Interesting study: Belgian ArmyFN FNC battle rifle, accessoiries, modifications...
This is a discussion on Interesting study: Belgian ArmyFN FNC battle rifle, accessoiries, modifications... within the FN FAL forums, part of the FN Rifles & Shotguns Forum category; The Belgian Army FN FNC models M2-M3
Chapter1 part 1
Did you noticed that except for the wikipedia level, there is nearly nothing ...
Interesting study: Belgian ArmyFN FNC battle rifle, accessoiries, modifications...
The Belgian Army FN FNC models M2-M3 Chapter1 part 1
Did you noticed that except for the wikipedia level, there is nearly nothing to find about the FN FNC or the FN CAL out there? No detailed books, not much on the internet.
7.000.000.000 people on the planet and nobody took an effort to put something seriously on paper or online. Thats scary… :facepalm:
So, since you are reading this, you seems to like the Belgian Fabrique National weapons. Well, me too.
So, i start with a 5 chapter article on the FNC battle rifle.
I keep the next answers reservated to get all this info together.
This thread will go only about the Belgian Army FNC M2-M3 series. Others will follow soon. It takes some time to gather all data and pics.
How it started
I got my hands on the FN FNC M3 by september 1992. I joined the Army, went to the Para Commando training program for officers and carried the FNC my whole life later in the Army Reserve.
I have to admit, i really like the FNC. It worked each time i had to fight in order to keep my social distance and it felt always comfy.
So, What is so special about the Belgian FN FNC M3? Let me start with the beginning. After the FAL succes and winning the 5,56mm NATO ammo trials. FN was eager to develop something in this magic calibre. By 1968, the FN CAL saw daylight. To beautifull, to expensive, to complex but hey, what a smoking hot looking gun!
I have a few in my collection and in total i have had 7 different CAL’s. Indeed, this is a beauty queen to fire on a range and give it a nice cleaning after. This is not a battle rifle. Exit the FN CAL, say hello tot he FNC rifles. I got an upcoming article on the development of the FNC. Recently i got my hands on a few original prototypes FNC76’s and a 2digit preseries FNC80. More soon…
After getting out the childproblems FN started production on the FNC80 model M2 and M3 for the Belgian Army (abbrevated as ABL).
The FNC started to replace the good old FN FAL but even after the year 2000 there were still units carry FAL, Vigneron and SAFN’s in there inventories(Navy and Airforce).
You got to admit, how cool are those original ABL FN FAL M3’s!!
The FNC M2 was the rifle fitted with a fixed plastic stock, nearly similar as the FAL stocks. The M2 was the majority of the contract. There are no outer marking to designate an M2 or an M3. But once born as a M2, it remained an M2 on paper.
The FNC M3 was an exclusive contract for the Para Commando regiments and later Para batalions.
They needed the folding stock to jump out the C130’s. Also for climbing and boating it is more practical to make it more compact.
A second thing to recognise para troopers was that they were to only guys wearing camoclothing in the Belgian Army.
The rest of the army (we call them “wieten”) wore kakhi green battledress.
Nowadays, everybody has camo and i see FNC M3’s all over the place. It seems that we have lost our elite status…
Perhaps a few general thing you like to know about the FNC in normal life.
Each soldier has his own FNC. They are stored in the company gunroom overnight unless there is a mission or fieldexcercise going on. Each soldiers will receive a set A and set B. This contains the sling, cleaningcord, brush, hook, oilcan, blankfiringdeflector and shell deflector. Aside that, the basic load is 330 rounds Ball ammo and 30tracers. In theory, they get 3 steelmags.
Nowaday, they got 6 to 9 mags. When i went trough the Para Commando training, my unit (1Bn Para) was already deployed in Somalia (Seen the black hawk down movie… yep that ****ty place) I received my wings in the moring and the next day i was in Somalia with 29 newbies. 600 rounds and 19 mags for all of us. So, several conscrips didn’t even had a single magazine and 1 round in the chamber. Lucky that those heavy steel mag scan be used to smash skulls ; )
Insane shamefull situation for elite troops. We trade Belgian MRE’s with US GI’s there M16 mags just to have some for everybody. Also took evey mag we found on dead bodies or confiscated guns.
Check out the two types of stocks. The Fixed stock is designated M2. The Para folding stock is called the M3. This upper FNC is not an ABL, it just to show the fixed stock. The smooth pistolgrip is also a giva away...
How to ID a true Belgian Army FNC M2/M3?
Good question. There are many FNC types on the market. The original ABL stamped FNC is a super rare item. Even here in Belgium…
Most FNC’s you will encounter are the FNC sporters. The ABL’s have literaly and “ABL” stamp on the upper receiver. They are serialised by the FN factory and have an other ABLxxxxx serial. The army uses only the ABL serial in there records. There are like 5 ABL stamped official FNC’s in civilian hands.
The ABL serial is located left side under the rearsights. On the same side there is an FN serial with calibre markings and the FN logo. The last 3 digits are mostly identical to eachother. FN is forced to keep track of there own unique serials. In the early days, several FN weapons caried the same serials since each new contract started with serial 001. I got once a visit of 2 police inspectors when a pistol with a same serial popped up on a murder. Lucky i still had my pistol in my collection ; ) Those guys were seriously nervous when then knocked on my doors.
I received my FNC directly from the Army. ( i can’t tell you how) Aside the ABLxxxx serial, there are a few unique features. The Army FNC is the only one with a reïnforced case deflector. It’s located on the right side of the upper receiver. Also note the smooth disk spring on the rearsight. Civilians has dots on those disks.
Check the curved L shape on the left rifle. Its located aside the dustcover. The right civilian (full auto)FNC lacks it.
Military FNC’s do have a bayonet adaptor. It’s not unique but the FNC sports has no cut in the barrel to fit the double attachment pin. I have seen several civilian (not sporters) with a bayoadaptor.
The pistolgrip is the same as the FN Minimi. Early FNC’s had the same grips as the FN FAL’s (FN CAL is little different) but the army requested these grips with ribs on it. I like’m a lot.
Inside the grip, there is a trapdoor and theoreticly you can store your cleaningtools in it.
Nobody did since you had to pay for it when they got lost.
Note that the lower FNC is the ABL, the upper has that typical FAL cassette box type cleaningkit.
Check out chapter1 part 2 in the next "answer". Please stay out today so i can write it in one long article...
Next chapter will be about the (on)official accessoiries the Belgian Army uses.
I took a few of the next "answers" in hostage in order to complete my article.
The ABL FNC has a 1/ 7 twist and is capable to fire both 55gn and 62gn. You can check your twistrate by removing the front handguards. The markings are TW (for twist) 1/7 or mostly 1/12 for the civilian FNC sporters. Barrels are a pain in the ass but if you can locate a 1/7, nail it asap!
The magazine releasebutton is a round type on the Army FN. FNC Sporters got that ovalshaped buttons. The connectingbar is identical.
I have to admit that the button is a pain in the ass since it lacks a protectionbar. So, it happens that you activate the button with your webbing while on the move. Most Para’s fixed it with an elastic rubbers form the parachutes. You attached that on the triggerguard and around the magazine. It prevented it to fall completely and if you needed to reload, stress will give yo uso much power you simply snap that elastic loop.
Check out some ABL pics...
Note the lack of a ABL serial on this one...
Very likely a replacement upper...
Thats me in Somalia
Next chapter will be about the (on)official accessoiries the Belgian Army uses.
Part 2 Accessoiries
This chapter goes over the FNC accessoiries used in the Belgian Army.
Let me start with the sets A&B that are issued to each soldier.
The set contains the cleaningtool, brush, cord, oilcan, brassdeflector and BFA blankfiring adaptor.
The BFA abbrevation in Belgium is ATB.
A few variants are made in the cleaning key. Conscripts were not allowed to adjust there sigths. During the ’80 and ‘90s the whole concept of shooting in our army was to prevent people from shooting. It was a same style of drills like in the Napoleon time. So, in order to fire a round, a complete order has tob e shouted, everybody in line, weapons at 45 degrees and all that bull****.
When a rifle was empty the conscript had to lift his rightfeet (in prone position) and with a malfunction there left feet… Anyway. This kind of drills resulted that in a combatsituation you see guys still lifting there feets in the middle of a firefight. Funny as hell. Late ‘90s they finaly started to give all the reposability of a fire arms tot he soldiers. So, they were given more acces to the ammo on the range, need to keep there gun running and clear malfunctions independetly.
Due to the old system, only the NCO had those cleaningtools with the folding sight adjusting key on it. And in those NCO carbonkeys, there are 2 models. The fixed is not able to adjust the early type frontsights. The folding type can be used for both old and new style front sights.
The upper is the soldierskey, middle is the oldtype NCO (bestmodel) and the lower is the late NCO key.
Some notes on the BFA and the brassdeflector. By early ‘90s the Belgian army start to pick up FIBUA training. Fighting in buildup area’s. So, you got those typical villages popping up on traininggrounds where they could practish roomcleaning on all levels. There was a spectacular rise on wounded soldiers who got hit by brass in there faces and eyes. Shortly, all blankfiring was suspended untill the brassdeflector was issued. Blank shells got those nast star shaped crimps on top and an FNC kicks out there brass very aggresivly some 15 yard to the front right side. You can not combine the casedeflector with the scopemount since they use the same locking notches.
A similar problem came with the FN minimi when a room is cleared, if the SAW gunner is located on the left side of the door and he fires a 20 round burst around the doorcorner, the guy on the right side of that door got nailed like hell with brass… No solution for that.
Also, note that there are some variants on the BFA. The one with a side cutted off is especialy fort he minidras laser system. That is a kind of lasersbeam shooting training device that is screwed on your barrel. In order to fit, it has a cut. There are many FAL BFA floating around. The hole is lager on the FAL BFA, don’t mix’m…
The right BFA is the cut minidras special. Markings are “MNS”
In the other set you receive are the slings and the mags. There are 2 major types. The old websling. It is an easy to adjust sling but takes time to fit it. They tend to absorb humidity and they give rust marks on the sling after some time. They exist in green (Army) and grey (Navy/Airforce) color. A white is used for honorguards in combination with a white Bayosheet. The “tactical riem” is the latest. Its a multipurpose sling that fits well the needs you have in the field. It’s synthetic, so no rust or scratches. I added a SAFN clip on the front end so i don’t have to make all the loops to fit it. It snaps on now.
The steel mags are extreme durable. They weight like 500 grams loads and are nearly unbreakable.
The early types had steel followers (like in the sporters). Later plastic followers start to pop up in black, green and grey colors. There is no need to fill only 28 rounds or so. Just tap hard when you insert a mag. The early quickloading strippers were made of steel. Since some 10 years we have floppy plastics, they got longer guide strips. I don’t like’m and they seems not to be interchangable in a easy way. So, since the army stopped enlisting conscripts since 1994, there are plenty mags left for the proffesional army soldiers. We went from 100.000 to a minus 30.000 soldiers. Let’s say that some 3000 will serve in the frontline.
A nice and hard to find object is the FN made bayonet. They are similar as the US Army M7 but they got a distictive FN logo on the blade. Same story for the sheet, ita lso has a nice logo on it. I got several variants on the sheets. The greens are the oldest. They also existed in grey for the airforce and white fort he honorguards. Now they got the camo sheets. They are in that typical Belgian Patternt camo. The latest has a special beltattachment mechanism. An issued Bayonet has a serial on it. They are extreme hard to find and prices go insant. Replacement bayo’s, stored in the armory had not yet a serial and were to be engraved if a blade broke. Those pop up some time. I can tell you that loosing a serialised bayo is a serious as loosing a pistol, radio or an other serialised armyobject. The S2 will start up a search and intorigation procedure.
Those tubular FAL bayo’s were never used on our FNC, they also scratch your flashhider. Don’t use’m…
The FNC’s came in the army in an individual styrofon box (we call it “isomobox”) or in a 10 piece styrofon box.. It’s a hard to get item after 40 years since most were dumped the day they arrived.
You might observe some accessoiries in the box. Not all was used. The bipod was not in use. But some folks had one personaly. It’s a rare and expensive gadget. It’s a better quality as the US army folding bipod. There is no tilting stop, so your gun turns upside down…
The FN 4x Hensoldt type scope is not an official object but for sure a few special company’s bought it by there own. I got one but i can’t reveal how i got mine ; ) .
There is however a new scoperail. At least two types exist and they are way better fixed as the FN made on the Hensoldscope. That quick detachable system is not 100% tight. For unknown reasons the early picatinnyrails were only cutted 50%. It’s absolutely strange why they did that. Later, they were full cut. Stormworks received one and makes nice rails now.
Note the upper 50% rail. It is possible that the first intention was to fit the laser only and no the optics…
This is the laser we use in the Belgian Army
Note the serials are in the white. That is often done on purpose with a wax stift. This rifle i borrowed from Cpl Vandendriessche is in typical shape. The red tag says that he served in the 21th Coy 1Bn Para. I fit was yellow it would have been my Coy (the 11th 1BnPara)
A correct FN FNC scope should have the marking “FN + serial and 4x28” on top and 5,56 or 109 or 92 on the bullet drop compensator.
Manuals are also cool items. Soldiers were not equiped with manuals. Only NCO’s and Offr would have acces to’m. Repair manuals are mostly bounded in a plastic map.
An interesting feature is that some of the grey manuals are reversable. One side in Flemmish (Dutch) and one side in French. Belgium has three official languages. Flemmish, French and German. No manuals are made in German. We annexed a part of Germany after WW2. So we are stuck with those guys. I never saw Flemmisch manual in the German army when they occupied us so i don’t feel the need to make any for them… (And if you see any German, ask to bring back grandpa his bike and cow. There is also a bil lto pay for that V1 that stuck there farm).
Its no so clear here in this picture but all light blue manuals are fully French, all yellow are Flemmish. That is for all manuals. The blue map is an armorer manual. This one is an extreme rare Englisch trial map. This is your holy grail if you live in the USA. It givel lots on info on all go/nogo’s gauges, and how to…
Next chapter will be the modification on the FNC and the ammo.
Stay tuned fort he updates…
Part 3 This chapter handles all modifications that were implemented in the Belgian army.
Small changes, better parts and so on...
Part 3 modifications and changes
Like the Colt M16, the FNC also saw several modifications. So, i made a review on those items from butt to flashhider.
Lets start with a fieldstripped FNC M3. This is how far a conscript may dismantle his rifle. It takes 30 seconds to do.
Check out the autosear near the magazine.
Both the M3 folding and M2 fixed stocks are hard to break. I never broke or bended one tot he point it should be replaced. The Belgian Army choosed for a locked folding stock. Means, you got to activate the button to fold it open and close. A yeardate can be found on the M3 stocks.
I personaly use a minimi M1 stock on my FNC and i have a homemade cheekrest fitted for my optics.
The folding stock is easy to swap. Only one pin part 829 retains it. I like the flipup shoulderrest.
This is my FNC sporter in action with a minimistock, home made cheekrest and handguards…
The Fixed M2 stock had one problem. There was no loophole to fix your sling on it. So, after some time you saw a bunch of field solutions with Tie wraps, cords, drilled holes and so on. The arsenals came up with a solution. The milled a slot in the stockadaptor and made a ambi slingattachment part for it.
There are 2 models but the system is the same. Recently i found out that they are recalled and will be removed. No clue why.
Easy solutions works the best…
Receiver, bolt and carrier
Next is the problem with the Aloy or hidumidium lowers. The Boltcarrier slams hard tot his lower end and after some time it leaves clear markings on it. The original recoilplate is in metal. Since metal is harder as Aloy, the metal wins… So, they made a fiber plastic bufferplate for it. You also don’t need part 472 no more… The springguide serves for both models.
You really need to keep an eye on the recoilspring lenght. Like most weapons, this can cause a lot of problems when out of specs… The diameter and correct length is 10x460mm and 146 windings
As a side note. The ABL lower has a sear, FNC sporter don’t have that part cutted and drilled. Even if you swap the lowers, your sporter will not function properly. The carrier on your sporter is not touching the auto sear. Also, the pistolgrip is different ans so is the magrelease button.
The plastic is on the right side and below…
The FNC sporter recoilrod differs to the ABL. The ABL has a T-slot end, the sporter uses a pin to prevent the spring flying of the other end.
The recoilrod runs in the bolt carrier. Since the bolt rails are simply welded (in an ugly way) on the upper receiver, it might happen that they are not 100% alingned. So that gives a lot of stress on the carrier. They tended to break were the gastube is welded on. They now reïnfored these with extra weldings. So, there are more connecting points…
These boltcarriers are made of “unobtaining” and are super rare. ABL carriers have matching ABL serials without the ABL in front of the serials. However, the airforce seems to miss that note and they got several with out serials. Same on there bolts.
Check the extra weldings on the upper late type carrier.
The tool you see is a go/no-go for the extractor. More on those later.
The carrier holds the firingpin in place. Sometimes the firingpin start to crack or the firingpinspring glides of the pin. Well, **** happen, no solution for that. There is a prototype in my collection were the firingpin is fixed inside the bolt. More on that later.
Next part is the bolt. Also made out of unobtaining steel. There are at least 8 types of FNC bolts made. The Belgian army has 2 types. The early one had the extractor fixed with a double roll pin and the extractor guidepin was a simple straight pin. After some time they came up with a single lock pin and a modified extractor springguide. It tends less to break or get stuck.
Check out the upper new type single piece pin and the early below with a double rollpin. Also note the absence of the serial on that Airforce bolt. The condition of these bolt is very nice compared to most bolts i see. Those are cleaned so often that they are near stainless. Same with flash hiders and handguards. Conscrips used to weirdest tool to clean as fast as they can to get some extra sleep…
And yes, there are many different bolts out there. More on that later.
This gives a good impression how well the newguide fits as a glove to push the extractor forward.
On the carrier there is a cockinghandle. So far i have seen 2 broken off and always on the small T-shaped part. They are observed that if they start tob end, they got replaced.
There are at least 4 shapes floating around. It’s hard to say what type came in when.
If they brake, you can use a round to manipulate the carrier. Never give up the fight ; )
One last word on the carrier. The gastube nose end is a pain in the ass to clean. The head can be scratched with the carbontool. The cutted ring can be cleaned also with the tool but it will never shine the way your instructor wants is. So, that part was a give away for instructors to punnish people. Take a firm cord. Put mud or toothpaste on i tand turn it around 1x . Now you start to move up and down like a firebow. That shuts the NCO mouth…
Back tot he internals in the lower receiver…
So, the biggest modification in the lower is by far the new safety or fire selector. The old style was ok to me but sometimes it slipped easely from safe to 1. The good part part on the old style was that it could be manipulates silently. The new one has a loud “plonk” noise if you activate it. But it has very clear stoppoints. An other problem is that you can not longer see in what postition the safety is from the other side. So, when a platoon was alined. I could see in a second that some ass had his safety off. Now, you see ****.
The new style has a complete different spring to set it in position. It looks like a beltbuckle or hairbrush.
The oldstyle had a fine thin spring and a safety an piece cutted out.
Left is the old style combi. Right the new guy on the block.
Here you see clearly that the old style has it end cutted so you could see its position from the blind side. Early preserie FNC’s had even markings on the other side.
Its hard to see, but the one below is a preseries.
Interesting feature is the 3round burst system. Other then the M16 burst assy, it really resets each time. So, when you release the trigger fast during the 2nd round. Next time you will have a fresh 3 burst. The M16 would then fire only 1 time. These burst assy are nearly a copy of the 1968 FN CAL rifle system.
There is also a “artic” triggerguard in the inventory, i got one but i never saw one installed in the army. The weather is not so bad in Belgium and we are mostly deployed in Africa and Middle east. So no stress : )
Lets take a look at the upper receivers…
First thing that was modified are the rearsights and front sights. The early models had a three dot tritium system. At night you had to flip the rear sight halfway 250 and 400 meter to see the first 2 dots. Both front and rear sights got gradualy replaced by non tritiums. The post front sight is also thinner now.
Note that you needed a special NCO tool to adjust the frontsights and to align the tritium to your eye. It was fitted in a tine rotating housing… Must have costed a lot…
The tritiums are on the right… only the middle tool could align the trituim correctly.
One full turn is 16 cm (like 6,25 inch) on 100 meter (110 yards) up or down.
Windage, one click is 2,2 cm. Some 0,9 inch.
In order to work with the 250 and 400 meters flipsights the rifles were zeroed in at 100 meter and there it should be inpact some 15 centimeters to high. Then you got a zero on 250 meters and automaticly a new zero at 400.
There is also a T-shape sight tool, that works fine too.
A FNC sight picture. Note the two protecting ears. They do a great job on both sides.
Me personaly, i painted a white line in front of my gasblock. It give me a quick line up when on patrol. I keep my both eyes open over the barrel and just point the line to the enemy in an ambush.
In between the sights is the dustcover. That i broke once. It got suck while climbing and i ripped it off.
There is recently a second model in the inventory. It’s a plastic version and it needs a different spring.
This new spring looks like the one on the FNC sporter but it has lagers loops and no “lock”.
Early steel dustcover were combined with a washer set and and spring that locked it self firmly
Note the upper FNC is a sporter flat type with small spring.
The lower FNC is the Belgian Army FNC fitted with the old style. Check out the typical L-shaped welded case deflector. The little stamp on the carrier is not often seen on the FNC.
Moving toward the flash hider there are the handguardsets. I hate the inside of the handguards. The nose end gets a lot gas from the bleedinghole and it’s a pain in the ass to clean. A small steel brush does the best job. The major problem was the brass and steel revets that tend to loose. So, the handguards makes a lot of noise at night. There are two types with rivets and two types with screws around. The best set is the latest and has screws + a reïnforced welded nose end. It gives a bit tension on the handguards to prevent the rattle. I never saw melted handguard and my hands never froze on them. So, they do there job. This handgrip pattern come from the type3 FN CAL rifle.
Un official, there are a few handy guys who made picatinny handguards there selfs.
So, these creative people drilled holes, screwed and modified till they got a solution on a two piece handguard set.
Especialy the lower rail is a pain in the ass to find a solution. The siderail, well, the handguard is not straight so you need a spacer system…
Last item is the gassystem. We call it the “alliade”. Early FNC’s had two leg gasstops. When filled up, there is no gas going to the piston. Since we don’t have rifle grenades with propulsive loads like the ENERGA there is little use. However. In 92-94 when the BFA was temporary forbidden due to the cases hitting peoples faces. We all flipped them up during excersices. That was less cleaning for us. I can tell you those day’s sucked since you had to manipulate your bolt for each round while firing blanks…
Since two decades there are one leg aliades in the system. I’m not a big fan of those. The two leg system also held your handguard in place in case you accidently flipped the handguardspring.
Note the different gasplug, the angle and shapes are very different.
Last thing is the flashider. All flash hiders got a single piece spring the retain a rifle grenade. I spotted a few springs with a helical shape. I try to find a picture on those. Be advised they got left hand thread! The cut out section should be on the lower end of you barrel and the vent holes 45 degrees left and right. In order to do that, there are spacers.
Sorry, not my best picture.
Spare parts are stored by the armorers in these typical yellow and transparant boxes. They got a special labelsystem to find there parts. All parts are now registered and the “system” knows exactly how many parts each armorer has and how many times each weapon is repaired.
So, as you can feel, the glory day’s for spareparts are long gone ; )
You need to take a look in the past to understand the future. After WW2 and Korea, most armies argeed that a full power 30-06 was overkill. FN came out with there legendary FN FAL series and the (up till today) unbeatable MAG58 machinegun. Both in (forced by the US) in the 7,62 NATO.
Even the 7,62 NATO seemed to be a bit overpowered to do the job. Studies also showed that a wounded enemy soldier is more interesting as a dead soldier. So, let’s go for a small calibre.
In the 60’s they came up with the Cartridge, 5.56mm Ball, M193 55gn and the M16 saga begon.
FN Herstal would eventualy design the ultimate 5,56mm Ball SS109and got it to be the new NATO standard. Great, wonderfull, but we don’t have rifle in that plastic fantastic timeframe.
By 1968 they came out with the FN CAL rifle. I have to admit, this is a smoking hot looking rifle. Smooth, light, easy to fire and control. The tooling and machining is topquality. But, there is a but.
It’s there first rifle on this new marked. Things need to be tested and nothing goes right from day 1.
The first M16 generation had also serious flaws. Many US GI’s died to do that field research in Vietnam. Since nobody adopted there FN CAL rifle in serious numbers, all testing and trials had to be done by FN. A costly thing.
The FN CAL exists in both fixed and folded stocks.
Pro – contra’s on the FN CAL rifle
So what was so good and what was so bad on this fantastic looking rifle?
On the positive side there are for sure the light weight, its ballans and smooth handlings. Boy, that thing runs like a swiss clockwork. Everything clicks and clacks like a Rolls Royce. The stock fits like a glove, there is no play at all.
The dirtsealing is fantastic. They have a plastic “zipper” that closes the gaps in order to keep dirt out. The dustcover automaticly flips open after the first round. A well done job!
Check out the zipper that closes imediatly the gaps behind the cockinghandle
A unique feature in that timeframe was the 3 round burst system. A great tool to prevent conscripts to hose there rifles empty in panic or to fire a controled burst in roomclearing. The best thing is that it will reset completely after each attempt. So, when you are fast and release the trigger on the 2nd round. The next burst will be a complete 3 burst. The US M16 lacks that! You will hear only 1 shot on the next sqeeze of your trigger. FN did that right!
The sightpicture is good, the precision is outstanding. 5-10 centimeter groups at 100 meters are absolutely normal. Better as the FNC! (use 55gn ammo!)
Since you can adjust the amount of gas just like on the FN FAL, the recoil is superb!
You can cut off the gassystem so rifle grenades are an option. I have observed several grenade launcher setups that flips to the side. Also, there is 40mm underslung grenadelauncher made too.
I also missed a .22LR training kit. A Swiss collector beated me by getting 2 hours earlier to a gunshop…
The trigger works nice and gives a crispy clean. It’s overal better as the FAL rifle. I have seen many worst triggers!
I love the fact you can “break” the rifle like a hunting shotgun. It gives a fast acces to the internals.
An other positive thing is the fact you can remove gasblock. They got a cleverway to lock and unlock the block. An FNC lacks this feature.
Also not on the FNC rifle is a bolt hold open. Damn, i miss that on my FNC!
Negative features on the FN CAL system
As on “the dark side” there is the absolute complexity of the system. There are several small parts that can be lost in the field. I know people that are so unhandy they will never get this thing assembled. Especialy the bolt and carrier system are a mind**** with several pins and axis that need to be aligned. It’s made fort he handy guy that has two right hands.
I can get my FNC, Minimi and Mag58 assembled in pitch “back out” and get it even cleaned in the dark to opereational level. No way you can do that with the FN CAL.
As for parts breaking. I noticed and experianced that the firingpin support block is the first thing that breaks. The “out of battery” notch on this block simply cracks off and you are (mostly)done. There are absolutely no spareparts out there. I can provide you faster a FG42 firingpin as a FN CAL firingpin.
If you look at the bolt + bolt carrier, you realise how much detailed machinery is need to make these beautyfull mechanical parts. Combine this with the supreme overal finish of the rifle and know the salesprice is extreme…
Try to clean that at night in a tactical hide out without losing something… Nah!
Second part is the extractor and the area on the bolt that keeps the extractorpin in place. There seems to be to little surface for all that stress. As again, a broken bolthead turns you rifle in to a paperweight. The Boltlugs it selfs looks like they could handle a 30-06 round. Those will not break.
As on number 3. The cockinghandle. They also tend to break or get lost. It is also very tricky to get it in and out the rifle.
Those parts are asked frequently to me and sadly i can’t help’m.
Maybe not a bad design but the magazines are hard to find and expensive. They are unique and not NATO compatible to M16 and others. (So was the M16 one day too)
There are several variants on the 20 round mags with steel and aluminium follower. Wide and small floorplates and so one. Nice for the collectors. The 30 round mags were developped on demand. And there is an extreme rare 25 shot mag too. The 25 rounder i encountered on my first FNC prototype.
P mags, made it look like they are inovative guys, yeah right!
Interesting is that is has a roundindicator on the side. We are talking 1968 that is 50 years before Pmags had a peepwindow… The spring has a red pain indicator and depending on the compression you can read the number of rounds left. Very inovating feature.
I saw these 25 round mags with a welded prolongued magbody and i saw’m with a one piece body.
7 different CAL mags. 3x 30rd 1 25rd and 3x 20rounders in the picture
Just to give you an idea on the FN CAL variants. There are three major types and a couple subvariants.
Early model1 FN CAL’s had both fixed or foldingstocks with small narrow fronthandguards.
Type1 small handguards…
On the Model2 they got a FNC style alike wide front handguardset. But no dirtsealing system.
And the last, most complete FN CAL model3 has the FNC alike handguards, dustcover, dustsealingsystem all on board.
As a side note. There are a few FN CAL ‘civilan’ or police versions made with an original semi auto lower. These have only S and 1 marking. The can not be altered to a full auto version.
These semi CAL’s are made in extreme lower quantities.
Also interesting to know. In Belgium the gunlaws made a big difference for long guns made in an original military caliber like 308/7,62 NATO or 223/5,56 NATO. So FN started to make some FN FAL’s in 243 caliber and CAL + FNC in .222Rem calibers. Those were free to sell tot he civilians.
Don’t be surpised to see more FNC’s and CAL’s in the .222 rem caliber and later reconverted to 223/5,56. So, if you see an “overstamped” caliber on the upper receiver, you know what happened…
Today, there is no longer a difference in a military and civilian caliber.
So, conclusion: to expensive, to complex and to little interests to fix all the problems.
Developing the FNC rifle A review on some prototypes FNC76's and a preseries FNC80
After there first steps on the 5,56mm NATO market FN suspended the FN CAL production. Some sources say 12000 were made, some say up to 30.000. I have’nt got the time to check it out myself at the FN archives. Will do that one day… Anyway, the CAL remains a rare but nice weapon.
I got my hands on a few FNC 76 prototypes. Also i was able to buy a preseries FNC80 that was issued to a special investigator in the “De bende van Nijvel” a ferocious gang in the 80’s killing 28 civilians in there reads. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brabant_killers . This investigator was “under pressure” by some “dark forces” and he received this two digit FNC as selfprotection.
Top early proto serial 0116, middle proto serial 0125 and bottom Type 3 FN CAL. Note the experimental 25 round mags.
Early 70’s FN started to work on the FNC project. They learned there lessons well and used the given feedbacks.
By 1975 they got there first FNC76 types about in time ready fort he NATO trials. In fact, my FNC76 serial 0125 served in these trial according to Mr Daubresse (owner of Photos d'armes de collection). His father had to take care of this rifle during the trials and was able to receive it later as a gift.
First thing FN did was getting rid of the overcomplexity on the bolt system. So, they took a good look around and saw that the AK47 seemed to be a good sollid and cheap system. FN is not so eager to admit it but i can show you it’s true ; )
Most FN CAL user agreed that the shape, weight, balans and handlings to operate were fantastic. No compromise on this was needed. That was a good startingpoint. Next step is to implement an AK47 style boltsystem in a FN CAL body… Yep, easy job!
In my first prototype serial 0116 you some interesting steps in the progress of getting a new concept “online”. Let me point out some nice details. This rifle is clearly a midway prototype. It still uses the unique CAL magazines. As you can see, this rifle had a hard time. I met one of the trial operators on the FN shootingrange in Zutendaal some 20 years ago. (I think his name was “Shane”) He recognised the rifle and told me he fired an enormeous amount of rounds trough this gun until it start to desintegrate. It ripped of at the welded supportblock on the upper. Lessons were learned and on my second prototype you see they enlarged those weldingpoints.
Cracked lower portion of the #0116 receiver. Check out the hand filed ejectionport.
Fixed that weldingproblem with bigger weldingspots and some more metal
It's a pain in the ass that each post can contain max 25000 characters and only 20 pics, so, i'm short in postingroom...
An interesting fact is that they implemented the “firingpin in the bolt” system in the official FNC76 and got rid of it, back to the earlier type “external firingpin bolt “in the FNC80 series. You can see it happening in the FNC76 manual (the only FNC76 manual i ever found)
The internal firingpin on the #0125 is clearly visible here.
Sometimes a step back gets you a good jump forward.
On the bolt#09 the extractor is also serialised. An FN employe told me they did that to mesure the worn pieces regulary and fit them back in the correct rifle. Something went wrong in the last days of my # 0125 since many parts are not matching : )
From start to end, many variations and modifications were made to the boltcarrier and bolt. Until now, it is subject of modifications and strenghtening with extra weldings… Chapter 4 part2 Lower receiver and folding stock
The first thing that catches your attention is that strange bulge on the right side of the rifle. That bulge is disappeared in the FNC80 models. So, what happened there?
The bulge was needed to give some room for the radial torsion hammerspring (AK47…) in combination with the straight sear. It looks a bit like a mousetrap spring with coils on both sides of the hammer. All that extra space ment that the weight and dimensions went up. So, in there proces of development they tried to get a helical compresion spring implemented. With some help of a springguide, they got a more simple system in the FNC80’s.
Note the two different rod lengths on the rear of the lower receiver!
The lower receiver is also serialised on the rear left side. The rifle settings are S-1-3-A but the “1” is partly hidden under the firecontrol selector.
Find the “1” …
In the prototype 0116 the nose end where the receiver retainingpin is held in place, the nose end is thin. Apparently this turned out to be toweak so in the serial 0125 the nose end is kept wide. So are the FNC80’s today. Lessons learned ; )
#0125, wide nose, thick weldings. No more cracks please…
The retainingpins are hard to operate. The need a firm wack against there head to get’m pushed out. In the 0125 type the retainingpin spring was not installed correctly and that resulted in some damage.
You need to push the pins from left to right to get’m out. That aint so visible. On the FNC80 there is no way you can do this wrong. It can be done without a ninja kick-ass move.
Most internal parts are unique in size and will not fit/function in other FNC’s.
There is a mystery open hole on the left side of the receiver. Some left of the “A” markings. Both prototypes have’m. I’m not sure why they left it open but it is ment to push a searpin out on the opposite side. They solved that with a full pin today.
You see the open hole right away. Why? Never mind…
An other lesson FN learned was the attachment of the folding stock. It is intergrated on the lowerreceiver. So, when worn out, you need to replace the complete lower receiver. On the FNC80’s they got that stock supportblocks screwed on tightly. An second benefit of the screwing system is that you can switch from a folding M3 stock to the fixed M2 stocks. It takes 5minutes of your netflix time.
There are no fixed stocks made for the FNC76 models. That’s intriging since there are FN CAL’s in both M2-M3 configurations…
Also note that on the FNC80 the whole sidesurfaces are flat. Unlike on the FNC76. So, less tooling and machining, easy to paint and so on.
However, the magreleasebutton (oval FNC sporterstyle) is better protected due to the springbubble on the right side on these FN76’s. The open unprotected FNC80 magbutton results in many mags to get lost. We fix it with a parachute spring looped to the triggerguard and the mag…
The rear receiver end is seriously beaten up by the recoilplate. Those recoilplates are made of steel. The receiver made aluminium. You know who wins that battle… Note the two differen lenghts on those rear rods on the lower receiver.
The pistolgrips are the FAL types. The FN CAL had different pistolgrips with a small cutout in order to fit the triggerguard in “winter” position. There is no winter pivoting triggerguard installed on the FNC76.
A FAL foldingstock is mounted directly on the receiver’s ass. Note there is no middle slingattachment loophole present yet. The FNC80 M3 has it on the buttstocksupport but lacks that feature on the M2 fixedstock. The Belgian Army arsenals made a ambi loophole set there selfs. It is milled in the buttsupport.
The location of the loophole on these proto’s is not the most practical place but it is done on purpose. If you fold the stock, your slinghook will interfear with the receiver.
Sorry for the lefties, no solution for those at this point…
I got no clue how you need to carry your FNC76 in a folded position with a sling attached when there is no middle loophole… God lives in mysterious ways.
The foldingstock is also serialised on the right side.
As a last interesting note. My proto 0125 was installed with an experimental 25 round magazine.
It has some inovative features like a roundcounting mechanisme. The combination of a plastic peephole combined with a red spring gives you an indication of the amount of ammo you got.
Note how they welded an extra body to it. You got to try that once without screwing you welds. Respect to the craftsman back in the 60-70’s…
I observed some four mags like this and one 25 rounder with a onepiece body.
A standard FNC76 was fitted with a 30 round magazine, the FN CAL was fitted with 20 rounders.
I got this FNC80’s preseries from a procecuter that was investigating a very sensitive gang case in Belgium. It’s an unsolved mystery but many people think the police or the “rijkswacht” (=gendarmerie) was involved in these 28 killings in order to obtain more “power”. Somehow, someway this official got his hands on this very early FNC to protect himself. He had a license to carry this rifle 24/7. That is in Belgium extremely exceptional. Anyway, i love it and it is in good hands now ; )
3th rifle is the preseries serial #63
The preseries look 90% like the final FNC80’s. These trialrifles were tested and the clients still could ask some small modifications.
Let me point out the things that differs this preseries to the Belgian Army FNC80.
First thing that was a nice feature is the double side markings of the S-1-3-A.
I can’t find a good reason why they dropped that benefit. It was definatly a bonus in the 80-90’s when the army relied for 70% on conscripts. A righthanded soldier carries the rifle in a way you can not see his position of the firecontrolselector. With the double markings, a NCO could kick his ass when they act stupid. On the early style Belgian Army selectors, there was a small piece cutted away on the selector end. A well trained NCO could still see the position, even without the markings.
The latest Army selector is completely round, you can’t see it from the outside. However, we have no more conscripts and the professionals now got a really good firearms training. No kidding, they know there drills.
Second thing is the smooth FAL pistolgrips. They are replaced with the ribbed pistolgrips, identical tot he FN minimi or SAW M249 as you guys call it. The angle is a bit stiffer but i like both grips. They feel comfy to me.
The magrelease button is still the CAL-FNC76-FNC sporter style. It was replaced with a round type in the Army contract. That extra hole on the triggerguard is a pinhole to lower the triggerguard for “Winter” setting.
This triggerguard is placed in Summer modus ; )
I noticed a strange bulge in the magazine cath, i got no clue why but it makes it more expensive to make that cutout in the lower.
The markings are still without the FN logo on top. Both upper and lower have the serial “63”.
The folding stock is still that pain in the ass FAL stock with the loophole on one side. The army insisted to see that loophole on top and being ambi! Thats a clever move! They also reïnforced that plastic spacer in the stock. upportblock is a bit sharper but has allready the middle loophole. Thats a step forward.
The “indian” is carved in the original Belgian Army FNC. It’s a Recce-platoon sign for a unit in the French speaking part of Belgium. Check the ambi loophole we have now. The upper stock is #63
There is however a serious change in design compared tot he two prototypes.
The upper has no longer that welded on pivot studs. The position of the rear retainingpin and hole is completely tot he rear. The studs are welded on a one piece upper. So no longer a multipiece upper that cracked on the front weldings.
The boltcarrier has now a complete defferent recoilrod. Check out the lack of the overpressure hole near the boltlocks. The ejector got a new solution to do its job.
Much to see in this picture. The lack of the overpressurehole(yellow) The proofhouse stamp (green) The lack of the extra pivot stud.
From left to right # 63 # 0125 # 0116 Check the ejectors!
Red= ejector position, Yellow the searhole.
The rear stud fort he retainingpin moved tot he right…
If you compare the lower receiver, you see there are several modifications done. The cuts are different and so on.
On the upper they welded the actual sights with the scopemount V-notch.
An other interesting thing is that somehow they could not get the color correctly on the steel parts. Check out the magcatch, safety, pins… They are likely hardned and can not be anodised tot he same color. This FNC still had the magazine with a steel follower installed. These were also sold in the FNC sporter. The Belgian Army swopped them with several types plastics.
The barrel on this preseries is a 1/12 twist. So, only 55gn ammo will do the job.
Some small details are the helical spring on the flashhider and a short firingpin spring.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I love the way FN learned and adapted with trial and errors. It’s a pitty that the Belgian Army didn’t upgrade there FNC system the way Sweden did. It can be so hard to get a bolt hold open device in that lower. Nor can it be difficult to add a U shape protection around the magrelease button. Add a free floating picatinny handguard and you are ready for 2020…
To me, the FNC is reliable rifle that never let me down when i had to enforce my social distance.
Compared to the SCAR, this thing will outlive it by two decades… You can bang open a door with an FNC, wont try it with a plastic SCAR ; )
Thanks for reading and feedbacks. This text will be edited soon. It all need some time to get settled.
Part 5 will be on the ballistics and ammo + rifle grenades.
Problem: i don't have free room left so i might have to put it elsewere.