The Diamond of Collector FALs: The G-Series

When the Browning Arms Company first began importing semiautomatic FAL rifles from FN in 1959, the submitted an example for evaluation, and ATF determined that it was not a machine gun. The rifle was made with a selector that could not be moved to the fully automatic position, and did not have the automatic sear required for full auto firing. This was acceptable at the time, and Browning would import 1,836 of these rifles (mostly standard configuration, but some heavy barrel and paratrooper patterns) by January 10,1963. On that date, ATF changed its standard, and ruled the FAL as currently being imported now *would* be considered a machine gun subject to the NFA. In order to be acceptable now, the rifle must not be able to accept an automatic sear at all, not merely be made without one. However, ATF ruled that the previously imported guns would be grandfathered in, and remain legally owned as semiautomatic rifles. They were listed by serial number (an additional 12 guns were added in 1974 which were imported by “administrative error”), and remain exempted from the NFA to this day. For the FAL collector, these G-series rifles are desirable because they are completely authentic and original early FN production guns, without any of the design changes that would be required later for importation.

23 Comments

    • The ads I remember seeing had them going for around $350.00.

      What they actually retailed for…? Hard to say; an acquaintance of mine claimed he picked his up for less than $150.00, circa 1965 or so. The dealer had bought it on special order for someone and held it for them. For some reason, the person who it was ordered for never took possession, and when my acquaintance helped the dealer close down his shop, he got the rifle for a song. Dealer didn’t know what he had, and neither did my acquaintance. When he did finally get it valued for insurance purposes in the late 1990s, he told me he’d only done so by mistake. The guy doing the valuation casually mentioned that if my acquaintance had all the original boxes and paperwork (which he did), the pristine rifle was probably worth well north of $15,000.00 at the time, making it the most valuable rifle in his collection. I don’t even want to know what it’s worth, today. Off the top of my head, I’ve heard of these going for $35,000.00, back during the AW ban. They aren’t going for as much as they were then.

      Kinda regret not selling all my 30-round AR magazines at the peak of it all, though. Could have financed a significant amount of post-ban stuff, but who knew?

      • Just discovered that the $35,000.00 price was actually on an NFA weapon which was apparently either converted to full auto after importation or a legit Browning full-auto import. Which makes it even weirder, because I never knew Browning brought those in.

  1. Lovely sample and good show!

    On subject of “safety sear” – I have come by time thru various designs and my own considerations. I find for semi-auto it’s use unnecessary and several known designs support this notion. If the disconnect works properly, there in no chance that you could fire rifle prematurely and out of battery. Shooter’s finger is not faster when activating disconnect than action moving close to ‘light speed’ forward.

    Having said this I am aware that FAL contains “safety sear” as part of automatic fire mode which has its role if safety switch permits it. It can be said that replacement of safety switch from semi to full auto is easy and in that case only way to prevent it is to remove safety sear and prevents its re-assembly, which is what they could have done in first place.
    http://mcthag.blogspot.ca/2014/08/how-things-work-fal-edition.html

    • Here is information on one of aftermarket receivers called by British nomenclature https://www.arizonaresponsesystems.com/notes/notes-fal-rev-cai/notes-fal-rev-cai.html It is rather amusing.

      In third picture from top down is “prevention” to insert safety/automatic sear in form of added blab of weld. Wow!
      The very idea of “cast” receiver is in question since even if sound material (say AISI8620) and heat correct treat process are used it will hardly match strength of piece machined out of stock/ billet.

      • Hey, Denny, I know it’s probably stupid to ask, but given a choice between the FAL, the HK G3, the SKS, and the AK, which do you think is best for quick training and mastery? Are there any alternatives to these?

        • Hi Cherndog, thanks for asking.
          I served in military, in peace time and as such do not have (luckily) combat experience. There was a man here couple of times with name Fleetwood – he saw action in Africa and used FAL – he would be the one to ask.

          I am familiar with all 3 weapons you named, meaning I handled them and I am familiar with them on technical side as well including their capabilities. At this point I do not have a particular preference.

          But, I can for sure say this: both FAL and G3 will give you more stand-off which you can take advantage of. Accuracy is something I would not guess on, there are many factors to it – mainly your ability to see and take aim. So, the tossup is between those two. To get closer in my opinion, I would have to try them back to back. Guessing from videos which up to this point I was able to see, the G3 looks like a solid piece of kit (very robust) and I like the fact it does not have gas cylinder, which makes it easier for maintenance.

          Having said that, there is no way to fault AK (especially in 7.62). It is extremely handy and practical at all useable distances. Videos from Middle East are all over the place – just to watch them. Also remember, AK will not give you as nasty kick; U can spray enemy (literally) whole day long. From what I recall, he was confident with it.

          • That last sentence (“From what I recall, he was confident with it.”) jumped to the end against my intention. It was meant in relation to Mr. Fleetwood.

          • “I am familiar with all 3 weapons you named”
            But actually 4 were given; you ignored SKS, although it somewhat do not fit there, as it is (inter-mediate cartridge) self-loading rifle, as opposed to assault rifle (AK) or (full-power rifle cartridge) battle rifle FAL and G3. SKS can’t fire in full-auto unlike others mentioned. This make it inferior in terms of volume of fire, but easier to manage for novice user – no need to carry about to use single or full-auto that is question or controlling to NOT depleting whole magazine at once, if not needed. SKS is also very good for “if it is not welded I will lost it”-user, as bayonet is positively attached and there is one magazine fixed “forever”, sights provide П setting which should be “good enough” for most situation, SKS stays open after firing last cartridge, clearly informing user that it is time to reload. SKS can be stripped without usage of tools: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjWgjHF5UH0 after which you get some elements, but they are relatively big (harder to lost that smaller one, see at 1:52)

          • I addressed 3 mentioned rifles because SKS has no military relevance today. It has been sold by surplus houses for ridiculously low price; both Chinese and Russian made. Market is saturated with them.

          • The last mentioned, was it on FW channel already? Militarily speaking it was fluke, but still like to see mechanics of it.

        • Make mine the MAS Fusil Semi-automatique 7,5x54mm Mle. 1949/56 or SKS 7.62x39mm please.

          When the French invented modern conscription they lionized the pike as the all-purpose, democratic-weapon-in-service-to-the-state what with all the mythology of the Athenian phalanx and Roman republic… Yet it seems that all troops in harm’s way got muskets. Even at Valmy.

          The Soviet client state in Afghanistan routinely gave conscripts Mosin M44 bolt-action carbines and Schpagin SMGs. Later they graduated to the ubiquitous Kalashnikov.
          The U.S./Nato client state sometimes issued out M3A1 SMGs, with slightly used Hungarian AMDs and S&W Sigma/ “S&Wock” pistols.

          Conscripts the world over routinely used all the rifles Cherndog describes: FAL–over 90 nations–the G3–the SKS (particularly in Asia and Africa)–and the Kalashnikov.

          The G3 got the nod because HK used to assist nations that wished to produce their own copies:
          https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/oberndorf-german-town-armed-world-heckler-kock

          Portugal, Burma/Myanmar, Norway, Sweden/AK4, the Shah’s Iran and the post-Revolutionary regime, Pakistan POF, Turkey, Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia, the army of the Hellenes/Greece, Nigeria, Saudia Arabia …

          Now H.und.K confines themselves to “Europe only.” The void is filled, at least in Latin America, by IWI, who have assisted Chile, Peru, and Colombia in developing their own Galil production lines.

  2. Ruling by government fiat. We are threatened by that to this day with bump fire stocks.

    Molon Labe!
    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.

    • Don’t fret. Bump stocks are just fancy range toys intended to make some showoff look cool at the shooting range. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford the ammunition expenses that come with the bump stock. The “government fiat” will probably get overturned by the Supreme Court once the justices see HOW the supposed ban came about-by Trump’s executive action. The president, and for that matter the executive branch as a whole, is NOT supposed to make the law.

  3. On a related note, does anyone know how FN managed to import PS90 and FS2000 rifles with the safety sear? I know the progressive trigger was disabled and guns were nominally semi-auto only, but I thought the ATF knew better by then.

  4. I disagree with Ian. The best FAL rifles made were the Australian manufactured Lithgow L1A1 SLR rifles made for the US market, a few of which were sold in the USA before the BATF changed the ruling on these rifles. The quality of finish was superb and their accuracy was outstanding for such a rifle. I have shot a number of L1A1 rifles in the 1980s and 1990s and the last production batch of L1A1 rifles for the US market were the best. In my opinion these rifles were amongst the best battle rifles ever made.

  5. The Lithgow L1A1s used imperial measurements. Most parts were not interchangeable with metric FALs. Strictly speaking, my comments should have mentioned the caveat applied to imperial measurement FALs. However, that does not detract from the overall quality control, which in my opinion was better than the Belgium ones from my observations.

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