I like old rifles. It isn’t just the aesthetic or the fact that antique firearms seem to ooze history (it comes with the Cosmoline). Much of my appreciation also comes from the fact that old rifles offer some perspective on just how good we firearm enthusiasts have it today. The new-for-2020 FN America SCAR 20S now chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor is the perfect example of the incredible capabilities of today’s high-end precision rifles.
It wasn’t long ago that a 2-MOA spread at 100 yards meant you had a solid rifle. Sticking to the FN theme, I have a couple FALs, and I’m ecstatic if those rifles print a 2-MOA group. Extrapolate that out to the long-range precision game that’s popular among today’s shooters, and you quickly see why precision long-range work was an arcane art for much of the 20th century. A 2-MOA (or roughly 2-inch) group at 100 yards becomes a 20-inch group at 1,000 yards. You’d be lucky to hit a standard-size silhouette target at that distance with a 2-MOA gun.
However, today’s shooters aren’t just sitting at 1,000 yards. They’re going beyond 1,000 yards. That’s why a round like the 6.5 Creedmoor, designed to stay supersonic past that 1,000-yard mark, has become such a popular chambering for precision rifles. Since its introduction in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor took over competition shooting and now runs among the most popular rifle calibers out today for a number of reasons.
The first, listed above, is its supersonic performance that allows it to outpace .308 Win. Second, though, is the comparatively low recoil of the 6.5 mm round, which allows shooters to stay in their optic and watch their bullets impact the target. With a good brake, you can even negate the need for a spotter, turning yourself into a one-man shooting system.
There’s enough good press out there on the 6.5 Creedmoor, so I won’t keep harping on it, but suffice it to say that it’s popular for a reason. That popularity led FN America to expand its relatively new SCAR 20S system to include the round, and Shooting Illustrated had a chance to experience this new system during a December 2019 shoot in Texas.
The SCAR 20S is not a new rifle for Shooting Illustrated readers. Last year, Rifles Editor Steve Adelmann got his hands on the .308 Win. model of this precision SCAR and liked the rifle for many reasons, all of which you can read in his review here. To sum it up, though, he said:
“Setting aside marketing quirks and a high price tag, the SCAR 20S will be a great rifle for SCAR fans, military-rifle collectors and military personnel who have developed an affinity for the SCAR 20 SSR.”
One interesting result from Adelmann’s review of the .308 Win. model is the shooting results. With all three loads tested, accuracy ended up being right around 1 MOA, which isn’t bad, but it’s also not exactly what I’d qualify as a tack-driver in today’s precision world. When FN America announced its launch event at the JL Bar Ranch & Resort in Sonora, TX, the included information highlighted FN’s intention to have attendees shoot the SCAR 20S out to nearly a mile. My initial thought was, “Jeez. Let’s see how that goes.”
Upon arrival, we headed out to the 1,500 yard range, and found the 6.5 Creedmoor SCAR 20S rifles ready for action at JL Bar, Ranch, Resort & Spa’s three-deck shooting tower, complete with earthen beds designed to simulate field conditions. It was a pretty slick shooting setup. Before we started ringing steel, each attendee shot several 100-yard groups to get familiar with the rifle. My first five-shot group was certainly more than MOA, but the second one was a single, ragged hole, which was encouraging. After firing a few more get-to-know-you rounds, we started working our way out to 1,500 yards.
At every interval, the FN America SCAR 20S performed perfectly. There were no failures to feed or other mechanical issues with the gun, and each careful trigger press elicited a satisfying “clang!” from hanging steel. For me, though, the moment that sealed the deal with the 6.5 Creedmoor SCAR 20S was a shot string at 1,500 yards. I’ve rarely shot past 1,000 yards, and my limited experience was enough to highlight how hard it can be to place consistent rounds on target at these distances, even with purpose-built precision rifles. On my first range outing with the SCAR 20S in 6.5 Creedmoor, using Hornady Match-grade factory ammunition, we saw five consecutive hits on steel at 1,500 yards. That’s beyond impressive, and it shows what kind of performance is capable in FN America’s signature gas gun.
Of course, performance comes at a price. I’m just going to say it. This gun costs $4,499. I know. I get it. It is what it is. The fact that consumers can even pay for that kind of performance and get it straight from the box is pretty amazing. The FN America SCAR 20S in 6.5 Creedmoor is just another step in a long line toward attainable precision at extreme ranges. Just know, whatever pain there is at payment time, the healing comes by ringing steel with ease at nearly a mile using off-the-shelf ammo.
There are a few stand-out features worth calling out on this SCAR 20S. The first is the Geissele Super SCAR two-stage match trigger, and the clean, crisp break of this trigger unit made all the difference while trying to stay on target at extended ranges. The other new addition to this SCAR 20S is that SureFire ProComp 7.62 muzzle device. Like I mentioned above, one of the benefits of 6.5 Creedmoor is the reduced recoil, and the addition of the SureFire compensator negated any excessive recoil. I found it easy to stay inside my sight picture, even when shooting past 1,000 yards.
FN’s addition to the SCAR 20S lineup, though pricey, is sure to be a hit with those who demand premium performance at any price. For the rest of us, we can at least content ourselves by observing that such performance is possible from a factory-made gun. Maybe someday, that same performance will be available to blue-collar shooters at a fraction of the cost.