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[Review] DS Arms (DSA) FAL SA58

The FAL is the "right arm of the free world," but is a modernized version needed? We hands-on review DS Arms' SA58 variant for everything that matters.

    With almost a cult-like following, the FAL or Fusil Automatique Léger, has been a popular rifle in Europe and with collectors in the United States.

    DS Arms sent me one of their modern variants of the FAL with a 16” barrel.

    DSA FAL Full Look
    DSA FAL Full Look

    Is it as reliable and well built as its FN Herstal predecessors that earned the nickname of the Right Arm of the Free World?

    I went about testing this rifle with multiple optics, 700 rounds of FMJs, 500 rounds of match grade ammunition, and some steel plate action at 300 yards.

    If you have been interested in getting a weapon that has been used worldwide and is a piece of firearm history, dive in with me to find out if the DS Arms SA58 is worth the price tag of $2,200+.

    Table of Contents


    A Brief History

    The FNH (Fabrique Nationale de Herstal) FAL was originally designed back in the late 1940s. It was widely chosen as a service rifle starting in 1953 by NATO forces.

    The FAL was also tested and evaluated by the United States, which is one of the reasons why it was chambered in 7.62x51mm. One of the original designs was chambered in a .280 British.

    During the Cold War, West German forces with the FN made G1
    During the Cold War, West German forces with the FN made G1

    The U.S. picked the M14 to be their short-lived battle rifle which was ultimately replaced by Eugene Stoner’s (AMEN) design in the M16 service rifle.

    That didn’t stop European NATO allies from choosing the FAL going into the Cold War era. Or it showing up in movies like HEAT.

    One of the most well-known wars with the FAL in recent memory was the Rhodesian Bush War.

    Being a baby of the 80s and growing up in the 90s, I can remember reading “Soldier of Fortune” magazines showing Rhodesian propaganda. Slogans like “Be a Man Among Men” were saturated on the pages.

    Rhodie propaganda frequently shows the FAL being serviced
    Rhodie propaganda frequently shows the FAL being serviced

    I won’t get too far in the weeds, but if you are aged 30-40 and grew up in the gun culture, you know what I am talking about.

    While a generation of “woke” people claim the Rhodesian Bush War was a racist movement of white supremacy, regardless of your interpretation, the FAL was a superior battle rifle.

    From Tip to Butt

    The DSA FAL sent to me uses a more typical muzzle device. Shooting was done during daylight hours, so I can not speak to the efficiency of flash hiding, but it served a purpose.

    Recoil wasn’t severe. The muzzle device looks more like an A2 birdcage that has cuts completely around it.

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    The barrel is fluted. DSA is tight-lipped about the materials used for the barrels, but it is more than likely a 4140 steel that is unlined and Duracoated on the outside.

    However, actual materials are not listed on their website or the included manual.

    DSA FAL Close up of barrel, flash-hider, and handguard
    Close up of barrel, flash-hider, and handguard

    The gas regulator is user adjustable. I played with it a bit, but to keep the rifle working across multiple brands of ammo, I kept the gas relatively high.

    Ejection was typically far forward of the shooter and launched brass with authority.

    The handguard was well made. After doing multiple mag dumps and heating the rifle up, the handguard had a noticeably small amount of wiggle to it.

    Cooling down, the handguard tightened back up. The rifle got hot during torture testing, so my theory is expansion and contraction affected the handguard lock up.

    Some extra torque and Loctite should remedy the situation.

    DSA FAL Dunking the rifle with a Primary Arms 1-8x Silver LPVO
    Dunking the rifle with a Primary Arms 1-8x Silver LPVO

    The trigger is nothing special, but it is completely functional. While it is not a match trigger, it is smooth enough and breaks predictably.

    I did have major issues with trigger resetting during firing, but more on that later.

    DSA FAL The clean DSA SA58 bolt carrier after over 700 rounds
    The clean DSA SA58 bolt carrier after over 700 rounds

    The non-reciprocating side charger was easy to use. Mag drops were easy using the trigger finger to depress the mag release.

    Putting in a fresh mag took a little practice, as it is more like the AK than an AR. Once the magazine is in position, dropping the bolt is quick with the support side thumb.

    DSA FAL Swampfox Optics 1-10x Arrowhead mounted to the DSA SA58 FAL
    Swampfox Optics 1-10x Arrowhead mounted to the DSA SA58 FAL

    The rail on the receiver was straight and provided a secure attachment point for optics.

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    I ran multiple LPVOs, red dots, and the irons during function and accuracy testing. I had no issues with optics having zeroing issues like its newer cousin the FN SCAR17.

    DSA FAL The DSA B.R.S. with riser extended for use with higher optic mount
    The DSA B.R.S. with riser extended for use with higher optic mount

    This buttstock was oddly what I loved most. The DSA B.R.S. is masterfully made. It is adjustable for LOP, foldable, and has an adjustable riser for adjusting cheek weld.

    Height adjustment is the most important, because the iron sights sit low to the center of bore.

    Since the FAL mechanical offset is not like an AR, you must be low on the stock for proper sight picture.

    Trouble in Paradise

    Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship will pick up what I am about to lay down.

    You meet your significant other, they light up the room, you fall in love, and you know they are the one.

    That was how I felt with the DSA SA58 when I picked it up at my FFL. Style-wise, aesthetics, and its overall solid nature in 7.62×51 made my eyes glisten. A match made in heaven.

    But then it moved in with me, and I took it out for a fun range day.

    That was when the honeymoon ended. It soon began to show me some of its personality quirks.

    I felt neglected that my needs weren’t being met. I soon began texting my old rifles…

    DSA FAL Meme

    In all seriousness, I had major trigger reset issues right off the bat. At first, it was intermittent, and I hoped that it was a matter of the rifle breaking in. It only got worse on my first range day.

    The reset was either “spongey”, or I had to physically push the trigger forward after the shot to properly reset the trigger.

    When the trigger did work properly, the rifle performed great which only added to my frustration.

    As I kept putting the rifle through its paces, I realized that breaking in the rifle wasn’t helping so I reached out to DSA. I was told there would be a 4-6 week turn-around time until I would get the rifle back.

    I was hoping for half that time…

    While I don’t recommend doing any kind of modifications to a rifle’s fire control group, I took it upon myself to see if I could remedy the situation.

    After taking out the fire control group, I noticed the geometry of the trigger was off. There was a slight indentation on the rear shelf of the trigger, and I suspected it was the issue with the trigger resetting.

    DSA FAL After removing the fire-control group, I figured out the problem
    After removing the fire-control group, I figured out the problem

    At the site of the issue, I honed the trigger with 800 grit lapping compound. I wanted to even the shelf and smooth it.

    After some trial and error, I was able to get the trigger to run at 100% without any issues.

    But that wasn’t all. Accuracy was also less than ideal.

    Precision Rifle This is Not

    I did not go into this review expecting a modernized FAL to be a tack driver. They have never been known for that.

    At first, this rifle was inconsistent at best. The rifle tended to throw the first shot of a 5 round group very low and then tighten up from there.

    Within the first 500 rounds, this was the case repeatedly.

    DSA FAL Typical group before breaking in the DSA SA58
    Typical group before breaking in the DSA SA58

    Ammunition tested was sent to me by Remington, Barnes, and Hornady.

    I also put a few hundred rounds of steel cased TulAmmo to slum it up. All ammunition performed well, and once the rifle FINALLY broke in, groups were to be as expected with match grade ammunition out of a FAL barrel.

    Accuracy was tested with the Swamp Fox Arrowhead 1-10x and the Primary Arms 1-8x Silver.

    at Primary Arms

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    DSA FAL A small sample of the types of ammunition sent for testing
    A small sample of the types of ammunition sent for testing

    After getting the trigger working at 100%, slowly but surely the accuracy began to tighten up.

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    The rifle tended to have intermittent fliers, but they happened less often and overall the groups shrank.

    DSA FAL The best 5 shot group was with Hornady AMAX 155 grain at 1.59 MOA
    The best 5 shot group was with Hornady AMAX 155 grain at 1.59 MOA

    This pleased me. A battle rifle isn’t meant to be a tack driver typically, but when fliers are 5” low at 100 yards, its unacceptable at 300.

    DSA FAL Best 5 shot group of Remington Premium Match 168 grain SMKs coming in at 1.84 MOA
    Best 5 shot group of Remington Premium Match 168 grain SMKs coming in at 1.84 MOA

    I was hoping that this rifle would be capable of shooting 2.5 MOA groups or better. When all was said and done, it was able to do it with match grade ammo.

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    Factoring in all the different types of match ammo, the mean average was 2.47 MOA after the 500-round mark. 

    DSA FAL Best 5 shot group of Hornady Match ELD 168 grain coming in at 1.66 MOA
    Best 5 shot group of Hornady Match ELD 168 grain coming in at 1.66 MOA

    Figuring in ALL the data, the mean average was 3.8 MOA. This proved to be good enough when shooting a 10” gong out to 300 yards after break-in.

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    By The Numbers

    Reliability – 2.5/5

    Feeding, extraction and ejection were 100%, but that trigger. That god forsaken trigger absolutely wrecked it for me.

    After that was addressed, reliability was tip top and of course YMMV. But a non-functioning trigger completely wrecks a rifle for any kind of use.

    Accuracy – 3.5/5

    Accuracy was lack luster with the unpredictable fliers at first. Groups did tighten up the more rounds that I put through the barrel. By the end of it, the rifle was a 2-3 MOA shooter, with FMJs usually around the 4 MOA mark.

    Ergonomics – 4.5/5

    The rifle has exceptional ergonomics. Between the DSA B.R.S., the modernized MLOK handguard and the controls for bolt release and mag drop, the feel of this old design is great. It’s absolutely a battle rifle.

    Aesthetics – 5/5

    Without a doubt, the DSA SA58 is styled just right. Everything about it looks like a solid battle rifle. Even the SAW-styled grip goes well with the rifle.

    The stock and the MLOK handguard finish off the whole rifle to be a beautifully modernized work horse.

    Value – 3/5

    The DSA SA58 comes with a hefty price tag. The model sent to me to review has a street price around $2,300

    Considering it does not have a chrome-lined or nitrided barrel, that’s a bit steep. You will be hard-pressed to find a modernized FAL from anyone else though.

    Overall – 3.5/5

    The DSA SA58 is the epitome of a modern day FAL. Had it not been for the trigger issue that plagued the rifle with issues, I would have scored this rifle much higher.

    Overall the FAL is an awesome design, and it runs remarkably clean due to its piston design.

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    DSA SA58 Improved Battle Rifle Gun Deals

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    The DS Arms SA58 FAL has great ergonomics and aesthetics, but our non-functioning trigger and lackluster accuracy put a damper on our testing. However, in a world where it’s difficult to find a modernized FAL, the high price tag of around $2200 might be your only bet.

    I went about this review to be as completely transparent and honest as possible, like any other review.

    This rifle at first came up short in my opinion, but then redeemed itself.

    DSA FAL Full Look
    Have to admit… it sure is pretty.

    Obviously, YMMV and I don’t necessarily think this is a typical experience with DSA. 

    The feel of a battle rifle in 7.62×51 is something every shooter should experience.

    Do you have a FAL? Maybe shot a different DSA FAL model? Have a different Battle Rifle you love? Let us know in the comments below! If you want another classic 7.62×51 rifle, take a look at the Brownells BRN-10!

    The BRN-10 is a big, beautiful rifle.  The original battle-design shines through in the remake.  You won’t find collapsible stocks or short barrels here.

    Rating score


    1 rating

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    37 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      PewPew Tactical needs to do a review of the DSA SA58, PSA AR10, & SCAR 17’s Main 308 MBR competitor’s:
      -PTR 91
      -Bula Defense, Fulton Armory, or LRB M14 clones (Of those Bula is the best bang for the buck AND the hell with Springfield Armory and their overpriced half assed M14 junker clone the ‘M1A’)

      I think a CZ Bren in 308/7.62x51 would be KING.

      —Can we get a PewPewTactical community petition to tell CZ USA we want 308/7.62x51 CZ BREN’s in America like they’ve got in the Czech Republic?

      That would be AMAZING! And think about it...if you are gonna pay 2k+ for a rifle it should NOT be half assed or mediocre in any way, shape, or form. We know beyond any doubt that CZ USA always delivers. They ROCK as a company! I wish everyone was like them.

      January 19, 2022 2:07 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      A defensive rifle that doesn't work reliably for only $2,300? Sign me up!!!

      January 16, 2022 1:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I just traded for a SA58 paratrooper model. I have 2 other FALs. i have had one for 15 years and the other for 5 years. I have a Vortex Strike fire on the older one and a vortex 1x8 strike eagle on the other. I have no trouble hitting 8" steel plates at 200 yards and believe that I would have the upper hand in a firefight. I'm looking forward to firing my new rifle.

      July 1, 2021 1:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      My DSA FAL SA58 is superb. I am within 1.5" all day long using an ACOG and MEN or DAG German Nato ammo at 300 yards.
      It breaks open like a shotgun to clean, has an incredible trigger, and never fails to cycle regardless of what I feed it, even the heaviest .308.
      Only complaint is that because I don't want to screw around that much with the gas system it gets some "brass kisses" on ejection port.
      This is the absolute LAST RIFLE I'd part with. It is not only extremely comfortable and accurate but has a crisp trigger and with DSA's offering of ROBAR NP3 it cleans up with a rag and some gun oil. In fact, a slightly damp soapy rag takes off all the crud almost as easily.

      June 14, 2021 4:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      JB Books

      Hey guys, I'm 72 now. 50 yrs ago as a merc, I trained on the FN. Loved the design as it kept your hands in the right place in a fight. Wore a glove for the serations on the mag release and my trigger finger. It did absolutely LOUSEY on full auto. I am a semi/one shot guy. As a battle rifle, our "targets" were usually taken at 300 yds+. The idea is to get center mass. It always performed to my expectations. It ain't no sniper rifle- It's a keep the bad guy from getting any closer rifle. When DSA came out w/ the FN, I jumped on one. $1750 for the standard 21" model w/ pic rail installed. For me, No issues at all. It's barely broken in but it's a "HOOT" to shoot. I also give it a touch more gas for efficient operation. I gave my AR15/M4 accurized to my son-in -law after the FN bcuz I still prefer the 7.62x51 for longer, harder hits. Just have fun, and hope that we won't have to use any of our weapons on our own soil against the enemies of this wonderfully free country. Remember this---- Once a Soldier, always a soldier!!! I'm 72 and still have a lot of fight left in me! Can't sprint 100 yds. I'll lv that you young guys, BUT I can still shoot and that's what gets the job done. MY very best to all of you out there soldier or not, that love this country and Will fight for those who are unable to. May God bless you all!!

      April 17, 2021 3:43 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Back at you—thanks for sharing your experience

        May 5, 2021 5:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Barry Hiatt

      I have had DSA's medium contour barreled FAL for four years now. I did have problems with over gassing which DSA repaired. I have installed Ironwood Designs wood furniture and a Vortex PST II 1-6 scope on DSA's mount. I have fired milsurp and Federal Gold Medal Match and have not noticed much difference. Best group was using British milsurp when I emptied the last eleven rounds at 100 yards for a 2.5" group that was unfortunately vertically strung. I can produce .5" at the same distance with my Rem 700, so I can shoot fairly well.

      While not the consistent 1.5-2 MOA I hoped for, I love the rifle. It is well made and have no complaints towards DSA. They remedied the overgassing problem and the rifle now reliably loads, fires, ejects all ten of my twenty round magazines (DSA and Austrian mix) and the sole ten round DSA. It even ejects the fired case without deformation. An original FN would have been preferred, but then I might still not be married.

      September 27, 2020 12:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe T

      I think you're too generous. I have one of these rifles, and it's quickly soured my mood. I have some cheap rifles that too a far better job and have far fewer defects than this expensive junk. Your probably better off just buying an AR receiver that handles .308

      August 19, 2020 6:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Marc Christenson

      Hello I work for DSArms as a product manager. In 2020 we are phasing in chrome lined barrels it took far too long to get the tooling set up to chrome line FAL barrels but at last it is done. On the accuracy, the accuracy displayed is considered very good for an FAL considering the standard for a FN FAL was 4-6 moa. This is a battle rifle and was designed for reliability and durability first and foremost and not 1 moa accuracy. Thank you for you purchase and for our honest review, and I anyone has any questions on our product line please email customerservice@dsarms.com.

      March 11, 2020 9:42 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Kansas Shooter

      I like that DSA is keeping the FAL going, but imported FALs from FN licensed countries are the best FALs you can get. Some are more expensive than the DSA version, but the Brazilian Imbel FALs imported by Springfield Armory as SAR48s can be found for less than new DSAs. Surplus military kits built on upper receivers of good quality are the next best route to go for a great FAL. Parts kits can still be found for $500-$700 and up depending on make and quality. Get an upper receiver from DSA for $400 and you've got a good FAL for around $1000 or so. Check out FALfiles.com for more info. Happy shooting!

      February 25, 2020 6:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert Mccallum

      Thank you for the review, with your advice I will stick with my AR 10 and M1A as backup.. cheers, Robert

      February 25, 2020 4:27 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Would love a video review of this.

      Well written and very direct. Thanks for this.

      February 24, 2020 8:11 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Good review, I've got an older DSA 16 inch carbine and a Century L1A1 which works remarkably well considering all the bad press Century gets. My understanding is that DSA's quality and customer service have been slipping notably in recent years. When compared to other battle rifles of the era, the FAL is my hands down favorite because of the ergonomics and mild recoil. One thing I have also noted is that you need to run them comparatively wet. The FAL isn't a "drop of oil here and there" kind of rifle.

      February 24, 2020 7:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Good reveiw I've always been curious about fals in general so it is cool to see a modern take but why didnt they do more with the barrel? Oh well thanks for the reveiw from a fellow Pennsylvanian!

      February 23, 2020 5:49 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        For the price point, it would have been nice to see a nitrided barrel IMO. Or chrome-lined for that matter since its billed as a duty rifle.

        February 25, 2020 3:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      A Dixon

      The Rhodesian Bush War comment killed this article for me. Colonial wars in other people's countries are wars for white supremacy. You don't have to be "Woke" to accept that fact. Just talk guns leave the historical commentary to the political blogs.

      February 23, 2020 4:08 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jesus is lord

        I agree no need to bring this up in the article, just stick to guns simple as that

        February 23, 2020 5:26 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Bull o' the Woods

          When did it become politically incorrect to mention historical events involving a firearm? The FAL's most well-known use was in Rhodesia, the Congo, and the Falklands. I think Ken's allusion to use of the FAL by the Rhodesian Army was entirely appropriate. The comment that "[c]olonial wars in other people's countries are wars for white supremacy" demonstrates complete ignorance of the historical subject matter and a knee-jerk reaction based on that ignorance. Educate yourself and spend some time reading about the Rhodesian war, ZIPRA, ZANLA, and Robert Mugabe. Wikipedia will do nicely.

          I recommend that the moderator delete this portion of the comments since it has no bearing on the merits or demerits of the FAL.

          February 24, 2020 9:47 am
          • Commenter Avatar

            100% agree. History is just that. History. Enough of the I’m offended by my own shadow mentality. It’s simply tiresome. I didn’t notice an endorsement of any particular cause. Just a little context. White supremacy lol. A collection of metals and polymers typically don’t have an agenda.

            February 25, 2020 3:59 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Hunter James

          AAHHhh...yes, thank gawd forr the woke.

          August 28, 2021 1:29 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Guess no more discussion of the Mauser action or fantastic German glass. It’s just too shameful discuss. Oops gotta run and get that JComp of my AR. It’s hard to keep up. So much history to ignore and so little time

        February 25, 2020 4:08 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        It wasnt my intention to be political. But the history is the history. If you would have a chat with a Rhodie, odds are they would explain the war as a fight against communism, and not a race war though. History is painted differently by different people. It wasnt billed as a race war when I was younger. It was a war against communism. As far as British colonialism, I won't even dive into that pool.

        February 25, 2020 3:57 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Billy C

        Always a whiner in the mix, let me guess where you're from.

        June 24, 2021 8:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I am very fortunate to have an original 1989 HK imported model 91. As a right-handed shooter, the 91 or stupid liberal NFA G3, the rifle is reasonably accurate and ridiculously reliable. I really appreciate your candor and ethical approach to this review. I would really like to add an FAL to my collection but I wonder about DSA now. What bothered me more than the trigger issue was DSA's response. If they can't turn your battle rifle around in two weeks on something as simple as a trigger modification, one may legitimately question their commitment to customer service. Moreover, that trigger issue is a red flag for quality control. Fortunately, there are after-market precision triggers that can be installed. With an un-plated bore and a free-floated barrel, accuracy of a heavy barrel and a good trigger should be between 1 and 2 MOA. A true battle rifle would have that kind of accuracy in semiauto and would do well in combat.

      February 23, 2020 2:55 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        I was expecting them to send a new FCG when I explained the reset issue. They kept hinting it was a gas related problem, even though I explained I could replicate it by manually operating the charging handle.

        It kind of is what it is. I was able to fix the problem which was relatively easy and quick. Not everyone is mechanically inclined though.

        February 23, 2020 3:36 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John McPherson

      Why not admit the AR design solved all the problems of the battle rifle and still maintained excellent accuracy. It simply works, and works well.

      February 23, 2020 2:45 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        I don't think anyone is disputing that. Better ammo could be used in the M16 family, but thats about it.

        February 23, 2020 3:39 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Because it didn't solve all the problems. The AR is great a platform and represents some improvements over the FAL, notably a superior locking scheme, improved accuracy, and a better, easier to use bolt release. But it looses points for the anemic 5.56 round and dirty direct impingement gas system. A short stroke piston driven AR 10 type rifle is about as good as it gets when you're talking about a true battle rifle vs: an assault rifle which is a different can of worms.

        February 24, 2020 7:28 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Can we get a review of the Swampfox Arrowhead on its own?

      February 23, 2020 12:53 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        I'd love to do that. We have already reviewed the red dot line. The LPVO line up seems very promising.

        February 23, 2020 3:37 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          I've been dying to try them out but at the same time there is almost no information beyond regular customer reviews on any of them.

          February 23, 2020 11:34 pm
          • Commenter Avatar
            Ken Whitmore

            Gino! We will be doing an Arrowhead review soon! Just got green lighted.

            February 25, 2020 3:59 pm
            • Commenter Avatar

              You guys are the best! This is why I love this site so much, hell you guys are the reason I got into ARs and bought two PSAs last month. Thanks so much man!

              February 28, 2020 9:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Was excited to see an FAL article/review. In my experience they are VERY reliable. The resetting trigger issue seems to be quite an anomaly. However I found others have complained of similar with American made parts. Send your rifle to Arizona response.

      February 23, 2020 10:36 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Nothing like hugging up to a rifle down over the bore. That's allot of coin for such mediocre accuracy. Do you think turning down the gas would help?

      February 23, 2020 8:56 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Ken Whitmore

        I tried shutting the gas off entirely in the beginning and manually cycling the bolt to see if accuracy improved. It stayed the same for the most part, or atleast no noticeable change.

        February 23, 2020 9:30 am
        • Commenter Avatar

          My StG-58 FAL ("modernized" with DSA parts) is easily 3+ MOA when shooting normally, but improves to about 1.5 MOA when loading a single round at a time with no magazine inserted, with no changes to the gas. Make of that what you will.

          February 25, 2020 12:35 pm
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