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Automatic rifle


The FN FAL battle rifle is one of the most commonplace firearms ever manufactured

Country of origin Belgium
Entered service 1953
Caliber 7.62x51 mm
Weight 4.45 kg
Length 1 100 mm
Barrel length 533 mm
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 700 rpm
Magazine capacity 20 rounds
Sighting range 600 m
Range of effective fire 600 m


   A product of Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, the FAL (Fusil Automatique Léger or light automatic rifle) was one of the first assault rifles ever manufactured, though it is widely rated as a battle rifle.

   Its development began in 1946, with the first prototypes chambered in the German 7.92×33 mm Kurz cartridge. At the request of the British government in the late 1940s, FN briefly manufactured FAL prototypes chambered in the .280 British (7x43mm) round, including a Bullpup version (also at Britain's request). However, both the Bullpup model and the .280 round were both dropped in 1951 in favor of a more conventional configuration firing the US .30 Light Rifle cartridge, which is known today as the 7.62x51mm NATO round. Despite FN compromising under significant pressure from Washington DC, the FAL was turned-down by the US military in favor of the Springfield Armory 44 Rifle (which entered service a the M14), but FN had no difficulty in convincing most NATO countries to adopt their weapon. The resulting 7.62 mm FAL was formally adopted by the Belgian armed forces in 1953, and entered large-scale production for export in 1954.

   The FAL's internal workings became very similar to those of the SAFN-49 rifle, which was not an accident; both weapons' design teams were led by Dieudonne Saive, who applied his ideas and experience to both projects. The action is gas operated, with a tilting breechblock and a short-stroke gas piston. The receiver was originally manufactured from forged steel, but FN switched to production of cast steel receivers in 1973 as a cost-cutting measure. A gas regulator is included, which allows the gas tube to be shut-off, so special blank cartridges can be loaded and fired to launch rifle grenades from the muzzle.

   The furniture of the FAL is usually wooden, though many have been manufactured or back-fitted with composite furniture. Unusually for an assault rifle, a carrying handle is provided, which is folded down over the left side when not in use. Some models are fitted with scopes or bipods, but these are not standard equipment. The FAL feeds from a 20-round detachable box magazine, though 30-round magazines also exist. These are used by heavy-barreled versions, although the magazines are interchangeable.

   There were so many FALs manufactured, and they were so widely distributed, that they were known during the Cold War as "The right arm of the Free World". It has been used by over 90 nations for over 60 years, and fired in anger during more than 25 conflicts across the globe. More than 3 Million FALs were manufactured. The list of current and former operators includes (and is likely not limited to); Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Columbia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Dubai, Ecuador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Katanga, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Muscat, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Rhodesia, Rwanda, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Santa Domingo, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Upper Volta, Venezuela, and Zaire.

   The FAL and its variants are still in production, and are still offered. Prices vary widely, depending on the make and model.




   Heavy barrel FAL. Automatic rifle variant of the FAL, fitted with a heavy barrel and a bipod. This is essentially a light machine gun built around the fame philosophy as the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. Designated as C2A1 by Canada and L2A1 by Australia. It was used as a squad automatic weapon;

   FAL Paratrooper. Fitted with a shorter barrel and a folding skeletal stock;

   L1A1 SLR. The L1A1 SLR (Self Loading Rifle) is essentially an FAL without a selective fire capability, which were used by the UK from 1954 to 1994. A few remain in the British inventory, but almost all were sold abroad or destroyed;

   IMBEL MD97. A Brazilian variant of the FAL issued to the Brazilian military and police forces from 1997, with many new features and accessories. It is chambered in 5.56 mm NATO, and has a folding stock and provisions for mounting a 40 mm grenade launcher;

   ParaFAL. A lightened version of the FAL with a folding stock, manufactured in Brazil by IMBEL. It was issued to the Brazilian Armed Forces from 2009 onward, as a stop-gap for the IMBEL MD97-A2 rifle;

   FN SCAR. Possibly the most advanced series of assault rifles to emerge from the FAL family, the SCAR is manufactured in numerous configurations, and three different chamberings;

   Olin/Winchester Salvo Rifle. This was an experimental double-barrel weapon developed for the US Army's Project SALVO in the 1950s. It did not enter production;

   StG58. FAL built under license in Austria. Though this is a light barrel model, it is fitted with a bipod like the heavy barrel model;

   G1. This German-made variant, used for a time by West Germany's border guards, also has a bipod;

   T48. US Army designation for the FAL, while it was under evaluation in the early 1950s;

   R1. FAL build under license in South Africa;

   LWRC REPR. The REPR (Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle) is an American-made tactical rifle based on the FAL pattern. It has many radical new design features, and thus the family resemblance is not obvious;

   SA 58, a semi-automatic model of the FAL. It lacks full-auto mode. This weapon is manufactured in the US for the civilian market.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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Video of the FN FAL assault rifle

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