During the last fifty percent of the 20th Century, the Fabrique Nationale FAL earned the nickname “the best arm that the complimentary world” and also became a price of the struggle against Communism. It’s tiny wonder why it earned that name. Name a war, change or revolt during the Cold war that connected the british Commonwealth, west European nations, or their allies and you uncovered the FAL in the hand of the soldiers fighting the battles.

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Created in the years immediately after world War II, FN eventually developed 2 million FALs (Fusil Automatique Léger or “Light automatic Rifle”) the were provided by the militaries of an ext than 90 nations. In ~ one time, the FAL to be the official fight rifle of most NATO-member countries and was even taken into consideration by the United States.

In many ways, it to be the West’s answer come the ubiquitous Kalashnikov. Albeit, solution chambered to fire the heavier 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round instead of the AK’s 7.62 x 39 mm intermediary round.

Worldwide Usage


A hard-hitting, reliable fight rifle, the FAL witnessed combat all over the planet. Because that example, take into consideration the six Day war in 1967. There’s a common misunderstanding that the 9mm Uzi to be the weapon of selection for the Israeli Defense Forces, yet in reality, Israeli soldiers carried an ext FALs 보다 Uzis when dealing with Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian troops.

…the era that the bolt-action battle rifle to be dead and gone.

In addition, the FAL is nearly synonymous through the 1982 Falklands War, due to both sides using the weapon. The Argentine military carried the full-auto variation of the FAL, while British troops had the semi-auto L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle design of the FAL. When caught Argentine troops surrendered their weapons, the brothers infantry and also Royal Marines often retrieved the full-auto FALs so they can spray much more lead at the enemy.

How the FAL witnessed the light of day is a story the combines the tactical realities emerging from human being War II and the politics of that would command who throughout the Cold War. American and also British weapons specialists clashed over what weapon soldiers should bring in the post-war world and also they turned to the last battle for answers.

The success the Nazi Germany’s innovative Sturmgewehr 44 attack rifle persuaded ordnance officers and also weapon developers that the era the the bolt-action fight rifle was dead and gone. Lighter cartridges in select-fire attack rifles captured the creativity of tools designers.

Only the United says fielded a heavy caliber semi-auto battle rifle, which was the well-regarded M1 Garand .30-06. A weapon that basic George S. Patton dubbed “the greatest fight implement ever devised.” However, the future was a gun that fired complete auto, which the Garand go not.

The other question was what caliber the rifle that the future it is in chambered in? together weapon developers on both sides of the Atlantic toyed through prototype battle rifles, the British experiment a 7mm (.280-caliber) round in the new FAL and liked it. In the united States, the army wanted to stick with the .30-caliber round, flatly stating the no other cartridge might hold its very own on the battlefield.

NATO Adoption


With the development of the brand-new NATO alliance in 1949, Generals and also civilian planners both speak of the necessity to standardize equipment, weapons and also supplies, however there was tiny agreement amongst the experts. One point was certain though, the British were impressed v the FAL and also were willing to choose it over various other weapons.

The FAL was reputed the premium firearm to competitors since it was easy to maintain, field strip and also clean. The reassembled without special tools and also it to be a select-fire weapon that fired a lighter round. The “gravel bellied” U.S. Generals would accept nothing but a .30-caliber weapon though, insisting on the superiority the a prototype called the T25, a forerunner of the M-14 that ended up being nothing more than a glorified Garand.

Soon, there to be a “Battle the the Bullets” that went all the method up come both the White House and also 10 Downing Street. Chairman Harry Truman and also Prime Minister Winston Churchill also held a mini-summit, where rumor has actually it castle struck a quid agree quo; the U.S. Would embrace the FAL together its main fight rifle if Britain donate NATO adopting the 7.62 x 51 mm round.

NATO did relent and also end up adopting the round, yet the U.S. Finished up reneging and also developed the M-14, which fired the NATO 7.62 mm cartridge. The brand-new M-14 was officially adopted as the American Military’s key rifle.

However, in the finish it didn’t issue to FN due to the fact that NATO countries (including Britain) began snapping up the FAL chambered for the NATO embraced round.

Action in Vietnam


Vietnam is often overlooked when it involves places where the FAL proved a success. The weapon arrived there in the hand of Australian troops who battled as allies the the United says under the Southeast eastern Treaty company (SEATO).

More than 60,000 Aussies would serve in the Vietnam war from 1962 come 1972, including the 1st Battalion that the imperial Australian Regiment. Much more commonly known as 1RAR, soldiers in the regiment battled in many far-reaching battles during the war’s escalation in the mid-1960s.

During those the engagements, they often faced well-equipped Viet Cong who carried brand-new AK-47s provided by the Communist Chinese and East Bloc nations. Despite its weight and size (the FAL is among the longest fight rifles of the 20th Century), 1RAR’s troops considered their weapon well suited for jungle warfare.

The powerful NATO round would punch v thick foliage, death their covert VC opponents. That was likewise a far more reliable weapon 보다 the at an early stage version the the M-16 issued come U.S. Forces. The FAL rarely jammed or misfired, two troubles that plagued the M-16 for years.


Many thought about the combination of the FN FAL’s design and cartridge to it is in the quintessential pairing of fight rifle and bullet throughout the 20th Century. The FAL went into production in 1953 and also FN continued to create the rifle every the way until 1988. Meanwhile, the M-14 dropped by the wayside together the key U.S. Fight rifle within a couple of years; changed by the M-16.

In the end, with millions of FALs manufactured and internationally distributed, the rifle play a big part in make the 7.62 x 51mm NATO ring an overwhelming success.

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Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Paul R. Huard writes around military background and military little arms for day-to-day newspapers and online publications. That is based in Ashland, Oregon.