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US Marine firing a British L1A1 Self Loading Rifle during Operation Desert Shield.
Source: US Marine Corps - © Public domain

Battle rifle
Entered service
Early 1950's
In service
1947 - 1953
Belgium - Fabrique Nationale
Dieudonné Saive & Ernest Vervier
1953 - present
Belgium - Fabrique Nationale
Argentina - FMAP
Australia - Lithgow
Brazil - IMBEL
Canada - Canadian Arsenals Limited
Greece - Pyrkal
India - Ishapore
Nigeria - DICON
South Africa - LIW
United Kingdom - RSAF/ROF
Venezuela - CAVIM
Number produced
About 7 million, including license prouduction
Self Loading Rifle / SLR (UK designation)
L1A1 (UK designation)
Stg 58 (Austrian designation)
C1 (Canadian designation)
R1 (South African designation)
Romat (Israeli FAL nickname)



The FAL is an early Cold War era battle rifle of Belgian origin. It was developed around the 1950's by Fabrique Nationale and together with the German G3 became the standard issue rifle in most nations that were not under Soviet influence. As such it is one of the most produced and widely used firearms in the world. With the trend towards intermediate power assault rifles the use of the FAL has reduced rapidly.


The FAL is a gas operated weapon and uses a short stroke gas piston to cycle the action. Due to a gas bleed off the recoil is limited for a weapon chambered in the full power 7.62x51mm round. Most of the FAL is made out of metal. Early versions had a wooden furniture, later models had a plastic forearm and stock.


The FAL fires the 7.62x51mm round from a 20 round magazine. Most non-Commonwealth models have the ability for automatic fire at a cyclic rate of fire of 600 rpm. The significant recoil makes automatic fire of little use. The maximum effective range is 600 meters with optics and 400 meters with iron sights. The FAL can be used to launch rifle grenades and can be fitted with a bayonet.


The FAL equipped most European NATO and Commonwealth members. With most users it has been replaced by a more modern rifle. However the FAL still remains in active use with many nations in South America, Africa and Asia.


FN FAL 50.00

FN FAL 50.00 battle rifle with synthetic stock and handguard.
Source: Esquerroa - © GNU Attribution Share Alike license

Differences per nation

As the FAL has been produced under license in many nations a lot of weapons are different from the standard FN models. Most FAL 50.00 models are fitted with wooden forearms and butts. Many newer models, such as the folding stock versions, have plastic instead of a wooden furniture. Most Commonwealth models, such as the British L1A1 SLR, fire semi-automatic only. Austrian, Dutch and German models have metal forearms. The Israeli models have a forearm that is similar to the FALO, while having a lighter barrel.

FAL 50.00
Baseline version of the FAL from which all other designs are derived. This is a full size rifle with fixed stock.
FAL 50.61
Full size FAL with metal tubular side folding stock.
FAL 50.64
Externally similar to the FAL 50.61, but comes with a Hidumidium alloy lower receiver. This makes this folding stock full size FAL lighter than the regular FAL 50.00, whereas the FAL 50.61 was heavier.
FAL 50.63 Para
The FAL Para has a shorter barrel than the original FAL and can be considered a carbine version of the full size FAL. The Para model is fitted with a folding stock. As with the full size FAL it comes in a variety of versions. Since it is a newer model it usually has a plastic or aluminum furniture. The Belgian model has an even shorter 436mm barrel to make it fit through the door of the C-119 when strapped across the chest.
Light support weapon variant of the FAL. Fitted with a heavier barrel and bipod. Intended for sustained fire. Comes in several variants.


Facts FAL 50.00 FAL 50.61 FAL 50.64 FAL Para 50.63
Battle rifle
7.62x51mm NATO
Feed system
20 round detachable box magazine
Barrel length
533 mm
4 grooves, right hand twist
Muzzle velocity
840 m/s
Gas operated, short stroke gas piston
Tilting bolt
Fire selector
0 - 1 - F
Rate of fire
650 - 700 rpm
Stock type
1.090 mm
4.3 kg
Iron sights, post front and aperture rear
Range adjustment
200 - 600 m
Sight radius
533 mm


Related articles


The FALO is the light machine gun variant of the FAL. It is very similar, but has a heavier barrel and is fitted with a bipod. Commonwealth nations created a modified version with 30 round magazine, exposed barrel and bipod with wooden panels acting as handguard.

Heckler & Koch G3

The German G3 was developed since Germany did not get a license to produce the FAL domestically as the G1. The G3 was a highly successful design. Both G3 and FAL were adopted by dozens of nations.

Springfield M14

The American M14 is a contemporary battle rifle. The US adoption of 7.62x51mm forced a change in the design of the FAL from the .280 British to the new NATO standard.


The FN CAL is a FAL rifle modified to fire the 5.56x45mm M193 round. It wasn't a successful design. Later the highly capable FNC would be developed for the 5.56mm cartridge.