Every gun in my collection has a purpose. I start with a concept of what I want the gun to do and then I build something that is absolutely perfect for that role. Last year I finished off my ideal 300 AAC Blackout build with a new Noveske upper, but there’s something else I’ve been working on for hunting season that is on the other end of the 30 caliber spectrum. Not only is it quite possibly the perfect hunting rifle for anything under 500 yards, but it’s proof that even an ugly duckling like the SCAR 17 can evolve into a beautiful swan given the right mofications . . .
There’s little debate about the aesthetics of the original SCAR series of rifles. It just looks like an absolute trainwreck of function dictating form. That’s great for the military, but it sucks when you’re trying to show off on the range. I decided that in order to perfect this rifle, it needed to be shorter, slimmer, sleeker, and quieter. That meant changing the stock, the handguards, the barrel length (to an NFA regulated 13 inches), and adding a silencer at some point. While the tax stamps were in process I started with the aesthetic changes.
The first thing that any good SCAR owner should do is immediately remove the Ugg boot of a stock and chuck it. Finding the perfect replacement, though, can be a bit of an issue.
My first attempt at doing something about that stock was with the VLTOR Re-SCAR stock adapter. This handy kit allows you to slap any standard AR-15 stock onto your SCAR, and even allows you to adjust the comb height to fit your body. It was a pretty good solution and the engineering was solid, but the aesthetics were still a bit off. It just didn’t flow with the rest of the gun the way I wanted it to.
In the meantime I also replaced the A2 grip on the gun with something a little more ergonomic. A Magpul MIAD is the go-to grip for my guns and so one was procured for this purpose.
While I was noodling with the aesthetics, one of my old friends at MH Machining had been playing with an idea I gave them. I hated the fixed charging handle on the SCAR 16 I used in competition shooting, so I asked a buddy with a CNC machine to design a better folding charging handle that would be less likely to catch on things while shooting, yet provided more surface area to get a grip when I really needed to yank on it.
The original version was great, but one day a package arrived with something even better. He had improved the design to make it even more sturdy and found a way to have the thing be fully ambidextrous. It was genius and I immediately slapped it on my gun.
The SCAR’s stock makes it look clunky, but the other reason it looks like a bloated fish are the rail sections on the front of the gun. Instead of looking like the svelte sleek predator it is, the rails make the gun look decidedly bulky, and they interfere with getting a good grip on the gun. There are some extended rail sections out there, but by far the best of these is produced by Kinetic Development Group. KDG’s SCAR MREX Rail slims down the profile of the gun and extends the rails giving the SCAR a more slender appearance while also providing more mounting options for lights and bipods.
The KDG MREX Rail is a definite win-win, and while they sent us one to review, (A) it was too long for my 13-inch SBR, and (B) was immediately snapped up by RF for his SCAR 16. So I bought a new shorter rail from KDG in black for my SCAR 17.
KDG also had another item which was perfect for my purpose, namely their SAS ACR replacement stock adapter. It filled that position perfectly, almost as if it had been designed for the SCAR series of rifles instead of the ACR. Then again, this is a Magpul design, so the sexiness shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
The final part I had in mind for the rifle was a silencer. My original plan was to use my AAC 762-SDN-6 for this project, but after AAC helpfully re-cored the can and fixed the worn latch, I never wanted to shoot it ever again. Not because it was bad, but because that was my first silencer and now that it was pretty and pristine again, I wanted to keep it in factory fresh condition.
Needing a new can for the gun, I first looked at the Liberty Chaotic. I talked with the guy who designed the can and he confirmed that it would probably be OK for shooting on a 13-inch .308 Winchester rifle despite it being mainly designed for .300 AAC Blackout usage.
It functioned, but it wasn’t perfect. The diameter was a little big for my taste, and while it kept the gun short, it was also a bit of a pain to install and remove. I wanted something with a fast-attach mount that was lighter and thinner, and the Dead Air Armament Sandman S was the perfect tool for the job.
I really like the Dead Air team. They’ve done a great job designing their first proper silencer (Mike Papas of SilencerCo fame brought a lot of weight to their engineering efforts), and as a result it not only looks amazing but it works really well.
Their Dead Air Sandman silencer uses a slick fast attach system that makes installation and removal a snap, and the internals turn a barking-loud SBR’ed .308 rifle into a stealthy pussycat. It does a great job and fits aesthetically with the rest of the rifle, so I regret nothing about the pile of cash I slid their way in exchange for it.
The final piece of this puzzle is still in flux. For a scope, right now I’ve got the brand new Atibal Velocity 1-4x scope mounted for testing purposes. I like the concept of the scope, but the reticle leaves a lot to be desired. I’m already working with them on trying to develop a reticle to my exact specs for their next run (to be branded an official TTAG-endorsed product if all goes well…I think) so that might be changing soon. The scope caps are covered to prevent them from being accidentally turned, the magnification range is ideal for the distances I’m targeting, and the size is ideal for this kind of gun. I’m digging it, but I really hope its successor stays on my rifle permanently.
I’m close. I’m very close. I’ve taken the ugly duckling of the original SCAR and upgraded it to the point where it actually looks like a sexy beast, and at the same time I’ve kept the FN action and accuracy that I loved about my SCAR 16 while I was on their competition team. In this current configuration (with this scope) I’m getting 100 yard groups that I can cover with a quarter and that’s before I’ve even touched the trigger. There’s definitely more to do, but even if I stop here, I’m pretty sure I could be happy.
No, I take that back. It needs to be perfect. Stay tuned. For now, here’s the parts list for everything you see:
- SCAR 17S ($2,898.89)
- 13″ Replacement Barrel ($1,149 + $200 ATF tax)
- KDG SCAR Stock ($299)
- KDG SCAR MREX Short Rail ($299)
- M&H Machining SCAR Folding Charging Handle ($135)
- Atibal Velocity 1-4x ($579.95)
- Dead Air Sandman S ($1,049 + $200 ATF tax)
- Magpul MIAD ($35.95)
Total cost: $6,845.79. For now.
I think “swan” might be too strong a word.
Platypus might be closer.
A very pricy platypus indeed.
I would have swapped out lowers to accept sr25 mags, but that’s my opinion. Probably the first thing I would have done but meh, it’s your system, glad you’re enjoying tinkering with it.
Once you dumped a few hundred dollars in mags for it the Handi defense lower is nice but not necessary.
True story. Went to my LGS one fine day with some overtime in my pocket. Rough transcript is as follows:
B:“Howdy K, what’re you looking for today?”
KJ: “I need some SCAR 17S mags.”
B: “You want Thermold, right?” (Hearty laughter)
B: “Let me see… “ (Clicks across 2-3 wholesaler websites.) “Looks like they’re $41 a piece”
KJ: (Winces) “Eh… Screw it. Give me 7.”
I’ve got no good reason to buy a Handl or X-Products lower. Although I’d be interested if anyone gave me the name of a MFG making AR-10 lowers that take SCAR mags.
Ow… Almost $7k for a 308 SSAS? You sir have a lot of disposable income. That’s almost twice what I paid for my custom mk18 clone (I call it a mod 3 as it includes all the features I think the current generation lacks.)
Heck $7000 is more than I spent on my car! On the other hand, the wife and I were completely debt free (house and everything) before my 40th birthday, and have substantial funds in the bank.
Toys like this are fine if you are loaded. If you are middle class like most of us, the $7000 is better spent on paying off debt.
I have what most people would consider “a lot” of guns. However, I don’t think the combined cost is anywhere close to $7000.
I have tricked out a couple of Mosins and went all Mall Ninja on an AR, but that’s about it.
If Nick’s got the coin, go for it. I’ll watch from here.
Exactly! I appreciate cool stuff – like Nick’s rifle here. It is just too pricey for me! I still enjoy reading about higher end firearms.
Lost Down South, if the total value of all of your firearms is less than $7k, you by no means, have a lot of guns. Get to buyin’.
Oh, I don’t know. You could get a lot of Mosins for $6,999.
I agree $7,000 is not a lot in guns. I’m only 24 and I have a little over $30,000 invested purely in guns. I need to buy a bigger safe now to keep on the addiction!
It’s Americugh, the man can do what he wants with his coin.
Nice gun, but way too much. You could get a new Accuracy International for that sort of cash. I’m also not sure how you define “perfect”. For me, a .308 is a distance weapon, not a CQB one. You give up a fair amount of power knocking 5 inches off the barrel.
In fact, I’d be curious to see if this gun outperforms a. 300 BLK. For subsonic rounds, the 300 BLK is superior to the .308 and for supersonic, I’d be interested in comparing the 300 BLK with your reduced velocity .308. Add to the fact that your standard mag loadout on the Blackout is 50% greater than the SCAR and I’m not sure your SCAR is a winner in any category.
Oh I think we can all agree that it’s a hobby gun. It’s not a particularly good hobby gun, but it doesn’t have to be. I just think it’s silly when you can build an AR10 platform to do the same thing just as well for half the cost. The only thing that keeps the SCAR from being useless is that it’s a pretty good rifle for the price. When you dump several thousand dollars of mods into it, that advantage goes away real quick.
I just finished building my 20″ barrel LR308. (The only factory parts left are the receiver and safety.) It cost me 1/2 of the rifle cost and I would be more than happy to put it up against any SASS on the market.
Agreed, I really enjoy modifying and improving guns, motorcycles, trucks, etc but have found for just a half step under “elite” you can get pretty damn good for half the price… Or if you “need” elite wait for one to come up used for half price… 🙂
I read some articles/posts recently about 12 inch .308 sbr (leonidas) that made them sound like they did quite well inside 500 yards. Keep in mind Nick has a suppressor too, so its really longer than the 13 inch barrel alone. Obviously it’s not as quiet as .300 blk subsonic, but I’m pretty sure the .308 sbr beats it everywhere else, and keep in mind he said it was HIS perfect inside 500 yard hunting rig. I can’t find the posts right now but I’ll come back and link them later when I get a chance, or you could search Leonidas .308 sbr ballistics and find some yourself. I was absolutely amazed at how little a 12inch .308 gives up to a 16 inch especially inside 500 yards.
I’d like to see the bill of materials.
What does it cost for a rifle with shotgun slug range, runs quiet and looks cool at the same time?
Sorry. Somehow missed it up there.
Nick, you are so much classier a gun owner than I am. Seriously, and that is cool. There are all types of gun owners. Some are cheapskates like me and some are classy like you and Robert.
My method of gun collecting goes more like this.
I want a .22 rifle for plinking fun. Marlin 60 for $97. I want a center fire rifle for plinking. $80 M44 Mosin.
Ten years later, I want a “modern sporting rifle” and pick up a Saiga 7.62X39 for $310. Then, I do just enough mods to legally run American made 30 round Surefire mags. Then, I decided to get into handguns and picked up a milsurp CZ82 for $220. I wanted a pocket pistol. Kel-Tec P3AT $200. I wanted a revolver. Rossi 461 .357 mag. $200. Then, I wanted a Glock. Used Glock 22 for $329.
I decided to add another couple .22 plinkers and a $129 Marlin 795 and a used Mossberg bolt action ($115) showed up. I wanted a .22 plinking handgun, and bought a used NEF .22 revolver ($115). Then I wanted another, and really splurged on a $300 Ruger SR22, and finally a SA .22 Heritage Arms revolver $129. I wanted a 12 gauge pump. Pardner Pump Protector $169, and a backup Stevens 320 for $149.
The most money I ever spent on any gun was the $500 I spent on a new Gen 3 Glock 19. Even my “fancy” S&W revolver is just a $369 J-Frame 642. My “fancy” Colt revolver is a humble Model 1917 ($325).
I’m cheap, but have built up a pretty fun collection of toys. My whole collection of rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and pistols cost far less than this one rifle. But if you have the cash to spend, and no wife to piss off great!
Haha this is how my gun collection is going also! Although it’s not as massive as yours. My “expensive” gun is my Springfield XD45, although I’ve got a bit of money in my Saiga 7.62 with the 922r conversion. Building my first AR now, lower is done ~$230, upper is gonna cost me about $400. Having my brother in law thats in the business build it for me. It will be my most expensive once it’s done. And a far cry from Nicks awesome SCAR!
I do want to know where you picked up an $80 Mosin haven’t seen that price in ages I’m kicking myself for not buying one (or 5) years ago.
308 fanboy here, curious what round you plan on running that will have enough gas to hunt with at 500yds from a 13″ 308?
I have killed quite a few whitetail with the 165gr Nosler ballistic tip (longest was ~375yds), however out of my rifle it drops below the recommended 1800fps for expansion/tissue disruption at ~450-500yds, and I am pushing 2815fps avg at the muzzle out of a 26″ barrel. That load (Factory loaded Nosler Trophy Grade) yields a sticky bolt and a healthy ejector swipe every now and again if it is warm outside. The 308 takes a pretty significant hit on muzzle velocity when you drop below a 18″ barrel. I am working on a load currently using a 185gr Berger Hybrid that may stretch that range out to 600yds, but it will be on the warm end of things and may no longer mag feed to get the velocity I am looking for. Here is a good article about 308 barrel lengths http://rifleshooter.com/2014/12/308-winchester-7-62x51mm-nato-barrel-length-versus-velocity-28-to-16-5/ they were getting own to the 2300-2600fps range depending on bullet weight and they only went down to 16.5″
Best of luck, that SCAR looks like a beast!
You lose about 20-25 fps per inch of muzzle. That still puts you in fine shape.
At 500 yards I would worry more about accuracy in the field.
I tend to agree though, I would probably not cut down the barrel to 13″ in a 308 and still look for an ethical shot at 500 yards.
According to Ballistic, my current setup (26″ barrel 2815fps muzzle velocity) max effective range per the 1800fps minimum velocity for full expansion from Nosler, is somewhere around 550yds depending on atmospheric conditions. Using the 20-25fps/ inch loss in velocity dropping down to a 13″ barrel the range drops to somewhere between 375-400yds so it would give up about 150-175yds of effective range assuming velocity drop off is linear. In reality it would be a touch worse, because velocity drop off is not linear, 20-25fps/ inch is a good rule of thumb for 308win only as long as you dont deviate much from the standard 24″ test barrel. The point where velocity starts to really drop off for 308win is about 18-20″. Still, like you said, it will anchor deer with authority out to 300 or so yards, which is quite far in hunting terms. I read/heard somewhere a few years ago that only about 25-30% of hunters have successfully taken game past 250yds. Although I imagine that statistic is a bit outdated given the massive improvements we have seen in recent years in factory rifles, both in accuracy and in chamberings like the current 6.5mm offerings becoming more mainstream.
Tex300 is getting results pretty close to what I’m getting, relatively speaking. I’ve chronographed an honest 2,620 FPS from my multi-purpose Eagle Eye 175 grain match / hunting ammo. I believe my 165 grain GMX SuperPerformance .308 is at 2,700 FPS, but I’ll have to double check my notes. This is from a Remington 700 LTR (don’t worry, I fixed the trigger) with a 20″ stock chromoly barrel.
Adding length and / or switching to stainless steel adds velocity. Removing length lowers velocity. As Tex has mentioned, .308 Winchester velocity loss is “not that bad” down to 16-18″. And velocity loss isn’t linear. Expanding rounds certainly have an operational threshold. Hornady GMX from a .308 don’t seem to expand much below 2,000 FPS. Want to know what you’re getting? Shoot rounds throno a chronograph window.
I’m curious how well the new Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter ammo will perform. It seems to do well at around 1800 FPS and might work a good bit lower.
Anyways, I wouldn’t consider a 13″ .308 to be a 500 yard hunting rig for anything bigger than varmints. There’s just too much velocity loss.
Ha, funny I wanted to ask the same question. Thanks for the answers given here,now my curiosity is satisfied.
Almost $7,000 in, and none of it spent on hookers and blow. Given the aesthetic propensities demonstrated above, you could have had bunches.
Priorities. Examine them. 🙂
Dancers are making sad faces at the loss of income. Think of the economy!!!
Sorry, not seeing the swan. In my mind a beautiful rifle in the 30 caliber range good for hunting out to 500 yards looks an awful lot like an M1A or a very well smithed and re-parkerized M1 Garand (smithed to take M14 magazines). And there would be money left over for hookers.
And all this work, and no updated Giessele or Timney trigger to make it a nice crisp 4#?
I am glad though that you have $7,000 to turn a somewhat over priced rifle into a grossly overpriced one.
Good point, the trigger was the first thing I changed out. The vltor stock adapter is great as it allows me to get true cheek weld. Screw the aesthetics. Lighter, yes. More accurate, yes. Higher speed, less drag, definitely. Sexier…. Whatever
“The first thing that any good SCAR owner should do is immediately remove the Ugg boot of a stock and chuck it. Finding the perfect replacement, though, can be a bit of an issue.”
Now that FNH has addressed a number of the first-run stock issues, I’d have to disagree with this. I like the idea behind the KDG stock, but I’d rather put $300 in ammunition through the gun first, then upgrade the stock (if I still feel the need) later.
The FIRST thing I did, was replace the godawful PWS muzzle brake/flash hider abomination that comes on the civilian models. The second thing I did (and what SHOULD be the first for ALL SCAR owners) is drop in a Geissele trigger pack.
Only other mods at the moment are an IWC charging handle, Nightforce 2.5-10×24 in a QD mount, and some rail panels. Picked up a good sling and I’m pretty well set. The FNH tactical 2-pt sling is fantastic for the price. Also picked up a Tactical Link 2-pt bungee; after a few modifications (removing the rubber logo and swapping to HK hooks), it’s pretty nice, as well! At five times the total cost of the FNH sling, I would hope so…
Long-term, I’ll be going with a 13″ bbl, and have to decide between Handl and KDG handguards. The KDG has the looks, but the Handl completely re-engineers the fore-end. I’m less and less interested in changing the buttstock as time goes on. If I bought it early, I wouldn’t regret it much, but there’s really nothing wrong with the FNH stock as it ships now.
That is a darn good looking rifle!
A little modularity is fine for comfort and performance enhancement, and it goes a long way toward personalization, too.
However, if I need to swap out three quarters of the gun to make it work or to adapt it to my purpose, then I’ve either bought the wrong gun or I’m doing their job for them on my dime.
That starts drifting into the hobby territory that “The Economist” referred to. Not my thing. Different strokes, I guess.
I’m feeling you on the level of the mods, but I’m not so sure the owner isn’t well aware that he’s into hobby territory. I was always an adapt and shoot it like it came gunner until the last several years, when I’ve discovered some mods really do suit my purposes. Nothing to the extent of that SCAR though.
Cool rifle. However, for hunting wild animals, I’ll put it up against my 308 tikka t3 lite stainless in weight, accuracy, and price all day long.
“The first thing that any good SCAR owner should do is immediately remove the Ugg boot of a stock and chuck it.”
I dunno, I think it would be fun to drill a few holes through it and thread a nice fat red shoelace in there, complete with a tied bow to finish off the look. And maybe a Chuck Taylor sticker.
Dumb question, why is the barrel $1200? FN CHF 5.56 barrels are available in a variety of lengths rather cheaply, am I just missing something with the step up to 7.62?
Even the 13″ 5.56 barrel is over a grand for the SCAR. It is more than just a barrel. It also includes the gas block and a few other things.
I thought about modding my SCAR 16s, but in the end I only did a few things. I changed the charging handle because I have the Trijicon Accuscope 1-4x and I like my knuckles. I put the magpul rail covers on the rails and the magpul safety levels to replace the drums. It runs really well and I have finally got to shoot in the .6-.7 inch territory at 100 yards with the rifle. I would rather not spend an extra $1k on the rifle if I can already get it to shoot sub inch groups consistently.
A Caldwell bipod? I guess you ran out of $$?
Looks good, except for the shitty calico FN finish. Cerakote it.
As for stealthy…I doubt it. My suppressed PSG 1 still requires ear pro.
To me, the perfect hunting rifle is a Browning BAR, in 7mm, I have a 315 point blank range with this set up.
A suppressor would be nice but then it would be way to long.
The lack of color match…so painful. It makes it look like a shoebox cavalier with mismatching colored body panels. Unifying Ceracote job clearly needed.
It’s nice enough but for that kind of money I’d have spent it on a Jp lrp-07.
Still battling with the question: what’s the point?
SBR 308 with a short range scope and lightweight bipod for 7k…
WOW – Now that is all kinds of cool! If I hypothetically just purchased a 17S, what sling setup would you recommend? I was checking out a Magpul MS3 sling with what they call their Paraclip on either end of the webbing. It is one of those quickly switchable one-point to two-point designs. When attached to the SCAR’s left-side sling mounting points, the Paraclips don’t lay flat, and stick out about 45 degrees from the rifle. It looks silly, and seems bulkier than it needs to be.
Am I being too picky or is there a better mousetrap for my problem? Do the HK clips on the FN two-point sling solve this? Is there a better 1 to 2-point sling out there where the ends don’t get all cattywampus? Is there a QD solution that works well? If so what QD socket adapters would you use to plug the sling into?
The FNH tactical sling works well. The Tactical Link 2pt bungee is basically the same thing, with a quick release buckle and two bungee sections – you’ll want to replace the mash hooks w/HK hooks and possibly use a seam ripper to remove the logo (if you’re under 5’7″ or so).
I dislike QD sockets as I’ve had 2 fail in the past – if you like them, Tactical Link sells a QD version of the same sling. Do NOT use mash hooks with the SCAR. The soft aluminum sling points get eaten alive by the sharp edges.
You should consider the Thunderbeast Ultra line of silencers. They aren’t designed for firefights, but rather precision rifles. Since they don’t have to survive 1500 degree temps from 100 round mag dumps, they can be made light. Very light. How’s 9.7 ounces for the 7 inch version?
Hate the original and magpul (‘mo money no discernable change) selectors. Get Tacticalempires Thors Hammers….long in right and med on left….perfection!
Handle Defense lower with a Pmag weigh less than original lower with original mag.
How quiet is the Sandman S on your SBR Scar?
The only way to make it better, would be to replace the word Scar with Bushamaster, and the numbers 17 with ACR