German GSG-9 seen using FN SCAR-L

Earlier this month the GSG-9, Germany’s famous elite counter-terrorism force, participated in a large scale joint exercise with Spezialeinsatzkommandos (SEK) squads from all over Germany. Eight hundred commandoes and 400 “hostages” participated in the exercise which lasted three days.

The below photo shows a GSG-9 officer (in the green) talking to a group of “terrorists” during the exercise. The officer is carrying a FN SCAR-L rifle. The rifle appears to be the latest generation black SCAR-L in the Standard configuration with a 14″ barrel.

The GSG-9 uses a wide range or weapons including the HK 416, HK 417 and SIG 550 but this is the first time we have seen or heard of them using the FN SCAR L. FN Herstal has never sent us a press release announcing their adoption of the weapon system.

[ Many thanks to Steffen for the tip. ]

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.


  • Kyle D

    I don’t know GSG-9s policy but could it be something the officer privately bought? Or maybe something that was privately bought by the GSG-9 to issue on an exploratory basis?

  • FailBlog

    Why on Earth would you use the underpowered 5.56 version over the much more powerful .308 version?

    NATO countries really need to mothball the 5.56 round and up their stopping power.

    If I was forced to use the 5.56 then I’d at least pick a light weight and compact gun like an M4.

    I hate guns that are overly bulky for the rounds they fire.

    • Nicks87

      Really? And what battlefield experience do you have with the 5.56 and it’s inadequate “stopping power”?

      Stopping power is a made-up term used by people who have very little experience in the use and application of fireams in armed confrontations. The term is mainly used by gun writers to sell more large caliber weapons.

      Caliber has little to do with combat effectiveness. More important is shot placement and the amount of firepower an individual can accurately put down range.

      • Esh325

        I think I’ve heard people going into harms way use the term stopping power, even if it’s not a technical term. Even if somebody has shot another person, that doesn’t make them the end all expert on ballistics.

        I believe caliber does relate to combat effectiveness to a certain degree, if it did not, then there wouldn’t be a 7.62×51 and .50 BMG being used. I think the size of the caliber greatly depends on the application, one cannot be effective with one caliber in all roles.

      • Nicks87

        No need to point out the obvious but even with the bigger calibers shot placement is important. To disable a vehicle you should aim for the engine block not the passenger comparment even if you are using a 240B.

        Too many people get caught up in the bigger is better caliber argument but if you cant hit your target in the vital areas then caliber doesnt really matter does it. Police officers have been killed by .22lr and starving somali pirates have survived wounds from a browning .50 machine gun. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, killing people is not an exact science.

      • bbmg

        Very well said, a bad guy hit with a single 22 rimfire bullet to the head is a lot more dead than one missed by a hundred 50 BMG bullets.

        As long as you can hit your target, you don’t need huge energy levels. For the same weight, a soldier can carry more than double the amount of 5.56 than 7.62, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that carrying more rounds allows for larger hit probability.

      • Esh325

        Of course shot placement is very important, caliber may not be the most important factor, but I don’t think it can be left out of the equasion. And I’m not trying to say the 5.56×45 isn’t an effective caliber.

      • Esh325

        For the weight of a 5.56×45 it seems that most believe that a 5.56×45 is able to accomplish what a 7.62×51 is capable of at most combat ranges and even more, and I agree with that. Like I said before, I believe the issues with the 5.56×45 are because of the way its loaded, rather than inherent issues with the cartidge and caliber, while others might disagree with that.

    • Over penetration concerns. 5.56 defensive ammo can be manufactured to completely expand and energy dump inside a soft target rather than over penetrate. 5.56 also allows for faster more controllable follow up shots.

      There are, to the best of my knowledge, no equivalent 7.62 loads that can achieve the same results without over penetration. Hornady’s AMAX projectiles can achieve zero over penetration in 7.62 rounds when loaded with 110 VMAX and 155 AMAX projectiles but as far as I know they are not approved for LE use.

      It is for this reason that the Australian SASR once used Tikka 595s in 22-250 for urban CT sniper ops.

      • FerrusManus

        The GSG-9 was using the SIG 550 before they converted to the G36K and G36C.

    • Esh325

      I’ve only held one briefly, and I did not think it was bulky or heavy for its size. I don’t think most people who have actually used one share that opinion either about it being heavy or bulky. With the proper bullet selection, a 5.56×45 is perfectly adequate for the close action they are involved with frequently.

    • DougE

      GSG-9 is an elite German national police force. They’re not being dropped into Afghanistan. Most of the conflict they see takes place in urban or suburban areas and they probably don’t want the liability of over penetration or a miss that’s sailing 800 yards before striking baby Gretta.

      5.56 has probably served them well for the last couple decades, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The only real surprise should be that the weapon isn’t made by HK.

    • bbmg

      Is there a problem with the lethality of the 5.56 NATO caliber?

      • noob

        never having been anywhere near combat myself, from what I read 5.56mm weapons are analogous to a celtic longsword – deadly in trained hands but demanding of proper use.

        a 7.62x39mm weapon is like a gladius – easier to learn for its intended purpose, less flexible in application and forgiving of user error.

        7.62×51 seems to me better suited to machine guns, semi-autos and hunting deer, but then again I’ve never fired a full auto 7.62nato from the shoulder. I like the idea of not having shoulder strain injuries.

        Has anybody ever done a study of penetrating wounds of varying bullet caliber in the thigh muscle at 300m that do not cut any major blood vessles for clotting time without application of pressure?

        I’d be intersted to see if we can round up some cattle and shoot them with various calibers to see what the smallest hole that will close on its own will be and the blood loss/time graph for various calibers.

        It will probably be something quite disappointing for everything under .338 lapua- like long enough for a badguy to return fire and kill you before they lose consciousness and bleed out.

      • bbmg

        There is no doubt that a bigger bullet causes a bigger wound and is therefore more lethal, but the point is that we don’t follow that logic to the extreme and demand that all our soldiers carry 30mm cannon.

        At the end of the day, it’s always going to be a comprimise between bullet size, velocity, recoil, round weight etc. – given the importance of hit probability, round count is very important.

        To give an extreme example, one round of buckshot weighs around the same as twelve 22LR cartridges. With that one shotgun round, you might be able to take out one person very effectively, but for the same weight you could have twelve lesser bullets fired individually and could potentially do more damage.

        The same logic is used for example with the SDB concept being advanced today:

        For the same weight of a single 1000 lb bomb, you can carry four 250 lb bombs that can take out the target effectively without being overkill.

    • John Doe

      I wouldn’t know, but if you get shot with any caliber and survive, you’re gonna wish you were dead. Getting shot sounds like it sucks.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    Man, I know MultiCam and Atacs FG are supposed to be the new razzoo camo pattern, but damn if that flectarn doesn’t look great.

    • noob

      what’s the name of the “purple people eater” pattern that the “terrorists” are wearing?

  • e56

    Is that a bayonet lug? And a new-ish 3 prong flash hider?

  • junglecarbine

    Usually when its comes to SOF purchases, gun makers keep quiet about it and let the internet do the buzzing……

  • NI Shooter

    I have a feeling that it’s not a SCAR, but some other rifle. The first thing I noticed was the round handguard instead if the squarish shaped one you’d usually see. The flash-hider and gas block don’t match up either I don’t think.

  • ChielScape

    Since when does the scar have a round handguard with holes in the end in that pattern?

    • AnoSymun

      The handguard isn’t rounded, it’s railed with covers on it.

  • sam

    A friend of mine at their borderpolice (am from DK) told me that gsg-9 operators get to try out and run any weapon system they want and alot of manufacturers stand in line to have their gear put through its paces by them, especially at events like that one. The thing about those kinds of groups is they dont necessarily have to buy weapons in bulk, sometimes only buying a couple of units! the fact that they are fewer than conventional forces obviously allows them to have a wider variety of equipment and their budget is spread out on fewer guys!

    • Spencedaddy

      leaving for Denmark in…..2 hours, jeg kan ikke vent!

  • Bob

    Almost certainly not GSG9, they use G36c and K. They also did a demo a few months back with there DM’s using multicam based Ghillie suits along with the assault element all Crye’d up in airframe helmets and Crye plate carriers.

    Been ID on milphotos as a SEK member from the state police force also involved in the exercise. At least 1 state level SEK bought them from a supplier.

    • animalmenace

      I would hardly call 552’s, or any 550 variant for that matter, “venerable”.

      • animalmenace

        Woops, wrong person.

  • Maybe some tricked variation of their venerable 552 brought to modern times with flip up sight and quadrails

    • animalmenace

      I would hardly call 552′s, or any 550 variant for that matter, “venerable”.

  • mechamaster

    Maybe they just field-tested all new next generation weapon system in small scale to find how to implement the most effective tool in the right situation.

  • German

    I’m pretty sure that this is either a SEK operator of one of the 3 or 4 SEKs that aquired SCAR-L lateley or it’s a GSG9 operator that “borrowed” the SCAR from one of them during the EX to try it out.

    Regarding some earlier comments:

    @Kyle D: No private purchases by individual officers allowed in Germany.

    @ Bob: Correct, the successor of the G37 (SIG551) within GSG9 is the G36 series.

  • Lance

    Think that may be a SCAR H

  • Mike Knox

    About that last sentence there, just because they’re seen using one doesn’t mean they’ve adopted it. Counter-Terrorist units are meant to be flexible at anything so they train on everything..

  • Stefan
    • Mike Knox

      Not even close..

  • sam

    Very interesting with the bayonet lug that points in the 12’o clock position, mounts the bayonet upside down like a g3a3!

  • Daniel J. Meany III

    A lot of CT Units (Such as RAID in France) will use a variety of weapons when training and arming those acting as OPFOR. Back in the 70s we relied on Israel to send Soviet Weapons to the US so that we could train with them. Our OPFOR initially wore strange looking helmets.