Following the market failure of their previous 5.56mm caliber assault rifle, the CAL, famous Belgian company Fabrique Nationale began to develop the new assault rifle for 5.56mm NATO cartridge in the early 1970s. The final design, called the FNC (Fabrique Nationale Carbine) was produced circa 1978 and was consequently adopted by the Belgian Armed forces. It was also adopted by Sweden and Indonesia, and both those countries purchased the licenses to build more or less modified FNC carbines at their own facilities. Swedish version is known as Bofors AK-5 and Indonesian version is known as Pindad SS1. The FNC also was sold to some police forces around the world, and, in limited numbers for civilians - as a "Sporter" model, limited to semi-automatic mode only.
The FNC is a sound design which accumulated best features from other famous designs, such as Kalashnikov AK-47, Colt/Armalite M16, and others.
FNC is a gas operated, selective fire, magazine fed weapon.
The gas drive and rotating bolt of FNC strongly resembles the AK-47 system, but adapted for more advanced production technologies such as CNC machining and with some modifications. The long stroke gas piston is located above the barrel and is linked to the bolt carrier. Unlike the AK-47, the gas piston rod could be separated from the bolt carrier when gun is disassembled. The gas system featured two-position gas regulator (for normal or adverse conditions) and a separate gas cutoff, combined with folding rifle grenade sights. When grenade sights are raised into the ready position, the gas cutoff automatically blocks the gas supply to the action, allowing for safe launching of rifle grenades. Both gas cutoff and grenade sight are located on the gas chamber, just behind the front sight. The now common rotating bolt has two massive lugs that locks into the barrel extension.
The receiver is made from two parts that are linked by two cross-pins. The receiver could be opened for disassembly and maintenance by removing the rear pin, so the parts could be hinged around the forward pin (which also can be removed to separate receiver parts). Upper receiver is made from stamped steel, the lower receiver, along with magazine housing, is made from aluminum alloy.
Barrel of the FNC is equipped with flash hider which also served as a rifle grenade launcher.
FNC is equipped with hooded post front sight and a flip-up, "L" shaped rear diopter sight with 2 settings, for 250 and 400 meters range.
The controls of the FNC consist of the 4-positions safety / mode selector switch on the left side of the receiver. Available modes are Safe, Single shot,3-rounds bursts and Full automatic fire. The cocking handle is attached to the bolt carrier at the right side and does reciprocate with the bolt group when gun is fired. The rear part of the cocking handle slot, cut in the upper receiver for cocking handle, is covered by the spring-loaded cover which automatically opens by the handle when it goes back and automatically closes the opening when cocking handle returns forward.
FNC is equipped with side-folding buttstock, made of steel and covered by plastic. A solid, non-folding plastic butt is available as an option. The pistol handle and the forend are made from plastic. FNC is equipped with sling swivels and can be fitted with special bayonet or with adapter for US M7 knife-bayonet. FNC can be fed from any STANAG (NATO standard) compliant magazine, and issued with 30 rounds magazines. If required, FNC could be fitted with 4X telescope sight or various IR / night vision sights.