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Posted: 4/6/2006 4:19:00 PM EST
Hey guys,

I picked up the latest edition of Combat Arms from (G&A). I bought it in part because of an article by Angus Norcross on how to build a FAL. After reading the article, I seemed like a doable project for me? I would have to buy a few tools but nothing major. Did the author sugar coat it or make it sound easier then it really is?

Now the second part of it is, I have to decide if building it is worth it $ wise? From what I'm seeing, I can probably buy a complete FAL for the same money (or even less) then the cost of building one. I looked at the cost of receivers from DSA and OMG! What's up with the cost of those receivers!? Parts kits don't seem to be real cheap either.

I'm assuming if I looked around, I could probably still find a relatively cheap kit someplace but it also seems like I would end up replacing a number of the parts anyway to build the kind of FAL that I want. Just to be clear, if I do this, my motivation is not to build a cheap FAL, it's to build a quality FAL, the way I want it, as inexpensively as possible. Added bonuses would be the fun and knowledge I would obtain by doing it myself and the fact that I can spread the costs out as opposed to one lump sum cost of a complete rifle.

I guess the short version is, is building your own FAL doable for someone with very limited gunsmithing abilities and in the end, is building still cost effective?

Thanks
Link Posted: 4/6/2006 5:37:48 PM EST
Usually cheaper to buy if you only want one or two.

Cheaper to build once you have the barrel vice, headspace gauges, pin gauges and receiver wrench.

Oh and a decent bench vise. Basic hand tools. A feeler gauge is nice.

Of course with the price of stripped receivers rising as the Imbels get harder to find you may just want to buy.

Easy to do though. If I can do it, ANYBODY can.
Link Posted: 4/6/2006 7:57:35 PM EST
check out falfiles.com and see if anyone lives in your area. I got help building mine from someone who has tools and experience with the build.

Gunparts guy has parts kits for sale there also, including almost all the US parts you'll need for about $400, I got my DSA type II for dealer price ($325) you might be able to swing that if you have a FFL that will do the transer for you and order it for you to get the dealer price.
I'm well under the cost of a new DSA built rifle and I didn't cut any corners on quality of parts.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 2:31:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/7/2006 2:33:17 AM EST by kingfish]
The receiver's already made, so it's just a matter of assembling parts and checking headspace, and barrel timing. Basically, things that require a little bit of skill, but with the proper tools, anyone can do it. A s far as cost effective, for 1 rifle, no. Figure $400 for a DSA receiver, $300 for a nice parts kit, add another $125 or so for US parts, and that brings you to $825 not including the tools.
Link Posted: 4/7/2006 10:42:07 AM EST

Originally Posted By RobT2K:
check out falfiles.com and see if anyone lives in your area. I got help building mine from someone who has tools and experience with the build.

Gunparts guy has parts kits for sale there also, including almost all the US parts you'll need for about $400, I got my DSA type II for dealer price ($325) you might be able to swing that if you have a FFL that will do the transer for you and order it for you to get the dealer price.
I'm well under the cost of a new DSA built rifle and I didn't cut any corners on quality of parts.



Yeah, so add that up and then add about $200.00 for tools if you don't have access to someone else's tools and then add in any dealer mark-up because we don't all get dealer pricing and it's pretty close to, if not over, the DSA price.

Link Posted: 4/7/2006 4:26:20 PM EST

Originally Posted By operatorerror:

Originally Posted By RobT2K:
check out falfiles.com and see if anyone lives in your area. I got help building mine from someone who has tools and experience with the build.

Gunparts guy has parts kits for sale there also, including almost all the US parts you'll need for about $400, I got my DSA type II for dealer price ($325) you might be able to swing that if you have a FFL that will do the transer for you and order it for you to get the dealer price.
I'm well under the cost of a new DSA built rifle and I didn't cut any corners on quality of parts.



Yeah, so add that up and then add about $200.00 for tools if you don't have access to someone else's tools and then add in any dealer mark-up because we don't all get dealer pricing and it's pretty close to, if not over, the DSA price.



Thanks for the input so far. Couple of things...
1. I already have a lot of the tools so I don't see needing anywhere near $200 in tools.
2. One of the things $ wise that is appealing about building my own is, I can piece it together over time (like I did\do with my AR's) which makes it much easier for me to afford as opposed to plunking $1k - 1.5K in one shot.
3. From what I've read, worst case scenario, I can always send the receiver\barrel\bolt to a pro for that part of the build but I'm not sure what the typical cost is for that as opposed to buying some of the tools I would need?
One concern I have about building is this. I know I want either a 16 or 18" barrel. I'm assuming most (all?) kits come with a 21" barrel so that would mean I need to either send the barrel out for a cut and crown or buy a new barrel. I would also need to replace the furniture and fire control group so what's left? The gas system, lower receiver and ?

If I do decide to get a factory built DSA, where are you guys seeing them for ~$1K? Looking at their site, most of them are $1.5K+. They do have some "Austrian" models that are close to $1k. What is the difference between the standard DSA STG58 and the "Austrian" version?

Originally Posted By RobT2K:
I got my DSA type II for dealer price ($325) you might be able to swing that if you have a FFL that will do the transer for you and order it for you to get the dealer price.


I think my FFL would do that. Does he just call DSA directly and all he needs is an FFL?
Link Posted: 4/9/2006 8:31:34 PM EST
Dsa will probably want a copy of his FFL on file, then he should be good to go.
I hear you on the piecing it together aspect. Makes it hurt a whole lot less.

I think the austrian versions use a surplus austrian receiver compared to the other one with a new DSA receiver.

To go from 21" to 18" barrel, would you need to do anything to the gas tube/system?
I've been thinking of going down to that length recently, not sure what else is involved besides cutting/crowning the barrel.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 4:25:48 AM EST
I made one in my kitchen in 45 minutes. All I used was a wood block in the mag well, a pipe wrench, screw driver and hammer. Shoots damn nice too.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 12:15:40 PM EST

Originally Posted By l1a1man:
I made one in my kitchen in 45 minutes. All I used was a wood block in the mag well, a pipe wrench, screw driver and hammer. Shoots damn nice too.



WECSOG, it's all about the WECSOG!

What, no duct tape?
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 2:46:24 PM EST

Originally Posted By operatorerror:

Originally Posted By l1a1man:
I made one in my kitchen in 45 minutes. All I used was a wood block in the mag well, a pipe wrench, screw driver and hammer. Shoots damn nice too.



WECSOG, it's all about the WECSOG!

What, no duct tape Kentucky Chrome?


Fixed it for ya

Seriously, seems to me clamping the receiver in a vice and using a modified wrench would be the easier (and cheaper) way to go but it seems like a lot of people go with the barrel vice\receiver wrench method? Why is that? What is the advantage to that method?

Thanks
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 5:22:55 PM EST
Keeps the receiver pretty. Easier to work with the "proper" tools. Rounded edges on your barrel flats are avoided. There's more reasons but it could be done with WECSOG ingenuity and a big pair of channel locks. That its what is so cool about the FAL (and the AR).

You can do it.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 5:46:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 4/12/2006 5:47:55 PM EST by cgv69]

Originally Posted By operatorerror:
Keeps the receiver pretty. Easier to work with the "proper" tools. Rounded edges on your barrel flats are avoided.

Seems like most (if not all?) of that can be avoided by making a properly fitted hardwood block to enclose the receiver in the vice and custom fitting an undersized wrench to the barrel lugs? I guess I'll find out the hard way as that is how I plan to proceed.

Originally Posted By operatorerror:
There's more reasons but it could be done with WECSOG ingenuity and a big pair of channel locks.

Seriously, let me know what else I'm missing so I can either plan for them or change my plan of action.

Originally Posted By operatorerror:
That its what is so cool about the FAL (and the AR).

You can do it.

That is one of the major reasons I'm planing to do this. In the end, I know it's going to cost me more to build then buy but it's not all about the money now is it?
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 6:51:20 PM EST
I've heard of people making long handled, massive oak receiver wrenches. Then putting the barrel flats in the vise jaws or a barrel vice and spinning the receiver on. So, yeah I think a fitted wood block could work but it would have to not flex or twist or allow the receiver to crush or distort. (Yeah right, it's steel) It's gonna' hafta' be strong. My barrel torqued to about 120 ft/lbs before it was right. I was just curious what kind of torque reading was necessary when I did my build so I used a torque wrench. Torque is not a requirement, just giving you an idea of what to expect.

For me the price of a receiver wrench and a barrel vise were worth it. BTW, the price was $105.00 shipped from the FAL files. Ratas Calientes is the guy selling them. I like the idea of using a tested product proven to not damage my rifle receiver or barrel. Also makes adjustments to timing easy. I'm doing several builds so I can justify the cost in my pointy little head. And I have loaned them out too.

But yeah, the low budget way is always fun. A learning experience. Who knows, you just ight come up with the next new WECSOG invention from your experimentation?
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 2:37:04 AM EST
Actually what I was planning on doing (per the article I mentioned above) was to put the receiver in a large vice (already have) in between 2 hardwood blocks and then installing the barrel with a "modified to fit" 27mm (I believe that was the size mentioned?) open end wrench. According to the article, the 27mm (if I'm remembering the size right) wrench is just a tad undersized so the author recommend buying a cheaper one and opening it up just a little to make it match the flats on the barrel perfectly. If I did that and cut the other end of the wrench off so I can use a large "cheat", it shouldn't be too bad I would think?

I do some woodworking so it won't be too hard for me to make some wood block that have a hollowed out center section that matches the exact side profile of the receiver so that they basically form a clam shell around the receiver? Again, this is all theory based off that article and my own imagination. In the end, I might just see if there is anybody local that has a barrel vice and receiver wrench!

I just know in my case, this will probably be the only one I make. I may make a second one down the line but that's not likely. Considering that, I can't justify buying the barrel vice and receiver wrench unless maybe I planed to turn around and sell them when I'm done?

One last thing. I see a lot of people recommend buying "Gunplumber's" (from ARS) guide to building FN FAL so I do plan on getting that. Do any of you care to comment on whether the videos are worth the extra cost?
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 11:12:21 AM EST
You might want to check out this group. http://www.derbyfals.com/ They are in KY and, it's my understanding, have build partys every once in a while. Figure it all out so when I get all my stuff together you can help me build mine!
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 2:01:22 PM EST
I stood on the kitchen counter, block o wood in the mag well, pipe wrench on the bottom of the barrel and she went right into place. Head spaced and timed perfect.
Link Posted: 4/19/2006 10:30:46 AM EST
I had mine assembled in a few short minutes. No exaggeration.

I used the clamp that was mounted on a workbench at my work on a weekend. Padded the receiver with two pieces of scrap wood, and screwed the barrel in with a crescent wrench with a metal pipe on the end for more leverage.

It was a few degrees short on the barrel timing (checked with the MK I Eyeball), so I zapped the front of the receiver for two seconds with a pneumatic circular sander (or whatever you call the things). This allowed for the barrel to time properly.

Verifying headspacing was initially done utilizing the "cartridge and scotch tape method" (later verified with actual headspacing gauges).

It was as easy as that. Have had no issues at all for the last several years.
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