FN FAL Field Strip

The FN FAL is perhaps the most famous battle rifle of all time, and served with distinction all around the world during the 20th century. Pity that smaller 5.56 caliber rifles have phased the gun out in military use, and civilians don’t seem to gravitate towards them as much either. Regardless, what makes the FAL tick and how do you access the guts?

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Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • BattleshipGrey

    I wanted one of these for so long but they were always out of my reach. Now the ammo is too expensive to feed an FAL.

    • nadnerbus

      I can’t really afford to feed my M1A or my LR308. Always wanted a FAL though. I’ve never even so much as seen one for sale at a gun shop, though. I know DS Arms makes them still, but it must be mostly made to order I’m guessing.

      • Robert Harper

        They do production, people just buy them up even though DSA rifles are high priced and iffy quality. The best deals are on the used market but you have to make sure the rifle checks out. Sometimes a beautiful parts kit will be put together by a Bubba and need some additional work to get it to run right.

      • The Brigadier

        They are made on modern cad/cam machines using modern metals that are way superior to those used in the ’50s and ’60s. One of the problems with the FAL fifty years ago was the solder joint on the gas tube. Modern plasma spot welding fixed that problem for good. Atlantic Firearms has a waiting list and they go anywhere from $1200 to around $2000 for a fully tricked out one with optics.

    • Mark

      You can build one relatively inexpensively.

    • Robert Harper

      I put a lot of 7.62×51 away when I could buy it cheap and when I had a lot of disposable income, I also got a nice stash of components to reload with.
      I also have a .22LR conversion kit for the FAL and have a couple of bricks put away just for it, so it’s not too hard to feed my FALs, I just need to stop buying so many!

  • Kelly Jackson

    Never see these anymore at gun shows. Such an awesome gun

  • datimes

    My all time favorite rifle. Easy to shoot. Easy to clean. I have 3 and an FNC.

  • James

    My G-1 is still my favorite rifle to shoot. Low recoil, pleasant impulse but heavy weight. Maybe 2.0 MOA. Trigger could be a lot better, but I’m spoiled. AR10 is much better platform for 3gun though.

    Wouldn’t shoot it much except for cheap m80 projectiles and a handloading press.

  • Wolfgar

    I have owned four FN FAL rifles in my life. Two were FN manufacture and one a Springfield Armory made in Brazil. The one I own today is made by DSA and it is the lightest and most accurate of the four. I love these rifles but they do tend to vertical string on a target because of the tilting bolt. I always load and shoot one at a time to see the true accuracy of the FN FAL platform. These were the Cadillac 308 rifles to have in the early 80’s.

  • westerly1

    Such a nice rifle, shame they’re prohib here.

  • Broz

    Had one before my ’02 stroke – an Argie – one of the very few imported into the USA…after the stroke I hadda sell it to survive homelessness…wish I had it back, but luckily, my wife replaced my M1A – the other 7.62x51rifle I’d lost…if you ever get one you NEED to find the tool for removing the recoil spring from the buttstock – without that task-specific tool, the job is next to impossible. i also had an STG 58 parts kit I bought from DSA about two years before the stroke…lost that also, unfortunately…they’re excellent rifles!!!

    • Anonymoose

      Sorry to hear that. I hope you’re doing well, now. DSA prices have gone way up since the old days.

    • gunsandrockets

      The FM made FAL? Yeah, those were nice. I had one back around 1991, and like an idiot I sold it year or so later for the dumbest reason. Oh well…

  • Xeno Da Morph

    I have 2 IMBELs I built years ago on parts kits and a DSA Congo para. These guns are superior in my opinion to the M14 platform. OOB or Slam fire is a big thing in the M14 hence why Springfield sends a warning tag on each rifle LOL~~!!! I had a SOCOM gen 1 that was good. But, that action leaves a lot to be desired in the civvy ammo world.

  • John

    Anyone have a good source for surplus FAL magazines? All i see are thermolds, korean, and DSA, all three have problems

  • DW

    I see you disassembled the western Vz58. /joking

  • ostiariusalpha

    Hmm, that reminds me; I have to clean & lube my own “garbage rod” this weekend. Thanks, Alex!

  • Lance

    Not all NATO countries beside the USA Adopted the FAL. Spain (adopted CENTME), Turkey (Adopted G-3), and Italy (adopted BM-59), adopted other rifles as well. But the FAL still had much success being exported.

    • Anonymoose

      Some countries adopted both the FAL and G3 (Germany, Greece, a bunch of places in the Third World). On the flip side, pretty much no one besides the US, Taiwan, and South Korea bought the M14.

      • Tom

        I think the G3 was helped by the fact that HK would let anyone make them and they were simple to make. Not that FN where especially fussy about licensing other countries to make them. Well except Germany which worked out well for FN :).

        • John

          If I recall correctly the license to produce the FN FAL given away for free to the allied nations as thanks for liberating belgium during WWII

          • Laionidas

            But not to the Germans I think, which was the true reason for the G3. Simple Belgian post-WWII political sentiment.

      • Ed

        More nations did adopt the M-14. Colombian Navy, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Argentina, and post Cold War in Lithuania and Estonia.

        • Anonymoose

          We’re talking about during the Cold War, though, and I already mentioned Taiwan and South Korea.

    • gunsandrockets

      I think it’s interesting that all the NATO nations which directly bordered the Warsaw Pact adapted the G-3 (or variant), and not the FAL.

      The primary advantage the FAL had in world-wide sales was adaption by the UK, which made it the defacto choice of the entire Commonwealth.

    • Broz

      The “Right Arm” of the Free World…a best book on the subject is also the most expensive…The FAL Rifle by R Blake Stevens, published by Collector Grade Publications…I bought mine from Dave Salvaggio, whom I had the privilege of meeting a few years later at SHOT in Dallas (IIRC) he set me right on the pronunciation of Dieudonne Saive’s name…(Sev’)

  • Fruitbat44

    I’d imagine that for a lot of Brits of a certain age there was a rush of pure nostalgia.
    (Okay the rifle shown wasn’t exactly the SLR, but still.)

  • Agent_Orange

    These are cool rifles, but I’ve noticed their popularity has been waning for some time now. Parts, mags, accessories, have all dried up significantly. Anyone who remembers to the old days of Tapco remembers they used to carry a TON of FAL surplus parts. No more. I think the US market in particular has become very AR-centric, more so than at any other time since.

    Heck, it’s a real struggle trying to blow them out at gun shows. I’ve lucky if I’m able to get a $1000 for a mint DSA or Imbel. I’m not a dealer myself, but the ones I’ve talked to told me they no longer bring FAL’s because “they’re hard dogs to sell now.”

    • Robert Harper

      Most of the ones I’ve seen at shows are nasty or cheap crap marked up to insane prices. I have more than a few FALs and will be putting another one together today, I always have my eyes out for a new one but most of the ones for sale aren’t worth what the dealers are offering for them. I know they have to make money but when they’re asking for twice what the rifle is worth it’s not going to sell.

  • MechanizedSwede

    The FAL was actually favored during the swedish trials in the very early 60’s. But production cost led to the purchase of licensing rights to the G3 in ’64. The FAL even got accepted in veery small numbers during the trials called the Ak3. G3 (Ak4) FNC (Ak5). The more you know ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Robert Harper

      The FAL did very well in the US trials but it was a foreign design, as well as other bureaucratic crap that made us go with the M14. (Which lasted in service soooo long and adopted by sooo many of our allies, sarcasm by the way)

      • mosinman

        yeah but the M-14 paved the way for the M-16 so i’d count it as a win that we picked the M-14 ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Robert Harper

          Not really, it only paved the way because it was a massive failure. The FAL was originally designed for an intermediate cartridge, but was forced to change to the “new” NATO 7.62×51 that the US forced on everyone, it could have easily been switched back once the decision to go to an intermediate cartridge was made. Plus you have the M14 failing in Vietnam, as well as the early M16s, that’s not anything to be proud of.

          • mosinman

            yeah, but the FAL is longer and heavier. and the M-16 has been a great success after a rough start in Vietnam, so i’d consider it something to be proud of, especially since the M-16 has now become one of the most exported rifles to our allies

          • gunsandrockets

            I’d say the real success of the M16 was the introduction of it’s SCHV cartridge to military service, just as the real failure of the M14 was the clinging to a high power cartridge.

          • Uniform223

            You can blame the traditionalist mindset of the military for that one IMO.

          • Uniform223

            Actually the M14 was considered more reliable than the first mass issued M16s. Despite the M14 falling out of favor… it still carried on in limited US service as the M21 and M25 sniper rifle before falling out of favor for the M24 SWS (then the later on to the SR-25 and M110). The M14 would get resurrected again as a DMR for USMC and US Army. So really, the M14 isn’t really a failure.

          • Robert Harper

            Yes it is, ask anyone who had to carry one. They have to be babied, require more maintenance than comparable weapons, it fell out of favor for a reason. Same with the M14s used during OIF/OEF, they were used because we had them on hand and at the time someone in charge thought it would be cheaper to modify them rather than replace it. Well, now it’s being phased out, because it failed in it’s role. The only success it’s had is commercial, and even then, I saw a lot of M1As come in for repair at the shop I worked at and many people who just got fed up with it and sold theirs off.

          • Uniform223

            Your belief that just because something was phased out for something that could do the job better doesn’t mean that something was a failure.

            Was the P-51 considered a failure when it was phased out by fighter jets? What about the F-4 when it was phased out by the F-15? M-60 tank for the M1 Abrams? Cobra for the Apache (US Army). Huey for the Black Hawk (US Army again)? M16 for the M4 (US Army now it looks to be for the USMC also)? Are any of those failures just because they fell out of favor? The M14 served its role well in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is it as good as the M110 or SR-25 in that role? No. Did it work? Yes.

            The M14 WAS cheaper than the M110 and SR-25 because it was more readily available at the time. The chassis used for the EBR was also more readily available thanks to SOCOM. SR-25 at the time were primarily a weapon used for SF units, not for regular conventional units. Given the environment and the necessity the M14 was (AGAIN) a more readily available platforms that troops and marines needed now.
            Remember that the M110 came about originally as a “replacement” for the M24. Though it didn’t out right replace the M24, it did find its way into a DMR role for regular units (M110 still issued and used as a sniper rifle).

          • Robert Harper

            It was phased out because it was obsolete before the initial drawings were done on it. The program’s total cost alone vs usage would from a budgetary standpoint make it a total failure, the only thing that saves it from that was that it could be pressed into service for a job it was ill suited for and was forced on the services. They needed a rifle with longer range, there were commercial offerings but Big Army thought they knew better, they were wrong. No one I know who had to carry one in Iraq thought it was that great, it isn’t. Your argument about conventional forces adoption is a joke, they can’t adopt much that works right out of the box, hell, look at the Army’s screw up with the plate carriers they just adopted. They’re good at throwing money at problems trying to make things that will never work, work. The M14 is a prime example, money pored into a rifle that was never that good to begin with that could never be made to work better. There were plenty of offerings they could have chosen, but when it comes to small arms adoption we don’t always get what’s best, we have a system that has too many politics involved, and too many ass hats stuck in the past, plus too many people who’ve never had to hump the gear and use it.

          • The Brigadier

            It was not a massive failure!!!!! The only thing wrong with it was that some generals wanted to eliminate the BAR so they made the M14 a select fire weapon. Many armorers were ordered by sensible commanders to disable the full automatic setting and the gun was a marksman favorite. Dubbed the “Deathstick” it is one of most accurate of any battle rifle made. The AR is a tick more accurate, but it is an assault rifle, not a main battle rifle.

            I don’t know where you come with it as a failure in Vietnam. I shot one regularly there in ’74 and my commanders required me to carry one because I was a rated marksman. They gave the flawed M16A1 to green troops who were lousy shots that had a chance of surviving a fire fight with “spray and pray.” At least that was decent suppression fire while the rest of us with M14s were inflicting ninety percent of the casualties. Enough of your false BS. It is too light for a full automatic with its power, but on semi automatic I would take it or its modern equivalent the M1A, against anyone carrying any other battle rifle made and that includes the FAL, another fine .308 battle rifle.

          • Leigh Rich

            Bob you are really a Negative Nancy. My M-16 worked well when I was in in the Army in 1972.

        • Lance

          The M-14 was no failure. It entered a war which a battle rifle was I’ll suited. The Aussies had FALs too but like the M-14 was uncontrollable on full auto and was considard too heavy for jungle warfare. So both US and Aussies used M-16s for most of the war. M-14s solder on in the Army and Navy today. FAL have largely been phased out of all European service use.

          • Tom

            The M14 was brought back simple because of the need for a .30 cal weapon. Due to its short service life of the M14 there were thousands of M14s in nearly new condition to be issued. Had there been none avalible in military stores I very much doubt the military would of brought COTS M14/M1As as far better platforms are available. As Donald Rumsfeld said “you run with what you have, not what you want.”

          • Vanns40

            FAL’s are still used in more than 40 countries today, you maybe correct about Europe. I love mine but have to admit it is a heave piece of work but that’s what makes it a pleasure to shoot. Easy to work on as long as you remember that the one thing you NEVER do is loosen or change the barrel unless you really know what you’re doing. Ask me how I know that one! No finer place to work on your FAL than DS Arms :).

          • Robert Harper

            Can you score me one of the new light weight rails they’re coming out with then?? ๐Ÿ™‚ I already have a few ACR adaptors and while the prototype of the new DSA stock looks great for a low mount to use the built in irons, I’ll wait a bit on those! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah, the barrel can be a pain, getting the alignment right can be hard to do, especially if the gas block is canted! Though it is an easier barrel to replace than a G3 or M1A!!!!

          • Vanns40

            Hah, just saw your reply. Can’t help you there. Mine is stock except for the top cover for a scope which came from DSA

    • gunsandrockets

      Fascinating.

  • Robert Harper

    Putting together a matching, mint Argentinian kit with a matching serial number receiver today. FALs are still my favorite rifle, as long as they’re built right they shouldn’t give you any problems. I just wish that DSA would get their act together with their quality control, though they still seem very interested in the FAL since they troll the FalFiles for new ideas.
    The FAL is easy to feed if you have a .22lr kit for it! Or put a lot of 7.62×51 away and reload.

  • Broz

    I LUSTED in my HEART for a FAL for YEARS…then, all of a sudden, I had two….bought the first at one of the Miami gun shows…it had an inch pattern lower and an Argie upper…my second (also bought in Miami), cost me $900 and was all metric,but had the Argie lower I needed; it was a DGFM manufacture (IIRC these were imported into the USA by a fellow named Ernesto Bello, a good guy whom I got to know through his tire and auto repair business in West Palm Beach, FL.) I called Dave Salvaggio at DSA and ordered the Blake Stevens FAL book from him…he had the lowest price on it at the time…still cost me close to a hundred bux…I wound up keeping the Argie halves and selling the bastard FAL for $900…it was shortly after the ’94 AWB – when prices were ridiculous, but I used it to my advantage…I had it proudly until after my ’02 stroke, when, in order to survive I hadda sell just about all the stuff I’d spent the past ten plus years ac- umulating, to survive being homeless (turned out it kept me in shelter & food, but I felt sick losing all the really GOOD stuff I had. Things worked out though…Thank God. met my wife about six months after the stroke and she used part of her money she’d gotten from a work related settlement to rescue my stuff from pawn..a few years later, after we settled a nearly fatal accident she replaced practically every firearm I’d lost in the sell off (unfortunately not the FAL or the MAS 49/56)…but I’m certainly not complaining…I’m better off today than I was bwefore we met…wimmen like her are hard to find…

    • Vanns40

      Congrats on surviving the stroke, finding a good woman and getting back some of your stuff. I’ve put a fair number of rounds out of an FNC and really like them. What’s your opinion?

      • Broz

        Never had an FNC nor the chance to shoot one unfortunately…There’s a superb tape/DVD on the FAL – building, history, etc by AGI…John Bush shows the various patterns and how to properly headspace the barrel…and you’re exactly right…if you don’t KNOW what you’re doing..DON’T DO IT!!!

  • tb556

    I had a metric Century franken FAL back when they were about $600 about 15 years ago. I had nothing but problems trying to get it to feed consistently. I gave up and sold it not too long after. When it worked it was a lot of fun to shoot but I still prefer an M1A.

  • Uniform223

    “One, the FAL is more easily controllable on full auto, even easier than a G3.”

    > I don’t want to laugh at you but I really want to

    After reading your comment it seems that your bias belief clouds judgement. Is the M14 as prevalent as the FN FAL? No. Is the M14 still being used? Yes; both by regular units and in SOF. Maybe nostalgia is a factor for the M14 but then again one can say the same thing about the FN FAL.

    • Robert Harper

      Have you fired any battle rifle on full auto? Doubt it, I’ve fired the M14, G3, and FAL on full auto and all three aren’t great, but the FAL is better on short bursts than the others. No one I know in MARSOC uses the M14, and from the people I know in other SOCOM units the M14 is hardly ever used, mostly as a range toy. Sure they’re both outdated, but the FAL was much more of a success than the M14, like I’ve said, it’s still in use in many conflicts, so even today it’s used more than the M14. The only bias I have is after having to work on them, hell, I used to be a big G3 fan until I had to work on them, same with the M1A. After having to deal with op rod issues that the system inherently has, as well as all the extra care it needs to keep it’s accuracy, I stopped being a fan. Even the people over at Fulton Armory have said that the M14/M1A is a pain to deal with. They spent an ungodly amount of money trying to make it work better and they couldn’t, the owner has even said as much.

      • Uniform223

        http://40.media.tumblr.com/fffb481dd533affc831d7026451b2cad/tumblr_nr6ozxCp011upbk6jo1_1280.jpg

        No i’ve never fired a “battle rifle” on full auto and I’d don’t think I’d want to in a fire fight. But I’ve shot the SAW, 240, AKM, and an M60 in my time. I’d rather hump around with an M16/M4 and shoot one any day of the week than over any of those “battle rifles” or belt fed MGs. The M60 though is easier to shoot and stay on target though. It got a new lease on life with as in the E4 (USN Mk 43) and E6 now used by Denmark. I wanted to laugh at your comment that a FAL is more controllable. I mistook your statement. Yet having shot other 30cal full auto weapons before… the idea that a FAL is considered controllable is something that I personally do not believe.

        Your bias view against the M14 is clouding fact. The FACT IS that the M14 is NEITHER a complete success nor is it a complete failure. Same can be said for the FN FAL. Though the FN FAL was more widely used, it doesn’t make it a complete success either especially given the trend of militaries preference to use smaller caliber rifles like AR-15 derivatives. When compared to M16s or AKs, one could make the assertion that the FN FAL is a failure.

        https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7314/16437344225_a14c9b70e6_b.jpg

        http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqrddwYhvT1qjgeygo1_500.jpg

        • Laionidas

          Nobody said the FAL was considered “controlable”, only “more controlable”. Those are two entirely different things.

        • Robert Harper

          Belt fed weapons aren’t a good comparison since they are designed to be controllable on full auto, you’re comparing apples to oranges, that would be like comparing a mag dump in Barrett compared to a M2 on a tripod, two very different things. I’ve fired the same belt fed weapons when I was in and got to play with a few nice weapons in Iraq, though firing a battle rifle on full auto isn’t something most people would want to do in a fire fight. The M4 is lighter as is the ammo for it, so who wouldn’t want to hump that instead of something heavier? Go fire the M14, G3 and FAL on full auto then tell me which one is easier to control, since you haven’t fired all three you don’t know. The only bias I have against the M14/M1A is after having to fix some, and after firing them. The US dumped a lot of money into trying to keep the M14 relevant, which it isn’t. The day of the battle rifle is over, at least the FAL fought a war against it’s self and won. That would be the Falklands by the way, where the FAL did quite well. Comparing the two, as far as ease of repair, cost, life span, ect, yeah the FAL wins. Big whoop, it had a very good run and is still found in use. It helped pave the way for other weapons and weapons change over time, nothing stays relevant forever.

      • Leigh Rich

        You must be assuming no one posting here have been in the military. LOL

        • Robert Harper

          Leigh Rich, then please explain the “success” of the Army’s ACU pattern? And what does being in have to do with the M14 being a failure? So a few nostalgic people like it, the majority of people in do not. It had limited support overall when it was fielded in OIF/OEF, many people didn’t get enough training on it. It was just a stop gap measure, it’s not a mythical rifle, it was held onto by fan boys.

          • Leigh Rich

            WTF are you talking about Bob?. I carried an M14 in training. It is too heavy. thus the M16. I have a Springfield M1A1 Scout nothing wrong with the metal and wood rifle other than outdated. Question is what full auto have you fired? As an Ordance Officer I have fired them all.

          • The Brigadier

            The reason it was dropped in 1968 is because we were in a protracted jungle war. Foliage deflects heavy bullets more than light bullets do. That is why the M1C was the preferred rifle in the Pacific during WWII and the M16 was more successful in Vietnam. For open field shooting, battle rifles rule, while in forests or jungles, light assault rifles do. You sound like just another AR fanatic who demonizes all other rifles other than your AR15.

            Here’s some bad news for you and all of your AR brethren. Hand held rail guns are coming, and they will be here sooner than you think. The battery will be in a small backpack, but the gun will be relatively light and be capable of firing a tungsten/steel dart between 3-5 KM/S , that will be somewhere around 5-6K ft/sec. At impact, the steel fins will spring forward causing a 1″ inch wound channel. The kinetic shock alone will kill with one hit and massive blood lost will result in a kill. I’m sure you will find some way to demonize this new weapon class so you can continue to caress your AR. Why don’t you see if you can get a marriage license?

      • The Brigadier

        The M14 fixed all the systemic problems with the Garand. People can’t simply praise the Garand with all its problems and then condemn the M14 that fixed all the problems. If broken in properly and cared for like any other battle rifle, it is one of the best long distance battle rifles in the world.

        Here’s another fact for you. The M1 Carbine has inflicted more casualties on our enemies than any other rifle in American history and that includes the Garand, the M14, the M16 and the M4. It is a short barrelled assault rifle with an effective range of 350 yards, yet it is easy to shoot and we shot the hell out of our enemies with it.

  • Bob

    I’d really like one of these, but 7.62×51 is kind of expensive these days and I don’t enjoy reloading…

  • Michael Guerin

    Back to front version of field strip drill. We were taught, in the NZ Army, with the SLR, to remove gas parts first, working parts second. That way, you had a better chance if your position was attacked, because you could operate the weapon manually. The order that you showed was not allowed.

    Train the right way or go home in a box!

    It is my understanding that the Aussies went the same way and, so, I would imagine, did the British.

    It seems to be a longstanding tradition for U.S gun writers to publish the wrong way, possibly because the right way shows how messed up the Garand field strip is, by comparison.

  • Leigh Rich

    I just rebuilt one into a used as battlefield condition. Great rifle. Started life as a CAI Sporter with an Imbel receiver. Lots of GI and some L1A1 in the mix.

  • Vanns40

    Whoa, speaking of op rods, have you checked out the price? And that is why I always open it up with new ammo and readjust so I won’t have that problem, ever!

    • Robert Harper

      Yeah, but a lot of people don’t check their op rods until they crack or break. The M1As need a little bit of TLC, way more than most people are willing to give.