The FN FAL Belgian service rifle was the mainstay of the Belgian military since it was first unveiled in the mid-1950s. The FN FAL light automatic rifle—Fusil Automatique Leger (FAL) was developed by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and was originally chambered for the 7.92x33mm Kurz, later to be re-chambered for the ubiquitous 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge (.308). If you liked the FN FAL, and many do, you will fall in love with the IMBEL series of assault rifles—the IMBEL 2, 3 and 4.

The IMBEL was designed in the early-1980s and produced by IMBEL (Industria de Material Belico do Brasil) in 1985. As noted, it is a variant of the FN FAL. The IMBEL MD series assault rifles are the mainstay of today's Brazilian military.

The American-made M-16 can take some credit for the lineage of the IMBEL, as the Brazilian IMBEL features an M-16-style rotating bolt, and like the M-16, it has been chambered for the lighter and faster 5.56x45 NATO round (.223). So too, the IMBEL feeds magazines made for the M-16 or AR-15, increasing its versatility and commercial appeal.

The IMBEL MD-2 is a gas-operated, select-fire assault rifle with a rotating bolt. The trigger and pistol grip are hinged to the receiver for ease of disassembly, cleaning and maintenance.

The IMBEL tips the scales at close to 10 pounds, and with its metal butt stock extended, it is slightly less than 40 inches in length. With the butt stock retracted, the IMBEL measures slightly more than 30 inches. The IMBEL has a barrel length of 17.8 inches. Variations between IMBEL models is slight, if not imperceptible. The MD-2 has the side-folding metal butt stock; the MD-3 has a fixed plastic butt stock.

Now for the business end of this Belgian assault rifle: The IMBEL has a cycle rate of 700 rounds per minute and an effective range of 980 feet (300 meters), affording the Belgian Army the capability of "reaching out and touching" their adversaries on the battlefield.

The IMBEL has been in production more than 20 years, and by all appearances, it will be around even longer.