September 23, 2010
The Fabrique Nationale Fusil Automatique Le'ger (light automatic rifle)--better known as the FN FAL--was developed in the early 1950s to be an issued battle rifle for NATO forces. Firing the 7.52x51 cartridge, the FAL was adopted by 90 countries and was actually given the nickname "the right arm of the Free World." Seeing extensive action on the African continent in conflicts fought in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Sierra Leone and Angola, the FN FAL received a well-deserved reputation for being a reliable performer under harsh jungle and desert conditions alike. It was favored for being simple to maintain and reasonably accurate.
DSA Inc. manufactures the FAL under license. While not inexpensive, DSA rifles have a reputation for quality that has made them popular beyond the company's ability to produce enough guns to meet demand.
I recently had the opportunity to test the Spartan, a name intended to honor the 300 Spartan warriors who fell at Thermopylae in 480 BC defending their homeland against tens of thousands of Persian soldiers. Their bravery is legendary, and the battle is studied to this day. When told to lay down their arms by the Persians, King Leonidas of Sparta responded with "Molon labe!" which translates to "Come take them!"
In the tradition of the strength, honor and character of the Spartan Warrior, DSA created the Spartan Series, of which this carbine is part.
The Spartan differs from the traditional FAL in that it does not have a carry handle. It comes standard with a flat receiver but can be ordered with a rail mounting system instead, which is the case with my test gun. The lower receiver is made from high-strength aluminum to reduce weight without affecting performance.
The 16.25-inch barrel (an 18-inch barrel is optional) is capped with a Steyr short flash hider that not only reduces muzzle flash but is also internally threaded to accept a blank firing device. The stock and handguard are made from black synthetic material and are similar in configuration to the FN FAL.
The one-inch recoil pad does a good job of reducing felt recoil and includes a single spacer. More spacers can be added as desired.
The external metal parts are coated in black DuraCoat, which is rust resistant, quite durable and attractive. All of the internal parts are coated with Robar NP-3 finish, which is possibly the best gun coating currently available.
Unlike the FN version, DSA's FAL does not come with a carry handle. A flat top receiver is standard, but it can be ordered with a rail mount too.
The bolt and magazine release buttons are located behind the magazine well and are easy to use.
A click-adjustable rear sight offers two apertures for close and long shots.
The large bolt handle made chambering a round easy to accomplish. Clearing a malfunction would also be simple, but the author didn't encounter any.
The grip is an M249 SAW pistol grip configuration. Its glass-reinforced construction makes it super strong while the steel trapdoor on the bottom allows the user to store needed components. The grip has a lesser rearward cant than the traditional grip, offering a more natural grip and better trigger finger placement.
The 5.5-pound speed trigger is a DSA design that offers an extraordinarily smooth trigger squeeze; it breaks clean with complete reliability and no overtravel.
Fixed sights are a combination of a standard FAL elevation-adjustable front post combined with a Para Tactical Rear Sight. This all-steel sight has a positive click-adjustment windage knob that eliminates the need to carry a screwdriver or some other flat sided/bladed instrument. The sight blade itself is an A1-type two-position flip sight.
The accuracy of the Spartan is exceptional for a battle rifle. I shot it at 100 yards, using a Hornady Delta Rest from a bench. I shot groups with and without a Zeiss Z-Point red dot sight to see how much difference the optic would make. I used the Z-Point due to its low profile as well as exceptional quality. The results are listed in the accompanying table.
The DSA Spartan is an exceptionally well-built rifle. Yes, it is a bit on the expensive side and you will have to wait to get the gun you order. But then, it's up to each of us to decide what is too expensive for our needs and how long we are willing to wait for exceptional quality.