The total production of the FN-49 was 176,264 rifles.
Distribution was as follows...
||5 produced for testing
||8,003 produced for Venezuela
|.30 M2 (.30-06)
||125,072 produced for Belgium, Belgian Congo, Luxembourg,
Indonesia (Dutch East Indies), Columbia, and Brazil
||1 produced for testing
||1 produced for testing
||5,541 produced for Argentina
|7.92mm (8mm Mauser)
||37,641 produced for Egypt and British testing
CONFIGURATIONS AND U.S. IMPORTATION
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.
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
The 9" double edged dagger style bayonet is also believed to
the correct version for FN-49 rifles ordered by Luxembourg.
The 9" double edged dagger style bayonet is also believed to
the correct version for FN-49 rifles ordered by Belgium.
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.
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.
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.
|Total Weight, without Bayonet
|Weight of Barrel
|Weight of Barrel Assy.
|Overall Length, without Muzzle Brake
|Weight of 9" (230 mm) Bayonet
|Weight of Bayonet with Scabbard
|Weight of 15" (385 mm) Bayonet
|Weight of Bayonet with Scabbard
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The following self loading functions of the FN-49 are performed
automatically without the need of assistance by the operator.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
OPERATING / ADJUSTMENT
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 is simply accomplished by turning off the manual safety,
sighting the rifle and depressing the trigger.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
PO Box 11281
Fort Worth, TX 76110-0281
|Briklee Trading Company
13351 D Riverside Drive, Suite 373
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
|Gun Parts Corporation
West Hurley, NY 12491
18714 Parthenia Street
Northridge, CA 91324
323 Union Street
Stirling, NJ 07980
Penn Run, PA 15765
Fax (412) 254-9173