FN FAL - an amatuer overview/reference
Used by over 90 countries from the time of its adoption to the present day, the FN FAL is often called "the right arm of the free world." Originally designed to take the 8x33mm German Kurz cartridge, pressure from NATO caused it to be redesigned around the 7.62x51mm round.
The US came very close to adopting the FAL, but it lost to the M14 in what some say were less-than-objective tests and it could have been the victim of US ordnance board politics.
The FN FAL is a select-fire gas operated rifle with a detachable box magazine, normally holding 20 rounds. The gas systems allows the user to compensate for variations in the ammunition by opening or closing the gas port vial a knurled knob on the upper front handguard.
There are two main patterns - the "inch" pattern and the "metric" pattern. Users need to understand which pattern they have as parts are often not interchangable between patterns.
A charging handle is located on the left side, however it does not in most metric versions reciprocate with the bolt. The magazine activates a bolt hold open device after the last round is fired on most versions as well. It can be manually engaged as well. The magazine release is well situated in front of the trigger guard; inserting the magazine is done with a rocking motion and ensures positive locking into the magazine well.
The trigger is a standard two-stage military version and the selector is located in the familiar (to AR users) position behind the trigger. The metric selector is difficult for many to use without changing their grip slightly.
The sights are normally a peep and post arrangement, allowing good combat accuracy and the rear is adjustable for windage and range. Zeroing is done at 25 meters POA/POI and by moving the front sight to correct vertical impact. A sight tool is suggested to turn the post.
The rifle versions have a recoil spring in the buttstock which requires a special tool for ease of disassembly/assembly; but this is not required for routine maintenance. The "paratrooper" or folding stock versions have a modificiation to the recoil spring.
Many versions have a carry handle in the upper receiver. Disassembly requires the simple latch on the rear of the receiver to pushed either back or down, depending on the version, to open the action and with draw the bolt. The top cover can then also be slid rearward for access to the interior. The hammer should be in the cocked position for reassembly in reverse order.
The gas piston should not be lubricated. Normally very little lubrication on the bolt is necessary for most conditions. The bolt rides on machined rails inside the receiver where excessive lubrication could attract dirt or sand and cause malfunctions.
Currently, US laws prevent the FN FAL from being imported as an entire rifle. DSA manufactures a receiver in the United States to FN drawings and assembles complete rifles for sale. Many consider them to be the best commercially available version of the rifle. Kits, from demilled rifles can be imported and new rifles built on the various available US-made receivers in addition to the DSA part.
Magazines currenly are very inexpensive as many nations have converted to 5.56x45 weapons and are selling surplus inventory. It appears that recent imports of surplus 7.62x51 ball ammunition has slowed, but some is still available for practice and storage purposes at low prices. South African is a good example. Many users report that Indian and Pakistani 7.62x51 ammunition is not of the quality western users expect. Australian ball is an example of very high-quality surplus ammunition.
ETA - 308 vs. 7.62x51 deleted. Check your user's manual or manufacturer's suggestions for ammunition compatibility
Please point out any errors in the above and add your reference material.
Last edited by modern_pirate; 02-03-2007 at 06:30 PM.
" The commercial 308 Winchester round is loaded to different pressure and headspacing than the 7.62x51 round and users should be cautioned against loading them into any rifle designed for 7.62x51. "
The following info regarding ammo was copied from DSA's own website:
We recommend NOT USING the following list of ammunition DS-ZM4 .223 caliber rifles or the SA58 .308 caliber rifles:
Any steel case Russian ammunition
Any steel case Chinese ammunition
Chilean 7.62mm that is marked 'Nato'
Cavim 7.62mm from Venezuela
CBC 7.62MM from Brazil
Indian 7.62 from State Factory
1970's production Israeli Browning machinegun ammunition
This ammunition can cause failures or damage to the rifle(s). If in question, call and ask for one of our technicians.
FAQ #8: Should I use .308 win ammo or 7.62 nato in my FAL?
It is ok to use either type as the difference is only approximately .003" chamber dimension
I had no problems shooting .308 ammo in my L1A1 FAL. I even handloaded for it.
Originally Posted by lightfighter
The opposite was not true.
My .308 Ruger M77 Varminter did not work well with 7.62 x 51 NATO RG ammo.
The empties were incredibly tough to extract.
I have had the same results as Anthony with all my FAL's. That post on DSA website is more about liability CYA than actual fact. The different types of surplus ammo listed there have had reports of over charged rnds. or other quailty issues that could damage the gun or worse the shooter, thats just DSA's way of skirting liability.
In order to fire .308 Win reliably from a FAL, it must be headspaced somewhere within something like a .006-.007" window within the 7.62x51 acceptable headspacing window.
So, shooting .308 from a FAL isn't always bad, but I wouldn't do it unless I had explicity headspaced the FAL myself and made sure it was in that range, which I think is 1.6315-1.638".
The US Army knew something wasn't right with the FN_FAL and it wasn't only politics where the M-14 was chosen. The M-14 was a proven platform derived from the M-1 Garand where the FN-FAL had its problems as did the AR-10 where the hot gas would overheat the cocking handle.
The Israeli army found out the hard way that the FN-FAL didn't work out in desert conditions. I spoke to a friend who fought in both 1967 and 1973 and he told me how the mainspring in the buttstock would be hard to drain once the rifle was in water and would rust. It was hard to clean the spring in desert conditions the sand would foul it up. He and the other guys in his unit threw their FNs and took AKs from the dead Arab soldiers because they were more reliable. The FN was also heavy and had poor accuracy except for the heavy barrel versions which were better than the regular rifle.
My FN disagrees with you. It is 24 years old with many 1000's of rounds downrange. It has been hard used in all climates from arctic to desert.
Originally Posted by uzitiger
Last year I had to replace the locking shoulder because I wore it out.
The fact is, my FN has never failed to fire or eject one cartridge.
I can't say the same for my M1A NM rifle. 2 bolt roller failures in 4 years.
krieger: "Two bolt roller failures in two years[?]" Who made your receiver?
Reason I ask, is because a fair amount of SA Inc receivers have the right side rail cut shallowly enough that the roller is actually part of bolt lockup. When the bolt is locked, so is the roller. Not good. This mfg problem of theirs does cause bolt rollers to break.
Test by locking up the bolt by hand, with no op rod involved. You should be able to spin the roller when the bolt is locked as fully as you can do by hand. If not, dremel out a little radius on the receiver so it can. Broke bolt rollers are much more a fault of the way that SA Inc does its business, than of the M14 design.
Originally Posted by uzitiger
We never had problems as mentioned by you with our L1A1 FALs, from when they were introduced up untill the day they were swapped for the POS called the SA80!
The only year that the Brit armed Forces have not been in active service since WWII was 1968.
Mountains and snow,
European type countryside and
My own personal L1A1 from prone position and a sandbag to rest my forearm, would group 2". - Built in 1964. - This was back in the 80's when I owned it and still lived in the UK.
Want more accuracy than this for a battle rifle?
Gunplumber has done the research on this, I believe.
My understanding though, is that the Israelis had problems with their heavy barreled LAR types, not the FAL types. Remove the automatic BHO, add some sand cuts to the bolt carrier and the rifle will (and has) function in any theatre.
Perhaps Ike could clear this up?