The SCAR 17 is a reliable field weapon that has become available for civilians. However, there are design issues that caused soldiers in the field to complain about it and seek to upgrade it once they came home and bought one for personal use. What are some of the best Scar 17 upgrades? And why are these upgrades so popular?
What Is the Scar 17?
The SCAR system includes a number of models: MK16 Mod 0, MK17 Mod 0 and MK 20 Mod 0. MK Mod 0 or SCAR-H SSR was introduced around 2010. The Scar-17 or Scar 17 rifle is more popular. The Scar 17 is an incredibly light semi-automatic weapon. It is a 7.62 rifle
It is like many other fully automatic rifles, if you’re working with the military version. It has an average fire rate for the product class, but it has low recoil. It is more accurate than its rivals. It is lightweight compared to an AR10. It is expensive, but that’s not unusual for semi-automatic or automatic weapons.
The availability of proprietary magazines can be an issue. But that may be worth it, because the gun has such a long functional life. The barrel life is more than 35,000 rounds. The receiver is rated to last more than 200,000 rounds.
The bolt life is half that at 100,000 rounds or more. The steel frame rails are replaceable, but this is rarely necessary, since they don’t wear as fast as aluminum framed weapons.
Some argue it is prone to failure. But it has a malfunction rate of less than six incidents per ten thousand rounds, assuming you’re using military grade ammo and keeping your thumb away from the manufacturer provided handle.
You can reduce the odds of this with after-market parts and careful maintenance of the gun. What are some of the most popular Scar 17 upgrades?
6 Best Scar 17 Upgrades
- A New and Improved Handle.
- An Improved Mount.
- Magpuls and Equivalents.
- The Latch and Hinge.
- The Trigger.
- The Handguard.
1- A New and Improved Handle
The reciprocating charging handle is a source of many problems. When you’re charging the weapon, it is possible that your knuckles come in contact with the bottom of the mount. This can cause your knuckles to be scraped by the recoil action of the semi-automatic weapon. You can solve this by wearing gloves or getting a different handle. The handle can get in the way of mounted optics. This issue can be solved by getting an angled charging handle.
2- An Improved Mount
One of the more common Scar 17 upgrades is a mount made specifically for the SCAR 17S. You can take it one step farther and get a non-cantilevered mount that is SCAR specific. This solves the problem of the Scar 17 being hard on optics, since the gun’s repetitive recoil will otherwise damage them.
The forward recoil impulse is powerful, and it can simply break plastic housings and glass lenses if it is powerful enough. Note that this is also why the gun can scrape up your hands or, in a worst case scenario, break a finger if you don’t replace the handle.
Everything on the gun needs to handle the huge recoil impulse. This is why you must have high end optics rated for a SCAR-H. Whether you choose a Vortex UH1 holographic sight or another sight is a matter of taste.
3- Magpuls and Equivalents
One of the issues with the SCAR 17 platform is that the floor plates can come off the weapon when you’re firing it prone. One solution is using an old school magpul or another fixed stock. The alternative is holding it in place with gaffer’s tape.
Note that you may want to put tape on all the little screws that let you adjust various aspects of the weapon. While these allow you to optimize it, most amateurs are going to mess up the proper torque and alignment.
On the other hand, the adjustable gas system allows you to eject rounds suppressed or un-suppressed. The gas port jets let you fine-tune for different types of ammunition or offset the use of a suppressor.
If you don’t want a Magpul, you can try another fixed SOCOM stock. We don’t see much benefit to a M110 alloy lower or drop-in precision adjustable butt stock. Not when the Scar 17 hardware is already more reliable than almost anything else on the market today.
4- The Latch and Hinge
The stock latch and hinge are made from plastic. This makes them surprisingly vulnerable for such a rugged weapon. And they can be damaged when folded. You might leave it open to avoid accidentally damaging it unless you’re storing it in a gun safe. Or you could replace them with more durable after-market pieces.
5- The Trigger
The trigger on the SCAR 17 is a common source of complaints. The rifle has a stock trigger that is military specification but doesn’t always work as expected. The SCAR 17 has an eight pound trigger pull.
If you have a two pound pistol, this means you’ll have to pull the trigger with four times as much strength as it does to carry the handgun or rifle. A general rule of thumb is that triggers shouldn’t have a trigger pull weight of more than six pounds, while less than four pounds is ideal.
You can wear yourself out repeatedly pulling the trigger, and the effort involved can cause new shooters to lose their aim. On the other hand, triggers below four pounds are not recommended, because it can lead to accidental discharges.
This is why law enforcement is putting very heavy triggers on their service pistols, but you have a choice. If you don’t know how heavy the trigger pull is, you can use a trigger pull scale to find out.
The solution to this problem is to upgrade the trigger to one in the ideal weight range. One option is the Geissele Super SCAR trigger. This trigger is similar to the Geissele SSA trigger. It is a non-adjustable combat trigger intended to give you precise trigger control. At four pounds of trigger pull, it takes less effort to trigger it than the trigger that comes with the SCAR 17 rifle.
Another option is the Timney Scar 17 trigger. That costs less than the Geissele trigger, though there are professional shooters who think it isn’t as good. On the other hand, the Timney trigger gets points for being easy to install. It is easy to use, too, since it has a trigger pull of just 3.5 pounds.
You might need to apply more force to touch off heavy primers for military grade rounds like the 7.62 x 51 mm. That’s true for older Timney triggers, and it is why the Timney trigger was updated to include a stronger hammer string.
The SCAR 17 version of the Timney trigger has a red hammer spring so that you know it can handle the heavier ammo. But that’s not the only difference between Timney and Geissele triggers.
The Timney trigger is a non-adjustable single stage trigger. Geissele triggers are two stage. The first stage has a weight range of 2 to 2.8 pounds, while the second stage is 1.2 to 1.8 pounds. The pull weight of this trigger cannot be adjusted, though nearly everything else on the SCAR 17 rifle can be.
The issue is that you have to train yourself to use it properly. This is aside from concerns about having a finger on the trigger and potentially accidentally firing because the weight on it goes above the variable threshold. Note that making these triggers work in a non FN trigger housing can void the warranty.
The Timney simpler trigger makes it easier to start using once you’ve installed it, and you won’t accidentally end up with the wrong trigger pull weight. Furthermore, the average Geissele trigger is not a match grade trigger, according to the manufacturer’s website. This means that you can use it with a Scar 17 but it isn’t an ideal fit. We’re not even going to go into detail on the Geissele select-fire version of this trigger. Simpler is better.
6- The Handguard
The relatively short length of the handguard was a common complaint once the SCAR platform was released. This is why a number of companies began producing extended forends and handguard extensions for the SCAR 17.
Adding a few inches can make a significant difference in handling. And you may have felt the difference. For example there is two inch difference between carbines and mid-length AR-15 hand guards. That’s why the smallest hand guard extensions are two inches long, but longer is often better.
The Parker Mountain handguard extension is one of the best such devices for the SCAR. Handl and Vitor offer alternatives, as well. We don’t recommend buying longer off-brand handguard extensions and then literally cutting it down with a band saw.
What About Military-Grade Upgrades?
How does the civilian SCAR 17 differ from the military version? And what upgrades are available to close the gap?
The SCAR 16S and 17S are semi-automatic versions of the FN SCAR rifle series. The biggest difference between the SCAR 16S and SCAR 17S is ammo. The 16S uses 5.52 x 45 mm NATO ammo, while the 17S SCAR rifle uses 7.62 x 51 mm NATO ammo.
But it isn’t the ammo that is the problem, if you want to own this military-grade rifle. No civilians in the United States can own machine guns manufactured after 1986, and it is very difficult to legally own older automatic guns like machine guns.
This means that you cannot legally upgrade either civilian variety SCAR rifle in order to make it fully automatic. Note that the civilian version has a welded bridge on the upper to prevent fully automatic or FA lowers from fitting.
Do not shave the bridge with a dremel or similar tool in order to be able to add a fully automatic lower to the gun. This is a violation of federal law, and it can result in prosecution by the ATF.
Yet you won’t get in trouble if you can legally own the fully automatic version. While you can in theory get a federal permit for an automatic weapon license, it is expensive. And it is almost impossible in some jurisdictions.
For example, the SCAR 17S is legal in many states, though it is almost impossible to own in California even if you have an Federal Firearm License or FFL. Know your state laws before you try to buy a fully automatic version, but know that it is always illegal to modify the semi-automatic into an automatic.
But how does the fully automatic military version differ from the semi-automatic one? The semi-automatic nature of the civilian SCAR 17 rifle does affect much of its design relative to the military version. It has a different safety selector switch. There are differences in the auto sear, the bolt carrier and the muzzle thickness.
For example, the hammer and pin that retain the hammer are shaped differently in the MK17. And the symbol stamped into the lower receiver is different. Military hardware has additional markings like date stamps.
But the basic construction is the same. For example, both of them have plastic side rails. The internal construction and bolt are basically the same. The stock and mount that are provided by the manufacturer are the same.
The gas blocks are similar. However, the military version is designed for heavy use and abuse. It is made to be easier to take apart and swap out parts in the field. But both are equally reliable when they’re properly maintained.
Yet the tight tolerances on it to improve accuracy mean it is prone to jamming when dirty, and this is true in both the military and civilian versions. The practical end result is that both the military and civilian versions of this rifle need to be cleaned regularly, especially if they get dropped in the mud.
What does all of this mean for those that want a military-grade Scar 17? Most of the upgrades available have little to nothing to do with making the civilian version equivalent to the military grade rifle.
The Scar 17 rifle has been used in actual combat by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is tested and approved by the military community. The civilian version lacks some of the military features, but there are many Scar 17 upgrades available to those that are interested.