Caliber: 7.62x51mm (.308 Win)
Action: Semi-automatic, tilting bolt, short stroke piston, gas driven
Barrel Length: 21"
Magazine: 20 round detachable box
Overall Length: 42.5"
The FAL is the descendant of the elegant FN-49, a rifle that many consider to be the last great old style battle rifle, expertly machined and fitted to a wooden stock. That however, is not to say that the FAL is any less elegant or well made -- if that were the case, it would have never been adopted by the militaries of over 90 countries all over the world.
The FAL is the child of the to be found on many "top-ten gun designers of all time" lists, Dieudonne Saive, who worked on the FAL in Belgium for Fabrique Nationale. FAL stands for Fusil Automatique Legere, or roughly translated into English, Light Automatic Rifle. This name is only somewhat appropriate, however -- the FAL was originally designed to shoot the German 7.92x33mm cartridge, and later the British 7x43mm cartridge -- the FAL was originally intended to be an "Assault Rifle", and not the "Battle Rifle" that it eventually became. It was at the insistence and pressure of the United States that the FAL was eventually redesigned around the 7.62 NATO cartridge. Being such a powerful cartridge, the rifle was nigh uncontrollable on full-auto, making the Automatique part of its name a bit inappropriate. In fact, there are instances of the full-auto capabilities being removed from rifles before they were ever issued to soldiers in some countries.
This particular rifle is a demilled Brazilian Imbel parts kit that served in South Africa, where it was officially designated the R1 (not to be confused with Century's FAL of poor repute, the R1A1). The kit was rebuilt by a friend and me on a semi-auto Imbel Gear-Logo receiver, making the rifle, for all practical purposes, a Brazilian gun that saw time in South Africa. The South African R1's are known for having "custom" camouflage paint jobs -- basically, the guns were painted with any yellow and green paint one could obtain. That's the source of the spots of paint on the side of the lower receiver.
In order to make the gun 922(r) compliant (better known as the "10 parts or fewer rule"), I had to change seven parts: the three furniture pieces, the charging handle (considered an operating rod by the ATF), the muzzle device, the gas piston, and the magazine floor plates. The gun may appear to be bent at the point where the barrel meets the receiver -- this is an optical illusion caused by the Penguin brand hand guards I have on the gun. They're ugly, but they're compliant. Also, the pistol grip is a copy of the Belgien FN grip, except it lacks the cutout that would allow the selector switch to move to the full-auto position. Despite the fact that the gun will not fire in full-auto even with the selector in said position, I decided to put a semi-only grip on the gun to avoid problems from less gun savvy government types that may aim to cause me problems. I eventually intend to refinish this gun, but don't have the time or money to right now.