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Meet the FN SCAR 17S: One of the Best Rifles on the Planet?

FN SCAR 17S. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The FN SCAR 17S Is One of the Coolest Rifles I’ve Ever Fired: Here’s Why – The SCAR 17S was surprisingly a mixed bag for me, and I’m not entirely sure that I’d recommend it. Yes, it’s iconic. You’ve seen it everywhere. It’s been in a ton of action movies and video games (Modern Warfare 2 is where I first encountered it). But media can often paint a different picture than reality.

It’s big, it’s beefy, and packs one heck of a punch. It’s also chambered in a pretty fat round (.308) too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome gun and its fame makes up for a lot of its shortcomings. If you’re on the fence about the SCAR 17S, keep on reading.

FN SCAR 17S: What To Make Of It? 

The precision you can achieve with the rifle is awesome.

I normally test rifles at 100 yards, but this thing demands a little more range. Steel was super easy to hit at 150 to 250 yards, even without an optic attached. Mind you this was from a seated, braced position. It’s still easy to hit a target while standing but the recoil can make that a bit…difficult.

While accurate, .308 kick isn’t something I love dealing with. It’s heavy, especially if you’ve never shot this caliber. It can make lining up follow-up shots a real pain. The muzzle brake remedies this issue considerably. Shooting this without some sort of recoil mitigation is a non-starter. Keep that in mind and the recoil shouldn’t be much of a problem if you train with it.

FN SCAR 17S: Putting It Through the Paces…

I was also pretty happy with the reliability in terms of just being able to cycle ammo consistently regardless of the brand. I shot just about 1000 rounds through this battle rifle with a hitch. However, there is an argument to be made about some of its design flaws potentially causing issues. The charging handle is attached to the bolt and sticks out over an inch to whatever side you have it installed on. I’d wager I’d be in for a pretty rough day if I was to snag that on a wall, piece of fabric, or even myself. This charging handle makes it somewhat difficult to brace on a corner as well. It’s not a good look in my opinion, especially for a rifle designed with military use in mind.

FN SCAR 17S Dealbreakers

Now we get into some serious issues; things that might be dealbreakers. The FN SCAR 17S isn’t an easily maneuverable gun. I’m a bit of LARPer so you know I love snapping from target to target as fast as humanly possible. Not happening with this rifle. It’s heavy, as implied in the name (SCAR-H). You can be effective with it, but’s going to take some time.

Besides being heavy, it’s also rather chunky. I usually opt for a C-clamp grip. If you’re unfamiliar with that, it’s basically just wrapping your support hand around the handguard instead of cupping it. Like being fast, not really an option with the SCAR. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem if it was only heavy or only chunky, but the combination of the two just makes it feel unwieldy.

These two issues are truly detrimental, but the SCAR’s level of cool pretty much evens it out for me. I’m a sucker for cool-looking guns, they’re my Achille’s heel and the SCAR 17 has that in spades. It’s big. It’s bold. It commands the attention of everyone at the range. It screams battle-ready with its FDE finish and big caliber. Oddly enough, my favorite part in terms of looks might be the SCAR’s adjustable stock. Some people have called it the “boot stock” since it really is shaped like a boot. I happen to like that boot in this case. I can’t put my finger on it, but the design does it for me.

For me, the FN SCAR 17S was a seriously mixed bag. It packs a gnarly punch and looks amazing, but it’s held back by some really rough clunkiness. I don’t even want to talk about the nearly 3 grand you need to drop on this bad boy. At the end of the day, I’m not saying “don’t buy this gun.” I’m just saying know what you’re getting into before you do.

Richard Douglas writes on firearms, defense, and security issues. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at the National Interest, 1945, Daily Caller, and other publications.

Written By

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.