View Full Version : FN 1A1 vs. FN L1A1 vs. FN C1A1

01-04-2009, 10:14 AM
FN 1A1 vs. FN L1A1 vs. FN C1A1

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Caliber: ........................ 7.62x51mm NATO
Rifling & Twist: .............. 6 groove, Right hand twist, 1/12 rate
Barrel Length: ............... 21 in. (533 mm)
Overall Length: ............. 43 in. (1092 mm)
Weight: ........................ 9.5 lbs. (4.31 kg)
Magazine Capacity: ....... 5/20

Source: .......................The FAL Rifle, Deluxe Classic Edition, 1993, by R Blake Stevens and Jean Van Rutten, ISBN-10: 0889351686; Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FN_FAL); Navyshooter's SUIT page (http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/coffee/trilux.htm); FN-FAL information webpage (http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/coffee/fninfo.htm)

Canadian Market Value Estimate: $

FN 1A1 vs. FN L1A1 vs. FN C1A1
http://www.milsurps.com/~badger/button2.gif (http://imageevent.com/badgerdog/cgnmilsurpknowledgebase/fn1a1vsfnl1a1vsfnc1a1)
(54 picture virtual tour)

Observations: (by "Claven2" and "Navyshooter")

The second world war had demonstrated to the world the benefits of the self-loading rifle, particularly following the popularity of rifles like the M1, G/K43 and the SVT-40. While none of those guns was perfect, each had features that would subsequently turn up on the next generation of battle rifles. One such rifle was the SAFN49 produced by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and designed primarily by renowned firearms designed Dieudonne Saive. The SAFN49 was very popular in its own right and was eventually adopted by at least 8 countries and was offered in a number of full-sized military chamberings.

At about the time the SAFN49 design was reaching maturity and was being subjected to trials by various countries, the fledgling North American Treaty Organization (NATO), founded on April 4th, 1949, was looking to better standardize infantry rifles among its member nations - enter the FN-FAL. The FN-FAL was designed concurrently with the SAFN49 by Dieudonne Saive and Ernest Vervier and borrowed heavily from the SAFN49 design. Fabrique Nationale hoped it would be a strong contender as the new NATO rifle. As an interesting side-note, the FN-FAL design was initially developed around the intermediate 7.92 Kurz cartridge of StG44 fame.

The United Kingdom (UK), at that time, was developing a bullpup rifle known as the EM-2 and had paired it with a new .280 cartridge which it was proposing as the new standard. Meanwhile, the United States was working on a shortened version of the .30-06 cartridge which would eventually spawn the 7.62x51 mm and its commercial counterpart, the .308 Winchester. The US was also working on new rifle designs, namely the T25 prototype, later re-designated as the T47, and an M1 Garand variant, the T44 which would ultimately become the M14.

In 1951, the UK adopted the EM-2 in .280, but a political party change that saw Winston Churchill returned as Prime Minister put a stop to the planned deployment of the EM-2 and the FN-FAL re-entered the picture as a strong contender. Part of the change in policy also saw the UK adopt the 7.62 NATO cartridge at the urging of their American allies. The UK would eventually adopt the rifle, as the L1A1 (also referred to as the "SLR" or "Self-Loading Rifle"), in 1957. The FN was also very nearly the US standard issue infantry rifle, but the M14 edged it out by a very narrow margin in trials.

With the greatest exception being the United States, most NATO countries adopted the FN-FAL as their standard infantry rifle with relatively minor changes from country to country. Apart from the M14, the FN-FAL's primary competitor in the western world was the CETME and/or German Heckler & Koch G3. Interestingly, warsaw pact nations, in a very forward-looking move, standardized on the AK-47 in an intermediate assault-rifle cartridge - the 7.62x39. Nevertheless, the FN-FAL became synonymous with "Free World" military might.

By the time the FN-FAL was superseded by modern assault rifles, it had been issued as a standard arm in approximately 70 countries and was manufactured in at least 10 countries. Interestingly, Canada was one of the first countries to adopt the FN-FAL rifle in 1955 as the C1 - though EX-1 rifles were ordered in 1954.

In its initial military role there are four basic configurations of the FN-FAL rifle including;

1) FAL 50.00 (FAL) - fixed buttstock and standard barrel
2) FAL 50.63 (FAL Para) - folding skeleton butt and short barrel
3) FAL 50.64 - folding skeleton butt and standard length barrel
4) FAL 50.41 (FAL Hbar or FALO) - heavy barrel model (light support weapon)

FAL's are also found in three major build patterns. These are the "Inch Pattern", the "Metric Pattern" and the "India Pattern". As the names imply, threads, dimensions, etc. of the Inch and Metric patterns follow either the Imperial or Metric system of measurements and parts interchangeability is best described as low. Among the parts that don't interchange: the charging handle, the dust cover, and most internal parts; trigger, selector, hammer, and sear. Interestingly, a complete Inch Pattern lower receiver generally speaking can be fitted to a Metric Pattern upper. Most Inch Pattern FALs were made in British Commonwealth countries (e.g. UK, Canada, Australia), have folding cocking handles, and were usually limited to semi-automatic fire (with the exception of squad support variants like the C2). On the other hand, most Metric Pattern rifles have fixed cocking handles and may or may not have select-fire capability. The India Pattern FAL was, as the name implies, manufactured and issued in India and features elements of both the metric and inch-pattern rifles. Reportedly, India obtained incomplete sets of evaluation drawings from different factories producing inch and metric FAL rifles and were able to reverse-engineer a workable set of drawings from which they produced their unlicensed copy.

The FN-FAL employs the rear locking, tipping bolt design of the SAFN, and SVT-40 (Tokarev) rifles. It uses a gas piston, tapping gas off the barrel, to drive a rod into the bolt carrier, to operate the action automatically. There is a dial at the gas block to set the amount of gas bearing on the rod, one should set the dial as low as is possible to get the gun to operate correctly, so as to minimize wear on the gun.

There is a gas plug in the front of the gas block (where the front sight is) which when removed allows access to the rod, and the tube it rides in. The markings vary with the gun, but with the plug in one way the rifle operates as a self loader, with the other side up, the gas port is cut off, for the use of rifle grenades, or for use as a manually operated repeater. "A" and "Gr" are common markings on FN made guns, for "automatic" and "grenade" I guess. The L1A1 uses no letters; with the side with a groove on it up you get automatic function; the blank side is for grenade launching.

The safety/auto sear is a clever part of this rifle's design. On semi-auto it holds the hammer, keeping it from falling until the bolt is in battery, preventing an out of battery discharge on a rifle with a worn or broken hammer or sear. On full auto the primary sear (disconnector) is disengaged, and only the safety/auto sear keeps the hammer cocked, until the bolt is in battery, when it releases, assuming the trigger is held back. On some other select-fire rifles there are in essence two sets of sears (or disconnectors), one works only on full auto, one only on semi - an example being the M-16. On the FAL the safety/auto sear works in both semi and auto fire to make the rifle safer in operation. Of course, on many civilian-owned guns, if they were originally built capable of fully-automatic firing, the full-auto setting is disabled through a variety of means.

The FN-FAL is incredibly easy to field strip; there is a latch on the left side and pushing it up or back, depending on the gun, will open the upper and lower receivers on a hinge, allowing the breech block and carrier to be removed. The operating rod (gas piston) can be removed by first removing the gas plug (push in the lock and rotate 90 degrees) and then sliding it and the spring out the front of the gas tube. The upper and lower receivers may be separated entirely by unscrewing the pin on which the two halves pivot.

With the breech block removed from the carrier, it may then be stripped down to it's components. The anvil should be depressed from the rear, and the cross-pin removed. This will allow the anvil, firing pin, and firing pin spring to be removed from the rear of the breech block. The extractor requires a special tool for insertion and removal, and is not taken out for routine cleaning.

Re-assembly is affected by reversing the order of disassembly. Ensure that when the gas plug is inserted properly, otherwise the rifle will not function.

A variety of optics was produced for the FN-FAL. The UK employed the "SUIT" sight as it's standard issue infantry small arms combat sight until the L1A1 SLR rifle was replaced by the current issue bullpup SA-80 with the SUSAT combat sight.

The SUIT was designed and developed by the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE), and was manufactured by Avimo Ltd. of Taunton, UK. It was designed with the following three characteristics in mind:

1. Enable the firer to engage night targets at twice the range at which he can do so with the unaided eye and desirably three times the range.
2. Assist in the acquisition and engagement of targets with low background contrast at the effective range appropriate to the weapon.
3. To be capable of attachment to the following weapons:

- SLR (L1A1)
- M-16

To meet these design requirements, RARDE essentially took half of a set of prismatic binoculars, inserted an aiming pointer, and developed a mounting system for the SLR body cover. In May of 1971, a series of trials were held at Warminster Infantry Training Center, UK, where the initial model (L2A1) SUIT sight was compared against the "Hythe" sight and a commercial "Single point" sight. Some minor modifications to the latch spring were proposed, and the sight was standardized for issue as the L2A2 SUIT (Trilux) sight, an example of which is affixed to the L1A1 in the above photo montage.

Here are the specifications for the SUIT:

Nomenclature: Sight Unit Infantry Trilux L2A2
NSN: 1240-99-964-7647
Length: 18.8 cm
Width: 7.6 cm
Height: 6.9 cm
Weight: 340 gm
Reticule: Illuminated inverted post.
Range Settings: 300m (rear), 500m (forward)
Magnification: 4X
Objective Aperture: 25.5 mm
Field of View: 8 degrees (140 mils)
Light Transmission: 86%
Exit Pupil Diameter: 6.6 mm
Eye Relief: 35 mm
Environment: -75deg to +90deg
Active Element: 0.22 curies of Tritium gas
Illumination color: Red
Manufacturer: Avimo Ltd.

The SUIT consists of two main parts. The Body and the Mount. The Body is made of an aluminium alloy for lightness and contains the optical system. The ocular lens is located centrally over the rifle, and the objective lens is offset to the left to avoid obstruction by the front sight. The Arm, attached to the lower part of the body secures the sight to the mount and aligns it with the bore.

The Mount consists of a rifle body cover and an adaptor. The Mount has a locating pin which mates to the lateral adjustment alignment block, a v-notched cradle at the front to mate with the elevating screw, a central attachment point for the spring-latch, and a platform for the range control lever. The body cover is standard, with the addition of a spot-welded frame to which the mount is riveted.

The following is a diagram labeling the major parts of the SUIT:

And here is an image of the SUIT's internals:

And finally, this is the SUIT reticle:


Collector's Comments and Feedback:

1. ...... (Information excerpted with permission directly from the FN-FAL Information Webpage (http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/coffee/fninfo.htm))

The following countries made the FAL, many others used it, over 90. Most had it made to their specs by FN:

Austria - adopted the FAL in 1958 as the StG 58. Initially Austria purchase FN guns, later guns were made by Steyr-Damlier-Puch under license. Austrian guns had a unique flash hider/wire cutter/grenade launching front attachment, and also had sheet metal handguards. Austria now primarily uses the AUG rifle, as does Australia.

Australia - adopted the inch pattern FAL as the L1A1, and made it for New Zealand, as well as its own use, at SAF Lithgow. Australia also made semi-auto versions for civilian sale, although the domestic and international political climate toward civilian ownership of military style guns has ended that activity. The L2A1 was a squad auto version similar to the Canadian version, Australia also made a 30 round mag for it.

Argentina and Brazil - both made the FAL under license in their own countries. Brazil makes the Model 964 at the Ijatuba Arsenal, Argentina at FM (Fabrica Militar, where they also make licensed copies of the High-Power pistol). Both nations also make USA legal semi-autos, for commercial sale.

Belgium - the home of the FAL rifle, adopted it themselves, and FN made it for many other nations.

Britain and India - also made and used the FAL. Britain made it, as the L1A1 (SLR), at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) Enfield, and at the Birmingham Small Arms Company, (BSA). India made it as the 1A SL, at their factory in Ishapore (RFI). Britain used it with the SUIT sight, available minus the tritium illuminator, here in the USA.

British 30 round .308 Bren mags work with the inch pattern FAL, and are curved, unlike the straight 30 round Canadian and Australian mags. British and Indian rifles have milled diagonal cuts into the bolt carrier. That, combined with an altered hold open was supposed to keep the guns functioning in sandy environments, both by preventing the dirt from getting in through an open bolt, and by providing a place for dirt to accumulate, without interfering with the functioning of the rifle.

Canada - the first country to adopt the FAL design as the C1 (June 1955), in inch pattern. All the guns were made at Canadian Arsenals Limited, a state factory (Note by Claven2: formerly known as Longbranch). The C1A1, and C2A1 followed. The C1A1 (adopted 1959) is a slightly modified version, including a two piece firing pin and a plastic carrying handle. The C2A1 is a squad auto version of the FAL, with a built in full auto function, as well as a heavier, longer barrel, and a bipod that folds into up to become the front handguard. The C2A1 also uses a rear sight mounted on the top cover, not the lower receiver. The squad auto inch pattern guns apparently did not work very well in that role.

The Canadian version is the only inch pattern version that lets the last shot hold open actually hold open the bolt on the last shot. The British and Australian rifles have the peg that would engage the magazine follower ground down, so the bolt stays closed on the last shot, and the bolt must be retracted and the hold open pushed up manually, to hold the bolt open.

The standard mag is 20 rounds, a 30 round straight mag was made for the C2A1. The Canadian FAL also uses a neat revolving aperture sight, which will fit, per the commonwealth agreement, on any inch pattern FAL, although the UK and Australian guns don't come with such a sight. There is both a sight configured in yards, for the C1A1, and a later 800 meter sight.

Israel - Israel had the receivers made by FN, and made the rest of the gun, and assembled it, domestically. Much of the spare metric parts on the US market are of Israeli origin. The cocking handle on this gun will also function as a manual bolt closing device. Israeli barrels supposedly have a different thread pitch on the chamber end of the barrel, making them a little hard to install on a standard inch or metric receiver. Enterprise Arms has just started marketing an Israeli spec receiver in the USA to help folks use some of the many Israeli parts available here to make up a rifle.

South Africa - bought some rifles from FN, and them made it under license as the R1, at ARMSCOR Lyttelton Engineering Works - Pretoria.

USA - The US considered, and rejected, the FAL rifle in the trials that led up to the adoption of the M-14 (T-44) rifle in the 1950's. In addition to rifles made by FN, Harrington & Richardson made up 500 T-48 rifles, and High Standard made 13. The T-48 was basically an inch pattern FAL. These rifle trials are a controversial subject, with the suggestion that the best gun didn't win out, for non-merit reasons. T-48's are very rare today. Although meant to be semi-auto only, they, like all military made FAL's had the safety sear, and thus were classified as machine guns by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax division of the IRS, (ATT), the predecessor to the ATF. There are (expensive) registered examples for those who wish to own one. .............. (Feedback by "Claven2")

2. Another interesting and important variation on the Canadian C1 not mentioned above is a modification to the dust cover allowing the magazine to be fed from stripper-clips well still fitted to the rifle. To do this a section of the dustcover from the breach face to the back of the magazine well was removed from the original FAL design and a stripper-clip/charger guide added at the rear of the opening.

In order to charge the magazine from stripper clips other variations of the FAL design required that the magazine be removed from the rifle and a special adapter fitted to the top. Photo #34 of the montage shows an exhalant photo of the Canadian C1 type dust cover.

(Click PIC to Enlarge)

.............. (Feedback by "No4Mk1(T)")