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View Full Version : ID: A rare FAL variant- the Katsenes Imports


KIT
December 08, 2003, 22:41
I recently learned an interesting story about a limited number of 20 each pre-ban 50.00 FAL’s that were brought into the United States by an obscure importer in Santa Monica, California during the early 1980’s. The limited number of rifles imported ‘may’ make them the rarest of all FAL’s within the USA at best and at worst they are yet another highly collectable FAL variant. Here is some additional FAL history for my fellow FAL File members:

On April 10, 1980, Philip K. Brown, owner of Katsenes Cie importers and exporters (commonly known as London Guns-1528 20th Street-Santa Monica, CA 90404)) sent the BATF a form 6 requesting permission to import 40 rifles from Fabrique Nationale (FN) Herstal, Belgium. One day later on April 11, 1980 Mr. Brown again wrote the BATF to amend his Form 6 request to specify model types and quantities, as follows:

(20 CAL Rifles) Semi-automatic Competition Model “C”
(20 FAL Rifles) Semi-automatic Competition Model “C”
(40 magazines – 223 cal)
(40 magazines – 308 cal)

The import permit for the requested 40 rifles was approved by the BATF on May 07, 1980 and assigned the permit number 80-04525. The following rifles were approved for importation:

FN-CAL Competition Model C 223 caliber
#FN492 -- #FN485
#FN476 -- #FN481
#FN502 -- #FN503
#FN480 -- #FN471
#FN498 -- #FN478
#FN490 -- #FN487
#FN483 -- #FN470
#FN484 -- #FN493
#FN501 -- #FN477
#FN494 -- #FN488

FN-FAL Competition Model C 308 caliber
#250 0870 -- #250 0987
#250 0983 -- #250 0758
#250 0743 -- #250 0755
#250 0872 -- #250 0762
#250 1010 -- #250 0756
#250 0864 -- #250 0774
#250 0777 -- #250 0881
#250 0887 -- #250 1016
#250 0769 -- #250 0882
#250 0880 -- #250 0867

Following the approval of the importation permit by the BATF, London Guns proceeded to place several printed advertisements in The Shotgun News during the June – July 1980 period of time to promote the rifles. Quoted wholesale selling prices were as follows:

New FN-CAL Rifles Cal 223, Available Aug 1980 -- $1,695.00
New FN-FAL Rifles Cal 308, Available Aug 1980 -- $1,600.00

Subsequently, the rifles landed at the designated point of entry and were processed through U.S. Customs for shipment to London Guns in Santa Monica. Following the arrival of the shipment at London Guns BATF Agents requested a single FAL and a single CAL for ‘testing’ purposes. (Note: The CAL’s were semi-auto only examples and were part of a limited production run that was never placed in large-scale series production – The FAL’s were also semi-auto only examples which were sear-cut and had receivers with 2 position selectors marked: “S & R”) Mr Brown got wind that the BATF intended to rule that the rifles were classified as machine guns and were going to order them confiscated. Additionally, London Guns was threatened with a $40,000 fine for the illegal importation of the weapons. Mr. Brown secured legal representation and elected to push back. His attorney, ‘Mike’ (last name withheld by request) wrote Mr G.R. Dickerson (the Director of the BATF at that time) and appealed the pending decision. Part of the in-depth appeal included references to previous BATF rulings that included the “G”-Series rifles and a limited number of ‘other’ sear-cut FAL rifles that the BATF had previously elected to approve by removing them from the National Firearms Act. Additionally, it was argued that the majority of the rifles had been sold and any confiscation would result in ‘undue’ financial hardship on the owners and would ultimately lead to numerous court battles. With this in mind Mr Brown’s lawyer requested that the 40 rifles be exempted from unlawful ‘machine gun’ classification per BATF order ATF 0 7540.1A dated 10-29-79 as it had established a precedent for such action.

On September 03, 1981 Lonnie J. Muncy (chief-Imports Branch BATF) wrote the following to Philip K. Brown:

“This is to advise you that the Bureau has decided to not recall the shipment of 20 Fabrique Nationale 223 rifles and 20 Fabrique Nationale 308 caliber rifles imported under import permit number 80-4525 and customs entry number 81-579244-8.

As you know, the firearms do not meet the criteria for importation for resale to the public because the firearms come within the purview of the National Firearms Act. However, the Bureau has determined that a recall of the firearms would result in an undue financial and administrative burden on you and the persons who purchased the firearms from you.

We will request the U.S. Customs Service to cancel the notice to redeliver the firearms.”



That same day Mr. Muncy also wrote the following to Mr Brown’s attorney:

“The bureau examined one rifle of each caliber imported and determined that the rifles were assembled from modified machine gun receivers. By statutory definition the rifles are classified as machine guns and are subject to the National Firearms Act even though they can be fired only in the semiautomatic mode as presently configured.

Machineguns are generally prohibited from being imported into the United States. However, the Bureau has determined that a recall of the firearms would result in an undue financial burden on Mr Brown and the persons who purchased the firearms from him. Accordingly, the Bureau has decided not to recall the 40 rifles. Action has been initiated to remove the rifles from the National Firearms Act.”

Well there it is. The 20 CAL’s imported by Katsenes remain the only legal example’s within the USA and are highly desirable collector pieces. To my knowledge this is the first time the complete list of imported CAL serial numbers has ever been presented. The 20 FAL’s imported by Katsenes remain much of a mystery and without much visibility in the marketplace. As far as I can tell from the documents that I have received all 20 examples were imported as 50.00 standard rifles. They all had the Type III receiver that was sear-cut, with black buttstocks/pistol grips, fiberglass bipod-cut handguards and long ‘browning’ type flash-hiders. Importer markings appear on the rear of the upper receiver on the RH side and will read as follows: Katsenes Cie-Santa Monica, CA USA

A friend of mine who is a well known Firearms dealer forwarded me a complete set of all of the documents surrounding this interesting FAL variation. I hope that you have found the information to be informative and helpful. Now let’s find those “other” 19 Katsenes Imported Fal’s……Why only 19?…… Well you see my friends # 250 0864 is still unfired and is resting comfortably in my safe.

Cheers

KIT

W.E.G.
December 08, 2003, 22:49
Great info!

How about some PICS?!!!

KIT
December 08, 2003, 23:17
Thanks G.J.
I'll work on putting some things together to share with the membership.
On a seperate note, did you make the Richmond/Showplace show this weekend? I had planned on making the trip on Saturday but the late Friday evening snow in SW VA kept me from making the trip.
Thanks

Kit

EMDII
December 09, 2003, 05:07
Outstanding!

Shameless plug: a person of your means could make a Contribution, and then be entireley eligible to attach pics directly!

But in any case, do send one of the Mods pics. This is quite 'news'. MANY thanks for the info,and detailed report. If possible, include a pic of the ATF letters.

KIT
December 09, 2003, 09:01
Thanks Ted:
Pretty interesting information for certain and a little known piece of FAL history. I will be happy to share the BATF letters and receiver pics with the membership. I'll work on getting the docs copied and forwarded to a moderator.
Thanks
KIT

mkittinger@cox.net

Jambo
December 09, 2003, 13:17
Originally posted by KIT
Now let’s find those “other” 19 Katsenes Imported Fal’s……Why only 19?…… Well you see my friends # 250 0864 is still unfired and is resting comfortably in my safe.

I swear to God, I almost jumped out of my seat and screamed when I read that part, but I didn't because I'm in the school library. You see, I doesn't bother me that I don't own one of those beautiful, unfired rifles; as long as one of us has one, I'm just as happy. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said to Carl Weathers in Predator, "You son-of-a-bitch." Can't wait to see the pics!

splattermatic
December 09, 2003, 14:57
hey kit,
here is a pic for you, i saved it way back when you sent it to me..

KIT
December 09, 2003, 16:46
Thanks for posting the receiver detail of my Katenses Import Splat. If you don't mind I will be e-mailing several other supporting documents to post with this thread.
Hope your Mom is doing better.
Thanks for the assist.

KIT

Tex
December 09, 2003, 19:20
Mind if I lighten up the pic a little Kit? I know it will look gray but we can see the print much better.

KIT
December 09, 2003, 19:54
Tex:
Thanks for the assist with the pic. I did not want to fill in the lettering with laquer-stick and your 'photoshop' skills did the trick. There should be additional supporting detail to come as I am working to get the following documents posted on the thread, as follows:

- BATF letter to Mr Brown
- BATF letter to Mr Brown's atty
- London Guns SGN printed Ad

Stay tuned guys.

KIT

Jambo
December 09, 2003, 22:22
sniff, sniff. it's beautiful. sniff, sniff. you just got to love that "Made In Belgium" on there. it really - sniff, sniff - brings a tear to your eye. Can't wait to see the rest of the pics.

John Culver
December 10, 2003, 01:27
got a higher res pic?
thanx

EMDII
December 10, 2003, 04:43
Anna 1

EMDII
December 10, 2003, 04:43
Anna 2

EMDII
December 10, 2003, 04:44
Anna 3

EMDII
December 10, 2003, 04:45
Anna 4
(definitely not a waltz)

KIT
December 10, 2003, 07:43
Thanks for the assist Ted.
The age of the documents and the fact that they were copied in the early 80's makes a high res pic very difficult. I also have each available in a word doc should anyone need a copy.


KIT

EMDII
December 10, 2003, 10:45
Thank You!

splattermatic
December 10, 2003, 10:47
was just gettin to posting the pics...
but ted you were faster..

still unpacking here ya know..


hey kit, do you need some info on the rogaks ??

EMDII
December 11, 2003, 04:58
Anna one (more)

EMDII
December 11, 2003, 04:58
Anna two

Notice the STANAG, rahter than OIP ring, attachments of the scope.

EMDII
December 11, 2003, 04:59
Anna three
(a waltz is MUCH more elegant)

JohninVT
December 11, 2003, 09:18
$1600 bucks in 1980.......that's a lot of cake. Any speculation on what one of these beautiful rifles is worth today?

Brian in MN
December 11, 2003, 09:52
Cool rifle, Kit, and great information. It's just the sort of gun one might otherwise walk away from at a show because it is sear cut and not on the G amnesty list.

Is it your understanding that the 20 CAL's in this lot represent to total CAL importation?

Dirtfarmer
December 11, 2003, 11:09
Kit,
Do you know if that "inch" type carry handle is original?

Thanks in advance!

Goodwill,
-Dirtfarmer

KIT
December 11, 2003, 11:10
Responding to questions from 'JohninVT' and 'Brian in MN' as follows:

JohninVT:

As I said, the Katsenes import is an unknown and as such I think it is a real sleeper. Very few people really know anything about them or the fact that there were only 20 imported. I purchased mine several years ago for the same price one would expect to pay for a Steyr sear-cut 50.00. Given the information that I have discovered relative to the limited number of examples that were imported and the subsequent BATF ruling relative to their exemption from the NFA I cannot say where the value will eventually go. I would think that in the near-term 'if' you could find one that the seller would probably not be knowledgeable of the limited number imported or the history surrounding their importation and would probably price it accorndingly.


Brian in MN:

You are correct in that the 20 semi-auto CAL rifles imported by Katsenes are the "only" legal examples of the type withinin the USA. That's it...only 20 and that's why they bring such a premium whenever you see one for sale. I stress 'legal' examples as there were an unknown quanity of some semi-auto CAL's that were brought into the USA through Canada but these weapons are subject to the National Firearms Act and are unlawful for a private citizen to own. That is why the list of imported rifle's detailed by serial number that Ted posted for me is so valuable to a collector. There is now an accurate source for the correct identification of those prized 20 semi-auto CAL's that were legally imported. FYI, Peter Kokalis recently did a nice piece on the CAL in the December 01, 2003 edition of Shotgun News and Small Arms Review also ran another excellent story on the CAL by him in the August, 2003 (Vol 6 - No 11) edition. A great bit of FN history, both are excellent reads that detail the obscure weapon that was manufactured between the FAL and the FNC.

Thank you both for your interest

KIT

KIT
December 11, 2003, 11:21
Ah, as always Dirtfarmer you are one for detail.

I substituted the Inch L2 carry handle for the factory metric carry handle. The metric would not clear the front of the scope tube and therefore was unusable. The offset inch handle clears the scope by approx 1/8" when extended and provides for a more comfortable carry. The ability to carry the rifle by the handle is a plus given it's total weight as a result of the addition of the scope and bipod. This is the 'only' modification to the rifle and it is 'factory correct' in all other respects. I have retained the metric handle and keep it with the rifle.

Goodwill to you as well Dirtfarmer and "Happy Holidays"!

KIT

KIT
December 11, 2003, 11:32
My "Thanks" again to Ted for posting the additional pics. I owe EMDII a 'cold one' sometime.

KIT

Dirtfarmer
December 11, 2003, 12:27
Originally posted by KIT


Goodwill to you as well Dirtfarmer and "Happy Holidays"!

KIT

Likewise, Kit...
Great info , By the way.

I hear ya' on all of that, L2 handle... particularly that they ARE much more comfortable, and heck, if it clears the scope, so much the better!

Peace on Earth,
...Goodwill,
-Dirtfarmer

EMDII
December 12, 2003, 07:32
Originally posted by KIT
My "Thanks" again to Ted for posting the additional pics. I owe EMDII a 'cold one' sometime.

KIT

Contribute a cold one to the Files and you can attach pics to your hearts content!
:wink:

Our thanks for this valuable info! This really is the Lost Dutchman of FALs it would seem. No one I've ever spoken with could have told me of this treasure!

Jambo
December 12, 2003, 08:57
Is there anything more beautiful than an all original Belgian FAL (besides Jennifer Walcott laying half-naked on my bed). No, there isn't; as far as firearms go, this has got to be the best.

splattermatic
December 28, 2003, 20:04
btt for you, sniper

KIT
February 11, 2006, 10:51
Postscript: I have had the good fortune to find a 2nd FN FAL Type 3 Katsenes Import. SN: 2500762 is now nested beside 2500864 in my safe. SN: 2500762 is identical in all respects to SN: 2500864 except it lacks the STANAG mount w/ Hensoldt scope and bipod. It is also the earliest example of a Type 3 receivered FAL in my collection.

2 of 20..........now I wonder where the other 18 are???

Cheers


-KIT-

vfubar
February 11, 2006, 13:06
Bring us into the picture, totally, Kit, and give the rest of us an idea of where you found it, and what it is worth, on today's market. Thanks, Terry

KIT
February 11, 2006, 13:24
I got this one from a well know dealer that I transact with quite often. In fact he has been my source for both of my Katsenes FAL's as well as the corresponding documentation that I posted. He knew that I had a fondness for the breed and called me when he found the second one. He did not have to cast too far to land me as a buyer. I believe he located this one from somewhere in the Pac NW. Not really sure what to advise with respect to the potential value as I have only seen 2 Katsenes FAL's for sale and I have both of those. The features of the Katsenes imports are identical to the early Steyr sear-cut imports and therefore would only command a premium to a collector. Honestly, until I discoved the type I do not think that anyone even realized they existed.

ftkaba
February 18, 2006, 23:25
KIT,

I am familiar with the original importation of the Katsenes rifles, and can answer your question about 4 of them. 1 was confiscated by the BATF shortly after they went on sale and was never returned. They either destroyed it or kept it. Another was found in an illegal shipment of arms entering Mexico. I assume Mexican law enforcement has it. 2 others were purchased from London Guns by a friend of mine and he still has them in his safe, unfired. He guesses, as you do, that the value is probably the same as a Steyr except to a collector. They are beautiful rifles. It's a bit odd to see something like an FAL with "Santa Monica, CA" written on the side of it, considering what a liberal bastion that place is.

KIT
February 19, 2006, 10:53
Thank you ftkaba for the additional information. I suspected that the BATFE had retained the sample that they requested as that is what they had also done with one of the first 3 G Series FAL's (sn: G 493) to have been imported by Browning. The BATFE's Firearms Branch typically retains a single example of the weapons that they have approved for manufacture and importation. I would dearly love to take a tour of their vault room. It is extremely helpful to have confirmation that the Firearms Branch did in fact retain a single example of the Katsenes FAL that the requested for examination. The information with respect to the single Katsenes FAL that was confiscated is also quite helpful as well in that between the 2 events you have detailed the total number of FAL's imported by Katsenes that are available to collectors has been effectively reduced by 2 to 18.

I suppose that we can then also assume that the example of the CAL that the BATFE requested from Katsenes was also retained by the Firearms Branch thereby reducing the number of examples available to collectors to 19.

One additional question ftkaba; Would you be knowledgeable of the serial numbers of the Katsenes imported FAL & CAL examples that the BATFE requested for testing?

Very helpful and much appreciated information.

-KIT-

ftkaba
February 19, 2006, 22:46
Kit,

No, I'm sorry, I don't know the serial numbers of the rifles taken by the BATF. I will say that your account of the events back in 1980-1981 is very accurate. I noticed that you posted 2 of the 5 exhibits to the attorney's letter to the BATF. I still have the original letter and all 5 exhibits if you don't have them and would like copies. I also have a copy of the FN brochure that London Guns sent out to a few people they thought might be interested in purchasing one of the FALs. It's not specific to the Katsenes FALs (it's a generic brochure and names the rifles as LARs rather than FALs), but it was part of the marketing effort. Significantly, the brochure states that the rifle is approved by the BATF for civilian use. That was a line that several of the original purchasers pointed to when things started to go bad, not that it meant anything legally. I'm not sure where FN got the information that the rifles were OK, or even if they meant it to apply to the receivers used to build the Katsenes FALs. But, that was the information presented to the original purchasers and I'm certain that London Guns had no reason to believe otherwise. The BATF action took everyone by surprise.

KIT
February 20, 2006, 01:29
ftkaba

Thank you for the offer on the docs, you have e-mail inbound.


-KIT-

flycsna
September 14, 2009, 16:35
I have a Katsenes Cie FN-cal .223 sitting in my safe. My uncle who has passed away purchased it new from London Guns back in 1980. It is still in new condition and never been fired. Serial #FN481 if anyone has a copy of the FN brochure that London Guns sent out or the docs from the BATF I would love to have a copy and would pay you for your time. I am not a serious gun collector and would consider selling it if someone were to offer me the right amount money. Does anyone have any ideas as where to advertise or place it in a auction if I were to sell it?
Thank You Ken

saltshaker
September 14, 2009, 18:52
Somebody help this guy!!!!!Last post before this was 2006!
You are a lucky guy! Nice to read this thread!!!! Larry
:fal: :bow:

Ken offer it here in the marketplace......

Outlaw Patriot
September 14, 2009, 23:57
I bid $1500! :D


You are one lucky guy. In terms of return on investment, that's probably close to winning the lottery.

I gotta say too, out of 40 of the rarest rifles in the country, Filers own three of em? Wow.

Anybody got a walther wa2000? That would REALLY impress me.

jimmbob
November 05, 2009, 16:25
I just stumbled on this thread. Truly amazing, unbelievable! What a good read and so interesting. KIT, you never cease to amaze me!

Saltshaker, it has now been 1 1/2 months. What do you want to bet the FN 223 has a new home in someones safe in VA. sitting next to 2 Katsenes FAL's?

KIT
November 05, 2009, 18:15
Originally posted by jimmbob
What do you want to bet the FN 223 has a new home in someones safe in VA. sitting next to 2 Katsenes FAL's?

How I wish it were so...............................


Cheers


-KIT-

fake name
May 06, 2014, 16:23
Here goes my first post. Back about 1987 I got my first FAL NIB-it was a Gun South imported 50.00. Loved it, took a class with it at Gunsite (stomped all over the bolt gun guys), but my tastes changed and I sold it to a friend of mine. Time passed and around 2000 I got the itch for another FAL. I found a nice used FN 50.00. Shot it some, not a lot, especially since I've spent most of my time overseas since 96'. So, I'd always assumed that all the FN's had been imported to the US thru Secuacus, NJ, or Trussville, AL. It's sounds dumb but I just assumed my FAL was imported by Gun South. Well, I took my FAL outa the safe when I was home a couple of months ago to shoot it and noticed on the right side of the receiver it was imported by "KATSENES" which I had never heard of. Now, my FAL is a sear cut rifle, but I never gave that much thought either. So a couple weeks ago I was bored and started researching the net about sear cut FAL's when I stumbled across this thread. I was quite a bit shocked that Katsenes imported FAL's were so rare. I'm not going to shoot it any longer (not that it's been shot a lot to begin with), in fact I've already got a Gun South 50.00 waiting for me at my dealers gun shop at home that I'll shoot in light of this discovery.

My question is this: just how much does this attribute add percentage wise to the value of an FN 50.00 FAL? Ten percent? Twenty percent? Fifty percent? More? I'm going to have it listed on a "valuable personal property" insurance policy and need to know an approximate value. Thanx in advance.

SAFN49
May 06, 2014, 17:24
Somewhere a little north of $3600

jaybo785
January 25, 2015, 12:19
Great article, thanks for the info! :)

bigsnoz
February 23, 2015, 04:18
Great info!! I own one of the 18 remaining now too.

SAFN49
February 23, 2015, 12:14
As a side note FN shipped Steyr 50.00's within that serial number range that were also sear cut. I had 250 0980

VALMET
March 19, 2018, 20:03
Since stumbling on this thread nearly 15 years ago and after years of searching, I had to finally add the fact that I now own Katsenes import, SN 2500743.

pistolero1911
March 20, 2018, 09:51
You, fine Sir, are the PACO of the USA.

How 'bout some FAL porn for us addicts?

VALMET
March 20, 2018, 10:33
You, fine Sir, are the PACO of the USA.

How 'bout some FAL porn for us addicts?

I am far from the US paco...there are a few fellow filers here in the US, whose collections put mine to shame.

KIT
March 20, 2018, 19:16
Since stumbling on this thread nearly 15 years ago and after years of searching, I had to finally add the fact that I now own Katsenes import, SN 2500743.


"Congratulations on the acquisition" my friend. It's been a long search and I am glad you were finally successful in locating one of the 18 examples that remain. We really do need to get together this Summer to get the trio reunited as it would make for a most interesting group photo.

Cheers

-KIT-