The first time I held a SCAR 17S, the thing that struck me was how light it was as well as the convenience of the side-mounted charging handle. I’ve been a fan of left side charging handles ever since I got my hands on a LWRC REPR and I really appreciate the fact that when shooting this gun in the prone position, I don’t have to come off the scope to charge it. Shooting it was also a pleasure as the muzzle brake was very efficient and produced less perceived recoil than my SIG SAUER 716 despite its lighter weight. The only real drawback that I noticed . . .
was the stock trigger, which at nearly 8 lbs. was a whole big plate of suck. Granted, if you’re using the 17S in a zombie apocalypse situation where you are running and gunning, the mil-spec trigger is going to get the job done, but the 17S also has potential to be a great designated marksman gun if only we could fix the trigger. Fortunately, old hands at replacement triggers, Timney and Geissele have solutions well in hand.
I have experience with both companies’ products. My AR-15 pattern rifles all wear some variation of Geissele’s SSA triggers and my precision .300 Magnum rifle sports a Timney. I considered both options for my SCAR, but the deal breaker was the fact that I found the Timney version on sale for over $100 less than the Geissele.
Like many of Timney’s triggers, the model for theSCAR 17 is truly a drop-in unit. When compared to the pile of parts (below) that is the FNH factory trigger, Timney’s is damn elegant and ridiculously easy to install, even for a novice.
The conversion done, I pulled out my trusty trigger pull scale and found the Timney clocks in very close to its advertised 3.5 lbs pull weight. Like just about every other Timney I’ve tried (and yes, I have shot other guns with Timney triggers), the SCAR one is nice and tight. No creep, no takeup, just the proverbial cliff your finger drops off once you hit the break point.
The Timney is a non-adjustable single stage trigger as compared to Geiselle’s two stage model. One thing that steered me away from the Geiselle (besides the price) was the disclaimer on Geiselle’s web site that stated its SCAR-17 trigger was not a match grade trigger. Frankly, that confused me as most of their AR-15 triggers are match grade and I wondered why Geiselle would make one that wasn’t as it’s only option.
Timney originally fielded a single model trigger for both the SCAR 16 and SCAR 17, but early adopters found that the trigger sometimes lacked the force necessary to touch off the heavier primers found on military 7.62 x 51mm rounds. So Timney went back to the drawing board and came out with a SCAR 17-specific model that employs a stronger hammer spring. The SCAR 17 version of the Timney trigger has a red colored spring so you can be sure you have the right model.
I hit the range with my upgraded SCAR and found that it was indeed possible to hold much tighter groups with the new switch. It’s not a match grade rifle by any means, but it now could certainly handle the designated marksman role with aplomb. I tested a bunch of different ammo…and this is where I hit a snag.
Back before the 2013 panic buying, I had accumulated a decent stock of military surplus .308 ammo. I had a few hundred rounds of some nice Lake City M80 Ball as well as NATO ammo from Portugal and Peru. While shooting the Peruvian ammo, I got that sound that every shooter dreads – the click when I expected to hear a bang. Upon ejecting the cartridge, I could see that the firing pin had indeed struck the primer. I reloaded the cartridge to try again and this time got the bang I wanted. In further testing I found that out of every twenty-round magazine, one or two of the Peruvian cartridges would not detonate the first time, but always fired the second time.
This of course had me concerned, so I did some more testing. As you might imagine, I don’t have the financial resources to pour hundreds of rounds through this gun simply to test the trigger. Since I regularly experienced initial failures with each 20-round box of Peruvian ammo, I surmised that if light primer strikes were a problem, then they should manifest themselves with some regularity with other ammunition, too.
I dug out some of my precious Lake City M80 and experienced no problems burning through a full magazine. I also tried some Lake City XM118LR ammo and again shot an entire magazine with no issues. I finally turned to my Portuguese military surplus and had one failure in that box.
The difference here was that I tried that failed Portuguese cartridge two more times and still was unable to ignite the primer. Given the general condition of the ammo, I’m willing to chalk that one up to a bad round. I also shot a magazine of each of four commercial loadings through my SCAR and experienced no failures there either. A full magazine of hand loadings using Federal Primers also went off without a hitch.
So, does the the Timney have a light striking problem or did I just have a lousy batch of ammo? That still remains to be seen. I’ve only been able to repeat the problem with regularity using the Peruvian ammo. I’ve shot the Peruvian ammo in other .308 guns and while I’ve not experienced the primer strike problem, that ammo has caused extraction issues with other guns (the SCAR had no extraction problems).
Would I trust my life to my SCAR at this point? I’m not sure I would – at least not until I’ve done a lot more shooting with it. That said, I wouldn’t trust my life to this batch of Peruvian ammo either and I’ve not yet experienced any problems with U.S.-made ammo. In the end, I’m not in a position where I need that level of trust in this rifle (or any rifle for that matter) and the night-and-day difference in trigger pull weight afforded by the Timney trigger more than makes up for the uncertainty.
One final note: given the design of the charging handle, even if you do experience a problem like I’ve described, it’s fairly trivial to clear the bad round and stay in the fight without losing your sight picture on the scope. It’s not a perfect solution, but its a compromise that I can certainly live with.
Timney SCAR 17s Trigger (Model #691S)
MSRP : $332.95
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * * *
Everything you need in one easily-installed package. Changing a rifle trigger just does not get any simpler than this.
Functionality: * * *
It works…most of the time. If I had experienced no failures to fire, it’d be a five star rating. As it is, I don’t have enough rounds through the gun to definitively say whether or not the trigger is temperamental or if the ammo I used simply sucks.
Overall Rating: * * * *
For what I plan to use it for and given the price I managed to get ($245) , this is a real winner. Again, the ammo question keeps one star off the rating, but if you don’t plan to bet your life on this gun, then it’s nearly perfect.