In the fifties, FN participated in the development of the 7.62x51mm cartridge, which became the first official NATO caliber. FN then designed, developed and manufactured what would become the most successful rifle in this caliber: the FN FAL™ light automatic rifle. Due to its great success with military customers worldwide and immense popularity with civilian users in the US, with two million units produced, this firearm became known as ‘right arm of the free world’.
Partnering the FN FAL™’s success was the belt-fed FN MAG® General Purpose Machine Gun (U.S. M240 series). Since its launch, the FN MAG® has been adopted by over 90 countries and deployed under many different names. This includes the MAG58, M240, L7A2 and the C6, Ksp58. But whatever the name, every M240 has provided its bearer with the same reliability and firepower for which it continues to be renowned.
In the seventies, FN developed the 5.56x45mm SS109 round. This was also later adopted by NATO as its second official caliber in 1981 and deployed along with the FN MINIMI® light machine gun. The FN MINIMI® (U.S. M249) has since been deployed by military forces in over 70 countries across the globe, including most present day NATO armies.
Always innovating to meet market demand, in the 1980s FN developed a simple yet effective modification for the Browning .50 cal (12.7mm) M2HB heavy machine gun - a Quick Change Barrel (FN QCB™). This was launched on the firearm’s 50th anniversary, reflecting the durability of the original design. Along with complete QCB machine guns, FN supplied quick conversion kits to ensure the many thousands of M2HB machine guns already in service around the world could benefit from the enhancement. This is still the case today.
Drawing on its success in developing machine guns, FN started to integrate them on helicopters or subsonic aircraft as podded or pintle-mounted systems - featuring the 7.62x51mm FN MAG® or .50 cal FN M3™ (U.S. GAU-21). Over 3,000 carriers are now equipped with FN integrated airborne weapon systems that give them the firepower advantage in any scenario. Later developments included integration of machine guns on land and naval carriers as well.
In its continuing pursuit of pushing the boundaries in firearms innovation, FN Herstal (renamed following the founding of the Herstal Group in 1989) in the nineties introduced the 5.7x28mm cartridge, together with the FN P90® submachine gun and the FN Five-seveN® handgun. This new caliber was later recommended by NATO as the PDW caliber, and is still in service in over 40 countries worldwide today.