Maybe I'll build a FAL...


November 10, 2003, 04:43 AM
Since I enjoyed building my AR-15 so much, how much more dificult is the FAL to build? If money was no object, I would get a DSA, but money does matter... a Century Imported piece is more likely. But if I build it, could I stretch the dollar?

Who has done it? Tips, warnings to stay away? And yes, I read, that's why i started thinking of this and want to hear some more comments! :D

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November 10, 2003, 08:43 AM
Last winter I built an 18" cabine from a IMBEL "brazillian" kit and an IMBEL Reciever. I used Gunplumbers instructions as well as lots of help from the

Total tooling probably cost me less than $30. I made my reciever wrench from high density non maring plastic discarded by our tool makers at work. I bought a cheap 1 1/16" wrench from Ace hardware and filed it to fit the barrel flats. I chopped the barrel with hacksaw and crowned it ala "
Gary Jeter" (the king of WESCOG).

I borrowed a sandblaster and compressor and bought two bags of playground sand and blasted everything clean out the back of my garage. I parkerized all the metal using brownells mag park chemicals and a 3 gallon stainless pot from the dollar store on my coleman stove. The barrel parked in a wallpaper tray from home depot.

I found a guy who lived nearby that had headspace gauges and was willing to double check my headspaceing. It was right on. I had used a round of match ammo as my go and match ammo plus masking tape as nogo.

All the plastic was done in bedliner and OD paint.

Overall, it was a blast to work on and I'd do it again. However--I have close to 40hours into the FAL. My AR 15 only took about 1.5-2hrs to assemble from parts (including barreling).

To fun comes when you touch off those first few rounds from a rifle you completly built up with improvised tools and finishing methods and it works perfectly and looks great.

If you have any questions about where to get stuff, or improvising tools, let me know.

Its a great project for the winter.


November 10, 2003, 10:10 AM
USP, Nice job! I recomend Enterprise receivers, they are quality and count as a U.S. Part. I have worked with DSA, and have not seen quality difference to match the price. Personally, I'm kinda ofended by metric though......kinda like gay sex.....just not for me.:D

November 10, 2003, 10:47 AM
I've got everything I need.... except the tools. This might be adecent winter project.

STG kit from Aimsurplus ($250)
Gear Logo reciever.... gunshow ($200)

Of course I still have to get the american parts.... I was thinking of waiting until the AWB dies (I hope)... should be able to assemble using all imported then right?

November 10, 2003, 11:12 AM
No, you'll still need the US parts after the AW ban dies, different set of rules.


November 10, 2003, 02:11 PM

It looks good.

How did you crown the barrel?

If you built it again, do you think it would still take 40 hours?


November 10, 2003, 02:43 PM

Crowning the barrel was very unscientific. I Used a fine hack saw to cut as smooth as possible, then I used masking tape to set up a 90 degree to bore mark around the barrel. Then I marked the newly cut end of the barrel with permanent marker and started filing to level muzzel and make it perpendicular to the bore. When that was through, I used a very sharp and somewhat large drill bit to remove material and break the edge at the muzzel. This established my "crown angle". I spun the bit by hand and then used an old case debur tool to further polish the edge.

Gary Jeter on the falfiles has used a carrage bolt and lapping compound to polish a crown, I didn't go that far as mine looked O.K. and I figured If it realy didn't work out I'd send the barrel off to someone to do it right and put a better muzzel brake on at the same time.

If you do opperate on your barrel, you'll need to either leave it bare, or figure out how to turn it down and rethread it. to attach your muzzel thingy. I didn't do either, and figured out a different way to attach mine. It involved JB weld and set screws that I filed down flush. When I parked the barrel, the assembly came out looking pretty good. It is legal because the barrel isn't threaded and thus the "Permanent attachment" requirement of the ATF doesn't apply.

If I did it again would it take 40 hrs?

It depends. I did a complete rebuild and refinish. If I'd just bolted the rifle together and substituted the US parts, I could have had a functional rifle in less than 3 hours. Most of my time was spent refinishing (sandblasting with an underpowered compressor, preping parkerizing mixture, parking, oil bath, painting markings, etc...) and fabricating tools because I couldn't afford to buy them. Just as a note, I didn't use anything more technical than a dremel to fabricate the reciever wrench.

You can spend as much or as little time and money on one of these as you'd like. I did mine on a budget because I had to and because I knew it would be fun.

It is super reliable, but needs a shorter front sight to compensate for the loss of 3" of barrel.

any other q's-- feel free to ask away.


November 10, 2003, 05:44 PM
I'm impressed with how little usp_fan spent on tools to build his FAL. In my case I spent a couple hundered on tools alone. I purchased a receiver wrench after failing to construct a working substitute. I bought headspace gauges, and pin gauges to determine the correct locking shoulder size (I needed a different one). MAPP torch and silver solder for the muzzle brake. I destroyed a cleaning rod getting the buttstock and buffer spring reassembled, then I bought a buttstock tool. It was mostly nickel and dime stuff, but it added up. I guess the cost of the assembly tools depends a lot on who you know and how creative you are.

Either way, you won't be disappointed. It's a fun project, and the FAL is a sweet shooting rifle.


November 10, 2003, 08:46 PM
I'm concerned about the refinishing, I don't really have anywhere to do it. I wouldn't really mind a beat up looking rifle, but nicer looking would be better.

FireInTheHole: Was that STG kit from AIM in the catalog or something? I can't find it there.

Who else sells kits? I can always keep an eye out for the receiver at the next show so that shouldn't be too bad. There are plenty of shows coming all the time.

But considering the Centruy FAL is only about $530 right now, I guess if I wuss out I can get one of those. Or are those something to run from?

The headspacing check will suck, there is a gunsmith who does free checks though.

November 10, 2003, 09:37 PM

Did you do all the filing on the shoulder of the barrel that goes into the receiver, to get it to headspace properly (as detailed in gunplumber's notebook)? That alone has made me shy away from building my own. The thought of trying to hand file a round barrel shoulder like that or hemmering/peening the frame to expand some metal to fit the barrel makes me a little nervous. It seems like it would be awfully hard to be precise, without a lathe.


November 10, 2003, 09:41 PM
I have never build a rifle before, is a FAL a good starting rifle to work on? I see there is an apparent abundance of parts nad the thought has crossed my mind several times of building one but I am not well educated on the process/laws/etc. IS there a good definitive resource for building a FAL?

November 11, 2003, 12:11 AM
Wile E. Coyote School Of Gunsmithing


November 11, 2003, 12:27 AM
Filing the barrel shoulder is for matching the barrel timing to the torque required to screw it into the receiver. I had to do quite a bit of filing to get mine right. I used the sanding disk approach and it turned out surprisingly well. It's a slow process though.

Headspacing is set by the locking shoulder that is driven into the receiver. Checking the headspace is easy with go/no-go gauges. If the headspace does not check out, you must determine the correct locking shoulder size to fix it. This requires a set of pin gauges (basically just precision rod pieces). There are details on how to do this procedure on the web. Take a look here:


November 11, 2003, 12:46 AM
WhoKnowsWho Said: FireInTheHole: Was that STG kit from AIM in the catalog or something? I can't find it there. Who else sells kits? I can always keep an eye out for the receiver at the next show so that shouldn't be too bad. There are plenty of shows coming all the time.

But considering the Centruy FAL is only about $530 right now, I guess if I wuss out I can get one of those. Or are those something to run from?

I bought the kit from AIM last feb I believe... they cant be imported anymore. It's not the best kit I could have gotten,(no bipod cut barrel, finish on handgaurd is pretty worn...good barrrel though), but the same kits are now $300+

My Advice: Pick up a copy of Shotgun News from walmart. Dealer Warehouse has imbel receivers fro $217. Go to for detailed information.... these guys are falnuts. Quite a few actually make kitguns for a living.

Concerning century fals...... I have one. I bought it from JGsales for ~$500($540 with tax)... they let me handpick w/out a fee. :)

I Got Lucky!

My CIA fal is all metric and has a bipod barrel. It has an imbel receiver.

I had it parked, the barrel chopped, and the headspacing checked by arizona response systems( when I lived in AZ 3 yrs ago.... Mark (proprietor of ARS, AKA "Gunplumber" on falfiles) did a great job and many people who see my fal are surprised that it was originally made by century.

Anyhow, I might get motivated enough to make my very own frankenfal this winter.... We shall see.

November 11, 2003, 08:06 AM
SteveW13: Yes I did hae to file the shoulder somewhat, but it wasn't much and when you crank the barrel to tourque, any concerns about an uneven surface go away. When you feel that baby crunch and compress into position, you know she'll stay there.

Whoknoweswho: refinishing can be very easy. If you don't want to sandblast and repark you can use any number of spray on finishes that look great. I've seen hitemp engine paint or barbeque paint finishes that look fantastic. For a bit more money, you can go the Gunkote route.

Brownells sells everything you need if you want to pursue the hitec bake on finishes. If you get a good kit and only need to even out the color, you may be able to get by with just high temp engine paint from auto zone and baking it in your oven (make sure no significant other is present while you stink up the house).

Part of the fun for me was scouring the falfiles to find cheap ways to do expensive stuff. I don't have a deep mechanical background (I worked my way through school in a bike shop), believe me, if I can figure out how to put one of these together and make it go boom safely, anyone can.


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