The FAL is a legendary battle rifle still sought after by many, but for the average American, the most obtainable examples will be from DS Arms.
DSA FAL Options:
- Traditional FAL Rifles
- Modernized FAL Rifles
- Folding-Stocked FAL Rifles
- FAL Pistols
- FAL SBRs
As the world’s most iconic battle rifle, it is no surprise that the FAL is still a very sought-after weapon. Whether because of their historical provenance or the quality of their design, FALs sit atop many’s dream gun wishlists even in the modern era. Unfortunately, the golden age of imported FALs is long over. There was a time when everything from original Belgian-made FN examples to Brazilian IMBELs were being imported, but these days even parts kits are relatively scarce. This means that getting a FAL isn’t going to be cheap, but they don’t have to cost as much as the old collectible imports do. DS Arms is an American company building FALs from scratch, and it will be the easiest and most affordable way for the average shooter to get into the platform. With a DS Arms FAL, you can scratch a lot of different itches: traditional military clones, modernized fighting carbines, DMRs and more. So, whether you’re in the market for one of these cold warriors to LARP as a Selous Scout or just want something cooler than an AR-10 to fling steel downrange with, DSA is a company worth looking at.
About DS Arms
Headquartered in Illinois since they set up shop in the early 90s, DS Arms is America’s premier FAL manufacturer. While some smaller shops will build you a FAL too, none have the scale of industry like DSA. DS Arms builds their FALs using new tooling and a modernized manufacturing process, making most of their parts in-house and domestically outsourcing a few others like barrels. This means that their guns are 100% American-made and are not subject to 922r or any other asinine import restrictions.
DS Arms builds their FALs to metric specs and are closest in form to the Austrian StG-58 FAL variant, explaining the SA58 name behind DSA’s guns. Besides being the primary supplier of FALs for the civilian market, DSA FAL rifles have also been purchased by the U.S. Army for training foreign militaries as well.
The build quality of DS Arms guns is generally considered to be good for the price, but it is not uncommon for users to experience some issues, especially with a brand-new rifle. Supposedly their customer service is excellent, however, and will gladly take the rifle back to fix any issues before returning it. If that happens to you, consider yourself unlucky that you’re forced to wait longer but find solace in the fact that you will have a solid rifle at the end of the process. Besides, for the money, you don’t really have any other options.
The Traditional DSA FAL
The most traditional FAL rifles available from DS Arms feature a fixed stock, 21-inch-long barrel, carry handle and classic profile furniture. They also have some variations on the theme, with some mostly traditional models with one or two historically inaccurate features such as a railed top cover or a shorter barrel. Keep in mind, however, that even their most traditional offerings have some modern improvements that may bother those who obsess over clone-correct details, such as sand cuts in the bolt carrier. Frankly, if you want your FAL to be authentic down to the last detail, a DSA isn’t for you. These are entry-level shooter guns that can easily be made close enough to a military clone to satisfy most shooters, but pedants are better off scouring the secondhand market instead.
Some other almost-authentic FALs DSA has to offer are some of their folding stock “paratrooper” models that mimic original FN designs. They also sometimes build unique examples using parts kits when they have the opportunity, such as their Israeli FALs being sold a couple of years back. They also sometimes include surplus parts when they’re available, such as the Argentine bipods included with their current 21-inch classic edition rifles.
After obtaining one, these traditional-style FAL rifles can be dressed up in a few different ways depending on your taste. When left in their original black plastic furniture, they already very closely resemble the current-issue FALs of several different nations, but in a world filled with black plastic it's nice to mix things up now and then. Metric-pattern wood furniture can be installed to give your DSA FAL a more classic appearance, while painting it iconic baby poop green camo will imbue it with some Rhodesian flair.
If the FAL platform attracts you for reasons besides historical, DSA also likely has a configuration to suit your needs. While not the most accurate battle rifle ever made, FALs still have acceptable enough accuracy to serve in a DMR role with the right rifle and accessories. FALs being used by militaries in this way typically attached their scopes using old-school claw mounts, but DSA has more modern solutions like railed top covers. Modern stocks and bipods also help the FAL become a more practical DMR option.
For those who want their FAL for some high-speed, low drag operating, DS Arms has plenty of tactical short-barreled options as well. The term short-barreled is relative here because compared to the FAL’s original 21-inch-long barrel even the 18-inch models can be considered short. The shortest DSA rifle has an 11-inch barrel and their shortest FAL pistol’s is 8.25. The rifle models with barrel lengths less than 16 inches are factory SBRs and therefore must be registered NFA items to be legally acquired. Most of these tactical FAL models feature upgraded furniture which enables the mounting of accessories and optics. They can also have more ergonomic, modern-style folding stocks.
Besides the modernization features that DS Arms has to offer, these days there is also a sizeable market for aftermarket FAL parts and upgrades. Much like what has happened to AKs over the years, it is no longer difficult to bring a FAL into the 21st century.
FALs are great, timeless battle rifles that will likely never completely fall out of style. For as long as kids are growing up watching movies, seeing the news or playing video games, there will be individuals who feel the call to own one themselves. That’s why DSA FAL rifles play such an important role in keeping the platform alive, as the volatility of imports can never replace the stability of domestic production. Whatever reason you have for wanting to dip your toes into this interesting platform, DS Arms is a great place to start looking.
For more information, please visit dsarms.com.
More On Battle Rifles:
- The FN-49: The FN FAL's Grandather
- Classic Battle Rifle Imports From Springfield Armory
- The M1 Garand: America's Original Battle Rifle
- The M14
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A HUGE caution: Many years ago you could buy a “parts kit” which was an original FN/FAL STG/58 (“the right arm of the free world”) made in Europe for NATO forces, but since it can be used “full-auto” it’s illegal for civilians in the US. Back then they’d disassemble the rifles, cut the receiver in 1/2 on a band-saw, put all the parts in a plastic bag & ship ’em to the US.
To make the rifle functional again you need a new receiver & DS Arms started making those over 20 years ago. Two versions; cast & forged. I’ve spoken with DS Arms & while they still make a forged version, they no longer make the forged steel version they made 20+ years ago (I have) which can handle both 7.62×51 NATO & .308 Winchester ammo.
As anyone who knows will verify, 7.62×51 NATO & .308 Winchester cartridges are within thousandths of an inch in size/shape, but not identical & don’t have the same amount of gunpowder. The “head-spacing” for the cartridges are bit different (a thousandth on an inch really does matter) & while the NATO round fires @ 40,000 psi, a .308 round fires @ 50,000 psi.
Point being: will a .308 chamber & fire in a FN/FAL rifle designed for 7.62×51 NATO? Probably. But in receivers made only for 7.62×51 NATO I wouldn’t bet on it. Head-spacing off a fraction & the receiver not designed to handle the additional pressure, the rifle could blow up in your face.