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Thread: We test spec ops’ new rifle
10-17-06, 12:46 PM #1
We test spec ops’ new rifle
October 23, 2006
We test spec ops’ new rifle
By Matthew Cox and Christian Lowe
It’s as if someone took the M16A4 and said, “How can we make this better?”
Then, they made two.
Marine Corps Systems Command is keeping an eye on them, the Corps’ new special operations troops might be getting one, and even the commandant fired one this summer. And with a nearly $2 million infusion of cash for further testing in 2007, U.S. commandos are even closer to getting their own specially designed assault rifle.
In November 2004, U.S. Special Operations Command awarded a contract to FN Herstal to develop a reliable, modular weapon system for its elite forces. Two years and a couple of design tweaks later, the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR, was born.
Marine Corps Times recently spent a few hours at FNH USA’s weapons training and test facility in Fredericksburg, Va., checking out the latest prototypes of the new weapon system.
We learned about the SCAR’s features, inside and out. We also had the chance to get a feel for these new guns by firing a few rounds downrange. Most Marines won’t get the opportunity to heft these rifles unless they’re fielded Corps-wide, but we can provide an inside look at the weapon America’s most elite troops are asking for.
The SCAR program is really two rifles — the SCAR Light, chambered for 5.56mm NATO rounds, and the SCAR Heavy, chambered for 7.62mm NATO ammo.
The two versions of the SCAR are intended to replace an assortment of weapons for spec ops troops:
• The M4A1 carbine, chambered in 5.56mm.
• The MK18 close-quarter battle rifle, similar to the M4A1 but equipped with a 10.5-inch barrel.
• The MK11 special purpose rifle, chambered in 7.62mm.
• The MK12 special purpose rifle, chambered in 5.56mm.
• The M14 rifle, chambered in 7.62mm.
Both versions of the SCAR can be equipped with different barrel lengths to suit missions ranging from close-quarter fights to long-range shooting.
The SCAR Light has a 10-inch “close-quarter combat” barrel, a 14-inch “standard” barrel and an 18-inch “long” barrel.
The SCAR Heavy also has a 10-inch CQC barrel but has a 13-inch standard barrel and a 20-inch long barrel.
The CQC barrel is intended for urban-style targets out to 200 meters; the standard barrel is for targets at 300 to 500 meters; and the long barrel is for targets at 500 to 800 meters out.
The operator can change barrels on either model within five minutes, FNH officials say.
To do so, the operator uses a special T-handle torque wrench to loosen the barrel retention screws, slide one barrel out, replace it and re-tighten the screws. Each barrel has its own front sight so the operator doesn’t have to make sight adjustments after each barrel change.
“The operators could get a mission that they were going to be inserted into an urban area, so back at the patrol base, they can swap out barrels,” said Jim Owens, director of weapons development and training at FNH USA and a retired gunnery sergeant who spent most of his 20 years of service in the Corps’ scout sniper community.
“Maybe three-quarters of the team would put in a CQC barrel in and the other quarter would want to isolate the objective from a longer distance and put in the standard or long barrel.”
The SCAR’s adjustable buttstock also makes it suitable for multiple missions.
For operating in cramped spaces such as assault amphibian vehicles and light armored vehicles, it folds to the ejection port side of both versions, shortening the weapon by a little more than seven inches. When folded, the stock locks beneath the ejection port so the weapon can still be fired.
When unfolded, the buttstock also has a telescoping feature to shorten or lengthen the stock. The cheek piece can be raised and lowered.
The SCAR system has other features that cater to both left- and right-handed shooters.
The magazine release and selector switch is designed to be operated from either side of the weapon. The cocking handle can also be attached to either side, and there are several sling attachment points on either side of the weapon.
The SCAR has a short-stroke, gas piston operating system, similar to the M1 carbine from World War II and the Korean War. The upper receiver is made of aluminum and houses a free-floating barrel for improved accuracy. The lower receiver is high-strength polymer to reduce weight.
SCAR magazines — a 30-rounder for the light version and a 20-rounder for the heavy version — are made of steel for increased reliability. Both models are equipped with front- and rear-folding iron sights and a common “rail” system compatible for mounting any of the optics in use in SOCom today.
Eighty percent of the parts are common to both the light and heavy versions to reduce long-term maintenance costs.
In full-auto mode, the SCAR fires 550 to 600 rounds per minute, a feature that FNH says helps increase accuracy. The M16A4 fires 700 to 950 rounds per minute on full auto.
The SCAR Light with a standard 14-inch barrel weighs just under 7 pounds. That’s a pound heavier than the M4A1 but lighter than an M14A4, which weighs 7.5 pounds without a magazine. The SCAR Heavy with a standard 13-inch barrel weighs just more than 17 pounds.
For cleaning, the SCAR breaks down into five main groups:
• Upper receiver assembly, including the barrel.
• Lower receiver assembly, including the trigger mechanism.
• Moving parts assembly, which houses the bolt carrier group and recoil spring.
• Buttstock assembly.
• Magazine assembly.
Matthew Cox covers the Army.
10-17-06, 03:05 PM #2
FN Makers Of The SAWLets put a face on this bad boy!
Making its debut at NDIA 2006 was FN's new 5.56mm NATO SCAR-Light Sniper Rifle. Based on the standard SCAR-L, the sniper version uses a long barrel and a sound suppressor. Originally named the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SofCAR or SCAR) by 5th Group (ABN) personnel, the acronym has recently been simplifi ed to Special Combat Assault Rifle, due to increased interest in the system by the USMC. For info, contact FNH-USA http://www.fnhusa.com.
No better friend/No worse enemy
10-17-06, 03:24 PM #3
Someone needs to tell that nutcase Kim, from N. Korea, that this is a 'new camera design', and see if he'll pose for a 'photo.'
Looks like a great weapon, but we all know it's only as good as the one squeezing the trigger. So, in order to not waste ammo, the Pentagon should only issue these to U.S. Marines!!!
OoohRah! GET SOME!!!
10-17-06, 03:47 PM #4
Gas Piston? About damn time.
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