FAL's Not Reliable in the Desert Thats why the IDF dropped them.


Master Blaster
October 5, 2004, 08:35 AM
I know that there is often discussion here about how the USA should have adopted the FAL platform instead of the AR.
The other day I was watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel. The topic was Guns of Israel. They went through the history of small arms development in Israel, starting with the homemade sten guns of The Irgune, and culminating in the development of the Tavor.

I was surprised to hear that the FAL was tried by the IDF, and dropped after many problems with reliability in the desert environment, they also cited poor accuracy, slow rate of fire, and heavy weight as reasons why the IDF dropped the FN FAL, in favor of the Galil, which weighed less and was much more accurate and reliable than the FAL. The Colonel they had on said that the FAL was legendary for unreliability and constant jamming in the real desert environment and in heavy use in Battle.

They did not show the IDF using the AR platform which is also widely used by the IDF (the topic was guns developed by Israel so no real surprise).

I though that this was interesting comming from Folks who would really know battlefield demands.

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October 5, 2004, 09:08 AM
There is no be all, end all weapon for everything. Have to match the tool for the environment.

Okay, so M1/14 or HK G3 in long distance, arid areas. AK's for the short range jungle scenario. M4/16's for urban building clearing. I'm sure the list could go on. (I'm being a bit facetious too).

One thing that is interesting is the IDF also doesn't really like the Galil either. I was browsing their website a couple months ago. They have almost completely adopted the M4/16's in favor of the Galil. I guess due to ergomonics, and their battlefront really is within the cities for the most part. I had a 50+ co-worker that is (scottish-israeli) a few years back. I pulled out my 16" RRA and showed it to him, and he was like; "Yeah looks familiar, I have all too many not so fond memories of that gun"...

What can I say, quit trying to get one super-duper gun. Buy everything


Bwana John
October 5, 2004, 09:13 AM
That is why the improved inch version has sand cuts on the bolt carrier and inside the reciever.

October 5, 2004, 09:29 AM
Hmm, didn't know that.

*Note to self look at inch version of FAL from now on.

How about new units, like DSA? Are all new ones inch pattern. I thought the difference was negligable.

Bwana John
October 5, 2004, 09:57 AM
Styer of Austria sold all their stock and equipment (5 tons) to DSA, Austria made the StG-58 version of the FAL which is based on the metric pattern. Sand cut bolts and bolt carriers are much less expensive than metric non-cut bolts, and swap without headspace issues in most cases. The sand-cuts inside the reciever are too expensive to reproduce for most aftermarket companys, and the few inch type aftermarket reciever clones dont have the internal sand-cuts.

October 5, 2004, 10:33 AM
They have almost completely adopted the M4/16's in favor of the Galil. I guess due to ergomonics

Well...it might be because the billions in military aid we give them must be spent on US made products.

Produce the Galil locally for $whatever, or get buy it from Colt on Uncle Sam's dime.

October 5, 2004, 11:05 AM
Well...it might be because the billions in military aid we give them must be spent on US made products.

So who is paying for Sharon's "Wall of Hate" if they're spending it all on weapons "purchases"LOL from us?

I remember giving my 5-year-old $ to buy ME a birthday card. I'd watch her pick it out from a discreet distance and she'd proudly go up to the cashier and pay for it. SO, my daughter BOUGHT me a card!

The difference between Sharon and my daughter is my daughter was grateful AND she didn't use the money I gave her to piss off people who would then in turn try and kill me!!!:fire: Oh, yeah, she would actually give me any change left over! Now she's a teen and I don't even get the change!

$$$ for FAL or FREE for M16 - DOH!!! Must have put their best accountants on this one:banghead:


October 5, 2004, 03:21 PM
There are a number of factors at play here.

For one thing, the Israeli forces use very large numbers of reserve and conscript troops, and at least partly because of this, the Israelis in general are famous for the way they mistreat their individual weapons (the reason for the bottle opener on the Galil was to stop the troops from using magazine lips for the purpose!) When weapons receive poor maintenance AND deliberate abuse, it''s not surprising that they sometimes fail.

The C1-C1A1 (the first FAL to go into large-scale issue) was the service rifle in the Canadian forces during my Army time there. In my experience the rifles worked very well indeed in all conditions, so long as they were properly prepared and cared-for. This specifically includes extremely sandy conditions, deep cold (down to -40F), mud etc. The sandy-condition environments included working in close contact with armor, and we all know how much crud the iron beasts throw into the air. Note that the C1 series does NOT have "sand cuts", nor does it have the full-length receiver cover of the L1A1 rifles, because the C1A1 is adapted for charger-loading the magazine while it's in the rifle. The bolt carrier is completely exposed when in the closed position.

Reliability is pretty-much a training issue, once we have a decent rifle to work with. Poor maintenance = poor performance. A good soldier WILL clean the weapon as necessary, not on some pre-determined schedule set down in a manual. If that means cleaning several times a day, so be it......I'd place a rather high priority on KNOWING my rifle will function whan I really need it. It wouldn't surprise me to find that many civilian riflemen keep their rifles in better condition than troops using the same weapon in the military.

I dearly admire the Garand/M14 riifles, but I too suspect we'd have done better to adopt the FAL back in the '50s. They truly are "shooting machines".

October 5, 2004, 03:22 PM
The Galil is no lightweight. It's something like 4kg without the bipod and carry handle. That's a lot of weight for a 5.56 rifle.

Bartholomew Roberts
October 5, 2004, 03:33 PM
Political rants about Sharon, Israel and/or Palestinians belong in another thread and another forum.

October 5, 2004, 09:39 PM
Bruce B,

You seem to know quite a bit about the effects of sand on weapons. When it comes to the M16/AR15 is it better to just run them dry or with VERY little oil in desert/dirty conditions?

I know how much sand and dirt that oil can attract and I've heard of some people running their weapons with little or no lubrication but... Us poor taxpayers don't have access to a FREE and unlimited supply of weapons;)

In a fantasy SHTF scenario I'd have my AK with me for 100 yard spray shots and an AR15 OR AR10 for longer shots. IF I knew the conditions wouldn't be too dirty/sandy and/or I could keep the weapon(s) clean, the AR15 would be a great combination CQB/Sniper rifle; it would be my all-purpose "can only bring one gun to the party" choice. The lighter ammo means you can carry more.

The FAL is a GREAT weapon but it's heavy and so is the ammo. If I didn't have trucks to supply me with support and ammo, it would not be my first choice. If one believes that only a .308 will do, the AR10 isn't a bad choice and makes a better CQB (in a pinch) than any FAL, IMHO!


October 5, 2004, 10:46 PM
The armor and artillery units in Israel use the Galil SAR (no bipod) model, pretty much everyone else uses the M16/M4/CAR-15 since they get them cheaper from us than they can make the Galil, the M16 is lighter and handier, and generally, the M16 does just fine, especially in urban enviroments, and it's a more "friendly" rifle for conscripts especially weightwise on road marches (You always see guys marching all over the countryside there).

I like the Galil SAR but I must admit, the M16 is a bit lighter.

October 6, 2004, 12:34 AM
I saw the show also.

One guy says it's unreliable versus, what, 93 countries adopting it?

October 6, 2004, 07:12 AM
Don't waste your money on an inch pattern bolt carrier. The sand cuts don't do anything unless your receiver also has them, and none of the current receivers do. If you really must have one, Century's R1A1 and other inch kit manufactured guns have them for alot less than a DSA. Yeah I can hear the Century problem stories now, but mine works just fine. For those that love the HK91/G3, let a little sand get into those bolt rollers and see how quickly that turns into a club too.

Israel may have had problems with the FAL in the sand, but the real problem with the gun was that it was large, heavy and most importantly not delevoped and manufactured in Israel. Along comes the Galil, a home grown overpriced and over weight AK copy that the troops didn't like either. The M16/M4 is lighter and easy to carry and nowhere near as unreliable as the internet commandos would have you believe.

One thing that the internet commandos and chairborne rangers always forget to mention when the threads turn to 7.62 vs. 5.56, is that for as popular as the M1 Garand was, the most popular gun in that era was the M1 carbine. Which was reliable, light, but in a round thats about the equivilent of a 357 mag, a far cry from the 7.62 (either 308 or 30-06) or the 5.56.

For all the Vietnam horror stories about the M16, I remember hearing alot more from regular guys that went there, did their duty and came home, that loved the rifle because it was light, full auto and you could carry alot of ammo. I think the average Israeli soldier is not that much different. And from their government's perspective, the price is right on the m16/M4.

October 6, 2004, 07:33 AM
the Galil, a home grown overpriced and over weight AK copy Don't think so. Actually the Galil is an overpriced overweight Finnish Valmet, which is a clone of the Kalashnikov.xx. OK, in the defense of designed by Israel, they added the bottle opener. ;)

October 6, 2004, 10:17 AM
Howdy, jAK-47.

I think one problem that arises in discussions like this is that folks tend to apply their personal experiences to things in which they have NO experience. So, I have to admit that I've never used an Armalite-type rifle in sandy conditions.

You are correct in saying that oil and other lubes attract grit and other debris very easily, and I'd be sorely tempted to keep my rifle (of whatever type) DRY in a desert-combat environment. There are some very good dry lubes available now, too, which could certainly help the situation to some degree, and I'd look to one of these for the bolt carrier group on the M-16 types, mostly because of the fouling that can build up in that area. I never did like that design feature, much preferring the piston-type gas systems for the job. For the relatively limited amount of shooting that takes place in actual battle, I'd accept the added rifle wear as a cost of "doing business" (and staying alive!).

I owned an original Dutch-made AR-10 for some years and used it quite extensively in cold-weather shooting in the Arctic, but this was well after my time in the sand. It worked rather well down to at least -30F, as long as it was kept absolutely free of lube....same as all the other common semi-autos I owned, such as the FAL, M-14, AR-180, Garand etc. I never did have any chance to use the AR-10 in gritty environments, though.

Speaking as an infantry soldier of THAT day, the 1950s-'60s, I never found the C1, or a #4 Mk 1/2 for that matter, to be terribly burdensome. We did a lot of hiking, too, probably more than current soldiers do. Certainly, more rounds of 5.56 can be carried for a given weight, but those old rifles could strike a meaningful blow 'way out there, and we weren't concerned at all with full-auto fire and its wasteage of ammunition. Funny, how our present-day snuffies are suddenly finding very good uses for the M-14 after all these years..... long distance can really make a difference in how we view a rifle.

October 6, 2004, 11:16 AM
There are some very good dry lubes available now, too, which could certainly help the situation to some degree, and I'd look to one of these for the bolt carrier group on the M-16 types, mostly because of the fouling that can build up in that area.

DAMN! I love my Militec so much... But I "Googled" dry lube and got this site:
It's Sentry Solutions and they make Tuf-Glide . Looks velly interesting. Maybe I'll have to use up/give away my lifetime supply of Militec oil and grease and get me some Tuf-Glide:cool:

I use Break Free CLP on all my stuff and then apply Militec oil and/or grease in the heavy use areas. It works like a charm and I wouldn't be apt to stop using this combo in my SKS or AK. But maybe when I get the AR I'll have to try that dry lube.

If I could "carry" two weapons with me, it would probably be my AK and then a good .308 like the AR-10. The AR15 is a pretty good all-around weapon but Bruce makes a good point (and speaks from REAL experience) about the power and range of the .308. I guess an AR10 or FAL or M1A would be a great choice if you HAD to pick just one weapon.

In a lot of battle scenarios, the .308 combat rifles are better at CQB than an AR15 is at long range accuracy/power. It's NOT an easy choice if you have to choose and it probably comes down to personal choice.

Sorry to hijack your thread Master Blaster but I guess AR vs. .308 is somewhat pertinent to the discussion. I do see some of our special forces guys toting AKs over in Iraq but that could be due to a LOT of different factors and one cannot draw clear conclusions from that.

Thanks Bruce,

October 6, 2004, 02:31 PM
Having sand cuts in both the receiver and the bolt carrier does not make much difference. The H&K roller guns take a little longer to stop, and are the most difficult to unjam and clean in the field. Even the AK and SKS jam with sand, and quicker than you would think. The AR jams just like the rest, but if you can get the bolt to close with the forward assist the direct gas will blow out most of the crud and leave you with a somewhat functional rifle.

They all jam up with sand, and it does not take very long.

Semi-auto pistols fare a bit better, particularly the Glock and the 1911.

Revolvers, and all manually operated actions save single and double barrel breech and muzzle loaders jam up very well with sand.

Blowing sand, from a sand storm, is bad stuff.

Sand sucks.

Fudgie Ghost
October 6, 2004, 04:22 PM
Speaking of "dry" lubricants, I came across a product called "Strike-Hold" awhile ago. Haven't it tried it yet, but it sounds interesting. Can't think of the website offhand--try googling it, I'm sure you'll get a hit.

October 6, 2004, 06:07 PM

Thanks - here it is. Seems like it's a "dry" version of Break Free CLP!


6oz- $6.95
case 16oz-$95
case 6oz-$70
Bulk Quanities Available-Call 1-888-887-7727 for quotes! This product provides a long-lasting dry lubricant, which reduces friction and will
not build up or become brittle. As a demoisturant, Strike-Hold helps dry out
out wet electrical gears and other water sensitive parts. As a protectant,this product provides a shield-like film against the effects of moisture and corrosion, even against salt water, while actually REPELLING SAND, DIRT AND DUST. Strike-Hold contains no CFCs or other ozone depleting substances. Strike-Hold is non-flammable
and very safe to use as directed.

Strike-Hold is a highly penetrating mobile liquid and is intended for field application to satisfy the complete need of cleaning, lubricating, and long-term preservation of both small and large caliber weapons. Strike-Hold facilitates the effective removal of firing residues, gums, and other contaminants from weapon components, while at the same time providing adequate lubrication and long-term preservation for reliable, durable operation in all climatic conditions.

Maybe we could send a case to the Israelis for FREE and they could trade the M16s for FALs? NAHHHHHHHH!

Maybe we need to start a "Dry Lubricant" thread elsewhere? I would consider using this stuff exclusively on an AR15 but I'd continue using the Militec on my AK, SKS, etc. BUT I would probably look at using it on the outside parts to REPEL dirt, sand, etc. and protect against rust. In other words, I might replace my Break Free CLP with this stuff.


October 6, 2004, 06:09 PM
From my own personal experience, sand in the magazine will cause malfunctions long before sand in the gun itself.

I did some sand related function testing a while back. I don't have the URL but it was back on TFL. I took AR, FAL, and AK magazines and exposed them to ever greater amounts of sand and kept using them until they malfunctioned.

The AR mag was the worst, followed closely by the FAL mag. The AK mag was the best. I think that is one of the reasons behind the complaining about the guns in the sand. On the .223 and the .308, sand getting between the cartridges would cause friction and the bolt would not close all the way. Also the followers on those mags fit tighter into the mag body that the AK. Sand between the follower and the mag walls caused binding and would cause an occasional failure when the new round would not get pushed up fast enough. The AK mag failed eventually, but I think that the shape relative shape of the cartridge, or perhaps the violence of the action kept the sandy cartridges from sticking. Plus the follower had more gaps around it to allow sand to fall through and not bind against the walls.

Just something to keep in mind. And yes I did this with my own personal guns.

The actual action of the FAL itself was able to take huge amounts of grit and just blow it out with out any malfunctions. But sand in the mags was bad news.

October 6, 2004, 07:01 PM

Jeff Timm
October 6, 2004, 07:49 PM
Bear in mind, the UK adopted the FN-FAL, despite an advanced prototype bullpup weapon of local design. The "Commonwealth" or former Empire adopted the same weapon. The British SLR was NOT a selective fire weapon. It was semi-auto only.

I liked the ergonometrics of the one I handled. I have more range time with the HK G-3 and the Semi-auto version. I still like the M-16A1 I carried in the US Army.

Geoff Timm
Who thinks somewhere there is a need for a higher velocity weapon as body armor gets cheaper and more available.

Jim K
October 6, 2004, 10:47 PM
With apologies to those FAL fans who don't believe their favorite rifle could ever fail, the story about the Israel FALs quitting in the sand is true, and it was not due to failure to clean the rifles before starting out. It was mainly due to troops riding on or walking behind the tanks, which kicked up huge clouds of dust. When shooting time came, the rounds in the chambers fired and that was that. I don't know any Hebrew cuss words, but I bet I could have learned a lot had I been there at the time.

There is a bit of a story about that period. Before the war broke out, Israeli military authorities bragged to anyone who would listen that they had new, "superior", FALs for their front line troops. When the SHTF, and the guns quit, they were replaced in the front lines with (yep!) K.98k's, which worked in anything. The FAL's were taken back, cleaned up, and issued to rear area troops. The Israel military then told everyone that they had so many of the new rifles that they could even issue them to rear area reserves.

Remember, these are the folks who invented the word "Chutzpah".


October 7, 2004, 01:02 AM
One guy says it's unreliable versus, what, 93 countries adopting it?
Yeah, and Windows 95 was the "best tested" OS in the world in its day. It was used by what, 85+ percent of PC users?:barf: :barf: :barf:

Worldwide acceptance may *suggest* superiority, but it certainly *PROVES* popularity. Clinton, the AWB, and socialized medicine are all popular.

Don't necessarily mean it's really all that good.

I've still never seen any quantified after-action reports from Gulf War I on malfunction rates. I'd really like to know how many Steyr AUGs were fielded, now many rounds were fired from them, and how many jams they had. Even without the qualitative data of what ***conditions** they were carried and used in, this type of info would help us leave the realm of opinion and get some FACTS!!!!

Also want rounds fired/jam stats for the M16 series, the FAL, and every other rifle fielded in the sandbox in quantities more than 100 (if all rifles were fired at least 100 rounds).

October 7, 2004, 03:36 AM
It is my understanding that enough sand can cause most anything short of a claw-hammer to jam.

October 7, 2004, 08:18 AM
You just hit on something that to me is obvious, but I think a lot of people forget about this fact when discussing guns on the internet.
For some reason a myth exists in gun circles that someone invented a miracle machine that is immune to sand.

October 7, 2004, 08:27 AM
Once again, we hear the argument that the Galil is not used because the M16 is cheaper. Of course, this argument ignores one thing: the facts. The Galils are sitting in the warehouses, available for use. Given that Israel has a manpower shortage in the military means that those Galils not issued immediately are available as spares. So why oh why are they not using those weapons, which they have freely available and for which they incurred a large expense Why are they spending money on our gear? By the way, yes Israeli does get aid from us. But, does no one stop to wonder why they spend that aid on M-16s rather than high-tech gear which is more expensive? It's a bad return on their, our, whatever investment?

The simple reason is that the Galil is unsatisfactory for their use. It is considered as too heavy for a 5.56mm, and is prone to microfactures in the barrels (according to the IDF at least).

October 7, 2004, 08:35 AM
They still issue the Galil to armor and artillery units, up till last month at least I KNOW (having seen current pics and video from there).

October 7, 2004, 08:46 AM
They still issue the Galil to armor and artillery units, up till last month at least I KNOW (having seen current pics and video from there).

Support and AFV units still have them, because the additional weight isn't much of an issue for them.

October 7, 2004, 09:10 AM
buzz_knox: By the way, yes Israeli does get aid from us. But, does no one stop to wonder why they spend that aid on M-16s rather than high-tech gear which is more expensive? It's a bad return on their, our, whatever investment? Good point, but consider that Foreign Military Sales credits must be spent on puchasing US-made equipment, and there are likely limitations on what high-tech the Sate Department (not the Defense Department) will approve. They can't (IIRC) use the credits to support Israeli-made equipment. Since purchase price is only a small part of the cost, it's likely that buying an M16 and supporting it under FMS credits would be cheaper than merely supporting the Galil locally. Also, logistically, you want to minimize the number of weapons, both from a parts, maintenance, and training issue. Can't speak to the reliability of the Galil.


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