Big, heavy, lanky, and tricked out! This FAL went from plain Jane to smokin hot in about ten minutes with accessories from Leapers/UTG.
A lean, mean, battle rifle machine. In this configuration we put the laser in the front of the forend and routed the activator wire under the UTG rubber rail covers that come with the kit.
The quad rail system comes assembled with rail covers on in this simple package. You remove some rail covers and unscrew six bolts to assemble it, then mount your accessories and fill in the empty spaces with rail covers.
This project started with a Century Arms kit gun made from inch (English L1A1) parts. This is the old style SAW buttstock. If you can find one, the newer models made by Tapco are much nicer looking and will only add to the tricked out look with your rail systems aboard.
FAL Quad-Rail – Leapers/UTG
The FN-FAL, also known as the L1A1, is perhaps the most misunderstood battle rifle of all time Designed in 1947, the same year as the venerable AK, the .308 (7.62 x 51 NATO) FAL almost became the battle rifle of the United States after the Korean war, but it was beat out by the M1A for a number of reasons, similar to the story of the AR-10. But unlike the AR-10, the FAL went on to be the main battle rifle for England, Austria, Australia, Canada and a number of other NATO countries. At one point the FAL was called “the right arm of the free world,” but it has been replaced worldwide by smaller and lighter guns, including the AR-15/M4.
The FAL is a big heavy and awkward gun, even a pound heavier than the M1A/M14. You don’t see talk of them much outside of enthusiast groups online, and there are very few companies that make aftermarket parts for them. Most of the guns you see in the market have been re-assembled as a kit from de-milled imported rifles coupled with an aftermarket US or Brazilian made receiver. Century Arms re-manufactured a good deal of the rifles in the late 80s right through the ban era and all of those guns are still in the market today, plus they are apparently still making some. Parts kit guns, built on receivers made in the US and Brazil pop up on GunsAmerica and at gun shows here and there. This weekend I saw one in a gunshop in Holden for $750. A current production Century FAL sold on GunsAmerica yesterday for $775. Both guns appear to use a Tapco SAW buttstock and hand grip. The guns coming out right now have bipods build it.
All of these guns fall into what you have to call “parts kit guns.” There is a US company, DS Arms, that makes a professional quality FAL out of modern parts and alloys. It is much lighter than a standard FAL, and they offer their own lines of accessories for those guns. They are generally at least twice the price of the guns we are talking about here and they are considered among the best .308 battle rifles available. Before the jump in popularity of the black rifles after the 2008 election, you could pick up one of the guns we are talking about here for around $500. I have four of them and didn’t pay more than $550 for any of them. Even back then the DS Arms guns were in the $1,500 range, to give you an idea of the difference. One of these days we hope to get a DS Arms gun in for testing to compare the differences.
If you can handle the FAL, and it is heavy and awkward, the history of the gun has shown it to be a reliable and formidable battle rifle. Tricking it out with accessory rails is extremely easy and affordable. UTG (Leapers) seems to be the only company actually making a quad rail for the FAL. It isn’t expensive, MSRP $79.95, and, except for its own 6 bolts, the whole system installs with one screw. This is the same screw that holds on the regular hand guards. The rear Picatinny top rail shown here in the pictures, MSRP $69.95, slides into the slots for the bolt cover. Both parts are what is now called “fourth generation” from Leapers. The concept of tricking out a traditional battle rifle with rails and accessories isn’t new. The rear slide in scope mount rail for the FAL has been available for many years. The quad-rail is fairly new, though it did have its predecessors, but none of the old FAL stuff was all that stable. It worked, and as an initial idea, that was good enough, but in today’s mature accessory market consumers want failsafe reliable platforms that hold zero, and that is what these were made to do.
This is the first in a series of research articles on tricking out traditional battle rifles, and by and large, the series was inspired by Leapers. As we cover other guns, the AK47, the AR-15, the AR-10, the SKS and even the CEME/HK91 , as well as bolt guns like the Mosin-Nagant and some tactical shotguns, there are a lot of companies that have come up with great ideas and options for accessory rails. Leapers/UTG, covers pretty much all of them, and they seem to be great quality. These days you can’t click around online much without seeing some kind of advertisement for accessories for the every battle rifle known to man, but our questions are:
- Do they actually fit without gunsmithing?
- How easy are they to install?
- Is the gun comfortable and more versatile with them?
- Are they a stable platform for optics, lights and lasers?
- Is the price within reason?
This FAL system is pretty simple. The hard guard comes apart with one screw and the quad-rail installs with that same screw. It comes with 19 rubber rail cover sections, so you can fill a partial rail at the front and still have a firm grip on the rifle. The system is nice and tight and stable, but it does add weight, over 15 ounces, so it is really up to you how much that extra weight is worth. As you can see from the pictures, we elected to add a UTG lighted handgrip, and a red dot laser. The rubber rail covers also provide a great covered pathway for pressure switch wires by the way, and it makes for a very useable and even slick setup. This project FAL is the biggest and baddest FAL I have ever seen, but it is also the heaviest, coming in at over 10 pounds. Being that the FAL starts out as a heavy, lanky, awkward gun, the rubberized rails, a forward handgrip, and a laser to make it hip-shootable are all welcome additions. If you have the arm strength to shoulder such a heavy weapon, the weight is worth it.
As for the holding zero, only time will tell. This gun is going to stay tricked out like this and it will be shot. So far it is solid as a rock, both the front and the back, and the zeros hold perfectly. We also banged the gun around some (it has a rubber buttpad) and it also held zero just fine. You won’t get better than about 2.5MOA out of an FAL on its best day, but they will generally outshoot an AK and at least keep up with most AR-10 variants out there. As a close quarters battle rifle the FAL is a bit lanky and if you like the design and firepower you may want to consider the DS Arms for maneuverability. If you already have an FAL though, and you have wanted to make it more versatile, albeit for a little more weight, these Leapers/UTG products are fantastic, and we’ll be looking at others soon for other battle rifle designs.
I was not able to test this kit with the new guns coming out that have integral bipods. I think you probably won’t be able to use the rail covers on the side rails if you need to fold the bipod back, so if you are thinking about one of these guns, you may want to get the quad rail first to see how it fits in the store. Because the hand guard is one screw it shouldn’t be an issue to try the kit out on it before purchase. Other than that, all FAL/L1A1/STG58 guns are pretty much the same as regards this kit. Some FALs are built with metric threads and some are built with the English/American inch measurements. Most stuff is still interchangeable between the guns in groups, but this is where much of the confusing with FALs originates. The quad kit should fit both inch and metric guns just fine. If you have an FAL and felt left out at the range next to all the tricked out ARs, these two components should give your FAL the flexibility to host any number of accessories. For not a lot of money, you can in fact trick out your FAL.