By Shooter
(Pictures By Warlord)

The FAL-series of rifles, including the British version, the L1A1, are perhaps the most prolific main battle rifles ever fielded. They are chambered for the 7.62x51NATO cartridge, commonly known as the .308Winchester. The reasons for this popularity are primarliy their robustness, accuracy and reliability. They have been manufactured/fielded in Great Britain, Canada, India, Australia, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and a host of other countries.

There are two versions of the FAL. These are the standard 'metric' version, which is most common and more easy to obtain magazines for, and the 'Inch' version, which was the British Commonwealth version. Some, but not all, parts interchange between the two, namely the magazines.

The FAL is a gas-operated rifle, using a tilting bolt, feeding from a 20-round detachable box magazine. It also has an adjustable gas system, which allows the operator to compensate for a dirty action or poor quality ammunition. It may also be set for the firing of rifle grenades. The FAL may
be found in either select-fire versions or semi-automatic versions, the latter being far more common.

Numerous versions of this excellent weapon have been made available, including a heavy-barreled 'squad automatic' version. The earliest civilian examples were the FN-manufactured rifles. Later rifles have been assembled in the US, usually being built on Imbel, Hesse, or DSA receivers, and British or Austrian parts kits. Most of these 'parts' guns are excellent rifles, but if choosing one, be sure to check it out thoroughly before relying on it for your main weapon.


The FAL-series of rifles is even easier to field strip than the AK. First, make SURE the weapon is UNLOADED. VISUALLY verify this! Next, cycle the action, cocking the hammer. Place the weapon on 'SAFE', by moving the safety/selector into the UP position. The 'take-down' latch is located to the rear of the safety. Slide this latch rearward/up(on most FALs). This allows the rifle to be 'broken' open, much like a double-barreled shotgun.

(Safety/Fire and Breakdown Lever)

(FAL Broken open)

Grasp the bolt carrier and withdraw it from the rear of the reciever. The bolt will disengage from the carrier and drop out into your hand. Being careful not to slice your fingers, slide the dustcover rearward and off of the receiver. The barrel can now be cleaned from the breech end.

(Bolt Carrier Removed)

(Dust Cover Removed)

Remove the gas plug, located below the front site, by pressing in on the locking button and turning. CAREFUL! The gas piston is under spring pressure. The piston needs to be cleaned routinely, to remove carbon build-up, which can affect reliability.

(Gas plug)

(Gas Piston)

No further diassembly is recommended for cleaning in the field. Reassembly is in reverse order.


The sights on the FAL series of rifles are very good , yet simple to adjust. The front sight controls the 'fine' elevation, being screwed in or out of its sight base, as warranted. The rear sight, a peep-type, is adjustable for windage, via (2) opposing screws, and for gross elevation adjustments(100-600 meters, usually), by sliding on its ramped base. Match sights are available from several sources, as are excellent scope mounts.


To load the FAL-series of rifles, insert a loaded magazine into the magazine well, rocking it in place, in the same manner as you would with an AK, M1A/M14 or Mini-14. Charge the weapon by pulling back on the cocking handle, located on the left side of the receiver, and letting it slam home smartly.
Place the weapon on 'SAFE' until ready to fire.

FALs are equipped with a 'bolt hold open' device, located next to the magazine release. It is operated by pulling DOWN. This releases the locked bolt, allowing it to strip a cartridge from the magazine and chamber it. However, most British rifles have had this device rendered inoperable. It is a simple matter to reactivate. If anyone is interested in doing so, please e-mail me.  (shooter@alpharubicon.com)

(Bolt Hold Open Release)

(Mag Release)

DO NOT remove the screw under the butt plate of the rifle (inside the Butt stock) unless you have the special tool that allows you to put the heavy recoil springs back into place! Be VERY careful when removing the recoil springs from the butt stock, They are under CONSIDERABLE tension and will launch the screw across the house. Without the special tool, reassembling the recoil spring can be VERY difficult at best.


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All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.