Some have said the SCAR is dead (at least the MK16 SCAR-L variant), but from the start of the SCAR program (PDF format document link), its goal has been a receiver that can handle both the 5.56mm NATO (5.56×45mm) and 7.62 NATO (7.62×51mm) cartridges. So, as the various AR manufactures complained, the FN MK16 SCAR-Light (SCAR-L) and FN MK17 SCAR-Heavy (SCAR-H) (PDF format) were born to make the competition more achievable by the industry. As the MK16 SCAR-L won the initial contract, the planned evolution of this weapon was for it to employ a multicaliber single receiver, better know as the “common receiver”. This explains the recent decision to run with the Mk-17 and use a 5.56mm adapter kit/conversion kit for it and to produce a common receiver/multicaliber weapons platform.

The ball for a new combat rifle for SOCOM (USSOCOM) started rolling in the late 90s, and over time, this ball would roll into what would eventually become the the now famous SCAR program (PDF format) on the heels of a solicitation that was released shortly after 9/11, when funding began to pour into SOCOM. From the start, the SCAR weapons concept was to be developed to include a combat rifle and sniper variant in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers.

However, once FN Herstal/FNH USA won the contract, and evaluators discovered during one of the test cycles that the MK16, outfitted with with FN’s standard hammer-forged, chrome lined barrel, was capable of shooting 8-inch (8″) 10-round groups at 800 yard during one of the testing cycle–yes that is ten rounds at 800 yards, all funnelled into an 8″ group–the idea of developing a 5.56 sniper variant was cancelled.

This freed SOCOM up to concentrate on the Mk16, Mk17, and Mk20 SSR (Sniper Support Rifle) with a SCAR-PR (Precision Rifle), or the so called “Shroud” as the DMR (Designated Markman Rifle). So, when SOCOM decided to move the development funding for the the Mk-16 and Mk-17 and roll it into the Mk17 with a common receiver, it was also part of the cycle of development, but that announcement created the appearance of the MK16 program’s cancellation, and resulting reportage with that interpretation (Editor’s Note: DefenseReview does not necessarily agree with the author’s interpretation of recent events. We don’t necessarily disagree, either. We’re just not sure, yet. The fact is, the MK16 SCAR program is effectively cancelled at present, if only temporarily, before the MK17 SCAR common receiver solution is implemented and subsequently adopted in large numbers (if it’s eventually adopted in large numbers. Time will tell.).

Read the rest of Chen Lee’s article at Defense Review.

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