I've seen them cause issues on a stage gun SCAR shooting through ports in a barricade.
Keep in mind this was a stage gun, and as such very few of us shooters were aware of the idiosyncrasies.
It has been a while since I pulled that trigger but they are very nice rifles.
I'm more of a Stoner rifle type guy but that doesn't come with any desire to impugn the SCAR platform. Nice rifles indeed.
I long ago just accepted the nature of the DI system. Then I started shooting suppressed and holy crap, EVERYTHING gets dirty including the ammo left in the magazine.
fritz this is an educational question, not a confrontational one. I love the SCAR but am not a complete convert. It has worked well for me in the matches I've used it. And in general I like the 17 overall in that category of guns... But I'm looking at my SCAR and the amount the charging handle extends beyond the turret on the NF scope is at best 3-5mm. And that's a small tube NF, a bigger tube and it might be less. I'm guessing if I used an aftermarket charging handle that angles down (I have a couple but have not seen the need for them) it might be 0.
Can you describe a stage situation where the charging handle is an issue that can't easily be dealt with a <relatively> small adjustment. As a practical matter I've not had an issue on barricade ports, but it does require you to be aware for sure.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
I stopped caring about "dirty" quite awhile ago. I only make sure my defensive guns (ARs, pistols) stay properly lubed.
If I got a 7.62 semi-auto long gun, it would probably be a SCAR 17 and I have an LMT MRP Piston upper, so I've nothing against pistons. But, I shot my DI SBR over 2000rds including a carbine course with no issues, then got bored of the no cleaning at all to see what happens thing and wiped it down.
I do give my defensive guns a quick wipe down and a pass with a bore snake, then re-lube after a shooting session but that's it. I don't detail clean anything anymore, have other things to do with my time.
Army still makes our soldiers get them spotless though...but only because the supply inspections demand it and also that they be stored dry which is counter-productive to reliability and parts longevity of course (when soldiers forget to re-lube before use).
“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” –Chuck Palahnuik
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The reciprocating charging handle isn't an issue with flat-faced barricades -- like the Vtac and the PRS stair-step tie breaker barricades. Issues arise when the position requires the left side of the receiver to be pressed up against something. Match directors generally don't have positions with the right side of the receiver pressing on something, as shells might bounce back into the action.
Some of the stages I've experienced with the left side touching something:
- Shooting from a fork, branch, crotch of a tree. Sometimes the most stable position places the receiver right up against the tree trunk or branch. In such cases I often stabilize the rifle with my left hand, clamping the scope or receiver against the tree.
- For barricades with a flat face (like a wall), I often have my bipod legs deployed straight down, then jam the legs again the barricade's opening or ledge. Sometimes a barricade has a wall, ledge, or posts to the left of the receiver.
- Tank traps can be designed and positioned such that one of the legs is used for stabilization of the left side of the receiver.
- One match had a vertical 6x6 posts. Between the posts were tires bolted to the posts -- tire in vertical position, so you could see through the center hole of the tires. Two of the positions pretty much required placing the left side or the receiver against the post, right side of receiver wedged against the tire. I stabilized the rifle with my left hand, clamping the scope against the post.
- Last month at the Team Safari match, second to last stage. The position required being able to touch a painted dot on a rock, which was roughly the size of 2 or 3 basketballs. Three options available -- place a tripod over the rock and probably a second tripod for rear support (winds would have required secondary support), go prone in a slot between other rocks to the left of the painted rock (must shoot left handed for this position), go prone in a slot to the right of the painted rock (left side of receiver touching painted rock). I chose the 3rd option, with very little wiggle room for a good gun position. Left side of receiver touching the painted rock, parallax knob just barely above the top surface of the painted rock, left bipod leg fully extended, right bipod leg at first setting, big pump pillow to support rifle's buttstock, in prone with my back heavily arched to get into good shooting position. My targets were 12" diamonds at 590-620 yards, up against a cliff across a flat valley, in cross winds of 10-15 mph. A challenging stage for a 223.
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I’ve only shot a few PRS matches. I know they are all different, but I haven’t experienced anything that would cause a side charging handle to be a show stopper. If it were that much of an issue on the left side due to how the stages were setup I'd just swap the handle to the right side. I know guys like Fritz are certainly more experienced PRS shooters than I am though so their knowledge is very valuable.
However, I have taken many different carbine courses with my SCARs, shooting multiple thousands of rounds through both my 16S SBR with factory rails and my 2nd 16S w/16” barrel and the KDG MREX rail. These courses included:
CQB shoot houses with both strong and weak side room clearing around tight corners
Improvised field shooting positions (unsupported/seated/kneeling/etc.)
Shape wall barricade shoots to include stairs/inclines/awkward stances thru various openings
Shooting on the move from/to available near cover drills (tires, fire hydrant, PO box, car door, etc.) on both strong/weak side
Run and gun with cover (barrels and straw bales) from 300 yards up to CQB
Strong/weak side low light shooting with weapon mounted lights
Unknown distance shoots where your support options were the ground, your body, or whatever tree you could find to lean against (no bipods or bags allowed)
In my opinion this is the type of work that the SCARs were designed for and the side charging handle has never been an issue in any of those scenarios. You know it’s there, and it’s easy to adjust your support to account for it. Aftermarket rail options like the KDG MREX (one of their website pictures below) help as they give you more options for support positions on the gun that are well in front of where the charging handle travels. In fact most of these former LEO and SWAT instructors recommend that you DO NOT extend the rifle that far through/past the barrier, regardless of rifle type, for cover/concealment purposes.
Additionally, during malfunction drills I’ve found the side charging handle to be easier and faster to operate than an AR15 rear charging handle. During an induced double feed malfunction (one that can’t be fixed by a tap/rack), I can use my left hand to both cycle the charging handle and activate the bolt hold open using the factory controls without ever having to remove my right hand from the pistol grip. AR’s would require the addition of something like the BAD lever to do this which has its own set of drawbacks.
Several of these courses are 3-day classes with high round counts each day. It's hot and dirty, and the experienced DI AR owners are squirting oil throughout the day to keep things running. I've never added lube or cleaned my SCARs during one of these 3 day classes. So to answer the OP's question, yes the SCARs do run noticeably cleaner and cooler than a DI AR without as much need for constant lubrication. The DI AR's are of course noticeably lighter though.
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.
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