SHTF Guns: Heavy Metal – SCAR 17 and Glock 20

    Editing Credit: Pete

    Editing Credit: Pete

    .308 and 10mm: A potent Duo for the Rural American West

    SHTF Guns – SCAR 17S and Glock 20

    I don’t put a huge emphasis on being a prepper as part of my identity, but it’s just a reality of life living, farming and ranching in a more rural area.  Unfortunately, a lot of people nowadays are seeing what “SHTF” is in the context of pandemic related restrictions, supply chain disruptions, and unrest.  Rural areas are not immune to these impacts either.  When Pete posed the question to me at SHOT about “the one gun you could have”, it certainly got my wheels spinning.  My current reality allows me to select specific tools for specific firearm-related jobs.  If I just had to grab one or two and go, it’d be these tried and true and versatile firearms that I often turn to and am very confident in: The SCAR 17S and the Glock 20.

    I. Introduction

    SHTF Guns – SCAR 17S

    My choice for the SCAR 17S and Glock 20 are based on the durability of the firearms themselves, as well as the potency of both the .308/7.62x51mm and the 10mm cartridges.  As a long gun, the SCAR 17S has the advantage of a folding stock, aiding in compactness.  The 16.25″ barrel combined with the side folding stock makes a package that is easier to maneuver with in tight spaces or conceal in a discreet manner than many other .308 platforms. The 16.25″ barrel allows for good enough velocity to take down most  American animals in the lower 48.  It also provides enough energy at range to take down game animals out to reasonable hunting distances.  My firearm needs in a SHTF scenario would be pretty much the same as they are now: Defending home and family, defending my renewable food resource, and hunting.


    SHTF Guns – SCAR 17S

    If the SCAR 17S would be my one and only long gun, without question I would mount a suppressor on it.  Whether defending one’s life such as in a home or when hunting out in the open, a suppressor is a wonderful thing to have.  For now, my .308 suppressor rides on my primary hunting bolt gun, but it’s easy enough to mount on the SCAR if need be.  The SCAR has come along on all my hunts as either my personal backup gun should my primary hunting rifle break, or as a loaner gun to friends that have come up to hunt with me.  If one should desire an even shorter, more compact package, check out Nick C.’s detailed post on modifying the SCAR17s.

    SHTF-Glock 20

    SHTF Guns – Glock 20

    The Glock 20, chambered in 10mm, has been a constant companion at my side when hunting and in the outdoors for over a decade now.  I’ve taken my first mule deer with it and I’ve also used it for competitive shooting in the past.  It’s my number one choice of sidearm when farming, hunting, or checking trail cams.  Granted, it’s rather large and more difficult to conceal than, say a SIG P365, but that’s not a huge concern in my day-to-day environment.  I know it is extremely reliable by experience with it.  The only part I’ve broken in 12 years and thousands of rounds is the slide lock spring.

    Granted, parts and magazines for the SCAR are more difficult to find and more expensive than many AR10 parts, but the short-stroke piston system of the SCAR, combined with its overbuilt bolt carrier, make for a very robust system.  Parts and mags for the Glock, however, are extremely common and easy to get.  I have experienced dust, mud, snow, rocks, mine tailings and pine needles getting into both the SCAR and the Glock, and have fallen with these firearms while hiking, mountain biking and working.  Both firearms just shrug such things off and keep going.

    II. Landscape/AOR Overview

    SHTF-SCAR17S and Glock 20

    SHTF Guns – SCAR 17S and Glock 20

    My landscape of high desert intersecting with the Rocky Mountains generally affords shots from 400yards all the way out to the horizon.  Close in encounters only occur when in the densest of woods or in river bottoms choked with willows.  I can and have had very close, unexpected run ins with ornery open range cattle, bears, moose, elk, and wolves in such close quarters.  I need firearms that have power and capacity to put down large animals quickly in a close encounter, but also have range to reach out and either take down game at range, or mitigate a longer ranged threat in a SHTF scenario when all bets are off.  I have had a person aim a rifle at me from a long way off (likely just being an idiot glassing me with their scope instead of their binos), and it felt good to have a firearm in hand that could return fire accurately at that range if I needed to.

    III. Specifications: Base Firearms

    Glock 20 (Gen3):

    • Caliber: 10mm
    • Capacity: 15+1
    • Weight: 27.5oz unloaded, 39.9oz loaded
    • Length: 4.61″ barrel, 8.07″ OAL
    • Width: 1.34″ overall, 1.24″ slide width
    • Height: 5.51″
    • MSRP (Gen4 price): $687

    SCAR 17S:

    • Caliber .308/7.62x51mm
    • Capacity: 20+1
    • Weight: 8lbs unloaded w no optic
    • Length: 29″ w stock folded, 39″ stock extended (w stock muzzle device)
    • MSRP: $3569

    IV: Specifications: Modifications and Accessories

    Glock 20:

    My Glock 20 has two important modifications: The trigger and the sights. In regards to the trigger, I am a big fan of Ghost trigger connectors.   They are easy to install and make a vast improvement in the trigger pull and reset of a Glock.  I have had the Ghost Rocket 3.5 installed in my G20 for over a decade without any issues.  The other modification I have made is to get rid of the factory sights.  I have an XS big dot installed which has given me great performance in both daylight and low light conditions.  I can pick up the XS big dot front sight extremely fast, and it still affords me a great deal of precision.

    XS Big Dot tritium sight

    XS Big Dot tritium sight

    For a general use holster, I like the First Spear SSV as a very robust OWB holster.   When using a pack, I like the Bianchi UM series, as it is easy to transfer between my belt and my kidney pad on my hunting pack.  The detachable flap of the UM series also is a good aid to keep debris out of the gun when it’s riding on the kidney pads of the hunting pack as well.  When carrying the G20 concealed, I find the best concealability for me is afforded by a belly band or a trigger guard holster such as the Raven Vanguard.

    SCAR 17S:

    The  SCAR17S is pretty much stock with the exception of the fore-end.  I have removed the bulky 3 and 9 o clock polymer rails, as they interfere with how I prefer to grip the fore-end for offhand shooting.  I removed the front rails and installed flush fit screws, torqued properly to the lower barrel support.  The fore-end is an overly complicated major shortcoming of the FN SCAR when compared to most ARs, and one must be careful to torque screws properly, or accuracy/receiver flex may be affected.  In the future, I may modify the grip and trigger.  Once my SiCo can gets its stamp, I’ll replace the stock muzzle device as well.

    Trijicon VCOG view

    Trijicon VCOG view

    For an optic, I mounted the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24.  It’s a bombproof beast of an optic and affords all the advantages of an LVPO, plus it’s illuminated when you need it.  Should it ever (unlikely) break, there’s still the stock irons, which I can get consistent hits with out to 500y.  As far as optic covers go, I find neoprene sleeves work best for me, especially in extreme cold and snow.  I generally use slings attached via deadened/quieted snaps on the stock sling attachment points.  For carrying all day out in the mountains, I strap the rifle to the side of my pack.  When stowed in a vehicle, the SCAR17 barely fits inside an old Blackhawk discreet carry case of mine.

    BLACKHAWK! discreet case. Yes, I get the Irony.

    BLACKHAWK! discreet case. Yes, I get the Irony.

    For a light, I would use a Surefire Scout in an offset mount off the top rail.  For a bipod, I primarily use a B&T Atlas CAL Gen 2 that I got on sale.  It’s a great bipod, but I suggest the BT65-LW17 CAL model with a QD lever if one is interested.  I cover the 6 o’clock rails with a simple rubber ladder style rail cover. I have tried out the KDG MREX MKII system, but I find it too loud for hunting use.

    Fully loaded with a 20 round magazine as well as the beefy optic and bipod, the SCAR 17 is a bit heavy at roughly 10.5 lbs, but nothing that is arduous to carry around all day.

    V. SHTF Guns: Ammunition

    For a 10mm firearm, I prefer ammo that is as close to 10mm Norma original specs as possible.  My favorite load is Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (P10T1).  The 180gr bonded load zips along at 1275 fps and hits hard.  My spare magazine is loaded with Underwood 220gr Hard Cast Flatnose (1200 fps) if the P10T1 doesn’t do the trick.  In all, that’s 31 rounds of potent ammo on board with the Glock 20 and one spare mag.  Enough to hunt plenty of game for a long time even if I didn’t have my rifle.

    L to R: Federal P10T1 10mm, Fort Scott Munitions' .308, Underwood 10mm

    L to R: Federal P10T1 10mm, Fort Scott Munitions’ .308, Underwood 10mm

    For the 17S, I’ve gotten the best accuracy when using Fort Scott Munitions’ TUI spun copper ammunition.  Groups are consistently 1 MOA with this load.  It also turns in decent performance with Federal Trophy Copper loads for those who don’t like lead in their meat, as well as Nosler Partitions for when a lead-aided expansion is needed.  Extra mags for the SCAR fit perfectly into my KUIU pants cargo pockets as an extra bonus, making for a discreet way to carry an extra mag while keeping it free of debris.

    VI: SHTF Guns: Fielding/Range Time

    The G20 has performed excellently for me over the years, with a single exception being the failure of the slide lock spring.  It seems to function fine with all ammunition in firing up to 2000 rounds without cleaning, and in temperatures ranging from 120 degrees down to 28 below.  Even when I’ve fallen in the outdoors and gotten debris into the Glock, it still functions fine and can be easily cleaned in the span of a few minutes in the field.  Not a single spot of rust has been detected and the finish is holding up great.

    Most importantly, I have not had one single malfunction regardless of ammunition in my history of using the SCAR 17S.  It’s not the most accurate platform, but it’s the most robust semiautomatic .308 platform I can field with a good balance of compactness, portability and durability.  It also exhibits very little felt recoil for a .308, and is easy to keep on target.

    VII: SHTF Guns: Conclusions

    For my SHTF purposes of harvesting meat, dealing with aggressive large animal encounters, and possibly dealing with the occasional two-legged threat from close up to far away, the best choices for me in my area are the Glock 20 and SCAR 17S.  I have lots of practice with both firearms, and I know that they will reliably function for me when I need them.

    Thanks to Pete for thinking of this interesting topic, and thank you to our readers.  Stay safe out there, I hope the S stops hitting the F eventually.

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    Rusty S.

    Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at