The Superleggera SCAR (originally printed in RECOIL magazine Issue 43)
Self-important elites seek to neuter and castrate our society. Socialist Billionaires and legions of Marxist lawmakers subjugate us to protect us from ourselves. Where amorphous drones bleakly grind though a modern Orwellian Animal Farm. A grey slog of consumerism; predictable, programable, profitable. Boring. Few still stand in defiance to a categorized and cultivated existence. Two gleaming examples of rebellion to this societal emasculation are the superbike and modern sporting rifle. Few things pierce the veil of conformity like a 400 pound, 200 horsepower superbike and a magazine fed semi-automatic rifle. Obedient and feeble autonomations cower in the face of such brutal displays of self-determination. These glorious examples of mechanical mutiny are similar in so many various ways. For example, in direct contrast to their cultural insubordination, they require training and responsibility. They do not suffer idiots lightly. They do not forgive you or others for stupidity. They boldly let the professionals know who the amateurs are very quickly. The immature should be found elsewhere. If you have ridden a superbike with serious intent, you already sense the similarities.
I am not talking about running down the road on your friends CBR. I’m not even talking about when I would blast down the All-American during my lunch breaks at the Q-course. I mean ridden competitively on a racetrack, all out, against others. When a superbike or rifle is set up properly something magical happens. It almost effectively disappears. When things are right, your focus on the tool dissipates. So that you can purely focus on the task at hand or even think ahead. Only the mechanical functions and switchgear are constant reminders. The rifle and superbike synergies between man and machine are unlike anything else. With rifles and superbikes, every place your body touches is important. A single disruption to your body is a disruption to it and vice versa. Bad form equates to bad results. They require a constant refinement of technique and competition to develop good innate habits. The best become so refined in their actions, that speed appears effortless. Superbikes like a rifle, to keep your speed up, you must learn to work and flow with it. Like a rifle, on a superbike, when it matters, second place is first loser.
The theories about what makes a “good” rifle do vary. I’ll start discussing most of what I believe to be true by comparing the superbike this SCAR is modeled after, the Ducati Superleggera. Dreamed up by a hero of mine, Ducati’s CEO, Claudio Domenicali. He is a racer that became CEO, he lives what his company makes. He is often found mingling with customers at events and riding with them at track days, it’s very personal to him. He once described riding a Superleggera on a race track as an “intimate” experience. Some say it, he lives it. The Ducati Superleggera is the epitome of a motorcycle available to us. The concept behind the Superleggera (superlight in Italian) was to reduce all the weight possible, without effecting its handling characteristics or reliability. This was achieved using exotic materials and advanced design. Carbon fiber, magnesium, and titanium are everywhere. They have a ready to race weight of 390 lb. They make well over 200 horsepower with over 100ft/lbs of torque. They cost well over $60,000, if you can find one. Only 500 were made for two years. (side pic of bike) This is why I chose a SCAR to model after the 2014 Ducati Superleggera. It is a European rarity with big power in a light package. Much like the Ducati, the SCAR was designed with material properties integrated throughout the platform in many non-obvious ways. This particular SCAR is painted to match the Ducati Superleggera. With Hi-vis red paint, racing stipes, Italian flag painted controls, and number plates around the selectors, it reflects what I think a SCAR designed by Cladio Domenicali would look like. More than that it embodies a shared design philosophy, as light and fast as possible, without compromising control. This SCAR fully loaded and ready to go is as light as an empty OEM FN SCAR. The frame of a motorcycle seems like a very rigid component. But under high speed video it most definitely flexes. When a motorcycle is leaned over at speed the frame acts much like suspension. It soaks up the little bumps and vibrations along the way. The magnesium frame of the ultra-exclusive Superleggera provides more stiffness to the chassis, that pays dividends under hard use. (frame/ receiver picture) The upper receiver of a SCAR acts in a very similar way. There are waves of energy that move through the upper receiver as the weapon is fired. Small vibrations caused by the operation of the weapon reverberated back and forth along the long axis of the upper receiver.
The FN SCAR is designed in such a way that the upper receiver and the material it is made of, help absorb and dissipate energy. Under advisement of a European I trust, I made absolutely no modifications to the upper receiver. To help with the extra power 7.62x51 brings, A Handl Defense SCAR 25M (military) trigger module is installed. This Magnesium component is very light weight (under 6 ounces). Incorporating lessons learned from an official SOCOM evaluation in 2013, it is 80% as stiff as Aluminum at 60% of the weight. Its additional rigidity also provides more stiffness to combat compounding energy patterns under hard use. Great care has been taken to reduce its already light weight without effecting supporting properties. (TM picture) The throttle of a motorcycle is the most important user interface. Acceleration, deceleration, steering, and stability all are directly tied to the throttle. User error with the throttle is the most common cause for mistakes. The Superleggera offers the latest in throttle responsiveness, offering ride by wire throttle control. This allows for the most important interface to be managed in most precise manner. (handlebar pic) The trigger of the SCAR is its most important user interface. Mistakes made with the gun are most likely found inside the trigger guard. Every SCAR owner knows about the Geissele Super SCAR trigger. It has been a no fail upgrade to any SCAR for almost a decade. I decided to go in a different direction. I decided to use a Shooting Sight Trigger. It is also a two-stage trigger but with some subtle differences to the Geissele. The Shooting Sight is fully adjustable. It can be adjusted to your liking between 4.5 to 5 pounds of pull. If that is not enough, you can adjust the second stage creep. Finally, it reduces hammer swing by about 3 milliseconds.
Another control feature of the Superleggera is the sequential transmission. On the Ducati Superleggera there is an auto shifter that allows for a very brief interruption of engine torque to complete a shift. The auto shifter is critical for smooth changes between gears under acceleration and deceleration. Surges of power can make control difficult, especially while leaned over. Installed in the Superleggera SCAR is the Handl Defense SCAR Selector Switch. Designed with the ability to allow for 90 degree or 45 degree throws between positions. With good serrations and a deep central channel, the Handl Defense selector switch allows for precise control. These functional enhancements allow the user to maintain positive control under any conditions. With gloved or ungloved hands, it offers the best in fire control available for the FN SCAR. (selector switch pic) This much power in such a light weight package has serious acceleration. To slow the Ducati Superleggera, Ducati spared no expense when it comes to the Superleggera’s brakes. Ducati installed Brembo M50 mono block calipers. No other brake manufacturer can match Brembo's racing pedigree. Attached to fully adjustable Brembo master cylinders, the Ducati Superleggera wields the best in production motorcycle brake technology. (brakes pic) When it comes time to stop the SCAR, the Superleggera SCAR uses the KDG Scarging handle. The charging handle on a SCAR is a subject of a lot of contention, since it reciprocates with the bolt carrier group. Aftermarket charging handles have been developed. These vary from light and thin to cumbersome beasts begging to knock the gun out of battery. Recently, Kinetic Development Group developed the Scarging Handle. The downward sweep protects the hand from “busted knuckles” by keeping it away from optic mounts. Scarging Handles protrude from the receiver less than the factory unit, and are profiled to be snag-resistant. (scarging handle pic) Another way to stop the SCAR is to drop the magazine. The Superleggera SCAR is outfitted with the Handl Defense Extended Magazine Release or EMR. Some shooters have difficulty using the index finger to engage the OEM magazine release button. This is also reported while shooting from the prone position, regardless of hand size. The Handl Defense EMR allows for better access to the magazine catch. When coupled with a Handl Defense magazine catch, ambidextrous magazine release is a simpler affair. Additionally, the lower receiver has a carbon fiber filled cutout that allows for better reach tot the controls. (EMR pic) The use of handle bars mounted to the front forks is how the motorcycle’s direction is finely tuned..
Mounted underneath the top clamp for the forks, they transmit feel from the front wheel of the motorcycle. Subtle inputs into the handle bars will tell the rider about how well the front wheel is tracking. If the front tire is sliding, if the acceleration is pushing the bike wide, or the front suspension is causing chatter in the chassis, the handle bars tell all. If you are not in control of the front of the motorcycle, you are not in control. (forks and wheel) The best control for the front of the Superleggera SCAR is the Handl Defense Carbon Fiber Advanced Forerail Assembly. Extremely light weight and with an open profile, it provides multiple advantages to the user. It reduces weight of the platform while reducing weight away from the center of gravity of the rifle. The helps with control of the front of the rifle, making transitions between targets faster and easier. Additionally, the light weight offsets lights and lasers additional weight. The Handl AFR is designed to help evacuate heat from around the barrel and front of the gun. The front of the SCAR can get quite hot, especially with a suppressor. Handl Defense was able to far exceed the cookoff standards for the MK.17 with this design. (Hg pic) I also hand built a carbon fiber pistol grip to provide the lightest and strongest possible control for the dominate hand. The saddle of a highly tuned super bike like the Ducati Superleggera communicates a lot of information to the rider. Much like the handle bars, the saddle will tell the rider when the rear tire is sliding, or if the suspension is upsetting the chassis. What is critical is that if the motorcycle is not set up properly or is being over ridden, the energy pushed through the saddle can physically disrupt the rider. This is a hand built folding Carbon Fiber stock assembly. I wanted to drop whatever weight I could from the far ends of the rifle. This allows for a lighter platform and greater control.
The SCAR has a natural back, down, and right feeling recoil impulse. I altered the angle of the stock to help keep muzzle flip down and lessen this feeling. The Carbon Fiber buttstock assembly is as strong and a good deal lighter. It allows for good index on the shooters shoulder. It is adorned with the Superleggera Girl. This custom artwork is from Andrew Bawidamman, known for his phenomenal blades and pin up artwork. A highly powered superbike like the Ducati Superleggera needs the best in fuel to maximize power. Engine in such high states of tune allow for the maximum in efficiency and horsepower when the best fuels are used. In the Superleggera SCAR, we use a new advanced technology in maximizing performance. This is polymer cased ammunition from True Velocity. It is pushing 168 grain 7.62x51 projectiles from its polymer case, and metal base plate. I tested this ammunition with Caylen Wojick of Kalinsky Consulting. We found that not only did it group phenomenally well, the standard deviation in velocity was on par with the best brass cartridges. What really sets this ammunition apart is how incredibly light it is. 20 rounds of 7.62x51 was only 13 ounces. (pic of ammo) pic of lancer w/ ammo? Ducati has put light weight Marchesini magnesium wheels on the motorcycle. Wheels on a motorcycle are obviously important. Even the slightest inconsistency in mechanical accuracy in the wheels will cause massive vibrations or handling irregularities. The lighter the wheels become, the more any irregularity will show. Wheels that are light and true are critical to putting the Ducati Superleggera right where you want it. Much like wheels, production irregularities in barrels will have massively adverse effects on firearm performance. The barrel is a FN-Herstal 13-inch barrel assembly. What the FN design provides is a light weight profile but enough strength to allow for accuracy for man sized targets past 600 meters. FN Herstal is well known for making some of the best, if not the best mass-produced barrels in the world. Removal of the OEM front sight assembly and adding a Handl Defense gas regulator and gas piston help reduce weight.
Every gram removed from the edges of the gun matter. The exhaust system on a motorcycle is just not an open vent to the atmosphere for spent gasses. On the Ducati Superleggera size, profile, and the length of the tubes are all specifically designed to manage the flow of the gasses through the system. This is directly tied to engine timing and the pulses of the exhaust gases moving out of the engine. Another consideration is the weight. Long and wide tubes of titanium were selected to save on weight and for titanium’s great heat transferring properties. The Superleggera SCAR wears a titanium V Seven muzzle brake. This brake is designed to help control gas expelled from the barrel. With large lateral chambers, the V Seven muzzle brake effectively evacuates gas and controls the muzzle blast. The large chambers do a great job of funneling the gas in a flat manner to provide extra stability to the front of the rifle. Another advantage is the V seven is very light weight. Every ounce that can be reduced at the far end of the gun will allow for more controlled left/right transitions. The Ducati Superleggera has radically light engine internals. The latest in materials and coatings are found all throughout the engine. In order to obtain maximum power, the engine needs to rev as high as possible. Vibration and friction often have then same power robbing effects inside of a engine. So completely smooth engines will create more power and make the motorcycle easier to control. When the vibrations from the engine effect the chassis, motorcycles become harder to control. The SCAR is known to have unique harmonics in its operation. Installed is a Handl Defense universal bolt carrier group for the FN SCAR. It reduces the harmonic interference of recoil energy being transmitted throughout the system. It drops recoil energy distributed into the system and sensitive optics, up to as much as 40%, eliminating the possibility of optic damage. Additionally, it has unique recoil mitigation features that can be tuned to a specific cartridge. This allows for users to change calibers and adjust the system for a large array of commonly used ammunition. A large part of keeping 195 MPH pointed in the right direction is suspension. The suspension manages contact between the motorcycle and the road. If the internal spring rates are too soft, the motorcycle will wallow and wobble. It will feel sloppy and then very when suspension takes a heavy load this energy will be slammed into the chassis and rider. If the suspension is set to hard the slightest bump in road will feel jarring. This can cause chattering and loss of traction. The key is balance between suspension rebound and compression for smooth operation. To help with dealing with loads on the operating group of the SCAR, we have turned to a Handl Defense Recoil Spring. It uses a slightly different compression rate than the OEM spring. To help with energy dissipation I also installed a Mototech Engineering recoil pad. It uses two different compounds to help dissipate energy at different rates. These are made in multiple levels of softness and they are a great help with the softening the felt recoil. To help reduce weight bolts and fasteners on motorcycles are made of lightweight titanium. When viewed from bolt to bolt the difference might only be an ounce. When viewed across the entire motorcycle it equals critical pounds lost. I changed out almost all the bolts and pins in the entire gun. The upper receiver uses the Shooting Sight SCAR upper receiver screw set. The lower receiver uses the Handl Defense lower parts kit. Both part sets are direct OEM parts replacements. On the surface modern sporting rifles and superbikes seem very dissimilar, yet they have many similarities. The mystique of power, the raw intimidation, and the use of the latest in materials are common threads. Uniquely critical to both is the users body index determines effective operation. That the user must combine gross and fine motor movements, at speed, to be effective. This is why my design philosophy is making firearms as light as possible, while centralizing mass, without compromising reliability. This enables the user to better control pitch, yaw, and roll.
One might ask why I used a 4-year-old motorcycle to demonstrate these technologies. The ideas shown here are 4 years old. This gun is a demonstration of admiration for a company I revere, and a CEO I seek to emulate. This firearm is not an idea to be sold, it is a symbol of emotion, a concept of what is, and what could be. A raw display of two things near to my heart that are far more similar than they appear. “Ducati” and Ducati symbiology are trademarks of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. headquartered in Bologna, Italy. Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. is the exclusive holder of all rights on Ducati registered trademarks and logos present. Their use does not imply license for resale or endorsement of any item by Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. The use of the trademarks and logos is for fair use artistic purposes only.