The First SCAR

American Rifleman’s Mark Keefe got the enviable opportunity to handle the earliest FN prototype of the SCAR-L rifle. The rifle sports an aluminum lower, looking very much like that of the FNC from which it was derived, and a 3D printed prototype stock.


Given that this is the first prototype, it’s amazing how little the rifle has changed from then until now. Very few details appear to have changed, besides the construction of the lower and the change from additive to molded fabrication with the buttstock. Also, the weapon appears to be in excellent shape for having been an evaluation gun; this weapon has fired tens of thousands of rounds, but still looks like it could fire many more without a problem.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Joshua

    They say it has fired tens of thousands of rounds, but I doubt it given its performance as the Mk16. Even in testing the SCAR-L only showed 14,000 rounds before parts started breaking.

    • Could be they’ve replaced a few parts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Ethan

        Making it… less expensive??

        • KAS

          The Mk16 should be relegated to the SMU curiosity collection, along with the SR-47 and RAV-02. In terms of performance, the spiral 3 XM8 was the clear winner…

          • It certainly scored highly in the “time-to-melted handguards” challenge. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Leonard

            “Yes more plastic, I need more plastic in shooty things shot in melty climates!” Said no one ever.

  • waffen ss

    I know Mark’s brother – Chief- he also enjoys guns.

  • Phil White

    Mark’s brother- Chief- likes guns too.

  • Lance

    Still a piece of junk. One major reason SOCOM dumped the L model and went to the M-4A1 SOMOD 2.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      More skeptical every post that you’ve never shot a firearm before.

      • Zachary marrs

        Pfft, i bet you can’t even get CLOSE to his call of duty score

        • LOL


  • ColaBox

    So this is where it ended up eh? This design was a lot better then the current, id love if they released the SCAR in this model for mass production.

    • Chase Buchanan

      What’s so much better about this one?

      • ColaBox

        Really, just personal preference. I despise that SCAR stock on the current models, its like a large chunk of plastic was taped on top that doesn’t need to be there. Very uncomfortable to me.

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    Doesn’t the SCAR-H have a good rep though?

    • floppyscience

      They both do, the L is just considered not as much of an improvement over current 5.56mm rifles to justify buying in large numbers with our current budget, hence our mil didn’t buy many.

      • Joshua

        No it had a poor rep by those who were issued one for the short time we had them.

        The H has a better rep and does seem to perform better, but if not maintained and lubed(probably more so than the M4A1) it will become a bolt action rifle, and the Mk20 is one of the least accurate DMR platforms I have ever seen.

      • Commonsense23

        Guessing you don’t have much time with any of the SCAR family. Neither the 16 or 17 was are that great, the 17 has gotten remarkably better but is still outclassed in the 7.62 area, and the 20 is a absolute abortion.

  • mechamaster

    Somehow I remember about FN FNAC ( FN Advanced Carbine ) prototype as SCAR derivative … but well yeah, it’s a different story.

  • Joe Smith

    Looks like a FAL had a few drinks and went home with Costa.

  • MikeM

    I don’t get the hate from the comments.

    This rifle beat out everything on the market during the time
    of the competition, and yet still doesnโ€™t get the respect. Everyone trashes the
    rifle, or FN, but you hardly hear anyone bad mouth the program office that
    created the solicitation. Remember all the hate from the reciprocating charging
    handle? It was part of the requirement.

    I find it incredible that the FN SCAR beat out every rifle involved,
    is viewed as a “Piece of junk” A weapon system that is less than 10
    years old is garbage? Has there been an issue with the system, undoubtedly, but
    so have so many rifles in the past.

    Truly I donโ€™t expect everyone to throw their M4โ€™s away, those
    guns run great, but the pure hatred for a weapon system that clearly beat the M4
    is ridiculous. The SCAR did just about everything it was asked to do.

    Haters gonna hate?

    • Zachary marrs

      How has it beat out everything on the market?
      How did it beat the m4? The 2007 dust tests? After it was allowed to have extra ammo, better mags, and was brand new from the factory?

      There were 2 dust tests the results are in the picture (sorry cant link)

      You should also research what counted as a “jam” in the fall tests

      • MikeM

        It beat every firearm for the SCAR competition that was submitted. I get the idea that the MK16 does not provide enough of an advantage over the M4 to replace.But it did out perform the M4 at the time, now with the M4A1 in place things are different. If it didn’t the rifle never would have made it through LRIP.

        As for the dust test, please see a different test that showed to amount of stoppages between the SCAR,416,XM8 and the M4. If results of dust tests point towards the winner then this test (see link below) would show a different winner in the grand scheme. I know the XM8 won, which is my point.

        I am not saying the military needs to ditch their M4’s and jump on the SCAR. As for me researching results, I would suggest you do the same as to why the SCAR was created.

        • Zachary marrs

          So when they compared a beat up m4 (compared to a new one from the factory, like the competition), and gave EVERY advantage to the competition (extra ammo, magazine of choice, guns new from the factory) the mk16 is superior?


          So explain the other test, without competition, with a new gun, had less jams than the xm8, 416, and mk16 did in the later test?

    • SOCOM doesn’t think the Mk. 16 is any better than the M4, and they’re the ones who ordered it.

      The Mk. 16 is a fine rifle, but it’s heavier and not really better than the weapons that are already very common.

    • Commonsense23

      I have over half a decade of experience with the MK17 and a couple of years now with the 20, I have been in charge of my units 17s and later on 20s. The simple facts is the whole family had major issues in reliability and quality control, which if this was the 60s I could understand, but when these problems are happening this day and age from a company like FN. Having to send back over half the 17s we are issued on every cycle is unacceptable. Having 20s that have random POI shifts of over 5 MOA randomly, then shifting back, guns going full auto, and parts breaking well before they should is unacceptable. Then having FN reps telling me it’s probably cause we haven’t been maintaining the rifles improperly is unacceptable. The only good thing to come from the SCAR family was the grenade launcher, and that is just cause it is a stand alone.

  • Can someone get that man a sport coat that fits?