FN Herstal

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Fabrique Nationale Herstal
FN Herstal
IndustryArms industry
Founded3 July 1889; 134 years ago (1889-07-03)
FounderHenri Pieper
Area served
Key people
ProductsFirearms, ammunition
Number of employees
3,000 worldwide
ParentHerstal Group

Fabrique Nationale Herstal (French for 'National Factory Herstal'), trading as FN Herstal and often referred to as Fabrique Nationale or simply FN, is a leading firearms manufacturer based in Herstal, Belgium, and former vehicle manufacturer. It was the largest exporter of military small arms in Europe as of 2012.[1]

FN Herstal is owned by the Herstal Group holding company, which is in turn owned by the regional government of Wallonia.[2] The Herstal Group also owns the Browning Arms Company and the U.S. Repeating Arms Company (Winchester).[2]

FN America is the U.S. subsidiary of FN Herstal, which was formed by the merger of FN's previous two American subsidiaries – FN Manufacturing and FNH USA.[3] A United Kingdom based manufacturing facility, FNH UK, is also in operation.

View of the factory site

Firearms designed and/or manufactured by FN include the S.A.W. M249, Browning Hi-Power and Five-seven pistols, the FAL, FNC, F2000 and SCAR rifles, the P90 submachine gun, the M2 Browning, MAG, Minimi and the FN Evolys machine guns;[2] all have been commercially successful.[4] FN Herstal's firearms are used by the armed forces of over 100 countries.[5]


1913 FN motorcycle with four-cylinder in-line engine and shaft drive
1931 FN cabriolet
FN Browning Hi-Power pistol

FN Herstal originated in the small city of Herstal, near Liège. The Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (French for 'National Factory of Weapons of War') was established in 1889 to manufacture 150,000 Mauser Model 89 rifles ordered by the Belgian government.[2] FN was co-founded by the major arms makers of the Liège region, with Henri Pieper of Anciens Etablissements Pieper being the driving force and the primary shareholder of the new company. In 1897, the company entered into a long-lasting relationship with John Browning, a well-known American firearms designer.[2]

The company was an important manufacturer of motor vehicles in Belgium, a development championed by Alexandre Galopin as managing director. FN cars were produced in Herstal from the early 1900s until 1935. Production of FN motorcycles continued until 1965, and production of trucks until 1970.[6] In 1973, FN changed its name to reflect a diversified product line far beyond just military Small Arms and Firearms manufacturing, adopting the current name of Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal.[7]

One of Fabrique Nationale's handguns, a Model 1910 semi-automatic pistol in 9×17mm (.380 ACP) (serial number 19074), was one of four weapons that were taken from the assassins of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, although it is unknown which of the four weapons fired the fatal round.

Browning began the development of the GP35 "High Power" pistol, the GP standing for Grande Puissance (French for high power), which is well-known as the Browning Hi-Power. The weapon was finalized by FN's Dieudonné Saive and did not appear until 1935, nearly a decade after Browning's death; it remained in production until 2017.

The FN Manufacturing LLC plant in Columbia, South Carolina, is part of the military division of FN. It is primarily responsible for the production of U.S. military weapons, such as M16 rifles, M249 light machine guns, M240 machine guns, and M2 machine guns.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Les armes belges, un business juteux" (in French). La Dernière Heure (DHnet). December 31, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Herstal Group: About Us". FN Herstal. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  3. ^ "FN Manufacturing and FNH USA to consolidate U.S. Operations". FN Herstal. June 6, 2014. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Miller, David (2001). The Illustrated Directory of 20th Century Guns. Salamander Books Ltd. ISBN 1-84065-245-4.
  5. ^ "Report: Profiling the Small Arms Industry - World Policy Institute - Research Project". World Policy Institute. November 2000. Archived from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  6. ^ Francotte, Auguste; Gaier, Claude; Karlshausen, Robert (2008). Ars Mechanica. Herstal Group. ISBN 978-2-87415-877-3.
  7. ^ Stevens, R. Blake The Browning High Power Automatic Pistol. Collector Grade Publications (1990). ISBN 978-0-88935-089-2.

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