Does the FAL hold up?

The FN FAL, ‘Right Arm of the Free World’ (because most people are right handed, I assume) How does it hold up today?

Mike ‘GarandThumb’ is back with another review video on the DSA FAL. The FN FAL is one of the three legendary .308’s of the Cold War Era and probably holds the most distinguished career. The Germans, as you may know, started with the FAL as the G1 rifle but went to the enhanced CETME design that became the G3 thereafter, playing off of their perfecting the roller delay systems that H&K would become known for, through sheer stubbornness mostly.

The FAL was even submitted here in the US as the T48 but was ultimately rejected for the third in the trio, the M14, for a mix of good reasons, made up reasons, and the Army’s institutional love of .30 Cal and the M1 Garand.

It isn’t that the M14 didn’t run, it did. It is that the M14 was functionally obsolescent when it was chosen. Better designs existed, but the US chose to invest heavily in a surpassed technology. Now look at us, reviving the ~6.8mm Battle Rifle with the NGSW, on an evolved variant of those designs.

But such is the path we walked, we have made some very nice .308 battle rifles because it was the chosen caliber. Then the 6.5 Creedmoor finally broke down the blockade into the ballistic efficient (widely accepted) chamberings for 100-150 grain projectiles. Humans can be slow and stubborn creatures. I didn’t want to abandon my trusty ACOG for a “fragile” LPVO or put a red dot on a pistol, and those turned out to be silly notions to cling upon.

But, as you enjoy Mike’s, and Ian and Larry’s, videos let us discuss the state of the FAL.

Obviously the rifle is still in new production with DSA. They make several variants and have successfully adapted many modern features to the platform including folding/adjustable stocks and negative space rail systems. The rifles start at about $1,500 retail for a basic 21″ barreled Bolivian FN Pattern gun to the $2,300 range for a fully-featured variant.

So, it is a legacy platform with a good reputation that has modernized options to keep it viable. Sounds like something else I was just talking about.

Yes, the FAL stands up. Willingly accepting the limitations of the 7.62/.308 because it still holds major strengths (like production capacity and international acceptance) the FAL is a highly viable platform and will remain so for decades to come. The limitations of .308 aren’t really all that limiting if it is the can of ammo you have.

Look! An FN FAL that took some neat AR features, drop free magazine and rotating bolt.

What the 21st Century of firearms development is showing us is that the major leaps were made in the 20th. The 21st is about refinement of the lessons learned in the 20th and beyond. Each iteration of the M16, DMR, Battle Rifle, etc., is still essentially these same rifles with a few more lessons learned smoothed into the designs, and some of those lessons we knew all the way back in WWII’s timeframe.

The era of the box magazine fed rifle.

So no, don’t rush to trade out your cold-war “relics” for NGSW inspired new hotness. Sure, buy the new hotness as it comes. Run and experience the improvements. But just as a new computer graphics processor doesn’t make an older one stop working, newer better firearm tech does not make legacy systems lose effectiveness. They are as efficient and reliable as they were made, developed, and improved. They simply exist within their design, both its strengths and limits, while new designs can learn from those legacies.

As we navigate this time of strife upon the world stage, many have discovered (or rediscoverd) the importance of personal armament. This comes with entering a world full of information, and just a full of conjecture.

Fudd-lore is alive and strong, the thing that you heard from the one buddy one time, or it ‘always worked for so-in-so,’ or you have a sibling who was in the military, or any number of other quick pieces of (probably) goodwill intended wisdom that lacks the context to make it of real value so its probably more harmful than good… exists in oil tanker sized caches upon the tides of the internet.

But a mature gun design with a well earned reputation is worth the investment in a way that a new radical wizz-banger AR thing from a company you’ve never heard of but, “Man its only $800, during a pandemic! And they’re all made in the place anyway.” just won’t match. Ever.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Group editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009 he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.