As we all know, the AR15 system is perhaps the most prolific gun platform of all time, with a seemingly infinite number of combinations of barrels, uppers, handguards, optics, and so on, ad infinitum. And while the vast majority of shooters can take advantage of this versatility offered by the “Barbie doll of guns“, many of us also live in “ban states,” or those states that have enacted some variation of the now-defunct federal 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban”. Unfortunately, for shooters in so-called ban states, there are restrictions in place that prohibit or severely limit a gun-owner’s ability to own an AR and capitalize on the expansive AR15 gun-gear-galaxy.
Enter the Ares SCR.
The Ares SCR is compatible with a vast majority of AR15 uppers and their appurtenant accessories, and accepts standard (STANAG) AR15 magazines, however, what makes the SCR different than the common AR15 is the fact that it’s lower receiver uses a semi-grip, sporting stock instead of the standard AR15 collapsible stock-and-pistol-grip combination. (Note that your choice of accessories and magazines such as a flashhider and 30 round magazine may affect the legality of the use of the SCR in your state. In other words, just because you can own the SCR in all 50 states does not mean that all accessories for the SCR are legal for use with the SCR in your state.)
In this way, the SCR is similar to the Ruger Mini-series, but it has the distinct advantage over the Mini-14 and Mini-30 of the already-mentioned available realm of AR15 parts and accessories.
And the SCR’s appeal should not be limited to only those who live in ban states; as stated, the SCR should cut into the Ruger Mini market – those who want a lower-key rifle with, functionally, the same capabilities as the more aggressively-styled AR15 or those who just prefer the sport stock. In that regard, the SCR also recalls the Ruger PC, or Ruger “Police Carbine”, which some jokingly referred to as the Ruger “Politically Correct.”
The SCR has more advantages over the common AR that I will delve into below.
The SCR is available in .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39mm, and, of course, it’ll take .300BLK when you swap uppers. Note, however, that the SCR functions by way of a proprietary bolt, so your upper will have to function with one of Ares’ bolts in order to work. That should be all 5.56mm/.223 uppers, .300BLK, and the 7.62x39mm uppers if you get that larger bolt from Ares. That’s a lot of options. Certainly, many of you familiar with the AR platform looked at the pictures of this gun and wondered what happened to the buffer tube/traditional AR recoil systems. In order to incorporate the sporting stock utilized by the ACR, Ares used a recoil system similar to that of most semi-auto shotguns or the FN-FAL. That is, the bolt carrier has an articulating tail, and the tail travels into a small tube in the stock that contains the recoil spring. Obviously, there’s no need for Ares to re-invent the wheel when they can just adopt a reliable and functional recoil system already in wide use.
The SCR is 5.7lbs in stock 16.25″ configuration (with an option to get an 18″ barrel, as well), and has an overall length of 39 inches. The SCR has three stock choices “Sporter,” “Sporter-Short” (with a shorter length of pull), and a Monte Carlo stock option. The 16 and 18 inch versions both include Magpul MOE handguards. The SCR comes standard with a 5-round AR magazine. The upper features a MIL-STD 1913 flat top for optics mounting, which is good, because the standard-configuration ACR comes with no option for mounting iron sights, so you are going to have to pick up some glass (or a different upper) if you want to take the SCR to the range when you get it.
MSRP is $865.00 as configured (minus the optic), and Ares has apparently decided to sell the lower separately, which will no doubt appeal to many who are interested in the SCR but don’t want the spartan upper that the complete model comes with.
Out of the box, the SCR had excellent fit and finish, on par with any quality AR. We hit the range with the SCR, which came configured for evaluation with an already-zeroed Leupold 1-5x optic recommended by Ares. The SCR’s performance was commendable. Four rounds of one five-shot group even fit within .7 inches at 100 meters, and most of the five-round strings of 69gr match boat tail would hold within two inches at 100 meters. Accuracy was very impressive with the factory upper and 5x glass.
The SCR had a heavier than normal trigger – while travel was very short and weight was consistent, the pull was also consistently heavy. Though this did not take a toll on accuracy because, so long as you put steady rearward pressure on the trigger, the shot would “surprise” you, mitigating any propensity to flinch, it is worth noting that it did take a toll on patience, as this translated to quite a wait before sending off a shot.
As stated, the SCR will accommodate your other AR uppers. Just to test this, we slid a PSA stainless “Freedom” upper on the Ares, and sure enough, it ran perfectly, as one would expect. I will emphasize, however, that it isn’t a simple snap-and-pin procedure to get your upper on the SCR lower – the upper needs to be slid from the front of the lower receiver towards the back in order to make sure the rat-tail at the back of the bolt will seat with the recoil spring assembly in the stock. While you can drop the lower with the bolt installed directly onto the lower receiver and even snap the lower push-pins in place, the gun will not charge because the bolt will not be properly mated with the recoil assembly in the stock. As the tail of the carrier may get hung up on the rear receiver plate of the lower, you have to align the tail of the bolt carrier with the recoil tube before snapping your upper in place.
There were no failures to feed, eject, or extract in the approximately 200 rounds that we ran through the SCR at the range.
While my experience with the SCR was generally positive, I had a few negative observations.
First, the trigger, as stated, is heavy – in excess of 10 pounds of pressure required to fire the gun. Accuracy was unaffected, obviously, but it was still unpleasant, and might affect the utility of the platform in situations other than range use. I imagine, however, that this can be resolved with a trip to the gunsmith or maybe even a little sandpaper.
Second, the standard upper comes with no option to mount iron sights. This may not bother many people, but I prefer to have the option to use irons on an AR-style rifle out of the box. But then again, the beauty of the SCR: If you don’t like the upper on there, just swap it out. It’s that easy.
Third, the version I tested did not have a bolt hold open, either automatic (i.e. held open after the last round) or manual (e.g., the AR “ping pong paddle” or the Magpul B.A.D.). This could be a significant absence for some shooters.
Finally, despite the fact that the SCR fed and extracted reliably, I had several misfires with my particular sample, which appeared to be due to light primer strikes. While I theorized that the smaller hammer caused lighter strikes (the SCR hammer appears to be about half the thickness of the standard AR hammer, perhaps related or necessary to the unique design of the lower), I did a thorough internet search and found no other complaints of similar issues. Moreover, ARES assured me that this was unusual and they believe it was relegated to the particular unit they sent me for review.
In conclusion, I think the SCR is a revolutionary rifle. Ares Defense has done quite a service for those shooters in ban states, who now, through the SCR, can now tap into the bounty of parts and accessories for the AR platform, constrained only by the limitations of the proprietary lower and bolt carrier (not to mention the laws of whatever state the shooter is in).
Out of the box, this gun can shoot sub-MOA groups with match ammo, but only after you fit the upper with an optic. The sting of mandatory glass is dulled, however, by the reasonable MSRP of $865. (Street price seems to be around $800). Moreover, there is now the option to purchase the lower separately.
The only issue – the ten-plus-pound trigger – can probably be fixed, and is simply overshadowed by the gravity of this platform. Notwithstanding this, the SCR runs reliably and shoots straight, but most importantly, the SCR affordably brings a myriad of options from the AR sector to those shooters who formerly had no access to them. If this platform appeals to you, whether you live in a ban state or if you want the performance of an AR in a more modest package, the SCR is your solution.