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GUNS Magazine January 2011 - Page 60
Duke found the SA58 comfortable to shoot and plenty accurate for its sights. FN/FAL paraTrooper Mike “Duke” venturino Photos: Yvonne venturino DS arMS Sa58 .308. ack in the dim, distant recesses of my mind I think b my first exposure to the fn/fAL rifle came during the civil unrest that hit the former belgian Congo in the early 1960s. As I remember, belgian paratroopers dropped into a city there to protect Europeans and somewhere I saw a photo of one of those tough-looking gents standing on a street corner holding what seemed to my young, American mind an odd-looking rifle. of course, it was a version of their domestically produced fn/fAL and would have chambered the 7.62mm nATo round. Those letters stand for fabrique nationale and fusil Automatique Leger and, of course, 7.62mm nATo is dimensionally almost identical to our civilian .308 Winchester. to write up this rifle—I had absolutely no preconceived notions about the type. As things have turned out, I’m glad he did. Not only have I enjoyed shooting a good rifle, but I’ve also And to be honest that was about the full extent of my knowledge about such a rifle until holding this SA58 made by DS Arms. Perhaps that’s why Editor JJ asked me if I wanted Duke found the SA58 design very easy to clean. Make sure the chamber and magazine are unloaded, then simply open the rifle and retract the bolt. started filling a considerable gap in my basic firearms knowledge. Let’s get one thing straight first off. The SA58 as produced by DS Arms is a semi-auto, made-in-America version of the famous FN/FAL. If you visit the DS Arms website, photos are available of the very modern factory wherein the SA58s are produced. (Along with many other products not pertinent to this article.) Also, on that website are profiled no less than 35 different variations of SA58. There are even California legal ones and a few that chamber the .243 Winchester. But, let’s back up just a bit. In the early 1950s, several things happened that eventually created the SA58. For starters, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed for defense against the Communist Bloc nations. One aim of NATO was at least the standardization of ammunition, if not weapons themselves. Several experimental cartridges were developed, but due to heavy pressure from the United States, the one picked in 1954 became known as the 7.62 NATO. (Winchester actually introduced the sporting version of it in 1952 as the .308 Winchester.) By caving in to American desires on the cartridge other NATO nations hoped (perhaps even expected) the United States would in turn adopt the Belgian developed FN/FAL. Besides a natural reluctance from the American military hierarchy to adopt a foreign rifle, there was one other major stumbling block. The United States, Great Britain and Canada used the Imperial (inches) system of measurement, while the other NATO nations used the metric system by which FN had designed and built the FAL. Canada met the challenge head on and converted FN’s plans to the Imperial system of measurement (inches) and adopted the FAL as early as 1953. With Canadian aid in the form of plans and drawings, the US Government contracted with Harrington & Richardson to built a quantity of FALs for testing by both the US Army and the US Marine 60 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY 2011