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They were having an FN sale @ a local funshop w/ a SCAR-L prototype there. FN-USA reps were there to answer questions. Well, I came, I saw, & I survived to talk about it. Actually, I have to say that, IMO, it appears to live up to the hype - at least judging from my finger-fiddling it. The -L model on hand looked well-worn, w/ some finish burnt off at the bbl. The prototype in question looked like a 3rd-gen unit, judging from the configuration, & was said to be ~3 years old w/ serious FA action & some time in the sandbox for testing & dispensing of BG's under its belt. Kinda' felt like I was holding a small piece of history in my hands.

Anyway, here's a component rundown, as I saw it, of the SCAR-L prototype I got to handle (but not shoot :cry:):

Stock:
Felt comfortable & solid, w/o wobble or play in the lockup. The adjustments allowed for truly personalized fitment. One interesting little bit was that a detent pin (up next to the buttpad, on the L-side) can be pulled (it stays captive - like all the other push pins & the bbl. screws) to allow the buttpad to be removed. Inside is a small compartment that can store 123-batteries or small similar items. I found it somewhat novel, but useful nonetheless.

Irons:
In terms of build quality, the sights as seen in various internet photos, already impressed me, but I had to give them a AAA stamp of approval after trying them out in person. In sum, the SCAR F/R irons are some of the best I've ever seen on a production rifle. I mean, the quality is just amazing. I've been waiting (how long?) for a dual-aperture flip-up rear w/ windage + elevation adjustments, & the FN SCAR delivered. The rear flip utilizes a ball-detent mechanism to keep it in place (up or down). It's simply well made, & the front compliments it nicely in the form of a folding (locks up & down), hooded, elevation-adjustable piece. My only gripe would be their height placement, but the RFP requirements dictated this, so I can't point the finger @ FN. Still, they were fast & easy to acquire on target, & they cowitnessed perfectly w/ the Eotech, which was no slouch itself. I've gotta bow to SMGLee's wisdom here, as I'm rapidly becoming an Eotech fan.

Upper/Lower:
Straight off, the aluminum upper is the serialized component. Even despite its extensive use, this particular upper still appeared to show no real wear & the reciprocating components moved freely but w/o play when we got to see it being taken down. Upper-lower-stock fitment was also nice & snug.

The lower is constructed of a polymide material, w/ ambi controls throughout (except that the bolt catch-release is L-side, as w/ the AR). The LE/Mil release vesion will have a 90 deg throw between S-1-A modes. No one could say what type of throw arc the commercial semi would have. I only dry fired it a couple times, but the trigger felt pretty crisp. I also got to to play w/ the FN steel 5.56 mag, which was a fairly solid piece & was AR-smooth in/out of the magwell.

Internal components:
The bolt carrier is a heavy piece of steel - stout enough to be a "melee" weapon in its own right, & leaves no doubt as to how the fire rate reduction was achieved. The bolt itself looks like an AR bolt beefed up all the way around. I'd almost have to describe the operation method as sort of hybrid long + short-stroke op system, in as much as the carrier extension is analogous to the AK-style carrier piston (except it reciprocates inside the receiver & not in a cylinder/tube attached to the bbl.); the gas block tappet is the short-stroke part of the system. The carrier's extension goes all the way up front to the front sight/tappet gas block where it's impinged by the tappet. The gas block has 2 settings. Interestingly, the adjustment knob was stuck in position on this one due to extensive powder gumming it up. Apparently, it'll still shoot, but it needed to be cranked on to free it up & get it to adjust.

The reciprocating cocking handle felt (to me) to be less in the line of my hands than I thought, but w/o a foregrip, you'll still need to grab the forearm more towards the front to avoid getting smacked; gripping by the magwell (more than a few do this) was no problem in this regard. The gun was equipped w/ a Tango Down foregip that made for a prefect combination. My one gripe is that the grip portion of the cocking handle is made of polymide plastic. Seems to me that FN could/should make it an all-steel unit, as I figure a good drop or scrape against a hard surface might break it, but it was still fully intact after 3 years of hard use, so what do I know?

Bottom line:
Might be a winner. The build quality, even on this well-worn unit, was still apparent, & it balanced well in my hands. I like the controls & placement, the irons, the general feel, etc. My only concern is how long before FN can get them out in sufficient commercial volume. I definitely want mine in black, which I was told will be forthcoming, but only later on, & not immediately upon release. FDE doesn't do it for me, but if politics goes to hell, I'll throw down, buy some Rite-dye, & send the upper off for a refinish, if it comes down to it. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

Good gun. I'm impressed.
 

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The polymer lower concerns me somewhat, knowing that the Mk17 is proposed to replace DMR's like the M14 & Knight SR-25/MK11&12 aka M110, my issue relates to long term accuracy, but as intended in the all around combat rifle role it's way ahead of the M16 variants and long over due. I too think the rear sights were some of the best I'd ever seen but did note one problem with them. With an ACOG Optic(current standard US Govt issue)installed the rear sights have to be removed, just as with any M16/M4 variant, they are just to bulky to fold down to allow clearnace for the ACOG. The Troy Industries(www.troyind.com) rear sight has been placed on a few of the SCAR's I've seen as it will fold down with enough clearance for optic installation and are a work of art themselves. With the SCAR still in Phase II of military testing with Phase III remaining before full production, I'd be willing to say a few changes will probably be made with even another variation yet to come. The SCAR is truely modular and will prove to be a rifle series that will evolve for years to come.
 
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