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.
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.
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.