Rifles > Semi-Auto


The SCAR 17S is a semi-auto version of the military’s selective-fire MK17 Mod 0.


At long last, the SCAR 17S is here. The new rifle is a semi-automatic-only version of the military’s selective-fire MK17 Mod 0 or Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) Heavy. Chambered in .308 Win./7.62x51 mm NATO, the gun is bigger and more powerful than its .223 Rem./5.56x45 mm NATO predecessor, the SCAR 16S, but, thankfully, not objectionably so. No longer constrained by limitations of that gun’s smaller receiver and chambering, the bigger SCAR 17S greatly expands the potential utility of the SCAR platform. One can argue that the SCAR Heavy was what Special Operations Command (SOCOM) wanted all along: a modern carbine chambered in 7.62x51 mm NATO that is lightweight, reliable and accurate.

SOCOM adopted both the SCAR Heavy and the SCAR Light in November 2004, and since that time both military and civilian shooting circles have taken to the new gun. Those who shoot AR-style rifles for service or sport will find themselves right at home. The bolt stop paddle, magazine-release button and safety lever are in the same places, and the latter two controls are now ambidextrous. The bolt stop paddle is almost identical to that of the AR-15, but the circular magazine release button is taller and wider, so it is easier to find in a hurry. Major differences between the SCARs and ARs include the SCAR charging handle, which reciprocates with the bolt. The handle can be switched from the left to the right side, so both right- and left-handed shooters can choose whether they want to operate it with either their strong or weak hands. In addition, the safety lever has a short, 45-degree throw between the safe and fire positions, whereas that of the M16/AR-15 has a longer, 90-degree throw.

The seven-lug bolt has a deeply recessed face with a plunger ejector and a claw extractor. There are a number of mechanical features that help ensure the 17S’s multi-lug bolt seats consistently into battery. The mass of the bolt assembly combined with the mechanical advantage of the SCAR’s fixed charging handle eliminates any need for a forward assist plunger.

As one can imagine, these improvements greatly simplify the immediate action drill. In the event of a stoppage, there is no need to tap a separate forward assist after you pull and release the charging handle. Also, there is no charging handle to pull over the top of the stock, so one can keep his or her head on the stock when reducing a stoppage to get the gun back into action that much faster. The stock also has a two-position adjustable comb. Given that many of the powerful optical sights currently available require the use of tall rings and bases, this is an important feature.

Its six-position collapsing stock is indexed on both sides. Compressing a metal release bar on the left-hand side of the stock allows the user to adjust length of pull, and depressing a half-moon-shaped button at the wrist folds the stock to the right side of the receiver. A stud on the comb locks into a hook at the rear of the ejection port that doubles as a shell deflector. The hook is just a friction lock, so a sharp pull on the butt of the stock will release it from the hook.

The SCAR 17S has a number of sling attachment points. At the stock’s wrist are two vertical sling loops on the left-hand side and one on the right. Two more vertical sling loops are fixed to the mouth of the fore-end. Last, a horizontal slot runs through the stock’s heel.

A 37-position M1913 Picatinny rail runs the full length of the aluminum alloy upper receiver. The rail runs all the way from the gas block to the wrist of the stock. The mounting points are indexed so it is easier to quickly reinstall optical sights without altering zero or eye relief. Also there is no slip ring on the one-piece upper receiver that can create steps and gaps to complicate scope mounting.

The polymer lower receiver has a larger magazine well to accommodate FNH USA’s proprietary double-column, detachable box magazine. The magazine, of which 10- and 20-round variants are available, has a stamped steel body and a polymer follower, and the floorplate has a wedge-shaped extension that gives the magazine the appearance of having a flat bottom.

Detachable flip-up iron sights are included. The rear aperture overlaps the circular shroud for the front sight—a system first seen on the G3/H&K-91 that aids rapid sight alignment. The front post is detent-adjustable for elevation. Vertical drums located on both sides of the rear sight base provide adjustment for windage, and a horizontal wheel at the foot of the rear aperture indexed from 200 to 600 meters allows adjustment for range.

The cold-hammer forged barrel has a moderate profile. It measures 0.66 inches in diameter and is 161/4-inches long. The twist rate is 1:12 inches. Fabrique Nationale chose a four-prong triple-baffle muzzle brake from Primary Weapon Systems. The free-floating barrel is attached to the receiver via six Torx-head machine screws. Swapping out a barrel requires a Torx wrench with a proper torque setting and takes about five minutes. FNH-USA states that when SCAR barrels are swapped, loss of zero should be limited to less than 1 inch at 100 yards.

The single-stage trigger of our test gun broke at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. There was no creep, slack or stacking and overtravel was minimal. For testing I chose a Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS scope. With its 1.1-8X magnification range and precision reticle it was the right tool for exploring the accuracy potential of the SCAR 17S. (An evaluation of the new Leupold will appear next month).

The SCAR 17S is about 1 pound heavier, and the receiver is about 1/2-inch longer than a SCAR 16S. The extra bulk was noticeable when picking up one gun then the other, but much less than one would expect when stepping up from 5.56 mm NATO to 7.62 mm NATO. The stock is the same size as that of the lighter gun, as is the grip. Additionally, the size and placement of all of the controls, including the charging handle, selector lever, magazine release and bolt stop lever, are identical. The balance point of two guns is in the same place and the gun is anything but muzzle-heavy. In terms of handling and ergonomics, transitioning between the two guns was a snap. The extra weight was not readily apparent when the gun was first picked up, but after a dozen or more simulated action-style shooting stages there was no denying it was a bigger, heavier gun.

Unadorned, the gun is very svelte and handy for a .308 Win. semi-automatic carbine, but if you mount a heavy scope or drape the fore-end with a lot of accessories, I think you are going to find a vertical fore-grip an outright necessity. The mechanical rhythm of the gun (the lock time of the trigger system and the dwell time of the bolt) was similar to its lighter counterpart, but the extra recoil of the .308 Win. round required significantly greater recovery time. Just how much of a penalty this will exact in terms of engagement time will depend on the shooter’s skill, body size and mindset. In short, the better the shooter is able to cope with the extra recoil, the more he will get out of the rifle.

I am a left-handed shooter, but I wanted to try shooting it without reversing the charging handle, thinking there might be some advantage to working with my strong hand. But I found that the charging handle kept brushing against my fingers as the bolt cycled. Naturally, that wouldn’t be a problem if I used a vertical fore-grip or disciplined myself to keep my support hand glued to the front of the magazine well. In the end I switched the charging handle over to the right side of the gun. I felt like I had punted, but it really made more sense to work the bolt with my support hand since it was already in motion swapping magazines. It also kept my working hand in front of my face, rather than hidden by the receiver, which makes for smoother work in almost any endeavor conducted in a high-stress environment, whether that be a timed Heavy Metal match or a self-defense situation.

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28 Responses to FNH USA’s SCAR 17S

Scott wrote:
July 12, 2013

Ok, here is my unvarnished assessment of the SCAR 17S based on 18 months of ownership. The rifle seems very light and is well balanced for the addition of an optic that complements the 7.62 NATO round ballistics. It shoots very smoothly with less felt recoil than any rifle of the same caliber that I've fired. The build quality is deceiving, the rifle has a polymer stock which seems loose a little rattle, but it has held up well for me and I find it comfortable. The upper receiver is really stout and carries a heavy bolt carrier that rides is a very ridged receiver. I've yet to have ANY malfunction, not a single one. The accuracy is good for a battle rifle once you find the appropriate cartridge. I like the American Eagle M1A round which is a 168 Grain NATO round. This is a good compromise round between cost and accuracy since this is a battle rifle not a bench bunny. Now some of the weaker points of this rifle. First, the trigger stinks on toast. It is nearly impossible to shoot consistent groups at any distance with the stock trigger. It takes so much work to get a decent grouping you end up cursing. The sling attachment points are another problem, they look fine until you begin using them. They are aluminum and the holes are too small so they tend to bind and gouge the attachment points pretty quickly. The folding stock latch is not a very well designed latch and can be broken. What to do? Well, I love the rifle (I have a SCAR 16S too), and the strengths far outweigh the shortcomings of the SCAR 17S. FIRST THING (not the second thing or the third thing), GET A Geissele SUPER SCAR trigger. This is the single best upgrade you can do. Before you get optics or anything else, your shooting will improve immediately. Second, find a good quality variable optic. A red-dot is stupid on this rifle. I think a 1-6X is a good way to go. I'm currently using a NF 2.5-10, but if I had it to do over I'd get a 1-6X. Third, you'll love this rifle.

warrentsutherland wrote:
June 06, 2013

Not without modification there is a lower made by handl defense that accepts pmags and other mags of that style

35yearvet wrote:
February 26, 2013

Does anyone out there know if a Magpul PMAG would fit the FN SCAR 17s. I knew I should have bought more magazines when I got the gun. Now I'm stuck with only 6 and that's not enough for me.

KAP wrote:
December 09, 2012

Yes...the FNH SCAR 17S is the best 7.62mm NATO in my collection, howeveer, you can't buy any additional magazines for it...anywhere, on the net, or in gun-stores. The only people producing them are FNH and they say sometime in June or July 2013, maybe!

Talon wrote:
September 29, 2012

Picked a 17S up this weekend w/ extra mags (finally). Running an Eotech 552, FPG (gangsta grip) and snap sling. All I can say is it deserves better glass- its an incredible weapon.

JGF wrote:
June 05, 2012

The problem is that USSOCOM isn't in the position to order very many of the SCARs, both Light and Heavy. This keeps the price up for everybody. Can't wait to get my hands on one, though!

H2O MAN wrote:
June 02, 2012

I need one of these

Sam wrote:
May 12, 2012

I bought one when they first came out. Around $3000, kida pricy but i have had 4 FALs so i figured why not. It is more complicated to field strip than the FAL but is also twice as accurate. Wish it had a folding charging handle and accepted FAL mags but all in all, im exceptionally pleased.

Sgt Psyop wrote:
March 30, 2012

This gun can shoot!! The recoil is way less than any other platform. the accuracy will blow your mind. Looks like my FAL and my hk 91 will be spending alot of time in the safe.

superwrench1 wrote:
February 24, 2012

this will soon be gracing my collection, price be danged!!

Joseph wrote:
January 05, 2012

Between this and the reviewed optic the American Rifleman Golden Bullet winning setup is at $7300 MSRP (not counting any forward grips/bipod or additional accessories). The tactical rifle crowd realizes mil-spec is pricey but this is really out of the league for most readers/members.

Mike McLeod wrote:
March 03, 2011

I liked the article about the new SCAR 17S. But was wondering what scope you put on it. It says Leupold but I can't find it in any Leupold literature, website, or catalog. Could you let us know what it is. Thanks, Mike

David wrote:
February 22, 2011

@Bart, I was able to pick up a 17S in December of 2010 for just under $3000. The gas system is a short stroke gas piston, very reliable and very clean after a long day at the range.

Joe wrote:
February 18, 2011

What is FN doing? Why not make the rifle accept a metric FAL magazine? Secondly give us civvies the same flash hider as Uncle. How many other internal changes has FN put into this overpriced?

Fubar4fun wrote:
February 18, 2011

Great weapon. Specs are equivalent albeit shorter barrel than mine. The price though... $1200 more?!?! Think I will stick to my MSG-91.

Robert wrote:
February 18, 2011

What a peice of art I will take two one for me and one for my wife!!!!

Justin wrote:
February 18, 2011

I think he has browser issues. I'm not sure it's a problem with zooming in or out. You most likely need to update your browser or make sure the one you're using is compatible. I use Firefox and IE 8 and both pull up the site just fine.

Eric wrote:
February 18, 2011

An absurd price

Bill wrote:
February 18, 2011

I got to experience the SCAR-H in its military version at my last job so I can say that even going full auto with this it was not out of control. Like any new weapon it had its growing pains but all in all a great weapon system! Maintaining it was a breeze. Field strip in 30 seconds, swapping a barrel in well less than the 5 mins quoted. Too bad the asking price is still to rich for me, I would love to have one of the civilian versions, guess my M1A will have to do until/unless these come down in price.

Brian wrote:
February 18, 2011

Guy, If you're using firefox, press ctrl-0(zero) and it will reset your broweser's zoom. If you're using internet explorer, go to the View menu, then to "Zoom" and select 100%. If you're zoom is higher than 100% the issue you are seeing will happen on a great deal of websites.

Bart wrote:
February 18, 2011

Iam interested in the gas operating system. Is it the old ar style or ak style to make it really reliable

Benjamin wrote:
February 18, 2011

Mr. Lewis, I may have missed the point, but you can increase the size of the text on any page you're viewing by pressing the ctrl key, shift key and "+/=" key at the same time...

Chandler wrote:
February 18, 2011

Very nice. Have to agree for my civilian use, i'll stick with my FN FAL IZZY.

bettyann wrote:
February 17, 2011

america frist keeper safe and sound

Guy Lewis, Patron member wrote:
February 17, 2011

I would enjoy this and many other articles I assume to be very informative if you could stop the habit of running the text from white to black background without changing the font color. Even in the print magazine, the use of low contrast characters on black backgrounds is very irritating and terribly inconsiderate of those of your members and readers who, like myself, no longer enjoy the visual acuity we had twenty or so years ago.

reconranger wrote:
February 17, 2011

The SCAR 17 is what the M-14 should have been. I wish we would have had them when I was a Marine in Viet Nam

Ed acker wrote:
February 17, 2011

Just a little to rich for my blood.

Darrell H. Smith wrote:
February 16, 2011

Nice, but at the suggested price I'll stick to my FN FAL.