Colion Noir’s take on the ‘Smol’est SCAR, the SCAR 15P, is about what I expected it to be. He likes it. Shocking, I know.
I like it too.
I think the PDW 5.56 is incredibly niche but I still like them. You’ve lost a lot of gas (literally and figuratively) on 5.56 guns after you’re dropping under that proverbial 10.3″ barrel of the original MK18. I still have two, and 8.5″ and a 9.5″ that are exceptionally fun guns to run. I would, as a fan of the SCAR series, do exactly as Colion did and SBR it and add the classic ugg boot stock the way he did. I’d throw a good dot on top that I could fit a QD magnifier behind and call it good.
I wouldn’t shy away from a fixed magnification solution either to be honest.
When I’m talking ‘super short’, I’m using the 10.3″ MK18 as the divider. As we’ve delved further down the rabbit hole of 5.56 and what it can do for us, there was a point we dug too greedily and to deep. We ended up in an era of very short 5.56 guns for no reason beyond their shortness and… they didn’t work great in most instances.
Now there are several out there, properly tuned up PDW types, that work phenomenally if we’re discounting the fractional ballistic performance at range. But they’re PDWs, they’re meant to fight close and hit harder than the 9mm can and be ammo compatible with their more conventional carbine brethren.
We’ve since eased it back and we’re settled in on this barrel range of about 11-14.5 inches being the sweet spot. Sure, this makes them NFA items. But were it not for the NFA the standard would undoubtedly have developed as 14.5″ as the standard, copied from the M4, from 2004 onward. The 16″ would likely not have held the commercial dominance that it does and those looking for personal protective and home defense guns would be where we, in thought process at least, are now with ~13″ guns.
This still leaves the super shorties. The true small guns like the Rattler 5.5″, the LWRC PSD 8.5″, and my pictured XCR-L 9.5″ there.
What are they for?
In short (pun assuredly intended) they exist to supplement conventional carbines in the same way that a subcompact handgun like a G43, Masada Slim, or P365 exist to compliment their duty pistol siblings. They are conditionally more useful. But the difference is that with handguns, the conditions the small one is more useable and useful aligns very naturally with every day carry and the conveniences the small handgun bring to that task. We find the larger handgun the more difficult tool to manage in general for that. With carbines, the opposite is the day-to-day reality. If the carbine is involved the concepts of needing it so small, mobile, or concealable as to make the conventionally sized guns undesirable is extremely unlikely. The goal shifted, usually, from covert comfortable convenience with the handgun to just small enough for efficient overt movement and strong terminal effects against the target.
Most of the time if the rifles are out hiding the rifles is not a goal at all. Especially in LE and citizen defense situations, the rifle itself is an additional demand for immediate de-escalation from the threat and barring that circumstance a very effective solution against the threat. Handguns get you out of gunfights, rifles win gunfights. But for the few instances that concealment still is a goal, these PDWs bring 5.56 as portably and as effectively as can be balanced.
In this space I also still highly recommend folks look at PCC/SMG guns in pistol calibers unless the performance, even so reduced, and noise profile of the 5.56 in these short guns is still a necessary part of the system. It could be and for many use cases it is. It is one of the reasons I really like my XCR-L. The receiver and barrel combination with the folding stock gets it small, but I still have 9.5″ of barrel, putting me in good carbine company with guns like the G36C.
Super shorty carbines have their roles, mostly professional.
This is still a concept most people apply improperly as they think to build a gun to leave in the vehicle. That is a bad idea. The idea of the truck gun is one you can operate while you too are in and around your vehicle, its the chance to bring the bigger stick to the fight if time and opportunity allow. It does not replace your carried handgun as your immediate emergency lethal response to a threat and circumstances that put you in or near your vehicle may also afford you the opportunity to use the vehicle as the defense and evasion tool rather than the firearm.
The ‘truck gun’ is extremely niche for us (Rando McCitizen) in that manner, we aren’t running the gun in any professional capacity like area security, VIP protection/PSD, low profile police work, limited transport capacity work like a motorcycle cop, or in any other professional setting where the super compact nature of the weapon fits our job. We usually just want a more capable gun (when it is in the hands) for our commute to supplement the more accessible and comfortable carry gun.
And because we think its cool.