Israeli Light-Barrel FAL (from DS Arms)

Israel was one of the very First Nations to adopt the FN FAL rifle – after Canada but before many actual NATO nations. Israel made its first purchases of the rifles in 1955, and delayed them almost immediately in the 1956 Suez Crisis. The first rifles were wholly made by FN in Belgium, but over time IMI in Israel would produce almost all parts except receivers (they had a good working relationship with FN, which had licensed production of the Uzi submachine gun from IMI). These first rifles are good examples of many early FN design elements, which are not seen on later major NATO contracts, as the design details evolved over time. Israel would use the FAL through the Yom Kippur War in 1973 before transitioning to the 5.56mm Galil rifles.

In addition to the light-barrel infantry rifle, Israel also adopted a heavy barreled version of the FAL as a light machine gun or automatic rifle. These were fitted with stout bipods, but used the same 20-round magazines as the standard rifles.

A very small number of Israel semiauto FAL rifles were imported in the late 1980s, and they are very scarce in the United States today – or they were, until DS Arms acquired a supply of Israeli light-barrel parts kits and began assembling them into complete rifles to sell. They are particularly nice builds as the DSA markings and serial number are on the inside of the magazine well, allowing the external surface to be engraved with a very nice recreation of the original Israeli receiver markings with their distinctive Hebrew text and IDF insignia.

DSA is offering the rifles in two grades; “Soldier” with the unimproved parts kit finish and bare muzzle for $1400, and “Officer’s” with a later FN muzzle device and black Duracoat refinish for $1500.

Stay tuned for an upcoming 2-Gun Action Challenge Match on InRangeTV using this rifle!

16 Comments

  1. “Israel was one of the very First Nations to adopt the FN FAL rifle – after Canada but before many actual NATO nations.”
    I am confused: does this imply Canada was not actual NATO nation? So it was fake one? What this is supposed to mean? I always though Canada was one of primal dozen of NATO, i.e. one which joined NATO in August 1949, I am wrong?

    “heavy barreled version of the FAL as a light machine gun or automatic rifle. These were fitted with stout bipods, but used the same 20-round magazines as the standard rifles.”
    Did anybody at least attempted developing higher-capacity magazine for FN FAL? If yes what was result of that, if not why? – capacity 20 for 1950s light machine looks rather modest.

    • There are FAL compatible 30 round magazines produced by both South Africa (Belgian pattern) and Britain (Commonwealth pattern). These magazines were really meant to be used in either country’s post-WWII 7.62 NATO Bren guns, but in some situations were used in rifles as well (primarily in SA and Rhodesia). Even so the mags were not widely issued as they are quite long and heavy; they hang down from the rifle so far they interfere with shooting the gun prone. Both nation’s 7.62 Bren variants were also quite short-lived being replaced by MAG58s a few years after adoption. Very few other 7.62 NATO service rifles had magazines produced with capacities greater than 20 rounds, again due to the issues with bulk, weight, and shooting from the prone position.

  2. The message as presented in video is a bit confusing; indeed Canada was one of founding NATO nations.

    When comes to Canadian own manufacture of FN FAL rifle (they redesigned it into inches), the actual production started in early 50s by Canadian Arsenals in Long Branch, Ontario. They were different when compared to other FAL rifles in sense that they had rotary aperture rear sights and different receiver covers in addition to some small changes.

    There were three versions of it – the basic infantry semiauto only rifle C1A1, navy version with select-fire capability C1A2 and fully automatic version with bipod, heavy barrel and 30 round magazine with designation C2A1.
    They were gradually phased out on arrival of C8 and C9 (licensed Colt M16 rifle and carbine) in mid of 1980s.

  3. Up until today, I thought the Israelis had put the Commonwealth zig-zag cuts on all their rifles for dust/sand relief… Mainly because that’s what was on the only examples of the Israeli FAL I’ve handled. Ian didn’t mention them, so I went “Huh?”, and went looking, only to find out that the Israelis didn’t actually standardize on those, just experimented with them.

    Sometimes, you learn more from what’s not mentioned than what was…

  4. Oh, and the other thing…

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “BATTLE RIFLE”.

    That term is something cobbled up by gun rag writers back in the 1980s, and has never, ever had the slightest “reality” to its use by anyone. It isn’t doctrinal to any military that I’m aware, has never, ever been used even in colloquial usage in any military that I’m aware of, and is quite clearly an oxymoron of the most severe degree. What the hell else would an issue rifle be for, besides battle? Does this abortion of an English construction make any sense, whatsoever?

    It’s like the whole “assault rifle” thing, where civilian journalists refer to military-pattern semi-automatics as being “assault rifles”, when that class is clearly defined as having the capacity for fully-automatic fire in every military lexicon that I’m aware of. It is semantic gibberish–These things are rifles, or individual weapons, not “Battle Rifles”. That’s like calling a tank a “Battle Tank”, and smacks of some toy manufacturer trying to sell kids on buying their cute little toy tanks that they sell alongside the tin soldiers…

    Pet peeve, but it really, really aggravates the ever-loving crap out of me to hear it here.

    And, anyone who can find an actual official English-language example of someone official using this term…? I’ll buy you a case of beer, your choice, so long as we can figure out how to get it to you. But, I want citations and an actual example, beyond some dimwith twit of a second lieutenant parroting what he read in Guns and Ammo’s latest set of fairy tales.

    • Well, it’s hard to classify such a weapon when it is chambered for a full-power “man-stopping” rifle cartridge as opposed to the intermediate-strength rifle cartridge. Blame the nitwits who called 5.56 NATO a boy-scout’s mouse-plinking round. Yes, Army Ordnance called the original AR-15 a sissy gun that couldn’t kill even the weakest Communist lackey at pointblank range. For demonstration, some idiot filled the barrel of an early AR-15 with soft solder, loaded a rigged cartridge full of nasty explosive powder (as opposed to proper propellant), stuck the rifle’s muzzle against a target dummy’s head, and pulled the trigger via string. The weakened AR-15 EXPLODED, supposedly proving how weak the design was compared to the typical Russian skull. And then someone called out Ordnance for using a deliberately sabotaged weapon first. Did I mess up?

      • “Did I mess up?”
        Term assault rifle seems to be direct translation of Sturmgewehr. This name seems to be influenced by propaganda needs of tumbling down III Reich, as they earlier this kind of weapon Maschinenkarabiner which in Deutsch mean literally “machine carbine” – in my opinion well describing such weapon as it was able to fire full-auto (thus “machine”) and being in between Maschinenpistole (sub-machine gun, but literally machine pistol) and Maschinengewehr (machine gun, but literally machine rifle). Nonetheless “machine carbine” was already occupied term in English language, meaning “selective-fire of full auto weapon using pistol cartridges”, so it is understandable that they wanted new term to differentiate weapons firing pistol cartridge and firing intermediate cartridges.
        Who introduce “battle rifle” term? I presume that it was done to differentiate “battle rifle” from “non-battle rifle”, but how originator of term defined second category?

          • I missed that one, before, but it’s a useful summary. The term was never an official usage, enshrined in doctrinal publication or professional vocabulary. As such, it’s an irrelevancy.

            Language is a tool used to think with. Calling something a “battle rifle” is an essentially useless obfuscation and elaboration, because what general-issue rifle isn’t meant for battle…? OK, sure, maybe we ought to have something to differentiate the training rifle and drill rifle, but since those are separate minority uses, they should get the modifier and the basic-use weapon should simply be a “rifle”.

            Needless elaboration is the enemy of clear thought and discussion, in my opinion. 13th Analect of Confucius, anyone…? Anyone…?

  5. On metric vs. inch magazines. STORM FRONT by Rowland White recounts the 1972 battle of Mirbat where 9 SAS advisors to the Sultan of Oman helped defend that town from attacking rebels. One pinned down SAS trooper had his mates tossing him magazines BUT the Sultan’s men used metric FALs and the English didn’t so the trooper had to empty them and reload his own. By the time of the Falkland’s war, the English had gone metric. I’ve read several antidotal accounts of English troopers happily picking up Argentine mags when they ran out.

    • I was under the impression that the British held onto their English unitary system as a matter of pride and that retooling every armory for metric was considered a logistical nightmare.

    • Yeah… No. The UK never, ever “went metric” with the magazines–It would have implied a complete re-work of the fleet in the arsenals and units, and that was simply not happening. Aside from that, the so-called “inch-pattern” magazines are more robust and less prone to damage.

      You made me dig out my Collector’s Grade FAL books, and I can find nothing in there, at all, to support this assertion. If you’ve got a reference to cite that refutes that, I’d appreciate seeing it.

  6. Metric FAL magazines CAN be used on an “inch pattern” rifle without modification, although the fit is a bit sloppy and they are not as reliable. On the other hand, “inch pattern” mags cannot be fitted to a “metric” rifles without modification. British troops in the Falklands, (and the defenders of Mirbat), could have used “metric” magazines without undue problems, but British troops in the Falklands could not use captured Argie MG ammo, since the Argentinian FN MAG GPMGs were set up to use German style non-disintegrating belts.

    FN was in fact a bit upset about some of the modifications Canada made to the rifle to produce the “inch pattern” guns (especially the magazine front lug), since it made some “inch pattern” feature no longer interchangeable with “metric” FN produced guns. (See various references in the Blake Stephens Collector Grade books).

    It is possible to convert an “inch pattern” mad to fit a metric rifle, but it is tricky. Rhodesia is supposed to have manufactured their own magazines, but in fact they merely modified a bunch of L1A1 magazines already in their inventory.

    I have an original semi-auto only Israeli FAL in my collection, and it VERY interesting. Since they were an early adopter, Israeli rifles are a variant of the very first commercial model, (often referred to by FN as the “FAL Canada” model). They are very similar to the early trials rifles made by FN for Canada and the UK, (plain muzzle etc.) and have many of the very early features, like the forward assist capability and the so called “paper clip” extractor retainer.

    They also did NOT have the British “sand cuts”, neither the zig-zag cuts on the bolt carrier. nor the slots in the rails. I don’t think this was the cause of the alleged Israeli complaints about unreliability, but rather, as Ian alluded to, the lack of thorough maintenance by a citizen force/conscript army. (My rifle still had sand packed into various parts and crevices when I got it), and a tendency to set the gas for maximum recoil reduction rather than reliability.

    The Galil rifles allegedly had the bottle opener feature in the bi-pod retainer added to keep conscripts from using their magazine feed lips as expedient Coke/beer bottle openers, which gives you some idea of the general attitude of the troops pre-’73 to weapon’s maintenance etc.

  7. FN FAL (both rfiles & LMG) was in use by the Israeli police (mostly by the Border Guard branch) past 1973. They are marked differently. A certain pre-military cadet school still issues FN for drills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*