The Belgian firearms firm of Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal, best known around the world simply as FN, has been hot and heavy in the gun business for the past three centuries. From making better versions of the Mauser rifle than the Germans could to producing classic John Browning-designed handguns and shotguns of the early 20th Century, to the “Free World’s Right Arm”: the FN FAL battle rifle of the Cold War, the company has been a true innovator. However, one of its newest and most eye catching designs doesn’t get enough love in our opinion. With that being said– bring on the FS2000.
Why was it made?
FN, along with Austrian-based Steyr, Italy’s Beretta, and the Swiss-German SIG, are the go-to arms house of Western European militaries. Belgium may be small, but the boys in Herstal punch above their weight class as witnessed by the fact that the U.S. military, and that of most NATO countries, use the FN MAG 7.62x51mm and FN Minimi 5.56x45mm machine guns. We call them the M240 and M249 respectively and they are made here in South Carolina by FN-USA.
Well with that being said, by the 1980s the writing was on the wall for a general move to more compact rifles for the world’s militaries. You see, more troopers are climbing into armored vehicles, jumping from helicopters, and rolling over the sides of little rubber boats than ever before and this is likely not going to change until Starship Troopers becomes a reality. That means the smaller overall a rifle is– the better. A bull pup design, one that moves the action from in front of the user’s face to back inside the dead space of the butt stock, is key to making a compact 27-inch rifle that can still have a full-length barrel. Steyr did this in the 1970s with the AUG. France followed with the FAMAS rifle soon afterwards. The Brits got into the act with the L85 Enfield in 1987. The whole world, it seemed, is going bullpup.
With that being said, around 1995 FN looked to augment their very M16-like FNC carbine (and possibly replace it) with a bull-pupped rifle as soon as possible.
Belgian Army Pathfinders during Exercise Maple Leaf in Canada – 2013. note the Fs2000 rifle
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk