The FN FAL was originally designed to fire the 7.92 mm Kurz patrone (short cartridge) developed and used by the Germans during World War II (see StG44 assault rifle). With the adoption of the 7.62 × 51 mm (.308 Winchester) caliber as the NATO standard, FN rebuilt their rifle for the new cartridge and created what is possibly the classic post-war battle rifle. Introduced by its designer Dieudonne Saive in 1951, and produced two years later, it has been described as the "right arm of the free world."
The FAL operates by means of a gas-operated action very similar to that of the American Browning Automatic Rifle. The gas system is driven by a short-stroke, spring-loaded piston housed above the barrel, and the locking mechanism is what is known as a tilting breechblock: to lock, it hinges down into a solid shoulder of metal in the receiver like the bolts of the Russian SKS carbine and French MAS-49 series of semi-automatic rifles. FAL magazine capacity ranges from 5 to 30 rounds, with most magazines holding 20 rounds. Unlike some other tactical rifles (notably the Ruger Mini-14), reliable high-caps for the FN FAL are quite inexpensive.
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