FN SCAR 20S Field Test

The FN SCAR 20S is a civilian version of the USSOCOM MK20 SSR.

If you show someone in the gun community a picture of any model of FN SCAR they will usually be able to identify it is a SCAR. These rifles have a distinctive look and a strong following. Last year FN released the newest member of the SCAR family, the FN SCAR 20S. As a civilian version of the USSOCOM MK20 SSR, the new rifle caused a stir right away. GunsAmerica did a quick review of the FN SCAR 20S at the 2019 SHOT Show (see link below). Recently I got my hands on one and was able to give it a work out. This article details how it performed and this writer’s opinion on this new SCAR family member.

For field testing the FN SCAR 20S was equipped with a Leupold Mark 5HD 3-18 scope and an Accu-Shot Atlas bipod.

Prior to this rifle test I had not shot a SCAR of any kind, so there were a few things that jumped out right away. By far the most noticeable thing on any SCAR is the stock – the old SCAR 17S stock looks like an UGG boot. Well, das boot is gone! The SCAR 20S has an outstanding updated stock that is made for precision engagements. It is adjustable for length of pull and cheek weld without using tools – simply depress a button and pull or push to make the adjustment. These features are solid and yet easy to adjust, and the range of adjustment should accommodate most shooters. The stock is one of several well-engineered features of the SCAR 20S. The next most prominent feature is the monolithic upper receiver, which is the serialized part of the gun. The 20S upper is longer than prior SCARs to accommodate optics in line with the riflescope, e.g., clip on thermal, as well as to provide more real estate for bipod mounting. Aluminum MIL-STD-1913 rails run the length of the top and bottom of the upper, and eight inch polymer rails are at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.

The FN SCAR 20S features a solid stock that adjusts without tools.

As a purpose built precision rifle, the 20S features a longer and heavier barrel than the 17S. This is something the 20S shares with its big brother the USSOCOM MK20 SSR. It is cold hammer forged, chrome lined, 1:12 right hand twist, and has a three prong flash hider. Another great feature on this new rifle is the trigger. FN uses a Geissele two stage Super SCAR trigger with a 3.5-4.5 pound pull. It is very similar to a Geissele SSA-E, except the pull feels slightly heavier. It is an easy trigger to get used to, it is very consistent, and it has an appropriate weight for the application. The SCAR 20S retains the short stroke piston action of its predecessors, which brings us to the perceived recoil issue. Some have written that the SCAR 20S “has almost no recoil.” While it wouldn’t be fair to characterize the SCAR 20S as a hammer, it would also not be fair to say it has no perceivable recoil (note this writer developed no stress disorders after the shooting sessions – marked as safe). The recoil pulse was noticeable and it very likely disrupted my five shot groups. With relative ease this rifle produced groups at 100 yards with three shots touching. Unfortunately for this shooter and an accomplished military colleague, the five shot group without a flier remained elusive.

Group sizes were compromised by this shooter’s skills. The lower left hit was called as a pulled shot and the group was ruined!

At first glance the SCAR 20S has a two tone tan color scheme – the upper and lower are clearly different colors. Like other SCARs, the 20S has a polymer lower receiver and a metal upper receiver. The anodizing on the upper creates a lighter shade of tan than the color of the lower receiver. There is also a more subtle difference in shade on the tan parts of the stock – two more shades here. In all there are four colors of tan along with the black parts. Some people are going to like this color scheme and some won’t. In any case, it is unique. The rifle is shipped with a single 10 round magazine. This was a surprise, given the SCAR 20S is supposed to be as close as a civilian can get to a USSOCOM MK20 SSR. FN says that because most users will be shooting the SCAR 20S in a prone position as a precision rifle there was no need to include a longer magazine. It is somewhat disappointing to get just one 10 round magazine in the box considering the price tag of the package. That said, the magazine is metal and well designed. It is the same magazine as that used in the SCAR17S. Interestingly, the color of tan on the magazine is yet another shade in the scheme, so I guess that makes five shades of tan. Beyond the magazine, it should be noted that few parts are interchangeable between the new SCAR 20S and the 17S. FN indicates that about 50 percent of the parts are the same, but the company does not recommend attempting to swap parts between the two rifles.

By depressing one button the length of pull may be changed. Depress the other to get the perfect cheek weld.

The reciprocating charging handle is a hallmark of the SCAR series, and the 20S retains this feature. However the 20S charging handle may be placed either on the right or the left. Likewise, the safety and magazine release controls are ambidextrous. The bolt catch however is left side only unfortunately. The grip is a standard Hogue model, which is what was used on the USSOCOM MK20 SSR.

The safety, charging handle, and magazine release controls are all ambidextrous. The bolt catch/release is on the left hand side only.

For the accuracy test a Leupold Mark 5HD 3-18 scope was used (this scope is superb by the way). All shots were from a seated/bench position with the rifle on an Accu-Shot Atlas bipod resting on a rubber pad that covered a concrete table. On the first trip to the range some inexpensive 7.62x51mm ammunition was used. Varying degrees of bipod loading were used, but the SCAR 20S just didn’t like the cheap ammunition. The results were poor at nearly three inches at 100 yards for five shots. On the second trip to the range high quality Hornady .308 match grade ammunition was used, and group sizes were more than cut in half (see results below). Also of note, the best results came from both loading the bipod and pushing the stock back into the shoulder pocket with some force. To get good results you can’t let this rifle buck. The SCAR 20S stock is well suited for this method and groups seemed to settle in once this technique was deployed. It is very likely that better groups may be achieved using a prone position, but that was not possible at the available range. While FN does not advertise an accuracy guarantee, they do state it is their expectation that the SCAR 20S should shoot sub MOA with factory match grade ammunition.

HornadyMatch168 gr BTHP1.2
HornadyMatch178 gr ELD-X1.4
HornadyMatch168 gr ELD-M1.5
HornadyAmerican Gunner155 gr BTHP1.7
*best 5 shot maximum spread in inches at 100 yards

After 200 rounds the bolt and chamber show no signs of fowling thanks to the piston system.

Conclusion: the SCAR 20S is a well-engineered precision shooting platform of high quality. The looks grow on you and it was quite fun to take it to the range where it garnered a great deal of attention. Given the price tag it isn’t for everyone. In fact, the price alone limits the market for this rifle. That said, SCAR fans are really going to enjoy this rifle, and this writer is aware that some are simply buying it as an investment.

Accuracy was acceptable, and would likely be improved by shooting prone.
PriceMSRP $4,499
ActionShort stroke piston driven
Barrel20 inch, chrome lined, cold hammer forged, 1:12 right hand twist, 7.62x51mm
TriggerGeissele Super SCAR two stage
Color optionsFlat Dark Earth / multi-tone tan color scheme available at this time
StockAdjustable without tools
Iron SightsNone included
MagazineOne 10 round magazine included
Muzzle deviceFlash hider
Length40.6-42.5 inches
Weight unloaded11.2 pounds
Safety &  magazine releaseAmbidextrous
Charging handleReciprocating, reversible left or right side

About the author: Steve Gaspar has been writing for gun and hunting publications for over 20 years. He is an avid hunter, staunch 2A supporter, and occasional 3-gun competitor. His favorite outdoor activities are calling predators and shooting suppressed rifles.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Peacemaker June 12, 2019, 6:44 am

    The author does not seem to have much experience shooting large frame semi auto’s. Better grouping prone vs benched is a shooter issue not rifle. Loading the rifle like he mentions torques the receiver and results in inconsistent grouping it may help mask inconsistent trigger pull and follow through but will inhibit shootings sub moa groups. I find my 20s shoots best with no load and a neutral hold.

    My 20s and a friends will shoot 3/4 MOA out to 800 yards and sun MOA out to 1000. It is the most accurate semi auto designed for combat I have shot. It smokes the Larue OBR and SR25’s.
    Send me your email and I can send pictures.

    • Steve Gaspar July 15, 2019, 3:38 pm

      You are correct. I don’t have a lot of experience with large frame semi’s. However I do quite well with my 6.5 semi-auto, and a lot better than I could muster with the SCAR. I’m just telling the readers what my experience was. A neutral hold with this rifle produced terrible results — both for me and another experienced shooter (who has a Larue OBR in .308 by the way). I don’t doubt your results are very good and I expect that if I had this rifle for a longer period of time I would have done better. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Bad Penguin June 12, 2019, 6:27 am

    SCARs may look bulky but they arent. I also have an issue with your description of the accuracy of a SCAR. AR10’s are OK but not in the same league as a SCAR right out of the box.

    • Steve Gaspar July 15, 2019, 3:33 pm

      Thanks for your feedback. I tried to point out other shooters may be able to do better than me…in fact I’m sure they can. I just reported what happened. I have other rifles, one AR10 in 6.5 for example, that I am much better with. The SCAR 20S did grow on my though the longer I had use of it though.

  • Kole June 11, 2019, 12:28 pm

    So a rifle that’s supposed to be a dmr can barely hit moa on a good day in a non combat situation? Listen sniper team or not the grouping will spread with all rifles in a hard situation. Guys like larue, aero precision, black rain, mega arms laugh at these joke’s of rifles. A dmr is supposed to be able to tare the field a new ass hole. This inferior rifle will get people hurt or killed when the shot matters. Most piston rifles slam forward messing with the accuracy. Fail on this boat anchor and fail on the break it right out the box ballista. To be fair fn does make good shit. Just not this thing. Trying to cater to a market that already has been established by far superior rifle systems. No dmr would purposely use this rifle if they had a better choice. Period.

  • GREGG June 10, 2019, 12:00 pm

    SR-25M Three shot group 1 hole center of X @ 200 yards with cheap Rem. ammo 150Gr. Got her in the 90’s. She likes the match 168 gr. for longer work.

  • Phatman81 June 10, 2019, 10:15 am

    After shooting a POF Gen 4 Revolution with 18.5″ barrel which is half the price of SCAR and 2 lbs lighter ..The POF shot 2″ groups at 300 yards .. Yes, the SCAR is like a Hummer but Hummers don’t drive well in Urban traffic .. I recently saw a video which demonstrated the superiority of a gas piston system with 2300 shots before the gun became to gummed up for rapid fire .. The POF like the SCAR has a gas piston system .. But .. I could buy 2 of the POF guns for the price of a SCAR ..

  • Jimbo June 10, 2019, 9:52 am

    That is not a precision rifle by any stretch of the imagination and the price is insane.

    You can by 1/2 MOA rifles for half that price.

  • Mike Thomas June 10, 2019, 9:12 am

    The SCAR 20 is not meant as a precision rifle. It is intended as a Designated Marksman/Sniper Team Spotter application that can put rounds down range quickly.

    • Pantexan June 10, 2019, 10:05 am

      If you say so.

  • KO June 10, 2019, 9:08 am

    I guess if you’re going to pay over 4k for mediocre performance, at least you won’t have to buy an additional shotgun to deal with bolt and chamber fowling.

  • Matt June 10, 2019, 8:28 am

    I don’t understand the fascination with these rifles. I personally don’t think they look nice and just look too bulky. A nice Ar10 (so much cheaper than a SCAR) can out shoot any SCAR I have seen or shot…by that I mean they suck in the precision shooting area.

  • triggerpull June 10, 2019, 7:32 am

    Stickers on precision scopes? Is that a new thing?

    • Steve Gaspar July 15, 2019, 3:41 pm

      I put them on mine because it is easy for everyone to know it’s mine and not theirs when at a competition. So for me it’s a thing.

  • Tom Brown June 10, 2019, 6:21 am

    i think you should have used a premium match grade ammo such as Lapua or Federal Premium. I’ve used that ammo at 100 yards with a hunting rifle and essentially put 3 shots through the same hole in a clover leaf! Just remember, garbage in, garbage out!!!!

  • Connie June 10, 2019, 3:40 am

    That price is so funny, it’s not funny.

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