The FAL Battle Rifle

By Ellis

     The Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL is not for everyone. The FAL is known as "The Right Arm of the Free World" due to its extensive use throughout the Cold War in countries fighting communism. It’s big, heavy, and its accuracy is less than stellar. Still, it's one of the most ergonomic designs ever made, it has the lightest recoil of any 7.62x51 battle rifle, and it's plenty accurate to 600yd.

     I've had a FAL for over ten years and over that time I've slowly converted my DSA STG58 Para with 18in barrel to a modern configuration. I've run it at many other biathlon style competitions and even achieved top ten finishes. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE classic FALs, but there are improvements that bring this 70-year-old design into the 21st century. 

     Here it is in original configuration, besides the ERGO pistol grip. I kept the original hand guards and butt stock for when I sometimes convert it back to a more classic look.

     Here it is Modernized.

Modernized Upgrades

16in Medium contour barrel from DSA threaded 5/8-24
Primary Arms PLx 1-8 Griffin Mil Reticle
Thunderbeast Dominus suppressor
AIM Sports MLOK handguards
Strike Industries foregrip
Slo Cat carry handle slot filler
Slo Cat checkered mag release
Ergo Grip
DSA Fold flat charging handle
DSA Extreme duty top cover
DSA T48 trigger guard
Falcon Trigger Pull Reduction
Para cut rear ramp sight
MLOK QD sling mount
Moses Mags

     The majority of these parts were upgrades to make it easier to wield the rifle in a modern “tactical” setting. The AIM Sports MLOK handguard allows easy attachment of a light, a foregrip, and a more advantageous QD sling mount. The traditional attachment point is on the barrel because slings were primarily used purely for shouldered transport in a non-tactical setting.

     The BRS stock from DSA has an adjustable length of pull and a cheek riser. This makes the rifle’s integration with optics much smoother. A modern optic with the Falcon trigger pull reduction springs enhances the shooters accuracy. The US did not adopt the FAL mainly for political/procurement reasons. I wonder if we'd had decades of modernizations where the FAL would be today.


     With the original 18in barrel I achieved practical accuracy with iron sights and a red dot. Common FAL group sizes are 3-4 MOA at 100yds. AR-15 owners gasp in horror at this but they forget that in the 50s, conscript armies were more common and this is perfectly reasonable for hitting man sized targets at 600m with iron sights. The accuracy issues lie in the bolt design and, for irons, the split receiver design. Some of these issues can be overcome, others can't.

     With the new 16in barrel, suppressed, with hand loads I've shot sub 2 MOA which is very impressive for an FAL. I normally run hand loads which are a rough M80 ball equivalent. I find most surplus 7.62 is not up to today’s standards of accuracy. With correct data I was able to hit 1000yd thanks to the PA Griffin scope. Practical accuracy out of a modernized FAL? You betcha.

     Most of us who use FALs in modern competitions are unique individuals. We choose to use an "inferior" design. There is no coincidence though that there are at least five Match Directors in the run n gun world that are FAL users. If it wasn't for the FAL rifle, The Gun Run wouldn't exist and I would be out many close friends.