By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All photos contained in this article were shot by DefenseReview.com (DR), and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these materials. The photos were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability).
May 25, 2011
Last updated on 6/01/11.
Over the past week, at both SOFIC 2011 (2011 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference) and NDIA Small Arms Systems Symposium 2011 (2011 International Infantry & Joint Services Small Arms Systems Symposium, Exhibition & Firing Demonstration), DefenseReview (DR) has had the opportunity to handle the FN SCAR PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) compact select-fire 5.56x45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem. SBR (Short Barreled Rifle), and we’re impressed with it, provided of course it works as advertised, and proves reliable, accurate, and durable under adverse combat conditions and high round count.
The FN SCAR PDW is a good-looking weapon, and exhibits good ergonomics/usernomics, save for the reciprocating charging handled mounted/situated on the forward left side and, to a lesser extent, the minimal cheek piece at the rear of the receiver. Its ambidextrous operator controls (safety/selector switches, magazine release buttons, and bolt carrier release) are well-designed and easy to operate. The compact telescoping/retractible buttstock is also easy to operate and fairly comfortable against the shoulder, even though there are some obvious cheek weld issues. Regardless, the weapon should prove effective for deploying from vehicles, i.e., vehicle ops (operations) and in close quarters battle (CQB) environments, including Direct Action (DA) and house-clearing missions/ops (operations).
Again, our primary caveat to the above positivity on the weapon’s ergonomics is the SCAR PDW’s aforementioned reciprocating forward-mounted/situated charging handle on the forward left side of the receiver. DR will reiterate our desire for FNH USA to make it non-reciprocating, so it doesn’t nail a right-handed operator’s/shooter’s left thumb or a left-handed operator’s/shooter’s fingers on their right hand while shooting, if a non-optimum grip is obtained and utilized under stress. Not only can it physically hurt the shooter, but it will also cause the gun to malfunction (short stroke, etc.) if it hits anything while cycling back and forth. In a martial combat/tactical shooting situation, it’s not always possible to acquire a perfect grip on a weapon, and the user shouldn’t have to grip the weapon in a specific way so as not to get bitten by the charging handle. The shooter also shouldn’t have to worry about the moving charging handle being interfered with while shooting around barriers, through windows, etc.
Defense Review would recommend that FNH USA get cracking on this design change as soon as possible. They can submit an engineering change proposal (ECP) to SOCOM (USSOCOM) and/or just make the change for law enforcement (LE) end-users and civilian tactical shooters. They could then offer two options (reciprocating or non-reciprocating charging handle) to the military, LE, and commercial markets. DR is confident that the non-reciprocating charging handle version will be the most popular option for end-users (actual trigger-pullers) in all three markets. DefenseReview also thinks FNH USA should offer a civilian-legal pistol version of the SCAR PDW without buttstock to the commercial market.
Finally, any weapon this compact with a barrel this short should be outfitted with a stubby vertical foregrip like the TangoDown Stubby Vertical Grip. Using the stubby vertical foregrip will also keep the shooter’s support hand well away from the reciprocating charging handle during firing.
The reported cyclic rate of fire (ROF) on the FN SCAR PDW is 650 rpm (rounds per minute), but DR will try to confirm this.
While we haven’t run the gun at the range, yet, Defense Review looks forward to doing so tomorrow (Thursday) at the scheduled shoot, if FNH USA allows us to do so. We’re not sure they will, as they’ve been a little hedgy about it.
DefenseReview would like to perform a side-by-side range T&E (test and evaluation) with the FN SCAR PDW and one of the FERFRANS SOAR select-fire gas piston/op-rod or direct-gas-impingement (DGI) 5.56mm NATO AR SBRs (11.5″, 10.5″, and/or 7.5″ barrel length), to see how the SCAR PDW stacks up against DR’s favorite select-fire SBRs.
Editor’s Note: The good-lookin’ bald guy in the accompanying photos is DR’s good friend Felipe Jose. Mr. Jose is a tactical industry consultant.
Company Contact Info:
FNH USA Military Operations
PO Box 896
McLean, VA 22101
FNH USA Website: http://www.fnhusa.com/
FNH USA Military Website: http://www.fnhusa.com/mil/
FNH USA Military Training Operations
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