SILENCERCO ARSENAL SERIES

001: FNH SCAR-H 7.62mm (Mk 17)

SilencerCo’s Arsenal Series showcases guns we love for various reasons that reside in our in-house Arsenal. While we are best-known for making guns quiet, in order to do so we interact with a great variety of amazing platforms. In these posts we will tell you about each platform we like, why it’s different and relevant, and why we think it belongs in our pantheon of greatness.

ARSENAL SERIES 001:
FNH SCAR-H 7.62MM (MK 17)

The FNH SCAR-H is a modern battle rifle reminiscent of the pre-5.56mm NATO days and draws its lineage from many of the FN platforms of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s that came before it like the GPMG, FNC, and FAL. We like it because it gets the most out of a 7.62mm battle rifle at the lightest weight while minimizing recoil.

Early in 2004, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a solicitation for a family of Special Forces Combat Assault Rifles, the so-called SCAR, designed around two different calibers but featuring high commonality of parts and identical ergonomics. The H in SCAR-H is short for heavy because this is the alternative .30 caliber version of the light SCAR-L 5.56 rifle.

Despite this, the heavy option weighs in at less than eight pounds unloaded – which isn’t much more than an M4 with a railed handguard. When American grunts first landed in Afghanistan, they needed something to bridge the gap between the dedicated bolt action sniper rifle and the M4/M16s they were issued. The Army pressed retooled M14s back into service, but their weight, inaccuracy, and difficult maintenance made them more work than they were worth. They tried accurized 7.62mm platforms like the Mk 11, SR-25, and M110 but paid the weight tax, then tried the same with 5.56mm upgrades like the Mk 12 SPR but couldn’t get the range or terminal effects desired.

To try and thread the needle, SOCOM put out a request for a replacement for both the M14 and the M4/M16 series of rifles. The merits of the SCAR-H were so great that SOCOM formally awarded the FN SCAR a development contract in 2004. Six years later, SOCOM formally adopted the SCAR-H (Mk 17) as a niche system while the SCAR-L (Mk 16) was never fully fielded in significant quantities.

Other things we like:
-Its recoil is minimal considering its liberal use of polymer and adjustable folding stock.
-Its short stroke piston system means that it doesn’t leave a mess and is easy to maintain.
-The SCAR-H lets you toggle between low and high on the gas selector, which is an extra benefit since you’ll want to run a silencer on it.
-Its reciprocating charging handle eliminates the need for a forward assist.
-It comes with rails on all four sides of the gun, and flip-up sights are standard.
-The top rail is a single piece that runs the length of the rifle to make it easy to mount in-line optics and prevents issues with multi-rail alignment.
-The free-floating barrel assembly enables changing barrel lengths easily.

Things we don’t like:
-Cosmetics – The SCAR-H won’t win any beauty awards – whether it’s the use of multiple browns that comes off like an unintended attempt at camouflage or the over-built adjustable folding stock that doesn’t translate into the current minimalist era.
-Charging handle – The reciprocating charging handle has bitten every one of us at least once. The good news is, once you get bitten once, you rarely put your thumb in its path again.
-Presentation – When we first got our SCAR, it came in a plain cardboard box with one magazine – not exactly the best first impression for a higher-end product in terms of performance. As designers, we were disappointed. As you can see, we got over it.

To sum it up – ask us to pick one 7.62mm rifle that we have to be able to stash underneath our truck’s back seat and carry around with a scope and thermal all night that is reasonably accurate, reliable with all ammo, and easily suppressible, and we pick the SCAR.

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