Task and Purpose: FN FAL History, Usage, and Upgrades

When it comes to military rifles, some get more attention than others. The FN FAL is one that’s certainly popular and talked about in certain circles. In this video review, Task and Purpose talks about why the United States didn’t adopt the rifle and covers its history and improvements. Whether you love Belgium rifles — or chocolate — or not, this review is for you because it blends nicely with our own country’s beloved AR-15 history. And who doesn’t find ARs interesting?

Task and Purpose discussion of the FN FAL
Task and Purpose talks about the FN FAL versus the AR platform, among other things. We are also going to talk about those things because today is Throwback Thursday. (Photo credit: Task and Purpose)

Why Doesn’t the United States use the FN FAL?

The issue of why our own military never adopted the FN FAL is a big topic in this video. According to Task and Purpose, this is how it originally went down:

“…[here are] both sides of the controversial argument about the United States military and how they came close, but never ended up using, this rifle. So, President Truman met with British Prime Minister Churchill to discuss which weapon NATO would end up using [during] World War II. Truman said ‘Hey, we’re cool with using the FAL as our main battle rifle, but there’s one tiny catch: you have to make it shoot our type of ammo [308 Win] or no deal.’

“Churchill was [probably] like ‘Fine, if it makes you happy, we’ll use your special ammo.’ …naturally, the United States proceeded to completely blow off their promise, and they adopted the M14 instead. It’s not all that simple, though…we’ll get into whether the U.S. had good reason for rejecting the FAL.”

FN FAL - Argentine Army
The FN FAL has enjoyed a lot of popularity with militaries in other countries. (Photo credit: Task and Purpose)

What can the FN FAL do?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s Task and Purpose’s brief summary of its cooler features:

“[The FN FAL] fires the powerful 7.62x51mm round at [a rate of] 650 rounds per minute, with a range of 600 meters. The accuracy on it is reported to be outstanding.”

Check out the video below to find out why the United States never adopted the FN FAL and why Task and Purpose thinks we should be using the rifle here in the States:

Interesting features of the FN FAL

  • Classic wooden furniture, although synthetic furniture is also available
  • Designed in 1946
  • In production since 1953 although FN Herstal no longer manufactures them themselves
  • Short stroke, gas-operated action with a tilting breech block
  • User-adjustable gas system
  • Folding carry handle
  • Detachable box magazine
  • 20-round magazine standard
  • Heavy-barrel variant comes with a 30-round magazine
  • 7.62x51mm chambering (originally designed for 280 British)
  • Available as a select-fire weapon
  • Known as “the right arm of the free world”
  • Has been used by more than 90 different countries

Bottom Line

The FN FAL is a cool military rifle that was designed well and it’s great to see it getting some modern upgrades (you’ll have to watch the video to hear about those).

Do you think the United States messed up by not going with the FN FAL as a duty weapon? Why? Drop a comment to tell us what you think.

FN FAL Specifications

Country of origin Belgium
Entered service 1953
Caliber 7.62×51 mm
Weight 4.45 kg
Length 1 100 mm
Barrel length 533 mm
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 700 rpm
Magazine capacity 20 rounds
Sighting range 600 m
Range of effective fire 600 m
Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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