Mm L C Fal Rifle Series

U&Cl SERVICE F.N. F.A.L. RIFLE GENEALOGY

Great Britain, her Empire and the evolving Commonwealth had witnessed the .303 Magazine Lee as their prime service small arm from the iate 1880's. Changes to the cartridge and rifle design nearly came about at least twice, but international conflict resulted in the ,276 1913 program and post-Great War changes being shelved; the rimmed .303 round was retained for some seventy years.

After high-profile Ideal Calibre Panel deliberation and extensive tests, the 7mm (.280/30) round and bullpup EM2 came close to making the change in the mid 1950's; self-loading rifle trials had been well under way in England soon after the end of the 2nd World War. The scene was set for the introduction of a rimless cartridge and a self-loading rifle but politics and pressure from the new NATO alliance resulted in the final direction towards the .30 T65 round (later adopted as the 7.62 x 51mm NATO) and Belgian Fabrique Nationale's Fusil Automatique Legere or Light Automatic Rifle with its tilting breech-block system.

Belgian gas-operated self-loading rifle development by Monsieur D.J. Saive was well under way before the war and after its conclusion, the S.A.F.N. Model 1949 was successfully introduced. The ensuing F.A.L. rifle has since seen worldwide manufacture and adoption by some ninety countries however there are two different standards, metric and inch systems. Britain and the Commonwealth adopted the inch measurement standard.

With Canada and Australia desirous of maintaining the same rifle, a Rifle Steering Committee co-ordinated trans-Atlantic and antipodean efforts in search of a uniform firearm and full interchangeablity of component parts and fittings. As early as October 1946, there were standardization conferences on a new rifle by the U.S., Britain and Canada and in November 1953, Britain ordered F.N, manufacture X8E1 and X8E2 self-loading rifles for extensive troop trials. The 7.62mm NATO round was adopted the following month, in December 1 953, and Canada then purchased F.N. made EX1 and EX2 rifles for troop trials too.

In February 1954, Great Britain adopted the F.N. F.A.L. rifle as 'Rifle, 7.62mm, L1A1' and three months later bought some heavy barrel F.N, F.A.L.0. models for consideration. Canada purchased manufacturing rights from Fabrique Nationale in June 1954 and Australian production planning commenced in 1 955 with the arrival of the first sample F.A.L. rifle at Lithgow S.A.F.

Rifle Steering Committee meetings commenced in May of 1955 to co-ordinate production between the three countries with the first meeting held at Enfield Lock on 16-1 7th May. Subsequent meetings were held at Long Branch in Canada, and Lithgow as well as in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, until 1 962.

Canada introduced the C1 in September 1956 and started issuing the rifle one month later. Drawings for the new rifle were sealed in March 1957 after which is was adopted and R.S.A.F. Enfield and B.S.A. Guns commenced production in England. The first heavy-barrel C2 came out from Long Branch in September 1958 while Australia's first locally made samples of the L1 A1 came out in October 1 958. Deliveries to the Australian Armed Forces commenced in March 1959.

In the long tradition of rapidly updating new service arms in the British Ordnance system, it was not long before improvements were made and the nomenclature updated; in Canada the C1A1 was introduced in 1959. Australia too produced a heavy-barret LAR model designated the L2A1 with a larger capacity magazine, commencing in 1962. A special recoil reducer muzzle attachment was made by Lithgow for Malayan contract L2 rifles. However, Britain did not adopt or manufacture the heavy barrel light automatic rifle.

A general listing of the British and Commonwealth F.A.L. variants and their relative designations will be found on page 8. A quick reference to the models will likely make the ensuing text more readily understood, along with reference to the other Commonwealth nations that adopted or produced the inch-system F.A.L. Mode! identification of most of the following inch-F.A.L. service rifles is nominated on the left side of the upper receiver {action body) where the rifle designation is stamped along with factory indicators and in many cases, the year of manufacture.

The L1 rifle was produced by three different makers in Great Britain, at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield (UE), Birmingham Small Arms (UB) and the Royal Ordnance Factory, Fazakerley (UF).

A number of improvements were made during the course of production of the L1 and CI rifles as the three countries continued to collaborate. A large percentage of these changes relate to manufacturing processes and alternatives over a quarter century of production. Noteable changes were made to the gas cylinder and gas regulator, ejector, extractor, hand guards, carry handle, locking body catch, bolt hold-open catch and sling swivels. The one-piece firing pin was replaced by a two-piece mode! to remedy breakages.

Fal Hold Open

Australia developed progressive variants of the L2 Light Automatic Rifle, designated the F2A2. This evolved through X1, X2 and X3 models, the X2 F2A2 is illustrated above. This LAR features a straight-line stock, barrel mounted bipod, higher line of sight and other user improvements. Although it is reported to have been very successful, the program was shelved with only about 1 2 examples being assembled.

Other Australian models of the L1 include the L1A1-F1 with its shorter flash hider to reduce the overall length of the rifle, mostly exported to Papua-New Guinea. There was also a special, single shot model for rifle club competition, designated the SAF Target Rifle ana the L1A1-A was an export model with no safety sear, deemed to have no automatic capability. This was done especially for the U.S. export market where most of the near-200 production was eventually shipped.

In Britain, the 'black plastic' butt, handguards and pistol grip were introduced in the eariy 1 970's and some of these fittings were acquired by other L1 users. Actually the materia! is

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