The FN FAL was the so-called Free World's Right Arm for almost forty years. Springfield Armory imported their own version for years and it's a classic. In fact, many say it is the best FAL in the US.
After World War 2, the Belgian firm of Fabrique Nationale (FN) based in Herstal developed a select-fire battle rifle known as the FN (Fusil Automatique Lger "Light Automatic Rifle") to replace all of Europe's old bolt-action rifles. This long-barreled gun, chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester for us here in 'Merica), had everything you wanted in a modern weapon.
(The FN FAL with Argentine soldiers in 1982 on the Falkland Islands. These soldiers are armed with FM-license built guns.)
It was accurate, powerful, effective, could take 20 to 40 round box magazines, and get the job done. In fact, with the exception of the US who used the M14/M16 and Italy who went for a M1 Garand with a box magazine, just about every western military adopted FN's FAL in the 1960s. More than three million of the guns were made, not only in Belgium, but also in England, Australia, Austria, Brazil, and others. This earned it the moniker of 'The Free World's Right Arm" which it held until fading to history in the 1990s.
With the dawn of the 1980s, people were very interested in the FAL design. FN had imported the guns into the country in a special semi-auto only variant in the 1970s but this supply was now cut off. Giving the public what they wanted, Springfield contracted with licensed-FAL producer Imbel in Brazil to make a semi-auto metric pattern rifle for the US import market.
Labeled and marked as the SAR-48, this rifle was as close to a Belgian made real deal FAL as you could get, other than the fact that it was semi-auto only. From the barrel to the gas piston action to the grips and mags, the gun was authentic.
(The SAR48 Bush gun with original box. Note the shorter barrel compared to the SAR48 above)
It was imported into the country in three subvariants from 1985-89. This included the standard 21-inch barrel model, a 18-inch barreled "Bush Rifle" and an Israeli "Match" pattern rifle with a heavy barrel, mounted bipod, flash-hider, ribbed forward furniture and flip-up plate on the butt of the stock.
(The Heavy Barrel Match series of SAR-48 looked like it came right from the Sinai Desert)
The gun was a hit but after 1990 had to be changed to comply with the coming Assault Weapons Ban
Post AWB Changes
(The SAR4800, note the horribly ugly, but still legal, thumbhole stock)
Sold as the SAR-4800 Sporter, this was the exact same gun as the standard SAR-48 was with a few tweaks. Gone was the evil buttstock, replaced by the abomination that was the thumbhole plastic stock. Likewise, this model was also offered in .5.56/.223 to appeal to the masses who felt 7.62 NATO was too stout. After 1994 when the AWB took effect, it was sold with just a 10-round mag, although any metric FAL mag would work in its well. Sadly, importation of even these guns was stopped in 1997.
(All SAR models will have the IMBEL factory rollmark on the receiver and the Springfield Armory crossed cannons marking on the magwell)
Today these guns, when you can find them, run anywhere from $700-$2000 with the premium prices going of course to the SAR-48 rifles, especially the Bush and Match variants.
Moreover, for those who want a real FAL and not one put together from an amalgam of parts like Frankenstein's monster, it is worth it at twice the price.