Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Weapons are made for war.

  • It is their purpose, and a weapon that cannot fight is not a useful one.

  • Not all are forged in battle, however: and the forces that drive us apart can equally

  • unite us.

  • The FAL.

  • A classic cold-war rifle used the world over.

  • A design that shed wartime wood for the modern age.

  • So, how did the notion of a NATO-standard rifle come about?

  • What obstacles stood in its way?

  • And in games, why is such a widely-used weapon a relatively rare sight?

  • The year is 1945.

  • War had left millions dead, cities in ruins - and a collective will for a long-lasting

  • peace.

  • It was a time of treaties and unions, with wounded nations shoring support in case of

  • future conflict.

  • The seed of a new European Union was planted in the Treaty of Brussels: a pledge of mutual

  • defence between Britain, France and Benelux - lest the Nazis ever return.

  • As the dust settled, it was clear that Germany was no longer a threat: but the massive manpower

  • and nuclear weapons of the Soviets were another story.

  • Nobody was more concerned by the rise of communism than the United States - and thus the North

  • Atlantic Treaty was drafted, extending the zone of mutual defence to cover the US, Canada,

  • Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal - with Greece, Turkey and West Germany joining

  • shortly after.

  • With the establishment of NATO, a clear line in the sand was drawn between the first and

  • second world: A deterrence that had a chilling effect on military action - ensuring the Cold

  • War stayed that way.

  • NATO's role was to organise effective co-operation between each member's military: proposing

  • standardisation for procedures, communication, equipment - and ammunition.

  • With most member nations still using bolt-action weapons: if there was to be a collective modernisation

  • - the so-called 'Free World' needed a new firearm.

  • FN Herstal were key innovators in the early 20th century - well noted for their self-loading

  • firearm designs - and for the work of John Browning.

  • After his death in 1926, work continued in the hands of FN's chief weapons designer,

  • Dieudonné Saive.

  • He was the man responsible for finishing the Browning Hi-Power - but he would become better

  • known for his gas-operated rifles.

  • The first was the FN Model 1949, or the SAFN - a ca pable semi-automatic rifle, but its

  • non-progressive design relegated it to a prior era.

  • Saive's next project would shed such conservatism and attempt to define the next generation

  • of small arms.

  • With select-fire capability, removable magazines with a 20-round capacity - and reliable self-loading

  • function regardless of ammunition:

  • Compared to the wooden weapons it would replace, this new 'Light, Automatic Rifle' would be

  • state of the art.

  • Inspired by the 7.92mm 'Kurz' cartridge fired by the German Sturmgewehr, the FAL was originally

  • designed to fire intermediate rounds - just like a modern assault rifle.

  • The experimental .280 British was the prime calibre contender - a small, high velocity

  • round which retained rifle-grade ballistics while lessening recoil and necessary weight.

  • The FAL was to be a truly modern rifle firing the perfect round.

  • What could go wrong?

  • America's 'doctrine demanded power: .30 calibre was their minimum acceptable manstopper, and

  • in their dominant position they dug their heels.

  • And so the new rifle was retooled for the more powerful .308 Winchester round - eventually

  • becoming the NATO standard 7.62mm cartridge.

  • Despite getting their way, America snubbed the foreign-made rifle after testing, instead

  • electing the home-grown M14.

  • The dream of a universal weapon destroyed: the advanced use of intermediate cartridges

  • delayed.

  • Even so, from its first production in 1953 the FAL still saw massive adoption - it has

  • been used by over 90 countries, and over 2 million rifles have been manufactured.

  • It was the NATO equivalent of the AKM through its widespread service, earning it the title:

  • 'The right arm of the free world.'

  • The odd thing about the FAL - with regards to its depiction - is its relative rarity.

  • With the huge number manufactured - it's amongst the top ten weapons of all time - it should

  • rub shoulders with the M16 and AK-47:

  • but it doesn't.

  • It's a sideline, a relic from the cold war overlooked in favour of valiant World War

  • 2 stories and more relevant tales of modern terrorism.

  • After all, it was a weapon designed for unity, for peace - an uneasy peace, perhaps - but,

  • with few exceptions, its conflicts saw no greater scale than skirmish.

  • It's a relatively unassuming weapon to look at, too - the most prominent feature of its

  • sleek black exterior is its carrying handle.

  • Compared to weapons made just 10 years before, it's a very modern-looking rifle - but its

  • innovations are obscured by those who imitated them.

  • Caught in the middle of two eras: it's no war hero, nor is it particularly tacticool.

  • Designed for duty, and nothing else: the FAL harks to an era before Picatinny rails - where

  • customisation meant spray-painting the weapon with situational camouflage.

  • A primitive hunk of steel, without delicate decoration - you'll aim with sights of iron

  • and you'll like it.

  • It might not fire the round it was originally supposed to, but it still spits its .30 calibre

  • with aplomb.

  • It is unapologetically powerful - as perhaps a battle rifle should be - and leaves no wish

  • for more: but such power is not without detriment.

  • The recoil is significant by modern standards: and while a typical rifleman is no stranger

  • to such force, the bolt-actions of yore lacked the FAL's select fire.

  • Simply put: a relatively lightweight firearm discharging a full-power cartridge full-auto

  • at some seven hundred rounds per minute -

  • is unusable.

  • And so the FAL served primarily in single fire: which, in most circumstances is fine:

  • conserving ammunition and ensuring more accurate shots.

  • Combat was evolving, however - and individual marksmanship was an ever-decreasing factor

  • in modern combined arms doctrine.

  • Towards the end of the 20th century, the benefits of intermediate cartridges were increasingly

  • clear: Compared to modern assault rifles the FAL was too long, too heavy and too difficult

  • for some to handle.

  • Slowly, the rifle intended for universal service - was replaced.

  • The Americans let slip their stubborn grasp on .30 calibre rifles with the M16.

  • The Austrians adopted the AUG, the Belgians the FNC, the British the L85 - all bearing

  • the new standard of the 5.56mm round.

  • However, the FAL endures: like the AKM, it's too common to ever fall entirely out of favour

  • - and it still turns up in all sorts of places.

  • Its time as the prime tool of NATO forces might be over:

  • but its steadfast service is sorely missed.

  • It emerged in a fractured world - one thoroughly weary of war.

  • The start of a new global responsibility:

  • A need not to fight, but to be prepared.

  • Weapons might be made for war:

  • But this one was a product of peace.

  • The FAL:

  • Pacifier;

  • Sentinel;

  • Stalwart friend.

  • Thank you very much for watching - and until next time, farewell.

Weapons are made for war.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 UK rifle nato modern weapon war firearm

FAL.

  • 73 2
    Daniel Lin posted on 2016/10/30
Video vocabulary