Mike Jones, the legendary Thumb himself, has gotten his hands on the NRCH SCAR16s model and has done a review for 2022 of the legacy and current rifle system.
The SCAR16s, often colloquially known as the SCAR-L, is one of the most recognizable and often divisive rifles in the space. People tend to either love it, or hate it, both with plenty of valid reasoning.
Those who love it point to its impressive durability, reliability, gentle recoil, and other sought after feature.
Those who don’t point to its early problems with optics, its reciprocating charging handle (pre-NRCH), its inability to match FDE tones, and quite often its price tag. The SCAR and the HK416 command incredibly high prices in the 5.56 rifle space and, for what you get on a performance basis, this irks folks.
Believe you me, I understand. I didn’t buy the SCAR16s for a long time, because of its lack of performance gain over an AR. Does it perform better? Yes, in many categories. Is it 2-3 times better for 2-3 times the price? Not in the slightest. It can’t be, the AR-15 works too well to be outperformed to any such margin. This is especially true when maintaining the limitation of the same caliber.
It’s one of those classic examples of the “perfect” being the enemy of the good. The best solutions by performance metrics are much more expensive than good solutions.
Example, someone says they need a 5.56 rifle that works well for ______ reason and they’re budget constrained. They may need to get multiple similar rifles. They may not be operating in an environment where advantages of the highest end systems will show through, at all. There are any number of reasons to go with one of the rifle systems in the middle, but most surround the subject of greatly diminishing returns.
If the SCAR can go 8 or 9 magazines without an issue under harsh conditions and an average properly built AR-15 can do 6 or 7 magazines without issue, which are you going to pick when your projected average engagement is less than one magazine and an extreme use engagement might be 2 to 4 with 4 being the most extreme outlier? There is no reason for a SCAR to fulfill that use slot other than you want it to.
And ultimately, that’s why I got the 16. I wanted to. I had the SCAR17s and was having a great time with it and I found myself, at the time, having no regular old 5.56 rifle. I had all kinds of goof items but a regular, old, average, Title I 5.56 rifle was not one of them. So I bought a SCAR16s because I had a SCAR17s and like it.
There was nothing about spending efficiently in my decision or comparing the capabilities of the rifle to competitors, it was a pure want-to-match to a rifle I had already and it ended up working out really well. I love the SCAR. Critiques, criticisms, gripes and all. The 16 has quickly outpaced my 17 for rifle I have dumped the most money into and I don’t care that I have several rifles that are less expensive and equally capable. That wasn’t a criteria for me at the time.
So if you’re reading this as a ‘Get a SCAR if you want a SCAR’ post, that is spot on. That is exactly the mentality to take when getting the SCAR, it is in that oddly elite pinnacle+quirks tier of rifle design (Where the 416 lives too) that has surpassed general practicality.
If you want it. Get it. No use complaining about its price anymore than the fact that AK prices have ballooned by nearly a factor of four, its an expensive rifle and its features and quirks are what they are. You’ll love it or you won’t. It shoots.