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Old December 24, 2017, 04:23   #1
bgreywolf
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Soon to be new FAL Owner from Maine!

Hello everyone!

My name is Ben, and I'm new to the FAL world. I've got some older bolt-action rifles from WWI and I like old guns with interesting stories.

I had an AR15 until recently; it didn't excite me the way my friend's FAL did, and so I sold it and I'm looking at a Coonan LAR-3 build in Scarborough, Maine (presently at Cabela's with a deposit on it while I decide if it's the one for me--I travel for work and I won't be home for a few weeks, so I have time to decide).

While I'm at work, I'm buying a copy of The FAL Rifle and having it shipped to the house, along with the Skennerton FAL pamphlet (I've got a lot of his SMLE books).

Anyway, if I wrote down everything I knew about the FAL it wouldn't be as long as this introduction has been (well, I do know some of the basic differences between inch and metric--the Coonan appears to be built with all metric parts--the receiver types, the endless cast vs forged debate, and so forth).

I look forward to learning more about the FAL in general, and I welcome discussion of this rifle in particular as well as reasons I might want to complete the sale when I get home; or why I might prefer to wait.

Knowing the community, it's possible that one of you has owned this one before; if you are (or know) the previous owner, I'd love to hear about it!

Here's a link; I've also put some pictures in my profile:
http://www.gunsinternational.com/gun...n_id=100960385
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Old December 24, 2017, 08:13   #2
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Welcome aboard and just plan for a life of constant searching, worrying and buying.......sometimes doing without food and medicine to support the FAL habit.
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Old December 24, 2017, 08:24   #3
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Looks like a Coonan on an Imbel kit.

Description mentions that it is a 20" barrel. Either it was cut down and rethreaded or the person doesn't know how to measure it.

What is the price?
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Old December 24, 2017, 10:41   #4
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Looks like a Coonan on an Imbel kit.

Description mentions that it is a 20" barrel. Either it was cut down and rethreaded or the person doesn't know how to measure it.

What is the price?
It looked like an 18" to me, but I didn't measure. The seller (being the gun tech at Cabela's) told me it was a Canadian pattern; I don't know much about FALs but it took me about 3 minutes to realize it was metric, not inch and thus had to be almost anything else.

They were asking 1049; I whittled some off when I pointed out (thanks to 5 minutes with Google on my phone) that Coonan made the receiver, but the kit was likely assembled by someone else, who may not have been a gunsmith, using parts that may or may not have matched, been in spec, etc. I didn't push too hard on the price, since I've got 30 days at sea to think about it and all they have is a deposit. I'm willing to pay for flexibility.

The bore is nice and there's no evidence of having been put away dirty, being stored badly, or of hard use since the most recent finishing (which I assume was done at the time the kit was put together). It seems like the previous owner cared about it, and it doesn't have the gouge marks I associate with "the 17th time I've taken this thing apart because it doesn't feed right" all over it.

That doesn't mean I think I'm buying a ready shooter; it means that I expect I'm not buying a basket case, and by the 7th or 8th time I tear it down with the armorer's guide and a box of FAL tools, I might have figured out how to make it work well.

I don't think I got "a super deal"; but from what I'm looking at, unless there's a serious defect in the receiver or damage from bad assembly that is hidden, it's a "fair enough" deal.

I'll be taking this to my friend's back yard (300 yards of open space backed by a steep hill) most of the time, so mainly it has to be "minutes of tin can" accurate and it has to spend more time shooting cans than on the bench while I visit.

Plans include a DSA scope mount and maybe a bipod but nothing too exotic. I've got a 4-power scope with lighted reticle that was on my AR, cheap Chinese junk that probably won't last long on a .308, but good enough to get a feel for now. I use the original iron sights on my SMLE and Carcano, and a Lyman aperture sight on my Arisaka sporter (sporterized in the 1950s by someone that obviously cared about building it into a real sporting rifle); they may be just fine on this rifle too.

I hand load for the Carcano and the Arisaka; I occasionally hand load for the SMLE (because the bullet, powder and primer are the same as the Arisaka 7.7, and I keep the brass just because); but .303 goes on sale more often than 7.7 Japanese or 6.5 Carcano do. I expect I'll just buy a few big boxes of .308 and they'll last me a while.
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Old December 24, 2017, 10:48   #5
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Originally Posted by 01BIRDDOG View Post
Welcome aboard and just plan for a life of constant searching, worrying and buying.......sometimes doing without food and medicine to support the FAL habit.
Ah, indeed. I've got a couple WWI SMLEs and I hand load for a couple orphaned Axis rifles. Sometimes I feed them so they can feed me.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I also have an old sailboat, a 1960s Volvo, a 1970s Mercury, and I'm restoring an 1850s house whose previous owner ripped all the walls out to "modernize" it--including the structural walls. After all that...how bad can this FAL habit be? http://www.falfiles.com/forums/image...s/facepalm.gif
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Old December 24, 2017, 10:53   #6
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After all that...how bad can this FAL habit be? http://www.falfiles.com/forums/image...s/facepalm.gif
You'd be surprised.
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Old December 24, 2017, 11:39   #7
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You'd be surprised.
Yep.... +1
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Old December 26, 2017, 00:50   #8
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Hmmm. So consensus is that bipod is just more weight to carry and changes POI, guess I'll drop that idea.

Any thoughts on wood furniture? Best tools/accessories to buy? I'm thinking a couple extra magazines, loader, buttstock tool, gas adjuster and sight tools. Anything else?

Last edited by bgreywolf; December 26, 2017 at 01:20.
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Old December 26, 2017, 01:50   #9
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TESTFIRE

Like all used or (new to you) rifles, check headspace or sandbag it and use a lanyard, then check the brass for problems.

Cervix with Safety!

and Congratulations!

Last edited by SawbriarRips; December 26, 2017 at 01:57.
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Old December 26, 2017, 01:57   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgreywolf View Post
Hmmm. So consensus is that bipod is just more weight to carry and changes POI, guess I'll drop that idea.

Any thoughts on wood furniture? Best tools/accessories to buy? I'm thinking a couple extra magazines, loader, buttstock tool, gas adjuster and sight tools. Anything else?
Extra mags are always good, you can never have enough. Well, you can, if you don't keep track of how many you buy each year.
A spare spring set and firing pin would be a good start, but be warned. You buy just ONE too many extra parts, and before you know it you're on the way to another FAL.
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Old December 26, 2017, 03:28   #11
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Originally Posted by SawbriarRips View Post
Like all used or (new to you) rifles, check headspace or sandbag it and use a lanyard, then check the brass for problems.

Cervix with Safety!

and Congratulations!
Don't worry, I handload for odd calibers, so I'm used to caution with new combinations of gun and ammo (or both). .308 is common enough that I'll probably buy a set of go/no go gauges so I can check other rifles as well. Wall hangers are fine with me, but not if I pay real money for them, so I'll be checking the headspace before I complete the sale.

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Extra mags are always good, you can never have enough. Well, you can, if you don't keep track of how many you buy each year.
A spare spring set and firing pin would be a good start, but be warned. You buy just ONE too many extra parts, and before you know it you're on the way to another FAL.
Good to know; springs and firing pins on the list now.

I'll probably stop around 4-5 mags, I have enough "fun" guns that I rarely shoot more than 100 rounds before switching to the next one for a little while. The exception being my Suomi (semi-auto); I'll put 2 drums through it and then let the barrel cool while I shoot something else.
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Old December 26, 2017, 11:07   #12
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I forgot to add, you'll need a bolt stripping tool to remove the extractor for head space check.
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Before you die, you should have a will with extra copies. The old saying "No one will screw you faster than family" is bloody well true.
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Old December 28, 2017, 04:38   #13
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Okay, starting to get nervous about the Coonan receiver and overall build.
Again, I'm at sea so I can't examine the gun until I get home in 3 weeks or so.

I've got a few questions about this particular gun, FALs in general, and the Forum-at-large's gut feeling:

The receiver is S/N 510288; it's less than 100 units away from the irreparably defective receiver delivered Sept 2017 that Gunplumber mentions in his Coonan thread:

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=419130

I don't know the history of the build or anything else about it, except that it is for sale at Cabela's near me.

It looks pretty, but I can't fire it before sale. It closes on a GO gauge and not on a NO-GO gauge (**ACCORDING TO THE CABELA'S TECH**), so I think headspace is okay; but that's all I know (and I intend to check it myself before firing). The salesperson told me it was a Canadian gun but it's pretty obviously all metric built with an Imbel kit (so I also have no idea of 922r compliance until I take it apart; only a problem if I decide to change any components).

I'm concerned because it's for sale as a used gun, and it would only have been in the original purchaser's hands for a few weeks at best. Why sell so quickly? There's no marks implying excessive tinkering so it either worked well from the start, or was put together to sell from the outset (and if so, sell cheaply--just at 1000).

My questions, specifically, are as follows:

Should I even consider this gun? It's a good price and I don't mind tinkering if it's not inherently unsafe or unrepairable. I've got machining experience as a ship's engineer and small mechanisms aren't a problem--although I don't often work on firearms (mostly WWI-era SMLEs when I do, or a friend's AR-15).

Barring a specific reason to avoid it, is there an easy way to tell if it was assembled by a shop, or just cranked together so they could sell it?

What can I check prior to sale to determine if it's out of spec/safe to fire? The bolt travels smoothly, safety moves smoothly with positive detents at S, R, and A (I'd probably add a stop to prevent moving to A position; I'm fairly sure that those parts aren't in there or we'd be having a whole different conversation). Magazine seats and latches/unlatches positively. The trigger is heavy but engages/releases as I'd expect.

Any advice beyond the above is gratefully accepted.
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Old December 28, 2017, 09:41   #14
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I'm concerned because it's for sale as a used gun, and it would only have been in the original purchaser's hands for a few weeks at best. Why sell so quickly?
How do you know this?

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Should I even consider this gun? It's a good price and I don't mind tinkering if it's not inherently unsafe or unrepairable.
Don't have enough info to give the best advice. Your money, can you afford to lose it? If so, then go for it. Chances are it'll be fine. I wouldn't personally touch it for a penny over $700.

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Barring a specific reason to avoid it, is there an easy way to tell if it was assembled by a shop, or just cranked together so they could sell it?
Not really. One with ample experience dealing with these could probably look and tell you but under these circumstances, no.

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Originally Posted by bgreywolf View Post

What can I check prior to sale to determine if it's out of spec/safe to fire? The bolt travels smoothly, safety moves smoothly with positive detents at S, R, and A (I'd probably add a stop to prevent moving to A position; I'm fairly sure that those parts aren't in there or we'd be having a whole different conversation). Magazine seats and latches/unlatches positively. The trigger is heavy but engages/releases as I'd expect.

Any advice beyond the above is gratefully accepted.
You've been told by the retailers smith the head space checks out. That's about as good as you are going to get.

There are millions of these things out there in many different configs and conditions. I'd advise you to wait until 1) You've become more familiar with the type and 2) you can lay your own hands and eyes on any potential purchases. They will be available for a long time to come, they aren't rare so there's no need to fret over some unknown hack you can't see and feel for yourself. If you really must secure a rifle ASAP, buy here in the MP from an individual. There's a remarkable example of an StG58 for a good price listed as we type this and rifles here are under the scrutiny of the hive mind. More difficult to sell junk here and sellers are normally FAL smart enthusiasts.
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Old December 28, 2017, 10:16   #15
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How do you know this?
A lower number Coonan receiver was built by Gunplumber in September (per his Coonan receiver thread). He put the date as 13 September for the several he received.
So if the receiver arrived at the builder's around that time (let's say 1 September); and the rifle was transferred to Cabela's by 1 December, that's 90 days from buying a parts kit and receiver (which look close to $800 to me, without shipping/FFL/etc), assemble, etc.
I'm essentially looking at $1000 from Cabela's. That's looking to me like the OP bought, assembled, gave up, and sold or traded it for close to his cost of parts inside 3 months at most.

Or maybe I'm thinking too much. I do that a lot (engineering brain: why do something when we can study it and redesign it 6 ways first?)

Either way, I've decided to learn more about the FAL variants and get what I want after I've done my homework.


Last edited by bgreywolf; December 28, 2017 at 11:28. Reason: unclear wording in original post.
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Old December 28, 2017, 10:39   #16
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Lower number Coonan receiver was built by Gunplumber in September (per his Coonan receiver thread). He put the date as 13 September for the several he received.
So if the receiver arrived at the builder's around that time (let's say 1 September); and the rifle was transferred to Cabela's by 1 December, that's 90 days from buying a parts kit and receiver (which look close to $800 to me, without shipping/FFL/etc), assemble, etc.
I'm essentially looking at $1000 from Cabela's. That's looking to me like the OP bought, assembled, gave up, and sold or traded it for close to his cost of parts inside 3 months at most.

Or maybe I'm thinking too much. I do that a lot (engineering brain: why do something when we can study it and redesign it 6 ways first?)

Either way, I've decided to learn more about the FAL variants and get what I want after I've done my homework.
I see.
There's no way to know if the last owner did anything to or swapped out any parts or assemblies so there are no guarantees it's still as Mark left it. But if it is just as Mark built it and it went on the block for sale, it'll be a great rifle and worth the money.

As to why the previous owner dumped the gun, the list is long and wide. All speculation but includes lost interest in the project, didn't like it once he got it back, wife kicked his ass for spending the money, needed money for something else, money for emergency, who knows. $1k for an ARS built rifle is a very good deal.
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Old December 28, 2017, 11:26   #17
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Ugh. My previous post was badly worded.
I'm comparing Mark's SN notes to the SN on this rifle.

If this one were built by Mark (or any gunsmith who would at least look at it if it malfunctions) I would feel less worried.

It's just an unknown build, that may or may not shoot, with a receiver that may-or-may-not be in spec, for "working riFAL" money.
Better to figure out exactly what I want, save up a few hundred dollars more, and buy the right gun here and not a gun that is, at best, what I want at the price (nothing more, potentially less).

Last edited by bgreywolf; December 28, 2017 at 11:32. Reason: Clarity again.
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Old December 28, 2017, 11:55   #18
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Is this at the Scarborough Cabela's? Don't they have an indoor range? Or is that only rated for pistol?

What is there return policy on used guns? If you buy it and take it to the range and it doesn't run will they take it back? I've only purchased new from Cabela's so I don't know. I would assume that Cabela's wants to keep their customers happy, but I also know what you get when you assume...
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Old December 28, 2017, 12:19   #19
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Is this at the Scarborough Cabela's? Don't they have an indoor range? Or is that only rated for pistol?

What is there return policy on used guns? If you buy it and take it to the range and it doesn't run will they take it back? I've only purchased new from Cabela's so I don't know. I would assume that Cabela's wants to keep their customers happy, but I also know what you get when you assume...
I've emailed them to ask them to clarify their policy if I were to buy. I thought they only had an archery range--I'll have to ask them about that, too.

I've had good purchases from them and I'm just making sure I won't have cause to regret it. I know an SMLE pretty well and they're easy to fix, but they're also coming to the store with 50-100 years of operating history and a known manufacturer from butt to bayonet.

On the other hand, about 6 years ago I got a Remington 700 in .243. It's spent more time with Remington than with me and only on the last return did the rifle go through an entire box of Remington ammo without the extractor jamming into the case and locking the bolt shut.
While I have plenty of stuff to say about what's happened to Remington's quality over the years, and the fact that I've spent more on shipping than I have on the rifle at this point, I will also point out that they've fixed it for me every time and their service, though sometimes frustrating and always glacially slow, has come through.

I'm afraid of having that level of frustration if it results in my having bought a very expensive parts kit with a wall-hanger-spec receiver. There's a lot of those stories on FAL Files.

Although, if I hadn't been headed to the airport to come to work, I'd already have it home with me...it was a moment of "hey, I'm early for my flight, I'll pull into Cabela's."...
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Old January 01, 2018, 16:40   #20
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Happy New Year, everyone!

I started my 2018 with a very positive email from Cabela's.
Basically they said they know who built the FAL, are sending him my info (in hopes that he will contact me directly), and will repair it at no charge to me if it doesn't function correctly in the first 30 days.
They also said the builder has built a number of FALs and other guns.

So, a little warm fuzzy, I know sales talk is not the same as proven results, but it swings the "might be a good deal" meter in the "buy" direction.

Now I'm more worried about the temperatures, if it's still 20 below when I get home I'm not going to have any fun!
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