At first glance this airsoft rifle looks just like its real life counterpart, the FN SCAR light rifle.
By Chris A. Choat
The new rifle that just arrived was a combination of the latest high tech materials and design elements. Its full length Picatinny rail was topped with one of the newest sights on the market; the Aimpoint Mark 4. It also incorporated front and rear folding back-up iron sights, a folding, collapsible buttstock and a vertical foregrip mounted on a bottom rail. It was “camoed” in two different colors of tan to help break up its futuristic form. The Aimpoint’s red dot was settled on the chest of the camouflaged form quietly moving through the dry brush just ahead. He took a few more steps and then paused at an exposed spot in the terrain. The selector switch was moved to the full-auto position and the trigger squeezed. The rifle made a slight whining noise and “bullets” literally seemed to pour from the barrel. The man flinched as the rounds impacted, but then stood and said, “I’m out!!”
This scenario didn’t happen in some far away war zone, it happened here at home in what’s known as an airsoft skirmish. The rifle is actually an exact copy of a gun made by FN (Fabrique Nationale) and the official designation is the FN SCAR Light. The term SCAR stands for Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle. The Light designation was given to the 5.56x45mm (.223) caliber rifle whereas FN also has a Heavy Model which is chambered in 7.62.x51mm (.308). The particular gun that is the subject of this article is called the CA SCAR Light. The “CA” stands for Classic Army, a Hong Kong based company that is the gun’s manufacturer. In fact, most of today’s airsoft guns come from China, Taiwan or Japan. The Classic Army brand is exclusively imported and distributed in the U.S. by Spartan Imports of California. Spartan carries a vast assortment of guns and accessories.
The gun is what’s known as an AEG, or Airsoft Electric Gun. Airsoft guns are nothing new, having been around for several decades. The guns of today basically have only one thing in common with the guns of the past; the ammunition they use. Airsoft guns fire 6mm plastic BBs. They are propelled by air which is generated by an electric motor that in turn drives a piston inside an air chamber. This is all done very rapidly and the cyclic rate of airsoft guns replicate their real counterparts. They have selector switches and do fire either full or semi-auto. Velocity of the fired BBs vary but run anywhere from 250 to 450 feet per second. Upgraded parts are available to boost velocity for almost any gun. Today’s guns are exact replicas of the real firearms that they copy sometimes right down to the manufacturers’ trademark markings. Since they are one-to-one copies, a lot of the accessories that are made for real guns will also fit on the airsoft models and, in some cases, this is also true vice versa.
The CA SCAR Light is one of the newest airsoft models to hit the market and it is a real beauty. Overall, the new gun has three distinct colors of desert camouflage on its surface just like the real SCAR rifle. The buttstock and lower receiver are desert tan, the upper receiver, pistol grip and magazine appear to be flat dark earth and the barrel, buttpad, iron sights, fire control parts and bottom and side Picatinny rails are black. When you pick up the CA SCAR Light the first thing that you notice is that the gun is not light; having some heft to it, and weighs the same as the real rifle at 3.5 kg (7.72 lbs.). This is due in part to the entire upper receiver being CNC machined out of aluminum. The upper receiver also has a full length Picatinny rail machined into it along the top. Rail slot positions are laser etched with numerals to make it easy to replace sights or optics in the same position. The gun also features machined metal Picatinny rails located on the forearm at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. They are removable and are held in place with machined Allen screws.
The buttstock on these guns is a marvel. It is not only collapsible but also folds to the right side and locks into place on a projection just behind the ejection port. On the real gun this projection also doubles as an ejection port buffer. On the top of the stock is a 2-position cheekpiece. By pressing a button on the gun’s right side the cheekpiece can be raised to an elevated position and locked there, which allows for the perfect cheek weld for higher mounted optics. The stock’s rubber buttpad can also be removed to reveal a small compartment for parts, tools or spare optic batteries. The stock also contains the gun’s battery compartment. The gun uses what looks like a standard M16 A2 pistol grip that houses the electric motor that powers the gun. Above the grip is the ambidextrous selector switch. It has three positions safe (marked with the letter “S”), semi (marked with the numeral “1”) and autolower receiver, stock and grip are all made from fiber reinforced polymer.
The real SCAR uses standard M16 magazines and the airsoft version also uses any M-16-style airsoft magazine. The mag that comes with the gun is another small marvel. It is metal just like an original M16 magazine and concealed inside is a winding mechanism and a hopper that holds 300 of the 6mm BBs. These are loaded through a small sliding door located on the top. Once the BBs are poured into the hopper, the magazine is wound up by turning a small wheel that protrudes out the magazine’s bottom. A few turns of this wheel and the magazine is ready to fire. Load the magazine in the magazine well and the gun is ready. There is no need to cycle the charging handle, though the charging handle functions and is spring loaded to return to the forward position but doesn’t actually load the gun. When the charging handle is pulled to the rear it exposes a rotary dial. Turning the dial activates the “Hop-Up” mechanism. What this does is impart variable “back-spin” on the BBs as they travel down the barrel. The more you turn the dial the more spin is imparted. This backspin causes the BBs to fly more accurately as well as farther. This “Hop-Up” can also be adjusted for different weight BBs.
Magazines are changed just like on real rifles by pressing the ambidextrous magazine release. The magazine will not fire all 300 BBs without winding it. You seem to get about 150 rounds before it needs rewinding. Cyclic rate of the gun is right at 800 rounds per minute.
The gun uses a rechargeable, mini-type, 8.4 volt battery for power and is concealed inside the rifle’s buttstock. The stock is made so that a slightly larger 9.6 volt battery will fit as well. This larger battery ups the cyclic rate to around 1,000 rpm but caution should be used here as the higher rate of fire can wreck the rifle without a few other internal upgrades.Battery life is several magazines and it can be recharged in about 15 minutes with a fast charger. The rifle uses a quick disconnect plug so batteries can be changed in minutes to provide extended shooting time. The battery and charger are not included with the gun and must be bought separately.
6mm airsoft BBs come in weights from 12 grams all the way up to 30 grams. The 20 gram BB seems to be what most AEGs are designed around. This weight produces the best combination of high velocity and punch. A word of caution here: do not use the cheap discount store variety BBs in these guns. Spend a little extra and buy precision BBs. Precision BBs are just that – they are precision made and are of a consistent weight, diameter and are highly polished. They run smoothly in high grade AEGs and will not cause jamming or breakage of internal parts. These BBs are available on the internet or in local specialty shops and are well worth the slight increase in price. Just as in real firearms, if you use junk ammo you will have problems. Precision BBs cost around $12 for a 3,700 count bag of 20 grams so you can shoot all day for very little money. Remember these are made from high density plastic. Velocity of this gun was right at 340 fps with 20 gram BBs. They will not break glass or put dents in most metal (they will penetrate aluminum cans) but they will shoot through cardboard boxes as well as leave a nasty welt on your skin. They could also put an eye out; so as with any firearm don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Also remember to be aware of potential ricochets as most shooting with these guns is done at less than 100 feet. Up to this range they are very accurate. The gun tested would shoot groups under 1 inch from a rest at 50 feet. At the same distance on full-auto it would shoot as many BBs as you wanted to shoot into about 2 inches. They seemto shoot forever and are very accurate even with open sights. The sights are click adjustable and very well made.
Simply put, these guns are a blast. They are well made and look just like the real thing. They accept all kinds of accessories, so there is no end to what you can add to them. The airsoft industry has definitely changed in the last few years and now includes just about any handgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle you can imagine. There are also belt-fed M249 SAWs, M-60s in all variants and even an airsoft copy of the GE Minigun. It is 12 volt powered and shoots BBs by the pound. Also available in airsoft are hand grenades, 40mm grenade launchers with BB grenades, LAWs rockets and even Claymore mines that are bound to put a little excitement into a weekend wargame. Some of these are powered by CO2 and others are spring powered. These guns aren’t cheap but they are a lot cheaper than the real thing. The CA SCAR Light retails for $370 without the battery and charger. By the time you read this there will also be another version of the SCAR rifle on the market. It will be the SCAR CQC, close quarter combat version with a short barrel and will be available in tan or all black. If you can’t afford the real full-auto gun, or maybe you live in a state that prohibits ownership of them, try out an airsoft version. They are also great for pest control in your backyard without the use of deadly force. These guns are a lot of fun and the 6mm ammo is the cheapest thing you can shoot at today’s ammo prices. It would make a great birthday or Christmas present too.
233 South Maple, Unit 14
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Phone: (650) 589-5522
Fax: (650) 589-5552
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N4 (January 2008)|