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Got an FAL, seems like a good rifle but I think I hate it?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by handloader357, Mar 6, 2013.

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  1. handloader357

    handloader357 Member

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    Ok, so with all the crap going on lately I figured it was time I picked up a semi auto, detachable box fed 308/7.62x51. I narrowed my choices down to an AR-10, M1A or FAL. The only one I've been able to find in the flesh is a carbine length DSA FAL SA58. It handled nicely from a balance perspective and I can get a sight picture very quickly and comfortably when shouldering the rifle. All in all it seems like a reliable and well built piece of equipment. The part I think I hate is the ergonomics of all the features. So far here's what I've noticed...

    - Having the charge handle on the left side seems foreign to me
    - Mag release is awkward
    - Removing/inserting a mag under stress seems like it could be a problem
    - The sling swivels seem oddly oriented to each other
    - Slide lock is kind of a pain to operate
    - The adjustable gas block thing seems like it could cause problems, why isn't it a fixed configuration like the AR or the rotating bolt Garand based guns?

    Admittedly I'm an FAL noob and I haven't spent much time with this rifle - but the 1st time I picked up an AR, a Mini14 or an M1 carbine it felt right. The FAL just seems foreign to me. Looking for some opinion here, do you all think an AR guy can warm up to an FAL or should I hunt down an AR or M14 type 308? Maybe there's some mods that can take the weirdness out of the mag release and slide lock?

    I don't want this to turn into a which gun is more accurate thread or anything like that. The purpose here isn't to be a target tack driver, its for end of the world type defense. I already have my favorite tried and true pistols, shotguns and rifles for home/personal security and hunting. The 308 I'm looking for is strictly for zombie apocalypse type applications and a little fun at the range.

    I really want to like the FAL more than I do... Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom you all might be able to offer.
     
  2. Eb1

    Eb1 Member

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    Just shoot it a lot, and the oddities will become second nature.
     
  3. TexasPatriot.308

    TexasPatriot.308 Member

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    maybe you should have bought American, I love AR10s and the M1A Springfield stands out.
     
  4. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Member

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    Assuming you are right handed, by having the charging handle on the left means you won't be tempted to remove your trigger hand from the pistol grip to charge it. Take a rifle class and learn how to run it. I certainly wouldn't get rid of it.
     
  5. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

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    DSA is in Illinois.



    The charging handle is on the left so you can access it with your support hand instead of loading a mag with your left hand and then charging the gun with your right. It is a much quicker way to charge the rifle.

    Paddle mag releases are pretty standard when looking at older combat rifles (especially ones made/designed at the same time as the AK, FAL, and M1A). It isn't quite as easy as an AR mag release, but it works well. On my FAL I am able to use my trigger finger to push the release forward and drop the mag. Though I will say that I have long fingers so it may not work for you. Rocking the mag front to back is also a standard design feature of the time. Again, not as simple as an AR, but it is easy to do quickly with practice and is a much more robust way to lock a mag into place.

    IMO the adjustable gas block is better than a fixed gas block. For general use, open it all the way up and load one round in the mag. Fire the round and if the bolt doesn't lock back on the empty mag, increase the gas setting by one notch. Continue this until the bolt locks back, then dial 2 more clicks of gas and you should be good for almost anything short of burying the gun in mud. And if that happens, just dial in more gas to make the gun function.

    Another advantage of the adjustable gas block is that you can change it to suit your individual situation while shooting. Throwing brass into the face of the guy next to you at the range? Lower the gas setting and you won't hit him (or at least not as hard). Or if you have a recoil shy shooter just starting out on .308 rifles, you can dial down the gas system so it doesn't hit them as hard. It also allows you to use suppressors (increased back pressure) without overgassing the system.


    Most of these issues are things that are just unique to the rifle and are not detriments or flaws of the design. Just spend time handling your rifle and it will feel more natural. Hell, there may even be a time when certain aspects of the FAL seem "right" and you start thinking your AR is the one in the wrong :D
     
  6. Girodin

    Girodin Member

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    Most of your objection can be overcome simply by learning to run the rifle properly. Investing in training will get you further ahead than investing in another rifle.
     
  7. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    Look at how many countries' military branches used it around the globe.
    The FN-49, which (as you might know) was the forerunner is sometimes called one of the very best military semi-auto rifles ever built, but the timing was not the best.

    The photo of the farmer next to his son in Zimbabwe (former "Rhodesia"), holding their FALs while living under threatening conditions, and photos of South African commandos with their FALs in the long Border War caught my attention.
    Effective use in the Falklands War by the Royal Marines (or Argentinians) also made an impression.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  8. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Member

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    I'll gladly cover the cost of your FFL shipping to my FFL for umm... proper disposal. :p
     
  9. Ash

    Ash Member

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    The idea of an adjustable gas port/system has positives and negatives. It means you can adjust your rifle to suit different ammo, true, but it also means that if it gets adjusted the wrong direction or gets worn, it can turn the rifle into a bolt-action only. They also can, with wear, begin to leak causing problems with cycling. In addition, many can be installed upside down turning the rifle into a bolt-action only again. Lastly, they add complication to the design - one more thing to break.

    There are pro's and con's with adjustable gas systems. Ever notice that most combat rifles in use today do not have them?

    Otherwise, I liked the other features of the FAL. I consider it to be a fine combat rifle - obviously most free nations felt the same. I prefer the M14 type rifle because of the traditional stock. However, should I wish to go with a pistol grip, I would prefer the FAL - though I like the L1A1 flavor variety over the metric.
     
  10. Hollerpoint

    Hollerpoint Member

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    Just went down the M1A road and while it handles nice, it is a nightmare to scope and all parts are Exxxxxpensive. My advice is AR10 or PTR 91. But then again, I like the FAL.
     
  11. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    If you are coming from and AR pattern rifle the FAL may seem goofy but I promise you, shoot it and work with it and you will come to love it.

    The charging handle is on the correct side and is easier to use than an AR.
    I have short fingers and can still release the mag with my trigger finger while gripping the weapon.
    If a mag hangs in the well during change I just whack it out of the way with a fresh mag. Rock and lock is just as fast once you become familiar with it.
    What's a sling?
    The slide lock is rather easy to use, not as easy as an AR for sure, but not difficult. Again, training and usage is the key.
    Once I find the happy spot in the gas system I leave it alone. No issues there.

    Shoot it a while, heck take it to a competition, and see if these problems don't sort themselves out.
     
  12. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Your post proves that all things are based on individual perception. You find the FAL clumsy while I find it the most ergonomic of any battle rifle I have held. If you are unimpressed with it the shed yourself of it and get something you like better.

    The FAL is the rifle I enjoy shooting the most. Designed in 1954 it looks futuristic today.


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  13. amd6547

    amd6547 Member

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    "Buy American?"...
    I guess the poster doesn't know how close America came to adopting the FAL instead of the trouble prone M14. We would have, if the competition had been fair.
     
  14. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Member

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    I understand OP's reaction to the rifle. It is certainly a good rifle, but for some people it just isn't "right."

    I had in the 80s or 90s a G1 FN FAL, select fire. Try as I might to like that rifle, it just never worked for me. I think the steel fore end was what did it to me. Traded for a G3, and never looked back.

    I have friends who HATE the G3, like it was Satan's spawn... they have NOTHING good to say about it, but heck, it works for me. Now, years later, I'm using a PTR91 and am very happy with my choice.

    If I understood OP correctly, it is a Para FAL side folder from DSA? About 5 years ago I had an opportunity to shoot one of those. The sling swivel gave me a fat lip, as it is at the left rear of the receiver near the folding stock, and something in that rifle would ring like a bell with a long, clear, tone each time it was fired. I thought it might be the flash hider, as I had one which used to vibrate or ring when the rifle was fired, but I never was able to isolate that sound.

    Personally the mag changes and the BHO were really nice features of the FAL, I thought. I never did much care for the adjustable gas system, it just seemed unnecessary, and it was a pain in the sit upon to clean that device. The trigger was very narrow, and my finger would hurt after a short while shooting that thing, not to mention the impossibility of using my support hand on the handguard as it was so darned hot after a mag or two.
     
  15. itsa pain

    itsa pain member

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    what the OP listed as disadvantages I think most are advantages. like the charging handle on the left the mag release and the gas system. mag changes are much faster then the M1A being after the mag is put in your thumb is near the bolt release and it is brought from empty in action pretty fast. an operating handle on the right to me is backwards
     
  16. Stevie-Ray

    Stevie-Ray Member

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    I have to agree. I bought my FAL almost 20 years before my AR. I still prefer the FAL. Love the left side charging and love the gas system. Mine spits out normal surplus so lightly, it falls to my right side in a nice pile. Recoil is practically non-existent, less than that of my AR. A day with my FAL is so relaxing it is eclipsed, for me, only by a day with a bolt-action .22.
     
  17. adelbridge

    adelbridge Member

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    I enjoy them as a historical military classic but they are old technology. AR-10 is a superior rifle in most respects. If you wanted to unload the DSA it shouldnt be hard in this market as long as you didnt pay crazy for it you should be able to turn a little profit.
     
  18. handloader357

    handloader357 Member

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    Thanks everyone for your valuable input. I think I'll just have to take this rifle out to the range and see what I can do with it. I guess just like anything else, practice practice practice...

    I got a good buy on it and could turn it for a profit on gunbroker right now, but in all honesty I've only ever parted with 1 gun and I still miss it!

    Now I've just got to score some ammo. what a PITA that's been lately! At least I've got some brass and dies coming for it...
     
  19. -v-

    -v- Member

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    Take some time to practice running it and doing magazine changes. One you get used to it a bit, I think you'll like it a bit more.

    I'm no FAL expert, but it seems to me that magazines could also be hammered out with a spent mag, like an AK. Just use the fresh mag to hit the mag release and the back of the spent magazine to knock it out, and rock a fresh one in. Done.

    Also, I understand the comment about the gas regulator getting worn out, but here's a better question: Who here has ever had or heard of a gas regulator getting worn out? Gas rings in an AR have a life-span of about 6,000 rounds. I would wager that the gas regulator on a FAL has a lifespan many times that of the barrel.
     
  20. Ash

    Ash Member

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    The AR-10 is no newer tech - it was designed largely at the same time. A positive aspect of the FAL or M14 over the AR-10 is that the previous two are standardized rifles with military parts available plus complete interchangeability of magazines between types. Sure, FAL's have either inch or metric magazines, but that is as complicated as it gets. Magazines are easy to get and are cheap.

    I've dealt with worn-out FAL gas regulators from a batch of Rhodesian FAL's as well as some German G1's from Turkey.

    I find nothing in the AR-10 that makes is more appealing than either the FAL, G3, or M14.
     
  21. bozzman3

    bozzman3 Member

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    Does yours look like mine??
    656986[/ATTACH]"] 2011-05-11_13-20-31_199.jpg
     

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  22. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    I think his feet are smaller...
     
  23. handloader357

    handloader357 Member

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    Pretty similar....


    [​IMG]
     

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  24. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    My FAL and AR.
     

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  25. handloader357

    handloader357 Member

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    Very Fancy, Robert....

    How do the rails work on the FAL? Is it just a replacement for the dust cover? Or attaches to one?
     
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