Though fitted with various Picatinny rails, the iron sights on…

Though fitted with various Picatinny rails, the iron sights on the FNH USA SCAR 16S proved effective inside 100 yards.

When I signed up for a 3-gun class to be given by Massad Ayoob at the Firearms Academy of Seattle in September of 2009, I petitioned FNH USA for a SCAR 16S to try out for this class. They let me have one for the two weeks around the scheduled Lethal Force Institute, Level 3 training.

With this short window to do my evaluation, I decided to focus on how this gun handled in close quarters situations that might be encountered in a defensive use of this carbine by civilians. What I wanted to know was how this compared to my AR-15 in ease of use and maneuverability. How was it to field strip and clean? Was it reliable? How were the ergonomics compared to the AR-15?

Gun Details
FNH USA designed this carbine to be familiar to the military operators of the M16. The controls are set up in the same positions with the exception of the charging handle. They moved the charging handle from the rearward position to the left side of the upper frame. Here, it can be easily accessed with the non-dominant hand without moving the firing grip on the gun. It was also designed to be switched from left side to right to customize to the shooter’s preference.

carbine_scar_16s_blackThe FNH USA SCAR 16S .223 is the semi-auto-only version of the US Special Operations Command rifles.

As this handle reciprocates during fire, the shooter must be conscious of grip on the gun to be sure not to wrap a thumb over its path and be injured. Whether this positioning of the charging handle would be problematic when carrying the gun on a sling by hanging up on clothing or other gear, I didn’t have an opportunity to discover.

Keeping the shooter’s thumb safely out of the way could be ensured by the addition of a foregrip, should this be a concern. I didn’t find it to be an issue. The safety/select fire switch and magazine release are in the familiar position for the AR-15 or M16 user. These controls are ambidextrous and easily accessed by the dominant hand in either a right or left hand grip. As we were asked to work both right and left side mounts around barricades and during one-handed shooting drills, I found this ambidexterity to be very convenient.

The SCAR 16S is a sexy-looking gun with its stout, polymer stock and grip assembly in desert tan and it’s upper in light earth brown. It bristles with rails along the
top, sides and bottom of the integral receiver/forend, ready to mount any accessories (the military version has a grenade launcher available to mount forward of the magazine well).

fnh-usa-scar-16s-bAlthough designed with the military in mind, it is an excellent choice as a home defense carbine.

The stock is 6-way adjustable for length of pull. I found the action on my specimen to be a little balky to slide in and out. Polymer sliding against polymer takes a bit of time to break in. It has a 2-position cheekpiece to elevate the head for use of optics or lower it to the iron sights. It folds and latches against the right side of the gun for compact storage or handling in confined spaces, such as the interior of a vehicle. The gun is fully functional with the stock folded. The curved buttplate fits naturally into the shoulder and is rather aggressively textured so it won’t slip around once in position. I found it to be one of the most comfortable stocks I’ve used on a long gun.

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