View Full Version : Ident: Rhodesian FAL- the real story

November 11, 2002, 14:44
This is from a friend of mine who spent 20+ years in Rhodesia as a Selous Scout, RLI & TCU. It is in regards to the weapons that they used and as an answer to the earlier post. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did:

"The American officer with the Greys Scouts was Major Mike Williams. Over 40 officers served with the Rhodesian Army, several of which became unit commanders.

The other US officer refered to on the forum, was Major Daryll Winkler from Ohio, the Commanding Officer of the Rhodesian Armored Car Regiment - for a time.

The Rhodesian Army originally (between 1961-64) had the British L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) with a folding charging handle, but after declaring Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965 we went over to the Belgian FN FAL and the South African variant, the R1. I was originally issued a Belgian model while serving in the SAS around 1962 but when I was on the SAS shooting team, around 1964, was issued with a South African R1. This was was superior to the Belgian model and far more accurate. Later the whole unit was issued with SA R1 models. Both had black plastic furniture and the non-folding charging handle. Early models were fully automatic but later models were modified to semi-automatic only to conserve ammunition and to encourage good marksmanship.

Between 1974 to 1977 I served in the RLI and had a South African model for the whole period.

There were several variants of the FN FAL seen in Rhodesia but they were all captured on raids into surrounding countries which harbored Rhodesian terrorists or were brought into the country by army volunteers from overseas. These included Indian and Belgian folding stock models but these were few and far between. I obtained an original Belgian lightweight, aluminum body FN FAL of very early vintage which had a recess in the slide to load clips right into the magazine. It's number was 1944 and was issued to the Force Publique, the army of the Belgian Congo, which ceased to exist in 1962.

The RLI was originally issued with Heavy Barrel models, one per squad or 4 man stick. These were eventually phased out and replaced with the FN Mag 58 (the current US Army M240) in the early Seventies.

The reason for cutting off the carrying handle and banning slings was to encourage soldiers to hold the weapon in the hands where it was ready for action and not slung or carried over the shoulder.

In 1968 the Tracker Combat Unit painted their FN's matt green and later full camouflage colors. Subsequently the Army ordered all combat weapons painted camo and a variety of matt paint was used for that purpose. Some soldiers re-painted their weapon when the original paint faded which explains the variety of colors and paint jobs seen over that time period.

November 11, 2002, 15:41
Yup, that was good! Thanks.

November 11, 2002, 16:58

Hey Bubba!

Good to see you Saturday at Rivanna. Your STG is scary-accurate.

November 12, 2002, 00:30
Another interesting tid bit my friend told me was how much better he liked the AR18 over the AR15/M16. He liked it so much so that he carried it whenever he could and when it was tactically sound to do so. Like I said before, I hope it now sheds a lot more light on their choices of weaponry.

It is ashame to this day that they(the Rhodesians) were sold out by us and Great Britiain who allowed a Marxist Terrorist(their is nothing in the world worse) to become the leader of this great nation. There is a GOOD history lesson to be learned from Rhodesia and it does pertain to us and our current situation.

For some good pictures of the Rhodesian Military Forces in action, here is a good site to take a look at:


Forgive me if this has been posted here before.

Double G Gunsmithing
November 12, 2002, 01:04
Are you the same MACVSOG from Assault Web ?

Mjr Williams pops up at some of the ABN Assoc meetings now and then.

Seems like a 1979 SOF mag had this same "article" in it. Used to read them in the back of C130's on those 18hr flights :cool:

Did any of the "Assault Web Kommando's" Free their "jailed moderator" ?:devil: I'm suprised they would allow the "Jack Booted Thugs" to "keep them" :eek:

LOL !! :biggrin:

Sincerely, George L. Gouger
Life Member NRA Since 1969

Andy the Aussie
November 12, 2002, 01:13
Hey George...long time no see mate......I see you are still throwning tha cat into the birdcage...:wink:

All the best


November 12, 2002, 07:38
"very early vintage which had a recess in the slide to load clips right into the magazine"

I've never heard of that on a FAL - anybody have any pics?

November 12, 2002, 07:49
Seen only picīs, ie. Anders(from Sweden) posted them some time ago.

Rifle is kinda frankenfal... and has stripperclip cover aīla Canadian C1.

As Homer would say use the search feature...


November 12, 2002, 14:36
That may have been written by him in SOF back then, I'll have to ask him. Back then he was in a lot of publications. Eagle & SOF come to mind first. He had even more of his pictures published in books like "Ragged War" by Leroy Thompson and including the aforementioned mags. Without sounding too much hollywoodish, to meet this guy in person you would of never thought he had fired a weapon in his life(Guess from what movie that was paraphraised from?). He is so humble and down to earth but definately a warrior! I will ask him if we wants me to mention his name here if anybody is curious? I will also ask him if he published that in SOF back then too.

November 13, 2002, 10:52
Could you ask him about the Grey's Scouts gear. My wife is into horses, so I logically find the Grey's Scouts of interest. I plan to get my own horse and would like to know what kind of saddle they used, and any other pertinent info. You could have him P.M. me if you like. Rhodesia has allways fascinated me. I even did a paper in High School on Rhodesia's Fireforce. All of my research was from SOF. I titled it "Fireforce-Rhodesia's Deadly Inferno", catchy, isn't it. If Rhodesian came back into existance, I'd probably move there. Seems like my kind of people. Of course, my FALs would fit right in.:fal:

November 13, 2002, 14:14
Originally posted by kotengu
"very early vintage which had a recess in the slide to load clips right into the magazine"

I've never heard of that on a FAL - anybody have any pics?

Must be talking about the stripper bodycover a la Canadian C1. Interesting that it appears on a FP rifle.

I believe it was Mike Williams (casue I remember the 'Mike' part) I met while on holiday from Vinnell, in Salisbury no less. Those guys were pretty grand, and typical 'cavalrymen': brash, fun, and VERY intense.

November 14, 2002, 00:32

Not a problem, I'll talk to him tomorrow. It might take a few days for him to get back to me because of his work. Without a doubt the calvary was impressive. I know he will have something to say about them because he worked with them on a lot of occasions. My question to him was not what kind of equipment they were using on their horses but why did just about everybody in the unit use a rifle grenade on their FAL as a first shot. You always seen them with R.G's on their FAL's. He told me that they were W.P. and were excellent for breaking contact if ambushed.

The Rhodesian Light Infantry was/is the best Light Infantry ever in the history of warfare. Nobody has yet to duplicate their swiftness in overwhelming and destroying terrs like they did.

Just curious, did anybody check out this web site yet?


Bruce Allen
November 14, 2002, 00:42
I was originally issued a Belgian model while serving in the SAS around 1962 but when I was on the SAS shooting team, around 1964, was issued with a South African R1. This was was superior to the Belgian model and far more accurate.

I have never heard that before..
Is that in fact true, and if so why??
What was different?

Peter Wells
November 14, 2002, 02:19
Bruce, it was accepted by most, if not all, of the target guys that the most accurate setup was an original FN receiver with a properly fitted local barrel. LIW didn't produce 'match' barrels as such but barrels were air-guaged and the best set aside for that purpose.

The main reason for the FN receiver was that after XXX,000 rounds they were nicely 'worn in'. My rifle (now sadly destroyed damn them!) was set up like that. It went thru 1/2 dozen barrels during the 30ish years I used it and it was capable of sub moa (off a rest with scope - for testing purposes only) with Pork ammo when I handed it in during 1998.

I see lots of queries about Pork ammo on the forum nowadays and must say my experince with it was very good. Some time in the '80s PMP stoped producing premium (ie. traget grade 7.62) ammo and concentrated on volume 7.62 MG ammo for which the specs/quality control was not required to be as strict. From then on we got only FNM 7.62 in the 1k wooden cases for our FALs - same as you guys buy milsurp nowadays in the US. Good stuff! For sniping Federal was issue - even better.

BTW - as far as I know the military in Southern Africa (incl. Grey's Scouts and our SA mounted guys - police and army) all used the McLellan (sp?) saddle. Not sure if they were imported or locally made.

Bruce Allen
November 14, 2002, 07:24
Thank you for the history lesson, Mr. Wells.

I wonder if anyone has conducted a hardness test on an original FN receiver?? 6 barrels per receiver.. I guess I might need to buy one or two more barrels.

Peter Wells
November 14, 2002, 08:25
So very formal Mr Allen??????

Seriously though, I have never seen a FAL receiver (Belgian or SA mnfr) worn to the point of affecting reliability or accuracy. Barrels etc. yes, but not receivers.

November 14, 2002, 09:43
Originally posted by macvsog
..... the calvary ........

Old chap-
Calvary is a place, sometimes called Golgotha.

THE Cavalry is a state-of-mind!

But you're right, they were quite stunning on horseback!

November 14, 2002, 13:05
Ok explain this to me. In almost all the pictures I looked the guys were carrying IMBELS........ Umm I don't know Im not real aquainted with the FAL yet and I don't know the whole R1, STG, C1, 50.63, 50.00 and whatever. So if you could kindly explain this to me it would be much much appreciated. thanks -myers

November 14, 2002, 14:08
Why on earth do you think they were carrying Imbels?
The short combined device was invented by the Belgians...

November 14, 2002, 16:32
Well as I POINTED OUT I don't know who did what where and when! Soooo first of all thats why I thought they were carrying Imbels....... anyway if someone could explain the differences..... thanks... dont worry im a quick leaner it only took me 6 months to become an "expert" (or so im told) in carbines. Then you won't have to put up with my annoying questions....... well maybe. anyway thanks a bunch! -myers

November 14, 2002, 21:18

Try here, some pictures on the Scouts.


Go back to "HOME" and click on "Blasts from the past" for more neat pictures.

November 14, 2002, 22:41
oh ive seen them in fact most of them I saved to my hard drive. However I still have no Idea what im looking for the most part. an explination (even if you just want to pm me one!) would be VERY helpful! thanks -myers

Bruce Allen
November 14, 2002, 23:09
Originally posted by Peter Wells
So very formal Mr Allen??????

Seriously though, I have never seen a FAL receiver (Belgian or SA mnfr) worn to the point of affecting reliability or accuracy. Barrels etc. yes, but not receivers.

Yo Peter, I did not wan be dissin' you..

That better?? ;)

thanks for the info..


Peter Wells
November 15, 2002, 02:24
No sweat Bruce.

FAL GRUNT - It's a long and convoluted story and I would suggest that you get Blake Stephen's book - The FAL Story - if you plan to become a student of FALs.

As far as I know the label 'Imbel' is applied to Argentinian licenced mnfr metric FALs which are virtually identical to SA mnfr R1s, FN mnfr 50.00 etc. etc. except for markings.

In similar vein any crappy, beatup & painted FAL parts kit in 50.00 config that hits US shores seems to be labelled an 'R1' even though there may be no connection to South Africa which always Ps me off! (But as they say "it's better to be pissed off than pissed on").