View Full Version : What's better,An FN FAL or an M1A ?

January 30, 2006, 09:50 PM
I've been weighing the differences between the two (semi-auto only) and I still haven't made up my mind on which one to buy. I am looking for feedback from people who have experience with these rifles.

January 30, 2006, 10:22 PM
I have 2 FALS and like them a good bit - both a rifle version and a Paratrooper Carbine style. The good thing about a FAL is that you can get a good one for a good bit less than a M1a. Properly setup FAls are very reliable - generally 2.5 moa guns out of the box. The FALS are also sort of modular - change the character a lot with a change of the lower - not quite so easy with the M1a.

falfiles.com is the source of Fal information.

January 30, 2006, 10:47 PM
Here it is from a fan of both:

1. Ergonomics: M1A hands down especially for smaller folks.

2. Scope Mounting: M1A...you can mount lower. Fal Mounting can be cheaper. Check welds better on M1A

3. Accuracy for Standard out of the box models: Tie

4. Field stripping: Fal is easier.

5. Battle toughness: The M1A is still in first line service in a real army. The FAL is not. Edge by a hair to M1A

6. Ninja Factor: FAL looks cooler


Fal 4 Me
January 30, 2006, 11:30 PM
Just a point of contention with Wildalaska, the FAL is still used by many countries across the globe. Over 90 nations adopted the FAL at one point or another. The M-14/M1A was never as popular. But then again, I doubt Wildalaska considers these real armies. "should've added the it's all good, I'm only joking smiley here"

January 31, 2006, 02:20 AM
The only real Army that used the FAL in batle IIRC were the Brits up to the Falklands War and thereafter, and the Rhodesian anti terr fighters.

I'm well aware of the 90 Armies figure and thats is fine, thats a tribute more to FNs marketing than weapon superiority.

And you're right I dont consider the use of the FAL by the..oh say how about the Storm Mechanized Troop Army of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar to be a real world endorsement, especially where their mechanization is a donkey :)

But hey, I do have Blake Steven's book somewhere :D :eek:


January 31, 2006, 08:18 AM
I happen to own both. While I love the M1 for the cool nestalgia factor and the ergos for me are very good, I have to admit the nod goes to my DSA. It is a para and it rocks. It is only because I love the black rifle and I love the coolness of it all. Though when I want to get down to serious bench shooting I go back to the M1. When I go troloping in the desert(which is most of my shooting) and play like I am Jon rambo it is the DSA. Then again as was said the FAL platform is real easy to strip and clean. With the modular design of the FAL I am able to change up the look when I have given componets to achieve the look I want. Of course buying the DSA was a very good excuse to buy an ACOG that I wanted and could not see mounting to one of my AR"s.

Hope that helps

February 1, 2006, 04:19 PM
I use my M1As for target shooting and my DSA FAL for desert fun. Get both and you won't have this dilemna.

February 3, 2006, 02:27 AM
In response to arizcowboy: I agree. The problem is that I can barely afford one of these, that's why I'm doing plenty of research so I can choose the right one for my needs.:)

February 17, 2006, 05:08 PM

February 17, 2006, 06:03 PM
Had a M1A----didn't like it------have a DSA now---sweetness---and not going anywhere.

February 17, 2006, 06:47 PM
I've owned a few of both, I only have M1A's now.

None of my FAL's were what I'd call accurate. Only one of three, a real FN, was reliable. If you get a "kit" gun, shoot it first and make sure it works, there's a lot of trash out there.

The M1A is accurate and reliable, and requires no fiddling with to shoot. It has very good, solid, repeatable sights, something most FAL's lack. Its also a truly ambidextrous rifle as it comes.

If you throw the HK91's in the mix. They win. :)

February 17, 2006, 09:05 PM
I have both, enjoy both, suggestion, get both, I find them to be fine rifles with their own plus's and minus's.

February 17, 2006, 09:07 PM
A PTR91 by JLD

February 18, 2006, 09:21 AM
I'd say go with the M1A. I've shot both never owned either, went real HK91 long ago. Personal opinion only but I'm a bit leary of kit guns especially when you're putting it up against a first line manufacturer like SA. I used to do alot of work on the XM21 rifle system (sniper system) back in the early 80's and was very impressed with the accuracy, but that would be considered a very high end model M1A.

John P..

Roadkill Coyote
February 18, 2006, 11:07 AM
I shot both, bought an FAL, and have never looked back. No matter what you hear online, get out and shoot both first.

James K
February 18, 2006, 08:53 PM
I have only "steel and walnut" M1A's and much prefer the feel and handling of that rifle for semi-auto fire. I also like the overall design better, including the lockup. But in full auto, the M14 is uncontrollable and, IMHO, useless.

The FAL is, again IMHO, awkward and heavy, although disassembly for cleaning is easier than the M1A. But for full auto, the FAL is more straight line in recoil and easier to control, partly due to its weight, even if it does sound like rattling a bucket of scrap iron when operating.

As to use, FN is a commercial military arms maker, and is very good at "pushing the product." The U.S. has never made or designed a rifle for commercial military sales, even though it has given or "loaned" millions of rifles to other countries. One instance of the difference is that the FAL is made with an adjustable gas system to handle about any ammunition the using nation might buy or be able to make locally. The M1 and (to a lesser extent) the M14 are made for use by a nation able to control its ammunition to close tolerances and specifications, with little concern about functioning with ammunition made in less developed countries.


February 19, 2006, 12:16 PM

The Australians used the SLR in Vietnam.


Death from Afar
February 19, 2006, 03:01 PM
@ Erhard- The new Zealanders did to. I have seen an SLR that was used in Vietnam by the NZ SAS. It was cut down to the gas plug, had a bren 30 rd mag on it, a 204 lancer, and was converted to auto. Cool!

February 19, 2006, 04:57 PM
OK add the Aussies...still doesnt change the essence of my (as usual) learned post :cool: :eek: :D


February 19, 2006, 05:08 PM
The M1 and (to a lesser extent) the M14 are made for use by a nation able to control its ammunition to close tolerances and specifications, with little concern about functioning with ammunition made in less developed countries.

Does this mean the FAL might be more reliable with the majority of mil-surp ammo available or in a wider range of conditions?

For me as a lefty, picking a battle rifle is going to come down to deciding if the ambidexterity of the M14 is worth the increased cost over the FAL. The Fulton M14 I would get would probably run me over $2K while the DS Arms FAL wtih optics and a pile of magazines wouldn't cost me that much.

Death from Afar
February 19, 2006, 05:21 PM
OK add the Aussies...still doesnt change the essence of my (as usual) learned post

New zealand is NOT a part of australia. Repeat this 5 times and I will spare you from my SLR's wrath. ;)

Does this mean the FAL might be more reliable with the majority of mil-surp ammo available or in a wider range of conditions?

Yes. Absolutly. Unless you have the gas plug upside down ( as I did last weekend) then it doesnt work so good.

February 19, 2006, 05:57 PM
Unless you have the gas plug upside down ( as I did last weekend) then it doesnt work so good

Hee hee. :) I'd say that the FAL is at least as tough as the M14 type, esp. ones built on the receivers without the lightening cuts; at worst this is a wash. Other than that, I'd have to agree with most everything that's been said. I'd also point out that the M-14 type is *slightly more* politically correct; slightly more palatable to edgy/uninformed/non-gun law enforcement members. Another difference is that when buying an M14 type, you're less likely to get a lemon that doesn't work - springfield, polytech, the other one - they all put out pretty reliable stuff. The same cannot be said for FALs, such as the hit or miss ones from Century...

Blackwater OPS
February 19, 2006, 06:33 PM
the Storm Mechanized Troop Army of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar to be a real world endorsement, especially where their mechanization is a donkey
LOL, great, now I have to clean up the coffee I sprayed all over my desk.:mad:

Death from Afar
February 19, 2006, 06:39 PM
Just what you were saying about the century guns- I have seen them advertised in the shotgun news. Are these parts guns? Are they just a bunch of random bits thrown together? uggh. We are quite lucky here as both FALS and L1A1's are avalible and I really do like the aussie made L1A1's. I think the brit pattern is a bit better than the original FAL design. Little things like the fold down cocking handle are pretty cool.

February 19, 2006, 08:10 PM
I love my M1A NM!! So my votes for the M1A for sure.

February 19, 2006, 08:52 PM
For this comparison, what price range of each are we comparing?

I would choose an FN FAL Paratrooper over a Norinco M1A clone, and I would choose a Springfield Loaded model over the Century monkey-assembled kit FALs, but in both cases there is a large descrepency in price.

High Planes Drifter
February 20, 2006, 09:08 AM
Owned an FAL, got rid of it. Now own an M1A; its not going anywhere. I agree with a previous post, shoot both if possible.

On looks: I disagree that FAL's look "cooler". Everyone knows what an M1A looks like and everytime I've been to the range with mine I get compliments. Guys with FALS dont get that very often, all they get is questions about the suitcase handle:barf: . IMO the M1A is one of if not the most eliquent rifle(s) ever designed.

February 21, 2006, 09:03 PM
Since we have so many opinions here, I'll throw mine in too! The FAL is battle tested. It was in service with real armies in SA and Rhodesia for years. If those goons couldn't breakit, it's gotta be good. Heck, it's still in service 40 years later! Plus, they shoot.
The M1A (M14 really) has the distinction of being the shortest-lived service rifle in the history of the US Army. If you include the Marines, it's the 2nd shortest (the Johnson would be #1). The US Army didn't throw it out because it worked too good! It was unreliable in full auto fire, subject to barrel failure and breakage, particular to the ammo you fed it, and a long list of other complaints. Plus, it is HEAVY!!! That doesn't matter much at the range, but when you're loaded down with 120# of other combat gear, the lighter weight of the M16 is sure nice. Yes, the 7.62 really puts the bad guys down with a good hit, but it's heavy (did I mention that?).
Let's not keep pointing to the SOP guys and their rifles, because they get the best of everything whenever they want it. Let's not forget they got to use the 1911 for the last 20 years, while all us regular troops had to switch over to the M9.

February 22, 2006, 07:38 AM
M1A. I'm a lefty as well. Every high power match I go to you see row after row of M1As with very few FALs there. In my experience accuracy of a FAL isn't in the league of the Springfield.

February 22, 2006, 09:30 AM
Having had to (many times) qualify (real world stuff..!) w/ both rifles, I'll say that they are both quite worthy of praise in their own right...
Most every British, Canadian, Australian, Belgian, Honduran, Salvadorian, Colombian, Near/ middle/ Far Eastern, African; even Swiss soldiers that I have had the pleasure (or extreme displeasure..!) to do past "training" or "worked" with...; have very much respected & admired their various variations of the esteemed FN-FAL's. (FAL also happens to be my personal preferance in direct answer to your question.) Unless you're into reloading - in which case don't bother trying to reload ammo run through an FAL (Straight extracting & mostly "fluted chambers" reak havoc on the casings..!; as well as no "twist" during extraction, etc.. M14 emptied brass can be reloaded.
Seems to me "the only recurring complaint I can think of from any troops listed above" was the weight of the FAL's.
Amazingly, the same complaint was "Never heard - Yah right..,/ good grief!!"; from those I've known (& a few I still know today) about their various Service's issued M14's!
A now civilian Buddy of mine recently returned from spending 17+ months in the "Greater Metropolitan Baghdad area." His company issues new Romanian AK's. He pretty much right away gave his to someone else (Nice to be the boss of the field..!), and quickly aquired his own FAL to "deal" with the "Bad Guy" locals with their own AK's "Spraying & Praying" at them from a bit too far off to be more or less a dangerous nuisance. (Bad idea..!) Needless to say "Many are no longer needing to Pray (I guess..?);but that was their destiny; Praise be, etc..!" (Truly no religious offense is intended!); the FAL has a really nice "Reach" compared to the AK's..!
So, now about the H&K G3...
Peace all..! (erh)

February 22, 2006, 09:57 AM
I would go with the M14/M1A in a heart beat. Best military arm ever made, and is still being used today in the big sandbox.

February 22, 2006, 06:34 PM
I'm looking into joining the Marine Reserves as a Combat engineer (if I can get a waiver for age) and they sometimes use the M1A.

February 22, 2006, 07:23 PM
As a former marine I can tell you that as a combat engineer, your chances of being issued an M14 is slim to none. The only marines I saw with M14's were DMR's in infantry platoons. If you aren't a grunt, 90% chance you will have a M16a4.

As far as FAL's go, I dunno why the M1a gets the nod for ergonomics, because the ergo's on the FAL are the best for almost any rifle I've ever fired. Some people don't like the pistol grip slant, but the FNFAL will accept any drop in military issue M249 SAW pistol grip without any modifications, the SAW grip has a more natural angle and greatly improve the already great ergos on the FAL.

As far as this "M14's still in use today" BS, the only reason they are using the M14 is because there is nothing else to fill the gap for a DMR rifle, they needed aDMR and the M14's were in stock, its more of a placeholder than a permanent solution. As of right now they are starting to switch over to a accurized M16 style DMR rifle and actually PHASING out the M14. The M14/M1a is an accurate and sturdy rifle, but please for the love of god, take it off its pedastal.

Abominable No-Man
February 23, 2006, 12:36 AM
Both are pretty much equal. The U.S. almost adopted the FAL, too. Only reason we didn't was that it choked during the arctic tests (and there was the engineer's disease "NIH" that was against it....).

That said, I prefer the M14. Better sight setup, and less recoil.

February 23, 2006, 01:08 AM
As far as this "M14's still in use today" BS

Looks like some people disagree with you. Are you telling me that all these guys could find no better so they had to use a M14? BTW, I thought the Corps used the M16A2, not the A4.

September 20, 2005 - Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division search for insurgents in Tal Afar, Iraq. Note use of the Sage International Chop Mod stock on the M14 rifle. U. S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.

August, 2003 - 3rd Platoon, 2nd FAST Company, Security Force Battalion firing position inside the American embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. The U. S. Marines were placed on alert to protect the embassy during civil unrest in this west African nation.

April 21, 2005 - Camp Baharia, Iraq: Lance Corporal Brian M. Cloonan, designated marksman with 1st Platoon, 2nd Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, prepares to aim in on his target as Lance Corporal William Black, also a designated marksman in the same platton, observes down range. Unit members practiced adjusting their weapons’ sights and firing the rifles aboard 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s range to maintain their proficiency while providing security for convoys here. USMC photo by Corporal Mike Escobar.

January 31, 2005 - U. S. Army 1st Battalion 24th Infantry Regiment 1st Brigade 25th Infantry Division soldier in Iraq with M14 rifle

December, 2003 - U. S. Marines from Explosive Ordnance Disposal sight in on land mines on a road next to the Kuwait-Iraq border with a M14 sniper rifle used mainly for ordnance disposal. Kuwait police who guard the Kuwait-Iraq border gave the intelligence to Delta Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, about the mines. 1st LAR Bn. is part of the 1st Marine Division from Camp Pendleton, California.

February 23, 2006, 01:45 AM
The A2 and the A4 are essentialy the same thing, the major difference is that the A2 has a fixed carry handle and the A4 has a rail system. The USMC I believe is currently issuing the A4.

Please read what I said before trying to discredit me. I said that the M14 is being PHASED OUT, those pictures you posted are from 2003. As of right now, 2006, a new M-16 style DMR rifle is being produced for our troops. The M14 will go back to storage after the new weapons system is widely adopted and will most likely never be seen again.

February 23, 2006, 04:00 AM
those pictures you posted are from 2003.
Please read the caption before you accuse me of attacking your knowledge. Three photos are dated Jan, April and Sept of 2005, not 2003. Please don't your bias turn this thread ugly. I don't claim to know it, all I did was post some pics that went against what you said.
As far as the A4 question went I was really curious so thanks for clearing it up. I found that the Corps does indeed issue the A4 as you stated.

February 23, 2006, 04:13 AM
Pick and choose from my post all you want, the fact remains that my information is correct. Even if they are still being used now, new M14's aren't being produced, they will not be in use for any extended period of time.

I'm not biased, I'm just sick of people saying that the M14 is considered a good rifle because it is still in use today. It is in use only because there is a need and it is available, that is all.

February 23, 2006, 04:21 AM
All things pass with time. I could care less whether it's in use or not, it's a good rifle. The Garand was hailed as on of the greatest rifles ever involved in conflict. Today it would put you at a serious disadvantage. The M14 in full auto is a joke however as a long range infantry weapon in semi it still can hold it's own against any modern issued rifle. My father and a friend carried one in Vietnam and had nothing but praise for it. That's good enough for me.

High Planes Drifter
February 23, 2006, 08:28 AM
I'm not biased, I'm just sick of people saying that the M14 is considered a good rifle because it is still in use today. It is in use only because there is a need and it is available, that is all.
Pardon me, but isnt that the reason any weapon is in use? Because there is a need, it fits the bill, and it is available?
As far as the AR15 DMR, you are right, they are being deployed in small #'s now. But dont look for that rifle to fully supplant a 7.62 DMR rifle on the field of battle where long range is a factor.
Lets not turn this into a M14 vs. AR thread, lets keep it on topic.

February 23, 2006, 12:18 PM
I am of the belief that it is a great rifle that happens to still be in use. Better than the FALs that I have had, anyways. The M14 still will not be completely phased out by the new Knight rifle, and it will still see continued use in some circles.

As far as new M14's...SEI is sending over quite a few that have his crazy horse mods...SEALS are ordering SOCOM stocks, as well as Marines and other units, as well as new optics... sounds like something they aren't going to use for too long I guess!


February 23, 2006, 07:04 PM
M1A all the way. No problems with surplus ammo and is a accurate and battle proven rifle.

February 23, 2006, 09:28 PM

I do give my buddy's fal respect but it had quite a few failures both in his hands and in mine.
My m1a did not.:)

Brother in Arms
February 23, 2006, 11:53 PM
Read Bostons Gun Bible his book covers the M1A and the FAL. When he began the book he had an FN FAL and he began testing vs. the M1A and the G3. By the end of the book he gives a very slight edge to the M1A. But otherwise almost identical rank or grade. However now he carries an M1A.
Excellent book, one of the best firearms books I have ever read. I agree I think I like the M1A followed very closely by the FAL and 3rd to the G3 system.

By the way erh
the FAL does not have a Fluted chamber, The G3 and CETME do.

Brother in Arms

Death from Afar
February 26, 2006, 02:57 PM
I have shot many may many battlr rifles in .308. I do like the M14 family. They do tend to shoot a tad better than FALS- not always- and they most definatly do take a scope better, unless you mount a new dust cover on your FAL. I have one on my L1A1 that cost a fortune- I cant remeber the manufacturer. At the end of the day, it is hard to choose. BY the narrowest of margins, I prefer the commonwealth / Brit L1A1'a to M1A's because of small ergonomics, like the fold down cocking handle, easy gas adjustment, and they fit me a bit better. If you get a good example of either, they wont let you down. Ever.