Reporter, expert commentator, author. Joe Poyer has experience in all three. Once the voice for a History Channel series and Military Affairs Analyst for a Los Angeles TV station, Poyer is best known for writing and co-writing several books on modern military firearms. The most popular are the "Shooter's and Collector's Guide" series. MidwayUSA is pleased to offer some of those books to our customers. Check back for more titles as more and more are published.
Publisher: North Cape Publications
Date of Publication: Dec 1999
Number of Pages: 69
From the publisher:
For years, collectors of military rifles have puzzled over the variations of the FN-49 semiautomatic rifle. Manufactured only for a short time and used by only a few countries, it nevertheless holds an important place in firearms development as the predecessor and proving ground for the world-famous Fusil Automatique Leger, the FAL.
The SAFN-49 (Saive Automatique, Fabrique Nationale Mod?le 1949 to give it its correct name) was developed at Fabrique Nationale in Herstal, Belgium in the mid-to late 1930s at exactly the same time as the American M1 Garand and the Soviet SVT38/40. Dieudonn? J. Saive, the rifle's designer developed a tilting block system that locked the bolt against the breech by allowing it to drop down against a hardened steel step. But the Nazi attack on, and occupation of Belgium precluded its use in World War II where it surely would have ranked in importance with the M1 Garand and far ahead of the G41 and G43 German semiautomatic battle rifles that preceded the MP44.
Saive and members of his staff fled to England in 1940 and worked with British weapons designers during the war. In 1944, work resumed on the new rifle, now designated the EXP1 and which was being seriously considered as a replacement for the Enfield No. 4 bolt action rifle. The allies liberated Belgium that autumn and shortly thereafter, the Belgian design team returned home to help repair the damage to the FN factory caused by the retreating Nazis. The new rifle was rechambered for the .30-06 but it proved too powerful for the gas system as it was then designed. By the time the problem was solved, the British had moved on to a British design. Undeterred, FN decided to market the new rifle as the SAFN- 49 in both semiautomatic and full automatic versions. They also produced a limited number of sniper rifles and a very few commercial sporting versions.
The SAFN-49 was manufactured for production in four calibers (.30-06, 7.92 mm Mauser, 7.65 mm Argentine and 7 mm Mauser.) The rifles were purchased by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Belgian Congo, Indonesia, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and a few for testing in other countries. Less than 200,000 were sold before it was replaced in the FN line by the famed FAL. In the meantime, the new battle rifle served in the Korean War with the Belgian Brigade and in the civil wars that rocked Central Africa in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The first SAFN-49s to be imported into the United States appeared in the early 1960s and may have been the sporting versions in .30-06 caliber produced by FN from military contract overruns. These were sold through Browning Sporting Arms and represent the rarest of the SAFN-49 variations. Small quantities of SAFN-49s in .30-06 caliber marked AB (Armee Belgique) and AL (Armee Luxembourg) on the receiver ring were imported from time to time but the largest number appear to have been in 7.92 Mauser which were manufactured for the Egyptian Army. The 7 mm Mauser rifles manufactured for Venezuela have also appeared in quantity