The first prototype for Belgium’s FN FAL battle rifle was completed in 1947. After testing, the British Army requested additional prototypes incorporating a bullpup configuration to be chambered for the UKs new .280cal intermediate cartridge. The new design did not work favorably and the Army requested the original design for future production orders.
Stepping into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum is an extraordinary experience as you witness the wide array of weapons on display from throughout military history. The power within this gallery can almost be felt.
Further Testing on the FN FAL
In 1950, however, the UK requested the United States do a comparison test with the FN .280cal redesign and their .280cal EM-2 against the US Army’s Earle Harvey T25. They hoped a common cartridge rifle could become standard issue for all NATO armies. After extensive testing, the United States recommended the FN be redesigned to fire the US prototype .30 light rifle cartridge.
In 1951, the UK granted US permission to produce FN FALs royalty-free as they were beginning to favor their own EM-2 Rifle. Difficulties arose as to whether the US .30 Light rifle or the UK FAL rifle would become NATO standard. After further testing against newly emerging US designs, the M14 (a newly designed variant of the T25) was found superior to the FAL. By this time, however, the majority of the NATO countries had already done their own evaluation and selected the FAL.
Specifications for Belgium’s FN FAL
- Service History: 1954 to present day
- Manufacturer: Fabrique Nationale (FN)
- Production: 1953 to present day
- Cartridge: 7.62 x 51mm NATO
- Action: Gas-operated; tilting breechblock
- Firing Rate: 650 to 700 rounds per minute
- Effective Range: 400 to 600 meters with sight adjustments
Several variants of this rifle have emerged since it was first introduced more than 60 years ago and many of them remain in production today. Since its design introduction in 1947, over 2 million of Belgium’s FN FAL battle rifle have been produced and adopted in over 90 countries throughout the world and is considered one of the top rifles of the military.