The Fusil Automatic Leger (FAL) is a popular rifle both in Europe and the United States. Although its name translates to “light automatic rifle,” this is a semi-automatic. Nowadays, the company DS Arms makes all-American modern-day FALs under the SA58 series. I’ve had the chance to review one of them. With a hefty price tag ranging from $1,300 to more than $2,000, I’d like to see if owning one is worth it.
- Adjustable gas regulator
- Easy-to-use nonreciprocating side charger
- Ambidextrous, easy-access magazine release
- Foldable battle rifle stock (BRS) buttstock with adjustable length of pull (LOP) and riser
- Slim M-LOK compatible handguard that can mount multiple accessories
- Last round bolt hold open feature
- Nonaggressive recoil
- Great reliability
- Wonderful aesthetics
- Accuracy is 2 to 3 minutes of angle (MOA)
- Hard-to-reach and actuate safety
- Might have quality control issues straight out of the box
- Shooting with the buttstock folded can rub on your knuckles
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The FAL is a battle rifle designed by Belgian small arms designer Dieudonne Saive. It was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FNH). The prototype was completed in 1946. By 1953, the FAL was widely used by NATO forces with the U.S. as a notable exception. Because of its widespread use during the Cold War, this battle rifle was affectionately called “The Right Arm of the Free World.”
The FAL is a powerful and serviceable battle rifle used in the military and homeland defense. For the standard civilian, it can still find many uses for survival, self-defense, target shooting, and home defense.
DS Arms SA58 Improved Battle Carbine Review
For this review, I have tested the DS Arms FAL SA58 with a 16-inch Fluted Tactical Barrel. It’s a US-made, all-American parts, modern and upgraded FAL from the manufacturer DS Arms. It’s chambered in caliber 7.62x51mm NATO. DS Arms lists the following specifications for this battle rifle:
Standard Configuration Includes:
- 7.62 X 51MM Caliber
- 4150 – 11595E Mil-Spec Barrel Steel
- 16″ Fluted Medium Contour Barrel
- Barrel Features a 1:10 Twist Rate
- Barrel Threaded 5/8×24 Right
- 4140 Fully Machined & Heat Treated Cast Steel Type 1 Non Carry Handle Cut Receiver
- DS Arms WarZ Series Flash Hider
- Chrome Lined Chamber & Bore
- DS Arms Extreme Duty Extended PARA Scope Mount
- DS Arms Short Gas Piston System
- Stainless Steel Gas Piston
- DS Arms SAW Style Pistol Grip
- M-LOK Interface Short Gas System Handguard.
- DS Arms Fully Adjustable BRS – Battle Rifle Stock; Side Folding With Cheek Height & Length Of Pull Adjustment
- Dual Aperture PARA Rear Sight, With Quick Adjust Windage Knob
- Elevation Adjustable Front Sight Post
- Lightweight Alloy PARA Lower Trigger Housing
- DS Arms Extended Winter Trigger Guard
- Enhanced Ambidextrous Magazine Release
- DS Arms Left Side Non-Reciprocating Extended Knob Cocking Handle
- 20 Round Magazine
- Owner’s Manual, Hard Case and Sling Included.
- Matte Black Duracoat Finish Included
Handling It for the First Time
The DS Arms FAL SA58 is like a modern piece of art, well-designed with great aesthetics. The BRS can be folded sideways. It has ergonomic and ambidextrous LOP adjustment buttons. There are seven LOP positions, so you can adjust it easily for your personal comfort level. The cheekpiece is also easy to operate, featuring a full parallel rise with four 1/4-inch settings. There’s also a tilted setting for helmet-mounted devices or more clearance on the cheekpiece.
My favorite part is the ease of removing and replacing the magazine. The DS Arms FAL SA58 features an ambidextrous magazine release. Pulling the release forward will release the magazine. Meanwhile, the guard helps guide your replacement magazine as you insert it. The safety close to the trigger is my least favorite feature because it’s hard to bring the safety back up.
The DS Arms FAL also comes with an ergonomic nonreciprocating left-side charging handle, which allows you to take full advantage of the battle rifle. This battle rifle also comes with a last-round bolt hold-open, which is an awesome feature for me. With all the actions done on the left side, left-handed gun users will find the DS Arms FAL easy to wield. The squad automatic weapon (SAW)-style pistol grip has great ergonomics. The handguard is a slim profile M-LOK compatible design. It helps in weight reduction and barrel cooling. It is versatile in mounting accessories minus the bulk of a traditional handguard. The gas piston is user-adjustable and quite easy to manipulate on your own. The parts are quite easy to take apart and clean even if it’s your first time doing it.
Now for Some Test Shots
I’ve loaded up a few magazines and took it for some test shots. The BRS is foldable, and DS Arms advertises that it’s so you can “Fire While Folded.” I did attempt doing that, but I found it uncomfortable. It rubbed on my knuckles — not enough to hurt but you can feel the buttstock against you with every movement. The recoil is mild to moderate and, with the gas piston adjustment, you can tweak the settings to dampen it.
Test fires were shot at 100-yard distance. What I loved about the DS Arms FAL is that the magazine can hold up to 20 rounds vs. the usual five to eight rounds. Combined with the easy-to-use magazine release, I can enjoy firing this rifle for hours. Accuracy was at 2 to 3 MOA. Other shooters may seek more accuracy. However, as DS Arms FAL is a battle rifle and not a precision rifle, I’m quite satisfied with the results. All in all, it’s a reliable beast with good firepower and nonaggressive recoil.
Alternatives to the DS Arms FAL SA58
So, after reading through our review, you may still be wondering if the DS Arms FAL SA58 is right for you. I’d like to present you with two alternatives that might make or break your decision.
The PTR-91 has comparable accuracy to the FAL. It’s also cheaper. Outfitting it through its claw-style mount makes it all the more affordable. Parts are also generally easier to find compared to DS Arms parts. While the FAL is quite reliable, the PTR-91’s delayed roller blowback system gives it an advantage in adverse conditions. If we’re talking ergonomics and ease of shooting, the DS Arms FAL SA58 still wins hands down.
We all know how popular AR-10s are. If you have around an extra $1,000 or more to spend, you can get an AR-10 over a FAL. Not only is the AR-10 more expensive, but its parts are also priced higher than the FALs, including magazines. However, the AR-10 is significantly more accurate than the FAL. It doesn’t have a last-round bolt hold-open feature, which can be a minor annoyance if that’s a feature you love to have. You might go with the AR-10 if you want more accuracy, or with the FAL for reliability and durability. If you’re curious to know more about AR-10s, check out our list of some of the best-for-your-money AR10s.
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DS Arms B.R.O. (Battle Rifle Optic) 4x Prism Scope – Trilux Reticle
If accuracy is one of your concerns with the FAL, you can install a scope. DS Arms offers its own BRO scope. According to their website, this is a must-have accessory if you’re looking for a reliable and durable BRO. The dials for focus and illumination are easy to grip. It has 10 red illumination settings. It features a reverse cantilever design for optimal eye relief and rear sight clearance.
DSA SA58 FAL Extreme Duty Scope Mount & Brass Catcher Combo
Maybe you need a mount for your FAL. Let’s take it one step further and get a mount with a brass catcher. Two birds with one stone, right? This DS Arms scope mount is the gold standard for being able to mount any type of optic to any type of FAL rifle. This scope mount is also quite easy to install, assemble, and maintain.
Metric 20-round Steel Magazine
You’ll need more than one magazine when taking out your DS Arms SA58 for a spin. Each magazine can contain up to 20 rounds of ammunition.
Maglula FN FAL .308/7.62x51mm Lula Magazine Loader and Unloader
This device will allow you to conveniently load and unload your DS Arms SA58 magazines. It helps protect your thumbs from injury and your magazines’ feed lips from damage.
After testing out the DS Arms FAL SA58, I agree that this battle rifle is great. It is quite serviceable, extremely ergonomic, and an all-around reliable firearm. Do I think it’s worth it for its price tag? If I had the money to spend on it — I say “why not?” IfÂ I want a fun weapon to take at the range or a good rifle for my home’s defense system, the DS Arms FAL SA58 is a good choice. It started as a trusty companion for NATO forces in the 1950s. Nowadays, it’s a battle rifle that even gun enthusiasts like me can truly enjoy. On the off chance that you come home with an imperfect FAL, DS Arms has a good customer service reputation, and you can be assured that they’ll answer your concerns in a satisfactory manner.
For further reading, I would like to invite you to read on the various accessories you can outfit the FAL with, such as scopes, and a pretty good list of links tackling optics and scopes in general.
The “Cons” listed above are all easily addressed. The first was accuracy- I fire lapped my SA58 DSA FAL before putting any other ammo through it (very easy, basically ammo with finer and finer grit to polish the rifling) and Am easily at 1 MOA- with good NATO ammo, under 1 MOA. It’s worth noting that while abo0ut 1 MOA at 100 yards is great but not the absolute best, I find that it doesn’t open up much more than that at 300 yards, the farthest I have ever shot it. Every shot at 300 yards fits in 2″ circle. The “uncomfortable to shoot while folded” is in my opinion an odd “con”- I wouldn’t buy a folding stock for a v ariety of reasons, legality being first but as importantly the stability of a fixed stock, extra to absorb any recoil, and the ability to stash a cleaning kit (or whatever) in the buttstock.
#2 is the safety – everyone just buys a bigger one, and like everything else on FALs is absurdly easy to change out.
#3 is quality control- DSA does NOT regularly suffer from this in my experience. Not any more than any other rifle at least.
There is nothing to complain about with this rifle. Maybe I just got lucky and by following some standard accurizing protocol got a perfect example. I was fortunate enough to get one while they were still offering every part plated in ROBAR NP3. What a shame that company went out of business, everything comes off with the first wipe like a nonstick frying pan. Mine also has a beautiful plum / maroon hue, I suspect that it might have been an old stainless receiver treated with the ROBAR NP3 that created the color, but it usually indicates a harder than usual steel.
Topped with an ACOG, this setup can’t be beat.
The best “pros” were not really mentioned, which is how easy FALs are to take apart for cleaning or maintenance. Open the action and unscrew a single oversized hinge bolt. You can break it down and replace a firing pin in under a minute, from start to finish it takes less than 5 minutes to break it down and clean it properly…. and that you can dial in the gas up front with a simple twist of the knob to fine tune the batch of ammo you are shooting.
It never ceases to amaze me why they aren’t more popular in the USA!