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The T48 FAL.

Above is a great image from when the USMC was testing the FAL for possible adoption to replace the M1 Garand. You can tell how early it was by the Marine’s uniform and webgrear. He’s using the BAR belt with older should strapping, and a canteen cover still using the m1910 wire hanger system. His helmet cover is the old WW2 camo reversible model and the flak vest is the Korean war model. The uniform itself is the one used before the OG107s. You can also see the wooden furniture of the T48 rifle.


The U.S. tested the FAL in several forms; initially as manufactured by FN in experimental configurations, and later in the final T48 configuration as an official competitor for the new Light Self-Loading Rifle intended to replace the M1 Garand. The US Army procured T48 rifles from three firms for testing, including two U.S. based companies in an effort to assess the manufacturability of the FN design domestically. The T48 was manufactured for testing by Fabrique Nationale (FN), of Herstal, Belgium; (H&R) of Worcester, Massachusetts; and High Standard of Hartford, Connecticut. The United States also received a small number of FAL Heavy Barrel Rifles (HBAR) (either 50.41 or pre-50.41) for testing, under the designation T48E1, though none of these rifles were adopted by US.

Well, we all know how that turned out…

In the end, the T44 was selected over the T48/FAL primarily because of weight (the T44 was a pound lighter than the T48), simplicity (the T44 had fewer parts), the T44’s self-compensating gas system, and the argument that the T44 could be manufactured on existing machinery built for the M1 rifle (a concept that later turned out to be unworkable).

The pound less made no difference and the rest of it turned out to be complete bullshit .

In 1957, the U.S. formally adopted the T44 as the…

The M14. ahem..

The fix was already in for the M14 just like it was when the M16 was submitted. People say the FAL was “almost” a US rifle but that isn’t really true.

For the record I don’t care much for the FAL but I like it slightly more than the M14 which isn’t saying much. I do prefer the FAL a lot more than the G3.

A Marine pictured below holds a T48 in 2008.

Captian Ben Grant with one of 70 H&R T48s via FAL Files, 2008

Captian Ben Grant, USMC with one of 70 H&R T48s in Marine Corps storage, photo via FAL Files, 20

Ten yankee dollars says he still thinks the USMC should still be using the M14.

13 thoughts on “The T48 FAL.”

  1. The entire process, from writing the requirements to the final fielding of the M-14 was flawed at a level that should have resulted in mass firings and sterilizations for the good for the species. At least, in my opinion.

    The first mistake was the utter failure to grasp the reality of “how we fought” in WWII. I can kind of forgive them not taking up the lessons of WWI, given the general neglect of military matters after the “War to end all Wars”, but… By 1948, they should have had it figured out and digested the fact that we weren’t fighting wars the way they imagined we were–And, it was always “imaginary”. You go back and look, and there were very few real “combat veterans” involved in the decision-making process. COL Renee Studler, who was arguably the primary reason for all of this happening, was a man with zero actual combat experience. Zero. And, he was the decision-maker that was behind or “involved” in most of the decisions made, as were his acolytes. No matter what you look at, his name is there, and some of the worst decisions of the period have his name on them. 7.62mm NATO, M-14, M-60, M-73… All either him or his cohort of attendees.

    Few had actual experience of combat. They saw what they wanted to see, and what they wanted essentially boiled down to the ultimate Camp Perry match rifle. Anything else, the evidence was wished away.

    And, the main issues stemmed from the fact that there’s a cultural bias in the Army, one that I think stems from the long-time reliance on a tiny professional Army run by a caste of self-identified “experts”, interspersed with periodic spasmodic expansions into mass armies. This culture created a mentality in the “professionals” that they were a closed shop, and that there was nothing of value to be had from the unwashed masses of the “Christmas Help” expansion armies, and that everything was top-down, in terms of professional knowledge and development.

    In a lot of ways, we’re still adapting to the fact that things have changed profoundly, in this regard. Time was, if you were an Ordnance guy, the idea of listening to some Sergeant from the Frontier Army would be ridiculous. There was little lateral transmission of information, and zero upwards transmission–And, to a large extent, that’s still true.

    Anecdotal evidence? Go look at the process for other armies, when it comes to developing doctrine and field manuals, and compare it to ours. In the British Army, I was astounded to find that the Platoon Sergeant for the Royal Engineers who was here in the US supporting Exercise Trumpet Dance was in the midst of reviewing the British Army’s new Pamphlet (equivalent to our Field Manuals…) for Route Clearance Operations, most of which he’d written. Being as, he was the guy who’d done most of that sort of work in Northern Ireland, over the course of multiple deployments there. So, in that case, the actual guy who had the most practical knowledge of the issue was the one writing the manual for it, and that’s what made sense to the Brits.

    Our way? LOL… The new Field Manuals are usually written by the company-grade officers who’ve been sent back to the schoolhouse for their branches, and who are either waiting for a class date or who’ve completed their course. While they are in administrative limbo, the schools put them to work as staff officers for the school, and they’re the ones who get tasked with writing the manuals. The other group who winds up working in that area are the NCOs who get washed out of the Drill Instructor program for whatever reason, or who are otherwise unusable for productive work. This leads to manuals and doctrine being written by the people least likely to really know shit about the issues, and who warp the ever-loving crap out of everything.

    Example–Bridge demolition. Circa the Indo-Pakistani War of the early ’70s, the Brits had an ideal opportunity to evaluate a lot of their own doctrine/techniques, and they went ahead and did so. One of the many issues they identified was that the Indians and Pakistanis had both performed their bridge demolition operations in accordance with then-standard British Army practices. Thing is, most of those bridges were left in states that were easily repaired, and still essentially usable. Oops.

    So, mid-1970s, the Brits put the issue out to their University system, and the result was what came to be called the Sheffield System, a far more effective approach to bridge demolition. For years, the US knew about this, but did not put it into effect because “reasons”, mostly due to TRADOC serving as an impediment–They were teaching the technique in the Officers Basic Course, but the enlisted side never saw it because “reasons” until the early 1990s.

    Some 15 years after the state of the art had changed, the Army finally got around to incorporating it all into the Explosives and Demolitions Field Manual. Thing was, though? They had a fucking moron write it, and what was crystalline-clear in the British Army Pamphlet was a gargantuan cluster-fuck in the new manual that nobody could figure out. Literally–I’m not a smart guy, but one of my key skills in the Army was always the ability to read a manual, and pull out of it whatever I needed to make something work. First time I saw the new Demo manual, I’m going through it looking at it like that “puzzled dog” meme, where the poor dog is trying to figure out where his master’s voice is coming from. It was that bad–I don’t know anyone who read that FM and managed to figure out what the hell the actual technique was, and when I took it to that British guy that was reviewing his own manual (thinking that if the Brits had developed it, surely…?), his brain locked up trying to figure out what the hell the writer of the manual was trying to do. Eventually, he let me have a look at their manual that went over the system, and I was like “Ohhhhhhh… That’s what they’re doing, here…”, and the scales fell away from my eyes.

    The same issue permeates everything the Army does. The problems boil down to a sclerotic information “culture/system” that keeps the people who actually know how to do things, and what is actually needed to do them carefully and thoroughly isolated from the decision-making process, which is left in the hands of men who’ve carefully been kept from actually knowing what the hell goes on out in the real world. And, who mostly don’t understand how the Army actually works, when you get right down to it. They think they do, because they’ve been told they were taught all about it, but the reality is that most of them quite simply have no comprehension how things are actually effectuated, or what the hell they’re really doing when they ineptly try to pull at the levers of power. Some of which aren’t actually connected to much of anything, at all.

    The whole thing is a symptom of the flaws inherent to our culture, I’m afraid. The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of the people we have put into positions of responsibility and power throughout everything…? They’re ineffectual idiot-savants, who are continually screwing up everything they touch. Reverse Midas-touch, you see–Instead of gold, whatever they finger-fuck turns to shit.

    Reply
    • This:

      “The whole thing is a symptom of the flaws inherent to our culture, I’m afraid. The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of the people we have put into positions of responsibility and power throughout everything…? They’re ineffectual idiot-savants, who are continually screwing up everything they touch. Reverse Midas-touch, you see–Instead of gold, whatever they finger-fuck turns to shit.”

      This applies to nearly everything now, from economic policy, to gun control, to criminal justice, to manufacturing, to arms in the military, to military doctrine, to trade policy, central banking, investment & market regulation, the educational industry, the health care industry…

      We’re being overrun by over-educated people who have exceeded their native intelligence, which is to say that they’re over-credentialled idiots. Talib (of “Black Swan” fame) calls them “intellectual yet idiots” and it shows.

      This is why Trump was elected. All the properly credentialled and pedigreed morons who have been elected to office since about 1970 have been making a complete fuck-up of everything they touch. Trump comes along and start spouting ideas that go against the “conventional wisdom” (on trade, economics, foreign policy, etc) and a whole bunch of people (yours truly included) who are furious with the IYI crowd, say “What the hell? How much damage could he do that the IYI crowd hasn’t?”

      And lo! We see results.

      This isn’t unique to the US, tho. Look at the political situation in France, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and then look at Brazil, etc. Trump is just the loudest of the bunch – but he’s not a one-off.

      Reply
    • I’m always down for a good M14 bashing. But you didn’t really leave me anywhere else to go with it. its nice to be understood by fellow men of culture and intellect

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      • I really don’t mean to bash the M-14, at all. It’s a great rifle, and would have been ideal had we been issuing it about 1916. Unfortunately, they were type-standardized in the mid-1950s, and the state of the art in combat tactics and weaponry had somewhat advanced from those it was designed for.

        The fact that Beretta churned out the BM-59 in about a tenth the time, and with much better production rates than the M-14 managed until they turned manufacture over to TRW shouldn’t count, either. It’s really nobody’s fault that precisely none of the promised advantages for the T-44 actually materialized, and it’s truly unfortunate that Robert McNamara felt that the had to hold the worthies at Springfield Arsenal responsible for their multitudinous failures in life.

        Also… I just realized this, and I should have given Shawn shit for it from the beginning: The T-44 was the prototype for the M-14, and this post should have been titled “The T-48 FAL”. I don’t know how my eyes breezed over that bit of trivia, but they did.

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          • LOL… And, now people are gonna wonder what the hell I was talking about… 🙂

            Ah, well… It’s precisely what the M-14 program deserves, as an epitaph. The only modern weapon that managed a shorter service life was the one it stabbed in the back, the Brit’s EM-2 that I think lasted about a couple of months as the British type-standardized Rifle No. 9 Mk. 1.

        • I dont consider the M14 a great rifle. the M1 garand was a great rifle. the M14 is lousy. I would maybe use it for a boat anchor or a tomato stake for the garden. But it is what it is and people will still love it for their own reasons “muh wood and steal battle rifle” I guess, cause it sure isn’t because of its accuracy and durability and ease of maintenance.

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          • I gotta be honest with you: The M1 Garand is a rifle I respect not for what it was as a rifle, but for the sheer genius of its production machinery. The rifle itself was too damn big, the cartridge way too heavy, and the concept behind it was unfit for purpose on day one. If the M14 was the rifle we should have been issuing in 1916, the M1 was the one we should have been passing out for 1914.

            Conceptually, the entire idea of a full-house semi-auto is just ‘effing nuts. You don’t need that kind of distraction down at the level of “rifleman”, and you don’t need that much power in a cartridge for an individual weapon at that level. Not for the way we were fighting, and certainly not for the combat environment they were meant for.

            I have to be completely honest, too–I can’t think of anything you could really do that would ever make the M1 or the M14 an “ideal weapon” for any circumstance, aside from punching paper at the Camp Perry National Matches. “Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised”, my ass. Some fucking general who never carried one into combat or used one in a firefight is not my “go-to” authority for that sort of thing, and I think that Patton would have said that about whatever it was we were passing out to the troops. The M1 had it’s moments, but it was emphatically not the huge game-changing innovation it was sold as. If it had been, the Germans and Japanese would have easily been overwhelmed by US troops armed with them, and since we know that wasn’t the case…? Yeah. Innovative? A good thing? Certainly. A paradigm shifting wunderwaffen? Oh, hell no. It ain’t all that, at all.

            Now, if you asked me about John C. Garand’s production machinery for it? I’d be all about telling you how great that was. The rifle itself? Nope, nope, and nope. Wrong caliber, wrong design paradigm, wrong ideas about tactics behind it all.

          • I agree, the M1 is not the greatest battle rifle ever blah blah blah that statement is absurd. It was a clever design and I think its a better rifle than the M14. That isnt to say I think the M1 some amazing combat rifle to end all combat rifles. I really said all I have to say on the two in my old articles about the M14 from several years ago Im sure you saw at some point since Kevin had quoted it.

        • Having had a BM-59 on my bench, I wouldn’t own one on a bet. All manner of corner-shaving on the BM-59 that makes for a finicky customer.

          The hardest proposition about supporting a BM-59 for me is that there is no readily available technical manual available for them in the US, coupled with the bizarre variety of parts you can find through umpteen different short-stocked sources. People buy the BM-59 because they think they can get a semi-auto rifle on a “deal” cheaper than a M-14/M-1A or AR-10… Well, yes, they can. And there’s a reason for that.

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          • the BM-59 is one of the rifles I have never even held one in my own hands. I also have never understood the appeal it has for it’s fans and admirers. I suspect most of its fans are fans because they have never actually owned one. Come to think of itm I dont think I can recall every shooting a “tanker Garand” either.

          • The only version of the BM-59 I’ve had experience with was an immaculate Beretta-produced version that never gave me or the owner a single issue, vice the Springfield Armory M-1A he also owned that was a finicky POS.

            That said, it’s anecdotal. I only know the program from afar, but what little I do know is that it came in quicker and cheaper than the M-14 ever did, and stayed in service for a hell of a lot longer. Most of the Italian troops I knew who had the things were more than satisfied, and that included some guys in the Alpini who put them to hard use.

            One thing is for sure, though–The BM-59 program was far more affordable, and a lot more successful than the M-14 ever was. The list of BM-59 users compared to the list of people who bought the M-14…? The length of service? Kinda speak for themselves.

            What’s here in the US represents a really distorted picture–The vast majority of the BM-59s here are cobbled-together variants built up out of a bunch of worn or random parts kits. The few there are which are actual Beretta-branded “real” BM-59s are another thing entirely, at least in my personal experience. I’m still jealous of that rifle, and I’ve never felt the least interest in either the M-1 or the M-14. It was a sweet little rifle, especially with that tricompensator affair on it. You’d hardly think you were firing a 7.62–Compared to the HK-91 we had on the range at the same time, it didn’t even feel like the same cartridge.

    • Thanks for that Kirk. I hope you’re doing well and getting in some range time with your tripod mounted MGs.

      It does not surprise me at all that the bloke responsible for 7.62, M-14 etc was named Renee. In fact, it explains a lot.

      Reply

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