Monday, April 4, 2011
Personal Critical Review of Firearms - FN FAL (FN FAL/L1A1 clone)
Personal - My personal very close second choice in a general use MBR, slim, attractive, modern lines, reasonable ergonomic layout and construction, and very accurate. There are many versions and accessories to pick from, but I prefer the full length fixed stock version. One of the types of rifles on my list that I regret selling the versions I have had. Inch versus metric? I will leave this to the mounds of information available online, I do recomend an all inch or all metric rifle without mixing into a "frankenFAL" in function the inch and metric are equal in quality and reliability with just some small changes in parts form.
Function - Reliable function, but succeptable to heavy fouling in the gas system with dirty burning powder, and dirt or fine sand in the action. Dry desert environments seem the most likely to cause malfunctions from fouling and added environmental contaminants. There are, or can be issues with heavy bullets with high pressures or blanks of low quality. Both blanks and live surplus ammunition of low quality or inconsistent QC have destroyed several FN FAL rifles in the US.
Design flaws - Rear sights can be of poor quality and are primitive compared to other rifles. This rifle often has a poor heavy trigger with excessive creep if it is not modified, sadly some cannot be modified if the internal parts are of low quality. Williams Trigger Specialties offers an excellent trigger upgrade service. The balance point of this rifle can be awkward for some smaller and shorter shooters, or traditionalists.
Quality - All over the map! There are examples of first world production, available, along with some of the worst slapped together crap you have ever seen. Quality of parts can also be an issue with many parts having large voids and cavities incased in poorly cast and heat treated metal.
Caliber/Ammunition - .308 an accurate and effective cartridge, one of my favorites, easy to reload, but the round is a large full power cartridge and some consider it excessive in recoil. .308/7.62 is one of the most popular cartridges high quality commercial and surplus is widely available. (Same as before)
Use - Accuracy out of the box will be good to excellent with a good quality example. Poor quality makes can not only be inaccurate but dangerous to fire. There are services available where the trigger can be modified and attachments such as the SuperTune to dial in loadings for better accuracy. The FN FAL uses a detachable magazine that is widely available on the US market, there are quality steel and polymer magazines available.
Current production - Quality reproductions are in production in the US currently along with many past imports of widely variable quality.
I consider this rifle an excellent primary choice for a current MBR, higher prices are a possible concern, but a quality reproduction should be the first choice.