FN 49 Info

III. Firearm Information by Type

D. Rifles

2. Models and Manufacturers

b. Self-Loading Rifles

61. Fabrique Nationale
6. The FN-49 Semi-Automatic Rifle
by John Landry

 

The FN-49 Semi-Automatic Rifle

(a.k.a. SAFN-49 or Model 49 ABL)
 
by John A. Landry
 
Version 3.0
Sunday, January 25, 1998
 


Contents

SECTION I 

NOTICE 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

SECTION II 

INTRODUCTION 

SECTION III 

NOMENCLATURE 

SECTION IV 

HISTORY 

SECTION V 

LEGAL STATUS 

SECTION VI 

PRODUCTION 

SECTION VII 

CONFIGURATIONS AND U.S. IMPORTATION 

Venezuela 
Egypt 
Luxembourg 
Belgium 
Columbia 

SECTION VIII 

USAGE 

SECTION IX 

DESIGN FEATURES AND COMPONENTS 

Specifications 
Finish 
Components 
Barrel 
Bolt 
Firing Pin 
Bolt Carrier 
Gas System 
Receiver 
Weatherability 
Receiver Cover 
Trigger Group 
Safety 
Ammunition Loading 
Ammunition Capacity 
Stock 
Balance 
Disassembly 
Loading 
Cocked Indicator 
Ejection 
Grenade Launching 
Optional Select Fire 

SECTION X 

FUNCTIONING 

Firing 
Unlocking 
Extraction and Ejection 
Cocking 
Feeding 
Locking 

SECTION XI 

OPERATING / ADJUSTMENT 

Safety 
Bolt Operation 
Loading 
Unloading 
Firing 
Gas Adjustment 
Sight Adjustments 
Grenade Launching 

SECTION XII 

MAINTENANCE 

FIELD STRIPPING 

Receiver Component Disassembly 
Bolt Stripping 
Gas Piston Rod Removal 
Magazine Dissassembly 

FIELD RE-ASSEMBLY 

Assembling the Bolt 
Assembling the Receiver Components 
Assembling the Gas Piston Rod 
Assemble the Magazine 

BARREL REPLACEMENT 

SECTION XIII 

HANDLOADING 

SECTION XIV 

REPLACEMENT PARTS & ACCESSORIES 

Flash Suppresser 
Blank Adapter 
Muzzle Brake 
Bayonet 
Gas Tube Sleeve and Muzzle Cap Wrench 
Cleaning Brush 
Scope Mounts 
 

 

SECTION I

NOTICE

The information presented herein is correct to the best of my knowledge. It comes from many sources, both written and oral. Major portions of this document were gathered from the memories of firearms enthusiasts, firearms collectors, and firearms dealers. Very little information beyond a few facts is written about the FN-49 rifle in conventional published sources. I've done the best that I can to accurately gather knowledge of this rifle and consolidate it here. Accuracy of this information in some cases will only be as good as the memory from where it comes. Please feel free to contact me if you can add to this collection or if you can correct errors in the information. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First, I could almost go without saying that I'd have to thank Fabrique Nationale for producing such a fun rifle to own and shoot, but I won't. Next, I wish to thank Ciro DeGennaro, a firearms dealer and collector from New York, well known to many of you, for sharing his vast FN-49 knowledge with me. Special thanks to Stephen Gary, a good friend of mine who first introduced me to the FN-49 and sparked my (sure to be life long) interest in this fine rifle. Lastly, a big thank you to Julian Freeman and the readers of the Curio and Relics Mailing List for providing many excellent improvement suggestions for this text, and for filling me in on some of the more obscure facts about this rifle I wasn't aware of. 

SECTION II

INTRODUCTION

The FN-49 is a beautiful example of a pre-World War II designed semi-automatic rifle. It features a very strong yet simple design; a design that is as easy to operate as it is to maintain. It exhibits only the finest in quality and workmanship one would associate with the reputation of the Fabrique Nationale firm in Herstal-Lez-Liege, Belgium. Featuring an innovative design and the desirable features of its day, the FN-49 was a very popular rifle soon after its introduction on the world arms market. Unfortunately, the FN-49's high cost combined with its limited ammunition capacity and lack of a true detachable magazine, led to its ultimate demise. The FN-49 is essentially the Belgian battle rifle equivalent of the United States M1 Garand, German G-43, and Russian Tokarev Models 38 and 40. The appearance is somewhere between the M1 Garand and an M14, featuring a full length wood stock. 

SECTION III

NOMENCLATURE

The FN-49 Self Loading Rifle was originally known as the "SAFN" rifle, which stands for Semi-Automatic, Fabrique Nationale. This rifle is a creation of Dieudonne J. Saive (1889-1973) who was a famous and respected arms designer for the Fabrique Nationale firm. Saive is credited with design work on many small arms, including the Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol. When the FN-49 rifle was officially adopted by the Belgian Army in 1949, it became known as the Model 49 Armée Belge Léger or "ABL" for short. "Model 49 Armée Belge Léger" is a French phrase which when translated to English means Belgian Army Light Model 49. One can assume the term "light" is to distinguish the FN-49 as a shoulder fired small arms weapon as opposed to "heavy" weapons and machine guns. In the United States, this rifle is commonly referred to as the FN-49, which is short for "Fabrique Nationale Model 1949" rifle. 

SECTION IV

HISTORY

In the 1930's during the height of a world wide demand for new military self loading rifle designs, Dieudonne J. Saive began work on the FN-49 for Fabrique Nationale. Production of this promising new rifle design was delayed when Saive fled for England just before Nazi troops began the German occupation of Belgium during World War II. While Saive lived in England, he continued work on his FN-49 and other firearm designs, at the Royal Arsenal at Enfield Lock. It is believed that he built a prototype of the FN-49 chambering the 8mm Mauser cartridge while in England and tried to interest the British in adopting the FN-49 design. At that time the British showed little interest in semi-automatic rifles. They favored instead their bolt action Enfield rifles feeling them superior to just about any other rifle design. It was also felt by the British that semi-automatic rifles placed in the hands of their troops would lead wasted ammunition. After the Allied liberation of Belgium, Saive returned to the Fabrique Nationale firm in Belgium to finish the FN-49 design work and see that it was placed into full production. 

The FN-49 was manufactured using high quality machining and milling techniques, and was designed in such a way that made it difficult to produce in a low cost fashion. In the high competition world of modern military assault weapon sales, inexpensive manufacturing techniques are required to keep production costs at a minimum. Very few low-priced sheet metal stampings will be found on the FN-49 rifle. When the FN-49 was first introduced for sale on the world's arms market, bolt action rifles were the norm and competition against other semi-automatic rifles was relatively scarce. For a few short years, the FN-49 enjoyed good sales to a variety of countries despite its cost. Unfortunately, the FN-49 could not be sold competitively when the military semi-automatic rifle sales competition finally did start to heat up. The obsolete manufacturing techniques that gave it superior quality and strength also doomed it to collector status by the 1950's. It has been suggested by several sources, that to build the FN-49 today using the original manufacturing techniques, it would cost many thousands of dollars. Its high selling cost added to its lack of certain modern "in demand" features required of current military shoulder weapons (such as a true detachable magazine and high ammunition capacity) led Saive to assist Fabrique Nationale in exploring a new, overhauled, more modern battle rifle. The FN-FAL rifle series of was born out of this re-design project. The FN-FAL rifle shares many of the innovative design features first implemented in the FN-49 rifle, such as a tipping bolt. The FN-49 is in a sense the father to the famed FN-FAL rifle. 

SECTION V

LEGAL STATUS

The FN-49 qualifies as an "assault weapon" under the now infamous 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill (which firearms owners of the United States love so much). The reason the FN-49 wears this badge of honor is because it is of course a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. It also has at least two of the additional features which place it in this category; a threaded barrel and a bayonet lug. 

For those readers who are familiar with the FN-49 and may immediately see a problem with the above statement, I will clarify the issue of whether the FN-49 has a detachable magazine as it applies to the 1994 Crime Bill. Although the magazine will not hold ammunition when removed from the rifle and literally falls apart, nonetheless it can still be removed. I have personally talked to the Technical Research Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and verified that the FN-49 is considered to have a detachable magazine. The 1994 Crime Bill makes no distinction between the utility of a detachable magazine, just whether or not it can be readily removed. The BATF generally considers a magazine which can be removed without tools to be detachable. Please don't write me about this unfortunate circumstance and regulatory stupidity. I'm just the messenger! For additional information on the magazine of the FN-49, see the relevant section below. 

The FN-49 is also on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Curio and Relic List. It can therefore be procured directly by and shipped through interstate and foreign commerce by collectors who hold a Curio and Relics License. For an FN-49 to qualify as a Curio & Relic, it must be in it's original military configuration. If it has been heavily modified, there's a good chance that it may no longer be classified as a Curio and Relic. Installation of original accessories on the rifle (such as the muzzle brake) do not disqualify it as a Curio and Relic. 

 

SECTION VI

PRODUCTION

The total production of the FN-49 was 176,264 rifles.
Distribution was as follows...
6.5mm 5 produced for testing
7mm Mauser 8,003 produced for Venezuela
.30 M2 (.30-06) 125,072 produced for Belgium, Belgian Congo, Luxembourg, Indonesia (Dutch East Indies), Columbia, and Brazil
7.5mm 1 produced for testing
7.62mm 1 produced for testing
7.65mm 5,541 produced for Argentina
7.92mm (8mm Mauser) 37,641 produced for Egypt and British testing

SECTION VII

CONFIGURATIONS AND U.S. IMPORTATION

Venezuela

Many receivers on FN-49's ordered by Venezuela apparently had a scope mounting rail milled onto their left side, but not many if any were imported into the United States having a scope or the scope mounts attached. Of the five types of butt plates normally encountered on the FN-49 rifle, the stamped "corrugated" steel design without the butt trap was used by Venezuela. It is believed that the 15" single edged Mauser style bayonet was ordered by Venezuela for use with each of their FN-49 rifles. It is further believed that all rifles ordered by Venezuela were fitted with the optional factory muzzle brake. 

Of interesting note, several hundred Venezuelan FN-49's rebarreled in the 1960's to the .308 Winchester cartridge have recently been imported into the United States for sale. These rifles were reworked in Venezuela, supposedly under Fabrique Nationale supervision to take the new cartridge. The receiver of these rifles is modified, as well as the magazine, so that stripper clip loading is no longer required. The 10 round magazine provided contains feed lips and will hold cartridges when removed from the rifle. The original magazines held 20 rounds, but due to the restriction in the 1984 Omnibus Crime Bill, the importer had these original magazines shortened to 10 rounds. On these rifles, the muzzle cap is also welded in place to comply with the same crime bill restrictions, preventing the installation or use of a threaded muzzle brake, flash suppresser or blank adapter. 

Egypt

The 9" double edged dagger style bayonet is believed to the correct version for FN-49 rifles ordered by Egypt. Only "sniper" versions of Egypt's FN-49 rifles had the scope mounting dovetail slot milled onto the left side of the receiver as well as having the optional muzzle brake attached. Normal troop rifles were not issued with the optional factory muzzle brake attached. The butt plate found on original Egyptian FN-49 rifles is the brass type with a butt trap. 

Large numbers of refurbished Egyptian FN-49 rifles imported into the United States have been fitted with replacement European stained beechwood stocks. These stocks have a curved plastic butt plate attached which has no butt trap. This type of stock and butt plate are not factory original. Apparently a large shipment of approximately 18,000 Egyptian FN-49 rifles were imported into the United States with a large portion of the shipment (4,000 to 5,000 rifles) in poor enough condition to warrant stock replacement. The importer (believed to be Century Arms International) had as many rifles as possible refurbished by using available spare parts and by cannibalizing parts off damaged rifles. The new stained hardwood stocks are believed to have been manufactured in Italy. 

Luxembourg

The 9" double edged dagger style bayonet is also believed to the correct version for FN-49 rifles ordered by Luxembourg. 

Belgium

The 9" double edged dagger style bayonet is also believed to the correct version for FN-49 rifles ordered by Belgium. 

Columbia

Colombian FN-49 rifles have been seen with a variety of butt plates, to include a rare rubber version that would seem to be something the Colombian government fitted after purchase. 

SECTION VIII

USAGE

The FN-49 in .30-06 caliber saw combat action during the Korean War by Belgian troops. There it gained a solid reputation and compared favorably to the performance of the M1 Garand. Mention has been made by some sources that during this conflict the FN-49 had a tendency towards firing pin breakage. To correct this problem, it is believed the two piece firing pin was designed. One piece firing pins are still offered as replacement parts in addition to the two piece design. Stock breakage is not uncommon either in this particular rifle. Because of this many FN-49 rifles have replacement stocks of various origins. 

SECTION IX

DESIGN FEATURES AND COMPONENTS

The FN-49 is was designed to accommodate rimless rifle cartridges of approximately 8 mm caliber, and as such was manufactured in a variety of calibers from 7 mm to 7.92 mm (8mm Mauser). The caliber is stamped at the factory inside the rear of the receiver body, just behind the hammer as well as on the rear face of the barrel. 

Specifications

Description English Units Metric Units
Total Weight, without Bayonet
9.48 lb
4.300 kg
Weight of Barrel
2.028 lb
0.920 kg
Weight of Barrel Assy.
2.469 lb
1.120 kg
Overall Length, without Muzzle Brake
43.70"
1.110 m
Barrel Length
23.228"
590 mm
Weight of 9" (230 mm) Bayonet
0.703 lb
0.320 kg
Weight of Bayonet with Scabbard
1.213 lb
0.550 kg
Weight of 15" (385 mm) Bayonet
0.992 lb
0.450 kg
Weight of Bayonet with Scabbard
1.543 lb
0.700 kg

Finish

The original and correct finish for the metal components on the FN-49 is a black phosphate epoxy paint. For those familiar with them, this finish is very similar in appearance to that found on WWII British SMLE Rifles. The finish of the wood furniture varies widely among country of ownership, and whether or not the rifle was arsenal rebuilt. Appearance of the wood grain also varies among country of ownership. 

Components

The basic design of this rifle is extremely simple. It consists of only a few number of moving parts in several component groups. Learning to use and maintain the FN-49 is very simple. 

Barrel

The barrel is threaded at the muzzle end in order to fit a muzzle brake, or when this is not attached, a protective muzzle cap. The barrel is also threaded at the breech to facilitate simple fitting to the receiver. 

A one piece gas cylinder is pressed against a shoulder on the forward portion of the barrel, pinned in place, then soldered. This gas cylinder contains the front sight base, front sight protective wings and a bayonet lug. A gas cylinder plug with it's plunger and spring are fitted into the front of the gas cylinder. A gas adjusting sleeve is also provided. The gas piston rod guide is fastened to the center of the barrel and held in place by a pin. 

Bolt

The FN-49 rifle features a one piece tipping bolt that has a flat lug at its bottom rear which locks into a shoulder in the receiver channel at the rear of the magazine well. Prior to firing the cartridge, the rear of the bolt tips downward by means of two lugs on its front and one at its rear riding in channels milled into the bolt carrier. The downward camming action caused by the bolt carrier against the bolt lugs causes it to lock positively into the receiver. The bolt is unlocked and allowed to move only after chamber pressure has dropped to a safe level. This feature allows easier extraction of fired cases and provides smooth functioning with ammunition having lot to lot pressure variations. 

The bolt houses the firing pin, and the firing pin safety stop, as well as the cartridge extractor and its spring. 

This rifle fires from a closed bolt. That is, the bolt closes after each shot and is not held to the rear. This differs from some fully automatic rifles where the bolt is held to the rear after each shot if the trigger is released. An exception to the bolt being allowed to move forward on the FN-49 is when the magazine is empty. In that case, the bolt is held to the rear after the last shot by the magazine bolt catch. This feature not only gives the firer a positive indication that the ammunition has been expended, but also allows rapid reloading using stripper clips. 

Firing Pin

The firing pin and firing spring are held inside the bolt by a stud on the rear of the extractor claw. This stud projects through a milled slot into the rear of the bolt. The bolt contains a firing pin safety stop which prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin until the bolt is properly locked into firing position. This prevents premature firing of a cartridge until it is fully chambered. 

Bolt Carrier

The bolt carrier has a charging handle on the right side and a rib on each side which fits into raceways in the receiver. A lug projects under this bolt carrier near it's forward end where it rides in a raceway milled into the top of the bolt. Its function is to pull the bolt rearward when the lug reaches the end of the raceway. The gas piston rod strikes the bolt carrier on its front face. The top of the bolt carrier has a housing for the return spring. 

Gas System

The FN-49 auto-loading function operates by way of a gas system as opposed to systems which operate by recoil or cartridge blow-back, etc. A port is drilled into the front portion of the barrel directly under the front sight. This location allows pressure from the powder gases of the fired cartridge to have dropped sufficiently before operating the self-loading mechanism. An adjustable gas regulator sleeve is further provided under the front handguard on the gas cylinder to allow fine tuning and venting of excess gas pressure not needed to operate the self-loading mechanism. A gas piston rod fits into the gas cylinder and extends to an opening in the front of the receiver. 

The design of the gas piston rod and short gas cylinder is such that the sweeping action of escaping powder combustion gases aides in keeping powder fouling to a minimum, unlike many competing rifle designs. The powder combustion gas acts much like a hammer blow to the end of the piston rod. This action acts to dislodge any fouling that may begin to accumulate on the piston rod. 

Receiver

The top of the receiver is completely open. The bottom of the receiver has two openings, one for the hammer towards the rear and the other for the magazine and its cartridges in the front. The receiver contains an integral feed ramp and rails for guiding the cartridges into the chamber, as opposed to the more common design where the magazine contains these components. This design ensures consistent cartridge feeding and does not rely on the condition and the delicate nature of cartridge feed lips when built into the magazine. 

The receiver contains rails on the top to secure the receiver cover. Raceways are milled into the inside of the receiver to guide the bolt carrier. Tapped holes are provided on the underside of the receiver to fasten the trigger assembly and stock components. 

A removable bolt locking shoulder pin or cone is pressed into the receiver in order to adjust the FN-49's cartridge headspace. The headspace is not adjusted by the barrel to receiver threading depth or the bolt length, although these do affect headspace. Rather, the shoulder pin which is pressed into the receiver is manufactured in various widths to control headspace by adjusting the bolt position forward or backward during lockup. 

Weatherability

The FN-49 rifle is equipped with a sliding dust cover on the right side of the receiver to protect the only opening into the receiver mechanism when the bolt is closed. This design prevents dust, dirt and mud from entering the receiver during normal combat use. 

Receiver Cover

In addition to the bolt return spring and guide, the receiver cover contains a notched recess on the forward end. This notch is provided to accept cartridge specific magazine loading chargers. The receiver cover also has a base where the rear leaf spring is mounted. On the rear of the receiver cover is a rotating catch which serves to hold the receiver cover in place when installed on the receiver body. 

Trigger Group

The trigger guard contains the hammer, the hammer spring, the hammer spring guide, the trigger and its spring, the auxiliary sear and its spring, and the safety mechanism. On fully automatic versions of the FN-49 the trigger guard holds the automatic fire selector lever. The hammer spring guide also acts as the cocked indicator when it protrudes through the bottom of the trigger guard. The trigger guard is fastened to the receiver by means of three large screws (bolts). Depending on the particular caliber, two methods (or a combination of them) are used to lock these screws in place and prevent them from loosening during repeated firing. A small set screw beside the larger screw or a split lock washer under the screw's head are used. A large opening in the forward portion of the trigger guard assembly is provided for the magazine to be inserted into the receiver. At the rear of this opening is the magazine catch and its spring. 

Safety

The design of the bolt and firing pin is such that the rifle cannot fire until the bolt is fully closed and locked into the receiver. This feature prevents accidental discharge of a cartridge prior to it being fully seated in the chamber with the bolt locked into place. A manual safety is also provided which positively locks the trigger from being depressed. This manual safety also acts to block finger entry into the trigger guard when engaged. The design of this manual safety gives the firer positive indication of its status, even in the dark. 

The FN-49 lacks a positive firing pin blocking mechanism, even when the safety is engaged. However, the firing pin is held firmly rearward by spring pressure. 

Ammunition Loading

The magazine can be recharged whether completely or partially empty. When the bolt is held back by the magazine bolt catch, pulling back slightly on the bolt cocking handle releases the bolt catch, which allows the bolt to move forward and chamber a cartridge. The rifle is equipped with a manual bolt catch on the left side of the receiver cover that will hold the bolt to the rear in the event the magazine is loaded. Just as in the magazine bolt catch, it is also released by a slight rearward pressure on the bolt cocking handle. 

Ammunition Capacity

Magazine capacity is normally 10 rounds, although Fabrique Nationale did manufacture a limited number of rare 20 round magazines. The magazine design is such, that is can be reloaded when partially charged, but it cannot hold ammunition if removed. Enterprising individuals have modified the 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) 20 round magazine as well as others to fit the FN-49, although this modification is reported to be marginal at best. Just like the standard magazine, they will still not hold ammunition when removed from the rifle. The reason that the magazine does not hold ammunition when removed from the receiver is that the normal feed lips usually present on a magazine have been replaced by the internal design of the receiver. This gives the advantage of positive reliable cartridge feeding in spite of damage to the magazine. The disadvantage is obvious. If one wonders why such a magazine design would exist, just think back to the era in which the FN-49 was designed. Five round internal capacity bolt action rifles were still common and popular at the time. The FN-49's design was consistent with tactics and weapon doctrine in that era for individual troop weapons. 

Stock

The original stock is fabricated out of a single piece of dark walnut. A forward and rear handguard are fitted to the top of the stock, covering the barrel, piston rod, and gas cylinder assembly. These components become very hot during repeated firing and the handguard protects the firer from burns. The sniper version of the FN-49 is fitted with a wooden cheek piece centralized on the comb of the stock. 

Some FN-49's were fitted with a hinged trap door butt plate. The cavity bored into the butt of the stock has capacity enough for storing things like a cleaning kit and other cleaning items, a spare firing pin and muzzle cap wrench, etc. 

Balance

The FN-49 is designed so that the center of gravity is practically in line with a point where the butt stock is placed against the shooter's shoulder. Accuracy is enhanced, muzzle climb and rifle jump are greatly reduced by this design. On the down side, the FN-49 is rather top heavy and heavier towards the barrel, resulting in fatigue when shooting offhand. Another drawback to the balance is when carrying the rifle for long periods of time. Depending on the configuration, the point of balance between the muzzle and butt of the rifle falls about the front of the magazine. To carry the FN-49 with one hand, a person will naturally tend place the hand in front of the magazine. This leaves the rifle heavy toward the rear and out of balance. Attempting to place a hand around the magazine and receiver does not feel natural or comfortable. Consequently, single hand carry cannot be accomplished comfortably for any great length of time. The redesign project that resulted in the FN-FAL solved this problem by the addition of a folding carry handle on the top of the rifle. Many military rifle experts say that a soldier should at all times properly carry a battle rifle in full readiness, so this whole balance problem may be moot to some. Who knows, maybe Saive designed the FN-49 to promote "at the ready" carry in stead of "suitcase" carry. 

Disassembly

The working parts of the FN-49 are easily accessible and may be removed without the use of any tools. This makes field stripping simple and fast. Accidental stoppages are easily corrected with the bolt locked into the rearward position because of the open top design of the receiver. 

Loading

The FN-49 can be loaded in two ways. Single cartridges can be loaded into the magazine through the top of the receiver with the bolt held open, or caliber specific 5 round stripper clips can be used to charge cartridges through the aid of slots machined into the receiver cover. The magazine cannot be loaded when removed from the receiver. 

Cocked Indicator

The FN-49 rifle is equipped with a pin attached to the hammer that will protrude below the trigger guard when cocked. This pin is easily located with a finger even in the dark and gives a positive indication of the rifle's cocking status and whether or not the safety should be on. 

Ejection

Spent cartridge ejection is forward and to the right of the rifle. This direction prevents spent cases from hitting and annoying shooters directly to the right of the operator. 

Grenade Launching

A special two position plug is fitted to the front of the gas cylinder assembly. The normal position allows powder combustion gases to be ported to the gas cylinder, thereby automatically operating the rifle bolt mechanism for repeated firing. By rotating the plug to an optional position 180 degrees from the first, powder combustion gases are blocked from entering the gas cylinder, thereby preventing normal rifle self-loading cycling. This second optional position is provided specifically for launching grenades, where all of the expanding powder combustion gas is required to propel the rifle grenade off the optional launcher attachment. 

Optional Select Fire

The standard configuration for the FN-49 is to deliver single shot semi-automatic fire only. Some models of the FN-49 were fitted with an optional fire selector lever. This selector, which if installed, is located on the left side of the trigger guard just above the trigger and allows for normal semi-automatic or full-automatic repeated firing. When in the full-automatic position, repeated cycling of the rifle begins once the trigger is depressed and continues until the trigger is released or until ammunition in the magazine is expended. The stock for the select fire FN-49 model will have a slot cut into the lower left side where the select fire lever is fitted. 

SECTION X

FUNCTIONING

The following self loading functions of the FN-49 are performed automatically without the need of assistance by the operator. 

Firing

Firing the FN-49 is of standard cartridge firing design. Once the rifle is loaded and ready to fire, the hammer under spring tension is released by pressing the trigger. The hammer then strikes the firing pin, which in turn strikes the primer of the cartridge in the chamber, which subsequently ignites the powder charge. 

Unlocking

A small amount of expanding powder combustion gas is ported through a small hole near the front of the barrel under the front sight to the gas cylinder. Once this pressure is in the gas cylinder, it kicks the piston rod back. The piston rod drives the bolt carrier back in the receiver. The bolt carrier in turn pulls the bolt upward and back, unlocking it from the receiver. 

Extraction and Ejection

While the bolt is being pulled rearward in the receiver by the bolt carrier, it draws the spent cartridge case from the chamber by means of a hook type extractor mounted on the upper right side of the bolt. At the point where the bolt is almost fully to the rear of its travel, the head of the spent cartridge strikes an ejector mounted in the trigger guard, which causes the cartridge case to rotate upward and outward from the receiver, where it strikes the upper right edge of the receiver cover. This action causes the spent cartridge case to be knocked clear, forward and to the right of the receiver. The FN-49 will leave a tell tale dent about half way up the side of each spent cartridge case from striking the receiver cover. This dent will vary in depth depending on the composition of the brass and the gas pressure adjustment, but shouldn't be so severe as to prevent re-loading. 

Cocking

As the bolt is being drawn to the rear, its backward motion cocks the hammer. The bolt carrier compresses the recoil springs that are held between it and the receiver cover. 

Feeding

Because the FN-49 operates with a closed bolt, once the rearward travel of the bolt carrier has been completed, the recoil springs that were compressed drive it back forward again. The forward motion of the bolt carrier takes the bolt with it, which in turn causes the bolt to push a cartridge off the top of the magazine and into the chamber. 

Locking

The bolt is once again locked into place in the receiver by the forward and downward pushing motion of the bolt carrier upon it. Once this cycle is completed, the rifle is then ready to fire again. 

SECTION XI

OPERATING / ADJUSTMENT

Safety

As described previously, the manual safety is located on the right side of the trigger guard, just above the trigger. To apply the safety, the lever is rotated downward. 

Bolt Operation

The bolt carrier, and as a result the bolt itself, can be pulled to the rear by means of the bolt carrier handle that is located on the right side of the receiver. Once fully opened, the bolt will be held to the rear if the magazine is empty. 

To close the bolt with an empty magazine, push down on the magazine follower with the thumb of the left hand while pulling back slightly on the bolt carrier handle with the right hand. Slowly allow the bolt and bolt carrier to move forward until it has cleared the magazine bolt catch and is above the magazine follower. The thumb of the left hand can then be withdrawn from its pressure on the magazine follower and the bolt carrier allowed to move completely forward, in turn closing the bolt. 

Loading

First, grasp the bolt carrier handle with the right hand and pull it completely to the rear. The bolt will stay locked rearward by the magazine bolt catch if the magazine is empty. If the magazine is partially loaded, push in the manual bolt carrier catch located on the left hand side of the receiver cover with the left hand. 

Loading of the magazine can then be accomplished by inserting cartridges either singularly or through the use of caliber specific 5 round stripper clips. When using stripper clips, they are inserted vertically into the slots machined into the receiver cover. The cartridges are then pressed into the magazine by thumb pressure of the right hand. 

The magazine capacity is 10 rounds, and when loading is completed, the bolt may be closed by pulling slightly back on the bolt carrier handle and then releasing it. As the bolt moves forward, the top cartridge in the magazine will be stripped off and fed into the chamber. 

The bolt can be closed without introducing a cartridge into the chamber by using thumb pressure of the left hand to push down on the top cartridge in the magazine, while at the same time pulling slightly back on the bolt carrier handle with the right hand. The bolt carrier handle may then be allowed to move slowly forward over the top cartridge in the magazine, instead of feeding it into the chamber. Carrying the FN-49 with a loaded magazine and an empty chamber is the safest method to use when immediate action of the rifle is not required. All that is needed to bring it into action is to pull the bolt carrier handle fully to the rear and then release it. 

Unloading

There are three ways to unloading the FN-49. 

The first and most fun is of course to fire it as many times as there are cartridges in the chamber and magazine! 

The second is to point the muzzle in a safe direction, place the manual safety to the on position and cycle the action as many times as needed to eject all of the cartridges from the chamber and magazine. 

The final and least desirable method is to remove the magazine by pressing in on the magazine catch, located at the rear of the magazine, with the nose of a bullet or a small screwdriver. The magazine will come off the trigger guard assembly with the cartridges falling out, along with the magazine follower and spring. Remember to place the safety on and cycle the action to clear any cartridge in the chamber. 

Firing

Firing is simply accomplished by turning off the manual safety, sighting the rifle and depressing the trigger. 

Gas Adjustment

The gas cylinder is located under the front handguard. A threaded sleeve is provided on the outside of the gas cylinder in order to adjust the opening size of the gas bleed vent. This adjustment is used to regulate the amount of powder combustion gas that is applied to the end of the piston rod. The sleeve is screwed farther onto the gas cylinder toward the front sight in order to block the gas vent reducing its size, thereby increasing the pressure applied to the piston rod. Alternately, it can be rotated the opposite direction, away from the front sight, to open the gas vent, thus reducing the amount of gas pressure applied to the piston rod. 

Proper adjustment of the gas system is needed to prevent violent ejection that results in excessive wear and tear on the rifle. Gas pressure can increase or decrease with different types of ammunition, ammunition production lots and atmospheric conditions. The gas system has a broad operating range and does not require minor adjustments when set properly for the type of ammunition and powder being fired. Once the gas regulator is set, mis-adjustment through tampering or accident is prevented by having the regulator sleeve located under the front handguard. 

To adjust the gas system, begin by removing the front handguard. This is accomplished by first removing the stock end cap screw and then the stock end cap located under the front sight assembly. Once the stock end cap screw is removed, the stock end cap is removed by sliding it forward to disengage it from the tabs on the front handguard and then downward off the barrel. The front handguard is then removed by sliding it slightly forward out from under the lower stock band and lifting it off the rifle from the forward end. Removal or loosening of the lower stock band should not be required. 

Begin the gas adjustment procedure by rotating (opening) the gas regulator sleeve on the gas cylinder until the gas vent is completely unblocked. From a standing position, fire a single round of ammunition of the desired type. Note how far the spent cartridge is ejected from the rifle. If the spent cartridge fails to clear the receiver or is not ejected sufficiently to achieve approximately 8 to 15 feet to the forward and right of the firer, screw in the gas regulator sleeve several turns until the gas vent is slightly blocked and repeat the procedure. The proper setting is attained when a spent cartridge is usually ejected some 8 to 15 feet to the forward right of the firer. A setting that causes the spent cartridges to be ejected farther can cause excessive wear and stress on the rifle. Too little gas pressure can result in unreliable spent cartridge case extraction and lack of ejection. In my experience, it is not unusual to have a spent cartridge ejected rather close to the rifle now and then, but on average they should fall approximately 8 to 15 feet from the rifle. 

Excessive gas pressure can cause premature extraction of the cartridge case, even before chamber pressures have decreased sufficiently to allow the cartridge case walls to contract from the chamber. A sure sign of extreme gas system pressure is having rims torn off spent cartridge cases by the extractor. Excessive gas pressure will also be evident when spent cartridge cases are being ejected into low earth orbit, are being heavily dented by the receiver cover, or the spent cartridge case fails to be extracted from the chamber altogether. "Hotly" handloaded cartridges as well as extended range factory loads can cause this same problem and even a properly adjusted gas regulator sleeve and gas vent system may be unable to compensate for these excessive pressures. Like most semi-automatic rifles, the FN-49 functions best with cartridges loaded to the middle of the normal pressure range. The FN-49 is built sturdy enough to handle "hot" loads quite well, but the gas system may not be able to function properly in those circumstances, and semi-automatic firing should not be attempted. In these cases, such as when using extended range factory loads set the gas plug to single shot operation (see the section below under grenade launching). 

Sight Adjustments

Corrections for point of impact errors in windage are adjusted on the rear peep sight by means of set screws on either side of the sight assembly. This assumes that the front sight blade is properly centered in it's mount before attempting rear sight adjustment. By first loosening the set screw on one side and then tightening the set screw of the opposite side, the rear peep side is thus moved as required to correct the point of bullet impact. A reminder, the rear peep sight is moved to the right to move the bullet point of impact to the right. 

Adjustments for point of impact errors in elevation can only be corrected by means of replacing the front sight blade or the rear peep sight with ones of a differing height. However, in the case where bullet point of impact is slightly low, the front sight can be carefully filed down to move the point of impact up. This cannot correct gross error, for the front sight blade would be left too short for proper use. 

For those FN-49's with a point of impact too low when the rear sight is set to it's lowest setting, I have devised a fix for this annoying problem. The FN-49 lacks a true elevation zero adjustment outside of that mentioned previously. My fix involves drilling and then tapping a small hole in the rear sight leaf just in front of the rear peep sight. Into this hole a set screw is threaded to provide infinite elevation adjustment when the rear sight leaf is on it's lowest setting. This set screw is used to raise the rear sight leaf as required to correct the low bullet point of impact. The modification also involves making a small cutout in the rear sight leaf slider to accommodate this set screw, which would otherwise prevent it from traveling fully to its lowest (most rearward) setting. This modification is hardly noticeable and works great. Feel free to e-mail me if you have this problem and need additional assistance. 

Grenade Launching

Launching rifle grenades is accomplished by mounting an optional spigot type grenade launcher, with integral sight, to the muzzle end of the barrel. The grenade launcher attaches securely to the muzzle over the barrel cap by means of a hinged clamp and wing nut. The grenade launcher cannot be installed over the optional muzzle brake. The muzzle brake must be removed and the barrel end cap fitted prior to using the grenade launcher. 

The gas plug must be rotated 180 degrees by first pushing in on the release button that is located on the left hand side. The gas plug release button may be pushed in with the bullet nose of a cartridge. 

The manual safety is placed in the downward, or "on" position, a special grenade launching blank is then loaded into the rifle chamber (see loading instructions previously described), the rifle grenade is then placed on the grenade launcher. After sighting the rifle using the special sight on the grenade launcher, the safety is turned off and the trigger depressed. The pressure of the powder combustion in the special grenade launching blank will propel the rifle grenade off the grenade launcher. 

I should mention here that you must NEVER attempt to use a regular ball cartridge or a standard training blank to propel a rifle grenade. Using either could cause severe injury, possible death, and could result in complete destruction of the rifle. Grenade launching blanks are very different from regular blanks or ball cartridges. 

SECTION XII

MAINTENANCE

FIELD STRIPPING

The clever design of the FN-49 allows for routine field stripping using no tools. Only a regular military ball cartridge is required for field disassembly so as to allow complete operator cleaning. 

Receiver Component Disassembly

Insure the rifle is completely unloaded. Cock the hammer by bulling the bolt carrier charging handle to the rear. Push down on the magazine follower and the slowly allow the bolt carrier to move forward to its closed position. Begin disassembly by first removing the receiver cover. This is accomplished by turning the locking key at the rear of the receiver cover 180 degrees to the upward position. The receiver cover is then pushed forward against the recoil springs and lifted slightly in the rear. Once it is disengaged from the receiver, the receiver cover is then withdrawn rearward. The recoil springs will normally come off with the receiver cover, but if this is not the case, they should be removed from the rear of the bolt carrier and set aside. 

Next, the operating handle on the side of the bolt carrier is pulled rearward until the guide rails align with the clearance cuts in the receiver body. This alignment is viewed from above the receiver. The front of the bolt carrier is then lifted resulting in the ability to remove it and the bolt together from the receiver. NOTE: The bolt and bolt carrier cannot be lifted out of the receiver unless the sliding dust cover is in the rearward (open) position. Once removed from the receiver, the bolt may then be moved forward and out of the bolt carrier. 

Bolt Stripping

If so equipped, remove the firing pin stop from the top of the bolt. The bolt is then disassembled by first using the nose of a ball cartridge to lift the extractor spring out of the recess milled for it into the extractor. It is then rotated 90 degrees downward freeing the extractor to be removed. Next, while pushing the firing pin into the bolt, remove the extractor spring. Once the extractor spring is removed, the firing pin can be withdrawn along with the firing pin spring. 

Gas Piston Rod Removal

Using the nose of a ball cartridge, press the catch on the gas cylinder plug and rotate it 90 degrees. Withdraw the gas cylinder plug. Tilt the rifle forward and if needed give it a shake. The gas piston rod and spring will slide out of the gas cylinder. The piston spring can then be removed from the gas piston rod. 

Magazine Disassembly

The magazine is removed by using the nose of a ball cartridge to pry the magazine catch back toward the rear of the trigger guard. The magazine is then withdrawn from the trigger guard. Once removed from the rifle, the magazine spring and follower are easily withdrawn from the magazine. The spring can then be removed from the underside of the magazine follower. 

FIELD RE-ASSEMBLY

Assembling the Bolt

Slide the firing pin spring over the firing pin. Insert the firing pin and spring into the bolt body. While pressing the firing pin into the bolt, replace the extractor spring head into the hole provided in the side of the bolt, 90 degrees downward to the length of the bolt. Release the firing pin, which should now be held in place by the extractor head. Place the extractor in its seat milled into the bolt. Next, rotate the extractor spring onto its place on the extractor. If equipped, replace the firing pin stop. 

Assembling the Receiver Components

Begin by sliding the bolt back into the front of the bolt carrier. While holding the bolt carrier containing the bolt at both ends, pass the bolt carrier guides down through the clearance cuts in the receiver body. Once lowered into the receiver, push the bolt carrier down and forward to its home (locked) position. 

Next, while holding the receiver cover, compress the recoil springs between it and the cavity provided in the rear of the bolt carrier. The receiver cover is replaced by lowering it downward onto the receiver body front end first. Once pressed firmly into the receiver body, the receiver cover is allowed to move backward under the tension of the recoil springs to its locked position. The catch at the rear of the receiver cover is then rotated back 180 degrees downward to the locked position. To insure proper assembly has been achieved, cycle the rifles action several times by hand. 

Assembling the Gas Piston Rod

Slide the spring onto the gas piston rod. Replace the gas piston rod and spring into the gas cylinder from the front of the rifle, with the piston head oriented towards the front of the rifle. Re-fit the gas cylinder plug by depressing the plug catch and then turning it so the letter "A" is visible from the top of the rifle. 

Assemble the Magazine

Insert the magazine spring into the underside of the magazine follower. Taking care to place them in the correct orientation, replace the magazine follower and spring into the magazine. The magazine is then assembled to the trigger guard by engaging the front lug of the magazine first, then pressing on the bottom until it is secured by the magazine catch. 

BARREL REPLACEMENT

Barrel replacement on the FN-49 is so simple, I thought I'd include it here. Once removed from the rifle, a completely stripped receiver can be gripped solidly in a large padded bench vise, whence the barrel can be unscrewed by the use of a large wrench across the flats over the chamber. A replacement barrel can then be screwed into the receiver and tightened until the notch on the barrel lines up with the hole in the receiver provided for the piston rod. Provided one has a big enough vise and wrench, this whole operation can take 15 minutes. Of course headspace must be checked after barrel replacement. Again, headspace is NOT controlled by the barrel threads as in some rifles, but rather by the width of a cross pin pressed into the receiver as a locking shoulder for the bolt's lug. 

SECTION XIII

HANDLOADING

The FN-49 is a fun rifle to handload cartridges for, however, certain special considerations should be observed. As mentioned earlier, the FN-49's gas adjustment system is designed to function best when gas pressures are within normal pressures for the particular cartridge being chambered. Hot handloads can cause a situation where the gas system cannot be properly adjusted. In this case, violent extraction cannot be prevented even though the gas adjustment sleeve is set to completely unblock the gas vent, allowing for maximum gas pressure relief and minimum pressure on the gas piston rod. 

When working up handloads for the FN-49, it's best to choose a rifle powder which is considered to be of moderate to slightly fast burning speed. In my experience, using slow burning rifle powders may yield low and very consistent shot to shot velocities, however violent extraction and severely dented brass may be an undesirable side effect. This situation can be explained by the fact that the barrel gas pressure curve of slower burning powders is such that they retain a higher pressure as the bullet passes the gas port in the forward part of the barrel. Even though slower burning powders generally have lower peak pressures, their pressure curve is of longer duration and doesn't taper off quickly after ignition. With slower rifle powders, powder granules may still be burning as the bullet nears the muzzle of the barrel. Unburned granules may even be expelled from the muzzle as a result. 

Faster burning powders generally have higher peak pressures, but shorter chamber and barrel gas pressure curve length. When using these faster burning powders, the barrel gas pressure will have peaked and then dropped to a safe level well before the bullet passes the gas port. This results in less gas pressure being applied to the piston rod and a less violent spent cartridge case ejection. 

The trick to successful handloading for the FN-49 is to choose a powder that is fast enough to avoid the problem of violent ejection, while at the same time choosing a powder slow enough to yield consistent velocities and accuracy. When making powder choices, remember that the FN-49 has a relatively short barrel. Also keep in mind that different powder burn rates will react differently with lighter or heavier bullets, so several powders may ultimately be required for best performance with a range of loadings. A moderate burning rifle powder that nearly fills the cartridge to capacity would be a good place to start experimenting. 

SECTION XIV

REPLACEMENT PARTS & ACCESSORIES

There are several accessories which were original options for the FN-49 and which of course a collector will want to have. There are several aftermarket accessories available also. 

Flash Suppresser

Various flash suppressers can be found through part suppliers. I'm not aware that any of these flash suppressers were factory options, but Sarco, Inc. has a nice "bird cage" style suppresser of the HK design that fits any caliber of the FN-49 and which looks pretty classy. It's installed by first removing the muzzle cap and threading the suppresser in it's place. Gun Parts Corp. has a blued aftermarket threaded flash suppresser readily available, but I don't think is up to the quality level the FN-49 deserves, and I don't particularly like the way it looks. 

Blank Adapter

Original blank adapters are available which also replace the threaded muzzle cap. This is a cylindrical device that has a tapering hole bored into it from the end which threads onto the muzzle. It's use allows functioning of the semi-automatic action when firing blank cartridges. Northridge International is a good source for this item. 

Muzzle Brake

Original muzzle brakes are almost impossible to find. A source of exact replacements was available until the supply was recently exhausted. The gentleman who had them custom manufactured, did so many years ago. According to him, it was a difficult project finding a machine shop qualified to perform the work. The problem was that the internal threads in the muzzle brake have to be cut in such a way as to result in the brake being properly aligned when fully tightened onto the barrel. If there were enough demand again, I'm sure this source would consider having additional muzzle brakes manufactured. He asked me specifically not to give out his name and telephone number, but if you are interested in buying one, please let me know and I will forward your request on. The selling price would probably be in the $30.00 range at today's costs. 

Bayonet

Briklee Trading Company has recently been offering the original 9" dagger style FN-49 bayonets as well as original cleaning kits and original cleaning rods. The longer length 15" Mauser style bayonets are available from Springfield Sporters and other sources. 

Gas Tube Sleeve and Muzzle Cap Wrench

Northridge International offers an original wrench which is indispensable if you wish to remove the threaded muzzle cap. It is also used to adjust the gas tube sleeve when hot. 

Cleaning Brush

Gun Parts Corp. has offered an interesting small soft brush they claim was made for the FN-49. It has a handle that screws apart to hold small parts, etc. This brush fits nicely into the butt trap of those FN-49's so equipped. 

Scope Mounts

Original optional scope mounts fastened to special grooves milled into the left side of receivers so equipped. An aftermarket scope is available from B-Square (part number 18551). This particular mount replaces the rear sight leaf on the receiver cover and has the advantage of getting the scope up high enough to clear the stock. Having the scope mounted to the receiver cover is not the greatest idea in the world for stability reasons, but it's an efficient alternative to drilling holes in the receiver! I've found the B-Square mount to work well. It's important to use quality scope rings that clamp the scope tube well, because the recoil and hammering of the action will cause the scope to slide in the rings. 

Sources

There are several good sources currently available for original replacement parts for the various caliber FN-49 rifles. Replacement stocks and magazines seem to be two of the items in most critical supply at this time, however, I've just noticed recently that replacement walnut stocks are available in a couple of grades of quality from a source in the Shotgun News. Many parts are identical between the calibers, but not all. Specifically, parts like the receiver, receiver cover, sights, magazine, gas plug, bolt and springs are different. Even though receiver covers differ between the calibers, in a pinch they can swapped and should function fine. The difference would be only be in the stripper clip slot and rear sight ramp curve. I personally use a .30-06 caliber receiver cover with the sight removed and a B-Square scope mount attached on an 8mm Mauser FN-49. I just slip off the normal receiver cover and slide on the .30-06 caliber version for instant changeover with no sighting in required. This arrangement works great. 

I am providing a list of major part suppliers currently known to me. I’ve personally had excellent service from all of them, but both Gun Parts and Northridge seem to have the best inventory. The availability of parts varies considerably from time to time with these suppliers, so if you are first told they don’t have what you are looking for, keep trying back about once a month. This has worked well for me. 

B-Square 
PO Box 11281 
Fort Worth, TX 76110-0281
(800)433-2909 
(817)923-0964 
Fax (817)926-7012
Briklee Trading Company 
13351 D Riverside Drive, Suite 373 
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818)444-2745 
Fax (818)401-3299
Gun Parts Corporation 
West Hurley, NY 12491
(914)679-2417 
Fax (914)679-5849
Northridge International 
18714 Parthenia Street 
Northridge, CA 91324
(800)678-3939 
(818)341-0100 
Fax (818)701-7775
Sarco, Inc. 
323 Union Street 
Stirling, NJ 07980
(908)647-3800 
Fax (908)647-9413
Springfield Sporters 
R.D. #1 
Penn Run, PA 15765
(412) 254-2626 
Fax (412) 254-9173
  


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