Type: Battle rifle
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO (.280 British prototypes also built)
Weight: 4.3 kg (9.48 lb)
Length: 1,090 mm (43 in)
Barrel length: 533 mm (21.0 in)
Capacity: 20 rds (30 rd mags and 50 rd drums also available)
Designed by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal in Belgium, the FAL (Fusil Automatique Léger or Light Automatic Rifle) was one of the most prolific firearms among the West and thus earned the title of "Right Arm of the Free World." Originally designed around more practical intermediate cartridges such as the 7.92x33mm Kurz and .280 British, the rifle was adapted to fire the 7.62x51mm NATO round under pressure from the United States. The FAL came in many variants with different features, including the original fixed-stock model capable of fully-automatic fire. Versions with shorter barrels and side-folding stocks were also built to better suit certain specialized troops such as paratroopers. A heavy-barrel version fitted with a 30 round magazine for use as a light machine gun or squad automatic weapon was also produced.
The FAL was adopted by more than 90 nations around the world and appears in most conflict zones even to today. The rifle saw service with Great Britain and the Commonwealth in a semi-auto-only form as the L1A1. It was also adopted by Germany as the G1; however, it saw limited use and was replaced by the HK G3 due to FN's reluctance to allow the Germans to build the rifle themselves. It was also adopted by Austria (StG48), Israel (who produced their own unique variant known as the Romat), Brazil (built under license by IMBEL), South Africa (R1), and Rhodesia (used both L1A1 and R1 rifles) among many other nations. A prototype version designated T48 was also used in trials by the United States military but eventually lost to what would become the M14.
The FAL has made and continues to make appearances in conflicts around the world. During the Falklands War, the rifle would see use against itself as British soldiers armed with L1A1s fought against Argentine troops armed with FALs. It would also come to be closely associated with the Rhodesian Bush War as L1A1, R1, and FAL rifles were field by Rhodesian troops, including the legendary Selous Scouts. Australian troops brought the weapon to the Vietnam War and even created a modified version fitted with a short barrel and often an under-barrel grenade launcher and nicknamed "The Bitch." In more recent times the FAL returned to combat on both sides of the Libyan Civil War. The FAL continues to be a popular civilian rifle in countries were semi-automatic rifles are legal, including the United States. Multiple companies have marketed versions of the L1A1 and semi-auto versions of the FAL in the US through the years. Original FN built guns, however, command a premium among collectors.
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2 years ago
20 Jul 2016 23:00 CEST
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