Finland’s special forces have announced the adoption of the SCAR-L, chambered, unusually for Finland, for 5.56x45mm. From Jane’s:
Finland’s special forces have selected the Belgian FN SCAR-L assault rifle as a new standard firearm.
The FN SCAR-L will be the first 5.56×45 mm NATO calibre firearm introduced to the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF). It will supplement the current RK 95 TP assault rifle chambered in the Russian 7.62×39 mm cartridge. Both weapons will be used in parallel by Finnish soldiers.
“We decided that the rifle for the special forces [should be] compatible with other nations for use in crisis management and national defence,” said infantry inspector Colonel Jukka Valkeajärvi.
The weapon was approved after field tests. A contract for FN SCAR-L rifles and FN40GL-L under-barrel grenade launchers is to be signed in March.
The special forces units are also seeking a new light machine gun chambered in 5.56×45 mm. The FN Minimi and the H&K MG4 are being tested at the Finnish Army training centre (Utin Jääkärirykmentti).
Finland launched its ‘reconnaissance weapon system’ for the special forces in March 2014. Under it, the country was looking for 200-300 rifles chambered in 5.56×45 mm and 50-75 grenade launchers chambered in 40×46 mm low velocity ammunition. Rifles are set to be equipped with additional accessories, including the tactical light and laser pointer Insight Model 7500 (AN/PEQ-2A). The contract is estimated to be worth EUR750,000 (USD851,378) with all weapons to be delivered in 2015.
Finland has traditionally used its own manufacture of AK type rifles (from the Rk. 62 on) in the Russian 7.62x39mm caliber. Russia has historically been Finland’s biggest enemy, and so utilizing the same ammunition made a great deal of sense given the nature of wars Finland fought previously with Russia. After the Soviets adopted the 5.45x39mm caliber, Finland did not make the transition, but continued to use and produce 7.62x39mm firearms, that caliber being plentiful.
The latest Rk. 95 TP rifle, introduced in 1995 hence the model number, has been out of production for over a decade. This, and the ubiquity of 5.56mm ammunition among forces allied with Finland, probably drove the move to adopt the SCAR-L.
Thanks to Daniel for the tip.