Behind The Lines - FN FAL
Known as the 'right arm of the free world', it's one of the most widely used rifles in history - and the west's post-war answer to the soviet AK-47.
The FAL - or, to give its full name, the 'Fusil Automatique Léger', which translates to 'Light Automatic Rifle' - is a battle rifle, characterised by its selective fire ability and chambering for a full-powered rifle cartridge.
Battle Rifles can trace their heritage to the bolt-action rifles wielded in both world wars, such as the Mosin Nagant, Lee-Enfield and M1903 rifles, all of which saw ample use at the start of the 20th century.
It was World War 2 that marked a turning point in firearms history, where the power and long-range accuracy of the bolt action was supplanted by the more versatile automatic rifles.
With the power of a full-sized cartridge, and the automatic capability of a sub-machine gun, by the middle of the 20th century the battle rifle was king.
By modern standards, the FAL is a hefty weapon - modern assault rifles fire smaller cartridges and make extensive use of polymers to reduce weight - while the FAL is a full-size rifle of an entirely steel construction.
With a barrel 21 inches long, the overall weapon length is 43 inches - a little over a metre - and some 20% longer than a typical modern assault rifle.
The FAL's length is accompanied with commensurate mass - weighing in at 4.3 kilograms unloaded, 50% heavier than the modern M4 carbine.
Despite its bulk compared to today's weapons, compared to its bolt-action predecessors, the FAL offered greater firepower with few downsides for the evolving face of infantry combat.
The weapon was developed by Belgium-based Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal, or FN.
FN were known for their work with American arms designer, John Browning - a man responsible for many key firearm designs of the early 20th century.
It was his successor as Head Designer at FN - Dieudonné Saive - who would later finish his Hi-Power handgun design, and go on to design the FN Model 1949.
The FN-49 was an able semi-automatic rifle, similar to the Soviet SVT-40 or later SKS - but would be one overshadowed by his later work.
Some aspects of its design would live on, however - as Saive went on to design the FAL.
It was the automatic weapons fielded by the Nazis that prompted such a shift in infantry weapons - the Sturmgewehr 44 paved the way for the development of post-war rifles, and can be considered the first modern assault rifle.
The FN FAL was, in fact, originally intended to fire the Sturmgewehr's 7.92x33mm Kurz ammunition - and in 1947 the first prototype was finished, firing that very same cartridge.
The Kurz round is an intermediate one, and as such the early FALs were true assault rifles, and not battle rifles.
The British took notice of FN's new rifle, and encouraged FN to build a prototype in the .280 British calibre, an experimental round designed in response to the German's Kurz cartridge.
It performed well - but met with opposition from the US, who insisted that anything sub-30-cal was ballistically insufficient, and instead proposed a new .30 Light Rifle cartridge.
With the dawn of NATO, and standardisation across member states looming, the choice of calibre was a politically charged one - and one which would shape the next half-century of small arms design.
A deal was struck between UK prime minister Churchill and US President Truman - the UK would agree to standardise on the US 30-cal round, if the US would adopt the FAL as their service rifle of choice.
Not everything transpired quite to plan - while the US .30 cal round would eventually become the standard NATO rifle round, the US would go their own way and instead adopt the M14 rifle.
Despite this, the FN FAL chambered in the US .30 Light Rifle calibre would be adopted by most other NATO members.
The final design was introduced in 1951, and production started in 1953.
The cartridge would be standardised as the 7.62 by 51 millimetre NATO round, and today remains the rifle cartridge of choice for modern western military forces.
The FAL's typical magazine size is 20 rounds, although variants between 5 and 30 rounds exist.
When fired full-auto, the FAL will put between 650 and 700 rounds per minute down-range - although with its powerful cartridge the heavy recoil will tend to make the rifle drift off target quickly.
With a muzzle velocity of around 840 metres-per-second, and a projectile weight of 150 grains - the FAL by no means lacks power, imparting nearly twice as much kinetic energy as most intermediate cartridges.