Developed during that period of time when most militaries were phasing out bolt action rifles and adopting semi auto rifles, the FN Model 1949 was one of the best semi automatic designs of the era. Invented by Fabrique Nationale’s chief firearm designer Diudonne Saive, the FN-49 was a gas operated semi automatic design which used a ten round fixed magazine (Argentinian models had a 20 round detachable magazine). So in many ways it was your average semi automatic battle rifle that was common during the era. However, the FN-49 was specially noted for its excellent quality, reliability, and accuracy. Originally they were produced in 8x57 Mauser, which was a common WWII and postwar European caliber. However, as FN exported the rifle to other countries, they were produced in other calibers such as 7.62 NATO, .30-06, 7x57 Mauser, and 7mm Argentine.
While the FN-49 was among the best of the semi auto battle rifles, it was produced at the end of an age. It would only be a handful of years before select fire designs would be adopted making semi auto designs obsolete. Most importantly, after WWII NATO countries had a glut of leftover military surplus. Most NATO aligned nations would rather receive discount or free arms from NATO than purchase a new design altogether. Thus, the FN-49 was marketed to non-aligned nations not under the NATO or Warsaw Pact. They were especially popular in Latin America, where they were adopted by Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela. Belgium itself adopted the FN-49, using them to great extent during the Korean War. In addition Belgium’s neighbor Luxembourg adopted it as well. Finally the FN-49 was purchased by Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey. As well as Korea, the FN-49 was also used during the Congo Crises as Congo had acquired several after independence from Belgium. Limited numbers were used by the Argentinians during the Falklands War.
Production of the FN-49 lasted from 1948 to 1956, then resumed for one year in 1960. Around 176,000 were produced.