In a nutshell, Fabrique National d’Armes de Guerre has a long history of producing excellent high-quality firearms for the military. The company was established in 1889 in order to produce 150,000 Mauser rifles, which had been ordered by the Belgian government.
It also at this time entered into a significant and long-term relationship with John Moses Browning, one of the most innovative firearms designers in history, and today the enterprise spans both sides of the Atlantic with a large manufacturing facility located in Columbia, South Carolina.
Under the design leadership of Dieudonne Saive in the 1930s, the company began to develop a series of self-loading rifles, which ultimately would prove to be the foundation for the company’s postwar success.
The FN Model 49, the company’s first automatic rifle, was followed by the FN FAL, a superb battle rifle designed around the new standard NATO 7.62mm round. It turned out to be one of the most successful military weapons of all time, being sold to more than 90 countries.
In the 1960s and the 1970s, with the introduction of smaller caliber weapons, FN introduced a derivative of the FAL, the FNC, which was designed around the new NATO 5.56mm round. It was a terrific weapon and highly accurate, but it never went on to achieve the export success of the FAL.
One of the company’s newest weapon systems made its debut a few years ago. It is the FN2000. Chambered for 5.56mm X 45 NATO rounds, the weapon is a conventional gas-operated, rotating bolt design along the lines of the British Bullpup.
Unlike the Bullpup (the SA 80), however, the FN2000 can be fired either right or left-handed. One of the SA-80’s biggest drawbacks was that it was designed exclusively for right-handed shooters, as the spent cartridges were expelled straight into your face if you tried firing it off your left shoulder. Spent rounds from the FN2000 are expelled forwards out a port just to the right of the end of the barrel. Its overall length is 694mm with a short barrel length of 400mm. Its magazine capacity is 30 rounds and like the SA-80 is situated behind the trigger. It is an ergonomically pleasing fully modular assault weapon capable of being fitted for 40mm grenades.
In the ever-evolving world of firearm designs, FN is said to be working on another assault weapon for close-in operations, a mortar system of radically new design parameters, and a sniper system that uses range-finding and best-shot solutions all within the attached scope.