FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

FAL, G-3 and L1A1 rifles.
cavetech
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FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by cavetech » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:59 pm

By way of setting up this story I thought I'd give a little background. I like to collect military rifles. I also like to rebuild and build them. The FN-FAL has been called the assault rifle of the world. I didn't have one so this project was born. Thought I'd share it here.

Early last year I bought a metric pattern Imbel FN-FAL parts kit that is believed to have come from Chile. It is one of those rifles that looks like it has been carried a lot, but fired little. Parts and bore look very good. The finish is unimportant since I will completely refinish it.

I've waited about 6-7 months to get a DS Arms upper receiver to complete the rifle. Research suggested that DSA made the highest quality receivers. I ordered mine with a cut for the carry handle. Yesterday I finally got my upper receiver after fhp-490 handled the transfer for me.

So, here is what I have.

The major parts.
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An idea of what the rifle will look like when assembled.
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Notice the rear of the barrel has a piece of the original receiver attached and will have to come off so the new receiver can be installed.
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Here is where the upper receiver attaches to the lower receiver and butt stock.
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What would an assault rifle be without a bolt, bolt carrier and charging handle?
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There is a lot of work ahead of me. I'll continue to post here and update the project. This should be fun. To be legal in the US this rifle will have to contain 7 parts made in the US. For this build those parts will be something like gas piston, gas tube, hammer, sear, trigger, pistol grip, furniture.

In about 6 months the upper receiver should arrive for my Austrailian L1A1 build.



I took my barrel and receiver to the machine shop of gunsmith Russ Fritz (fhp-490) so he could do the machining needed to time the barrel to the receiver. Russ had his big lathe pretty much set up and waiting for my job.

Perhaps one thousandth of an inch had to be removed from the torque shoulder of the barrel so it would align with the receiver properly when tightened. In other words the front sight had to be perfectly vertical and the extractor notch had to align with the extractor. That's what the lathe was used for.

The barrel in front of the sight was placed in the chuck.
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The breech end needs to be secured and steadied during turning. One way to do this was to just run the live center into the chamber. Russ had a more innovative method which also protected the chamber from possible damage from the live center. He previously chucked and center bored a .308 dummy round to insert into the chamber and the dummy round would accept the live center. Take a look at the prepped dummy round.
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Here is the breech. You will see the dummy round inserted into the chamber that the live center will go into and help steady the barrel while turning.
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When the tool is cutting it is much easier to see what it is doing if you color the metal area being worked on with a stain called Dykem. It's a liquid that just brushes on with a self applicator.
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Cutting the torque shoulder. Go easy and only take a little off at a time and check your progress by screwing the receiver on.
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A posed shot showing the relationship of the cutting tool to the torque shoulder.
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Here is the tail stock and tool assembly in cutting position.
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Check your work frequently. Russ (left) with micrometer. He's mic'ing the barrel flats so he can modify a 1-1/16" open end wrench to fit on and tighten the barrel. Me (right) with the receiver to check barrel timing.
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This dark picture shows the barrel timing to be at 11:00 o'clock, exactly where it should be after the lathe work but before tightening the barrel.
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Today was assemble the FAL day. I headed over to the gunshop of Russ Fritz (fhp-490) because I needed two specialty tools machined so the FAL barrel would be timed correctly with the receiver. In other words screw in the barrel and have the front and rear sights line up correctly when done.

I needed two timing tools made.

One was a 1/4" diameter rod threaded on one end to screw into the front sight assembly. So Russ chucked an aluminum rod in the lathe, turned one end down to the right diameter and threaded it 12x28.

The second tool was more involved. It was an aluminum block that would secure in the upper receiver with a 1/4" rod sticking up precisely dead center. So Russ mic'd the inside width of the upper receiver and then milled an aluminum block to the precise size. Then it was drilled through so a 1/4"x20 bolt could be inserted and tightened to secure the block in the receiver. Tho final process was to insert an aluminum rod into the block in the receiver so it was sticking straight up.

Picture the barrel being screwed into the receiver. For the final tightening of the barrel one rod stuck up from the front sight and one rod stuck up from the top of the receiver. When you could look down the length of the receiver and barrel and both vertical rods were as perfectly aligned (like sights) as the eye can tell, then stop tightening the barrel. It is timed to the receiver and hopefully when the rifle is assembled both sights will be lined up and the front sight isn't canted over to one side.

Here is the rod for the front sight being threaded.
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This is how the inside of the upper receiver is measured with a micrometer to determine how wide to machine the aluminum block.
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Coat one side of the block with Dykem and scribe a line at precisely the right width.
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Carefully set up the block in a milling machine and mill it to the proper width to fit in the receiver.
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When the block is the correct height and width use the milling machine to bore a hole into the block exactly in the center. This hole will hold the rod.
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Then drill a hole all the way through on a drill press for the retaining bolt to go through. I can't find this pic, but I bet you get the idea.

Here is the rod installed in the front sight.
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Here is the aluminum block secured in the top of the upper receiver with the rod in it from the top.
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Receiver block from the bottom.
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Then clamp the receiver wrench around the front of the receiver and put it in a big vice, tightly. Screw the barrel in and put a wrench with a cheater bar on it for leverage. You're going to need leverage to do the final tightening on the barrel. When the front sight rod and the receiver rod line up you are done. This shows the position of the rods after tightening the barrel into the receiver.
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When I got home it was time to assemble my FAL. Here are the main parts groups.
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Front portion of the rifle with gas tube installed and then the handguards.
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Lower receiver and buttstock assembly.
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Finally the rifle is assembled. It's not head spaced yet and of course it isn't refinished.
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It is now US compliant with a minimum of 7 parts made in the US.
Upper Receiver
Trigger
Sear
Hammer
Gas Piston
Pistol Grip
Cocking Handle

I could replace the plastic furniture and have 9 US parts.

Special thanks to:
Russ Fritz (fhp-490) e-mail (omega386 at windstream.net) for his skills as a machinist and gunsmith. He is THE man to contact for any gunsmithing in my opinion. We've worked together on a number of special projects.

Court from the FAL Files and right here. The barrel timing tools were his idea. http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthre ... adid=59621



To headspace, the bolt has to be removed from the bolt carrier and the extractor has to be removed from the bolt. I also removed the firing pin because my Go Gage was a live .308 round and I didn't want to take the chance of having an accident. I am accident prone and manage to slip with tools, gouge my fingers and hands and drop small parts which are never seen again.

I determined that the bolt would slide forward and close on an empty chamber.
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When I inserted a cartridge into the chamber I discovered that the bolt would not close all the way. I needed more headspace. This photo is exaggerated for illustration.
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So I drove out the locking shoulder. That's FAL speak for a pin that goes through the receiver and has a square corner (shoulder) on it that the rear of the bolt locks against when the bolt is in battery. The vernier calipers read that the locking shoulder was 61 thousands thick. The shoulder had to be made thinner or a thinner diameter pin installed. I didn't have the luxury of different pin sizes on hand so I opted to file the shoulder down by hand very carefully. I put it in a vice and used a hand file to carefully take off some thickness maintaining a flat surface and a uniform thickness.
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My first attempt reduced the locking shoulder diameter to 55 thousands. I drove it back into the receiver and again tried to close the bolt on a round. It was closer, but not good enough.
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So I drove the shoulder out again and took it back to the vice for a little more file work. I do mean a little. We're talking about a few thousandths of an inch. Back to the rifle and the calipers showed the locking shoulder thickness was now 50 thousandths. I have removed 11 thousandths of an inch total.
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I slid the bolt forward on a round in the chamber and it closed all the way and was locked into battery!

The pencil is pointing to the locking shoulder.
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The rear of the bolt must drop down and lock against the bolt shoulder. When it is right it looks like this. The pencil is pointing to the location.
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Now it was time to insert my .308 No Go Gage and try closing the bolt on it. I couldn't find my gage. It wasn't with the other gages I keep on hand. Nuts. But, I think I am OK. I'll find or replace the gage by next weekend before I go to the range.


I still can't find my .308 No-Go Gage.

So I used an old expedient method to see how close I am with my headspace.

I checked to see how the bolt closed with a live round and a live round with one layer of plain masking tape on the head of the case. I also used cartridges of different manufacture.

For more variety I used the bolt by itself, the bolt in the bolt carrier and ever the bolt in the carrier and the firing pin in.

The extractor was out for all tests.

All combinations closed on the variety of bare cartridges.

None would close fully on the cartridge with the masking tape.
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I think I'll be OK.


Today was the day to test fire my FAL build so I loaded up and headed to the range.

I set up on a bench rest and put a target out at 25 yards. The rifle and sights had been completely disassembled so I had no idea where it would shoot.

With the rifle clamped in the rest I chambered one round and reached up from under the concrete table top and squeezed the trigger. It went just fine. Uh, of course. I fired a few more rounds that way and examined the ejected brass. They all looked very good.

So it was time to shoot that rifle and see what it would or wouldn't do. I loaded one round at a time at first. Then two rounds and finally five rounds. If the rifle was going to go full auto on me I wanted that to be as controlled as possible. But it didn't. It shot semi-auto every time. Slow fire and rapid fire.

Ready to shoot.
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This is the ammo I fired. Austrailian military surplus .308.
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Here is a sample of the fired brass. No buldges, cracks or primer issues.
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Here are my first shots at 25 yards. The first group is at 6:30 in the white. What a surprise! The target is an SR-1 which is for 200 yard shooting at 100 yards (it's reduced in size) and is a good target to practice on if you want to shoot in military rife shoots like the Garand and 1903 matches. The black bull is 6" diameter.
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I made a few sight adjustments and was shooting in the black at 5:30.
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Moved the same target (above) holder out to 50 yards and fired the remaining group labeled 50 yards with the line pointing to hits.

At 100 yards the lack of group was entirely me fault. I can't see to shoot iron sights well at that distance.
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These are just a few pictures that I like.
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This is the majority of the hand tools I used on this build.
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My extractor removing tool. A big vice grip clamped on an M-16 fiing pin. It worked great for retracting the extractor plunger and spring.
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I stripped the rifle down after shooting it to see if anything bad happened inside. It was A-OK.

This brings my FAL build to a conclusion. It was a good project.

Thanks for looking.
Thanks, Steve

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1965mini
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Post by 1965mini » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:22 pm

This is by one of the Most informative post on the topic of assembly
of a FAL I have sen on any forum or web site. =D> =D> =D>

Great job. I am inspired to go finish the 2 kits I have sitting in my safe.
Where did you get your US parts?

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Post by Rentprop1 » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:23 pm

man its really cool that you took the time to add this build tutorial, I have built a lot of guns, but never attempted the FAL, but you got the burners going, FALKev has alway been after me to get with him and build one, I might have to start looking for parts kit and receivers :smile
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Post by mjmensale » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:24 pm

Nice detail! =D>

What is that rest you're using?

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Post by frenchkat » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:02 pm

Good article, I was going to say that Court had the timing tool and it wasn't necessary to fabricate one, then I read further where you give him credit.

I've built around 10 FALs now and I have to warn you, this will not be your last either.

Good job!

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Post by cavetech » Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:30 am

1965mini wrote:This is by one of the Most informative post on the topic of assembly
of a FAL I have sen on any forum or web site. =D> =D> =D>

Great job. I am inspired to go finish the 2 kits I have sitting in my safe.
Where did you get your US parts?
Thank you for the kind words.

All my US compliant parts came from the GunPartsGuy.com. He was excellent to deal with. I might buy one of his already finished kits and assemble it.
Thanks, Steve

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Post by cavetech » Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:31 am

mjmensale wrote:Nice detail! =D>

What is that rest you're using?

Moe
That bench rest works very well and doubles as a stand for cleaning rifles. It also converts into a bench rest for pistol shooting. I bought it from Cabela's. They still sell that model.
Thanks, Steve

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Post by cavetech » Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:33 am

1965mini wrote:This is by one of the Most informative post on the topic of assembly
of a FAL I have sen on any forum or web site. =D> =D> =D>

Great job. I am inspired to go finish the 2 kits I have sitting in my safe.
Where did you get your US parts?

Feel free to make it a sticky or something if you think it will help others.
Thanks, Steve

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Post by Court in Fl. » Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:43 pm

Mark said, I might have to start looking for parts kit and receivers.


Did I hear someone say RECEIVERS !!!

I have them in stock !

DSA and Century.

You did a nice job on your build cavetech , good work.

Court in FL.

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Post by Speedracer21211 » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:19 pm

Wow nice write up. Looks a lot more complicated than the ak's I have built. Court what is the price on the fal receivers?
You cant fix stupid.

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Post by 1965mini » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:08 pm

Court I would not get my rec. from anyone but you.

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Post by cavetech » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:12 pm

Speedracer21211 wrote:Wow nice write up. Looks a lot more complicated than the ak's I have built. Court what is the price on the fal receivers?
DSA gives members of the FAL Files Forum a $100.00 discount.
Thanks, Steve

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Post by dolfan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:09 pm

Wow...very nice, imformative post.

Thank you Cavetech for posting...good job!!!

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DuraCoat Finish on FAL

Post by cavetech » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:37 pm

Today was my day to DuraCoat the FAL. I gave up on sandblasting. I couldn't get the right blasting media so I sanded everything with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper used dry. Just enough to break the surface.

I degreased with mineral spirits and denatured alchol before sanding and with acetone after sanding.

Then I stung a wire across my workbench and hung as many parts from it as possible.

Then I mixed the semi-gloss FN Black DuraCoat and began work. I applied it in a few layers.

Here are some parts and my air brush.
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Here are hanging parts. I made parts hooks from wire coat hanger.
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Things I would do differently next time with this finnish process is definately sandblast. I had my air brush supply pressure set at 35 PSI and it was too high. I'd try perhaps 25 PSI next time.

Next time you see this FAL it should be done.
Thanks, Steve

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It's Finished

Post by cavetech » Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:33 pm

The FN-FAL is finished.

I'm really happy with this build.

Rather than bore you with more typing I'll just show you the results. The stock and handguards are new Penguin from the GunPartsGuy.

I wish I could take better pictures.

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Thanks for looking.
Thanks, Steve

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Re: FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by IraG2362 » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:23 pm

very cool to see your whole process and the succes of your build, I like the way it came out with the duracoat.. enjoy it..
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Re: FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by blacksheep-1 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:13 pm

That's an outstanding article, I too have always wanted an FAL and purchased one last year. it was built on an Enterprise reciever (according to the gunsmith for the same reasons that you chose your brand of reciever!). I've had to adjust the blowback a few times for different ammo, and have added a recoil buffer. Mine has the bipod as well. I love shooting it, plus the history behind them, most everyday US citizens only know about the "black rifle" . I have a couple of questions, since I'm not a gunsmith please bear with me. Couldn't a shim/spacer be used to set the barrel timing? and also, where did you purchase the dura-coat, I've only seen items sent to their shop, I didn't know it could be done at home. Thanks for your time, again, nice article.
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Re: FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by Court in Fl. » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:43 pm

Couldn't a shim/spacer be used to set the barrel timing?

Shims (Breaching Washers) are used in INCH guns to set barrel timing.

Only time you use a shim on a METRIC barrel is if it overtimes to past 12:00 top dead center.

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Re: FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by cavetech » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:41 pm

I am overwhelmed by the kind words offered here and the encouragement form everybody. I sincerely say thanks to all thet folowed my build. I have other builds at http://www.myownplace.us" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. Just poke around there for builds, ammo tests, etc. It's my personal site.

The Duracoat came straight from Lauler Weaponry. They are glad to help with their product and offer terrific tech support.

There is an L1A1 build in my near future and I'll post that build as it progresses.

Thanks, Steve
Thanks, Steve

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Re: FN-FAL Build - lots of pics

Post by BadGnus » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:18 pm

Stunning absolutely stunning!
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