Country of origin
1 100 mm
Cyclic rate of fire
Range of effective fire
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.
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;
Fitted with a shorter barrel and a folding skeletal stock;
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;
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;
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
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
FAL built under license in Austria. Though this is a light
barrel model, it is fitted with a bipod like the heavy barrel model;
This German-made variant, used for a time by West Germany's
border guards, also has a bipod;
US Army designation for the FAL, while it was under
evaluation in the early 1950s;
FAL build under license in South Africa;
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
a semi-automatic model of the FAL. It lacks full-auto mode.
This weapon is manufactured in the US for the civilian market.
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