Clarification on the SCAR’s future.

FNH USA’s Executive Vice President of Military Operations Mark Cherpes explained to Shooting Illustrated what was going on with the FN SCAR at USSOCOM. USSOCOM could not make their mind up, but finally decided they wanted a multi-caliber system, which is why the Mk.16 is being phased out and the Mk.17 with conversion kit is being adopted.

Mark Cherpes says

FN had proposed and offered a single-platform system to USSOCOM that would adapt via conversion kit to SOF current and future ammunition. During the requirements finalization phase, the SOF operators took the decision that the weapon should be split in two platforms, one gun for 5.56 and a second gun for 7.62. The reason this decision was made at the time is that the SOF operators did not like the fact that the 5.56 base platform would have an increase in weight over the M4. The weight difference between the MK 16 Standard and the SCAR H Standard is about half a pound.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Lance

    The real reason a Mk-16 isn’t all that better than a M-4 and that’s why no one wanted it. I doubt any none 7.62x51mm SCAR will ever make it bit no one liked them But the need to a compact 7.62mm weapon has made a place for the Heavy version. FN has to learn you win a little and lose a little.

    The Fact is the M-4 is here to stay and the need for other weapons for none standerd 5.56mm caliber will make the heavy model needed for limited purposes.

  • Lance

    The real reason a Mk-16 isn’t all that better than a M-4 and that’s why no one wanted it. I doubt any none 7.62x51mm SCAR will ever make it bit no one liked them But the need to a compact 7.62mm weapon has made a place for the Heavy version. FN has to learn you win a little and lose a little.

    The Fact is the M-4 is here to stay and the need for other weapons for none standard 5.56mm caliber will make the heavy model needed for limited purposes.

    • Wayy

      You can’t even formulate a coherent paragraph man. Read what you just wrote; does it make sense?

  • Armored

    I’ve never fired the SCAR. I’ve held one though and I thought it was okay. It certainly was more balanced then the first generation of ACRs but I hated the adjustable buttstock. I’m curious though, what benefit does the SCAR give to the military that a regular AR Carbine can’t deliver? Another thing I’ve wondered is why any civilian would want to buy a rifle like the SCAR since from my understanding, you cannot get replacement parts directly from FN but you have to send the whole rifle in to them?

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    MOst of what the VP said has been known for a while, with him just confirming it!

    I believe the next CREDIBLE (as in ‘for the near future’) generation weapons will not be with the hyperburst nonsense or the increasingly-bogus IC Program one, but the 7.62 platform being able to be quickly retrofitted to use 5.56 rounds!

    I find this much more realistic than, for instance, ACR’s modularity to AK’s 7.62×39, 6.8 and whatever… or the ICP, with a gun that would only be available probably a decade from now!

    The NATO rounds will be the only ones accepted in legit NATO-sanctioned Military Operations! So, it makes sense that the future should mean a single platform that could accomodate both of these calibers!

    I think that now that the USSOCOM operators have had the chance to field test the Mk17 and know what they can do and how reliable they are, they have become more pervious to the notion of the original SCAR design, which, to me, was the best idea anyway, not this dual-platform thing! The Mk16 is still a formidable weapon, don’t get me wrong, but it was not needed for the war going on in the deserts of Afghanistan, where the 7.62 is king and the 5.56 is just bland!

    I now fully understand FN’s back and forth statement during that time, given how inconstant the USSOCOM was at the time! Changing minds right when the Mk16 was greenlit for full-production is very poor timing indeed on their part!

    Fortunately, the Mk17 is here to stay, at least for a while! And I am glad for it! It is indeed a formidable weapon with amazing accuracy!

    I like the elite of the finest warriors to have the best of the best! I would expect no less!


  • William C.

    Will the Mk.17 have a different designation when fitted with this 5.56mm conversion kit?

  • charles222

    Probably not; if you think of the M4 “Modular Weapon System”, the name of the thing doesn’t change when you put accessories (say, the M203 or LSS, or the Daniel Defense free-floating rails on 3rd ID “M16A5” SDM rifles) that significantly change how you’d be using the weapon.

    Also-M4 serial numbers are on lower receivers; if the SCAR is the same, then a different-caliber upper probably wouldn’t result in a nomenclature change for the weapon. The upper will probably have it’s own name (“Mk___5.56x45mm NATO universal upper receiver” or something similar) but it probably wouldn’t result in a total nomenclature change.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    To charles222: I think the serial number on the SCARs is in the upper, from photos of Mk17s in the field! So, I don’t know! If they change calibers, bolts and barrels in a serialised upper, will that mean the Mk17 will get a different designation?

    This is me asking, not a rethorical! LOL

    Cheers, guys!

  • Lance

    While I see the Mk-17 filling a niche for a compact 7.62mm weapon I dont see the 5.56mm version and conversion going anywhere If your not shooting 7.62mm you be shooting a M-4.

    Unfortunately Hyper Burst is a requirement for the ICC competition and with delays in the ICC development I dont see this article have one barring on the ICC competition rather just more on why the Mk-16 is dumped and the Mk-17 will solder on for a while longer.


    This whole program is a joke. Just upgrade the uppers to 6.8 and be done with it. You get more punch, lighter than 7.62, barrier penetration and much more lethal round. The idea to have a modular weapon system (as if our guys needed anything more to carry into combat) is from the back of a desk….ridiculous

  • Rijoenpial

    Hello guys!

    To Michael: There is a SCAR prototype in 6.8! I assume they tried that prototype and put it aside for some reason or reasons! The fact is that if you have a 7.62 upper, which is in a comparison side-by-sidewith the Mk16, almost identical, you can change bolts, barrels within the conversion kits for that specific caliber they require!

    The SCAR platform was designed to be multi-caliber if SOCOM so desires! If the SCAR Mk16 lower can accomodate the 6.8 mags, assuming the prototype capacity for the 6.8 was maintained, should SOCOM so desire in a near future to give 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC a try, I am sure FN could (and would) develop conversion kits for the Mk17 or Mk17 kit upgrades to acomodate that caliber as well as others! The AAC .300 (a 30 cal bullet in a 5.56 cartridge) could also be a possibility! It will probably need further testing, but Advanced Armament Corporation is probably in the right track to make standard M4, Mk16s, etc, be able to shoot a bigger, more powerful round!

    The possibilities are multi and varied! That’s modularity!


  • TCBA_Joe

    I love the “carry 2 into combat” arguement. You realize they’re not carrying anything extra in battle, right? They’ll configure their weapons before they ever get onto the bird.

    The notion these guys are going to have to carry 2 different ammo loadouts, a 2nd bbl, a second bolt, optics, etc… in their assault pack during the mission is laughable. No one is changing anything on the fly.

    Yes, the decision to have scalable weapons is a desk decison. Made by SOCOM guys who’ve been there before. These same guys also understand the issues around an MTOE and the lack of flexibility to give their guys what they need. This allows there to be greater range of authorized capability

  • charles222

    6.8 was DOA because it does NOT do anything you can’t do with 7.62mm NATO simply because of the sheer versatility of the .30-cal round. .30 cal bullets have been a military standard since the turn of the last century, as well as being largely commercially dominant in .308/.30-’06/300WM/etc. You can exactly duplicate the ballistics of 6.8mm with 7.62 and then go way beyond what the 6.8mm is capable of. Between the heavier-weight 5.56mm rounds (Mk262 to be exact) and the mid to heavy 7.62mm cartridges (Mk 316 and M118ER to be exact) there is nothing new that 6.8mm brings to the table.

    Furthermore, the point of the SCAR was logistical simplicity; adopting a new cartridge (particularly a not-very-amazing one) was never going to happen with that kind of mission statement.

  • charles222

    Rij: I can’t say, in that case; still doubt it would because, well, who cares? :p

    Plus of course it’s always been described *as* the Mk.17…

  • Lance

    Sorry to say BUT 6.8 and 6.5mm rounds are like Charles222 said are DOA. Both rounds have been around over 7 years and no one is using them.There are alot of prototype weapons from M-4s to your SCAR in 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel no one except civilians bought them. The Military just got done adopting the MK262 round and the M-855A1 round for the M-4 specifically and now there upgrading the M-4 and new news on the M-16A4 being updated to a possible A5 standard check Marine times about that one. The standard issue weapon for a long time will be either a M-4 or M-16 of various types from A2-4 or possible A5. 5.56mm and Stoner system are not going away.

    Now in .308 the Mk-17 fill a gap where the longer M-14 DMR and M-110 couldn’t due to there size so in .308 the Mk-17 will solder on.

  • charles222

    My money is on the Marines deciding to replace their M4s/M16s with the IAR, actually. It’d make up for the firepower deficit they’re creating by ditching the SAW, and largely duplicate the structure of Army and Marine platoons in Vietnam where everyone had a full-automatic capability.

  • charles222

    Edit: Yes, replacing the M16 and M4 with IAR would probably be politically controversial, but if any branch of the Armed Services can do it it’s the Marine Corps. Their political lobby and general public perception gives them alot of political freedom to maneuver-see MV-22 if you don’t believe me. :p

  • Lance

    Yes Charles but the Marine marksmanship instructors have not issued a need to replace the A4 with the IAR they are improving the A4.

  • charles222

    Still won’t surprise me if it happens. Not alot of practical difference between a 16.5-inch barrel and a 20, particularly with Mk 262, Mk 318, or M855A1; think about the SEAL “Recce Rifle” M4 mod.

  • charles222

    Oh, jeez. Posted in the wrong topic. :p Sorry.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    Having read the great article by Daniel Waters, a fellow poster, I now understand all that ‘bad blood’ from M4 supporters-FN bashers! I was not aware up until now where all that ‘hate’ came from!

    I think FN did the right thing, because that 1997 M4 Addendum is outrageous and very, very suspicious!

    Let us not forget that COLT BOUGHT the AR-15 rights from ARmalite (the capital ‘AR’ are intended!), so they are not even the creators, designers of that gun, and all they did with the M4 was to cash in on it, and aftwerwards just shorten the barrel from the M16 designs they bought from Armalite! They never compensated for the ammo problems that would derive from shortening the barrel without proper, adequate tweaks!

    Hence why the M4 has so many shortcomings, the worst of which, to me, is the need to constantly lubricate and clean it! Also, the fact that like a WWII weapon, you can’t submerge that weapon without having to spend an enormous (in firefight terms) amount of time making sure the barrel and other components aren’t obstructed, is another! And there are others already well known by everyone, so I am not gonna go into that again!

    It has been long overdue the stepping down of COLT Defense who got really fat by violating the competition laws for decades, strong-arming the ARMY!!! into increasing prices all the time, AND making the taxpayer pay for it no less! So, they got greedy and guess what, the Army indulged in their greed! Why? I am sure all know the most likely answer to that!

    But enough of that…

    Going back to the SCAR…

    To Charles222: The 6.8 or the 6.5 was never a possibility to me, because the USArmy or SOF or any branch can only use NATO-sanctioned calibers in the NATO theatre of operations!

    That was, for me, the REAL reason these calibers never had or stood a chance!

    I agree with you that the 7.62 covers all these alternate calibers, but the WEIGHT issue wasone of the main reasons the 5.56 came up, followed by these intermediate cals. because the original FAL or G3 7.62×51 round was too heavy to carry around!

    The IAR will probably be a way for the Delta boys and the entire SOF elite to circumvent the M4 problems (never forget they are the ones that put those weapons to the rigueurs of intense combat and training!) and bring a piston M4 to the table, a weapon that needs much mess maintenance, is more reliable, less prone to jam, and therefore more durable!

    And the HK416, being a shorter version of the IAR, can easily be adopted in numbers that will not arouse suspicions at first and subsequently and progressively be accomodated into the SOF and in due time, probably in the regular Army and Marine Corps as well! Because they need to finesse these things! LOL

    In one word, the SCAR will probably only see the SOF light, but I am not disturbed by that! Company-wise, it is better to sell 100,000 than 10,000 weapons, but, for me, knowing the 7.62 is coming back and that the SCAR Mk17 is being used and liked by the SOF warriors, is enough for now! Time will tell if this weapon or a more modernised version of it, or if the modular dual-caliber weapon is here to stay or not!

    And regarding Colt’s apparent end of M4 reign, it has been long overdue! I am sure FN will make even better M4s if they are landed that contract! They are already doing the M16A3s, so the M4 contract would not be a shot in the dark here, quite the opposite!

    This is the company that gave us the FAL, the FNC, the FN MAG, the F2000, the P90, the FiveseveN, the M240 and derivatives, the SCAR Mk17 and Mk16, etc… So, I think the M4 would be in very capable hands!


  • Rijoenpial

    SMALL ADDENDUM – Heh, where I said ‘all they did with the M4 was to cash in on it’, of course, I wanted to say the M-16, not the M4… Sorry, guys…

  • Lance

    I agree somewhat Charles222

    But the Marinetimes just said they are working on a M-16A to a M-16A5 upgrade very possible next year so I don’t see the A4 going away. But if it did id bet $1000 dollars that id be a lighter barreled M-27ish H&K 416 based weapon.

    I agree with Rijonpal a bit yes the Mk-17 is going to be a SOCOM only weapon but fill the gap in firepower and size between a M-4 and the heavy and large M-14 and M-110s. so it has a place.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    ADDENDUM nº 2 (Sheesh!) – I made a mistake info-wise regarding the M16 models that FN Manufacturing does: I said they did the M16A3, but they do not do this model, but rather the M16A2 and M16A4! Just checked their website just to make sure! Sorry about that guys, just trying to keep the facts straight here!


  • charles222

    Rij, as I have posted, the M4 does not require “constant cleaning and maintenance”. This is a falsehood perpetrated by Internet ninjas and GCOTC (Gun Companies Other Than Colt.) The M4A1 is currently the go-to weapon of just about every prominent SOF unit in NATO, as well as other countries that can afford them (AKA NZ and Australian SASR). It also has a 90% approval rating from the people using it the most, US Army soldiers.

    And the nonsense about “Non-NATO calibers” is just that when applied to SOCOM: Nonsense. SOCOM has issued on a limited basis the MP7, which fires a completely non-NATO 4.6mm round. Seriously, the lack of 6.8 on the SCAR is because SOCOM did not see a need for it. The political pull SOCOM has is amazing; they are literally protected by law from political monkeying in what they buy. The SCAR is replacing no fewer than 3 other rifles and with the 5.56mm conversion kit will *probably* wind up supplementing the M4A1 to a certain degree amongst SF Soldiers who want to switch. H&K *tried* to get the M4 replaced with that plastic pile of junk the XM8 and failed. The real next-generation round will be from the LSAT program.

  • Lance

    I agree with Charles222 SCAR Heavy even with covertsion kit will only supplament current weapons in some ops where 5.56mm is the only caliber used M-4s would be used. SOCOM can use none NATO ammo BUT they dont use the none sander weapons alot. MP-5 and MP-7s are used in marintime ops but the M-4 has replaced SMGs alot in the last decade. Even some 7.62 weapons wont go away the M-110 and M-14 will be around in DMR mode for a while while the SCAR H will be used as a CQB assault rifle.

    The future may be the LSAT ammo which a M-4 varient is being made to shoot said ammo.

  • Rijoenpial

    Hi guys!

    1 – Regarding the High-Maintenance remark, this comes from the field experience in the deserts of Afghanistan, especially regarding the sand that enables fouling! The mere fact that the soldiers need to clean their weapons every so often… Why did the Delta boys liked the Hk416 so much then? Why are the manufacturers and USSOCOM going to Piston-driven guns? Because they are less prone to jamming, require LESSER maintenance/lubrication than the M4 DI system! I was talking about the M4 in sand-ridden environments! Of course, if you have a highly lubricated weapon in the desert, the sand glues to it and causes jamming and fouling, so the less lubrication a weapon requires, the less prone to jamming it is in extreme dust environments!

    2 – Regarding my remark of the NATO sanctioned cals, I was of course talking about STANDARD army units and their issued weapons! The SOF units, and most European Police SPecOps Units can use whichever gun and cal they can get their hands on to get the job done, kinda like the SOF units!

    Again, I was talking about Non-SOCOM units like the Regular Army, Marines, etc, with their issued weapons, like the M4, M16, M14, M110, M249, M240, M27, etc! And they make, what, 80% of the weapon sales?

  • Lance

    The M-4 if properly checked and cleaned when dirty past a certain degree dosnt require more maintence than other weapons but you have to check it for dust and carbon despsites regularly, but they train you to do that. No problems for me.

  • Deathbunny

    The simple reasons the M4/M16 are hard to “kill” is ergonomics, accuracy, and modularity.

    Ergonomically, they have no real vices. You don’t accidentally hit the take-down pins like in the FN FAL. They don’t try to eat your hand like an M1 Garand. The safety/selector is in a reasonable place to be quick–even without an ambi-model. The sights are where you want them and–if iron–high enough to give you a reasonable battle-sight zero range.

    Likewise, you train Private Snuffy on an M16A1 then hand him a tricked out M4 and all you have to do is point out where the power buttons for the sights and lasers are. Likewise with the SR25 variants.

    Which isn’t too uncommon–the AK/RPK family did it a little earlier–but you have the accuracy in the design to make both a credible sniper or marksman rifle, a short range weapon, and about anything in between…

    …due to modularity.

    It’s hard to want to get rid of a functional, accurate, and intimately familiar weapon you have thousands of rounds through when every time you want a weapon to do something new, there’s a way to switch out an upper or the stock or to essentially the same lower with a larger magazine well and run with that.

    Which brings us to a last reason why the AR15 is hard to kill off: A lack of unfixed/unfixable vices on a rifle most shooters know how to run decently. You pick any 10 soldiers issued some version of an AR15/M16/M4 and you’ll have 15 different complaints about the design that either a) are solvable with a new (desired) accessory or version or b) solved with a slightly different way of using the gun. Very few want to get rid of it, just tinker.

    (The only exception I know of–my best friend, actually–bought a parts gun with an odd, 26″ barrel and a bipod on an “A1” receiver that someone took a grinder to the bolt lugs on. Found out later–same gun, years later–that they killed the extractor alignment and the locking was weird which made it randomly fail to extract and randomly fail to unlock. Add to that the fact he can’t hit shit beyond about 150m with a rifle and now he loves Mini-14’s…)