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[Review] DS Arms (DSA) FAL SA58

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

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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.

2300
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

470
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

390
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

25
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

24
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

30
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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

2300
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Conclusion

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!

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.

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27 Leave a Reply

  • 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!

    3 days ago
  • Robert Mccallum

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

    3 days ago
  • joe

    Would love a video review of this. Well written and very direct. Thanks for this.

    4 days ago
  • Matt

    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.

    4 days ago
  • guy

    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!

    5 days ago
    • 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.

      3 days ago
  • 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.

    5 days ago
    • 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.

      3 days ago
    • Burnie

      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

      3 days ago
    • Jesus is lord

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

      5 days ago
      • 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.

        4 days ago
        • Scott

          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.

          3 days ago
  • Sivispace

    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.

    5 days ago
    • 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.

      5 days ago
  • 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.

    5 days ago
    • Matt

      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.

      4 days ago
    • Ken Whitmore

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

      5 days ago
  • Gino

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

    5 days ago
    • Ken Whitmore

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

      5 days ago
      • Gino

        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.

        4 days ago
        • Ken Whitmore

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

          3 days ago
          • Gino

            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!

            1 second ago
  • Clancy

    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.

    5 days ago
  • Viktor

    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?

    5 days ago
    • 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.

      5 days ago
      • Ed

        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.

        3 days ago
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