Ok, here's the deal.
Wanting to get a FAL Carbine. Not sure whether or not to build to spec, or buy and modify.
I'd just go for a DSA STG 58 carbine, but I really want a chrome lined barrel (those Imbels out their for sale).
So should I buy a DSA STG 58 carbine? Or should I try to build this myself on an Imbel receiver?
I'd just build it myself, but have not had much luck with various build FAL's. DSA being the only exception.
That being said, if I build it from all new parts, will it just slap together like an AR?
Specail tools I'll need (besides the stock tool of course)? Reliability? Difficulty?
What can I honestly expect? And don't give me that crap about knowing that you did a job well done. I want to know if it will be more cost affective to buy and replace to spec, or build to spec. And also, whether or not the headach is worth it.
The only difficulty I have experienced was that I had to file down the barrel shoulder a little to get it to index correclty. Also I bought an imbel with the block installed with a hammer. I had to do a little filing to get the bolt catch to work correctly. Other than that it's easy.
I built another kit with STG58 and it went right togather perfectly without having to mess with the barrel. A kit from gunthings has the old receiver removed. that's half the battle.
The most common difficulty encountered when building an F A L from a surplus parts kit is getting the barrel to properly index. This is refered to as barrel timing. Barrel timing is usually simple to correct, but can be a real bear depending upon what is causing the barrel to index incorrectly. The IMBEL receivers coming in lately have had the "bear" problem. I would suggest getting a Dan Coonan receiver verses the IMBEL. The DC receivers are a bit more expensive, but well worth the extra for two reasons. The timing problem, If it is has any, will be the easy fix variety and the DC reciever is U S made.
As to the build v buying/modifying question. If you only want one, then buy and modify. If you want several, build and then sell the tools.
STAY AWAY FROM BOTH!!! I started with a buy and now I just got a kit and FAL Fever has taken ahold of me........I am already looking for more kits............
Shamus, you CAN build an FAL...but it's not as easy because of the tool requirement. You will need a really sturdy vise, and a receiver wrench...don't try barreling that puppy w/o one. You will need pin guages to check the headspace, and there is a little arcane math required for that, although there are folks here who can do it.
If you can borrow the receiver wrench ( I have a virgin one I'd be willing to lend you, if you pay the postage...it's a heavy bitch lol), and the pin gauges, then you've cut down on most of the expense of doing it.
Taking metal off the shoulder in time consiming if you have to do it...there is a little gizmo that fits on a drill that works great...once again, if you can borrow one, it saves you expense AND copious amounts of elbow grease.
You will most likely have to buy/trade for the correct size locking shoulder to get the headspace right...since the kit you'll have contains an LS that was for the receiver that Uncle Sugar so rudely cut in 3. The last build I did, no one had the right size, so I had to get one custom made for me...it was $30 or so with shipping. And, don't forget those compliance parts lol.
Kits these days aren't as cheap as they were before, either. Once again, on my last build, I had a couple of kits sitting around, that I got for relatively cheap. I don't know that you can get a kit for $140 any more....you'll have to check around.
To me, it's not worth it to build an FAL unless it's a group deal, and you don't have to shell out any $$ to make it happen....I don't think it's cost effective in term of $$ or time if you have to do it yourself from scratch, so to speak. I'm lucky, there are some incredibly generous and helpful folks in the No. VA area who do group builds from time to time, so all of the tool requirements are already met.
Under the right circumstances, building a rifle is a lot of fun...but it's not the same as an AR.