DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine, assault rifle, rifle, DS Arms

DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine

How is it that Belgians design and manufacture some of the greatest firearms known to man, yet get conquered every time the German Bundesliga gets more boring than soccer usually is?

By Ed Friedman (RSS)
March 10, 2011

After fußball, the German national sport is conquering Belgium in at most a couple of weeks, even when the fastest mode of transport available is hoofed. And yet, Belgian arms makers have given us the Minimi (M249 SAW), the SCAR and the PS90, among other superlative firearms. But Belgium’s greatest gift to gun enthusiasts is without a doubt the Fusil Automatique Léger, or FAL—the right arm of the free world during the Cold War. More than 90 countries used the FAL, including the not-too-shabby militaries of Great Britain and Israel, as well as juggernauts like Luxembourg and Djibouti. Almost all have long since replaced the nearly 63-year-old FN Herstal design with more modern firearms, but the FAL’s legacy is cemented as one of the greatest combat rifles of all time.

Thanks to its ubiquity, FALs are coveted by collectors and anyone looking for a superior rifle in 7.62 NATO. Unfortunately, most of the millions of FALs manufactured since 1953 are selective-fire variants that are either unimportable or prohibitively expensive. Semi-automatic models and conversions are available, but most lack the user-friendly ergonomics of more-modern rifle designs. Thanks to DS Arms of Barrington, IL, however, the FAL has a new lease on life for tactical shooters and competitors in 3-gun’s Heavy Metal division.


The company’s SA58 line of metric-pattern FALs is based on the Austrian StG58 variant licensed by Steyr, and is quite simply the finest selection of newly manufactured FALs on the market. The SA58 Para Tactical Carbine (detailed photos here) is the cream of this rarefied crop. It’s not hard to see the modern touches, with a long optics-mounting rail, a 2.13-inch section of rail on the right side of the Darth-Vader’s-helmet-shaped polymer fore-end and a folding stock assembly with an Ace Ltd. SOCOM adjustable buttstock and a foam-padded cheek rest. But, there are some less-visible enhancements that might delay the German conquest of Belgium by several minutes, as long as a non-Belgian was holding the Para Tactical.

DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine, folding stock, rifle stock

A folding stock is just one of the departures from an FAL that DS Arms incorporated into the SA58 Para Tactical Carbine.

Most significant is the rifle’s shortened gas system. At just 8.5 inches in length, it is about 2.5 inches shorter than that found on a standard FAL. This allows the Para Tactical to utilize a shorter barrel. The test rifle I shot had a 16.25-inch, DuraCoat-finished fluted barrel, but the gun can handle barrels as short as 11 inches. To accommodate the folding stock, the Para Tactical makes use of a recoil spring surrounding the guide rod rather than a spring in the buttstock assembly as found on standard FALs. The gas-piston operation system features the same, two-position adjustable gas plug that can be set on “A” for open or “Gr” for closed, evidence of DS Arms’ purchase of Steyr’s Austrian tooling, though Belgians speak German, too, as a result of frequent “tourist visits” by hundreds of thousands of Germans in their Kubelwagens. Like standard FALs, it includes a 14-position gas regulator that can be used to fine-tune the rifle for a particular load.

The Para Tactical is lighter than most FAL-type rifles, which range from .75 to 4.35 pounds heavier than the Para’s 8.75-pound weight. This is due in large part to an aluminum lower receiver, an aluminum top cover, a SAW-style polymer pistol grip and polymer handguards.

Despite the presence of a Picatinny rail for mounting optics, the rifle comes with iron sights. A dual-aperture, AR-style rear sight will be familiar to most shooters, as will the wing-protected front post located just behind the gas plug.

All of these enhancements are most welcome, but two points on the Para Tactical were less than ideal. Its trigger is not light. Though not the worst trigger I’ve squeezed, its 8-pound pull was almost certainly detrimental to my ability to shoot the gun to its accuracy potential. And then there’s the magazine-release lever. Maybe I just don’t have enough experience with FALs, but this diminutive knurled lever—if it’s long enough to count as a lever—was difficult to actuate and made magazine changes less than pleasant. I hope DS Arms finds a way to redesign this glaring flaw of the FAL design. Judging by the company’s innovative modernization of the venerable platform, it has the ability to do so.

DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine, trigger, gun trigger

The author found the gun's trigger and magazine-release lever to be the most wanting parts of the Para Tactical.

These issues notwithstanding, the Para Tactical is a great self-defense rifle. It’s only about 2 inches longer than a standard M4-style carbine, and with the stock folded it is very compact. I tested three different .308 Win. loads, all of which fed without issue. The rifle exhibited better accuracy than I expected from a military-inspired firearm, with an overall group average of 1.51 inches.

The FAL’s renowned track record during the Cold War makes it a must-have platform for any gun aficionado. It’s reliability, the devastating punch of its 7.62 NATO chambering and the availability of ammunition for it combine to make the FAL a great choice for a self-defense firearm. Perhaps that is why Germany has avoided conquering Belgium for the last several decades. With DS Arms’ enhancements, the 5A58 Para Tactical Carbine is an even better deterrent—one that will keep American homes safe from invasion as well.

DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine, rear sight, sights, rifle sights

Most shooters will easily get accustomed to the rifle's AR-15-style front and rear sights—a nice touch for the American market.

Manufacturer: DS Arms; (847) 277-7258,
Action Type: Gas-piston-operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: 7.62 NATO
Capacity: 20 rounds
Receiver: 4140 steel upper; 7075-T6 forged aluminum lower
Barrel: 16.25 inches; fluted black DuraCoat finish
Rifling: Four grooves; 1:10-inch RH twist
Sights: Dual-aperture rear; winged-post front; Picatinny rail for mounting optics
Trigger Pull Weight: 8 pounds
Stock: Folding, collapsible Ace Ltd. SOCOM; 2 inches of adjustment
Overall Length: 37.25 to 39.25 inches deployed; 28.5 inches folded
Weight: 8 pounds, 12 ounces
Accessories: 20-round magazine, sling, hard case, manual
MSRP: $2,450

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12 Responses to DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine

  1. Pingback: DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine | Shooting Illustrated

  2. Pingback: SayUncle » Speaking of the DS Arms

  3. Pete says:

    If Belgians were Americans the Germans would only need BB guns and a couple of days.

    I dont know where Americans get the high ground for all that chauvinistic macho crap…Hollywierdo perhaps? Because outside the World of fantasy the USA has the worst military history known to Man…

    • Robert says:

      You keep using that word, ‘history.’ I don’t think it means what you think it means. Because the Belgians have been pushed around by the French, the Dutch and the Germans. They’ve only fought one war in the twentieth century, against the natives of the Congo, and they lost.

  4. Pingback: DS Arms FAL review « Gun Nuts Media

  5. gsagi says:

    You’re right. The American military keeps records poorly. The worst example, oddly, comes from Beligium. The 101 is surrounded and facing overwhelming odds in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. When asked to surrender unconditionally by the Germans, does anyone really believe Gen. McAuliffe simply said “Nuts.” It might have been “Get this stinking puke out of here before I use my bayonet to….” So you’re right, we do a poor job in recording military history and according to my father, who was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, the Belgians are wonderful people. Ed was just pointing out the country’s history doesn’t reflect the fact that they build some of the finest firearms in the world.

  6. Richard W. Gorski says:

    Nice piece of hardware….just wish you had something similar just a little less costly.

  7. BatChainPuller says:

    “USA has the worst military history known to Man…”

    You might want to ask the Japanese to render their opinion on that.

  8. Francis M. says:

    Pete, your lame attempt to slam the author is a bit too cryptic for us slow-witted Amerikanischer. Please pause the Michael Moore movie you’re watching for a moment and qualify your statement.

    What specific portion of US military history are you alluding to? Was it when we threw off the bonds of Monarchy and created the first successful and truly free Republic? Was it when we entered WWI after avoiding it for 3 years, then promptly ended the slaughter of an entire generation of Europeans? Was it when we entered WWII after again trying to stay out for years and then spending nearly 4 years and a large chunk of our greatest generation to end the slaughter of much of the civilized world? Maybe it was when we stopped 1/2 of Korea (and all of China) from slaughtering the other half? Perhaps your beef is with our current war—what we call the War on Terror. We didn’t start that one either, but we’re in it for the long haul. You might want to wake up and take a whiff of what’s blowing on the wind my friend. It’s called global slavery and it comes in many forms—piracy, terrorism, radical Islam, anarchy, communism, socialism, fascism. The end result is the same with each: submit or die. If you happen to hail from one of the countries that pretends to have no dog in the current fight, whom will you call for help when the wolf is finally at your country’s door? You better hope we Americans (complete with our terrible military history) are still here fighting for freedom. Not American freedom but the freedom of mankind.

    How about some background on you? Have you ever served in the U.S. military? Any military? If the latter, did we kick your ass? If so, I was probably involved so please accept my non-apology. Are you an ex-pat? A foreigner? So many questions for what is probably a tiny attention span. Let me help you focus: Step 1: Close the Daily Kos tabs on your browser so you don’t get distracted. Step 2: Jump up and down and try to get your testicles to descend. Step 3: Laugh. The author was using a touch of humor. Distinctly American humor. If we offend you, I assure you it is purely intentional. If humor is scarce in your neck of the woods, tickle yourself. Use your Elmo doll as a guide.

    In the likely event you have nothing to back up your comment beyond a politically motivated belief system, I suggest you simply ignore this post and troll one of the many “I hate America” sites instead of pretending to be a firearm enthusiast. Leave the tools of freedom for truly free people who are ready, willing and able to use them.

  9. Kris S. says:

    Well stated Francis

  10. Brian says:

    well done! And as for the FAL, DSArms sells an STG58 model, made from a new barrel and receiver, and original surplus parts, for just over a grand. I plan on owning at least 1 very soon.

  11. Joe Marino says:

    Francis M. your my hero! well said sir! America love it, or get your A$$ kicked with the rest!

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