Introduced by FN Hestel of Belgium in 1952. It was a evolutionary improvement upon the previous FN49 semi-automatic rifle. It was originally designed to use the 7.92x33mm Kurtz cartridge developed by Germany during WW2 for their Stg44, the first "assault rifle". Due to US political pressure upon NATO, the US 7.62x51mm cartridge was adopted instead. Many nations not affiliated with the Warsaw Pact used the FAL, most notably the nations of the British Commonwealth under the designations L1A1(UK and Australia), C1A1(Canada), and R1A1(South Africa). Other nations adopting and/or manufacturing FAL rifles include Belgium, West Germany(G1), Austria(Stg58)Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
Semi-automatic only versions are popular in the US civilian market. Model range in price from $400 for rifles made by Century International Arms, Inc. which were mainly Commonwealth parts kits rebuilt on Brazilian or Canadian manufactured receivers, to $1000+ for completely US made rifles from D.S. Arms, Inc.
The FAL was adopted by the British Commonwealth in a somewhat altered form including a folding charging handle, and the plans were converted from metric to Imperial. Such FALs are usually referred to as being "Inch pattern". Likewise, Belgian, Brazilian, German(G1), Austrian(Stg58), or D.S. Arms manufacture are referred to as "Metric pattern".
Basic specifications for the FAL are as follows,
Caliber : 7,62mm NATO (7.62x51mm/.308) D.S. Arms make versions in .243 Winchester and 7mm-08 as well.
Action: Gas operated, tilting breech block, select-fire or semi-automatic only
Length: 43.31 in. (110 cm), 38.98 / 28.98 in. (99 / 73.6 cm) for folding stock model
Barrel length: 21 in. (53.3 cm), 17 in.(43.1 cm) for folding stock model
Weight: 9.81 lbs. (4.45 kg) empty, 8.32 lbs. (3.77 kg) empty for folding stock models
Magazine capacity: 5-30 rounds, depending on magazine type
Rate of fire: 650-700 rounds per minute (Automatic versions only)
The design of the FAL is Based off the Sturmgewehr 44.
The FN FAL is NOT an Assault rifle. It's considered a 'Battle Rifle'. The difference is that a battle rifle like the FAL fires a full -sized rifle round and assault rifles fire shorter intermediate cartridges. The difference is also seen in the effectiveness of the gun's range. While the FAL can fire at a mid to long range, an assault rifle like the AK-47 can fire short to mid range.
The FAL rifle is famous for it's use in the British Army, as well as many NATO countries. It's also seen in many video games Like MW2 and Black Ops as a semi automatic rifle (This is accurate because the FAL has selective fire).
The FAL has seen service since the 1950s and is still used today.