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Firearm Infobox
Name, Image, type, origin
Name FN FAL
Image 300px
The original folding stock FAL 50.00
Type Battle rifle
Place of origin Flag of Belgium (civil) Belgium
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Service history
In service 1953—present
Used by See Production and use
Wars Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Six-Day War
Portuguese Colonial War
the South African Border War
Northern Ireland Troubles
Rhodesian Bush War
Falklands War
Gulf War
Both Chechen Wars
Balkan Wars
Production history
Designer Dieudonne Saive, Ernest Vervier
Designed 1947-1953
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN)
Produced 1953—
Number
Variants See Variants
Specifications
Weight 4.0–4.45 kg (8.8–9.8 lb)
Length 1,090 mm (43 in)
Width {{{width}}}
Height {{{height}}}
Barrel length 533 mm (21 in)
Diameter {{{diameter}}}
Crew
Cartridge 7.62x51mm NATO
Caliber {{{caliber}}}
Action Gas-operated, tilting breechblock
Muzzle velocity 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)
Effective range 500 meters
Maximum range
Other identifying characteristics
Wood parts (Y/N) {{{wood}}}
Common color {{{color}}}
Imprint {{{imprint}}}

The Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle) or FAL is a 7.62x51 NATO self-loading, selective fire rifle produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN) during the Cold War, and adopted by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. It has also been adopted by many other nations for their armies as well as being a popular civilian rifle for hunting and sport shooting. The FN FAL was also produced under license in many of the adopting countries. Also because of its prevalence and widespread use among the armed forces of many Western and other non-Communist countries during the Cold War, it was nicknamed "the right arm of the Free World".


HistoryEdit

In 1947, the first FN FAL prototype was completed. It was designed to fire the intermediate 7.92x33mm Kurz cartridge developed and used by the forces of Nazi Germany during World War II (see StG44 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 calibre intermediate cartridge. After evaluating the single bullpup prototype, FN decided to return instead to their original, conventional design for future production.

In 1950, the United Kingdom presented the redesigned FN rifle and the British EM-2, both in .280 British calibre, to the United States for comparison testing against the favored United States Army design of the time - Earle Harvey's T25. It was hoped that a common cartridge and rifle could be standardized for issue to the armies of all NATO member countries. After this testing was completed, U.S. Army officials suggested that FN should redesign their rifle to fire the U.S. prototype '.30 Light Rifle' cartridge. FN decided to hedge their bets and cast their lot with the U.S., given that the UK appeared to be favoring their own EM-2.

File:ModernparaFAL.JPG

In 1951, FN even made a deal with the U.S. that they could produce the FAL royalty-free in the U.S. This decision appeared to be correct when the British unilaterally decided to adopt the EM-2 and .280 British cartridge in the very same month. This decision was later rescinded after the Labour Party was ousted from control of Parliament and Winston Churchill returned as Prime Minister. It is believed 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 U.S. acceptance of the FN FAL as NATO standard. The .30 Light Rifle cartridge was in fact 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 out, becoming the M14. However, in the mean time, most other NATO countries were evaluating and selecting the FAL.

FN created what is possibly the classic post-war battle rifle. Formally introduced by its designers Dieudonne Saive and Ernest Vervier in 1951, and produced two years later, it has been described as the "right arm of the Free World." The FAL battle rifle has its Warsaw Pact counterpart in the AK-47, 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 Russian AK-47 assault rifle, the FAL utilized a heavier full-power rifle cartridge. In the West, FAL's primary competitor was the German Heckler & Koch G3.

The FAL operates by means of a gas-operated action very similar to that of the Russian SVT-40. 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 like the bolts of the Russian SKS carbine and French MAS-49 series of semi-automatic rifles. The FAL's magazine capacity ranges from 5 to 30 rounds, with most magazines holding 20 rounds.

Despite using a full-power .30 cartridge, the FAL's recoil is relatively light. This is due mainly to the rifle's weight, but also to its gas-operated design. In fully-automatic mode, however, the shooter receives considerable abuse from recoil, and the weapon climbs off- target quickly. Most military forces adopting the FAL eventually eliminated full-automatic firearms training in the light-barrel FAL.

Production and useEdit

File:Uruguayan FN FAL.JPEG

The FAL was made by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN) in Liège, Belgium and under license in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom (as the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle or SLR), South Africa (where it was known as the R1), Brazil, Australia, Canada, Israel, Austria and Argentina. Mexico assembled FN-made components into complete rifles at its national arsenal in Mexico City. The FAL was also exported to many other countries, such as Venezuela, where a small-arms industry produces some basically unchanged variants, as well as ammunition. By modern standards, one disadvantage of the FAL is the amount of work which goes into machining the complex bolt and bolt carrier. Additionally, the movement of the tilting bolt mechanism tends to return differently with each shot, affecting inherent accuracy of the weapon. The FAL's receiver is normally machined, whilst most other modern military rifles use quicker stamping or casting techniques. Modern FALs have many improvements over those produced by FN and others in the mid-20th-century (for comparison, see a photo of a modern Para-style FAL).

While no production numbers are known, it is estimated that FAL production (in all of its variants) has exceeded 1,000,000 units.

===Flag of Argentina Argentina

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The Argentine Armed Forces officially adopted the FN FAL in 1955, but the first FN made examples did not arrive in Argentina until the autumn of 1958. Subsequently, in 1960, licensed production of FALs began and continued until the mid to late 1990s, when production ceased.

Argentine FALs were produced by the government-owned arsenal FM (Fabricaciones Militares) at the Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles "Domingo Matheu" (FMAP "DM")in Fray Luis Beltrán, located a few miles north of Rosario. The acronym "FAL" was kept, its translation being "Fusil Automatico Liviano", (Light Automatic Rifle). Production weapons included "Standard" and "Para" (folding buttstock) versions. Military rifles were produced with the full auto fire option. The rifles were usually known as the FM FAL, for the "Fabricaciones Militares" brand name. (FN and FM have a long standing licensing and manufacturing agreement.) A heavy barrel version, known as the FAP (Fusil Automatico Pesado, or heavy automatic rifle) was also produced for the armed forces, to be used as a squad automatic weapon. The Argentine 'heavy barrel' FAL, also used by several other nations, was found to frequently experience a failure to feed after firing two rounds from a full magazine when in automatic mode.

An FAL offspring chambering the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge was developed in the early 1980s; it was dubbed the FARA 83 (Fusil Automatico Republica Argentina). The design borrowed features from the FAL such as the gas system and folding stock. It seems to have been also influenced to some degree by other Western rifles (the Beretta AR70/223, M16, and the Galil). An estimated quantity of between 2,500 and 3,000 examples were produced for field testing, but military spending cuts killed the project in the mid 1980s.

There was also a semi-automatic–only version, the FSL, intended for the civilian market. Legislation changes in 1995 (namely, the enactment of Presidential Decree Nº 64/95) imposed a de facto ban on "semi-automatic assault weapons". Today, it can take up to two years to obtain a permit for the ownership of an FSL. The FSL was offered with full or folding stocks, plastic furniture and orthoptic sights.

Argentine FALs saw action during the Falklands War (Falklands-Malvinas/South Atlantic War), and in different peace-keeping operations such as in Cyprus and the former Yugoslavia. Rosario-made FALs are known to have been exported to Bolivia (in 1971), Colombia, Croatia (during the wars in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s), Honduras, Nigeria (this is unconfirmed, most Nigerian FALs are from FN in Belgium or are British-made L1A1s), Peru, and Uruguay (which reportedly took delivery of some Brazilian IMBEL-made FALs as well). Deactivated ex-Argentinian FALs are used by UK forces as part of the soldier's load on some training courses run over public land in the UK.

The Argentine Marine Corps, a branch of the Argentine Navy, has replaced the FN/FM FAL in front line units, adopting the U.S. M16A2. The Argentine Army has expressed its desire to acquire at least 1,500 new rifles chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO SS109/U.S. M855 (.223 Remington) cartridge, to be used primarily by its peacekeeping troops on overseas deployments.

File:FN FAL DA-SD-04-01067.jpg

===Flag of Australia Australia

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The Australian Army, as a late member of the allied rifle committee along with the United Kingdom and Canada adopted the committee's improved version of the FAL rifle, designated the L1A1 rifle by Australia and Great Britain, and the C1 by Canada. The Australian L1A1 is also known as the Self-Loading Rifle (SLR) (pronounced "slur"), and in full auto form, the Automatic Rifle (AR). The Australian L1A1 features are almost identical to the British L1A1 version of FAL, however the Australian L1A1 differs from its British counterpart in the design of the Main Body (Upper Receiver) lightening cuts. The lightening cuts of the Australian L1A1 most closely duplicate the later Canadian C1 pattern, rather than the simplified and markedly unique British L1A1 cuts. The Australian L1A1 FAL rifle was in service with Australian forces until it was supplanted by the F88 Austeyr in 1988.

The Australians, in co-ordination with Canada, developed a heavy-barrelled version of the L1A1 as an Automatic Rifle variant, designated L2A1. The Australian heavy-barrelled L2A1 was also known as the Automatic Rifle (AR). The L2A1 was similar to the FN FAL 50.41/42, but with a unique combined bipod, hand-guard and receiver/dust-cover mounted tangent rear sight. This L2A1 was intended to serve a role as a light automatic rifle or quasi-Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). The role of the L2A1 is essentially the same in concept as the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) or Bren. The L2A1 often was considered a replacement for the BAR or Bren, although in practice many considered the L2A1 inferior to the BAR or Bren. It is noteworthy that most countries that adopted the FAL rejected the Heavy Barrel FAL, presumably because its "in-between" role served a need that really did not exist; and that it did not perform well as either a light rifle, or a SAW. Countries that did embrace the Heavy Barrel FAL included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and Israel.

Unique 30 round magazines were developed for the L2A1 rifles. These 30-round magazines were essentially a lengthened version of the standard 20-round L1A1 magazines, perfectly straight in design. Curved 30-round L4A1 magazines from the 7.62 NATO caliber Bren Gun are interchangeable with the 30-round L2A1 magazines, however they reputedly have feeding difficulties due to the additional friction from the curved design as they must be inserted "upside down" in the L2A1 FAL. The L4A1 Bren magazines were developed as a top-mounted gravity-assisted feed magazine, opposite of what is required for the L2A1 FAL. Regardless of these shortcomings, the L4A1 magazines are popularly used in FAL rifles of all types. (The large front locking lug of inch pattern Commonwealth magazines is easily modified with a hand file to allow it to fit and function in FALs with metric receivers.)

The Australian L1A1/L2A1 rifles were produced by the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, with approximately 220,000 L1A1 rifles produced between 1959 and 1986. L2A1 production was approximately 10,000 rifles produced between 1962 and 1982. Lithgow exported a large number of L1A1 rifles to many countries in the region. Notable users were New Zealand, Singapore, and Papua New Guinea.

Many Australian soldiers used the SLR rifle during the Vietnam War. Many Australian soldiers preferred the larger calibre weapon over the American M16 because they felt they could trust the NATO 7.62 round to kill an enemy soldier outright. Australian jungle warfare tactics during the Vietnam War were far more conservative than those employed by U.S. troops, and often determined by the strengths and limitations of the SLR and its heavy ammunition load. Use of the SLR in fully-automatic fire was discouraged.

Another interesting product of Australian participation in the conflict in South-East Asia was the field modification of L1A1 and L2A1 rifles by the Australian Special Air Service Regiment SASR for better handling. Nicknamed "The Bitch". These rifles were field modified, often from heavy barrelled L2A1 automatic rifles, with their barrels cut off immediately in front of the gas block, and often with the L2A1 bipods removed and a XM148 40 mm grenade launcher mounted below the barrel. The XM148 40 mm grenade launchers were obtained from U.S. forces. For the L1A1, the lack of fully-automatic fire resulted in the unofficial conversion of the L1A1 to full-auto capability by simply filing down the selector.

===Flag of Austria Austria

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After evaluating both the Spanish CETME and American Armalite AR-10, the Austrian Army adopted a variant of the FAL under the designation Sturmgewehr 58 (Stg. 58) until it was replaced with the Steyr AUG. Produced locally by Steyr Mannlicher, the Stg. 58 was outwardly similar to the German G1, among others, featuring the same slimmer horizontally-ribbed handguard, and a similar flash suppressor.

===Flag of Brazil Brazil

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Brazil took delivery of a small quantity of FN-made FAL rifles for evaluation as early as 1954. Troop field testing was performed with FN made FALs between 1958 and 1962. Then, in 1964, Brazil officially adopted the rifle, designating the rifle M964 for 1964. Licensed production started shortly thereafter at the Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil, or IMBEL, in Itajubá in the state of Minas Gerais. The folding stock version was designated M969A1. By the late 1980s/ early 1990s, IMBEL had manufactured some 200,000 M964 rifles. Brazilian made FALs are characterized by their simple, unmilled receivers, a feature which simplifies production and lowers cost. Early FN made FALs for Brazil are typical FN 1964 models with Type 1 or Type 2 receivers, plastic stock, handguard, and pistol grip, 22 mm cylindrical flashhider for grenade launching, and plastic model "D" carrying handle. Brazilian-made FALs are thought to have been exported to Uruguay. A heavy barrel version, known as the FAP (Fuzil Automático Pesado, or heavy automatic rifle) was also produced for the armed forces, to be used as a squad automatic weapon.

Main article: IMBEL MD2

Brazil also makes its own FAL variants, known as the MD-2 and MD-3 assault rifles, manufactured by IMBEL. The first prototype, the MD-1, came out around 1983. In 1985, the MD-2 was presented and adopted by the Brazilian Armed Forces. The MD-2/MD-3 is still very similar to the FAL, minor changes include a change in the locking system, which was replaced by an M16-type rotating bolt, and different chambering, for use with the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. The MD-2 and MD-3 use M16-compatible magazines, but both versions differ from each other in the buttstock. The MD-2 features a side-folding stock, the MD-3 uses the same fixed polymer stock of the FAL.

IMBEL also produced a semi-automatic version of the FAL for Springfield Armory, Inc. (not to be confused with the US military Springfield Armory), which was marketed in the US as the SAR-48 and SAR-4800, starting in the mid-1980s. IMBEL-made receivers have been much in demand among American gunsmiths building FALs from "parts kits."

===Flag of Cambodia Cambodia

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Used by the Khmer Republic during the Cambodian Civil War since 1967-1975s and also used by the Royal Cambodian Army.

===Flag of Canada Canada

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File:Canadian C1A1.JPEG
File:Canadian soldier with C2 DA-SC-84-02213.JPEG

The Canadian Forces operated a number of versions, the most common being the FN C1A1, similar to the British L1A1 (which became more or less a Commonwealth standard), under license by the Canadian Arsenal Limited company. Canada was the first country to use the FAL. The C1 and C1A1 used a folding disk rear sight with ranges from 200 to 600 yards. It served as Canada's standard battle rifle from the early 1950s to 1984, when it began to be phased out in favour of the lighter Diemaco C7. The Canadians also operated an automatic variant as a section support weapon, similar to the FN FAL 50.41/42, but with a larger bipod and no handguard, under the designation FN C2A1. The C2A1 used a folding disk rear sight with ranges from 200 to 1000 meters. The C1 was equipped with a 20-round magazine and the C2 with a 30-round magazine, although the two were interchangeable. Variants of the initial FN C1 and the product improved C1A1 were also made for the Royal Canadian Navy, which was capable of automatic fire, under the designations C1D and C1A1D.[1] These weapons are identifiable by a "A" for automatic, carved or stamped into the buttstock. These models were used by boarding parties for domestic and international searches.

===Flag of Germany Germany

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The first German FALs were from an order placed in late 1955/early 1956, for several thousand FN FAL so-called "Canada" models with wood furniture and the prong flashhider. These weapons were intended for the Bundesgrenzschutz (border guard) and not the nascent 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. G1s served in the West German Bundeswehr for a relatively short time in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before they were replaced by the Spanish CETME Modelo 58 rifle in 1959 (which was extensively reworked into the later G3 rifle). The G1 featured a pressed metal handguard identical to the ones later used on the Austrian Stg. 58, as well as the Dutch and Greek FALs, this being slightly slimmer than the standard wood or plastic handguards, and featuring horizontal lines running almost their entire length. G1s were also fitted with a unique removable prong flash hider, adding another external distinction. It has been alleged that the main reason for the replacement of the G1 in Germany centred around existing bitterness stemming from World War II and the refusal of the Belgians to grant a license for production of the weapon in Germany. Many G1 FALs were passed on to Turkey after their withdrawal from German service.

===Flag of Greece Greece

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Adopted the FAL and FALO under license by the Pyrkal factories before using Elliniki Biomihania Oplon-made G3A3s. This move was due to lack of support by the Greek government on Pyrkal. It was in use with the Greek special forces and the 4th Army Corps in the Evros region from 1973 to 1999. From 2000, the FAL was replaced by the M16A2 and M4 series in special forces. At this time, the use of the FAL is reserved to the Greek national guard, Police and Coast Guard.

===Flag of India India

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Designated the 1A SLR (Self Loading Rifle), Indian-made FALs were roughly based on the British L1A1, but the measurements match neither the FN nor the British made weapons. It was the mainstay rifle of the Indian Army for almost 45 years, and first saw combat use during the 1965 war with Pakistan. The variant manufactured in India is restricted to semi-automatic fire. The INSAS is part of a family of rifles, carbines and light machine guns - partially derived from the SLR, but in 5.56 mm - that has replaced the SLR in the military. Considerable number of SLRs continued to be used by paramilitary, constabulary and police forces of India. Indian 1A SLRs have been provided to Nepal.

===Flag of Israel Israel

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After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had to overcome several logistical problems (the supply of ammunition, repairs, spare parts and so on), which were a result of the wide variety of old firearms that were in service. In 1955 the IDF adopted the IMI-produced Uzi submachine gun. The Uzi was a superb automatic weapon, but it had one major drawback: relatively short range. In order to compensate, the IDF decided in the same year to adopt the FN FAL as its standard-issue infantry rifle, under the name Romat (רומ"ט), an abbreviation of "self-loading rifle". The FAL version ordered by the IDF came in two basic variants, both regular and heavy-barrel (automatic rifle), and were chambered for 7.62 mm NATO ammunition. The Israeli 'heavy barrel' FAL, also used by several other nations, was found to frequently experience a failure to feed after firing two rounds from a full magazine when in automatic mode. The Israeli FALs were originally produced as selective-fire rifles, though later light-barrel rifle versions were altered to semi-automatic fire only.

The Israeli FAL first saw action in relatively small quantities during the Suez Crisis of 1956, and by the Six-Day War in June 1967, it was the standard Israeli rifle. During the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 it was still in front-line service as the standard Israeli rifle, though increasing criticism eventually led to the phaseout of the weapon. Israeli forces were primarily mechanized in nature, and the long length and heavy weight of the FAL slowed deployment drills and proved exceedingly difficult to handle within the confines of a vehicle. Additionally, Israeli forces experienced repeated jamming of the FAL due to heavy sand ingress in the Middle Eastern deserts, requiring repeated field-strip and cleaning of the rifle, sometimes while under fire. This problem was easily corrected by cutting slits in the bolt carrier to allow sand to fall threw. The rifle was eventually replaced by the Tavor and the Galil chambered in either 5.56x45 or 7.62nato.

===Flag of Ireland Ireland

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The Irish Defence forces used it as the main rifle from the 1960s till 1988 where it was replaced by the Steyr AUG for use by Permanent Defence Forces, however it was not until 2000/2001 that the FN FAL was retired by the Reserve Forces. The last examples were removed from the armouries in late 2004.

===Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands

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File:Nigerian troops in Somalia.JPEG

The Royal Netherlands Army adopted the Belgian rifle with bipod but without fully-automatic capability in 1961, being called Het licht automatisch geweer in Dutch service. They had unique sights (hooded at the front) and the German style front handguard. A sniper version, Het scherpschuttersgeweer, also existed and was standard with a scope of Dutch origin produced by the Artillerie Inrichtingen. The scope was introduced as Kijker Richt Recht AI 62. The heavy-barrel FAL 50.42 version was also adopted later as a squad automatic weapon as the Het zwaar automatisch geweer.[2] This rifle was replaced in the 1990s by the Diemaco C7.

===Flag of New Zealand New Zealand

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The New Zealand Army used the L1A1 Rifle (see United Kingdom below) as its standard battle rifle for just under 30 years. The Labour government of Walter Nash approved the purchase of the L1A1 as a replacement for the No. 4 Mk 1 Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle in September 1958. An order for a total of 15,000 L1A1 rifles was subsequently placed with the Lithgow Arsenal in Australia which had been granted a license to produce the L1A1. However the first batch of 500 rifles from this order was not actually delivered to the New Zealand Army until 1960. Thereafter deliveries continued at an increasing pace until the order for all 15,000 rifles was completed in 1965. After its adoption by the Army the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Navy also eventually acquired it. The New Zealand Defence Force began replacing the L1A1 Rifle with the Austrian made F88 Austeyr assault rifle in 1989. The F88 Austeyr is currently in use across all three services of the New Zealand Defence Force.

===Flag of the Philippines Philippines

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines uses a small number of FALs captured from the Moro National Liberation Front rebel group. Some of these rifles are German G1 and Australian L1A1 versions.

===Flag of Portugal Portugal

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Though Portugal had adopted the CETME (later, G3) rifle as its primary infantry weapon, the country had a long history of issuing substitute standard weapons to its elite combat units, including the use of the AR-10 by Portuguese paratroops. During Portugal's conflict with guerilla forces in its colonies of Angola and Mozambique, Portugal issued quantities of light-barrel FN FAL rifles to several of its elite infantry and commando forces, including the Companhias de Caçadores Especiais (Special Hunter, or Ranger) companies. The latter often expressed a preference for the FN FAL over the G3 when deployed for ambush and patrol actions. In this country the FN FAL was designated Espingarda Automática 7,62 mm FN m/62.

===Flag of Rhodesia Rhodesia

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File:Selious.JPG

Like most British colonies and Commonwealth Nations of the time, the colony of Southern Rhodesia's military forces were issued the British Semi-automatic version of the FAL, the L1A1. However after the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1965, the new country of Rhodesia was unable to obtain L1A1 SLRs in any number. To make up for this shortage, large numbers of South African R1 rifles were imported from that country. These two rifles would be the primary infantry small arm of the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Rhodesian Bush War of 1965-80. Unfortunately, the international arms export embargo on Rhodesia and the eventual loss of support by the South African goverment meant that the supply of FALs would dry up. To make up for this shortage of arms, in the final years of the war large numbers of G3 rifles were imported from Portugal. The FAL, however, remained far more popular with the Rhodesian "Troopie" and G3s were generally restricted to police, Guard Force, and other paramilitary and unreliable units.

===Flag of South Africa South Africa

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After a competition between the German G3 rifle, the Armalite AR-10, and the FN FAL, the South African Defence Force adopted three variants of the FAL: a rifle under the Commonwealth pattern with the designation R1, a "lightweight" variant of the FN FAL 50.64 fabricated locally under the designation R2, and a model designed for police use not capable of automatic fire under the designation R3.[3] The R2 was built by Lyttleton Engineering Works and Armscor. The R1 rifle in South African service was superseded around the mid 1980s with the locally built 5.56 mm R4 assault rifle, a license-built copy of the Israeli Galil.

===Flag of Thailand Thailand

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FAL was used by Royal Thai Police Forces since 1960s and designation as "Rifle Type 05"(1962). FAL have been limited used because favor of lightler rifles like M-16 and HK 33.

===Flag of Turkey Turkey

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The Turkish Armed Forces used the FAL as the main rifle the late 1960s where it was replaced by the H&K G3. (Ironically, many of Turkey's FAL were former West German G1, which had been replaced by the G3.) However, the FAL remains in use as a training rifle by the Turkish Army, Turkish Air Forces Infantry Brigade, Turkish Navy Infantry Brigade, and Turkish Police Commanders.

===Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom developed its own variant of the FAL in 1957 as the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR). It was manufactured upon tooling using Imperial measurements and ultimately included many minor changes, considered improvements by the UK. These changes included a folding cocking handle; an enclosed prong-shaped flash suppressor patterned after the US T48 FAL; a folding rear sight; sand-clearing modifications (cuts or grooves) in the body (upper receiver), breech block (bolt), breech-block carrier (slide), and gas regulator; an integral "fold-away" trigger guard with modified pistol grip for winter use; a strengthened butt-stock attachment; enlarged change-lever (selector); enlarged and ambidextrous magazine release; a strengthened magazine catch and magazine; modified take-down release lever to prevent unintended activation; and top-cover retainer tabs to prevent forward movement. Late production L1A1 rifles were equipped with synthetic furniture, including handguards, pistol grip, carrying handle and buttstock. This synthetic furniture was produced from "Maranyl" plastic, a Nylon-66 and glass fibre composite. The synthetic L1A1 furniture is noted for its anti-slip texture, termed "Pebblegrain". The synthetic buttstock included the unique feature of a replaceable butt-pad, available in several different sizes to accommodate an individual shooter's "length of pull". The majority of these modifications (improvements) were also reflected in Canadian (C1 and C2 Rifle), Australian (L1A1, L2A1 AR or Automatic Rifle), and to a lesser extent, Indian (1A-SL) production. The UK L1A1 FAL was produced as a semi-automatic only rifle, in contrast to the original Belgian version which was selective fire. It was known for some individual soldiers to interfere with their rifle's mechanism (normally by inserting a matchstick or coke can tab) to cause it to fire on automatic; however, this was contrary to regulations and would be punished if discovered. Thirty round magazines from the 7.62 mm L4 light machine gun (upgraded Bren LMG) were used occasionally (and unofficially) on the UK L1A1; however, being designed for gravity assisted downward operation, they were not reliable on the SLR. The L1A1 was replaced in the mid 1980s by the 5.56 mm Enfield L85A1.

Due to the significant departure of features from the original Belgian FAL rifle, full interchangeability of components between the original Belgian pattern FAL and the L1A1 pattern FAL was not possible, although complete sub-assemblies of the L1A1 pattern rifles are generally interchangeable with assemblies from most other Belgian pattern FAL rifles. Many individual components are also interchangeable, however a significant proportion are not. It should be noted that although the UK L1A1 and its Australian and Canadian counterparts were produced upon machine tools utilizing imperial (English or "inch") measurement systems, they are actually of the same basic dimension as the original Belgian FN FAL rifle. Incompatibility between the original Belgian FAL and the L1A1 are due to feature pattern differences, and not due to different dimensions as [incorrectly] implied by the differing measurement systems. Confusion over this subject has given rise to the common terminology of "metric" or "inch" FAL rifles, presumably originated to reference the machine tools that produced them, when in fact virtually all FAL rifles are of the same basic dimensions - true to the original Belgian FAL design. Popularly, the use of the term "metric" FAL refers to a FAL rifle with original Belgian FN pattern features, and the use of the term "inch" FAL refers to a FAL rifle produced with the modified Australian, Canadian, UK, or "Commonwealth" L1A1 pattern.

The UK L1A1 FAL rifle was manufactured by three makers: The Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield (Enfield); Birmingham Small Arms (BSA); and the Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley (Fazakerley). Replacement components were also made by Parker Hale Ltd.

Later production UK L1A1 FAL rifles are noted for the availability of unique optional sights. The first of the optional sights included a folding dual-aperture day/night sight, commonly known as the "Hythe Sight". The Hythe sight was developed for close range, dusk and night use and incorporated two overlapping rear sight aperture leaves, and a permanently glowing (until radioactively decayed) tritium inserts in the front sight post for improved night visibility. Also noteworthy was a unique scope designed specifically for the L1A1 rifle. The scope, identified as the L2A1 "Site Unit, Infantry, Trilux" (SUIT) is a fixed-focus 4X magnification scope with an unusual prismatic offset, a unique inverted tapered tritium illuminated sight post reticule, and an integral bullet-drop compensation via a two-position mechanical cam. The offset prismatic design reduced overall length for improved clearance around the L1A1 action, reduced parallax errors and significantly reduced the effects of heat mirage from a hot rifle barrel. The inverted sight post allowed a very rapid target re-acquisition due to the fact that recoil typically raises the rifle barrel, leaving a clear sight picture under the inverted pointer, which combined with the pointer's thick taper promoted the quick target re-acquisition. Although relatively heavy, the SUIT scope was also noted for its durability, due to the very robust construction. It is also noteworthy that the during the Cold-War, the UK SUIT scope was copied virtually verbatim by the Soviet Union and designated as the 1P29 telescopic sight. Both the Hythe and SUIT sight options were commonly found on production UK L1A1 FAL rifles.

Since the adoption of the newer SA80 rifle, the existing stock of L1A1 rifles has been disposed of. Many former UK rifles were sent to Sierra Leone; however, most were simply destroyed.

===Flag of the United States United States

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The USA tested the FAL in several forms; initially as manufactured by FN in experimental configurations, and later in the final T48 configuration as an official competitor for the new US Light Self-Loading Rifle intended to replace the M1 Garand. The US Army procured T48 rifles from three firms for testing, including two US based companies in an effort to assess the manufacturability of the FN design in the USA. The T48 was manufactured for testing by Fabrique Nationale (FN), of Herstal, Belgium; Harrington & Richardson (H&R) of Worcester, Massachusetts; and the High Standard Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The United States also received a small number of FAL Heavy Barrel Rifles (HBAR) (either 50.41 or pre-50.41) for testing, under the designation T48E1, though none of these rifles were adopted by US.

The T48 competed against the T44 rifle. The T44 was a heavily modified version of the earlier M1 Garand. Testing proved the T48 and the T44 comparable in performance, with no clear winner. However, the supposed ease of production of the T44 upon machinery already in place for the M1 Garand and the similarity in the manual of arms for the T44 and M1 ultimately swayed the decision in the direction of the T44, which was adopted as the M14 rifle.

In the wake of World War II, the NATO "Rifle Steering Committee" was formed to encourage the adoption of a standardized NATO rifle. The Committee and the US interest in the FAL proved to be a turning point in the direction of the FAL's development. The US and NATO interest in small arms standardization was the primary reason why the FAL was redesigned to use the newly developed 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, instead of the intermediate cartridge designs originally tested by FN. Two political factors are worth noting: the US Government tacitly gave the nod to NATO, and specifically to the United Kingdom, that if the FAL were redesigned for the new US 7.62x51mm cartridge, then the FAL would become acceptable to the US, and the US would presumably adopt the FAL rifle. Secondly, FN had indicated that it would allow former WWII Allied countries to produce the FAL design with no licensing or royalty costs as a gift to the Allies for the liberation of Belgium. Ultimately, the US chose to part with the other NATO members and adopt the M14 rifle, while the majority of NATO countries immediately adopted the FAL.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, many countries decommissioned the FAL from their armouries and sold them en masse to United States importers as surplus. The rifles were imported to the United States as fully-automatic machine guns. Once in the U.S., the FAL's were "de-militarized" (upper receiver destroyed) to eliminate the rifles' character as an automatic rifle. Thousands of the resulting "parts kits" were sold at generally low prices ($90 - $250) to hobbyists. The hobbyists rebuilt the parts kits to legal and functional semi-automatic rifles on new semi-automatic upper receivers. FAL rifles are still commercially available from a few domestic firms in semi-auto configuration: Entreprise Arms, DSA, and Century Arms until recently.

===Flag of Venezuela Venezuela

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Venezuela was the first country after Belgium to adopt the FN FAL in 1954 and until recently it was the main assault rifle of the Venezuelan army. The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, bought 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles from Russia in order to replace the old FAL, and although the full shipment of AK-103 rifles had arrived in Venezuela by the end of 2006, the FAL will remain in service with the Venezuelan Reserve forces and Territorial Guard. The first batch of rifles to arrive in Venezuela were chambered in 7x49mm (also known as 7 mm Liviano or 7 mm Venezuelan). Essentially a 7x57mm round shortened to intermediate length, this caliber was jointly developed by Venezuelan and Belgian engineers motivated by a global move towards intermediate calibers. The Venezuelans, who had been exclusively using the 7x57mm round in their light and medium weapons since the turn of the century, felt it was a perfect platform on which to base a caliber tailored to the particular rigours of the Venezuelan terrain. Eventually the plan was dropped despite having ordered millions of rounds and thousands of weapons of this caliber. The decision was not based on the attributes of the round, which was actually quite good, but in fact to political motivation. As the Cold War escalated, the military command felt it necessary to align with NATO despite not being a member, resulting in the adoption of the 7.62x51mm cartridge and the rechambering of the 5,000 or so FAL rifles that had already arrived in 7x49mm by 1955-56.

VariantsEdit

FN Production VariantsEdit

FAL 50.41 & 50.42Edit

  • Also known as FALO;
  • Heavy barrel for sustained fire with 30-round magazine as a squad automatic weapon;
  • Known in Canada as the C2A1, it was their primary squad automatic weapon until it was phased out during the 1980s in favour of the C9, which has better accuracy and better ammunition capacity than the C2;
  • Known to the Australian Army as the L2A1, it was replaced by the FN Minimi. The L2A1 or 'heavy barrel' FAL was used by several Commonwealth nations and was found to frequently experience a failure to feed after firing two rounds from a full magazine when in automatic mode.
  • The 50.41 is fitted with a plastic buttstock, while the 50.42's buttstock is made from wood.

FAL 50.61Edit

  • Folding-stock, standard barrel length

FAL 50.63Edit

  • Folding-stock, shorter-barrel paratrooper version;
  • Two variants with differing barrel lengths: 458 mm versus 436 mm. The shorter version was requested by Belgian paratroopers. This allowed the folded-stock rifle to fit through the doorway of their C-119 Flying Boxcar when worn horizontally across the chest.

FAL 50.64Edit

  • Folding-stock, standard barrel length, 'Hiduminium' aluminum alloy lower receiver

US Commercial VariantsEdit

Because import laws made it difficult to import the weapon system as a whole the FN FAL has some commercial incarnations in the US, many of these were built with demilitarized "kits". This has led to mismatched parts. Many rifles were built by amateur gunsmiths and had their headspace improperly set or were otherwise improperly assembled. This has led to a number of FN FALs that are mechanically unreliable, or even unsafe to fire. Generally, these rifles can be repaired and put into proper working order by a qualified gunsmith or an advanced hobbyist.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ezell, 1988, p. 83
  2. Ezell, 1988, p. 276
  3. Ezell, 1988, p. 328
  • Afonso, Aniceto and Gomes, Carlos de Matos, Guerra Colonial, 2000
  • Ezell, Clinton, Small Arms of the World, Stackpole Books (1983)
  • Pikula, Maj. Sam, The Armalite AR-10, 1998
  • Stevens, R. Blake, The FAL Rifle, Collector Grade Publications (1993)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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Modern (post Korean War) UK infantry weapons
Side-arms (Self-loading Pistols) Browning L9A1L47A1 (Manuhrin produced Walther PP)L105A1L107A1L102A1 (Compact)
Rifles, Carbines, & LSWs L1A1 SLRSA80 series (L85 IW, L86 LSW, L22A1)L108A1, L110A1 (Para)L101A1M16/A1/A2L119A1 (Diemaco SFW)L100A1
Sniper rifles' L42/A1L96/A1L115A1L82A1AW50F
Submachine guns L2A1 to L2A3, L34A1L80A1, L90A1L91A1, L92A1
Shotguns L32A1L74A1 (Remington 870 Wingmaster)
Machine-guns & other larger weapons L3L4L7 "GPMG" series (L7, L8, L19, L20, L37, L43, L44)L2A1/L111A1 Heavy Machine GunL17A1/A2L67A1L1A1 (LAW)LAW 80L14/A1L2A1 (ILAW)L142A1 (AT4CS HP)L9A1 51 mm MortarL16/A1 81mm MortarMILANJavelin
Modern cartridges used 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington)7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win)12.7x99mm NATO (.50 BMG).338 Lapua9x19mm Parabellum12 gauge
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