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SADF Equipment & Specifications

The hard-hitting R1 Battle Rifle

The South African R1 series of rifles are based on the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN) Fusil Automatique Léger (light automatic rifle) or FAL. Formally introduced by its designer Dieudonne Saive in 1951, and produced two years later, it has been described as the "right arm of the free world."

After a competition between the German G3 rifle, the Armalite AR-10, and the FN FAL, the South African military adopted

three variants of the FAL:
  • a rifle under the Commonwealth pattern with the designation R1
  • a variant of the FN FAL folding-stock rifle fabricated locally under the designation R2
  • a model designed for police use not capable of automatic fire under the designation R3

The R1/R2/R3 was

built under license by Lyttelton Engineering Works (LEW) and the Armaments Development and Production Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR).

The R1 rifle in South African service had been superseded in the 1980s with the locally built R4 assault rifle, a license-built copy of the Israeli Galil. The R1 rifle was superseded but not replaced and soldiered on till the end of the Border War.


The R1 being used in training in the bush somewhere in northern South-West Africa.

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