As you may be aware, one of the very first prototype FAL designs was build for the German 8x33mm cartridge. The FAL was originally intended to be an intermediate-cartridge assault rifle along the same lines as the StG44, and it was only US stubbornness on keeping .30-06 ballistics that led to the FAL being scaled up to 7.62mm NATO.
Well, we found a couple archived photos of the 8mm Kurz prototype. We’d like to find more, but here are the two we have for the moment:
In this limited side view, we can see a bunch of design elements that would stay through to the final mass-production FAL rifles. The mag catch, bolt stop, and takedown lever are all basically unchanged. The detachable sideplate, of course, would be dropped. It is also worth noting that while the rifle was chambered for standard 8×33 ammunition, it used a proprietary FN mag and not the German StG magazine. The FAL receiver design isn’t wide enough to accommodate the German magazine.
The top view shows us some thing that would definitely not survive to mass production. Most notably, the charging handle was located up front on the gas tube, like later H&K rifles. The stripper clip guide would disappear later into development, and the muzzle brake design would change substantially. The rear sight is also interesting, with an aperture much like the final FAL but mounted on a WWII-style leaf for range adjustment (click on the photo to blow it up much larger). The rear sight starts at 50m and goes out to 500m in 50m increments – a much more realistic scale than the 1000m+ scales in widespread use on rifles at the time. FN actually understood the assault rifle concept, it would appear.
BTW, if you look closely at the top view, you can see that the rifle is marked serial number “1” just in front of the FN logo on the front of the receiver. Cool!
Interested in more of the FAL story? Here are some related posts you may not have seen:
Photos of the .280 British FAL
Photos of some other 1950s Light Rifle trials guns as well as the .280 FAL
Preliminary manual for the 8×33 and .280 FALs
Manual for the British X8E1 and X8E2 trials FALs
Modern FAL manual