If you show someone in the gun community a picture of any model of FN SCAR they will usually be able to identify it is a SCAR. These rifles have a distinctive look and a strong following. Last year FN released the newest member of the SCAR family, the FN SCAR 20S. As a civilian version of the USSOCOM MK20 SSR, the new rifle caused a stir right away. GunsAmerica did a quick review of the FN SCAR 20S at the 2019 SHOT Show. Recently I got my hands on one and was able to give it a work out. This article details how it performed and this writer’s opinion on this new SCAR family member.
Prior to this rifle test I had not shot a SCAR of any kind, so there were a few things that jumped out right away. By far the most noticeable thing on any SCAR is the stock – the old SCAR 17S stock looks like an UGG boot. Well, das boot is gone! The SCAR 20S has an outstanding updated stock that is made for precision engagements. It is adjustable for length of pull and cheek weld without using tools – simply depress a button and pull or push to make the adjustment. These features are solid and yet easy to adjust, and the range of adjustment should accommodate most shooters. The stock is one of several well-engineered features of the SCAR 20S. The next most prominent feature is the monolithic upper receiver, which is the serialized part of the gun. The 20S upper is longer than prior SCARs to accommodate optics in line with the riflescope, e.g., clip on thermal, as well as to provide more real estate for bipod mounting. Aluminum MIL-STD-1913 rails run the length of the top and bottom of the upper, and eight inch polymer rails are at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.
As a purpose built precision rifle, the 20S features a longer and heavier barrel than the 17S. This is something the 20S shares with its big brother the USSOCOM MK20 SSR. It is cold hammer forged, chrome lined, 1:12 right hand twist, and has a three prong flash hider. Another great feature on this new rifle is the trigger. FN uses a Geissele two stage Super SCAR trigger with a 3.5-4.5 pound pull. It is very similar to a Geissele SSA-E, except the pull feels slightly heavier. It is an easy trigger to get used to, it is very consistent, and it has an appropriate weight for the application. The SCAR 20S retains the short stroke piston action of its predecessors, which brings us to the perceived recoil issue. Some have written that the SCAR 20S “has almost no recoil.” While it wouldn’t be fair to characterize the SCAR 20S as a hammer, it would also not be fair to say it has no perceivable recoil (note this writer developed no stress disorders after the shooting sessions – marked as safe). The recoil pulse was noticeable and it very likely disrupted my five shot groups. With relative ease this rifle produced groups at 100 yards with three shots touching. Unfortunately for this shooter and an accomplished military colleague, the five shot group without a flier remained elusive.
At first glance the SCAR 20S has a two tone tan color scheme – the upper and lower are clearly different colors. Like other SCARs, the 20S has a polymer lower receiver and a metal upper receiver. The anodizing on the upper creates a lighter shade of tan than the color of the lower receiver. There is also a more subtle difference in shade on the tan parts of the stock – two more shades here. In all there are four colors of tan along with the black parts. Some people are going to like this color scheme and some won’t. In any case, it is unique. The rifle is shipped with a single 10 round magazine. This was a surprise, given the SCAR 20S is supposed to be as close as a civilian can get to a USSOCOM MK20 SSR. FN says that because most users will be shooting the SCAR 20S in a prone position as a precision rifle there was no need to include a longer magazine. It is somewhat disappointing to get just one 10 round magazine in the box considering the price tag of the package. That said, the magazine is metal and well designed. It is the same magazine as that used in the SCAR17S. Interestingly, the color of tan on the magazine is yet another shade in the scheme, so I guess that makes five shades of tan. Beyond the magazine, it should be noted that few parts are interchangeable between the new SCAR 20S and the 17S. FN indicates that about 50 percent of the parts are the same, but the company does not recommend attempting to swap parts between the two rifles.
The reciprocating charging handle is a hallmark of the SCAR series, and the 20S retains this feature. However the 20S charging handle may be placed either on the right or the left. Likewise, the safety and magazine release controls are ambidextrous. The bolt catch however is left side only unfortunately. The grip is a standard Hogue model, which is what was used on the USSOCOM MK20 SSR.
For the accuracy test a Leupold Mark 5HD 3-18 scope was used (this scope is superb by the way). All shots were from a seated/bench position with the rifle on an Accu-Shot Atlas bipod resting on a rubber pad that covered a concrete table. On the first trip to the range some inexpensive 7.62x51mm ammunition was used. Varying degrees of bipod loading were used, but the SCAR 20S just didn’t like the cheap ammunition. The results were poor at nearly three inches at 100 yards for five shots. On the second trip to the range high quality Hornady .308 match grade ammunition was used, and group sizes were more than cut in half (see results below). Also of note, the best results came from both loading the bipod and pushing the stock back into the shoulder pocket with some force. To get good results you can’t let this rifle buck. The SCAR 20S stock is well suited for this method and groups seemed to settle in once this technique was deployed. It is very likely that better groups may be achieved using a prone position, but that was not possible at the available range. While FN does not advertise an accuracy guarantee, they do state it is their expectation that the SCAR 20S should shoot sub MOA with factory match grade ammunition.
|Hornady||Match||168 gr BTHP||1.2|
|Hornady||Match||178 gr ELD-X||1.4|
|Hornady||Match||168 gr ELD-M||1.5|
|Hornady||American Gunner||155 gr BTHP||1.7|
|*best 5 shot maximum spread in inches at 100 yards|
Conclusion: the SCAR 20S is a well-engineered precision shooting platform of high quality. The looks grow on you and it was quite fun to take it to the range where it garnered a great deal of attention. Given the price tag it isn’t for everyone. In fact, the price alone limits the market for this rifle. That said, SCAR fans are really going to enjoy this rifle, and this writer is aware that some are simply buying it as an investment.
|Action||Short stroke piston driven|
|Barrel||20 inch, chrome lined, cold hammer forged, 1:12 right hand twist, 7.62x51mm|
|Trigger||Geissele Super SCAR two stage|
|Color options||Flat Dark Earth / multi-tone tan color scheme available at this time|
|Stock||Adjustable without tools|
|Iron Sights||None included|
|Magazine||One 10 round magazine included|
|Muzzle device||Flash hider|
|Weight unloaded||11.2 pounds|
|Safety & magazine release||Ambidextrous|
|Charging handle||Reciprocating, reversible left or right side|