“Right Arm of the Free World”

Builders ,

A quick story, just to demonstrate while I am a tireless supporter of American made products, I also appreciate well made machines from all over the world.  Below, a photo taken in my back yard yesterday, with a classic piece of cold war history, a Belgian FN-FAL.


If you made a very good product, you could expect it to be popular in your own country. Now ponder this question: How good would it have to be for 90 different countries to adopt it as their standard of national defense in the Cold War?  Fabrique Nationale, better known by the initials “FN”, designed the FAL in the years after WWII, and by the 1960s it became so popular in non-communist countries that it was often called “Right Arm of the Free World”.


This was not a case of super powers exporting weapons to third world proxy state conflicts. While a great number of the FALs were built in Belgium, FN licensed their production to countries large and small. Countries adopted the FAL simply because it was incredibly good,  it was not an imported form political support as the AK-47s and AKMs largely were.


The next time you are at an airshow looking at a UL Power aircraft engine and someone says “It’s from Belgium, do they make a lot of mechanical stuff there?”  You can take a moment to tell them Belgium spent 50 years as the source of “Right Arm of the Free World”.



Above, in the back yard holding a FAL. This is a very finely made power house, as nearly all of them were chambered in 7.62 NATO. Even if you don’t know firearms it is recognizable by it’s distinctive folding carry handle, extreme cant of the pistol grip and the magazine that isn’t curved. It has excellent ergonomics, it is easy to shoot accurately, and it took just a few moments to turn a stack of cinderblocks into rubble.




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

8 Responses to “Right Arm of the Free World”

  1. Larry Nelson says:

    That rifle has always been on my list of have not shot yet, but eant to badly.

  2. Sten Backhans says:

    Yes, It is all of that.

  3. Bill Mills says:

    William as you know I have been involved with antique motorcycles for more than fifty years, started as a teenager. One of the finer motorcycles was built by FN. both single cylinder an four cylinder. They were very advanced for the times.

  4. Stuart snow says:

    Like the M1 Garand and M-14 it is capable of bringing hard hitting and accurate fire on long range targets and built like a tank. I highly recommend picking one up. Can be seen in action in the recent “Siege of Jadotville” on Netflix.

  5. pkellner says:

    You are scaring me

    • It’s just Cold War hardware, and as your cousin you know me to be a kind and gentle person, nothing to be worried about. Now artificial intelligence and data collection, that is stuff I find scary.

  6. Bruce Culver says:

    If it hadn’t been the victim of of a post-test rigged evaluation, US troops would have been using this rifle instead of the M14, which was beaten in the actual firing tests by the FN-FAL. The FAL is far more suitable for full-auto firing with the straight line buttstock too, while the M14 proved to be uncontrollable for most soldiers, enough so that the Army took away the select fire keys on the rifles, making them semi-auto only.

  7. Sarah Ashmore says:

    Wasn’t there an old saying: Build a Better Mousetrap and the World will Beat a Path to Your Door.

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