The FN SCAR 20S is officially coming to the civilian market. The new civilian version is based on an impressive military background.
FN’s SCAR 17 is one of the most reliable, accurate and dependable 7.62mm NATO battle rifles on the market today. The select-fire SCAR 17 is still in service with U.S. Special Missions Units, and the semi-auto SCAR 17S is one of the few that regularly survives Gunsite Academy’s Battle Rifle class unscathed. Similar rifles reportedly suitable for hard use drop like flies in that class, some prior to the end of Day One.
Lightweight with moderate recoil, the piston-driven SCAR 17 platform is simple, straightforward and accurate under the harshest conditions. So it’s no wonder that our most elite special operations soldiers looked to the SCAR 17 (or MK17 in military parlance) when they wanted a reliable, battle-hardened 7.62mm NATO set up for accurate, longer-range fire. The result was the MK20 Sniper Support Rifle (SSR).
Going the Distance
In use since 2011 and highly sought after, the MK20 SSR was designed to support snipers and designated marksmen. It’s equipped with a 20-inch barrel, and the receiver is roughly 6 inches longer than the SCAR 17’s so operators can add night-vision and thermal optics in front of day scopes.
The side and bottom rails are also longer, and a cutout near the front provides access for the adjustable gas regulator.
While the MK20 SSR has ambidextrous controls and a charging handle that can be switched to either side like the SCAR 17, it also has an improved trigger and updated furniture, including a Hogue pistol grip with finger grooves. Unlike previous SCARs, the stock does not fold to the side, but users can adjust the length of pull and cheek height without tools.
Finally, the MK20 SSR comes with SureFire’s FA762SS sound suppressor and mount for military clients, adding only 5.5 inches to the weapon’s overall length.
FN SCAR 20S: The Civilian Savior
While only military clients can obtain the MK20 SSR, FN has finally unveiled a version for civilians—the SCAR 20S—which is essentially a carbon copy with an excellent Geissele Super SCAR trigger.
Once again, the stock, which is literally the same stock as the SSR, does not fold but is easy to adjust for length of pull and cheek height on the fly without tools. The controls are ambidextrous, the charging handle is reversible, and the extended receiver makes it easy to add larger or clip-on optics and other accessories.
The 20-inch, 1-in-12-inch-twist barrel is cold-hammer forged, chrome lined and uses a proprietary barrel extension to ensure repeatable accuracy at longer range.Like the MK20 SSR, its heavy contour tapers for use with the SureFire FA762SS sound suppressor, which mounts using a SureFire FH762V-SCAR muzzle device. However, the muzzle has 5/8×24-tpi threading to accommodate most other suppressors and muzzle devices. I should note that adding aftermarket components, like suppressors, could cause damage to the factory rifle and void the warranty.
A three-prong flash suppressor is also included.
In other words, it’s a SCAR through and through, with the same proven short-stroke-piston-driven operating system. It ships with a single 10-round magazine. Why 10 rounds instead of 20? Most shooters will likely fire this rifle from the prone position. The 10-round mag is an easier ejection. However, the SCAR 20S is compatible with 20-round SCAR 17S magazines.
You really don’t need much to put the FN SCAR 20S to work. I added Nightforce’s 7-35x56mm ATACR F1 scope using a LaRue Tactical mount. The scope’s Horus T3 reticle is current in use with many SMU operators, and it’s perfect for this rifle, allowing for fast and accurate fire. You don’t need to waste any time dialing knobs.
The glass itself is as good as it gets, and the ATACR is built to last. It’ll withstand anything a scope is expected to encounter.
I also installed my Atlas bipod since it sits low. It’s very solid and allows me to adjust the legs for less conventional positions.
I used two loads for my initial testing—Hornady’s 155-grain American Gunner BTHPs and Black Hills’ 178-grain ELD-Xs—giving me a nice range of bullet weights. And I’ll cut to the chase and say that the rifle was extremely accurate with both loads.
The Hornady rounds have produced match-grade results in every rifle I’ve tested so far, and the SCAR 20S only added to that reputation. My groups at 100 yards were mostly in the 0.7- to 0.75-inch range, with a few closer to 0.6 inches. At 300 yards, the SCAR 20S produced a 2.86-inch group, which is still sub-MOA.
At greater distances—400, 500 and 600 yards—the Hornady BTHPs held their own. It was almost too easy to ring steel silhouettes at these distances using just the hood of my truck as a rest. The SCAR 20S was easy to maneuver and shoot from others positions, too, including prone.
The Black Hills 178-grain ELD-Xs were almost as accurate at 100 yards, but out to 300, I was able to create a 2.56-inch cluster. Going farther only demonstrated the superiority of the ELD-Xs. Moderately rapid fire at 700 yards yielded six out of seven hits when I used a 5-mil hold at the top of the steel target. I was able to get some center hits on the steel in stiff wind, too.
Moving to 1,000 yards and dialing in the elevation, I managed to get eight hits out of 10 shots on a 16-by-12-inch steel target—as good as it gets for a 7.62mm NATO designed as a purpose-built precision rifle.
Without a doubt, the Geissele Super SCAR trigger is a huge bonus on this rifle. This two-stage trigger is crisp and light yet 100-percent reliable and predictable. It allowed me to wring the best possible accuracy out of the SCAR 20S.
But the rifle is heavy. Starting at 11.2 pounds before you add ammo and an optic, it’s more than 3 pounds heavier than the SCAR 17S. No, it’s not heavier than similar systems, but it’s not a fast, lightweight fighter like previous SCARs, nor is it meant to be. It’s designed to be a sniper support rifle, and in this role it excels because of its reduced recoil.
The stock is nice. In fact, it would be my preference over the standard SCAR 17 stock. Sure, it’s heavier, but it pairs perfectly with smaller variable-power scopes and is easy to adjust in the field. It shoulders quickly, and none of my adjustments came loose. (Also, it’s worth noting that the SCAR 20S is compatible with other SCAR stocks you might already own.)
As mentioned, the recoil is minimal, even with the flash suppressor, making the rifle very controllable. My guess is it that the SCAR 20S would be even easier to use with a suppressor or muzzle brake. But either way, it performs exactly as it was designed and will be welcomed by many SCAR owners.
Most of us that enjoy or use the SCAR 17S have been badgering FN for some version of the MK20 SSR since it was introduced. I got to run one during a closed media event and quickly joined that crowd. So I’m glad the SCAR 20S is finally here! It might not be for everyone with an MSRP of $4,499, but it’s an exceptional rifle that might just be the perfect SCAR to own.
Make sure you watch my official range test for a full look at the SCAR 20S.
Keep your eyes peeled for my complete review of the FN SCAR 20S in the February/March 2018 issue of Tactical Life Magazine. The issues goes on sale Dec. 11. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
For more information, please visit FNAmerica.com.
FN SCAR 20S Specs
- Caliber: 7.62mm NATO
- Barrel: 20 inches
- OA Length: 40.6-42.5 inches
- Weight: 11.2 pounds (empty)
- Trigger: 3.5-4.5-pounds Geissele Super SCAR trigger (factory installed)
- Sights: None
- Stock: Adjustable
- Action: Semi-auto; short-stroke gas piston
- Finish: FDE
- Capacity: 10+1; Also compatible with 20-round 17S magazines
- MSRP: $4,499