Educational Zone #64 – Great Firearms – The FN-FAL, The Right Arm of the Free World

The FN-FAL is a 7.62 X 51 NATO, self-loading, selective fire, battle rifle. The letters stand for Fabrique Nationale – Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle), or as it is more commonly known, the FN-FAL or simply as the FAL.

This fine rifle was designed by the Belgian company FN, during the cold war. It has been adopted by over 17 major armies for use as their primary battle rifle. It has many variations and minor differences in construction.

It was used by so many western countries that it was given the nickname, “The Right Arm of the Free World.”

n fact, the US considered it as a possible replacement for the M-1 Garand and it was in competition with the M-14 (T-44).

Several possible calibers were considered for this rifle, but it was finally standardized in 7.62 X 51 NATO.

Tman and I both have FALs based on Australian kits with Imbel receivers which take metric magazines.

Ours are hybrid rifles (instead of mongrels) and they are semi-automatic only.

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Ours have an after market muzzle break, which I don’t particularly like.

I always thought the original flash hider on the FAL looked very nice.

But the laws of the time required the importers to change the flash hider for this muzzle break.

I will, however, freely admit that the muzzle break works wonderfully well. It is very loud, but it reduces recoil significantly.

That, along with the weight of this rifle, makes for a very comfortable rifle to shoot, with very little recoil.

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The rifles come with magazines of up to 30 rounds, but the 20 rounder is most common.

The mags are also fairly easy to find and reasonably priced.

They are “rocked” onto the mag well, much like an M1A or an AK rifle.

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I have never shot a full-auto FAL, but here’s Tman shooting an Israeli full auto example at a machine gun shoot in Alabama.

It took weeks to get the grin off his face.

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One of the strengths of this system is the ease of disassembly for cleaning.

You simple pull back on the release and the action breaks open…

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….and the bolt and carrier can be pulled out by the aptly named “rat’s tail”.

You can also see the sand grooves cut into the bolt carrier to help the rifle run in sandy conditions without jamming.

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Then you turn the gas valve 270 degrees…

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and it pops out…

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….allowing the removal of the operating rod and spring.

That’s it!

You can do a very good field cleaning from there.

It goes back together just as easily.

I hate to admit that as much as I enjoy shooting my M-1 Garand and M1A, they are a real pain to fully disassemble and clean.

The FAL is so easy, it seems like nothing.

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The rifles are plenty accurate enough for doing their job.

Ours eat just about anything we feed them without a hiccup.

And, the rounds you send down range are real battle rifle rounds.

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The carrying handle on these rifles is one of the few that I’ve seen that really work well.

I find that it is just natural to carry the rifle by the handle.

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And it folds right out of the way when not in use.

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Ours have a folding charging handle that I like.

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It folds out of the way when not in use.

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Tman’s rifle has wood furniture which he likes.

Mine has the standard plastic furniture.

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The sights are well made and tough enough to stand up to rough treatment.

Here I am shooting a group at 50 yards.

Here I am shooting a group at 50 yards.

And here's the group.

And here’s the group.

Mine on bottom with 10 rounds and Tman’s on top with 5 rounds.

I would not feel “under-gunned” carrying an FAL into a fight.

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Conclusions:

They are fine battle rifles.

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