By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the FN-FAL rifle. Many people who are “in the know” consider this weapon to be the ultimate development of the battle rifle in a serious caliber, even better than the U. S. M-14. By “in the know” I am speaking of, among others, a number of South African men who have a significant amount of been there done that time. This weapon has been called “the free world’s right arm.”
This rifle was developed beginning in 1952 and came on line in 1954. It borrowed the tilting-block locking action from the SAFN-49, which was a fixed magazine weapon.
The initial prototypes of this weapon were chambered in 7.92 Kurz, a German military around originally developed in WWII for the first real “assault rifle”, the StG44. The Brits looked seriously at it, but wanted a round with more punch. They built prototypes in a proprietary .280 cartridge the Brits were looking at, but then along came the 7.62 Nato round, which had less overall length than the 30-06 but more length and more punch than the .280.
On March 14, 1952, preliminary tests were held by the Americans and they found that the American prototypes did not work worth a diddly damn but the FN-FAL ran like a dream. Eventually we ended up with two flavors of this weapon, and “inch” pattern and a “metric” pattern. Most of the parts are not interchangeable.
The stock rifle uses a 20 round magazine firing out of a 21 inch barrel. The weapon is 43 inches in length. It has an easily adjustable gas valve to fine tune for various ammo, and to utilize blank rounds to launch rifle grenades. The weapon is easy for the user to clean and do routine maintenance.
The rifle has also been manufactured in a semi-auto only version that is much sought after by serious shooters. I am not much of a rifleman myself but I do wish I had bought one years ago when they were easily available and not hellishly expensive.