Advantages of the FN FAL?


Lucky Strike
October 5, 2008, 10:47 AM
So I'm debating whether i want to buy a semi-auto centerfire "battle rifle".

I was talking to a coworker who seems to be a pretty knowlegable gun guy (was a USMC weapons instructor and current Appleseed instructor).

He seemed to say that if you're going to buy just one (i'm assuming he has probably a wide variety of various rifles) then to get an FN FAL.

I'm pretty new to guns and had never really heard of the FN FAL...a quick google search gave me an abbreviated history of the rifle (right arm of the free world)...just wondering from you guys what the advantages would be of getting an FN FAL over a AR15, AK47, etc

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Art Eatman
October 5, 2008, 11:04 AM
The main advantage is that of the more powerful cartridge, compared to the AR or AK. Other than that, it's personal preference.

I've messed with an HK-91, an M1A and I still have a Garand. Never toyed with the FAL.

I've been messing with the .30-'06 for over half its life-span, so I reckon that's a large part of why I'm partial to the Garand. After all, the uber-low probabilities of me ever having to use a battle rifle as a battle rifle make it silly to buy something just because other folks use it. (I started shooting a Garand some 57 years ago, contributing greatly to my uselessness as a tax-paying citizen.)

Back to the question: I don't know of any reason NOT to get the FAL. Lots of folks dislike the bolt lockup and trigger on the HK, and other EBRs of that general sort have arguments back and forth about parts-fit and ensuing reliability issues. Haven't read of such problems with the FAL.

:), Art

October 5, 2008, 11:07 AM
FN FAL over a AR15, AK47, etc

Well, .308 over the smaller "intermediate" rounds is the main factor.

That's just a philosophical question you have to ask yourself, regardless of what gun you end up with.

If you are following the traditional definition of "main battle rifle" then you won't be looking at ARs or AKs anyway.

FN-FAL, PTR91, AR10 style and M1A's are going to be your popular short list for that in the magazine fed style in "full power" cartridges.

The decision between whether to get an FAL or an AR/AK shouldn't be so much about the gun as the ammo they fire. That's where the big difference is.

If you do decide you want the bigger cartridge the FAL is an excellent choice, but not the only one.

October 5, 2008, 11:09 AM
Let's see; made outta steel, .308 cartridge, 20 round mags, obama not in office yet!!! I'd say go for it. :D

October 5, 2008, 11:19 AM
I suggest you look at all of them if you can.
Many FALs have been assembled from parts kits, which is OK if the assemblers knew what they were doing.
DSA manufactures them from scratch but they are a little pricey.

I went though basic with the M-14 and and very partial to that weapon. Never had a malfunction with an M-14 or an M1A. Ever.

One of my AR 10s is the most accurate gas gun I have ever seen.

Find one you like and get it.

October 5, 2008, 12:55 PM
Fals, are everywhere, I mean EVERWHERE!!!! parts, mags, etc., can be found on every continent. they , like ak's, allways work, they are pretty stable and accurate, they can take a serious beating.

October 5, 2008, 01:14 PM
I'm not an expert, but My personal preferance would be the FAL just based on the track record compared to the others. Not that they dont come close, but each to his own. My second pick would be an AR10 carbine, followed by the M14, and then the HK 7.62 model last.

October 5, 2008, 01:32 PM
Lots of folks dislike the bolt lockup and trigger on the HK,

Bill Springfield put a trigger job on my PTR 91 that is the equal of my M1a match triggers.

The rear sight is simple, and it does not wobble. An issue I have with my FAL's.

> wrote:
> I can set you up with a pull that has virtually no creep in the 4.75 area. I
> also remove all the take up slack. Price runs $54 and return postage is
> included. Only the trigger pack is needed, personal check is fine. My address
> is:
> Bill Springfield
> 4135 Cricket Ct.
> Colorado Springs, Co 80918

As for the FAL, a gunsmith friend of mine built up two for me. My critieria was "best fit", I did not care for "all matching". But the trigger was not so good. He gave me a handfull of triggers, sears, etc, and I mixed and matched. One combination actually had hammer following problems. What I ended up with is something with just a little creep.

The BATF required removal of the safety sear, a device which is used in fully automatic fire, but one that also prevents hammer follow in semi auto. So I believe the BATF made the design less safe. What they don't know about guns would fill all the libraries of the world.

The safety sear is the device on the left in the picture.

Picture came from

I don't know anyone, and I would like to know, if someone can put a clean crisp trigger of 4.5 pounds pull on a FAL.

The sights on a FAL are adequate for a battle rifle. They are not target sights, and the M14 has them all beat.

I would certainly not buy a put together by Century, or any other massive importer of FAL's. The fit and finish I have seen on rifles assembled by those guys were awful.

However, if you were to get a DSA, those that I have seen were excellent.

The FAL is a proven battle rifle. It was adopted by hundreds of countries. It almost was adopted by the US, but the Army decision makers were very conservative and chose the M14, which is very similiar to the rifle they liked: the Garand.

The FAL is an expensive rifle, which is why it is not in service with first world countries anymore.

Al Thompson
October 5, 2008, 01:35 PM
Big advantage for FALs - magazine costs. M1A - expensive magazines, but better trigger and (depending on your tastes) "different/better" ergonomics.

I'd vote for the FAL both on personal preference and after purchase costs, I.E., magazines.

October 5, 2008, 01:38 PM
Bill Springfield put a trigger job on my PTR 91 that is the equal of my M1a match triggers.

Bill does FALs too. Much improvement. Not as noticeable as the PTR but much better. I'm going to send my parts to him soon. Friend of mine has his done and it was really nice.

October 5, 2008, 02:08 PM
Its def. a toss up between the FAL and M1a...

Example- im a little bigger then my father. i shoot excellent with an M1A, he shoots excellent with the FAL. We both like both rifles, but our accuracy comes naturally with diffrent rifles.

I have noticed that in a "battle" situation the FAL seems to have the edge. ive completly half assed a whole clip and still turned nice groups at 100 and 200 yds, where you have to consentrate more with the M1A (but the result is a tighter group, but again, battle situation)

October 5, 2008, 03:13 PM
If ergonomics are more important to you than trigger or sight quality (and you'd be stupid to say "yeah, it is"), then a FAL is the rifle for you. Not to talk bad about the FAL, but it has a bad trigger and bad sights. It is very reliable, very rugged, and very powerful. But, truly, the M14 is slightly better rifle.

Boston provides a nice analysis of it in the latest edition of Boston's Gun Bible.

However, good M14s are very expensive. You'll spend at least 2k for a good one. You could be happy with an M1A if you found a good one (and not all that Springfield Armory turns out are the best quality that they could be), but if you bought an STG58 from DSA and get a replacement synthetic handguard, it would serve you pretty well, and would only set you back about $1,200. Then, you could maybe get a trigger job from Arizona Response Systems or DSA or someone else who does FAL triggers. Then better sights if you can find them, or something. You know, slightly add on to it and improve it later.

B.D. Turner
October 5, 2008, 03:43 PM
With the current political and economic situation if you want one don't wait. I have built several FN's from kits using Imbel uppers and all have been 100% functional and reliable. I would get a metric rather than an inch pattern based on availability on mags.

The Wiry Irishman
October 5, 2008, 04:05 PM
I don't know anyone, and I would like to know, if someone can put a clean crisp trigger of 4.5 pounds pull on a FAL.

DSA's "Speed Trigger" is just that - mine breaks at a hair over 4 and is pretty crisp to boot. Huge improvement over the typical FAL trigger.

October 5, 2008, 05:29 PM
FALs are great rifles, and DSA makes a great FAL... but nothing is perfect. My brand new DSA STG58 has major issues, and since mine has problems I started to research them, and quite a few people have had problems with them.

Here's a link to one thread on titled "failure to feed" (

In case you are not signed up there and/or don't feel like signing up, here is a post from that thread which gives a comprehensive overview of the most "common" failure to feed issues and causes:

Among the most common symptoms of FTF/FTE (failure to feed, failure to extract) are the following:

1. Bolt riding over the cartridge either causing a jam or missing the cartridge altogether

2. New cartridge only partially chambers, spent casing extracts and may or may not eject

3. New cartridge jamming against back of receiver

4. No apparent movement of bolt or carrier regardless of gas setting

5. Partial extraction of spent casing regardless of gas setting, casing jams hard in chamber

6. Gas tube blows out of gas block

7. I've done all the stuff to get more gas but my FAL STILL won't cycle properly.

8. Bolt closes easily on headspace guage but will not chamber round. Jams up tight.

FIRST, have you checked and made sure that your extractor hasn't broken?

I will deal with them in order.

Before you do anything, ensure that the rifle is assembled correctly and there are no broken parts.

1. Bolt riding over the cartridge – This is a FTF problem and can almost always be traced to three common problems.

a. First, check to see if the magazine is being held in the mag well tightly. If it is loose, your problem is most likely a mag catch that is too short. The solution is to replace it with one with an extended mag catch. Tapco offers extended mag catches for about $10. Alternately you could weld a small bead on the end. In either case you will have to “file to fit” for a good tight hold.

b. Second, take the bolt and carrier out and remove the dust cover and close the rifle. Insert a mag with at least two cartridges into the mag well. Now look at the mag from the top of the receiver to see if the mag looks like it is symmetrically positioned in the well, especially near the front. Most often it is well used mags that have this problem which will manifest itself as a FTF from one side of the mag or the other. Also, check the mag for a weak spring. In either case. Get a new mag and throw this one away. (Yes, you can replace a weak spring if you have another bad mag laying around but at $10 each for new mags, it is hardly worth it.)

c. Third, look for long fairly deep scratches in the cases of cartridges that have jammed. This is usually caused by sharp edges on the feed plate at the top of the mag well and more often on cartridges that feed from the left than the right. Polish the edges of the feed plate with 400 grit wet or dry or finer.

2. New cartridge only partially chambers, spent casing extracts and may or may not eject

a. If the spent casing eject reliably, check to see if the bolt carrier moves easily in the rails. Imbel GL (gear logo) receivers are well made but a common problem is that the receiver rail is directly beneath some of the lettering stampings and occasionally gets distorted from an over zealous machine operator. Gunplumber suggests taking a small bastard file and gently but firmly filing the “hump” off.

b. If you have an aftermarket HTS (hammer, trigger, sear) combo installed, remove and replace them with the pieces that were provided with the kit for troubleshooting. Century is not known for tight adherence to tolerances and their HTS will often cause FTF problems because they drag on the bottom of the bolt or carrier.

c. Make sure that the recoil tube is straight and undamaged and that the spring and recoil plunger are lightly greased. A small amount of grease will not cause the rifle to lock up.

d. Check for weak recoil spring. R&R as necessary.

e. Perform gas checks in Number 4. c, d, e, f, and i.

3. New cartridge jamming against back of receiver

a. This is most common with Century receivers. I have bad news, there is a problem with the design of the feed ramps that cannot be fixed easily. Polish the feed ramps with a felt tip and rouge on a Dremel and it may fix it. Others have suggested MIG welding or brazing a small ramp and Dremeling it to shape. Proceed at your own discretion.

b. This can also be a problem caused by a slightly out of spec barrel. The barrel around the chamber cut should have a bevel about 1/8" wide. You can widen it slightly with a small file and polish it with fine sandpaper and then a felt tip and rouge on a dremel.

4. No apparent movement of bolt or carrier regardless of gas setting

a. Check that the gas plug is in the “A” position.

b. You DID remember to put the gas piston back in, didn’t you?

c. Check to make sure the gas tube is pinned in place and has not rotated. Ideally, the exhaust ports in the gas tube should be at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock but if they are at 10 and 2, it will not affect operation.

d. Ensure that the gas port is not obstructed.

e. Check that gas piston is not undersized or worn. Proper diameter is between 0.429” and 0.431”.

f. Excess leakage around gas tube, see No. 6

g. Check that the bolt carrier “rat tail” is straight and in the recoil plunger detent and not jammed against the back of the lower receiver when closed.

h. Take the gas piston spring out and roll the piston on a flat surface to check for straightness. Reinstall the gas piston with the bolt and carrier removed. The piston should fall freely through the gas cylinder and gas nut. If not check gas tube and gas nut for roundness and damage.

i. Check for cracked gas block.

j. Make sure you haven't put a metric gas plug in an inch gas block. A metric gas plug is about 3/16" longer than the inch plug. The gas plugs are not interchangeable.

5. Partial extraction of spent casing regardless of gas setting, casing jams hard in chamber

a. This is most often a problem of not enough gas. What is REALLY happening is that the spent casing is going back a small distance and then being pushed back forward into the chamber and shares solutions with No. 4. c, d, e, and f above.

b. Check that the gas piston moves freely. See 4. h above.

c. Check that carrier moves freely. See 2. a, b, and c above.

6. Gas tube blows out of gas block. This is a common problem in the G1 kits and the solution is both simple and cheap.

a. First, clean the thread of the gas block and gas cylinder and spread a small amout of solder flux on the threads.

b. Install and pin the gas tube with the exhaust ports at 4 and 8 o’clock on the rifle as if you are preparing to shoot it without the gas piston or spring installed.

c. Using Mapp gas, heat the threaded area and apply silver solder (preferably high temp silver solder because it is stronger) until it flows into the joint.

d. After the area cools, clean the excess flux off the area (some flux is acid based) and you may file the high spots off the solder with a small file if your solder job isn’t too pretty or interferes with the gas regulator.

e. With a Dremel cut off wheel, cut the gas tube off about 2 inches from the back of the tube (the end closest to the receiver) and discard it. Use sandpaper to smooth the end off.

7. I've done all the stuff to get more gas but my FAL STILL won't cycle properly

a. Okay, one more trick to get more bleed gas. Remove the gas plug, piston, spring and tube. put a 1/4" wooden dowel down the barrel.

b. Starting with a #41 or so drill bit insert it BY HAND through the bleed hole in the gas block and use it to determine the size of the gas port hole in your barrel.

c. Once you have determined the approximate diameter of your gas port hole, take the next larger drill bit and use it to ream the hole out. Keep the drill speed slow and use plenty of cutting fluid and you will be less likely to break your drill bit off in the hole.

d. Test the function of the rifle once you have gone up a couple of sizes. You should see some improvement. You can increase the size of the hole up to about 0.125" untill you get enough gas for proper operation.

8. Bolt closes easily on headspace guage but will not chamber round. Jams up tight.

a. Does a cartridge fit into the chamber when you feed it by hand?

No. Clean chamber thoroughly. Ensure cartridge is in spec. Lastly, you may need to ream the chamber slightly.

Yes. It could be the top rear edge of the bolt binding up against the top inside of the carrier. Put a piece of Playdoh or some other putty on the inside top rear of the bolt carrier and then put the bolt in the carrier. Put them both in the receiver and try to push it closed with a cartride in the bolt until it binds. Pull the bolt and carrier out and observe the Playdoh. Is it pinched all the way to the carrier? If so, file a small amount off the top rear of the bolt until it clears.

Lots of good information... and it seems that the vast majority of DSA FALs do work properly right out of the box. As a side note, in my unofficial and unscientific observation, all three people (including myself) who have *recently* posted of feed problems all had STGs, and not SAs. Might be a coincidence, might not.

October 5, 2008, 05:59 PM
I'll do you one better and just list the only disadvantages:
- Ammo for them is expensive
- They are a little on the heavy side

Other than that, I can't think of any reason to not buy a FAL.

Deer Hunter
October 5, 2008, 06:37 PM
My FAL is actually pretty handy. It's got an 18" barrel, though.

October 5, 2008, 08:29 PM
Deer hunter, what are the specs on your FAL? Thanks.

October 5, 2008, 08:33 PM
Advantages of the FN FAL?

They can be had for less than a nice M14.

October 5, 2008, 08:33 PM
I cut my teeth on the L1A1 (British Army variant of the FAL) and yes it is not a lightweight beast, usually 9 lb 9oz unloaded, 10lb 10 oz with a mag of 20.

It does what it says on the box.

It is designed as a battle rifle which means it's full calibre, rugged, reliable, easy to clean and maintain. It is NOT designed to punch one ragged hole at 600 metres.

It will however, in the right hands, comfortably put all 20 of those rounds in a man sized target at 600 meters........

I would definitely look into an optic mount capable top slide if you do want to shoot at range.

Deer Hunter
October 5, 2008, 08:50 PM

Scope recently died on me, so it's a bit lighter now.

18" NEW barrel, short steyr FH. DSA receiver. Austrian furniture, bolt, etc.

October 5, 2008, 08:52 PM
FALs are simple, rugged, and built out of milled steel parts. They are very nice guns and built well.

October 5, 2008, 08:53 PM
Deer Hunter. I gotta ask. And I've seen a LOT of guns over the years.

WTH is that double thing on the right hand of that picture LOL?

Deer Hunter
October 5, 2008, 09:41 PM
I gotta stop posting that picture without linking people first...

October 5, 2008, 10:00 PM
Man I'm glad I bought mine back in 2000, paid $500 for one built by Century Arms Inc, (CAI) on an STG58 kit with an imbel gear logo receiver from J&G Sales in AZ. Had to have it reheadspaced and parked by the best fal smith in the country I might add, Arizona Response Systems for another $200.

The ban on importation of surplus barrels really jacked up the price eh? Ammo used to only cost $100-150 per 1000 rounds too, but now has spiked to ~$500/case.

If you shop you should be able to get a used FAL for $800 (imbel receiver only! no hesse or enterprise). I'd only buy it if I could test fire it tho.

October 5, 2008, 10:13 PM
OK...I am brand new here but after looking around a bit, I seem to have found some people I can be friends with. I am replying here because you asked about FAL's and that is a subject near and dear to my heart.

I have owned an M1A (Springfield Armory) and I still own a DSA made Stg 58 which is a FAL made on a US made receiver out of foreign parts ( I want to say Belgian but at the moment I dont remember.)

OK why did your friend tell you that if you were just gonna own one Main Battle Rifle it should be a FAL....the simple truth is that they are exceptionally rugged, easy to maintain, reasonably accurate and there are tons of extra parts and magazines available. The .308 round is also powerful and even though its heavier to carry a bunch of magazines, it has greater stopping power then the round used for the AR-15.

Go check out "the FAL files" website and particularly look for the thread in the weapons section called "the tale of old dirty" . It is the story of a FAL that has purposefully been used and abused by its owner for 10,000 + rounds and never cleaned, including a dunk in a lake and some mud, if it doesnt make you sit up and take notice that the FAL is a great piece of gear, then no argument here will convince you. You can also view the FAQ section there and learn alot about why FAL's are so highly regarded.

Yes the sights on an M1A are better and I think the M1A gets a slight nod for accuracy but the cost of the magazines is high ( think $8-10 for a 20 rd FAL mag and $40-50 for a 20 rd M1A mag!) and that is before we have a democrat in the White House! The FAL has an adjustable gas system which is far superior to the M1A and is easier to clean and maintain.
I like the M1A but when I had to pick one to let go of, there was no argument in my head about which gun I would want to bet my life and the lives of my family on.

There are many flavors of FAL and several companies make receivers for them (Imbel and DSA being good ones) and then use surplus parts to make a complete rifle. If you can afford it, find a DSA receiver with a good set of parts on it and you will have a great weapon.

Stepping off my soapbox.


October 5, 2008, 10:18 PM
I still own a DSA made Stg 58 which is a FAL made on a US made receiver out of foreign parts ( I want to say Belgian but at the moment I dont remember.)

Austrian :) Very nice rifles.

Welcome to THR.

October 5, 2008, 11:00 PM
Slight correction. 44MAG is currently selling the same M-14 mags the military is using for $22.99, not 40 to 50 bucks. I have a bunch of early USGi M14 mags and 5 bought from 44MAG. Performance is the same.

Took me a long time to figure out one of the problems I was having with my DSA FAL was a bad mag. And it was a FN made mag.

October 6, 2008, 06:13 AM
True. The good old days a few years back were that a working M14 magazine cost $40-$80, or more. Real (and good) FAL mags have always been considerably cheaper. These days, they are closer to price, though M14 mags (good ones) are still double or more than FAL ones.


October 6, 2008, 08:04 AM
I owned an FN G1 for awhile, a few years back. It was an OK rifle. The forend got to hot to hold onto after a mag dump, and cleanup was relatively involved.

I traded it for a G3. Never looked back.

Perhaps if you have a well stocked gun store nearby, you can go and fondle a few examples and decide for yourself which ones fit you best. As far as practical accuracy is concerned, a good example of a FAL, a G3, and M14 will all shoot well enough, and probably better than most people here can shoot them. IMO, in the end it is how it fits you that matters.


October 6, 2008, 02:05 PM
I don't like the metal fore-ends of the G1 either, for that same reason - plastic fore-ends on a FAL make it much more manageable.

October 6, 2008, 05:24 PM
FALs are simple, rugged, and built out of milled steel parts. They are very nice guns and built well.

That about sums it up.

Except the "milled" part.

I don't think there ever was a milled FAL receiver.
AFAIK, the upper receivers are are all steel castings that have been machined.

Lotta steel in a FAL for sure.

October 6, 2008, 05:34 PM
I don't think there ever was a milled FAL receiver.
AFAIK, the upper receivers are are all steel castings that have been machined.

I think my IMBEL was not only milled, it may have started out as a forging.

Considering the number of countries that made FAL's, I am certain one of them milled the receiver from bar stock. I have handled German, FN, Austrailian, Argentine, and IMBEL. I don't recall being told that any of those were castings.

I have read of American receivers that were cast.

According to a class III manufacturer I know, the FAL receiver takes more machining to produce than a M1a receiver. Another reason why a new FN made FAL in the 70's was $3,000 (in today's money).

October 6, 2008, 06:12 PM
All FAL's are milled. Some are cast while others forged. The Imbel is forged.


October 6, 2008, 06:18 PM
FALs aren't quite as accurate as some other battle rifles...but they are reliable, ergonomic, price effective, and the best balanced self-loading battle rifle ever created.


October 7, 2008, 11:45 AM
Saive approves:

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