Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guns I Wish I Had (part 4) FN FAL 7.62x51mm

Known as the Right Arm of the Free World, the Fabrique National de Herstal Fusil Automatique Leger( Light Automatic Rifle), or the FN FAL, is one of the greatest weapons produced in the post -WWII era.

And I want one.

Used by most of NATO (excluding mainly the USA) and in dozens of countries around the world. It got its name by being the default weapon of almost everyone who was not a client or puppet state of the Soviet Union. The FAL, while considered obsolete, is still in use around the world, especially in Africa. The 7.62mm NATO cartridge has some advantages over the lighter and faster 5.56mm and 5.45mm that have replaced it, namely range, penetration and power.

West German and US troops in Korea

The FAL was designed by FN following WWII as experience had shown that a detachable magazine -fed, self loading rifle was necessary to replace most of the bolt action guns and submachine guns that had been used. The adoption of the standard NATO 7.62x51 ammunition made it clear what cartridge the FAL would be produced in. ( although the original design was chambered in the StG 44's 7.92x33 Kurz cartridge)
A adjustable gas system was included, making it possible for soldiers in the field to control the amount of gas to compensate for environmental conditions (or an extremely dirty weapon) and the port could be closed completely for firing rifle grenades.

US Marine performing familiarization drills with a British L1A1 in Kuwait, 1991

There have been several variants of the basic FAL, some militaries opted for a semi auto only version, like the U.K.'s L1A1 SLR, as controlling a battle rifle on full auto is extremely difficult. Folding stock variants for paratroopers, versions with a bipod, even scoped designated marksman versions have been made.
Heavy Barrel versions were made for the Squad Automatic Rifleman position, although the recoil of full auto fire is reported to be considerable, to say the least.

In recent years, the many FALs have been shipped to the USA as parts kits and made into semi auto rifles by Century Arms and gunsmiths and have received even more attention and modification, as you can see from examples below.
FALs are still produced by several companies, most notably DSArms.


  1. It is simply the BEST battlefield rifle EVER made. Way better in or out of action than the meagre 5.56 that replaced it.

    I have used both in action in Southern Africa, as well as 7.62x39 and 7.62x54R.
    My first choice would always be FN-FAL, second choice 5.56, third choice AK-47.
    Best choice for SAW type weapon - PKM in 7.62x54R. It outguns the 7.62 Nato and is virtually indestructable. Rate of fire is not great though. If you can really reach out accurately to 2000m, you don't need a lot of lead flying downrange.

    Excellent article. The FN-FAL is still made under license by a number of countries in metric and imperial variants - Brazil and India are two still manufacturing them.

    It looks like FN-Herstal have changed to the more compact Kalashnikov/Stoner type design without having all the springs and things in the butt for their new offerings. Check out their 5Seven for a beautiful piece of equipment. It will NEVER be legal here in South Africa though. Pity...

  2. The FN FAL that our soldiers here Brazil the only gun that is most acurate than a M16A3 an most reliable than a AK-47 a weights twice the two weapons above togheter, man the FAL is scary of so heavy

  3. There were no Germans in the Korean War, and neither of those soldiers is American.
    I'd guess they are Belgian.

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  5. Thanks, this is just something I do to amuse myself and hopefully others. That, and my wife does not want to hear about FALs. :)