So I’ve spent some quality time shooting my SCAR 16S, which has been named Maryanne.1 And the more I shoot it, the more I like it. There are a lot of good things here, and some that I’ve changed, because I can’t not tinker with something. So let’s go through what I’ve found, what I’ve changed, what I’ve kept, and what might change in the future.
The more I shoot Maryanne, the more I like that charging handle. No, it hasn’t hit my thumb yet. Still not sure how that keeps happening to other people.2 Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, locking the bolt back for a right handed shooter is super easy. Grabbing the charging handle, palm-down, and pulling the charging handle back puts your support hand thumb in perfect position to hit the bolt catch. Easy. This makes administrative handling and malfunction clearing3 a breeze. There are a bunch of aftermarket charging handles out there, but I don’t see myself buying one. I haven’t scraped my knuckles on anything yet.
Also, the reciprocating charging handle makes it easy to tell if the gun has stopped firing because of a malfunction or because the mag is empty, without having to rotate it for a chamber check. And, if you like a forward assist, it’ll do that job too. Reciprocating charging handle can stay.
I also like the safety, which is a 45-degree jobber, as opposed to the 90 degree design of a regular AR. I like it better because it’s a bit faster, and indulges some laziness. There are aftermarket safety levers available, but I haven’t bothered with any of those yet, because I can’t tell how they improve upon the factory part. What am I getting with my money besides a tiny bit that says “MAGPUL” on it?
I haven’t touched the factory stock either. Again, I don’t see the point, the factory unit works great as it is. It even has an adjustable riser. And it sits against my shoulder, and it’s adjustable for length of pull, and it folds. Great! 5.56 doesn’t need much of a recoil pad. Also, alternatives tend to be even uglier, so why bother? Maybe if someone made a shoulder thing that goes up for it, I’d get one so I can have another feature to make the antigunners pee their panties, but no one has made one yet. I’ll have to settle for collapsible and folding, as opposed to collapsible, folding and “goes up”. Oh darn.
You’re probably wondering what the devil I have changed. Well, the pistol grip for starters. I hate the A2-style pistol grip. It’s too small and has a nub in a stupid place. Stupid cheap thing. I’ve replaced it with a TangoDown BG-17 grip. This grip is curved and large, for those of us with big hands. It fits my hand great and is comfortable. Plus it puts the distance to trigger in a great spot. It’s a more traditional grip angle though. I don’t understand the ‘vertical style’ that a lot of newer ARs have, but maybe that’s because I’m not kicking doors with an SBR. Shrug. The important thing is that I have a grip I like.
I also replaced the stock gritty trigger with Geissele’s fancy Super SCAR trigger. Trigger replacement on the SCAR is a bit of a pain, but I got there eventually. The end result is a lighter, crisper pull. It’s not too light, and it makes shooting the gun more fun. I’m a civilian. I get to enjoy luxury triggers. This thing is now totally awesome. It feels a lot like my other Geissele triggers, which is fine by me. Mr. Geissele does good work.
I’ve played around with rail covers and the like on Maryanne. I’m currently running Magpul XTMs on the side rails and a Magpul AFG2 on the bottom rail. I’m not sure about this setup. I haven’t shot the rifle to get a feel for how much I like the AFG2 on the handguard, and the XTMs are a pain to work with. I might replace them with the Tango Down rail covers or something. I don’t know yet. It’s easy enough to mess with.
I have not gotten an extended rail yet, because I don’t see the point. Maybe it’s because I don’t have ape-arms, but I haven’t figured out why people like to grip the gun super far out on the handguard yet. Plus, there’s plenty of room for a light if I need to mount one. No extension means I don’t spend money on that and the weight doesn’t go up, woohoo.
The iron sights on Maryanne are really well done. I’m not a big iron sight guy, but these are as good as the high-end KAC sights you might put on your AR if you’re into fancy builds. Range adjustable and everything. Of course, I went optic, because duh. Right now, I have an Aimpoint Comp M4S on there in a Larue QD mount. The Comp M4S is Aimpoint’s flagship red dot. It’s got a 30mm tube, is basically unkillable, takes AA batteries, and has a battery life of about a hojillion hours on a medium setting. I don’t turn it off, and change the battery every few years, if I have to, I guess. It’s easy to adjust brightness, super quick like all red dots, and works great for the generally short ranges I find myself shooting at. Especially in wintertime, I’m stuck on short indoor ranges. Plus, I really don’t like sitting on a bench like a loser and trying to get my groups to be the size of a dime at 50 yards. I have better things to do than carbine masturbation, thanks.
Red dots are simple and cool. We’ll see how it shakes out at some multigun or carbine classes in the near future. I might also get fancy and get an Elcan SpecterDR 1x/4x for it, get some magnification for target identification and those longer shots. I love the 1.5x/6x that I got for another gun project, and the 1x/4x is a little lighter and a little cheaper. Also faster on the low end, because actual 1x. The SpecterDRs some prisms to switch magnification from low to high super fast, because intermediate magnification levels are barely used on most low power variable optics. So, we’ll see. The SpecterDR is a bit heavy, but the mount is built in, so it’s weight is pretty competitive with equally-tough conventional low-power variable optics. I will keep you posted on how the red dot does and if I do go Elcan.4
1.) Yes, I know Fabrique Nationale de Herstal is a Belgian company. And yes, final assembly was completed in Fredricksburg, VA because US firearms import laws are stupid. I do not care. Her name is Maryanne. Feel free to argue with the business end.
2.) If you know how this is happening, please mail a picture of your support hand grip technique to:
c/o I’m a dumb idiot who can’t be arsed to run my gun properly
82 Stupid Moron Drive
Sewickey, PA 15143
3.) Maryanne hasn’t malfed on me yet, but I’ve done some drills to learn the full manual of arms.
4.) Quick, possibly helpful note on Elcan. Elcan is short for Ernst Leitz Canada. You might Ernst Leitz GmbH as Leica, super awesome camera company. So Elcan makes some phenomenal glass, even though they’re not actually in Europe. They also make the SpecterOS, which is like an ACOG with way better glass. They’re what happened when the Leica guys didn’t want to work for the Soviets after the Second World War. Unlike most optics companies that you’ve heard, they’re a military contractor first and foremost, and are a subsidiary of Raytheon. They’re not known for super crazy long warranties or fabulous customer service. Sorry. Not that you’ll be able to kill a Specter without explosives or shooting it.