The FN CAL (“Carabine Automatique Légère”, or “Light Automatic Carbine”) was first demonstrated in 1967. It was an early attempt by the famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN Herstal) to produce an assault rifle chambered for the then-new American 5.56mm small-bore, high-velocity cartridge.
The FN CAL rifle was designed with mass production in mind, utilizing steel stampings and plastics as much as possible. However, the production life of this rifle was relatively short, and only about 12 000 of FN CAL rifles were manufactured before FN closed the CAL production line in 1977. At that time it switched to a more promising design, the FN FNC. Most FNC Rifles were sold in Latin America and Africa. The main problems, associated with FN CAL, were the complexity of manufacture of certain parts, insufficient reliability and the somewhat complex maintenance procedures.
The FN CAL is based on the earlier FN FAL battle rifle and both rifles look very similar at first sight. The gas system of the CAL is quite similar to the FAL, but instead of a tilting bolt a rotating bolt is used. The design of the FN CAL is optimized to use less expensive castings and stampings in order to keep prices low. On the other hand more complex features were introduced, such as the three round burst option. Except for the option for a folding stock there were no variants of the FN CAL.
The CAL is a select-fire rifle that fires the 5.56x45mm M193 round. The trigger group allows for semi-automatic, 3 round burst and automatic fire. Proprietary 20 and 30 round detachable box magazines are used. Apparently 25 round magazines were produced as well. The cyclic rate of fire is rather high at about 850 rpm. Maximum effective range is about 400 meters. The FN CAL can launch NATO standard rifle grenades. Reportely the M203 under barrel grenade launcher can be fitted.
|Full text name||FN CAL assault rifle|
|Caliber cartridge||5.56×45 NATO, .223 Remington|
|Overall length, mm||926|
|Barrel length, mm||467|
|Weight empty, kg||3,0|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||30|
|Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min||850|