The FN CAL was the first 5.56mm rifle produced by Fabrique Nationale. However, despite the use of stampings and castings used in the construction of the rifle, it was still relatively expensive and complex to produce and was considered a commercial failure. It was eventually dropped in favor of the cheaper FN FNC assault rifle, which saw reasonable success.
A limited amount of semi-automatic only CALs were imported into the United States in the late 70s/early 80s.
The FN CAL is a select-fire carbine; it features both semi-automatic and automatic modes of fire. Earlier models also featured a three-round burst mode. The CAL appears to be a scaled-down variant of the FN FAL; however, it is an original design. It uses a locked-breech rotating bolt design, instead of the FN FAL's tilted bolt design; the bolt carrier is driven by a tappet piston rod.