Behind The Lines - FN FAL

Uploaded by XboxAhoy on 26.08.2011

Hello, this is XboxAhoy - and this is episode one of an entirely new series.
In this first episode we're covering the FN FAL, as seen in Black Ops, and in Modern Warfare
2. Known as the 'right arm of the free world',
it's one of the most widely used rifles in history - and the west's post-war answer to
the soviet AK-47. Join me, as we go beyond the game... and Behind
The Lines.
The FAL - or, to give its full name, the 'Fusil Automatique LĂ©ger', which translates to 'Light
Automatic Rifle' - is a battle rifle, characterised by its selective fire ability and chambering
for a full-powered rifle cartridge. Battle Rifles can trace their heritage to
the bolt-action rifles wielded in both world wars, such as the Mosin Nagant, Lee-Enfield
and M1903 rifles, all of which saw ample use at the start of the 20th century.
It was World War 2 that marked a turning point in firearms history, where the power and long-range
accuracy of the bolt action was supplanted by the more versatile automatic rifles.
With the power of a full-sized cartridge, and the automatic capability of a sub-machine
gun, by the middle of the 20th century the battle rifle was king.
By modern standards, the FAL is a hefty weapon - modern assault rifles fire smaller cartridges
and make extensive use of polymers to reduce weight - while the FAL is a full-size rifle
of an entirely steel construction. With a barrel 21 inches long, the overall
weapon length is 43 inches - a little over a metre - and some 20% longer than a typical
modern assault rifle. The FAL's length is accompanied with commensurate
mass - weighing in at 4.3 kilograms unloaded, 50% heavier than the modern M4 carbine.
Despite its bulk compared to today's weapons, compared to its bolt-action predecessors,
the FAL offered greater firepower with few downsides for the evolving face of infantry
The weapon was developed by Belgium-based Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal, or FN.
FN were known for their work with American arms designer, John Browning - a man responsible
for many key firearm designs of the early 20th century.
It was his successor as Head Designer at FN - Dieudonné Saive - who would later finish
his Hi-Power handgun design, and go on to design the FN Model 1949.
The FN-49 was an able semi-automatic rifle, similar to the Soviet SVT-40 or later SKS
- but would be one overshadowed by his later work.
Some aspects of its design would live on, however - as Saive went on to design the FAL.
It was the automatic weapons fielded by the Nazis that prompted such a shift in infantry
weapons - the Sturmgewehr 44 paved the way for the development of post-war rifles, and
can be considered the first modern assault rifle.
The FN FAL was, in fact, originally intended to fire the Sturmgewehr's 7.92x33mm Kurz ammunition
- and in 1947 the first prototype was finished, firing that very same cartridge.
The Kurz round is an intermediate one, and as such the early FALs were true assault rifles,
and not battle rifles. The British took notice of FN's new rifle,
and encouraged FN to build a prototype in the .280 British calibre, an experimental
round designed in response to the German's Kurz cartridge.
It performed well - but met with opposition from the US, who insisted that anything sub-30-cal
was ballistically insufficient, and instead proposed a new .30 Light Rifle cartridge.
With the dawn of NATO, and standardisation across member states looming, the choice of
calibre was a politically charged one - and one which would shape the next half-century
of small arms design.
A deal was struck between UK prime minister Churchill and US President Truman - the UK
would agree to standardise on the US 30-cal round, if the US would adopt the FAL as their
service rifle of choice. Not everything transpired quite to plan - while
the US .30 cal round would eventually become the standard NATO rifle round, the US would
go their own way and instead adopt the M14 rifle.
Despite this, the FN FAL chambered in the US .30 Light Rifle calibre would be adopted
by most other NATO members. The final design was introduced in 1951, and
production started in 1953.
The cartridge would be standardised as the 7.62 by 51 millimetre NATO round, and today
remains the rifle cartridge of choice for modern western military forces.
The FAL's typical magazine size is 20 rounds, although variants between 5 and 30 rounds
exist. When fired full-auto, the FAL will put between
650 and 700 rounds per minute down-range - although with its powerful cartridge the heavy recoil
will tend to make the rifle drift off target quickly.
With a muzzle velocity of around 840 metres-per-second, and a projectile weight of 150 grains - the
FAL by no means lacks power, imparting nearly twice as much kinetic energy as most intermediate
By the 1960s, the FAL had been adopted by a large number of countries, including - but
not limited to! - Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the entirety
of the British Commonwealth - the UK, Canada, Australia etc, with their imperial-dimensioned
L1A1 variant. The weapon would go on to see service with
more than 90 countries all over the world, and has seen action in key conflicts since
its introduction and throughout the Cold War. Interestingly, the Falklands War saw the rather
unique scenario where both sides were equipped with what was ostensibly the same rifle - the
British, with their semi-automatic L1A1 inch-pattern rifle - and the metric Argentinian fully-automatic
Over its lifespan, the FAL was manufactured in a number of different variants - most often
designed to reduce the overall length and weight of the weapon, such as with the FAL
50.62 and 63 Paratrooper versions, with folding stock and shorter barrel.
Ultimately, it was the heavy weight, unwieldy length and recoil from the full power rifle
cartridge that spelled the FAL's end in military service.
It would be the assault rifles that fired an intermediate cartridge - like the Sturmgewehr,
and the early FAL protoypes - that would eventually replace the FAL - and in the 1970s a new wave
of firearms chambered for the new NATO 5.56 millimetre round would all but entirely replace
the battle rifle in service.
The US Army were the first to switch to a 5.56 service rifle, with the M16 in 1963,
which replaced the M14. Around the same time, FN designed the unsuccessful 5.56 CAL - a
victim of over complexity and high cost - and the later, more successful FNC rifle in 1976,
which would become the standard assault rifle of the Belgian Army.
Austria replaced their FAL variant, the Sturmgewehr 58, with the bullpup AUG assault rifle in
1977 - and the UK adopted the L85A1 from 1987 onwards, with the remainder of the commonwealth
switching to an intermediate alternative at around the same time.
The FAL holds the accolade of being the most prevalent firearm ever manufactured in a NATO
calibre, with over 2 million rifles built. A definitive post-war rifle - rugged, accurate,
and reliable - and although supplanted by modern assault rifles, for those who served
with it in the latter part of the 20th century the weapon was a stalwart friend, and remains
a fond memory.
The in-game representation of the FAL has thus far appeared in the Call of Duty series
twice - both in Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops.
In Modern Warfare 2, the FAL is mostly seen in the hands of the Brazilian Militia - believeable
enough, given that the Brazilian military employed an IMBEL-manufactured FAL between
1964 and 1985. The in-game weapon model more closely resembles
the FN LAR variant over the Brazillian IMBEL - although is more likely a fusion of a number
of different variants.
In Black Ops, the FAL is principally seen in the hands of Cuban soldiers - not entirely
accurate, as Castro's forces have generally employed the weapons of their Communist brethren,
such as the Soviet AKM. Anything's plausible given enough artistic
license, of course - and the in-game model most closely resembles an early British L1A1
FAL variant, with wooden furniture and semi-automatic fire only.
The FAL is present in both Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops multiplayer, in each instance
featuring as a high-damage semi-automatic assault rifle - killing in fewer shots than
the automatic weapons but requiring multiple trigger pulls to do so.
This representation is parallel to its real life incarnation - the full power rifle cartridge
certainly doesn't lack any stopping power, but the high recoil present when firing the
FAL full-auto certainly encouraged its main use in the semi-automatic fire mode.
Capable of two hit kills - and a one-hit headshot in Modern Warfare 2 when paired with the Stopping
Power perk, the FAL nestles neatly between the assault and sniper rifle categories, bridging
the gap with its blend of accuracy and power.
Its digital realisation isn't anywhere near as ubiquitous as the real steel rifle - most
favour the automatic weapons due to their more forgiving nature. However, for the accurate
player quick on the trigger the FAL is a reasonably popular choice.
With a reputation for power and handling, efficient and deadly performance - this right
hand of the free world... can throw quite the punch.
Thanks for watching, this has been XboxAhoy. Join me next time for the next installment
of Behind The Lines, in which I'll be covering another of the weapons featured in the Call
of Duty series in-depth. I also plan to incorporate a healthy mix of
killstreaks, equipment and other details from the games - the more interesting aspects.
I'll be producing comprehensive gameplay guides as part of Call of Duty Elite - and my work
on the Modern Warfare 3 content will be starting very soon.
I'm hoping to be able to resume normal service by November, at which point I should be able
to start weekly production of this series. Time permitting, you might see one or two
additional episodes before then. So until then - farewell.