I have 4 scars 2 16s and 2 17s. The older ones with the original flashiders are way more accurate. I get 1/2 moa with reloaded 175 matchkings on lakecity brass. I also get under 1 inch from my 16s. the new scars with the pws muzzle breaks are looser specs.

  9. Thanks , I have just been searching for information approximately this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve found out till now. But, what concerning the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the supply?

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