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)|
|2.5” very hot barrel|
|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”|
|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.