The Fabrique Nationale FNC ("Fusil Nouveau Type Carabine") emerged from the commercial failure that was the FN CAL. The FN CAL was, itself, a scaled-down version of the hugely popular FN FAL which debuted in the early 1950s and was chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO-standard, full-powered rifle cartridge. The FN CAL was itself chambered for the smaller 5.56x45mm NATO intermediate rifle cartridge and retained the same gas-operated system. Unlike the FAL, however, which utilized a tilting breechblock design, the CAL was furnished with a rotating bolt action. However, there proved too few buyers in the now-crowded 5.56mm market for a relatively expensive assault carbine and this forced FN to drop the line in 1975 in favor of a more refined, modified version that became the improved "FNC".
Design work on the FNC spanned from 1975 to 1977, producing the "FNC 76" prototype, which saw production begin in 1979 (reportedly continuing today, 2014). The FNC was originally scheduled to partake in the important NATO trials of 1977-1980 to settle on a standardized assault rifle for participating nations (the NATO endorsement would have been tremendous) however the FNC was a product too early in its development phase to prove competitive enough, being promptly removed from the trials in short order. Once finalized with its issues ironed out, the weapon was formally adopted by the Belgian Army in 1989. Initial issue was to Belgian paratroopers prior to issuance to the main force and two versions were accepted - the full length FMC M2 and the carbine-minded FNC M3. These replaced the aged and outgoing line of FN FALs then in service.
At its core, the rifle remained a highly-conventional assault system of the same form and function as the CAL it replaced. It retained use of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge but instead was fed through a standard 30-round curved, detachable box magazine (unlike the 20-round count of the preceding CAL). The action was appropriately contained in a metal receiver which incorporated the angled pistol grip and trigger unit, the charging handle and ejection port and magazine feed just ahead of the trigger. The stock was typically skeletal to save on weight and hinged to fold over the receiver for a more compact profile though a solid stock was also made available. Bayonet support was added for close quarters work not requiring firing of the weapon. As in the FAL and CAL before it, the FNC situated its gas cylinder over the barrel and its barrel featured a perforated muzzle brake (supporting the launching of NATO-standard grenades). Two different rifled barrels allow for the firing of the Belgian SS109 bullet or the American M193 bullet. Iron sights were afforded the operator through a rear flip-up type aperture combined with a front post. Effective range of the weapon was up to 400 meters when properly sighted. Rate-of-fire was up to 675 rounds per minute with a 3,160 feet per second muzzle velocity. Overall weight of the standard rifle was 8.5lbs with a 40 inch overall length (30 inches with stock collapsed).
The standard rifle version was known to FN as "Standard Model 2000" while the assault carbine became the "Short Model 7000". Both were largely similar to one another save for dimensions and weight. The carbine weighed a handier 8lbs with an overall length of 36 inches and a collapsed length of 26 inches. It s barrel was also 14.3 inches long compared to the 17.7 inches of the standard FNC rifle. Law enforcement versions of both forms existed though these came with a semi-automatic-only firing function.
Sweden had adopted the FNC in 1986 and secured a local production license through Bofors Carl Gustav. FNCs were known in the Swedish inventory as the "Automatkarbin 5" ("Ak 5"). Having purchased a quantitative stock of FNC rifles in 1982, Indonesia, similarly followed suit and began local production of the FNC as the "SS1" by Pindad. In time, an improved form appeared in the "SS2". Rounding out the list of FNC global operators were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tonga and Venezuela. Despite the rather contained list, its reach still proved considerably longer than that of the failed CAL.
The FNC still sees operational service today (2014).