|Adopted by the Austrian Army in 1958 the STG58 Is a variant of the FN FAL. Entréprise Arms Is now offering rifle and carbine versions of this historic rifle for sale.
Entréprise Arms combines Austrian and U.S. made parts to
create a close copy of the cream of FAL variants
Have you ever noticed how a specific model of rifle will have almost a cult following? It’s interesting how rifles as varied as the Remington 788, Winchester 1895, or a National Match 1903 Springfield will have a small band of dedicated collectors eagerly seeking them. Certain other rifles though, for whatever reason, have a much larger mass appeal. Rifles that over time have earned the respect of millions. Whether in the hands of a hunter or a soldier they have proven themselves when the chips are down and they are needed the most. One such hugely popular rifle is the indomitable FN-FAL.
A tough, reliable, and accurate rifle, the FAL has soldiered around the world. While uncommon and expensive in the U.S. 20 years ago, things have changed for the better for anyone wishing to own one of these superb rifles. Entréprise Arms now offers a number of versions of the FAL to the American shooter and collector. I recently had a chance to test an 5TG58 from Entréprise Arms and came away very impressed. But first a little history on the rifle itself.
Adopted by over 90 countries, the FN-FAL came to be known as “the right arm of freedom.” As the AK-47 came to symbolize Communist revolutionaries so the FAL came to symbolize the West’s stand for freedom. During its heyday from 1960-1990, the FAL saw heavy and widespread use in combat. From Southeast Asia to Africa the FAL fought in numerous big and little wars during this tumultuous period in history.
|The STG58 possessed more firepower than older designs like the 7.5mm French MAS 49/56 pictured on top, and more accuracy and rang. than the 7.62x39mm Soviet AK.
In many of these actions friend and foe were most readily identified by the rifle they carried, a FAL being friend and an AK being foe. It is interesting to note that while the FAL is not an assault rifle it usually gave as good as it got in combat against the AK-47, its operators putting its accuracy and long range abilities to good use. Such was not the case with other battle rifles that went up against Kalashnikov’s design.
The French, for example, were at a definite disadvantage with the 10-shot MAS 49/56 and a basic combat load of only 50 rounds. There were times in Africa when Foreign Legionnaire officers had their men hold their fire instead of springing an ambush for fear of losing fire superiority to AK armed guerrillas and being
Occasionally the FAL went head to head against itself. This is typified by the war in the Falklands where British troops armed with L1A1 is evicted Argentinean troops armed with selective fire FALs. On these Godforsaken islands under incredibly harsh conditions the FAL design proved once again how tough and utterly reliable it
One of the many countries to adopt the basic FAL rifle design was Austria. A country with a respectable history of weapons design of its own, it says much for the FAL that the Austrians selected it for service. From 1885 until after the First World War, the Austrian Army had been equipped with Mannlicher magazine rifles. During World War II, they were of course saddled with the Kar 98K.
|A tough and robust rifle, the STG58C is
blessed with good handling qualities and excellent accuracy, though It
Is rather long and heavy by today’s military standards.
After the war there was an interim period during which Austria’s armed forces were equipped with American and English weapons. These were mostly M1 rifles and carbines that were quickly becoming obsolete in the face of the new Russian threat. The FAL
was adopted as the standard infantry rifle to replace this hodgepodge. Designated the STG58
(Sturmgewehr 58 or Assault Rifle 58) it was adopted in 1958 with only minor modifications differing it from the standard Belgian rifles.
A metric pattern rifle, it was modified slightly to suit Austrian requirements. Most notable is the long grenade launcher attached at the muzzle. This allowed every rifleman to launch anti-tank or anti-personnel grenades without having to fumble around trying to locate and attach their launcher. Rifle grenades being an important part of infantry tactics at this period of time, launchers such as this were common, such as on the BM-59 and MAS 49/56. This was a desirable feature considering the amount of armor on the other side of the Curtain.
The Austrian FAL is unusual in its lack of a bayonet lug, since no bayonet being issued with the weapon. The STG58 also features metal handguards and a robust folding bipod. The bipod is not only well designed but handy as the STG58 was selective fire, unlike other FAL variants like the British L1A1.
How a rifle looks on paper can often be quite different than how it actually performs in the field though. So I was interested in the opinion of an Austrian Infantryman on the STG58. To get an
idea of how the STG58 fared in Austrian service I interviewed Capt. Peter Furthner of the Austrian Army. Now a reserve officer, Capt. Furthner spent much of his youth with an STG58 for a best friend.
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