Brigade Manufacturing Makasi AR-15/FN FAL Hybrid: Initial Review

Now is probably a good time to confess that I have a weakness for gun shop emails. So naturally, when I received an email a week or two ago advertising an “AR-15/FN FAL” hybridized rifle, I was intrigued. One “ah, what the heck…” later I had a Makasi (by Brigade Manufacturing) on its way. Don’t ask me what “Makasi” means, because apparently it has more than one definition depending on your language. I’m assuming it’s a buffalo of some sort based on the logo. But I’ll try to tell you what a Makasi does.


Here are the advertised specs from their website:

Material Lowers and Uppers are CNC Machined from 7075-T6 Aluminum Billet
Barrel Length16in
Twist rate1:7
Rail LengthMakasi 12in Quad Rail
Diameter of the Handrail1.34in 
Threading½ x 28
Magazine 20rd and 30rd Magazine 
StockMakasi Para Stock with Folding Adapter 
SightMBUS Flip UP Front and Rear Sight
Length with Para Stock34-3/4in  
Length without Para Stock26-1/4in
Weapon systemShort- Stroke Gas Piston
ColorCerakote Finish Armor Black, FDE, Tungsten, Midnight Bronze, and OD Green
Shipping to FFL Dealer RequiredYes
Made In America?Yes

So what is it?

A Makasi rifle is a blend of elements from an AR-15, a FN FAL, and an AR-180. The form factor is very FAL, including the folding paratrooper-style stock, takedown lever, and non-reciprocating side charging handle. But it also takes advantage of multiple AR-15 components. Direct swaps with an AR-15 include the trigger and hammer, magazine catch, safety, muzzle device, pistol grip, ejection port cover, bolt, firing pin, cam pin, and firing pin retaining pin. Other parts are AR-derived, but may not be directly exchangeable due to modifications made to fit the rifle, including the barrel, bolt carrier, and bolt catch.

Here you can see some of the AR-interchangeable parts as well as the obviously FAL-inspired parts.

Gas System

The Makasi operates on a short-stroke gas system, so the gas piston is not attached to the bolt carrier and does not travel the full cycle with the bolt carrier. The system itself has two positions: suppressed and unsuppressed. For those of you who are familiar with the FAL, this is a change, as the FAL gas system had multiple gas settings. Also, it’s not an exact copy of the FAL gas system, which had a single-piece piston that rode inside a gas chamber and reached from the gas block all the way to the bolt carrier. In reality, it’s probably closer to an AR-180 gas system than the FAL system, with a multi-part piston that fits over the gas nozzle instead of inside a gas chamber. Either way, you still get the advantage of less fouling in the receiver that piston aficionados frequently tout.

The modified bolt carrier and recoil spring surrounded by interchangeable AR parts

I should note that I have also heard some people on forums compare it to the FN FNC. This is also not an accurate comparison, as the FNC is a long-stroke system with a reciprocating charging handle, as you can see in the picture below.

Initial Impressions

The fit and finish of the rifle is excellent. You can really tell that a lot of effort went into designing and building this rifle. The MLOK handguard seems very solid and anchors to a large barrel nut similar in size to Geissele rails.

The ambi safety on my rifle is very tight. Almost annoyingly tight, really. I’m not sure if that’s from the machining of the lower or the safety itself, but I’ll probably switch it out at some point and see if movement improves.

The trigger is definitely standard, coming in at a 10-pull average of 7.5 lbs. Thankfully, you can easily change it out to a lighter trigger like the ALG or even a 2-stage if you want.

The stock is designed after the original FAL PARA stock. It’s solid, with good lock-up, but a little short on length of pull, in my opinion. I may switch it out with a Lage Manufacturing stock and see if that changes the feel or interferes with function.

The lower receiver has a QR socket on the upper right side but none on the left. I’m not sure why that decision was made, possibly to keep a sling from interfering with the stock unfolding, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Something to consider if you are planning to switch out the pistol grip – you’ll have to use one without a tang. For example, the B5 Systems Type 23 P-Grip won’t fit on the Makasi but the Type 22 should fit. Similarly, the Magpul K2 grips won’t fit, but the K grip should fit.

Another item that won’t exchange is the bolt catch. This is due to the angle that needed to be manufactured into the catch to get around the charging handle. With that said, the catch is well designed with large paddles that should easily meet your needs.


I haven’t had a chance to get to the range yet, but that report will follow as soon as I can. As I said before, a lot of effort clearly went into designing this rifle. It appears to be an excellent option for someone looking for a piston gun but wants the ability to easily upgrade key features. It also looks like it would be a great option for someone that just wants something distinctive and fun to set themselves apart at the range. I really look forward to getting to put it through its paces and letting you know how it performs live!

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