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Ezra Rogers
Ezra Rogers

The FN FAL Battle Rifle

The FAL (a French acronym for Fusil Automatique Léger (English: "Light Automatic Rifle")), is a battle rifle designed in Belgium by Dieudonné Saive and manufactured by FN Herstal (simply known as FN).

The FN FAL Battle Rifle

During the Cold War the FAL was adopted by many countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), with the notable exception of the United States. It is one of the most widely used rifles in history, having been used by more than 90 countries.[4][page needed]It is chambered in 7.6251mm NATO, although originally designed for the intermediate .280 British. The British Commonwealth variant of the FAL was redesigned from FN's metrical FAL into British imperial units and was produced under license as the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle.

In 1946, the first FAL prototype was completed. It was designed to fire the intermediate 7.9233mm Kurz cartridge developed and used by the forces of Germany during World War II with the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. After testing this prototype in 1948, the British Army urged FN to build additional prototypes, including one in bullpup configuration, chambered for their new .280 British (743mm) caliber intermediate cartridge.[5] After evaluating the single bullpup prototype, FN decided to return instead to their original, conventional design for future production.[5][why?]

This decision was later rescinded after the Labour Party lost the 1951 General Election and Winston Churchill returned as Prime Minister. It is believed[by whom?] that there was a quid pro quo agreement between Churchill and U.S. President Harry Truman in 1952 that the British accept the .30 Light Rifle cartridge as NATO standard in return for the U.S. acceptance of the FN FAL as NATO standard.[7] The .30 Light Rifle cartridge was later standardized as the 7.62 mm NATO. However, the U.S. insisted on continued rifle tests. The FAL chambered for the .30 Light Rifle went up against the redesigned T25 (now redesignated as the T47), and an M1 Garand variant, the T44. Eventually, the T44 won, becoming the M14. However, in the meantime, most other NATO countries were evaluating and selecting the FAL.[citation needed]

Formally introduced by its designer Dieudonné Saive in 1951, and produced two years later, the FAL has been described as the "Right Arm of the Free World".[8] The FAL battle rifle has its Warsaw Pact counterpart in the AKM, each being fielded by dozens of countries and produced in many of them. A few, such as Israel and South Africa, manufactured and issued both designs at various times. Unlike the Soviet AKM assault rifle, the FAL utilized a heavier full-power rifle cartridge.

The FAL operates by means of a gas-operated action very similar to that of the Russian SVT-40.[citation needed] The gas system is driven by a short-stroke, spring-loaded piston housed above the barrel, and the locking mechanism is what is known as a tilting breechblock. To lock, it drops down into a solid shoulder of metal in the heavy receiver much like the bolts of the Russian SKS carbine and French MAS-49 series of semi-automatic rifles. The gas system is fitted with a gas regulator behind the front sight base, allowing adjustment of the gas system in response to environmental conditions. The piston system can be bypassed completely, using the gas plug, to allow for the firing of rifle grenades and manual operation.[9]

For field stripping, the FAL can be opened. During opening the rifle rotates around a two-piece pivot lock and pin assembly located between the trigger guard and magazine well to give access to the action and piston system. This opening method causes a suboptimal iron sight line as the rear sight element is mounted on the lower receiver and the front sight element of the sight line is mounted on the upper receiver/barrel and hence are fixed to two different movable subassemblies. The sight radius for the FAL 50.00 and FAL 50.41 models is 553 mm (21.8 in) and for the 50.61 and FAL 50.63 models 549 mm (21.6 in).[citation needed]

FAL rifles have also been manufactured in both light and heavy-barrel configurations, with the heavy barrel intended for automatic fire as a section or squad light support weapon. Most heavy barrel FALs are equipped with bipods, although some light barrel models were equipped with bipods, such as the Austrian StG 58 and the German G1, and a bipod was later made available as an accessory.[citation needed]

Among other 7.6251mm NATO battle rifles at the time, the FAL had relatively light recoil, due to the user-adjustable gas system being able to be tuned via a regulator in fore-end of the rifle, which allowed for excess gas which would simply increase recoil to bleed off. The regulator is an adjustable gas port opening that adjusts the rifle to function reliably with various propellant and projectile specific pressure behavior, making the FAL not ammunition specific. In fully automatic mode, however, the shooter receives considerable abuse from recoil, and the weapon climbs off-target quickly, making automatic fire only of marginal effectiveness.[11] Many military forces using the FAL eventually eliminated full-automatic firearms training in the light-barrel FAL.[citation needed]

Folding-stock, shorter 436 mm (17.16 inch) barrel, paratrooper version, folding charging handle. This shorter version was requested by Belgian paratroopers. The upper receiver was not cut for a carry handle, the charging handle on the 50.63 was a folding model similar to the L1A1 rifles, which allowed the folded-stock rifle to fit through the doorway of their C-119 Flying Boxcar when worn horizontally across the chest.

The Sturmgewehr 58 (StG 58) is a selective fire battle rifle. The first 20,000 were manufactured by FN Herstal Belgium, but later the StG 58 was manufactured under licence by Steyr-Daimler-Puch (now Steyr Mannlicher), and was formerly the standard rifle of the Österreichisches Bundesheer (Austrian Federal Army). It is essentially a user-customized version of the FAL and is still in use, mainly as a drill weapon in the Austrian forces.[citation needed] It was selected in a 1958 competition, beating the Spanish CETME and American Armalite AR-10.

Most StG 58s featured a folding bipod, and differ from the FAL by using a plastic stock rather than wood in order to reduce weight in the later production rifles (although some of the early FN-built production rifles did come with wooden stocks). The rifle can be distinguished from its Belgian and Argentine counterparts by its combination flash suppressor and grenade launcher. The foregrip was a two-part steel pressing.

Steyr-built StG 58s had a hammer forged barrel. Some StG 58s had modifications made to the fire mode selector so that the fully automatic option was removed, leaving the selector with only safe and single-shot positions. The StG 58 was replaced by the Steyr AUG (designated StG 77) in 1977, although the StG 58 served with many units as the primary service rifle through the mid-1980s.[citation needed]

A semi-automatic, twin-barrel variant chambered in the 5.56mm "Duplex" round during Project SALVO. This weapon was designed by Stefan Kenneth Janson who previously designed the EM-2 rifle.[citation needed]

Early versions of the DSA FAL included a 4140 billet upper receiver, machined from a 19-pound block of 4140 steel, and a lower receiver milled from a block of 7075 T6 aircraft grade aluminum.[13] The barrels were provided by Badger and were double stress relieved, cryogenically treated, and had an 11 degree target crown. These barrels featured broach cut rifling, were lapped by hand, and made from 4140 carbon steel. Barrel twist was 1:11. Rifles produced during the Federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004 included integrally machined muzzle brakes that served to reduce muzzle rise and recoil.[14] Further more, these muzzle brakes added additional length to barrels to achieve the 16.5 inches that would otherwise have been considered short-barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act. As such, DSA FAL barrels that were effectively 14 inches, could be legally considered 16.5 inches due to the integral muzzle brakes.

Along with the IA2, MD-2 and MD-3 assault rifles, Brazil produces the M964A1/Pelopes (Special Operations Platoon), with an 11" barrel, 3-point sling and a Picatinny rail with a tactical flashlight and sight.[21]

Brazilian Army officially used the FAP (Fuzil Automático Pesado, or heavy automatic rifle) as its squad automatic weapon until 2013/2014, when the FN Minimi was adopted to replace it. The Marine Corps and Air Force also adopted the Minimi to replace the FAP.[22]

The first German FALs were from an order placed in late 1955 or early 1956, for several thousand FN FAL so-called "Canada" models with wood furniture and the prong flash hider. These weapons were intended for the Bundesgrenzschutz (border guard) and not the newly formed Bundeswehr (army), which at the time used M1 Garands and M1/M2 carbines. In November 1956, however, West Germany ordered 100,000 additional FALs, designated the G1, for the army. FN made the rifles between April 1957 and May 1958. The G1 user modifications included light metal handguards and an integral folding bipod, similarly to the Austrian version.[27] Neither Germany nor Austria adopted the heavy-barreled FAL, instead using the MG3 (the modernized MG42 in 7.6251mm NATO) as its general purpose machine gun (GPMG).[27]

Based on political and economical considerations, but also national pride,[28] the Germans aimed at a weapon they could produce domestically and turned their sights to the Spanish CETME Modelo 58 rifle.[29] Working with the Germans, the Spanish adopted the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, and a slightly modified version of the CETME went on to be manufactured in West Germany by Heckler & Koch (H&K) as the G3 rifle, beginning production in 1959. The G3 would become the second most popular battle rifle in the Free World, "used by some 50 nations and license-manufactured in a dozen".[28] Without the G3, the FAL may have completely dominated the militaries of the West during the Cold War.[28] 041b061a72


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