FN SCAR 15P pistol
FN15P (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
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With its complete lack of a stock and a 7.5″ barrel, the FN SCAR 15P is the best pistol in its class.

The super short rifle-caliber pistol autoloader class isn’t a big one, but it’s growing. That said, there are a whole lot of misconceptions about super short-barreled pistols and rifles in 5.56NATO.

One of these seems to be that weapons like this are common among low visibility military units or personal protective details. I don’t know of any units currently assigned to those tasks that commonly use this kind of weapon, at least not in a rifle caliber. As small as it is, it’s still too big to hide.

Barrel lengths of 10 to 12.5 are far more common for specialized military and police units, and shorter barrels than that are usually found in pistol caliber sub-machine guns and pistol caliber carbines. If anyone can verify units that actually use such short-barreled pistols or rifles in 5.56 NATO, please let us know in the comments.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

If we take a more historical look, it’s more common to see this type of weapon used by tank crews and other vehicle-focused military service members, especially when chambered in Warsaw pact intermediate rifle calibers. Even then, the barrels were rarely this short, but that’s where this type of weapon really shines.

Inside a vehicle, the FN 15P’s short barrel and lack of a stock means it’s easy to maneuver. The user can stow it next to them in a seat, behind a seat, mounted high or low. It’s also simple to get in and out of the vehicle, with little chance of any part of it getting grabbed by the restraints, the door handle, dash, or steering wheel.

With a little practice, it’s very quick to bring onto the target, and transitioning from inside to outside of the vehicle, even while actively firing, is much easier than just about anything with a stock or a longer barrel.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The next big misperception is that the 5.56 NATO cartridge out of a barrel this short is like shooting a .22LR or .22WMR. Objective data proves otherwise.

The very short barrel dramatically reduces the projectile’s muzzle velocity, but certainly not enough to bring it down to .22 rimfire levels. Shot from this 15P’s 7.5″ barrel, IMI’s 55gr M193 ammunition achieved a muzzle velocity of 2,354 fps when averaged over 10 shots. Their 62gr M855 made 2,241 fps, and Winchester’s .223 64 grain Power Point Soft Point averaged at 2,190 fps.

Those rounds will still be going over 1,900 fps when they strike a target up to 100 yards away, which should provide full expansion (.4″+) from hollow point and soft point rounds, but may be inadequate for bullets that depend on fragmentation for effect. There are plenty of ballistic gel tests online showing barrels this short still provide more than adequate penetration even at the 100-yard distance.

We also often hear that these kinds of guns are “spray and pray” weapons. Yes, they do require a bit more training, but in the hands of a dedicated marksman, the FN 15P is capable of surprising accuracy with just a pistol-sized reflex optic and no stock or brace of any type.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Using the SCAR 15P in its most common use case — one hand on the pistol grip, one hand forward wrapped around the hand guard and attached to a single point sling — I was able to punch out and fit every bullet of a 30-round magazine into a 12″ target at 25 yards in just barely over 10 seconds. This took some practice, but an hour of training and anybody who’s already familiar with shooting an AR could do it.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

At the opposite end of likely use cases, with the same 2.5 MOA Leupold Deltapoint Pro NV optic mounted to the top Picatinny rail and set in a rest, 4″ five-round groups at 100 yards were easy with a wide range of ammunition.

In fast fire at short distances, the 15P really excels, and it performs adequately in slow fire on a rest. But what about a somewhat more realistic distance scenario…the need to put accurate fire out to 100 yards, unsupported, from the kneel?  If you’re trying to stand up, punch out, and quickly make this shot, you might be able to do it. Me? Not so much.

Instead, drop to a kneel and take advantage of the extremely low recoil of the 15P. Index your cheek against the top Picatinny rail, brace your elbows against your body, and squeeze the two-stage trigger. Firing one round a second in this manner I fit 10 rounds in a 4.5″ group at 50 yards with surplus M193 and M855 and then fit the entire magazine inside a 19″ silhouette at 100 yards in an additional half minute.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Given that all of this shooting was done with a parallax-free optic and cheap ammunition at reasonable speeds and shot by some old redneck whose eyes have seen better days, I’ll give the SCAR 15P high marks for real-world accuracy in a wide range of use cases.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

There are two constantly repeated complaints about the entire FN SCAR series; the cost, and the reciprocating charging handle. I don’t expect the cost to go down one bit, ever, but FN solved the reciprocating charging handle a couple years ago, not long after they released the 20S and their non-reciprocating charging handle is what’s now included in all FN SCAR series including the 15P.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

There’s plenty to be gained, and nothing to be lost with the new version. Yes, you can still use the charging handle as a forward assist and yes it’s just as reliable as the original version. It’s still very simple to swap it to either side, and FN includes both small and larger/angled versions of the charging handle with each 15P.  If, somehow, the mechanism should break, it simply fails back to the original reciprocating handle, although I find that possibility extremely unlikely.

That non-reciprocating charging handle is particularly well suited to the 15P. Positioned on the non-dominant side, you can now use the charging handle itself as a hand stop when pressing the pistol forward, and this works well with a single point sling attached to the rear sling bracket.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The SCAR 15P is laid out just like all other modern SCAR rifles. It’s got the same ambidextrous controls, the same full-length Picatinny top rail and rail sections surrounding 270 degrees of the handguard.

It’s got the same 2-stage trigger as the SCAR 16. It’s got the same short-stroke gas piston operation as the other guns in the SCAR series. It field strips without tools like the other SCARs, but the non-reciprocating charging handle version does come apart a little differently than the older models.

The 15P has the same slightly funneled magazine well, the same pistol grip, and FN still revels in its complete disdain for color matching any part of the firearm with any other part of the firearm. This pistol version is simply shorter and terminates with an additional Picatinny rail at the butt of the gun. No brace or stock is included.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

When it comes to reliability the 15P shares the same exceptionally boring features as the entire SCAR line. I’ve got well over 1,000 rounds in this gun now over several months of shooting. I liberally sprayed it with CLP before I started shooting, and never cleaned it or lubed it again in any way until the review was over and it was time to take photos.

The 15P never had any issue of any kind. It never failed to fire, load the next round, load a magazine or lock back on an empty magazine, no matter what magazine I used (FN provides just one, and that’s ridiculous). That’s if the gas regulator was positioned in the appropriate 12 o’clock position. If the gas regulator was at the 10 o’clock “suppressed” position, it regulated the firearm to a single shot, with subsequent rounds failing to fully chamber.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Just for fun, I mounted an ancient AAC can on the SCAR 15P and fired a few magazines with the gas regulator in the 10 o’clock position with M193 and M855 ammunition. It never failed to fire or load the next round.

Yes, the use of any suppressor on the 15P voids the FN warranty, as it states on page 27 of the manual:


FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

I run my other SCARs suppressed at all times, but not this one. It has nothing to do with reliability or the warranty of the 15P. The reality is that few suppressors are rated for sustained fire through a 7.5″ barrel, and even with the suppressor attached, it’s still not hearing safe. Without hearing protection, attaching a silencer is still likely to result in significant damage to your hearing, just now on a longer gun that defeats the very purpose of the firearm in the first place.

That’s one big drawback of any super short barreled 5.56 NATO gun — it’s #louderthangod. The 15P is no exception. Double up on ear pro in confined spaces and make sure you’re wearing quality hearing protection when firing outdoors or you will be very sorry. I guess it’s just understood that Operators operating operationally will have active hearing protection on at all times anyway.

Although the real-world use cases for the FN SCAR 15P may be limited, the fun isn’t. I usually put about 500 rounds through a gun for a review, but the challenges and rewards of shooting this pistol had me doubling that round count in no time.

Working around barricades in different positions, as well as transitioning from the punched out/arms extended shooting position to a more collapsed position for precise shooting was a lot of fun and, once those skills were more developed, really highlights what this pistol is capable of.

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The only thing that might make the SCAR 15P better (other than a second magazine) is a minimalist folding stock, but it would have to be just the right one, something that doesn’t add much to the weight or bulk and would lock tight against the gun when not in use.

It would be simple enough to install one with the full Picatinny rail on the back of the 15P, but FN doesn’t seem to offer a suitable stock and I haven’t yet found the right one on the aftermarket. (If any readers have stock suggestions, please leave them in the comments.)

FN SCAR 15P pistol
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

If social media is any barometer, the pent-up demand for this SCAR pistol had a whole lot of people pretty hot and bothered. I wasn’t one of them, but maybe I didn’t know what I was missing.

I’ll keep working with this pistol a bit longer, not because it’s hard to master, but just the opposite. The FN SCAR 15P is best-in-class, and that class may have a lot more going for it than I can had considered at first blush. In any case, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to shoot.

Specifications: FN SCAR 15P

CALIBER: 5.56x45mm
OPERATION: Short-stroke gas piston
MAG CAPACITY: 10 or 30 Rd.
WEIGHT: 5.65 lb.
Dual, ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handles, user swappable left/right
Ambidextrous safety lever and magazine release
Hard-anodized monolithic aluminum receiver
MIL-STD-1913 accessory rails at 4 positions
Vertical picatinny rail with sling QD cup (QD cup not included with this T&E model)
7.5” hammer-forged, chrome-lined, free-floating, with 3-prong flash hider
MSRP: $3,699.00

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
The FN SCAR line has its own established look and feel. The 15P is no different. It’s all very well done, it’s just all very well done differently. The semi-discrete case is a nice touch.

Customization * * * * *
After decades of use, there’s a wide range of aftermarket parts for the SCAR line.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect with any round, suppressed or not.

Accuracy * * * * *
Outstanding for a wide range of use cases.

Overall * * * * 9/10
I had to take something off just because of the one magazine provided with a $3,600 gun.  Beyond that, FN has provided users with exactly what they wanted, and continues to set the standard for what professional semi-auto firearms can be.

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  1. “it’s more common to see this type of weapon used by tank crews… simple to get in and out of the vehicle, with little chance of any part of it getting grabbed by the restraints, the door handle, dash, or steering wheel.”

    Yeah, when I was a tanker, I always hated it when my weapon got “grabbed by the restraints, the door handle, dash, or steering wheel.”
    Oh wait, that never happened, because tanks don’t have restraints, door handles (or doors), dashboards, or steering wheels! Thanks for the good laugh.

    I’d rather have an M3 “Grease Gun” (the .45 submachine gun used by tankers) than this overpriced flash-and-noise-maker toy.

    • Why’d you cut out the rest of that sentence and the beginning of the next paragraph?
      Oh..wait..D.A.T. (I kid…I kid.)

    • My depth of experience is pretty shallow but before command put the kibosh on it we were running logistics convoys from Kirkuk to Anaconda and Baghdad and after my first trip I claimed the oddball “bitsa” M16 carbine we had in our improvised “armory” (40’ shipping containers with high security locks). RHIP, so being the boss I claimed the shortest weapon on hand – wish I’d have taken a picture because it wasn’t an M-4 carbine or a GAU but some kind of rigged up rifle with a short barrel, fixed carry handle and a telescoping stock. That short barrel made mounting/dismounting Humvees, Suburbans and semi-tractors way less of a hassle. Our non-SF “base populous” small arms were a motley collection – even had a couple of what had to be ANG sourced ancient green furnitured M16s – so who knows where that weird little rifle came from (I could’ve run a serial number inquiry but didn’t think of it at the time – priorities, priorities). Luckily I only had “my” carbine off “safe” once much less had to pull the trigger – I’m sure it wouldn’t have been near as loud as this SCAR pistol though if I had had to fire the noise would’ve been the least of my worries.

    • The WhiteElelephant had doors and a steering wheel.
      1952 Ford F250. that was a tank. It would even run on 90 proof vodka, a T34F250 she was.

      • Until recently, I was planning an F150 as my next vehicle. Then, Ford introduced the F150-Trans. (The videos are easy to find). But don’t be drinking a Bud Lite as you barrel down the road in your 4-wheel drive rainbow. That remains illegal and unsafe.

        So, the next vehicle will be a Ram.

  2. double star arfx ace
    lead star arms ravage
    guntec minimalist
    those all seem quite pistol appropriate. and metal.

  3. Uh, how is that guys hands after C clamping a scar and having his thumb up on the reciprocating handle?

  4. F.N. makes great guns, but $3,700, Nope, nope, and NOPE. Besides, a 5.56 out of anything less than a 14.5″ barrel is a waste, you will do more damage with a 10mm pistol that is 1/3 the size and weighs less than 1/2 of that. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

    • What people tend to discount or not realize is that all that noise from a super shorty 5.56 is literally from the round’s power being wasted. Toys are fine but *call* them toys.

      • From the article:
        “Although the real-world use cases for the FN SCAR 15P may be limited, the fun isn’t.”

  5. I’m with MB. This “rifle caliber pistol” is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. The 14.5″ barrel on such an arm would be what I consider a minimum barrel length on any such self-loading beast.

    I’m sorry, but no sale.

  6. I thought I remembered the H (7.62N) being in thi$ ballpark, and the L / 5.56 nearer my XCR (low 2s). HFS!

  7. I may want to replace that flash hider with a blast deflector, would make shooting from the cheek a bit less unnerving for some folks. That’s a pile of flame coming out of that pipe, so close to your face. I’ve not shot anything like this, though I do run those cartridges through a Contender. Plenty loud, as you noted. That’s when I got serious about earpro while hunting.

    • Hawkeye. Want to see flame near to your face from a firearm? Try hunting or target shooting with a flintlock. A little unnerving for some to have the sparks and powder flash 3 inches from your cheek. Makes one glad to wear eye protection as well as ears.

      • I absolutely love hunting with my flinter. Holding very still during that flash is a whole nother skill. Getting just the right amount of powder in the pan and a great lock really helps.

  8. The picture of the mag well seems to show some poor quality control, it looks like there’s a bit of ‘flashing’ on the seams of the plastic molding.

    A few seconds buffing that area with some 4-ought steel wool by the assembly personnel would have smoothed that right up.

    On an over *3 thousand* dollar gun, that just looks kinda… sloppy… 🙁

  9. Since my days of crawling in and out of armored vehicles and helicopters is likely well behind me, I don’t have a need for such a short rifle. I doubt I will ever need to unass a vehicle fast enough any time soon that I won’t be able to exit with a full sized rifle or scatter gun.
    Now, that said, if you feel the need for such a weapon, and want to spend the cash, be my guest. If anyone wants to pony up and supply me with the full sized version, I will be happy to accept the gift and will house it next to it’s older brother the FAL in the safe.

  10. Looks nice but I’ll take my bullpupped AR pistol with a 4.5″ barrel. Yes, it’s a bit loud, yes, the ergonomics are weird, but it cost about $400 to build.

  11. Why not go full retard and get the Sig Rattler 5.5” 5.56 instead? You can get several good collapsing or side folding stocks for it and it’s a bargain compared to the 7.5” SCAR.

  12. CZ Bren 2Ms 8 inch pistol for the win.
    As some have mentioned, it’s a fun gun not a home defense gun. Could be used as a truck gun I suppose.
    Relatively accurate but fun as Hell to shoot.
    The FN looks cool but you’re paying for that look.
    Ear plugs + ear muffs are recommended.

  13. Looks great and sounds like a fun little gun.

    How about a review of a FoldAR with the 9.5 in barrel and Dead Foot Arms folding stock? It’s smaller, lighter, and less expensive.

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