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[Builds] Mk17 MOD 0: Cloning America’s Battle Rifle

Does the perfect battle rifle exist, and is it the Mk17?

Maybe? I don’t know.

I do know that the FN MK17S is a hell of a platform and a ton of fun, if your bank account can survive it. 

Mk17 Full Build
Mk17 Full Build

Let’s go through a little history of America’s latest battle rifle and how you as a regular civilian can clone it.

Table of Contents


History of the Mk17

The history of the SCAR, or Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, family of firearms is pretty interesting. In 2004 SOCOM announced that it wanted a new family of assault rifles for special operations use.

They needed this new platform to be light, ergonomic, reliable, and modular. SOCOM also needed these new rifles to be available in both 5.56, and 7.62×51. 

MK17 USAF CCT Training with partner forces in Europe, 2012
USAF CCT Training with partner forces in Europe, 2012

After years of trials FN eventually won the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle contract and the first rifles arrived at the 75th Ranger Regiment in April of 2009. Initially, SOCOM placed an order for both the 5.56 SCAR-L(Mk16), and the 7.62 SCAR-H(Mk17), only to later cancel the SCAR-L.

Instead, SOCOM bought 5.56 conversion kits to use in their SCAR-H’s as needed. 

Mk17 US Army Ranger in Afghanistan
US Army Ranger in Afghanistan with a Mk17

Today the Mk17 is in use by Special Operations of every branch of the US Military, as well as twenty other countries worldwide.

While the Mk17 has not been mass adopted in the US Military, and it will not replace the M4, it has filled the gap left by the M14 providing special operations units with a mid to long range full powered caliber battle rifle.

Build List 

Like most clone builds this build is not 100% “clone correct,” I did have to cut a few corners on some smaller parts, and some parts are simply not available to the civilian market. 

MK17 75th Ranger Regiment in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan, 2013
75th Ranger Regiment in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan, 2013

For this build I wanted to replicate a modern Special Forces Mk17. 

As far as the rifle itself, Mk17’s are among the easiest to clone, but with that ease comes with a hefty price tag.

The rifle is an FN Mk17S, basically identical to the military Mk17, just missing the fun switch. (Thanks Ronald Regan) 

at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

After paying the crown its $200 for a tax stamp, I replaced the standard 16” barrel with a factory FN 13” Barrel

at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The factory trigger is passable, but definitely not amazing, so I replaced it with a Geissele Super SCAR Trigger.

Mk17 Full Build
Mk17 Full Build

The muzzle device is an FN SCAR 17 3-Prong Flash Hider. It interfaces with the new FN suppressors that SOCOM is currently using, unfortunately for us, FN does not sell this suppressor to the civilian market. 

The custom UID sticker on the left side of the receiver is from the good folks at Carolina Laser Works



The optic I’m using for this build is an Elcan Specter 1.5-6x with 7.62 BDC. The correct optic for this build would be an SU-230 marked Elcan in FDE, but those are hard to come by and can cost more than the Mk17 itself. 

at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I have an Insight MRDS red dot sitting on top of the Elcan, this makes passive aiming with night vision much more practical. These are discontinued by Insight Technology so your best bet to finding one is eBay or forums. 

Mk17 Full Build
Mk17 Full Build

The laser I have for this build is an Insight ATPIAL-C, for use with night vision. An LA-5 would be more correct for this build, but I elected to use one of my more affordable civilian lasers on this build since Mk17s have a nasty habit of destroying PEQs with their violent recoil impulse. 

at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The flashlight was definitely the hardest part for me to find. It is an Insight WMX200 with non-rotational body. These lights have been out of production for several years so finding them can be a challenge.

Insight WMX200
Insight WMX200

What is even more challenging is the price they go for these days. If you really want a WMX for a clone build, a good condition tan WMX200 can run anywhere from $700-$900.

They aren’t exceptionally good at anything, but a lot of people want them for their various clone builds and there are just not that many on the market.

MK17 Special Forces on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan
Special Forces on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan

The vertical grip is a Tango Down Vertical Grip, it is a pain in the ass to install but rock-solid once in place. 

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Lastly is the Atlas V8 Bipod, this is my go-to bipod for whenever I know I’ll be doing any bench or long-range shooting. 

at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The total price tag for this monster of a rifle setup is about $8,500 if you were to buy everything new at current market value. If you take your time, and dig for deals you could assemble it for much cheaper than that.

MK17 USAF Combat Controller
USAF Combat Controller from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron in Afghanistan


This build has taken me well over a year to complete. Hours of digging through pictures, tracking down the hard to get parts, and eventually painting it to my liking.

While clone builds are trying to replicate military service rifles, I feel that at the end of it they are much more personal to you than most other rifle projects. 

MK 17 Special Forces gear room in Afghanistan
Special Forces gear room in Afghanistan

You cannot walk into any gun shop that I know of and find all the parts needed for just about any modern US military “clone build”. Much like restoring an old car in your garage, the process of building and tinkering on it is as much fun as the finished project. 

If you are looking to connect with other clone nerds, check out the CRA Facebook group. It is the largest clone group on Facebook and most members are happy to answer questions and point people in the right direction for their own builds!

Have you ever built a clone gun? Planning to? We wanna know which gun, what parts, and how it’s going, so leave a comment below! Want another cool build? Check out this super sweet SOCOM-16 Paratrooper Build!

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11 Leave a Reply

  • Justin

    Beautiful Scar 17s build! I just got one myself and found this to be very informative (and timely) on how I would like to setup mine. Won't say that I would pay for clone parts, especially nowadays, but it's cool to see how it can look completed. I'm still debating the Elcan Spectre Dr 1.5-6x for closer to clone or the Vortex Razor HD Gen II 1-6x for the cost/value.

    August 12, 2020 2:51 pm
    • Justin Lu

      And I live in CA, so most of those parts are prohibited for me. At least that's a good reason for me to justify spending and not spending on components.

      August 12, 2020 2:54 pm
  • Fyrfytr998

    Other than "you can" and having the bank account to humble brag. I legit don't get the need for non operators to clone a weapon. Some dudes take their LARPing way too seriously.

    August 9, 2020 3:03 pm
    • Joshua Rowinski

      Kind of like how serious FUDDS like you take their trolling.

      August 9, 2020 6:01 pm
      • Charlie

        Actually, Fyrfytr is right. People are not trolls or Fudds simply because you disagree with them. Nobody said you should not be able to clone, just that it can get silly and excessive. Sensitive?

        August 10, 2020 7:01 am
        • Donald

          Sounds like you want one and cant justify price. So you make try and make people that can sound less than you.

          August 10, 2020 11:05 am
          • Fyrfytr998

            No. That rifle is butt ugly for one. Two, you're right, I can't justify that price when I can build a better rifle for a less. Three, if my little LARPing joke offended someone, they might want to grow some skin, because theirs is a little thin.

            August 10, 2020 2:46 pm
          • Donald

            Spending more on a car than what it's worth to keep it original. Buying pointless skins in videos games. Drinking over priced drinks at the bar. Driving crazy in rush hour traffic to end up at the same red light. People do ridiculous things for enjoyment.

            August 14, 2020 12:22 am
        • Fyrfytr998

          Very sensitive it would seem.

          August 10, 2020 2:26 pm
    • Derrick

      It's a lot like building or restoring classic cars. Why restore a 1950 Ford F1 truck when a used newer truck is far more practical and readily available?

      August 17, 2020 4:31 pm
    • Shepherd of Fire

      The difference, though, is that LARPers won't be called into medieval combat anytime soon. They do not contribute to national readiness. By building and operating one of the best modern rifle designs in the world you may be gaining knowledge that could be useful one day. If 5#!÷ hits the fan, any male between 18 and 40 or so will be called into service. That is why 2A defends individuals and the nation. Firearms enthusiasts are the militia. They are already ready already. Hope it never happens, but be prepared.
      Great build, by the way. I would have kept the longer barrel, though. Short barreled 308s recoil fantastically!
      And besides, how would you get to increase skill with something if you never try. And, the resale value on it would pretty good, especially in the current market, he could sell it and build a few good AR10s, so........ Ha!

      August 25, 2020 1:04 pm
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