I am completely ignorant with regards to the FALs, so bear with me...
Here's what I'm looking for in this gun: Fun, cheap, troublefree.
So, where do I start? Complete rifle or build my own? Does one need a qualified gunsmith to build one, or can I do it myself (I'm not too handy) without many specialized tools? If I need a smith, what is a typical build cost?
What manufacturer receiver should I look for, what should I avoid? Same with parts. Inch vs. metric? What else to look for?
Again, I don't want to spend much money, this gun is for fun not collecting dust, so I want to abuse it. If I like, I'll upgrade in the future. Don't need a tack-driver. I do want a gun that will be reasonably trouble-free, and I would prefer if it does not blow up in my face, but I'm not too picky.
What price should I expect for a built rifle, or how much to do it myself?
Oh, and no butt-hole stocks and I definitely want a carbine length bbl with brake unless someone can give me a good argument against this.
I went off the deep end over the weekend and ordered a G1 kit from Tapco.
If you're not to handy, I would have someone else build it for you. Supposedly a little harder to build than an AR. That is what I am going to do as I don't have the equipment to do it myself. Mainly, a heavy vise, barrel blocks and receiver wrench plus headspace guages.
Imbel from Brazil generally are regarded as the best. Followed by DSA. Then Enterprise.
Of course for the real answers and help you need to get over to the
I'm going through the process to build my first FAL as well. For price, here's a breakdown of what I'm spending so far:
* New Imbel metric receiver (AIM): $210
* FFL transfer of receiver: $20
* Used G1 metric kit (Tapco): $100
* Handpick fee (Tapco): $20 (to get a good bore)
* New US made metric charger (Tapco): $15 (part of the 10 mag combo)
* New US made G1 muzzle break (Tapco): $20
* New US parts kit [trigger group,pistol grip,mag parts] (RPB): $60
* New US metric gas piston (RPB): $30
So far, I'm into it for $460 plus shipping. I plan on putting most of it together myself, but I plan to have the hard stuff (barrel mounting/headspacing) done by a local gunsmith. After I've shot it and am happy, I'll probably have it reparkerized to match the receiver.
Because you want a carbine barrel, you might want to check out DSA's site. A little pricey, but just about anything you want. If you have a smith handy, you could perhaps have the barrel from a kit cut down to carbine length.
Like Jonnie says, check out FAL Files for more information than you ever wanted to know.
Yeah, what he said. Except substitute a refinished G1 kit from DSA in for the kit from Tapco.
The best ones to get are the DSA rifles one of the DSA rifles will cost you just a little more then the 2002 LEPG rifle around $805 with shipping and FFL fee. You also have to make sure you have seven (I think.) U.S.A. made parts on your gun. They have to be parts that the gun would not work with if you did not have them like I.E. trigger, receiver. FAC has the DSA for I think it was $785 or something like that.
I know Enterprise arms had something that they would build your rifle for $75. I don't know if they still have that going on or not.
ATF has a list. It is best to check the web site and get the list. There are 20 parts, a FAL has 17 of them so you need to replace at least 7 of them with US parts.
Lets see how my memory is:
Hammer, trigger, sear, pistol grip, buttstock, receiver, Operating Rod (which in the case of the FAL is the Charging Handle), Barrel, Muzzlebreak, Mag floorplate, Mag follower, Gas Piston, Handguards? that's all I can remember.
I'd also suggest the DSA STG-58C if you don't want to bother putting one together and price is a concern. They are the cheapest rifle DSA makes but the quality is still there. Basically kit guns with the required US parts on a DSA reciever.
If you care to research this further hop on over to http://www.falfiles.com/
Lots of excellent info there
To expand upon BKinzey's already excellent advice:
The ATF (or whoever) came up with a list of parts that are inherent to the function of the firearm they are intended for. Some parts they didn't list because they considered them "optional", while others are required for function. Ultimately, they came up with a list of 20 importable parts and decided that no more than 10 of them can in installed in a post '90 "assault rifle". The 20 parts are:
For the FAL type rifles, (3), (4) and (14) do not apply. So that leaves a total of 17 importable parts, of which only 10 can be foreign which in turn means you must replace 7 with US made parts in order to be compliant. Note: you can reduce the required count to 6 by not installing a muzzle device, but make sure there are no usable threads left on the barrel. G1 barrel's aren't threaded for muzzle attachments, so those are safe either way.
The above information was gathered from: www.fnfal.com/falfiles/usaparts.html and www.atf.treas.gov/regulations/27cfr178.html
So on my project above, I plan to install the following 7 US parts:
(5) Muzzle attachment (Tapco)
(8) Operating rod/Charger (Tapco)
(9) Gas piston (RPB)
(11) Trigger (RPB)
(12) Hammer (RPB)
(13) Sear (RPB)
(16) Pistol grip (RPB)
If you are building a kit, many factors will play into your parts count and it might be best to wait for your kit before deciding. For example, if I need to replace my buttstock and foregrip because the kit parts are crap, then I might as well buy US parts. If I do that, then I do not need two of the other parts. Of course, there is no harm in swapping more than the required 7 parts, but it could be an unnecessary expense.
Actually, the number of U.S. made parts is 7 if you have a muzzle brake on the gun. If you cut off the threads for the flash hider (no MB) then only 6 parts need be U.S. made.
I would recommend the FSE H/T/S. Sometimes the gas piston can be pretty worn in the imported kits, so a new U.S. gas piston is a good addition to the list. Then replace the furniture (BS/PG/HG).
I don't like depending upon using mags parts as part of the total parts count since this limits you to which mags you can use in the gun. Nice not to have to worry.
There is another option, the M444 from Dan's. See www.falparts.com/firearms.asp. Not the greatest rifle, but cheap.
Building can be difficult, and keep in mind you need to buy the tools. Besides headspace guages you'll need pin guages to figure locking shoulder size; a receiver vice is almost a necessity; probably a barrel shoulder shaving tool to adjust barrel timing; a 27mm wrench to torque on the barrel; a buttstock tool wouldn't hurt. Then you need to decide if you're going to refinish the gun. More money there too.
On the other hand, building a rifle from a pile of junk is a lot of fun.
If you have the cash to spend, Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems build one heck of an FAL. Also heard very good things about Derek at AzexArms.
Cheap and good. Prices are ballpark.
Tapco G1 kit - get it parkerized ($180)
or buy a DSA re-parked G1 kit.($180)
Aim surplus Imbel receiver ($210)
FSE- Hammer,trigger,sear, gas piston (4US parts)
mag- US floorplates and followers (about $5 for 1 of each) buy 10 and ten used FN mags ($7 apiece) Total $12 per mag
This allows you to keep the original furniture on if you choose to. If you later decide to buy US furniture - too many US parts isn't a bad thing and the mag parts are cheap.
Have Mark Graham Arizone Response Systems assemble/test fire it. Mark will also shorten and crown the barrel. ($175 shipping included)
If you have to have a muzzle brake -get a US made pistol grip as the 7th US part.
Go to the FAL files fnfal.com and ask questions, go to the marketplace and look for rifles for sale, or register and post a Want to Buy, WTB and say what you want. Most people will tell you avoid a Century, but I and a number of others have them and have had zip problems, there's probably an element of luck there, but if you get a century, get on with serial number over 3000, for sure. The board smiths, George Gouger, Derek Huffman and Mark Graham to name 3 of the most prominent will do excellent work. I have a rifle done by Steve Bowman, boman on the boards, and I think he has several for sale under a thousand dollars. Before or right after you get the rifle get about 20 or more mags from Tapco. You'll love this 20 round NIW factory mags for 12 dollars or less, sometimes as low as 7 dollars in volume. NEW hi quality mags.
Ask yourself what do you want to spend? If say 800 or less, then look for someone with a century that's already wrung out and is a shooter. Someone who will give you a 3 day return privilege. If you want to go to 1100 or 1200 you'll get a beautiful, slightly more shootable rife. Email me if you have any questions. Kyle
Sorry to go the negative route but this is my experience with the DSA FAL with a 16" bbl. I bought one and sold it pretty quick as I wasn't happy with it. It is true that the firearm is a great piece of engineering and is built like a tank but at the expense of being way too heavy. More negatives:
1) The trigger is the heaviest trigger I have ever felt. I understand that it was somewhere around 12 lbs from the factory.
2) After firing a couple of 20 round mags the front hand guard is hotter than hell,(metal hand guard).
3) The rear sight assembly absolutely sucks. I had to cram my face into the buttstock until it was almost painfull.
This is not to rain on your parade but only to enlighten you.
We seem to be on a FAL binge today. It's a step down for a confirmed AR fan.
It's true that the sight on the FAL stinks compared to an M14 or AR sight, and that the trigger is bad. But you have to remember when they were built. The AR wasn't out yet. It was a battle rifle and the best design of the time. You can get them cheap because the surplus parts are cheap. That's a plus. Just try to hunt out good condition parts.
Here's a hint: Look for the parts that haven't been replated. Refinishing hides lots of sins like heavy wear points thate are obvious on parts that haven't been refinished.
I've looked at lots of parts kits and all of the receivers and rifles out there. DSA puts together the best but I still prefer a factory original like a Springfield or FN. If you're willing to accept a rifle with used surplus parts in it I think you're better off with an M1A. It has better sights and the trigger can be reworked.
Surplus parts aren't all bad either. Most of them are better than the remakes. Nobody is matching the quality of FN these days.
Thank you very much for all the feedback.
I didn't realize what a mess I was stepping in to!
Needless to say, I going to research this one a lot more before I jump in. I'll check out FALfiles a lot more...