The FN FAL was developed when Communist Bloc global domination was a very real possibility. Europe was recovering from the devastation of World War II, and the majority of nations near Russia had their militaries disorganized, disbanded or in serious disarray. Many of their firearms were outdated or worn.
What became known as the Cold War cooled by diplomacy, but improvement and standardization of small arms and ammunition of nations in Communism’s crosshairs played a significant role. A big part of that effort first appeared in 1946, when Belgium-based Fabrique Nationale produced the first Fusil Automatique Leger (Light Automatic Rifle)—the famed FN FAL often called the “right arm of the free world.”
American Rifleman named it No. 8 of its list of top-10 infantry rifles in the world. It was adopted by 66 countries, capable of select fire and used 20- or 30-round magazines. The original design chambered .280 British, but it was later tailored to run the 7.62x51 mm NATO cartridge preferred by the U.S. military—or 7.62 NATO. The vast majority were in that chambering, which provided a logistical advantage to allied nations that fielded the gun. To say the FN FAL arrived at the right time is understatement.
FN FALs were produced by Fabrique Nationale, and several other companies other license, from 1953 to 1988. The gun’s gas system was adjustable and used a piston system of operation. A number of variants were created, some considered extremely collectible. One of the reasons for the price tag is a quality that is backed by Belgian metallurgy. As Anthony Vanderlinden explained for our readers, “There is no harder and longer wearing steel than what is found on a FN.” You can expect an original from the company to run more than $6,000 right now.
D.S. Arms (DSA) offers a variety of modern FALs, in patterns that emulate some of the legendary gun’s most popular models. Its Jungle Warrior Carbine (seen above), for example, has a 16 1/4" threaded barrel, fixed stock and is patterned after FN’s production run for Bolivia. It’s chambered in 7.62 NATO and comes with adjustable iron sights. The receiver is finished in matte-black Duracoat and MSRP is $1,550. The company has a total of 27 versions available.