A brief thumbnail sketch of the FALís history
Here is a quick and dirty history of the FAL Rifle. Should you need
further information regarding this rifle go here
and check out the links.
In 1940 the Germans invaded Belgium and Dieudonne Saive one of Fabrique
Nationaleís premier gun designers escaped to England. He had been working
on a self-loading rifle to replace the Mauser bolt-action rifles the Belgian
army was equipped with. The German Occupation stopped this work and that
rifle the SAFN was not fielded and adopted by the Belgium army until 1949.
The SAFN was the design basis of the FAL (Fusil Automatique Legere)
or light automatic rifle. The FAL was made as a collaborative effort to
generate a universal battle rifle for Nato use. As it was originally made
it used a rifle round that is almost a dead ringer for the 7mm-08 round
and was the largest round a soldier could effectively control in automatic
fire.. The United States wanted their new cartridge in .30 caliber (7.62mm)
to be adopted because it could be produced on equipment the US already
had. The FAL was beefed up to accept the American round. There were acceptance
trials and Harrington Richardson of the United States made 500 rifles for
field trials for the US military. The US FAL (T48 rifle) competed against
the T44 that the US adopted as the M14.
The M14 was such a rousing success it was adopted in 1960 and replaced
in 1963 by the AR15 that became the M16, the shortest adoption period of
a US Martial weapon.
The FAL then went on to become the most widely used rifle in the non-communist
free world. At itís height it was used in over 70 nations and is just now
being pulled from service and being replaced by weapons using a lighter
cartridge. Had the Belgians not still been angry with the Germans about
a war what was fresh in everyoneís mind during that time, the G3 rifle
fielded as the major competitor of the FAL would probably have been a footnote.
The Belgians wouldnít grant the Germans a license to produce FALísí in
In itís day the rifle was produced in two patterns, inch and metric,
and on five continents. (I donít count the Indian FAL in this because they
back engineered the rifle and never paid for the royalties on it.) Currently
the only producer of complete FALís in the world is DSA Arms in the United
States. Their production of the FAL has been fueled by an American civilian
interest for a battle rifle chambered in an effective cartridge and not
wanting a weapon originally fielded by the communists. This interest in
an effective rifle shooting an effective round has recently raised eyebrows
in the Black Hawk Debacle where Somalian civilians mauled elite US forces.
The one major item to come out of this incident was the 7.62 Nato round
that some of the US troops used and which the FAL uses made the "Sammies"
as they were called stay shot when hit by that round. The M855 round the
majority of the US troops used out of their M-4 (M-16ís) performed horribly
and did not. Other points causing the rifles current popularity in the
United States are, inexpensive parts, and magazines. That fact coupled
with the surplusing out of much of the Cold Warís ammunition stocks in
the 7.62 Nato caliber will ensure the FALís popularity for years to come
(At least for those of us lucky enough to get one).
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright (c) 1996-2002 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.