June 29, 2023
Late last year, FN made waves when they launched a semiautomatic pistol version of their popular SCAR rifle series. Like its larger cousin, the SCAR 15P runs on a short-stroke gas piston system that is adjustable, reliable and fun to shoot. The 15P is the ultimate close quarters battle (CQB) SCAR and it’s available now.
History of FN’s SCAR
In early 2004, the United States Special Operation Command (SOCOM) announced they were seeking a new combat assault rifle and nine military firearms manufacturers submitted a total of 12 different designs in an effort to win SOCOM approval. FN’s submission beat out the other designs and the SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) from FN was born. The SCAR was originally available in two configurations, the 5.56 SCAR-L “Light” version, also known as the MK 16, and the 7.62 SCAR-H “Heavy” version that would become known as the MK 17.
FN has a long history of producing some of the world’s finest military weapons, so it’s no surprise FN’s SCAR rifles were so well received. The major improvement over existing combat rifles was the inclusion of a reliable gas piston system that performed better than the direct impingement system used in M4 rifles. But another feature that makes the SCAR so desirable is its modularity. Operators can configure these weapons based on the mission, removing and replacing stocks and barrels. A conversion kit was developed (but not fielded) to allow the SCAR-H to function as a SCAR-L when 5.56 ammo is available or preferred. Additionally, the SCAR's ambidextrous design of the SCAR makes it suitable for right and left-handed shooters.
High Performance, Small Size
The SCAR FN 15P pistol combines the reliability and modularity of the MK 16 and MK 17 in a smaller package for the consumer market. At the heart of this gun is FN’s pistol-length version of their gas piston system that ensures outstanding reliability. The system operates when gases from the fired cartridge pass through the gun’s regulator and those gases act upon the piston system, forcing the moving parts of the assembly rearward. The spent case is ejected, a new round is loaded into the chamber, and excess gas is vented forward through the regulator. It’s a clean, efficient design.
The design reduces gas fouling associated with DI systems, but it also reduces heat in the chamber area and the bolt which, in turn, promises fewer malfunctions and an extended service life. The other advantage of the design is that it can be adjusted when shooting suppressed or unsuppressed. Being able to quickly and efficiently adjust the piston system is a major benefit for the shooter and makes the SCAR 15P even more desirable.
The 15P pistol comes with a 7.5-inch chrome-lined, free-floated barrel with a three-prong flash hider, but the threaded barrel allows you to quickly add any muzzle device that you want. Muzzle brakes are just one aftermarket option, though the SCAR 15P’s soft-shooting nature doesn’t demand recoil reduction (not to mention a sharp spike in muzzle blast, which is already stout). However, adding a suppressor to this pistol makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t add excessive weight and cuts down on noise, and thanks to the gas regulation system you can easily adjust the FN to run reliably with a can in place. (Editor's note: Before suppressing a SCAR, it is strongly recommended that you verify the suppressor has been specifically tested with the SCAR to ensure low back pressure into the gun. Failure to do so may cause damage to the rifle, and any damage resulting from suppressor use is not covered under warranty. FN will, however, provide repair services for the damaged gun at a fee, and the warranty on your SCAR is not voided in its entirety.)
FN’s SCAR 15P features a hard-anodized monolithic aluminum receiver. Anyone who is familiar with standard AR-style controls will find it very easy to operate the SCAR 15P: the safety selector and magazine release are in similar positions to ARs, and both these controls are ambidextrous, so they are equally easy for left and right-handed shooters to operate. The charging handle is swappable from left to right, too, and because it is static when the gun is fired it serves double duty as a hand stop. The FN SCAR 15P is available in black or FDE with a choice of 10 or 30-round magazines with steel bodies and low-friction followers.
I don’t think any gun company has ever offered so many attachment points per square inch of firearm as FN has with the SCAR 15P, but that’s great news for shooters. Their extensive experience building military, law enforcement, and consumer firearms seems to have taught FN a valuable lesson—no two shooters will outfit their weapon in the same manner. Some like rails, others prefer QD cups, and some want sling hooks. The good news is that no matter which system you prefer the SCAR 15P has you covered. There are 1913 Picatinny rail section at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions toward the front of the gun, a full-length Picatinny top rail for optics, no fewer than six sling hook attachment points (two rear attachment points and one front attachment point on both sides of the gun), and the gun comes with a removable QD cup mount on the rail section at the rear of the gun. The lightweight, compact design makes this gun very maneuverable, perfect for CQB.
I topped the FN SCAR 15P with a Holosun AEMS solar sight and attached a single-point sling to the pistol before heading to the range. The sling allowed me to carry the pistol comfortably and helped stabilize me in a shooting position, and the optic made it easy to accurately shoot IPSC targets from 25 and even 50 yards. The controls are outstanding—better and easier to use, I think, than those on traditional AR-platform rifles.
I like the non-reciprocating charging handle design and it makes an effective hand stop. The pistol came with the charging handle oriented on the right, and switching it to the left required less than a minute to accomplish. While I had the lower removed, I examined the interior of this gun and was very impressed by the finish and craftsmanship. There are no unfinished parts, no rough edges. The machining is excellent and care is taken when building these guns. You’d expect a high level of refinement from a $3,700 pistol, but it’s clear why FN’s SCARs perform so well when you begin examining the internals closely. No detail is overlooked.
It's difficult to make a high-tech gun that’s easy and fun to shoot, but that’s the FN SCAR 15P. Reliability when firing with and without a suppressor was perfect (thanks in large part to the easy-to-access gas regulation control) and I was really impressed by how smooth and quickly the pistol shoots. It’s relatively easy to remain on target, and that would make this an effective CQB personal defense weapon. But above all else the SCAR 15P is simply a fun gun to shoot, and its innovative design and shooter-friendly layout make it one of the most desirable pistols in today’s market.
FN SCAR 15P
- Type: Short stroke gas piston-operated semiauto
- Cartridge: 5.56 NATO/.223 rem
- Capacity: 30/10 rds.
- Barrel: 7.5” hammer forged, chrome-lined, free-floating
- Overall length: 19.75 in.
- Weight: 5 lbs. 10.4 oz.
- Color: FDE or Black
- Sights: None
- Trigger: 6 lbs. 10 oz. (tested)
- MSRP: $3,699
- Manufacturer: FN America, 703-288-3500, fnamerica.com
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