Obscure Object of Desire: FN FALO

FALO Pic 1

Most gun enthusiasts are familiar with the FN-FAL, which has been widely imported into the United States. Excellent U.S. made clones are produced by DSA, and various other manufacturers have turned out parts-kit guns, too. However, less well-known is the fact that Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal, Belgium (aka “FN Herstal” or simply “FN”) manufactured a heavy barrelled version of the FAL known as the FALO. Also known as the Model 50.41 or 50.42 (depending on the furniture), the term “FALO” is an abbreviation from the French name Fusil Automatique Lourd. While Browning BARs may be completely out of reach for most of us 99 percenters, semi-auto versions of the FN FALO can still occasionally be found at reasonable prices at gun shows or Internet auction sites. And that makes the FALO an object of desire in my book . . .

FALO Pic 2

The FN FALO was originally designed in the early 1960s for military use as a squad automatic weapon. Unlike the FAL, the FALO is equipped with a heavy tapered barrel, making it capable of producing accurate automatic fire at more prolonged rates than its little brother.

The concept of a lightweight, mobile squad automatic rifle began in 1918 with the legendary Browning Automatic Rifle (“BAR”). The post-WWI years saw the advent of many lightweight, magazine-fed machineguns suitable for the assault, including the Czech Vz 26, the French MLE 1924/29, the British Vickers-Berthier, the British Bren, the Japanese Type 96, and the German FG-42. Most of these weapons were rather portly, though, weighing in the neighborhood of 22-28 lbs. loaded. In contrast, the more modern FN FALO design tipped the scales at a mere 15 lbs. loaded, representing a significant improvement in mobility over other designs.

FALO Pic 3 The FALO was also unique in that it was the first of these designs to be adapted from the lighter infantry version of the rifle. Having both interchangeable magazines and increased parts interchangeability with the main battle rifle provided significant advantages in combat.

FALO Pic 5

FALO Pic 6

 FALO Pic 4

Nonetheless, while sales of the FN FAL were brisk in the 1950s through the 1970s, the FALO was only adopted by a few countries under license. The FAL saw extensive action in conflicts all over the world, including Vietnam, the Cambodian civil war, Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, right up through the Falklands war, the Gulf War, both Chechen wars, and the Balkan wars. But not much appears to have been written about the combat history of the FALO. The British captured a number of Argentine versions in the Falklands war, and photos of Israeli troops using their licensed version can also be found.

Falo Pic 7

The civilian version of the FN FALO is functionally and visually identical to its military big brother, except that it doesn’t have the giggle switch. It’s chambered in “.308 Match” instead of 7.62 x 51 NATO, which I understand to be a nod to laws that seek to discriminate in favor of weapons that have a “sporting purpose.”

FALO Pic 8

Most of the civilian-legal versions were imported in the late 1970s and 1980s. I believe they were still imported up through the mid-1990s, but the MSRP increased dramatically due to bad exchange rates against European currency.

Even pre-Sandy Hook, prices for the FALO had been going through the roof, especially for the 1800(+) samples of the so-called “sear cut” guns in civilian hands. Nonetheless, even non-sear-cut specimens in like-new to excellent condition will bring top dollar from FAL collectors; guns that sold for $2,000 a few years ago will easily command double that today.

Of course, that makes shooting this bad boy a increasingly questionable practice from an investment standpoint.  But what the hell, it’s only rock and roll and I like it.

With a bit of practice, the FALO can be shot rapid fire in semi-automatic mode and keep all the rounds in a 5-6 inch circle at 100 yards.


Weight: 6 kg (13.4 lbs)

Length: 1,150 mm (45 & 9/32 inches)

Barrel: 533 mm (20.8 inches), 4 groove, RH 1 in 12 twist.

Cartridge: military version: 7.62x51mm NATO; civilian version: .308 Win with “Match” chamber.

Action: Gas-operated, short stroke piston, tilting breechblock.

Muzzle velocity: 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)

Effective range: 600 meters.

Feed system: 20, 25 or 30-round detachable box magazines.

Sights: Aperture rear sight with 0-600 meter ramp adjustment, hooded post front sight.












  1. avatar Swarf says:

    I wonder how hot it would have to be to make me want to go to war in tennis shoes and short shorts?

    1. avatar justin says:

      it really is kinda hard to take an armed soldier serious when he is wearing hotpants

      1. avatar Joe Grine says:

        Read up on the Selous Scouts – they were one of the finest counter guerilla formations ever assembled in modern times. They had a no bullshit, unconventional approach to asymmetric warfare.

      2. avatar Aharon says:

        What are your thoughts about facing an angry Scottish clansman wearing a kilt?

        1. avatar Ing says:

          You mean a miniskirt? (snicker) 🙂

          Just think about how many people they probably had to kill before people started taking those weird skirt-wearers seriously. I have some distant Scottish ancestry (the Harveys), and those were some badass dudes back in the day.

        2. avatar Miles says:

          Yeah, yeah. We’re all really silly “skirt-wearers” until you get decapitated by a fuckin’ 180 cm claymore.

    2. avatar James says:

      Those are Rhodesian soldiers, my dad was in the RLI (Rhodesian Light Infantry) and carried the FN FAL rifle. By the way, they wore those funny shorts because “Its bloody hot in Africa”.

  2. avatar Aharon says:

    Joe, this is a great review. I also enjoyed reading about the historical use of the gun around the world.

  3. avatar Bill says:

    Rhodesians were some hardcore mfers in the bush, Ohio has far to many scratchy, pointy forms of vegetation, I can’t imagine the african scrub :0

    1. avatar schizuki says:

      I believe those hardcore MF-ers may be Selous Scouts.

  4. avatar schizuki says:

    My first post-lottery-win phone call will be to DSA. “Can you make me a heavy-barrel Israeli FAL?”

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      My first would be to Nissan I want a gtr, but the basement of my house would look simular to Burt’s in Tremors rifle range and all.

  5. avatar 2Wheels says:

    I’d love to own one, but let’s make no mistake, it wasn’t very good at its intended role.

    Tossing a thicker barrel and a slightly bigger mag on your infantry rifle doesn’t make it a SAW.

    The British learned this lesson more recently with their LSW, they eventually ended up using Minimis to give their infantry more firepower at the squad level. The US Marines are apparently unlearning this lesson, by replacing some of their SAWs with modified ARs.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      There are trade offs either way, and in my estimation, the two weapon designs should not be thought of as interchangeable. The SAW is too heavy for an assault role, and lacks the ability to punch through cover. Our SAW and M60 gunners were almost always the guys holding up the formation. The BAR and FALO are better for the assault, but lack sustainability in a prolonged firefight.

    2. avatar greek amphibian squads says:

      yes, but with the fn you could penetrate light armor while with the minims you cannot.

  6. avatar Lance says:

    Very heavy with that heavy barrel. Id stay with ma trusty M-14 or L1A1 over this.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      M-14? M1A? That’s an “apples to oranges” comparison.

  7. avatar William Burke says:

    Who wears short shorts? THEY wear short shorts!

  8. avatar Thomas M. says:

    My buddy just got a FALO! I can’t wait to shoot it!

    1. avatar greek amphibian squads says:

      you will be amazed by its accuracy in high rates of fire, and in semi auto it has amazing accuracy even in distances of 300 meters. I was issued with one of those back in the army.

  9. avatar Brian vN says:

    Here in Africa, even in the winter I only wear long trousers on Sunday mornings to go to church. On cold winter days we just put on 2 pairs of shorts. We also cope well walking bare foot in the veld. The Rhodesian chaps were very practical and inventive, adapting well to their circumstances and environment, very much like us in South Africa. We also used the heavy barrel fal in very limited numbers. Brens in 7.62 NATO were more common and eventually in the early 80’s the fn mag became the standard squad automatic in conjunction with the galil as standard infantry rifle to replace the fn fal.

  10. avatar Craig says:

    I guess no one noticed that the rifle shown is NOT an Israeli FALO. I appears to be an FAL with a heavy barrel and FALO handguards. My Israeli FALO is different, WAYYYY different. No bushing at buttstock, there is no forward assist cocking handle, no FALO carry handle, no screw-in flash suppressor, different bipod. The one pictured looks like a fake, Lord knows there a LOAD of them out there. There is a gun shop in Arizona who claims specializing in FAL’s but they make light barrel FAL’s look like FALO’s. There must be a want for FALO’s as many fakes are for sale (light barrels with FALO handguards, heavy barrels on standard FAl’s, wrong buttstocks, etc., etc.). I will be the first to admit I may be wrong or maybe I am just fond of my Israeli FALO. By the way, Brian, pix of communist, mass murderer and sadist, Che Guevarra, is really bad taste when talking about “The Free World’s Right Arm”.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      The gun pictured is a real FN FALO made at the Fabrique Nationale factory in Herstal. It is much more rare and desirable than any Israeli heavy Barreled FN.

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